Tuesday, July 22, 2014
County Charter Moves Forward for Public Vote

Commissioners to publish and forward to the Board of Elections

On Tuesday, July 22, the Charter Board presented the County Commissioners with the final draft of the proposed charter. The charter is a blueprint for the structure of county government that defines duties, powers, rules, and procedures. In accordance with the Maryland Constitution it will be published in a local newspaper and forwarded to the Board of Elections to be placed on the November 2014 ballot.

Charles County’s current form of government is code home rule. If approved by majority vote, charter would replace code home rule as the form of county government. Currently, 10 Maryland counties operate under the charter form of government: Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Cecil, Dorchester, Harford, Howard, Montgomery, Prince George’s, Talbot, and Wicomico.

Key provisions in the charter include:

Sammy 04:28 PM | (1) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Longtime Republican Kurt Wolfgang endorses Democrat Ken Robinson

WATCH part 1 of our interview

WATCH part 2 of our interview

By Debra Zimmerman Murphey

Citing integrity and needed leadership for a better and balanced growth vision in Charles County, longtime Republican and attorney Kurt Wolfgang says he will support Commissioner Ken Robinson, a Democrat, in the general election in November 2014.

Robinson is running for re-election in District 1. He has carved out a bipartisan political brand by keeping his constituency informed through social media, endorsing more openness in government, and advocating economically sustainable policies, such as smart growth.

Sammy 11:59 AM | (1) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
FAA bans U.S. airlines from Israel over rocket threat
Bart Jansen ― USA TODAY

Delta Air Lines, United and US Airways each canceled flights Tuesday to Israel because of safety and security concerns, after a rocket attack near Tel Aviv’s airport.

At 12:15 p.m., the Federal Aviation Administration prohibited U.S. airlines from flying to Ben Gurion International Airport for 24 hours, after a rocket landed about 1 mile from the airport.

“The FAA will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation,” FAA said in a statement. “Updated instructions will be provided to U.S. airlines as soon as conditions permit, but no later than 24 hours” from the last order.

Sammy 11:44 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Perry sending National Guard troops to border

Gov. Rick Perry is deploying up to 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border over the next month to combat what he said Monday were criminals exploiting a surge of children pouring into the U.S. illegally.

Perry, a vocal critic of the White House’s response to the border crisis who is himself mulling a second presidential run, said the state has a responsibility to act after “lip service and empty promises” from Washington.

“I will not stand idly by while our citizens are under assault and little children from Central America are detained in squalor,” the governor said.

Sammy 11:40 AM | (13) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Charles County Planning Commission Meeting Video

Date:  07/21/2014


Sammy 11:13 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Federal appeals court deals blow to health law

A federal appeals court delivered a serious setback to President Barack Obama’s health care law Tuesday, potentially derailing billions of dollars in subsidies for many low- and middle-income people who bought policies.

In a case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a group of small business owners argued that the law authorizes subsidies only for people who buy insurance through markets established by the states—not by the federal government.

A divided court agreed, in a 2-1 decision that could mean premium increases for more than half the 8 million Americans who have purchased taxpayer-subsidized coverage under the law. The ruling affects consumers who bought coverage in the 36 states served by the federal insurance marketplace, or exchange.
The administration is expected to appeal the ruling.

Sammy 10:29 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
California firm issues nationwide fruit recall

A Central California company has issued a voluntary nationwide recall of specific lots of its fresh peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots over concerns of possible listeria contamination.

Wawona Packing says on its website that no illnesses have been reported and the recall is a precautionary measure.
Retailers that received the fruit include Costco and Trader Joe’s.

Sammy 10:27 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Aquifer System Beneath Albuquerque Shows Impact of Groundwater Pumping
U.S. Geological Survey

Groundwater pumping has produced significant changes in water levels below some parts of the Albuquerque metropolitan area, according to two new reports published by the U.S. Geological Survey.

For many decades, the water supply requirements of the Albuquerque metropolitan area in central New Mexico were met almost exclusively by groundwater withdrawal from the Santa Fe Group aquifer system.  Reliance on groundwater led to variable responses in groundwater levels across the area, with declines in some areas exceeding 120 feet below predevelopment water level conditions.

“We observed that over time the way groundwater moved and where it was present changed significantly,” said USGS hydrologist Rachel Powell, lead author of the report Estimated 2012 groundwater potentiometric surface and drawdown from predevelopment to 2012 in the Santa Fe Group aquifer system in the Albuquerque metropolitan area, central New Mexico. “Groundwater used to flow roughly parallel to the Rio Grande valley, but now it moves away from the Rio Grande and towards clusters of water supply wells in the east, north, and west parts of the metropolitan area.” .

