Gears of Change Begin Turning as Maryland Prepares for New Governor

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A new Maryland governor is on his way into office and the signs they are a-changing.

Well, not quite yet.

From highway signs to website photos and even artworks, administration change affects more than just policy.

Transitioning from one governor to the next involves nearly every state agency and department. They plan, coordinate and take care of the multitude of small details that can often go unnoticed.

Between Election Day on Nov. 4, and the gubernatorial inauguration scheduled for Jan. 21, state employees have 79 days to get everything in place.

Former Gov. Parris Glendening recalled his transition into office in late 1994 and early 1995.

“It’s a fascinating process,” Glendening said. “As best I can tell, it was almost on autopilot and the reason being is we have very good professional staff all over the departments [in the state].”

SIGNS

How about those welcome signs on the highway?

“Maryland welcomes you, enjoy your visit,” they read, on various roads that enter the state.

Underneath the Free State’s message is a placard with the governor’s name on it. Someone needs to change that sign – just one example of the superficial aspects of the transition.

Those highway signs are created and placed by the State Highway Administration (http://www.roads.maryland.gov/Home.aspx ), which has its own sign shop near Baltimore Washington International-Thurgood Marshall Airport.

The state has about 21 welcome signs featuring the governor’s name said State Highway Administration Assistant Chief of Traffic Operations Paul Stout.

“To my knowledge we’ve never had a set date [for the signs to go up],” Stout said.

Stout said the State Highway Administration has never been late with installing all of the signs.

“It takes us very little time,” Stout said of fabricating and installing the signs. “With two guys working, we could [fabricate all of them] in one day.”

The shop makes signs two ways: a silkscreen process similar to printing T-shirts, and a hand-fabrication method for “one-off” signs, according to Stout.

For the governor’s name, “we use the hand-fabrication method due to the different sizes of the signs,” Stout said.

Some signs with the governor’s name are roadside while others are overhead and hang over highways. These are larger, yet simpler to install, because they are comprised of two panels, each smaller than an entire roadside sign.

“It could take longer [to install overhead signs], but we make each panel so one person can handle it,” said Stout.

Due to the small size and light weight of the signs, Stout said, installing each one takes about 30 minutes or less.

Sign shop Operations Manager Eugene “Sonny” Bailey said sign sizes can be anywhere from 12 feet by 15 feet to 8 feet by 8 feet.

Stout said it costs about $2,500 to fabricate all the governor’s name signs, and the installation cost is about $200 apiece. Based on those figures, each sign costs roughly $320 to fabricate and install. In total, replacing all the signs costs about $6,700.

The old signs are recycled by a scrap metal dealer who picks up the aluminum panels and writes a check to the state based on the weight of the load.

GOVERNMENT HOUSE

Transitions include more than just hardware and manufacturers — it’s decoration and art curators, as well.

“In very practical terms: There’s a family moving out and a family moving in over a very short period of time,” Maryland State Archives Director of Artistic Property, Exhibits and Outreach Elaine Rice Bachmann said.

Bachmann, who has worked for every governor since Gov. William Donald Schaefer on the décor of Government House, said they have to balance the fact that Government House is a historical building with its role as a family home.

For example, Bachmann said, when Gov. Bob Ehrlich came into office it was the first time since the 1940s that a young child was living in Government House.

“There were some handrails that needed to be raised so that they were safe for children and up to code because they’d never been that way.”

Property in the Government House is state owned, she said, and has to be accounted for.

Bachmann said a three-person staff goes to the Government House to take inventory of art in the house before a family leaves. Then, right after the family moves out, the team takes another inventory to ensure all the art is still there.

“You wait for the next family to move in and see what they want to keep and what they don’t want to keep,” she said. “There’s always a level of service that you’re providing to meet the needs of that family. Each particular governor has particular interests so we try to accommodate those with things from the state-owned art collection or borrowing from different collections.”

She said Ehrlich “covered the walls” with the Maryland state art collection (http://msa.maryland.gov/msa/speccol/sc1500/sc1545/apc_website/apchome.html ) because he was very proud of all the pieces.

Gov. Martin O’Malley is deeply interested in the War of 1812, so much of the art now on the walls focuses on that period of Maryland history, she said.

“You sort of wait and see what the interests are going to be and how can you meet them,” she said.

Bachmann said the state art collection features 300 years of commissions and gifts, from portraits of governors to portraits of historical figures and “everybody in between.”

O’Malley recently requested a portrait of Maryland native and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, unveiled Sept. 15 and featured in Government House’s Entrance Hall.

Bachmann said the new portrait is a great example of how each governor has different interests and desires for decoration in Government House.

As for who decides on the decoration, Bachmann said, the first ladies generally take the most interest in ideas for changing room colors, likely due to the busy schedule of new governors.

Glendening said most of the time the new governor and lieutenant governor is spent on key policy issues.

“That’s where 95 percent of my time was directed,” he said. “My guess is the last 10 governors didn’t put five minutes time into thinking about that.”

Secretary of the Maryland State Archives (http://msa.maryland.gov/ ) Tim Baker said transitioning after elections is more difficult than transitioning after an expired term limit and that it’s easier to plan a transition when everyone knows a new administration is on its way in.

