- Baker Offers Pr. George's Crime Plan; Candidate Would Rehire Retired Police Officers.
Rushern L. Baker III, a candidate for Prince George's county executive, unveiled a plan yesterday for fighting crime that includes rehiring retired police officers and offering home-buyer tax credits to officers who live in the county to improve the chronically short-staffed department.
Baker has spent the past several months accusing County Executive Jack B. Johnson of failing to address the county's soaring crime rate. . . . Baker repeated his call for the firing of Police Chief Melvin C. High, who he says has failed to adopt successful strategies to combat crime. Baker criticized the way High has deployed officers, saying it "has proven to be a disaster."
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Last month, Johnson said the county's current academy class would increase the number of officers to 1,478, the highest in Prince George's history. Johnson has said his goal is to increase the number of officers to 1,800 by 2010.
But Baker vowed yesterday to increase the number of officers to 2,000 over the next four years, in part by rehiring retired officers and offering tax credits to those who live in the county.
Baker derided Johnson's "Livable Communities" initiative, a plan modeled after New York's effort to reduce crime by improving aesthetics a neighborhood at a time.
"Residents across the county continue to ask what is so gorgeous about setting a new record for murders in a year?" Baker asked.
- Baker calls for larger increase in police force; Candidate unveils anti-crime strategy.
. . . Rushern Baker, who is challenging sitting Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson for his seat in November, agrees. Baker says crime in the county has grown too swiftly; his own son was robbed at gunpoint.
"It's going to matter under a Rushern Baker administration," he said, before unveiling his anti-crime strategy.
Baker said the Prince George's County police force should increase from 1,300 to 2,000 officers and that aggressive recruiting will be needed to meet that objective.
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Jim Keary, a spokesman for Johnson, declined to comment on Baker's assertions. The county police department challenged Baker's contention that it has only 1,300 officers, but could not immediately provide an exact number.
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- Delegate may bend on licenses for illegals.
- Times, 22 Feb 2006 (by Keyonna Summers, The Washington Times).
. . . Several immigrant advocacy groups, including CASA of Maryland Inc., testified that lawmakers should wait for federal guidance before making changes.
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Group members also were reluctant to agree to the compromise, which was presented during Mr. McMillan's testimony when being questioned by committee Chairman Joseph F. Vallario Jr., Prince George's Democrat; Delegate Luiz R.S. Simmons, Montgomery Democrat; and Delegate Anthony G. Brown, Prince George's Democrat.
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- Compromise likely on illegal immigrant driver's licenses.
Maryland delegates offered a glimpse into how the state may compromise on a federal mandate so state citizens don't face the possibility of not being able to use their driver's licenses to board planes or gain entrance to federal institutions.
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"It's not a foregone conclusion that Maryland will come into compliance with the federal REAL ID Act," said Del. Anthony Brown, D-Prince George's.
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- Md. Driver's License Bill Targets Illegal Immigrants.
- wtopnews.com, 22 Feb 2006 (AP).
- Long, similar to the two preceding items.
- Md. delegate pushes for Medicare prescription relief; Bill would use $10 million from rainy day fund.
. . . Del. James Hubbard, D-Prince George's, recently filed a bill that would use $10 million in state funds to cover prescription drugs for participants in Medicare's new prescription program while problems are ironed out.
"I think it's cheaper and more progressive to do a little up-front homework," Hubbard said. "Guess where these people are going to end up? In the emergency room, if they don't get their prescription drugs."
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- Dual Roles of O'Malley's Running Mate Raise Questions.
When Del. Anthony G. Brown stepped to the microphone this week at an event highlighting endorsements of Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley's gubernatorial bid, Brown had little to say about his Democratic running mate.
Instead, the Prince George's County delegate unleashed a broadside against Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., declaring that the Republican had "failed all of Maryland's families" and that "his style has been divisive and downright mean-spirited."
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O'Malley has credited Brown with helping open doors in his home county, and in some cases he appears to have helped nail down endorsements.
At Monday's event, for instance, Del. Joanne C. Benson (D-Prince George's) lavished far more praise on her legislative colleague than on O'Malley . . .
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"He's doing a good job," said Del. Brian R. Moe (D-Prince George's), the chief deputy majority whip and a Duncan supporter. "I don't think there's any question what his job is while he's here.".
- Duncan questions O’Malley’s honesty; Rival suggests Baltimore mayor is ‘cooking the books’ on his city’s crime dropoff.
- Gazette, 22 Feb 2006 (by Thomas Dennison, Staff Writer).
Douglas M. Duncan is continuing his sharp attacks on the credibility of his Democratic rival for governor, suggesting that Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley manipulated his city’s crime statistics for political gain.
Judging by the angry reaction from the mayor and his supporters, the Montgomery County executive appeared to have drawn blood. O’Malley and Duncan continued their war of words this week in their recent rollouts of endorsements from Prince George’s County elected officials.
Duncan was in Seat Pleasant on Saturday to tout his crime plan and pick up endorsements from Prince George’s County officials ranging from Sen. Gwendolyn T. Britt (D-Dist. 47) of Landover Hills to Eagle Harbor Mayor Joseph Lomax Jr.
O’Malley had a press conference of his own on Monday, rolling out endorsements from about a dozen current and former elected officials from Prince George’s County, including Dels. Joanne C. Benson (D-Dist. 24) of Landover and James W. Hubbard (D-Dist. 23A) of Bowie.
Hubbard, in a prepared statement, commended O’Malley for making strides to decrease violent crime in Baltimore — the same crime statistics that Duncan is disputing.
The endorsements, however, were viewed as marginal considering the majority of the Prince George’s Senate delegation and County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) and House Economic Matters Chairman Dereck E. Davis (D-Dist. 25) of Upper Marlboro are all keeping their powder dry.
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- Driving costs.
- Sun, 22 Feb 2006 (Editorial).
Maryland's low-income drivers can't catch a break. Private companies often refuse to insure them because of their poor credit histories. Their only option is to sign up with the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund, the state agency that serves as Maryland's car insurer of last resort. But here's the catch: State law requires that a year's worth of MAIF premiums be paid in a lump sum. People living in poverty don't tend to have the money to pay that bill all at once. Enter the various premium finance companies that charge the equivalent of a 26 percent interest rate or higher to provide that service for the vast majority of MAIF customers.
Such a usurious system is, to put it bluntly, outrageous. Premium finance companies charge as much as $500 to MAIF customers each year. Yet their risk is slight: MAIF refunds premiums to the finance companies if the drivers ever default on their loans. But officials at MAIF can't do much about this injustice - unless the General Assembly is willing to change the rules.
Bills offered by state Sen. Lisa A. Gladden of Baltimore and Del. Marvin E. Holmes Jr. of Prince George's County would do just that. Their legislation would authorize MAIF to accept premiums on an installment basis beginning this fall. Officials at MAIF say the fund can certainly afford to provide this service - and save drivers hundreds of dollars each year in the process.
But many in the insurance industry are likely to fight this proposal. Premium financing is a lucrative business. . . [more].
Del.Brown Jack.Johnson Del.Hubbard Del.Benson Del.Holmes Sen.Britt Del.DDavis Rushern.Baker Del.Vallario Del.Moe.