Fri December 20, 2013
No Criminal To Be Charges In Tyrone West Death and A Board Of Elections Decision On Fundraising
Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein said there is not enough evidence to file criminal charges against police officers in the July death of Tyrone West. The State Board of Elections has issued an opinion that will affect many of the 2014 gubernatorial tickets. And much more.
No Criminal Charges To Be Filed In Death Of Tyrone West: Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein said there is not enough evidence to file criminal charges against police officers in the death of Tyrone West. West died while in police custody in July after he struggled in officers during a traffic stop. State’s Attorney Bernstein said that no one will know what prompted West to struggle with police; he told WYPR: “What we do know is that Mr. West ignored repeated verbal commands by the officers and fought with them over an extended period of time in multiple locations that continued even after being sprayed with mace and falling to the ground several times.” Tyrone West's autopsy showed he died of a heart problem and dehydration, but said the circumstances leading up to the death made it difficult to find a manner of death. West’s family met with prosecutors in the morning, but were barred from a press conference later in the day. West's family says they're filing a civil lawsuit soon; the officers involved are now the subject of an administrative review. There’s more here from the Baltimore Sun.
Board Of Elections Issues Fundraising Opinion: The State Board of Elections has issued an opinion that will affect many of the 2014 gubernatorial tickets. The Board says candidates running for governor or lieutenant governor may raise money during the 2014 General Assembly Session… even if their running mates are forbidden from doing so. The Washington Post notes it’s illegal for people who hold state office to raise money during the annual session. But yesterday’s decision means candidates whose running mates do not hold state office can – provided the money they bring in goes to a separate account, and there’s no coordination between the two candidates. That directly affects the gubernatorial campaign of Democratic Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown – whose running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, will be allowed to raise money during the session. Similarly, Republican Harford County Executive David Craig will be allowed to fundraise during the session, although his running mate – Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio – will not. Republican Delegate Ron George will not be allowed to fundraise during the session, and neither will Democratic Attorney General Doug Gansler or his running mate Delegate Jolene Ivey. Gansler says he thinks that the Board’s decision represents a “misinterpretation” of the law; the Democrat says he thinks a court would overturn the ruling. The government watchdog group Common Cause Maryland has asked the Brown and Craig campaigns to voluntarily forgo fundraising during the session, but the Baltimore Sun reports that both camps have declined. Montgomery County Delegate Heather Mizeur has agreed to accept public financing for her campaign, so the she will be allowed to accept donations up to $250 dollars while the session’s underway. The Daily Record notes that Mizeur’s not allowed to take money from political action committees, or PACs.
Towson Row Development One Step Closer To Reality: WYPR's Fraser Smith and Alison Knezevich of the Baltimore Sun talk about Baltimore County's recently-approved lease of a small parcel within the proposed Towson Row project, and why one council member says the decision lacks transparency. It’s this morning’s look Inside Maryland Politics.
Express Lane Toll Rates Set: The toll rates have been set for the express toll lanes due to open next year along a seven-mile stretch of I-95 northeast of Baltimore. The Maryland Transportation Authority board yesterday approved charging drivers of two-axle vehicles 25-cents per mile during peak hours. The rate is 20-cents per mile during off-peak hours, and ten-cents overnight. Drivers of larger vehicles will pay higher rates. The new lanes will use video tolling for those who don't have E-ZPass. More here from the Baltimore Sun.
City Council Hires Independent Lawyer: The Baltimore City Council will be able to call on the advice of an independent lawyer when the body examines Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s zoning proposal next year. The Council has won approval to hire John T. Willis; his contract lasts for one year. Willis served as Maryland Secretary of State for 8 years under former Governor Parris Glendening. A spokesperson for Baltimore City Council President “Jack” Young tells the Baltimore Sun that Willis will help the council ensure that the public is well served with new zoning rules. Earlier this year, the City Council passed a bill that would let it have a permanent independent lawyer on call – but that plan needs to be approved by voters.
KKK Group To Meet In Cecil County Government Building: Cecil County officials are defending a decision to allow a Ku Klux Klan meeting in a government building. Cecil County’s Director of Administration Al Wein tells the Aegis that the county "has a legal duty" to make the facilities available. He says, however, that the use of the room "is not an endorsement of the applicant, or its message, by Cecil County." The Confederate White Knights are trying to host meetings across Maryland to call for impeachment of President Obama. Cecil County law enforcement will be providing security during tonight's meeting.
Delegate Cardin To Push For Biodegradable Cigarettes: One of the Democrats running to be Maryland’s next Attorney General says he plans to introduce legislation to ban non-biodegradable cigarettes in the state. Baltimore County Delegate Jon Cardin says his bill would fine businesses selling them as much as $200 per pack. Delegate Cardin says cigarette butts are the most-littered item polluting Maryland's waterways. The Daily Record reports that if Cardin’s bill passes, Maryland would be the first state in the nation to require cigarette butts to be biodegradable. Large cigarette manufacturers don’t currently offer biodegradable filters, but such filters are available from smaller cigarette makers.
Casino Decision To Come Today: State officials are set to make a decision this morning on where Maryland’s sixth and final casino will go – and which company will operate it. Three companies are vying for a contract to operate a casino in Prince George’s county, which Maryland voters approved last year Greenwood Racing's location would be on Route 210 in Fort Washington, Hollywood Casino hopes to build at Rosecroft Raceway and MGM wants to put in a resort/casino at the National Harbor. Maryland already has four operational casinos; a fifth is being built in Baltimore. More here from the Washington Post.
Baltimore Football: the Ravens take on the New England Patriots at M&T Bank Stadium this Sunday. The Ravens are on a roll, having won four straight games and moving into the sixth seed in the AFC playoff picture at 8-and-6. Sunday’s game starts at 4:25pm.