“It’s a slightly different scenario than when a governor gets turned out because they didn’t win reelection,” said Tim Baker. “That’s sort of a more tumultuous event.”

Before the inauguration of a new governor, official photos are taken for all of the websites and state buildings.

Chief photographer for O’Malley, Jay Baker — no relation to Tim Baker — said once photos are taken, a large number of photos are printed and framed.

After the photos are printed, Jay Baker said, he defers to Director of Executive Services Jeremy Rosendale.

Rosendale said after photos are obtained, he works with Department of General Services Director Sam Cook to frame them.

The Department of General Services (http://www.dgs.maryland.gov/ ) handles replacing the new administration’s photos in government buildings and moves swiftly to display the photos.

Tim Baker said the Department of General Services is pivotal in the transition process.

“When Gov. Ehrlich came in, one of the first calls we got was to dispatch [staff photographer] Rick Lippenholz to take the official photo,” said Tim Baker. “We ran off, I want to say, 150 copies and sent them to be put up in all the government buildings.”

“It’s usually less than a week after we get the photos they go up,” said Cook.

Cook said the Department of General Services tells the governor-elect’s own photographer how many buildings need photos as well as the sizes needed.

The Department of General Services also handles switching names in state buildings, as changing the photos and name plates is “all part of the same process,” Cook said.

“Typically, if there’s lettering inside the building with the governor’s name, we change that at the same time as the photos,” said Cook.

Cook said the transition team’s purpose is to make the process more transparent and less disruptive to the government.

“We like transparency,” said Cook. “If it’s transparent, then I’m doing my job.”

WEBSITE UPKEEP

Tim Baker also said the archives migrate digital photos to an online database.

Glendening said an increasingly important aspect of the transitions is website upkeep.

“When I came in [websites] were just starting to be widely used,” he said.

But transitions for state websites require much less manpower, and hard copies of photos are useless on the Internet.

Teri Greene, who serves as assistant director of web systems with the state’s Department of Information Technology, said online standards dictate what state sites must feature – such as links, photos and language.

Greene said Creative Director Frank Perrelli formats the photos to the proper resolution for the sites and adds the proper language.

“We have a central web server where the photos are stored,” Greene said.

The new portraits, provided by the governor’s office, will be added to the web server from which the websites pull content, seamlessly replacing the old images.

Some websites have a larger version of the governor and lieutenant governor photo and others have a smaller version, though both link to the governor’s webpage. Greene said this is due to pages needing to be responsive: a feature that allows websites to fit any size screen whether a desktop or a smartphone.

The Archives maintain a digital collection of governor photos as well.

“Right around inauguration day, we will take all the photographs from the O’Malley administration, and we will keep them in the same basic structure, but we’ll move them into a different collection of historic governor photographs,” Tim Baker said about handling an outgoing administration’s digital photos.

They then add the new governor’s pictures to the online collection of current administration photos.

The governor’s webpage needs to be updated, too.

Greene said the state’s IT department works with the governor’s office to provide support when updating the governor’s webpage.

“We work with (the new administration’s transition team) to coordinate for the governor’s website,” Greene said. The new governor’s staff creates that content.

LETTERHEAD/STATIONERY

When a new administration comes into office, the staff needs new letterhead and stationery. So they go to prison.

New paper materials are produced through Maryland Correctional Enterprises (http://mce.md.gov/mce/ ), which is a part of the Department of Corrections and offers various services provided by inmates in the state.

Rosendale said using Maryland Correctional Enterprises’ printing services, rather than a private printing business, saves the state money.

“Once we know the outcome of the election, we let them know to have enough (stationery) to at least get started,” Rosendale said.

Rosendale said administration staffers work with MCE to have all the necessary paper products ready for the first day in office.

“Ideally the goal is to have everything done on day one,” said O’Malley Press Secretary Nina Smith.

As for old paper products with outgoing administration information, most of it gets recycled but, Rosendale said, sometimes the staffers will put the paper to use as scrap and note paper.

SOME THINGS ARE BETTER LEFT ALONE

Other changes, however, aren’t necessary.

The Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (http://www.dllr.state.md.us/ ), for example, issues certificates of inspection for machinery such as elevators, amusement park rides, boilers and pressure valves.

Each certificate of inspection features the names of the governor, lieutenant governor and department secretary.

When administrations change, the state doesn’t need to change its certificates.

“Certificates that we issue will be changed when they expire,” department communications director Maureen O’Connor wrote in an email.

By Max Bennett

Maryland Officials Say They’re Learning from Ebola Mistakes in Texas

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Maryland state health officials are learning from the mistakes made at a Texas hospital that have left two nurses who cared for an Ebola patient infected with the disease themselves, Gov. Martin O’Malley and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Dr. Joshua Sharfstein said during a press conference Friday in Baltimore.

“I think that any potentially lethal infectious disease, it’s important to approach it with a certain degree of humility and learn from all the experiences that can happen,” Sharfstein said.

Dr. Joshua Sharfstein

Dr. Joshua Sharfstein

Nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson were both confirmed to have Ebola after treating patient Thomas Eric Duncan at a Dallas-area hospital. Duncan has since died.

Vinson has been moved to Emory University in Atlanta for treatment, while Pham has been been transferred to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda for care.

O’Malley said he got the call from Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell about Pham being moved to NIH on Thursday.

