Archive for the ‘Old Articles’ Category

Did you receive the new Center Maryland email?

Center Maryland launched our new website and email this week, including converting over to a new email provider.

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Thanks for your interest in Center Maryland, and we hope you like our new and improved website and email.

Welcome to our Old Articles Site

You have reached the archive center of all our old articles from our original site. Center Maryland is proud to announce the launch of its new website. We appreciate your visit.
Please CLICK HERE to read our most recent and latest articles.

Happy July 4th!

Center Maryland wishes all of our readers a wonderful Independence Day holiday. We’re going to take Thursday and Friday off from the morning emails, but be sure to check in to the website over the holiday break for periodic news updates. The email will be back on Monday morning.

Nestor Aparicio Discusses Purple Reign 2 – Part I — VIDEO


“Nasty” Nestor Aparicio talks with Center Maryland about his recent book “Purple Reign 2,” which details the Baltimore Ravens championship season and Super Bowl XLVII victory in New Orleans.

Having trouble seeing the above video? Click here to go directly to it.

Damian O’Doherty is a corporate communications strategist, a principal of KO Public Affairs LLC and co-founder of Center Maryland.

Center Maryland 2.0 – Coming Soon (and a Sneak Peak)

Center Maryland is proud to announce that we will be launching a major upgrade to our website and daily email starting later this month.

The new website and email – what we like to call Center Maryland 2.0 – is the result of many conversations we have had with our loyal readers over the past few months, and we have worked hard to keep what you say you like about Center Maryland while trying to make improvements to address the ways that you think we can get better.

Yes, we’re still going to be your leading source of all of the important political, government and business news and commentary across Maryland media each day. And yes, we’ll still offer our strong lineup of original political and business commentary, as well as a diverse array of video interviews from our Center Maryland studio.

What’s new? We’re promising a more engaging homepage, featuring images of our latest videos. The news should be easier to read and navigate, particularly on mobile devices. We’ll be able to offer sponsorship advertising opportunities on both the homepage and the daily email (contact us at for more information). Our aggregated headline content will be more easily searched – and it will stay on our website for an extended period of time, instead of being wiped clean each weekday.

Check out the image below for a sneak peak of what the new home page will look like.

With the new website, we will be shifting to a new email provider. We expect that the transition should go smoothly and without interruption. But if for some reason you get bumped out of our email list during the transition, please shoot us an email at and we’ll work to get your subscription fixed.

To make all of this possible, we’d like to extend a special thanks for the hard work of our friends at CentroSync, a terrific IT consulting company based in Montgomery County. The team at CentroSync looked at how we had been operating for the past 3-1/2 years and helped us develop new and better ways to move forward.

We’re going to do our best to make this transition as smooth as possible. Please forgive us if we’re a little late a couple of morning as we work out the kinks. And remember – if you drop off the email, please contact us right away and let us know so we can fix your subscription.

Thanks for your support of Center Maryland, and please consider whether an advertising sponsorship at Center Maryland might be the right choice for your company or organization.


Josh Kurtz: The Retiring Kind

By Josh Kurtz

One of my prized possessions is a poison pen note I received eight years ago from Gary Ackerman, who was then a congressman from New York.

I was the politics editor at Roll Call, and I had included Ackerman, a flamboyant guy who was famous for living on a house boat called The Unsinkable (it sank), for wearing a white carnation in his suit jacket lapel every day, and for the New York deli feast he provided his colleagues annually, in an article for the paper about House members who might be retiring in 2006.

“Dear Fiction Editor of Roll Call: I am anything but retiring,” the letter said in its entirety.

OK, so I was off by six years — Ackerman finally hung it up last year. But several insiders who were watching incumbents’ fundraising, political changes in their districts, and their overall demeanor suggested at the time that Ackerman deserved to be on the list of possible retirees.

So here we go again. Let’s take a look at Maryland state senators and members of the House of Delegates who belong on a retirement watch list ahead of the 2014 elections. These are people who, given their fundraising pace, or changes to their district lines, or tepid levels of political activity, suggest that they’re not coming back — regardless of what they may say publicly.

But first, to review.

Howard County Sen. James Robey (D) and Harford County Sen. Nancy Jacobs (R) are retiring outright. Montgomery County Sen. Rob Garagiola (D) is retiring on Sept. 1. Howard County Sen. Allan Kittleman (R), Montgomery County Sen. Brian Frosh (D) and Harford County Sen. Barry Glassman (R) are running for higher office.

