With gusty winds and low relative humidity in the forecast again today, the National Weather Service says there’s an enhanced threat for wildfires to develop and spread. Plus: the majority of Marylanders remain undecided in the governor’s race, according to a new poll. Also: Harbor Point, garbage disposal in Frederick County, osprey nesting, an audit of Baltimore’s Department of Recreation and Parks, and Phelps’ return to competitive swimming. And more.
Fire Weather: With low relative humidity and gusty winds in the forecast today, the National Weather Service says conditions are ideal for wildfires to develop and spread today. The NWS has issued a Red Flag Warning from 10am through 6pm.
New Poll On The Governor’s Race: Today is April 24th. It’s two months from Maryland’s June 24th primary election. And a new poll on the governor’s race shows that most Marylanders still haven’t decided who they’ll vote for. The survey of registered voters, conducted by the St. Mary’s College Political Science Department, finds that about 54 percent of Democrats and nearly 69 percent of Republicans haven’t picked a candidate to support. On the Democratic side, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown is in the lead – with the backing of 27% of those surveyed. State Attorney General Doug Gansler follows with 11%, followed by Montgomery County Delegate Heather Mizeur, with about 8%. The split between Gansler and Mizeur is within the poll’s 3.17 point margin of error. On the Republican side, founder of changemaryland.org Larry Hogan has the support of 16% of the voters surveyed, followed by Harford County Executive David Craig with 8%. Anne Arundel County Delegate Ron George and Charles County businessman Charles Lollar both have a little less than 4%. This is the first public poll conducted on the governor’s race since February – and shows similar numbers to previous polls. Analyzing the high number of undecided voters, St. Mary’s political science professor Susan Grogan tells the Baltimore Sun she suspects that the upcoming primary will see “very low turnout.”
Gansler Continues Criticism Of MD Health Exchange Rollout: Doug Gansler’s gubernatorial campaign has launched its third TV ad. This one criticizes the state's health exchange website, calling it "a nearly $200-million failure." Gansler is seeking to convince voters that Lieutenant Governor Brown, should be blamed for the troubled website which is being scrapped in favor of a system from Connecticut this fall; Brown was the “point person” for the Affordable Care Act’s rollout in Maryland. The Attorney General's ad is 30-seconds long and will air starting today in the Baltimore market. The Washington Post has more.
Bill Clinton To Host Fundraiser For Brown: Anthony Brown’s gubernatorial campaign is set to get a boost from Former President Bill Clinton. Clinton has already endorsed Brown in the race, and now he’s coming to Maryland to host a fundraiser for the lieutenant governor. Clinton will appear at a conference center in Potomac May 13th on Brown's behalf. Tickets will cost between $500 and $4000. There’s more here from the Washington Post and here from the Baltimore Sun.
Remembering An Honorable Environmentalist: The late Torrey Brown was a physician. A legislator. A defender of the environment. And, according to his friends, a one-of-a-kind talent. WYPR Senior News Analyst Fraser Smith remembers Torrey Brown, in his weekly essay.
Plans For Exelon Tower At Harbor Point: The Exelon headquarters building in Baltimore’s Harbor Point will be a little smaller than had originally been expected. Yesterday, Harbor Point developer Beatty Development Group announced that it’s chosen Armada Hoffler Construction to build the Exelon tower – and that the tower itself will be 20 stories tall. Earlier plans would have put the building 3 stories taller, but developers tell the Baltimore Business Journal that a smaller building is easier to finance. In addition to Exelon’s offices, the tower is expected to contain more than 100 apartments and about 41-thousand square feet of commercial space. Construction on the 165-million dollar project is expected to be finished in spring of 2016; the Baltimore Sun reports that it’s expected to support 1-thousand construction jobs, and that Beatty Development has agreed that at least 20 percent of the workers on the jobsite will be from Baltimore. There’s more here from the Daily Record.
Audit Of Baltimore Department Of Recreation And Parks Complete: Baltimore has finally completed an audit of the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks. The Baltimore Sun reports that the audit shows the Department kept “erroneous financial statements, confused revenue and expenses, and lacked procedures on how its workers should handle cash.” The audit follows voter approval of a charter amendment that requires audits of 13 key city agencies every 4 years; Recreation and Parks is one of them. Audits of the other agencies still need to be done, and city Comptroller Joan Pratt is asking for $2.2-million to pay the staff she says are necessary to complete them. City finance director Harry Black says that hiring outside auditors to do the work would be more cost-effective.
Waste Disposal In Frederick County: Frederick County officials are asking for suggestions on what to do with the county’s garbage. Earlier this week, Carroll County withdrew from a partnership with Frederick County to build a long-planned waste-to-energy incinerator. The Frederick News Post reports that the move would allow Frederick County to drop the incinerator project without any financial penalties. Yesterday, County officials issued a request for alternate proposals – which could include hauling trash to other facilities. The move will let officials evaluate the cost of such options, and determine the interest of other jurisdictions in using the planned Frederick incinerator. County Commissioners President Blaine Young says that if operating the incinerator turns out to be more expensive than other options, the commissioners would consider “walking away from” plans to build the facility.
Ospreys Keep Trying To Build Nest In Front Of Traffic Camera: Maryland transportation officials are in a battle with an osprey that appears determined to build a nest in front of a traffic camera. The bird has tried to put together a nest in front of the camera on U.S. 50 approaching the Bay Bridge three times. Each time, the MdTA has removed the nest… and each time, the osprey has tried again. Officials want to keep the camera clear… and worry that the camera’s motion could upset the birds. The Baltimore Sun reports that a federal wildlife official visited the site this week and suggested the state erect another elevated platform nearby and bait it with material from a previous nest.
Phelps Returns To Competitive Swimming: Olympian Michael Phelps says he's returning to competitive swimming because he wants to get back into shape. Phelps tells the Baltimore Sun that he missed competing and wanted to get his body back into shape after gaining nearly 40 pounds after the 2012 London Olympics. With 18 gold medals, the Baltimore native is the most decorated Olympian of all time. He’s set to compete in a swim meet today in Mesa, Arizona. There’s more here from the Baltimore Business Journal.
Baltimore Baseball: The Orioles won yesterday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays; 10 to 8 was the score. The two teams conclude their series this evening.
Washington Baseball: The Washington Nationals won their game against the LA Angels yesterday; the score there 5 to 4.