“We have the best public health institutions in the world located in our state,” O’Malley said. “So I wasn’t terribly surprised at that movement, and there may well be others as we isolate and contain Ebola here.”

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has never specifically said how Ebola was transmitted from Duncan to the nurses, Director Tom Frieden said “a variety of forms of protective personal equipment were used.”

Because it’s possible the nurses could have been exposed to Ebola by not adorning or taking off the equipment correctly, or even wearing the appropriate amount of protection, Sharfstein said the events “really have enforced the need to get personal protective equipment right every time.”

Officials from Johns Hopkins Hospital and the University of Maryland Medical Center said they are working very hard to ensure their providers know exactly how to use the equipment.

“To ensure that they know how to put it on properly, every piece of it so that they achieve that full-body coverage and protection that is needed,” said Dr. Lisa Maragakis, director of the Department of Epidemiology and Infection Control at Johns Hopkins. “And that they are, in particular, practicing how to remove the equipment without contaminating themselves.”

She said they’ve also implemented the “buddy system,” which means a health care provider no longer gets in and out of the protective equipment themselves. Now it’s a three-person job, Maragakis said.

All emergency medical service providers in the state, as well as law enforcement at all levels also have the equipment — or at least the ability to request it — to protect themselves effectively from an Ebola patient, said Dr. Richard Alcorta, acting co-executive director of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Service Systems.

He also said all public safety, commercial ambulance services, 911 dispatchers and their medical directors are now screening all 911 calls to identify patients at risk for Ebola so that those callers can be transported to a hospital and treated with the appropriate protective protocols.

“We look at this as part of our system’s responsibility to you, the public, and to the health care professionals to make sure they can take care of all patients and maintain our infrastructure in a robust fashion,” Alcorta said.

Health officials said they continue to meet with leaders across their agencies and push out information to the public.

Dr. Anthony Harris of the University of Maryland Medical Center said he has had “numerous multi-disciplinary meetings and committees” to review hospital protocols and keep everyone abreast on the latest Ebola information. Health Secretary Sharfstein also said a memo went out Friday to all state employees with facts about Ebola.

Additional cautions are also being put into place. Johns Hopkins Hospital has started initial Ebola screenings at all emergency departments and outpatient locations, said Maragakis.

And the state’s biosurveillance system, Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics, has teamed up with the District of Columbia and Virginia health officials and hospitals to aggregate data about people reporting Ebola virus symptoms, said Dr. Laura Herrera, the deputy secretary for Public Health Services for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

While there have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in Maryland, health officials say the chance is still likely.

But O’Malley said we can’t live our lives in fear and that “citizens should go about their normal lives.”

“And they should be aware that their public health networks and public health institutions are very focused on this,” O’Malley said.

By Ashley S. Westerman

Nada: Brown Declines Offering Support for O’Malley Presidential Run

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Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown Friday declined to say whether he would endorse a presidential run by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

“I’m not trying to be evasive, let me tell you this, there’s one election right now, for obvious reasons, that I am focused on almost 99.99 percent of my waking hours and that’s the general election Nov. 4, 2014, and I think the people of Maryland deserve that,” Brown said in a phone interview on Friday.

Brown is facing O’Malley-weary voters in an attempt to become the first lieutenant governor in Maryland’s history to gain a promotion to Government House via the ballot box.

His Republican opponent, Larry Hogan, has continued to press Brown on taxes and economic issues, saying that a Brown administration would simply be a continuation of O’Malley’s economic policies.

“I’m sure that he would be the first person to support an O’Malley presidential run, if he would come out and say he is running,” Hannah Marr, Larry Hogan’s spokeswoman, said. “I think he might be the only person in Maryland that would actually support the governor’s run for president.”

O’Malley is weighing a presidential run where he could face former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton who in recent weeks has signaled she is considering running again.

This may put Brown in a tight spot.

Brown enjoyed an early endorsement from O’Malley in May during the gubernatorial primary.

Hillary Clinton was scheduled to attend a Brown fundraiser at the end of last month but sent former President Bill Clinton in her place. Chelsea Clinton had days before given birth to her first child.

“Given the high stakes of November’s election, everyone’s focus should be on 2014. That’s certainly where Governor O’Malley’s focus is,” said Lis Smith, spokeswoman for O’Malley’s O’Say Can You See PAC.

Since the beginning of August, O’Malley has traveled across the country helping fundraise for Democratic candidates in Florida, California, Nevada, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and in key early primary states Iowa and New Hampshire – trips that also help raise his national profile.

A recent Baltimore Sun poll conducted by OpinionWorks in Annapolis showed that almost 60 percent of Maryland voters would not support an O’Malley presidential run.

By Lejla Sarcevic

Supreme Court to Hear Case on Right of States to Tax Out-of-State Income

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The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear a case involving a Maryland couple who believe their out-of-state income should not be taxed by their state of residence.

Brian and Karen Wynne of Howard County argue the income they earn in several other states through Maxim Healthcare Services Inc., a company Mr. Wynne partially owns, should not be taxed by Maryland if they pay the income taxes in those other states.

Maryland has an out-of-state income tax credit that can be used to offset state income taxes. But there is no equivalent credit that can be used to offset county income taxes, so counties can tax the out-of-state income.