In the House, Western Maryland Del. LeRoy Myers (R) has said he doesn’t plan to come back, though he has not ruled out the possibility of running for another office. Del. Galen Clagett (D) is running for mayor of Frederick this year — but even if he loses, most observers don’t expect him to run for the House again.

Other delegates who have announced so far that they are moving on: Del. Wade Kach (R) is running for Baltimore County Council; Del. Gail Bates (R) is running for the Howard County Senate seat that Kittleman is giving up; Del. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam (D) is challenging Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell (D) in a Baltimore city and county district; Baltimore County Del. Emmit Burns (D) is retiring; Baltimore County Del. Jon Cardin (D) is running for attorney general; all three District 12 delegates — Jimmy Malone (D), Steven DeBoy (D) and Liz Bobo (D) — are retiring; Del. Guy Guzzone (D) is running for Robey’s Senate seat; Del. Brian Feldman (D) hopes to be appointed to Garagiola’s Senate seat; Del. Bill Frick (D) is running for attorney general and Del. Susan Lee (D) is running for Frosh’s Senate seat in Montgomery’s District 16; District 20 Del. Heather Mizeur (D) is running for governor; Prince George’s Del. Aisha Braveboy (D) is running for attorney general; Anne Arundel Del. Ron George (R) is running for governor; and Anne Arundel Del. Steve Schuh (R) is running for county executive.

That’s already a pretty substantial list. But it’s going to grow. Who else should we be looking out for?

Not many, on the Senate side. Baltimore County Sen. Norm Stone (D) — who was elected to the House a few weeks after the Cuban Missile Crisis and then joined the Senate while LBJ was president — is a lock to retire, and Del. John Olszewski Jr. (D) is almost certain to replace him.

Several veteran senators say they plan to run, but as of now the one who probably bears the most watching is Montgomery County Sen. Jennie Forehand (D). Forehand, who was elected to the House in 1978 and the Senate in 1994, is almost certain to face a nasty primary challenge from Del. Luiz Simmons (D) — this, on the heels of the nasty primary challenge she faced from ex-Del. Cheryl Kagan (D) in 2010. And Kagan hasn’t ruled out the possibility of running again as well.

Forehand had $20,000 in her campaign account in January after raising no money last year. Simmons had less money on hand — $11,000 — but at least he showed a fundraising pulse by raising $10,000 last year. Forehand is still telling people she plans to run. But she’ll be 78 next year and may not have an appetite for a fight.

On the House side, let us stipulate that any number of delegates could still wind up running for other offices. Some are expected to declare for Senate and haven’t done so. Others are eyeing higher office and still others could wind up as candidates for lieutenant governor.

That said, here are our top candidates for retirement from the House, in alphabetical order — even though they haven‘t publicly revealed their plans yet:

— Eastern Shore Del. Rudy Cane (D): He’ll be 79 next year, and has apparently groomed Wicomico County Councilwoman Sheree Sample Hughes (D) to succeed him.

— Anne Arundel County Del. Bob Costa (R): One of Democrats’ favorite Republicans, thanks to his vote for gay marriage and some other measures favored by the majority — but that doesn’t help him any in a Republican primary. Seems ready to go.

— Anne Arundel Del. Don Dwyer (R): Can anyone predict what this guy is going to do?

— Frederick and Carroll County Del. Don Elliott (R): He’ll be 82 in the fall and has had a good long run, having first been elected in 1986. Thanks to redistricting, he’s been thrust into a district with four Republican incumbents, so it makes sense for one of them to step aside.

— Prince George’s Del. Jim Hubbard (D): Redistricting has not been kind to the 22-year House veteran. He may opt for retiring rather than a bitter internecine struggle with Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith (D).

— Anne Arundel Del. Mary Ann Love (D): Looks like Love, who was appointed to the House in 1993 and is 73 now, may be at the end of the line. She raised just $1,250 last year, and the senator from her district, Ed DeGrange (D), is said to be recruiting potential replacements. Del. Ted Sophocleus (D), who represents the same district, is not terribly ambulatory and is another retirement possibility.

