Wednesday, January 06, 2010
DNR Funding New Public Boat Ramp on Potomac in Charles
Southern Maryland Online

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has awarded a grant to Charles County to construct a new boat ramp facility in Mallows Bay on the Potomac River. This new public boating access facility, mostly paid for through DNR’s Waterway Improvement Fund, will include a 50-foot timber boarding pier, concrete boat launch, access road, vehicle and trailer parking, storm water management features and plantings.

The new project will provide recreational boating and fishing access to the Potomac River, which holds a great recreational fishery including large mouth bass and perch. Additionally, Mallows Bay contains the historically significant “ghost ships,” including World War I era wooden vessels. (See http://dnr.maryland.gov/naturalresource/winter2001/ghostship.html and http://somdthisisliving.somd.com/vol11num2/mallows-bay-ship-graveyard.html to learn more.)

Sammy 02:54 PM | (4) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Jameson reluctantly plans Annapolis fundraising event
ALAN BRODY ― Maryland Independent

Del. Sally Y. Jameson will hold her first-ever Annapolis fundraiser Thursday morning, a sign that she is not taking her re-election chances for granted.
[...]
Jameson’s campaign distributed only a limited number of invitations and expects a relatively small crowd at the Governor Calvert House, a historic hotel that is a common venue for fundraisers and legislative receptions because of its location just steps from the State House. The invitation lists House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) and Middleton as special guests.

The hastily organized fundraiser, with tickets ranging from $200 to $750 apiece, is not designed to boost Jameson’s standing in Annapolis, but is instead an effort to rake in some campaign cash before the prohibition, she said. When lawmakers can resume raising money in mid-April, the primary election will be five months away.

Sammy 12:12 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Officials read 2010 tea leaves
Meredith Somers ― Maryland Independent

What’s in store for new year in Charles County

[...]
Planning for department presentations and submissions has already started, and in February county representatives will head to New York to receive a credit rating, which will have a direct effect on the county’s interest rate and subsequent bond bids.

“The budget takes up a lot of the year. We’ll be looking at numbers and looking at where we can spend, where we have spent, where we need to spend and where we would like to spend,” Graves (D) said.
[...]
Charles County commissioners’ President F. Wayne Cooper (D) acknowledged the shrinking budget and attempts to provide for county residents and said he also anticipated a decision on the cross-county connector.

Sammy 12:06 PM | (2) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Stimulus funds target filling foreclosed homes
ERICA MITRANO ― Maryland Independent

Charles County has received more than $1 million in federal stimulus money to help rescue collapsing neighborhoods, and this is good news for anyone now looking to purchase a house.

And, perhaps, for anyone living in one, as the program aims to stabilize communities by filling homes.
[...]
On a more local level, Collins gave credit to the county’s housing division, saying it was “instrumental in the overall planning, and being in the position to take advantage of the funds that were available.”

Collins said while Charles County doesn’t have an official foreclosure policy, the conservation program was the “best approach” for the area because it targeted specific ZIP codes hit hardest by foreclosure.

Sammy 12:03 PM | (3) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Bond bill hiatus sought in session
ALAN BRODY ― Maryland Independent

Charles delegation recommends zero funding for projects

With money for local projects already scarce, Charles County legislators are taking a bold stand by urging General Assembly leaders to withhold all funding for bond bills in the next fiscal year.

The unusual request that the state should defund the popular program in light of a massive budget shortfall was formally made several months ago in a letter to the legislature’s presiding officers.

Sammy 12:00 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Connector absorbs federal agency blow
MEREDITH SOMERS ― Maryland Independent

Fish and Wildlife requests that corps deny approval

[...]
“My main concern with the letter is that it’s based on outdated information,” Charles County Commissioner Gary V. Hodge (D) said. “It appears clear to us that it’s based on a 1996 [National Environmental Protection Act] report … and also some earlier county information provided to the corps in 2008 before the public hearings were held.”

“If [the office] requested the information, of course, we would provide it to them,” said commissioners’ President F. Wayne Cooper (D). “But they haven’t requested it. We have provided piles of information to the corps and Maryland Department of the Environment.”
[...]
Hodge objected to the letter being sent to Mattawoman Creek advocates as well as to the corps.

“I respect the advocacy process. It’s very challenging for an organization to stop a project,” Hodge said. “But I have to look at this for what it is: A federal agency copied opponents without copying state and local agencies, and that’s very odd to me.”
[...]
“Development has already started. It’s moving forward, and it’s part of the development district,” Cooper said. “You can look at Billingsley Road as a major safety concern. And with development coming, the road was not built for that capacity of traffic being on it.

Related thead: Wildlife Agency Raises Stop Sign For Sprawl Highway

Sammy 11:51 AM | (5) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
DNR to Hold Open Houses on State Oyster Proposal
Southern Maryland Online

Staff will answer questions and register public comment on Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development Plan at four locations this month

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will hold four open houses this month on Maryland’s proposed Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development Plan, announced by Governor Martin O’Malley in December. The open houses are designed to inform citizens and serve as the formal scoping meetings for the plan. The open house in southern Maryland will be held in Solomons on January 26.