According to court documents, Comptroller of the Treasury of Maryland v. Wynne (No. 13-485) asks the question: “Does the United States Constitution prohibit a state from taxing all income of its residents — wherever earned — by mandating a credit for taxes paid on income in other states?”

The Wynnes argued in Maryland Tax Court that the partial credit violates the dormant Commerce Clause.

University of Maryland Carey School of Law Professor Mark Graber said the dormant Commerce Clause says “there are some state regulations of interstate commerce that are unconstitutional even when Congress does not act.”

“So there is no federal law that prohibits or requires states to give tax credits for taxes paid in other states,” Graber said. “But the claim the Wynnes are making is that, in fact, Maryland’s failure to do so sufficiently burdens interstate commerce.”

When the Maryland Tax Court sided with the comptroller, the Wynnes appealed to the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, which sided with them.

Dominic Perella, the Wynne’s counsel, said his client believes he “shouldn’t have to pay double taxes” and that the way Maryland structures its taxes punishes him for growing a successful business.

But Maryland has argued in court documents that, among other points, it has the right as a sovereign state to tax the entirety of its residents’ income, regardless of where the income was generated or if taxes on that income were paid in other states. The Maryland Attorney General’s office said it does not comment on pending litigation.

A brief filed by organizations representing local governments also contends that counties would suffer if they offered credits against county income tax for income earned out-of-state.

“There would be significant financial implications for counties,” said Andrea Mansfield, legislative director of the Maryland Association of Counties.

According to the brief, if the Supreme Court sides with the Wynnes, estimates from the comptroller’s office are that it could cost local governments $120 million in retroactive refunds, and could reduce local income tax revenues by about $50 million annually going forward.

The Bureau of Revenue Estimates says the initial cost to local governments could actually be higher – $190 million plus interest in protected claims and retroactive refunds.

Graber said if that happens, the Maryland tax bill for all residents who earn out-of-state income will go down.

“Conversely, the revenue obtained by Maryland will also go down,” Graber said.

He said if the high court sides with Maryland, life will probably go on as usual as the Supreme Court has in the past left states alone to tax the income of their residents as they see fit.

The Supreme Court begins its next session Monday. This case is set to be argued Nov. 12.

By Ashley S. Westerman
Capital News Service

Stranded Boaters Avoid High Costs with Tow Insurance

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Sea Tow Annapolis’s 29-foot long Sea-Cure boasts 900 feet of rope, two water pumps, fuel cans, buoys and life preserves to assist in whatever situation arises on September 24 at the Watergate Village docks in Annapolis, Maryland. Capital News Service photo by Dylan Moroses

Sea Tow Annapolis’s 29-foot long Sea-Cure boasts 900 feet of rope, two water pumps, fuel cans, buoys and life preserves to assist in whatever situation arises on September 24 at the Watergate Village docks in Annapolis, Maryland. Capital News Service photo by Dylan Moroses

Boats will always break down for one reason or another, but finding a friendly tow to shore is not a certainty.

Maryland autumn weather harbors spells of unpredictable storms and winds that cause people on the water worry at the end of boating season, more so than in the summer months when the conditions are more consistent, said BoatUS Annapolis Capt. Ham Gale.

“With the weather picking up now, there’s increased apprehension when boaters are left out on the water; people want service faster,” Gale said. “People who would wait four hours for their friend to tow them back to shore in the summer now start to worry if they are waiting for two hours.”

Some emergencies – like a sinking ship – require the U.S. Coast Guard or local maritime authorities, but other incidents where the boat and passengers are safe are often taken care of by the two biggest names in boat towing, Sea Tow and BoatUS.

Boaters could be looking at monstrous costs if they are stranded safely on their boat without a tow service membership, said Adam Wheeler, vice president and director of towing for BoatUS, a corporation headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, that provides boat safety services, including boat insurance and tow service.

“The average tow length is about three to four hours,” Wheeler said. “If you’re not a member of a service like ours, then you would get charged at what is called the ‘public rate,’ which ranges from anywhere between $200 to $300 per hour.”

The most popular tow service memberships are available for less than $200 annually from BoatUS or Sea Tow, and cover any incidents for the year, similar to AAA’s Roadside Assistance service.

Capt. Dave DuVall owns Sea Tow’s Central Chesapeake Maryland franchise in Annapolis, the longest-running location nationally for that boat service corporation, which is based in Southold, New York.

“Instantaneously, yes, it’s more financially rewarding to tow a non-member,” DuVall said. “In the long run, I get paid to provide a service to my members in advance. So if I don’t provide that service to members, suddenly the word gets out and all of a sudden the membership falls. If the membership falls, I lose money that way.”

Capt. Dave Duvall checks his GPS systems and listens in on a potential call for service in the pilothouse of the Sea-Cure at the Watergate Village docks in Annapolis, Maryland, on September 24. Capital News Service photo by Dylan Moroses

Capt. Dave Duvall checks his GPS systems and listens in on a potential call for service in the pilothouse of the Sea-Cure at the Watergate Village docks in Annapolis, Maryland, on September 24. Capital News Service photo by Dylan Moroses

Unfortunately for non-members, tow services like Sea Tow and their rival company, BoatUS, are required to give preference to their paying customers, which means they can divert from assisting a non-member in the middle of travel to help someone who subscribes to their service, leaving them stranded at sea for longer, DuVall said.