— Baltimore City Del. Brian McHale (D): People are starting to sense that McHale, a unique, conscientious lawmaker who also works as a longshoreman, may be ready to retire. He raised less than $3,000 last year and had $32,000 in the bank in January, and at least two ambitious challengers are gearing up to run in his district: attorney Brooke Lierman and educator Bill Romani, who was runner-up in the 2010 primary.

— Baltimore County Del. Sonny Minnick (D): He’s 80 now, and it’s probably time to “move the previous question” on his colorful career.

— Southern Maryland Del. Tony O’Donnell (R): Deposed as House minority leader, spent after raising $172,000 for the privilege of being slaughtered by Steny Hoyer last year, he isn’t showing many signs of political life. He could run a credible campaign against Sen. Roy Dyson (D) if he chose to, but that’s looking increasingly unlikely. O’Donnell had just $2,800 in his state campaign account in January after raising less than $2,000 last year. Dyson raised just $1,600 but had $31,000 in the bank.

— Washington County Del. Andrew Serafini (R): He has been there for five years, and apparently doesn‘t like it.

Maybe not everyone belongs on this list. Probably other delegates do. If anyone objects to being included here, please follow Congressman Ackerman’s lead.

Josh Kurtz is editor of Environment & Energy Daily, a Capitol Hill publication. He can be reached at

Recent Center Maryland columns by Josh Kurtz:

White Man’s Burden

Brown-Ulman Pre-nup Dictated by State Election Law

‘Groundhog Day’ in Montgomery County

Republicans At the Starting Gate

Gansler Hires Campaign Manager

Will 2014 Be a Republican Year Nationally — and in Maryland?

Back to the Future

Donald Fry: Moving beyond outrage over violent crime

By Donald C. Fry

Baltimore’s tragic week of 32 shootings that left 12 dead since last Friday has triggered a round of public outrage and concern voiced by elected leaders over both the shootings themselves and, to some extent, the public statements from police about violence in the city.

This fresh round of public dialogue about violent crime in Baltimore City serves to frame an important assessment about the nature of the city’s decades-long effort to reduce violent crime and to gauge the prospects for progress as that effort continues.

The shootings during the last seven days occurred in more than a dozen incidents that took place between June 22 and June 27 in a broad range of neighborhoods in eastern, western, northern, northwestern and southwestern parts of the city.

Initial reactions by city police acknowledged, but downplayed the violent weekend, terming it “a little bit of a spike,” noting that such spikes “are going to happen” and that overall crime in the city is on a downward trend. To be fair, these kinds of clinical operational assessments are typical of law enforcement officials who are on the front lines of crime fighting every day.

Police Commissioner Anthony Batts has pledged an “assertive” response to the spike.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake pledged that the recent violence “will not diminish our resolve” to target repeat violent offenders and gangs in Baltimore City.

Speaking to Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton, one city council member called for hearings to make sure city police are prepared for increased summer violence. Another said many city residents were upset by police statements about the weekend. Another council member said residents are “fed up” with city government’s inability to quell violent crime.

Two things strike me about the reaction so far to the violent weekend.

First, no one is venturing to address the issue of why such spikes occur. Pronouncing 12 homicides in a week as the result of an unfortunate “spike” is not a reason. It’s an excuse.

Second, most tend to assign the responsibility for doing something about the violence to someone else, usually the government or the police.

The elephant in the room, of course, is the degree of complacency that appears to exist in Baltimore. Too many seem willing to accept the notion that, well, Baltimore is by nature a violent city and, like the weather, violent crime simply must be endured if you live here.

Granted, crime is a complex issue impacted by a myriad of factors including social trends, demographics, health, education, public policy and dozens of other variables.

Nevertheless, the level of crime that Baltimore endures doesn’t occur in most other cities – all but four in the U.S. to be exact – New Orleans, Detroit, Newark (New Jersey) and St. Louis.

In Baltimore, we are striving to be among the vast majority of U.S. cities and communities that are, frankly, not afflicted by unacceptable levels of crime.

Police officials accurately note that crime in Baltimore has been reduced over the last decade. But even at its “reduced” level, violent crime continues to inflict personal tragedy on a daily basis to Baltimore neighborhoods. It’s critically important to also understand that the existing level of crime impacts economic growth in Baltimore and detracts from the city’s many positives as a place to live and work.

Crime is an issue that must be more comprehensively addressed if the Mayor is to have any possibility of achieving her goal of growing the city by 10,000 families.