Sammy 10:23 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Agencies again told they have to pay bills quickly — for now, anyway
Jill R. Aitoro ― Washington Business Journal

The federal government reinstated a temporary practice that should probably be a permanent one: paying bills to contractors in a reasonable amount of time.

A temporary policy established by the Office of Management and Budget about two years ago set a goal for agencies to pay their prime contractors within 15 days of receipt of invoices. The reason was mainly so that prime contractors could them promptly pay their small business contractors, which more often struggle with cash flow. But that policy expired July 11.

So what did OMB do? Reinstate it — again as a temporary policy, kicking in Aug. 1 and set to expire Dec. 31, 2016. The Defense Department followed suit, notifying its agencies of the reinstatement as well.

Sammy 10:20 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Census: Farmland growing in Bay states
Karl Blankenship and Whitney Pipkin ― Bay Journal

After decades of decline, one resource in the Bay watershed is making a comeback — farmland.

Figures from the most recent agricultural census from the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that the Bay watershed gained about 125,000 acres of agricultural land between 2007 and 2012, bringing the total to more than 12.6 million acres of crops, pastures and other farmland.

While that’s small — and within the census’ margin of error — it does signal that the region’s once precipitous rate of farmland loss halted in recent years as the housing market weakened and prices for many crops hit record highs.

Sammy 10:15 AM | (2) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Officials unveil new public health lab
Daily Record

State and city officials this morning are unveiling the new Maryland Public Health Laboratory, a 234,000-square foot facility in the Baltimore Science + Technology Park at Johns Hopkins.

A ribbon-cutting is scheduled to unveil the six-story facility, which is designed to better handle public health emergencies and to keep Maryland at the forefront of medical research, officials said.

Sammy 10:12 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Maryland gets waiver extension for teacher evaluations
Liz Bowie ― Baltimore Sun

Maryland can put off using test scores to evaluate teachers through the next school year under a waiver to federal law.

The U.S. Department of Education granted Maryland a one-year extension that will allow it to put off using annual test scores, given in grades three through eight, as part of a teacher’s evaluation. The extension was expected, and Maryland legislators had already passed a law prohibiting the use of test scores until the 2016-2017 school year.

Across the nation, national education groups and state leaders are backing away from the requirement until school districts have adjusted to the new Common Core curriculum and the PARCC tests that will be given for the first time next spring.

Sammy 07:53 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Loller to run against Robinson for Charles commissioner
Joseph Norris ― THEBAYNET.COM

With the withdrawal of Republican candidate for District I Commissioner J.T. Crawford July 7, Charles Loller, who ran an unsuccessful bid for governor in the Maryland primary election, has filed to run against Democratic candidate Ken Robinson in the November General Election.

Loller filed to run the same day Crawford withdrew his name from the race.

Loller also ran against Rep. Steny Hoyer for Congress in 2010.
The Newburg resident said he feels he can implement plans he intended to enact as governor on a local level. “My honest goal [running for governor] was to bring more business for our state,” Loller said. “If I can do that for Charles County, then perhaps those who didn’t support me in my campaign for governor will see what we can do on a local level.”

Sammy 07:36 AM | (29) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Starter charter
Frederick News-Post - Editorial

The charter’s budget section has raised concerns among some that it puts too much power in the hands of the county executive. Democratic candidate for Council District 2 Annette Breiling brought up the possibility that the exec could, for example, completely eliminate funding for all nonprofits. Even if the entire council disagreed with that decision, the charter forbids them from increasing the executive’s budget.
Republican Billy Shreve, however, suggested that if the council wanted to add nonprofit funding into the budget, and had enough public support to do so, explicit permission from the charter was unnecessary.

“A political body can make any decision they want, and if no one sues them, it doesn’t matter if they followed the rules or not.” That sort of reminds us of that famous (paraphrased) line from the film “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” — “We don’t need no stinking badges.”

First, someone would sue, and right away, if the charter were violated as Shreve suggests it could be. Is this loony governing philosophy one that any reasonable person could embrace? Officials are elected to follow the law, not to thumb their noses at it and do as they please. If that were the case, why have a pesky old charter at all?

Sammy 07:33 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Mikulski amendment aimed at wind turbines

The effort to protect the Patuxent River Naval Air Station from the impacts of wind turbines on the Eastern Shore has picked up a key supporter. U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D: MD), chairperson of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has inserted language in the Senate Defense Appropriations to deal with the issue.

The language is as follows: “Patuxent Naval Air Station—The Committee is aware that the Department of the Navy commissioned the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory to conduct a study to determine the effects and a potential mitigation plan between the operation of the proposed wind energy project and the Patuxent Naval Air Station.

“The study is not yet completed. Therefore, the Committee directs the Navy to refrain from executing any agreement with respect to the operation of the proposed wind energy project until the study is provided to the congressional defense committees.”

Sammy 07:31 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
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