These corporations developed a network for the near coastal waters, providing tow service to boaters in distress and helping the U.S. Coast Guard, state and local maritime authorities in certain emergency situations.

DuVall equipped his fleet to respond to most emergencies and will assist the Coast Guard in certain situations, but describes it as a non-emergency tow service that responds to calls commonly dealing with some type of engine failure on recreational vessels.

“It truly is an on-call business,” DuVall said. “You seldom know until you answer the phone what you got, and even then, you may not know until you actually see it.”

Most of Sea Tow’s six Annapolis boat captains live within a mile of their dock behind the Watergate Village, and someone is always at the boats, ready to respond.

Duvall and Gale, along with other boat service operators in the Bay area, took a course to become certified in proper search and rescue procedures, so that “the Coast Guard can actually believe what we’re telling them,” DuVall said.

Sea Tow assisted the Coast Guard getting their fleet into shallow waters until about three years ago, when they received their new 45-foot utility boats, which draw less water than the old 41-foot vessels, DuVall said.

Gale helped the Coast Guard in September 2013 when a vessel carrying about a dozen people hit a rock pile by the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and began to sink. The Coast Guard rescued the people, but could not get a pump on the sinking boat and resorted to Gale’s resources to save the vessel. BoatUS Annapolis was able to salvage the boat and is still waiting on payment from the government for the job, Gale said.

The U.S. Coast Guard used to direct boaters without rescue memberships to tow companies on a rotating basis, but the policy changed in 1983.

They now send out a broadcast specifying the incident, providing tow companies a first-come, first-serve call for service – an unbiased, but inefficient system. Tow captains in the Chesapeake Bay area decided to develop their own system, said DuVall.

“In this area, tow captains got together years ago and formed The Maritime Towing and Assistance Association to figure out a way to handle the new Coast Guard policy, which we didn’t like,” DuVall said. “We came up with a way to work within the guidelines of the policy, but instead of everyone running on one job, we’d figure out who would provide the closest and best response, and probably the cheapest, depending on the situation.”

Sea Tow does not have as many members in the Chesapeake Bay area as BoatUS, therefore making it easier and faster for Sea Tow to respond to subscribers and non-members, DuVall said. BoatUS has about 500,000 members nationally, and Sea Tow did not provide membership numbers.

Sea Tow and BoatUS have dispatchers all over the country that utilize every means of communication possible, from VHF radio to cell phone, to ensure immediate response at any time, said Scott Croft, BoatUS Director of Public Relations.

DuVall once rescued a non-member in a vessel who was grounded in soft mud, requiring 2,500 feet of rope from a second boat and a kayak for the last 150 feet to save the person in distress. “I told him, ‘Don’t even think about getting out of that kayak, because you’ll be up to your waist in there and we’ll be pulling you out,’” DuVall said.

Boaters that believe they have coverage for towing through their boat insurance company could be misinformed when they return to the dock. “I’ve seen instances where a guy thinks he has all this coverage, and then he’s only got about $150,” DuVall said. “That doesn’t even pay for us to get out of the slip.”

While BoatUS and Sea Tow are corporate competitors, the local towboat captains from each service are aware of wasting resources and coordinate to avoid doing so, even at the expense of a potential customer.

“One of the worst things you can do is call both companies at the same time if you’re not a member and need service,” DuVall said. “We listen to each other, so if I hear them dispatching on the same call I’m dispatching my guys on, I call the other company and we both stand down. We can’t afford to send out two boats to one guy, especially if we’re busy on a weekend.”

By Dylan Moroses
Capital News Service

O’Malley Hits the Trail in Iowa

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In late July, Kevin Kinney, the Democratic candidate for the open state Senate seat in Iowa’s 39th District, got a phone call from a colleague.

Maryland’s Gov. Martin O’Malley, his colleague told him, wanted to help his campaign raise money.

O’Malley, who has said he’s seriously considering a run for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016, has been traversing Iowa and other key states in recent months, shaking hands with local Democrats who can help raise his profile. His political action committee has contributed close to $108,000 to Democratic candidates around the country and paid for more than two-dozen staffers to work in Iowa, New Hampshire and several other states ahead of the midterm elections this fall.

“I’d heard of him,” said Kinney. “But I certainly didn’t know him. I’d never spoke with him. But I’ll take anyone’s help if they’re offering it.”

Less than a week later, O’Malley gave the keynote address in front of a crowd of 30 people at Rocky O’Brien’s, a sports bar in Kinney’s hometown of North Liberty. North Liberty is located in Johnson County, also home to the University of Iowa, and one of the more liberal areas in the state.

In his speech, O’Malley vouched for Kinney as a candidate and talked about the need to elect Democrats statewide in Iowa, the state whose caucuses will kick off the nation’s voting for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees.

In August O’Malley, through his political action committee O’Say Can You See, began paying eleven staffers to work campaigns through the Iowa state Democratic Party, said O’Malley spokesman Lis Smith, who declined to say what candidates they’re working for.

“It’s a common thing to lend your support in various ways, to build bridges, shared goals and interests,” said Cary Covington, associate professor of American politics at the University of Iowa. “You have to get out there and shake hands and let people get comfortable with you.”