Even in 2011, when Baltimore’s homicide count of 197 was the lowest the city had experienced since the 1970s, our citywide rate of 3.1 homicides per 10,000 residents still ranked 5th highest in the nation.

The Madison-East neighborhood, where someone sprayed bullets into a crowd of people last weekend, has a homicide rate of 10.6 per 10,000 residents. That makes homicide the third-leading cause of death in that neighborhood – behind heart disease and cancer, according to city data.

A half-dozen other city neighborhoods have annual homicide rates of more than 6.0 per 10,000 residents, which is higher than the overall homicide rate of any city in the U.S.

Baltimore’s historic struggle with homicide rates, which exceeded 300 per year in the 1990s, is well documented. Since 2000, city police have concentrated crime enforcement on the segment of the population that commits most violent crimes. The current strategy is, as Commissioner Batts says, “repeat violent offenders, gangs, and illegal guns.”

Since 2011, when the number of homicides in Baltimore dipped below 200, the count increased to 217 in 2012 and now stands at 114 so far this year.

Law enforcement leaders say they view Baltimore’s current crime statistics as indicative of a city where crime spikes occasionally, but is generally under control. Keep in mind that in Baltimore, “under control” appears to equate to roughly 200 homicides per year.

In a city where 300 homicides was once the annual norm, this qualifies as progress. But to me this reduced-but-consistently-high level of death underscores that violent crime in Baltimore is not just a police issue. It’s a community issue.

The reaction by the Baltimore community to our city’s tenacious tendency toward violent crime must extend beyond outrage. Everyone is outraged, but we must convert this outrage into action … together.

We can’t allow ourselves to succumb to the temptation to lay all of this on police and government to “do something.” Thirteen years of law enforcement concentration on our city’s chronic violent offenders has resulted in a 34 percent reduction in homicides.

But that still leaves us with painful questions: Are we, in Baltimore, content with an annual murder rate of around 200? What is it about the fabric of our community that consistently produces this unacceptable level of violence?

Are we really a city that is willing to tolerate violent crime that exceeds levels not tolerated in most other places in the U.S.?

As a community, we need to collectively adopt a “no excuses” attitude about reducing violent crime.

This will require a reality check, introspection, and a serious commitment to action not just by the police department and government, but by community leaders, educators, the business sector and civic advocates.

Everyone who lives and works in Baltimore must engage in crafting and participating in a collective strategy to rid Baltimore of the chronic violence in our midst.

Donald C. Fry is president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee. He is a regular contributor to Center Maryland.

Recent Center Maryland columns by Donald C. Fry:

CEOs: Focus competitiveness policy on taxes, regulations, infrastructure, workforce

Baltimore City needs a reality check on proposed fees, regulations

Gaining traction for life sciences industry growth in Maryland

Maryland’s stormwater fees: a lesson in uneven policy making

Council should opt for ‘win-win’ approach, not ‘magic bullet’ for local hiring effort

Closing the ‘disconnect’ with elected officials over competitiveness

Laslo Boyd: The Supreme Court Takes A Huge Step Backwards

By Laslo Boyd

In the alternative universe in which Chief Justice John Roberts and his four friends on the Court reside, corporations are people and there is no need to be concerned with states discriminating on the basis of race with respect to voting.

Voting is the very essence of a democratic system and this country’s history, up to and including the present, is filled with examples of official efforts to try to win elections by disenfranchising some group of voters. It’s no accident that the largest number of amendments since the Bill of Rights has focused on removing obstacles to voting based on race, gender, and age.

Sadly, the first of those amendments, the 15th, which banned discrimination in voting based on race, had little impact for the first century after its adoption as part of the U.S. Constitution. It was only with the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, arguably the keystone of the Civil Rights movement, that real change began to occur.

The success of that legislation may well have been the highpoint of President Lyndon Johnson’s incredible career, but many others were critical to its success as well. One of those was Clarence Mitchell, Jr. of Maryland, the lobbyist for the NAACP, who was often referred to as the 101st senator.

Since its original enactment in 1965, Congress has reauthorized the bill on four separate occasions, the most recent in 2006 when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress as well as the Presidency.

As Chief Justice Roberts pointed out in his decision, significant progress has been made since 1965 in terms of both voter registration and participation and in the number of African-Americans elected to public office. For Roberts, that success is a reason to get rid of the key enforcement mechanism in the law and to, in effect, make it toothless.