Since 1994, the Chesapeake Bay’s oyster population has languished at 1 percent of historic levels; quality oyster bars have decreased 80 percent (from 200,000 acres to 36,000 acres) and the number of harvesters has dwindled from 2,000 in the mid 1980s to just over 500. Today there are 18 remaining oyster processing companies in Maryland, down from 58 in 1974.
[...]
Lower Western Shore: January 26th, 12:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Solomons Volunteer Rescue Squad
13150 H.G. Trueman Rd., Solomons, MD 20688

Sammy 11:45 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Some Bipartisan Cheer for the New Year
Southern Maryland Online

Commentary by Ron Miller

Happy New Year! Thanks for allowing me a brief hiatus during the holidays. The time spent with family and church was most welcome, and I made significant progress on my book.

2010 is an election year - sorry to take the bloom of the New Year’s rose so abruptly! - and I’m going to kick it off by praising some Democrats. Yes, you read that right. I’m sure those who want to portray me as a wild-eyed partisan are frantically flipping through their opposition research playbooks right now wondering how to respond!

Sammy 11:43 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
How Visa, Using Card Fees, Dominates a Market
ANDREW MARTIN ― New York Times

Every day, millions of Americans stand at store checkout counters and make a seemingly random decision: after swiping their debit card, they choose whether to punch in a code, or to sign their name.

It is a pointless distinction to most consumers, since the price is the same either way. But behind the scenes, billions of dollars are at stake.

When you sign a debit card receipt at a large retailer, the store pays your bank an average of 75 cents for every $100 spent, more than twice as much as when you punch in a four-digit code.

Sammy 08:10 AM | (2) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Promise to Trim Deficit Is Growing Harder to Keep
JACKIE CALMES ― New York Times

President Obama is making final decisions on his budget for next year and is still promising to outline a path to substantially lower federal deficits. But on nearly every front, that goal has gotten harder since his first budget a year ago.

A deeper recession and slower recovery than the administration initially forecast have increased the tab for economic stimulus measures beyond the original $787 billion package, adding hundreds of billions of dollars for programs like unemployment relief and tax credits for homebuyers.

Sammy 08:07 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Congressional ‘earmarks’ in spending bills cut by a third
Matt Kelley ― USA TODAY

The 2010 federal spending bills disclose $10.2 billion for pet projects inserted by members of Congress, a drop of nearly a third since 2008, an analysis of the bills shows.

The 9,297 “earmarks” reported in spending legislation for 2010 were down from 11,282 reported for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, according to data compiled by the non-partisan watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. The 2009 earmarks were worth $14.3 billion.

Still, the spending bills contain billions of dollars for other special-interest programs that aren’t reported as earmarks, says Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense. Ellis said his group found $4.9 billion worth of such undisclosed funding in last year’s spending bills, for example, but hasn’t finished its analysis of the latest bills.

Sammy 08:02 AM | (1) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Open Thread - January 6, 2010

The most practical kind of politics is the politics of decency.
~Theodore Roosevelt

Sammy 08:00 AM | (6) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Recession fuels shift from private to public schools More students leave private schools for public
Greg Toppo ― USA TODAY

When the family budget started feeling the recession’s pinch last year, Angela Allyn and her photographer husband, Matt Dinnerstein, pulled their three kids out of Chicago-area private schools and enrolled them in Evanston, Ill., public schools.
[...]
“Private schools tend to treat you more like a customer than the public schools,” Allyn says. Public schools are “going to get their tax dollars whether or not you as a parent are upset. If you’re in a private school and you yank your kid out, that’s a lot of money walking out the (private school’s) door.”

Enrollment figures for the current school year won’t be available until next year, but the U.S. Department of Education’s latest estimate finds that from 2006 to 2009, public school enrollment grew by nearly a half-million students, or about 1%, while private school enrollment dropped by about 146,000, or 2.5%.

Sammy 07:56 AM | (1) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Another fresh start on cleaning up Chesapeake Bay
David A. Fahrenthold ― Washington Post

On Tuesday morning, it became official that the government-led cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay had missed its grandest, most ambitious deadline. In 2000, state and federal leaders had agreed to solve the Chesapeake’s pollution problems “by 2010.”

Here it was, 2010, and efforts to reduce bay pollution from manure, fertilizer and sewage were more than 40 percent short of their goals.

But as the governors of Virginia and Maryland and the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency met for a summit on the Chesapeake, none of them even mentioned the shortfall. Instead, they made a new pledge.
[...]
In Maryland, a new law is cutting air pollution from power plants, which settles on water and dissolves. And an influx of money in the federal farm bill allowed the state to partially reimburse farmers who tackled pollution. Across the state, government money helped buy 55 new sheds to keep manure out of the rain and 22 composters to keep dead chickens out of waste piles.

Those measures have helped Maryland achieve 34 percent of the overall pollution cuts that it must meet to achieve new short-term goal, set for 2011. Officials in Virginia and Pennsylvania, the other two states that provide most of the bay’s pollution, said they were also on track but could not provide more specific information about their progress.

Sammy 07:47 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
A rush before Md. legislative session cuts off fundraising
John Wagner ― Washington Post

Maryland lawmakers are not allowed to raise campaign funds during their annual legislative session. But they make up for it in the days before they convene—particularly in a spirited election year like this one.

At last count, 41 fundraisers had been scheduled between New Year’s and the start of the session next week, many of them targeting lobbyists and businesses that will have bills affecting their interests before the General Assembly. Among the eight events slated for Wednesday are dueling breakfasts in Annapolis hosted by the chairmen of the House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over energy-related legislation.

“I haven’t seen it like this before,” said Bruce C. Bereano, a longtime Annapolis lobbyist who keeps a comprehensive calendar of fundraisers. “I wish I had either a helicopter or roller skates so I could get to them all.”

Sammy 07:44 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
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