Sue Dvorsky, former chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, said that whether O’Malley is simply laying out his larger plans or has a sincere desire to help the state’s Democrats, his help has been well received.

“Right now he’s here to say ‘How can I help?’. That’s what he’s about,” said Dvorsky. “Right now we’re only thinking about what’s in front of us, which is a dead-heat senate race. If he’s got some bigger motive, well, for now, our interests are complementary.”

In New Hampshire, O’Malley is providing staff for U.S. Senate candidate Jeanne Shaheen and other local candidates, and is scheduled to make his fourth appearance in the state on Friday, when he’ll speak at the annual Portsmouth Democratic banquet.

In his previous visits to the state, which holds the first primary for the nation’s presidential nominating process, he’s made a positive impression, and earned quite a reputation as an orator, said Larry Drake, chair of the Portsmouth City Democratic Committee.

Drake, who saw O’Malley speak in November at the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner, said he remembers the governor’s impassioned recital of the Star-Spangled Banner, and the bravado with which he bragged on Baltimore’s role in creating the song.

“I can tell you people really remember those things,” he said. “Because we’re New Hampshire, the people who are scheduling these events generally consider who is running for president. But people seem to genuinely like O’Malley.”

Whether that translates into support is too early to say, Drake said.

O’Malley spent Saturday in South Carolina campaigning with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Vincent Shaheen.

Over the next month, he is scheduled to hold a high-profile fundraiser in Los Angeles, speak to the Minneapolis Democratic Party at its annual Founders Day Dinner, and give the keynote address at the Western Gala for the North Carolina Democratic Party.

If he plans to face up against Hillary Clinton, who most expect will run in 2016, he has a lot more handshaking to do. According to the latest RealClearPolitics average of polls taken of Democratic voters in Iowa, Clinton holds a commanding lead with 59 percent of the vote. O’Malley barely registers, claiming 1.7 percent.

But Tim Hagle, political science professor at the University of Iowa, said Clinton roots, at least in Iowa, are not as deep as people assume, and she may be just as vulnerable to being upset as she was in 2008.

Hagle said that when Bill Clinton was running for president in the early 1990s, he all but conceded Iowa to its native son, Sen. Tom Harkin, who was also running. In 2008, he said, Clinton may have assumed her victory and not bothered to build lasting relationships with the type of party officials that could help her today.

“Clinton’s base here is not what you’d think it is,” he said. “That’s why a young upstart like Barack Obama could come in and surprise her” in 2008.

By Mike Persley

Ebola: Preparing for the Worst in Maryland, Just in Case

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Maryland is prepared to deal with the possibility of an Ebola infection, said Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Dr. Joshua Sharfstein at a Thursday press conference, following the news earlier this week that a man in Texas is the first confirmed case of the deadly disease in the United States.

“The people in Maryland should know there is a lot of preparation going on,” Sharfstein said. “We have a health care system that is fully able to identify and respond to a whole range of potential issues, including Ebola virus.”

While Maryland has not yet had a diagnosed case of Ebola, health officials say it’s “certainly possible.”

Dr. Anthony Harris, a University of Maryland professor of epidemiology and public health, said there is a “reasonable possibility” that in the next year a hospital in Maryland will have a patient who has traveled from West Africa and has Ebola.

“Unfortunately, yes,” Harris said. “But I think the big difference though is that we are fully prepared to deal with that patient from the minute that they set foot in the door.”

Earlier this week, a man in Dallas, who traveled from Liberia and entered the country through Dulles International Airport, was confirmed as the first Ebola case ever in the U.S. The man is being treated in a Dallas area hospital.

Since Ebola is only spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of someone who is infected, Sharfstein said, “the general population is not at risk for Ebola at this point.” If you’re not someone who has traveled recently from West Africa, there is really nothing to worry about, he said.

Additionally, health officials said people who were on flights at Dulles at the same time as the now-confirmed Ebola patient are really not at any risk based on current evidence.

Sharfstein, along with a host of other health officials at the press conference, said preparing for Ebola is similar to preparing for other infectious diseases, and assured the public that disease surveillance and rapid testing standards and protocols are in place.

Officials are working to get out guidance to health care providers across the state on what to look for when it comes to Ebola and what to do if they think someone might have the disease, said Dr. Lisa Maragakis, director of the Department of Epidemiology and Infection Control at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Additionally, labs are required to report all suspected cases of Ebola, and the state lab in Baltimore actually has the ability to test for the Ebola virus, making Maryland only one of 13 states with this capability, officials said.

Officials also assured there are procedures in place among hospitals, health care providers and emergency response agencies for safe removal and isolation of a patient if a case is ever confirmed. For instance, D.H.M.H. and local health departments have a 24-7 system that can investigate a possible Ebola case and deploy, among other things, protocols and treatment recommendations, said Dr. Richard Alcorta, acting co-executive director of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems.

Officials said they have even taken the additional step of having inter-disciplinary meetings over the last several months with hospitals and healthcare providers to get their input on the Ebola situation, and to keep them abreast on the screening protocols and procedures.

Finally, officials said, they are working in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other states on how to respond if there is an outbreak.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed more than 3,000 people since it began six months ago, according to the World Health Organization. The epidemic began in Guinea, but has since spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The W.H.O has also reported that Senegal has had a travel-associated case of the Ebola virus.