Yet, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg points out in her dissent, there have been more than 700 instances since 2006 in which the Justice Department has turned down a request for a change in voting procedures on the grounds that it would be discriminatory. The outcomes have improved because of the provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, not because the United States is now a post-racial society in which no one wants to discriminate on the basis of race.

Poll taxes and literacy tests are no longer the tools of choice, but they have been replaced by what the decision refers to as second-generation approaches. In 2012, a number of states, including Maryland’s neighbors to the west and north, Virginia and Pennsylvania, attempted to institute photo identification requirements. While theoretically neutral in terms of their impact, analysis consistently showed that the disproportionate impact was on minorities and the poor.

Other states have moved polling places, changed hours of voting, reduced early voting, and drawn legislative district lines to reduce the electoral impact of minorities. In the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s decision, a number of election officials in states no longer required to get Justice Department preapproval announced that they would be moving ahead with changes that would not have been approved otherwise.

For a state that is home to the NAACP, and where many fought on the front lines of the nation’s biggest civil rights battles, this decision must feel like a terrible blow.

Fortunately for Marylanders, the state’s leadership has been working to open up voting to more people, not fewer, in some of its recent actions, particularly through the General Assembly’s decision to permit early voting and establish a growing number of early voting locations.

The majority decision in Shelby County v. Holder displays a remarkable indifference to American history and to the fundamental values embedded in the Constitution. Rather, it provides a technical rationale, based on references to state sovereignty, that treats voting as just another topic instead of the foundation of democracy.

But there is still another inexplicable, or perhaps hypocritical, element to John Roberts’ decision. The Chief Justice, who famously referred during his confirmation hearing to his approach as that of a umpire, has engaged in the most extreme form of judicial activism imaginable.

Conservatives have longed fostered the myth that they oppose activism by judges as a form of usurpation of legislative authority. The reality, of course, is that they only feel that way when it is a decision that they disagree with substantively.

Roberts dismissed the hearings and review that went with the 2006 reauthorization as inadequate and not sufficiently taking account of changes that had occurred in the country since 1965. His reasoning is a classic example of Roberts substituting his judgment for that of Congress, a process that he and fellow conservatives have severely criticized in the past.

Both house of Congress passed the reauthorization by overwhelming majorities after months of hearings. That Roberts finds their efforts not up to his standards is a stunning display of judicial arrogance and one that I look forward to hearing attacked by the stalwart defenders of the Constitution on talk radio and cable television.

Tuesday was indeed a sad day for democracy and civil rights in this country. Expecting this Congress to approve a legislative remedy is unimaginable. The only solution is at the ballot box and that will take many elections, but the issue is too important to ignore.

Laslo Boyd writes and consults about public policy, government, and politics. He is a regulator contributor to Center Maryland. His email is

Recent Center Maryland columns by Laslo Boyd:

Does Doug Gansler Have A Plan?

They’re Off And Running, Sorta

Searching for Superman: The Future of Baltimore City Schools

Is Help Coming From Annapolis?

Josh Kurtz: White Man’s Burden

By Josh Kurtz

It’s tough to be a white male in Democratic politics these days.

Just ask Brian Feldman, the state delegate from Montgomery County. And Attorney General Doug Gansler. And maybe even Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Feldman, who has one of the worst cases of, um, political congested prostate in Maryland, finally thought he saw a way out of the House when his senator, Rob Garagiola, announced he would be resigning on Sept. 1. Feldman instantly became the odds-on favorite to succeed Garagiola, whose replacement will be chosen by O’Malley based on a recommendation from the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee.

But a loose coalition of minority community and political activists who have been agitating and organizing to get more minority candidates elected to public office in Montgomery County have different ideas.

Previously focused on the 2014 elections and beyond, this group, whose leaders include former Montgomery Democratic Chairwoman Karen Britto and County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin are beginning to pressure central committee members to anoint a minority candidate to replace Garagiola. Here is a perfect opportunity, they argue, for party leaders to right some historical wrongs — namely, in the long history of minorities being underrepresented in elective office in a jurisdiction that is now majority-minority, Montgomery County has never, ever, sent anyone to the Senate who isn’t white.

This is, undoubtedly, an embarrassment and a disgrace.

