The latest on the federal government shutdown. Doug Gansler taps Prince George’s County Delegate Jolene Ivey to be his running mate as he campaigns to be MD’s next governor. 4th District Rep. Donna Edwards calls for the end of the “Washington Redskins” name. Amtrak ridership rises. And more.
Government Shutdown: As the partial federal government shutdown enters its 15th day, Senator Barbara Mikulski says her constituents are sorely missing federal government services. She also says that as long as the government is shut down, there's no oversight for potential abuse in federal agencies like the Department of Veterans Affairs. Mikulski, a Democrat, says she's ready to negotiate with Republican senators to find a way of re-opening the government and extending the federal debt ceiling. If the shutdown continues, it’s as yet unknown if disabled military veterans will be able to receive their November disability checks. Joe Davis with the Veterans of Foreign Wars tells WJLA that unless some deal is reached, those disability payments, survivor benefits for widows and college payments under the G.I. Bill could all be affected. Meanwhile, the ongoing government shutdown is impacting the collection of emergency blood supplies – especially in the Washington area. WJLA reports that some blood drives have been cancelled because they were scheduled to take place at federal worksites. Some 20 federal agencies are headquartered in Maryland.
Gansler Picks Ivey As His Running Mate: State Attorney General Doug Gansler’s gubernatorial ticket is now complete. Yesterday, Gansler announced that Prince George's County Delegate Jolene Ivey will be his running mate in the race for governor. The Washington Post reports that if Gansler wins, the 52-year-old Ivey would be the first African American woman to become lieutenant governor in Maryland. In choosing Ivey as his running mate, Gansler said she will be a great partner as he takes on the establishment. One of Gansler’s opponents in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, Anthony Brown, noted that Ivey and Gansler have held different positions on a number of issues – including the death penalty and lowering the state’s corporate income tax rate (both of which Gansler supports). A spokesman for the Gansler camp tells the Baltimore Sun that the Attorney General has spoken with Ivey about their positions, and says “they understand eachother.” Gansler’s selection of Ivey is drawing criticism from some Baltimore residents – who worry that their concerns may not get attention in Annapolis after the 2014 election. Both Gansler and Ivey are from the Washington region… as is Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown… and while Brown’s running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, is technically from the Baltimore metro region, the Baltimore Sun reports that that suburban county feels a long way - culturally - from Charm City.
Amtrak Ridership Up: Ridership on Amtrak is up – both around the country and here in Maryland. The rail system tells the Baltimore Sun that it posted record ridership during the 2013 fiscal year, with more than 31-million people using the trains nationwide. In Maryland, Amtrak ridership increased by about 40-thousand people during that period; the railroad saw more than 2-million rides start or ended in the state, with more than half of those occurring at Baltimore's Penn Station… which ranked as the eighth busiest rail station in the country.
Planned CSX Terminal Faces Increasing Opposition: Plans to build a major CSX terminal in Baltimore are running into increasing opposition from Baltimore politicians. The proposed $90-million dollar facility would make it easier to ship cargo the Port of Baltimore and the rest of the country. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake invited CSX to build the terminal here, and it still has her support. But it’s lost the backing of City Councilman Ed Reisinger, who represents the neighborhood where the terminal is proposed to go. Reisinger says that CSX is not complying with verbal commitments it made with neighborhood residents. He tells the Baltimore Sun he’ll oppose enacting zoning changes needed for CSX to move forward with the project – and says those changes will have a hard time making it through the City Council.
Oyster Gardens Come To The Inner Harbor: More than 37-thousand baby oysters will soon be growing in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation are planting five oyster gardens around the Harbor. It’s part of an effort to make the harbor “swimmable and fishable” by the year 2020. The Baltimore Business Journal reports that the oyster gardens will be home to dozens of oyster cages, which will hold about 500 oysters apiece.
Edwards Calls For End Of “Washington Redskins” Name: Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards is co-sponsoring legislation to outlaw the name of the Washington Redskins. Edwards’ 4th District includes FedEx Field, where the football team plays. Many Native Americans are opposed to the continued use of the name, which has been criticized as racist. Edwards tells WJLA that she understands "where the Native American community is coming from,” and adds that she thinks it’s "well time" for the team to get rid of the name.