 

By Ashley S. Westerman

MD New Laws for Transgender Folks, Dogs, Funeral Operators, and Hunters

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The fruits of the General Assembly’s 2014 session will come into full effect on Oct. 1 as a number of bills passed in the spring become law in Maryland.

In Gov. Martin O’Malley’s last legislative session, lawmakers passed a wide range of laws, from expansion of civil rights to opening up funeral operators to surprise inspections.

Transgender Marylanders will be protected from discrimination as the Senate passed the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, which prohibits discrimination against gender-identifying individuals in housing, labor and other public places such as restaurants and hotels.

The law exempts religious organizations and educational institutions, and owner-occupied rentals with five units or fewer. The new law also does not apply to locker rooms, where people are expected to publicly disrobe.

Maryland will join at least 17 other states and the District of Columbia in prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity, according to the policy note attached to the bill.  Some local jurisdictions in Maryland such as Baltimore had already passed laws against gender identity discrimination.

The governor’s environmental agenda was bolstered by the expansion of the state’s wildlands areas. Fourteen existing areas are set for expansion and another nine new areas will be added, increasing acreage from approximately 44,000 to 65,887.

The last time the state added new wildlands areas was in 2002, when the Department of Natural Resources designated 4,361 acres in Garrett County.

Since then, the Department of Natural Resources has conducted studies and acquired new land, which has resulted the single largest expansion of wildlands since the introduction of the Maryland Wildlands Act in 1971.

John S. Wilson, associate director for stewardship with land acquisition and planning at the state’s Department of Natural Resources, said that the aim of the wildlands is to return them to their original state before or just after European settlement. Hikers and horseback riders are permitted to use the land, but mountain bikes and motorized vehicles are not.

“It goes to when the country was wild and how did these folks get around? They got around on foot and they got around on horses,” he said.

Those concerned about the care of their remains once in the hands of funeral homes can rest easy as of Oct. 1 when the State Board of Morticians and Funeral Directors will become authorized to conduct unannounced inspections of body preparation and storage areas without being accompanied by a licensee employed by the funeral establishment.

Ruth Ann Arty, executive director of the State Board of Morticians and Funeral Directors, said that not only was the board looking to ensure properly licensed practices, dignity and public health, but also wanted to be more in line with other types of health inspections in the state.

The new unannounced inspections may only be conducted when a provider is under probation or has received a complaint. Arty said that the board advocated for these conditions to protect members who do business ethically.

The state is also expanding its 2010 move-over law that requires drivers to either move over into the next lane if safe or slow down when they see emergency vehicles on the state’s roads. Starting Oct. 1, drivers will also have to move over for tow trucks.

“When the fire service is on the side of the road, we’re just hoping and praying to be safe on the side of the road,” said Del. James E. Malone Jr., D-Baltimore County and Howard County. Malone has been an active firefighter for 40 years and sponsored the bill expanding the move-over law.

Although a large number of bills come into effect on Oct. 1, several others became law over the summer and during the legislative session.

Dog owners will be held liable for bite injuries, but will have the opportunity to challenge the liability in court before a jury. The emergency bill – enacted when it passed in April – was a response to a 2012 court ruling that pit bulls are inherently dangerous. The law imposes liability regardless of breed.

Free pre-kindergarten education will become available to an additional 1,600 Maryland children under an expansion of the 2002 Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act. The state is lifting the income-eligibility cap from 185 to 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. The increase will cost the state $4.3 million in fiscal 2015.

And the Department of Natural Resources is authorizing archery hunting of deer on select Sundays during the October to January hunting season.

Sunday hunting will only be allowed in Allegany, Garrett, Frederick and Washington counties, said Paul Peditto, director of wildlife services with the Department of Natural Resources.

Peditto added that hunters will also be allowed to use bows and firearms to hunt small game such as grouse and squirrels beginning no later than Dec. 22. The season is likely to be quite short because by mid-January hunters are effectively foreclosed from those areas due to snow coverage.

Peditto said that the hunting demographic is mostly blue collar workers who make a living Mondays through Saturdays and have welcomed the opportunity to hunt on Sundays.

There may also be an economic benefit to the state as hunters Pennsylvania, where Sunday hunting is now allowed, come to Maryland for a weekend of hunting.

“Seventy five percent of non-resident deer hunters are from Pennsylvania,” Peditto said.

The state’s increased tax credits and rebates for electric vehicles went into effect July 1. It gives new electric-car buyers $125 per kilowatt-hour of the battery capacity or $3,000, whichever is less.

The bill also replaced the recharging-equipment tax credit with a new rebate. Individuals, businesses and retail gas-stations can claim back 50 percent of the total cost of installing recharging equipment with a maximum of $900, $5,000 and $7,500 respectively.

By Lejla Sarcevic

 

Treating MD’s Juvenile Delinquents at Home More Effective, Less Costly Than Jails, Advocates Say

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The $225 million set aside to build three new jails for juvenile delinquents and improvements to a fourth in Maryland should be spent on community-based treatment instead, a state review panel found.

Putting more money into juvenile jails would lead to less effective treatments, according to a report by the Maryland Juvenile Justice Monitoring Unit, which tracks the needs of children under the Department of Juvenile Services and produces quarterly reports on the conditions of the department’s facilities.