But one wonders — certainly, Feldman has to wonder –whether this is the time and place for the minority group to take a stand. An alternative to Feldman — minority or white — hasn’t publicly come forward yet and expressed an interest in Garagiola’s Senate seat. Feldman’s two seatmates, including Del. Aruna Miller, one of six minorities in the Montgomery County House delegation, have endorsed him for Senate, and County Executive Ike Leggett may follow.

District 15, which includes Potomac, a sliver of Bethesda, and parts of the Upcounty, has a minority population of about 39 percent, and Asian-Americans represent about 22 percent of the population. Five other legislative districts in the county have higher minority populations.

Montgomery County’s demographics are tricky. Though whites are no longer in the majority, they still represent a plurality of the population. Between African-Americans and Asian-Americans and Latinos — not to mention Africans and Middle Easterners and East Asians — there is no dominant minority group. Each legislative district has its own unique set of demographics. Matching national trends, Hispanics don’t vote in numbers proportional to population figures.

In 2014, Del. Susan Lee, who is Chinese-American — her appointment to a vacancy in 2002 made her just the second minority member of the Montgomery legislative delegation, and the first minority woman — is favored to win the Senate seat that Brian Frosh is giving up to run for attorney general. That’s in District 16 — the Montgomery district with the smallest minority population, about 18 percent. Right now the white incumbent senators are gearing up to run for re-election in the county’s seven other legislative districts. Most will be tough to beat.

At the very least, Britto’s group is hoping to spark a dialogue, and some soul-searching, among party leaders between now and the time the Democratic central committee meets to replace Garagiola on Sept. 10. And if a strong minority candidate emerges to challenge Feldman and he or she prevails, that would surely shake up the county establishment.

Nine of the 21 central committee members are minorities (there are two vacancies), and several white members are no doubt sensitive to the imbalance in minority representation in the county. Is Brian Feldman about to become collateral damage in a bigger political war?

Of course, these types of battles aren’t just being fought in Montgomery County. A similar conversation is taking place in Howard County, where more than half the legislative seats will be open in 2014, and in Prince George’s County, where voters in a jurisdiction that’s two-thirds African-American must surely be wondering why only three of their eight state senators are black.

In the gubernatorial race, Anthony Brown’s handlers will package his resume — his military experience, his Harvard education, his fluency in the issues before state government. But Gansler, his chief rival for the Democratic nomination, has to worry most about one thing: the potential for a huge African-American turnout, as Brown bids to become the state’s first black governor.

Brown’s appeal to black voters — and their loyalty to him — is a subject that will be endlessly debated over the next year, as Gansler and Heather Mizeur probe for signs of weakness and fight for African-American support. But the fact is that if black voters turn out in huge numbers for Brown, the primary’s over — that’s too big a structural advantage for his opponents to overcome.

Even further up the political food chain, could O’Malley be facing demographic problems of his own as he contemplates running for president in 2016? Possibly.

If you missed it, National Journal magazine last week put O’Malley on its cover, examining his record and his potential as a White House contender. It was a fascinating window into the way D.C. insiders are currently regarding the governor.

As interesting as the more than 5,000 words devoted to O’Malley in two articles were, even more revealing were the anonymous opinions offered in the magazine’s weekly insiders’ poll. Asked if Hillary Clinton doesn’t run for president where O’Malley would fit in the Democratic field, 33 percent of Democratic insiders said in the top tier, 44 percent said in the middle of the pack and 23 percent said he’d be a long shot. Among Republican insiders the numbers were 13 percent top tier, 45 percent middle and 42 percent long shot.

“No glaring weaknesses but will really seem like boring vanilla compared to the current POTUS and the candidate they really want,” one GOP insider wrote.

“Old white men don’t win Democratic primaries anymore,” another observed more trenchantly.

Is that a real trend, something O’Malley — who isn’t old — and white males everywhere need to worry about at every level of Democratic politics? What are the implications at the local, state and federal levels? And when does the inevitable backlash arrive?

Josh Kurtz is editor of Environment & Energy Daily, a Capitol Hill publication. He can be reached at

Recent Center Maryland columns by Josh Kurtz:

Brown-Ulman Pre-nup Dictated by State Election Law

‘Groundhog Day’ in Montgomery County

Republicans At the Starting Gate

Gansler Hires Campaign Manager

Will 2014 Be a Republican Year Nationally — and in Maryland?

