Fri October 11, 2013
The Government Shutdown, Baltimore Movie Houses, Paying For Pre-K, and Running Festival Closures
Democratic Maryland lawmakers continue to call for an end to the federal government shutdown. Baltimore’s Senator Theater reopens; the city’s last X-rated theater looks likely to close. Plus: Gansler’s pre-K proposal, ICC ridership, and road closures for Saturday's Baltimore Running Festival.
Federal Government Shutdown: Senator Barbara Mikulski says the ongoing federal government shutdown is having disastrous impacts on the state and nation. Mikulski says restaurants and stores near federal offices are empty, and some may not survive much longer without their regular customers. Meanwhile, 6th District Congressman John Delaney says he’s hopeful that yesterday’s meeting between President Obama and some House Republicans will lead to a breakthrough on the key issues causing political gridlock in Washington. Delaney says nothing productive comes from failing to fund the government. 8th District Congressman Chris Van Hollen notes that the legislation to extend the federal debt ceiling would do nothing to end the government shutdown; he’s calling for a swift end to it.
PG Casino Plans: The three companies looking to build and operate a casino in Prince George’s County are all still in the running for a license. Yesterday, the state’s Lottery and Gaming Control commission said that Penn National, Greenwood Racing, and MGM Resorts are all qualified to get a license. The Baltimore Business Journal reports that the license will likely be awarded before the year is over.
Gansler’s Pre-K Funding Plan: State Attorney General Doug Gansler says that if he’s elected Governor next year, he wants to redirect a portion of the state’s income from casino gambling to early childhood education. Gansler tells the Washington Post that he wants to send about $22-million of casino proceeds to his program, which would offer full day pre-kindergarten to disadvantaged children. Currently, that money’s slated to go to the horseracing industry… but its projected revenue from casinos that don’t yet exist. The state’s existing casinos send the horseracing industry about $50-million, and Gansler wants their portion of the future take capped at that level. The Executive Secretary of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association is opposed to the idea, telling the Baltimore Sun that the horse racing industry has made commitments based on existing revenue projections. Gansler’s opponents for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination are also talking about early childhood education… Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown wants to offer half-day pre-K to all Maryland students, and Montgomery County Delegate Heather Mizeur says she’ll unveil her own pre-K plan next week.
Some Gubernatorial Candidates To Address Teachers Union: The three Democratic candidates for governor are set to address the Maryland State Education Association next week, trying to win the influential teachers’ union’s endorsement. Harford County Executive David Craig, who’s running on the Republican side, will also be there. But two other major GOP candidates will not – and the union tells the Baltimore Sun that it’s because they didn’t do their homework. The union sent out questionnaires to potential gubernatorial candidates, but only Craig and the three Democrats sent theirs in. Republican Anne Arundel County Delegate Ron George didn’t; neither did Charles County businessman Charles Lollar – so the union says they have not been invited to speak.
Council Feeling Heat From City Tax Collection Errors: WYPR's Fraser Smith and Mark Reutter of the Baltimore Brew talk about the Baltimore City Council's call for an audit of the Finance Department. It’s this morning’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics.
Senator Reopens, Apex Likely To Close: The world of Baltimore movie houses is changing significantly this week. The venerable Senator theater is reopening, while the city’s last adult film theater is likely shutting down. WYPR’s Fraser Smith has this report on the Senator’s return. And WYPR’s Joey Kahn reports on the probable end of the X-rated movie house era.
Prison Corruption: Two more corrections officers from the Baltimore City Detention Center are facing possible prison time following guilty pleas this week… in relation to a smuggling operation that has seen charges filed against more than 20 people, including 13 corrections officers. The Baltimore Sun reports that one of the guards pleaded guilty to a racketeering charge yesterday; another guard entered a guilty plea to the same charge Tuesday.
ICC Ridership, Revenue: The number of motorists using the Intercounty Connector is growing steadily. The Maryland Transportation Authority tells the Baltimore Sun ridership on the toll road is seeing an average growth rate of 2.6% per month; some 40-thousand vehicles now roll along the ICC on the average weekday. The highway raised about $39.59-million in the last fiscal year… marginally more than the $39.56-million revenue projection. The ICC links Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in the DC Suburbs.
Trucker To Protest On Capital Beltway? If you’re headed down DC way today, and don’t actually have to use the Capital Beltway, you might want to consider using the ICC. That’s due to a possible protest – being billed as “Truckers Ride for the Constitution” -- which could see as many as a few thousand truckers on I-495, slowing down traffic by driving the speed limit. State Police in Maryland and neighboring Virginia tell the Washington Post they are prepared to deal with an unusually large truck convoy if the protest takes place.
Baltimore Region Home Sales: Homes sales in the Baltimore area posting a double-digit increase last month. Figures from RealEstate Business Intelligence show housing sales were up 17-percent in Baltimore City and the surrounding counties in September, when compared to September 2012. The Baltimore Sun reports it was the sixth consecutive month that sales increased by more than ten-percent.
Lion Cubs Born, Lioness Dies From Complications: The first ever lion cubs born at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore are healthy, but their mother died of complications during their birth. Zoo officials announced the news yesterday. They tell the Baltimore Sun that the three-year old lioness began having problems during the birth last week, and a Cesarean section was performed. Only two of the four cubs survived, and the mother lion passed away on Monday. Zoo officials say they’re now turning their attention to caring for the lion cubs.
Baltimore Running Festival: The 13th annual Baltimore Running Festival will pack Charm City’s streets with an estimated 27-thousand runners tomorrow – for a marathon, half marathon, and several other races. About 20 streets around Baltimore will have lane closures, and some will be completely shut down; information about all of the closures is available here.
Baltimore Football: the Ravens are hoping to win their second game in a row when they host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. The Ravens are 3 and 2 for the season; the Packers are 2 and 2. The Ravens lost to Green Bay the last time they met on the field, back in 2009.
Ripkin Eyes Nationals Job: Orioles Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. is looking to be a Major League manager. The Baltimore Business Journal reports that Ripken has confirmed his interest in getting involved in baseball again now that his children are both in college. Ripken has been rumored to have interest in the Washington Nationals manager's position, although he has not been approached by the team.