The budgeted money, which includes the proposed construction of three new juvenile jails in Baltimore, Prince George’s County and Wicomico County, should be re-directed to provide more nonresidential, evidence-based treatment programs in the communities, said Nick Moroney, director of the Maryland Juvenile Justice Monitoring Unit.

More emphasis on community-based treatment could help reduce juvenile recidivism rates, according to the report.

“Maryland should follow the national trends and be moving away from large, congregative facilities and move more towards services in the community,” Moroney said.

Not all juvenile offenders are suited for community-based treatment, and some, who are very high risk or have certain mental health needs, need to be incarcerated out of state because Maryland lacks the specific services to treat them, said Eric Solomon, public information officer for the Department of Juvenile Services.

Last year, 126 youth were incarcerated out of state, according to the department’s data resource guide. The construction of the proposed facilities could mean that more youth are able to stay in state in the future, Solomon said.

“We would love to be serving as many kids as we can in state,” Solomon said. “Some of these possible treatment centers that we could be building could help us in bringing back some of those kids to treat here.”

Maryland has seven state-operated facilities for convicted youth offenders, including five lower-level security facilities controlled mainly by staff, and two that are heavily secured by hardware such as fences and bars, according to the Department of Juvenile Services.

In 2013, 630 youths were placed in staff and hardware secure facilities and 716 were in community-based treatment in Maryland, according to the Department of Juvenile Services.

Studies have shown that intensive, community-based treatment programs, such as multisystemic therapy and functional family therapy, are more successful at reducing recidivism among juveniles than incarceration, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a Baltimore-based philanthropy working on national children’s issues.

Functional family therapy involves the youth’s family members and aims to turn around juveniles who are at risk or already exhibiting delinquency, substance abuse or behavioral issues without sending the child away from home. Multisystemic therapy is designed to work with chronic and more serious juvenile offenders in their own communities to address every aspect of their lives, from their families and friends to schools and neighborhoods.

But their success rates vary: One is better than incarceration, and the other worse, research indicates.

More than 19 percent of youth were reconvicted and 14.7 percent were re-incarcerated 12 months after release from a state-operated facility, according to the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services’ 2013 data resource guide.

More successfully, 12 percent of Maryland youth were reconvicted and 7 percent were incarcerated within 12 months of completion of functional family therapy in 2012, according to a 2013 report from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Twenty-seven percent of youth were reconvicted and 19 percent were incarcerated in 2012 within 12 months of completing a multisystemic therapy program in Maryland, according to a similar report.

The statistics did show that functional family therapy produced lower rates of recidivism among youth offenders than incarceration and multisystemic therapy produced higher rates, but it’s impossible to fairly compare these rates because of the many variables at play, said Jennifer Mettrick, director of implementation services at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

How a child responds to community-based therapy depends on the kind of offender he or she is and whether he or she has been through the justice system before, and there is no concrete system to decide who gets what kind of treatment, Mettrick explained.

“You can’t do a straight comparison because there’s not a systematic way that kids are being referred to these services verses out of home,” she said.

There are sets of criteria that make youth ineligible for community-based treatment, such as exhibiting suicidal, homicidal or psychotic behavior, being charged as a sex offender or not being of the appropriate age. Youth must be 10-18 years old for functional family therapy and 12-17 years old for multisystemic therapy. Once a youth’s eligibility for community-based treatment is determined, it is up to the court to decide where he or she is sent.

Sometimes, the decision comes down to wherever there is availability. This means that less serious offenders can wind up in residential facilities, while more serious offenders are being treated in their communities, Mettrick said.

“Sometimes they’re an apples to apples comparison, sometimes they’re not,” she said. “But there are a lot of very similar kids that just by chance happen to get into one or the other service.”

Treating children in the community is much cheaper than treating them in a residential facility. The average cost per child per day for multisystemic therapy is $110, compared to $34 per child for functional family therapy, while each day at a state-operated facility per child costs $274 or $531, depending on the security level of the facility, according to the university’s report.

“If we can keep 50 percent of kids from coming back into the system, and we’re doing it at a much reduced cost and a much smaller length of time and kids are able to stay in their communities, that’s a win-win,” Mettrick said.

Community-based therapies take into account almost every aspect of the child’s life, rather than sending him or her away to a facility only to return home to the same situation that influenced his or her behavior in the first place, said Eliza Steele, senior monitor of the Juvenile Justice Monitoring Unit.

“The idea is that you address whatever dysfunction is happening in the family or the home so that you look at the kid holistically to understand what he needs,” she said.

There is still a need for secure, state-operated facilities to house violent youth offenders who pose a potential threat, but courts should choose community-based treatment for convicted youth whenever possible, Mettrick said.

“You can’t take those out-of-home placements completely out of the service array because they are still needed, but maybe to a lesser degree,” she said.

It’s difficult to walk the line between wanting to provide more individualized treatment services for youth and needing to meet the demand for juveniles committed to incarceration by the courts, said Jason Tashea, juvenile justice policy director at Advocates for Children and Youth, an independent organization advocating for the needs of children in Maryland.

“I have faith that DJS is working with all the relevant actors to try to make sure that the right kids are going to the right places,” he said. “But we would like to see more of an emphasis on the community treatment and less emphasis on secure committed facilities.”

By Madeleine List
Capital News Service