Back to the Future

Conviction Politics

Donald Fry — CEOs: Focus competitiveness policy on taxes, regulations, infrastructure, workforce

By Donald C. Fry

Tax and regulatory policies, infrastructure and workforce development are key issues around which Maryland government should frame strategic public policies to strengthen the state’s competitiveness for business growth and job creation, according to the participants in the Greater Baltimore Committee’s inaugural Chesapeake Conference of CEOs last week.

CEOs from throughout the region gathered at the Hilton Baltimore on June 12 for a day-long series of GBC-led workshops to begin drafting a private sector-driven strategy to strengthen competitiveness.

“We live in such a wonderful area. We work in such a wonderful area, but we can always be better. I think the purpose of today is to think about how we can be better,” GBC Chairman Brian Rogers, who is chairman and chief investment officer of T. Rowe Price Group, told conference participants.

Collectively, the CEOs generated dozens of specific recommendations to improve Maryland’s competitiveness. They will serve as the basis for a report the GBC plans to issue later this summer proposing specific outcome-based achievable policies for competitiveness. It will be the framework for a business and economic strategy that the GBC will seek support and buy-in from executive and legislative candidates in the 2014 campaign.

The new report will build on the GBC’s previous “Competitive Edge” report that outlines eight core pillars for a competitive business climate.

Conference participants recommended developing achievable approaches to improving Maryland’s tax structure and regulatory processes and to strengthen investment in transportation and technology infrastructure.

They also recommended finding ways to ensure that both K-12 and higher education in Maryland generate more graduates with the skills needed to provide a strong work force for the state’s growing technology and science-driven industry sectors.

A proposal to create a privately-funded national infrastructure bank by Maryland 6th District Congressman John Delaney, who addressed the opening session of the conference, struck a responsive chord for many CEO participants.

Delaney’s proposed Partnership to Build America Act would create a $50 billion national infrastructure bank funded by the private sector. The bank’s capital base could be leveraged to create $750 billion to provide loan guarantees to states and local governments to finance transportation, energy, communications, water and education infrastructure projects. The bank would be capitalized by the sale to corporate investors of 50-year bonds that are not guaranteed by the federal government and would pay only a 1 percent interest rate.

To encourage U.S. corporations to purchase these bonds, they would be allowed to repatriate overseas earnings tax-free based on the amount of bonds purchased. The amount of overseas earnings that could be repatriated tax-free would be determined by auction, according to information from Delaney’s office.

Many workshop participants agreed that infrastructure, particularly in Baltimore City, is a major business climate issue. One participant suggested that Baltimore and Maryland should seek to become the national model for a local or state transportation infrastructure bank.

On the issue of education, Economist Anirban Basu, who also addressed the conference’s opening session, noted that Maryland must meet its challenge to become more competitive for business if it wants to retain its coveted top ranking for education.

“Will we be Number One in 10 years?” Basu asked. Maryland won’t unless we have “the economic activity necessary to generate the investment in education to retain that Number One ranking,” Basu said.

“There is no reason that one has to savage their business community to provide high quality education,” he said. “In fact, the two should go hand-in-hand. A good business climate should make for more sustainable educational opportunities.”

Basu cited Minneapolis and Minnesota as a region and state with “very good educational outcomes and a very good business climate.”

Most participants agreed that the business sector must become a more aggressive advocate in Annapolis for public policies that strengthen Maryland’s competitiveness as a place for business location and growth.

Several CEOs articulated a core prerequisite for addressing a stubborn disconnect over business climate between the private sector and government in Maryland: a shared vision.

Maryland must better leverage its significant assets into stronger business growth. Despite the enduring disconnect, Maryland’s economic prospects are decent now. But they will soar dramatically if and when our state’s business and government sectors can get on the same productive page when it comes to the fundamental issue of developing public policy for competitiveness.

Donald C. Fry is president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee. He is a regular contributor to Center Maryland.

Recent Center Maryland columns by Donald C. Fry:

Baltimore City needs a reality check on proposed fees, regulations

Gaining traction for life sciences industry growth in Maryland

Maryland’s stormwater fees: a lesson in uneven policy making

Council should opt for ‘win-win’ approach, not ‘magic bullet’ for local hiring effort

Closing the ‘disconnect’ with elected officials over competitiveness