Monday, March 5, 2012

Politics By Other Means (Monday LINKS)

A political bombshell dropped last Friday as Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold was indicted on four counts of misconduct in office and one count of fraudulent misappropriation.  Republicans often tell me that "Maryland is the most corrupt state in the County," which made me wonder how they took this news.

I guess I didn't wonder too much.  I knew that the presumption was "politically motivated prosecution."

The concerning thing about the accusations are that they appear to resemble what could be called a "spaghetti on the wall" indictment.  When studying for the Bar Exam, we were told that when you come across a Criminal Law question, you are to look at the facts and think of any and all crimes that may have been committed and include them in your answer.  No analysis.  Just identify and respond.  It would be hard to make the argument that this isn't what happened here.

"But don't you want politicians to be prosecuted for whatever law they break?"

No.  My experience with those in political office, and the rules that surround them, is that law-breaking, in the most basic sense of the word, is not that unusual.  Accepting a cash donation outside of the limit or using a work e-mail account for campaign matters are just so benign that it is hard to keep track of what the law is.  Political "life" would seem to resemble what you will hear police officers say about traffic law -- If you follow a car for ten minutes, they will commit at least two traffic violations meriting a stop.

The indictment against Leopold is salacious and disturbing.  None of us want our politicians doing what he is accused of doing.  Moreover, I'm not trying to say that these accusations are benign.  But here's some food for thought.  The State Prosecutor changes in November of 2010.  The previous State Prosecutor was Robert Rohrbaugh, known for the prosecution of Sheila Dixon and the investigation of many other prominent Democrats.  He was appointed by Bob Ehrlich.  The current State Prosecutor is Emmet Davitt.  He was appointed by Martin O'Malley.  The first fish on his plate is a Republican.

There's a new sheriff in town, folks.  Watch those brake lights.


Baltimore City has been compelled to spend $360,000 on testing monitors after there were allegations of cheating at 16 schools during the last round of standardized tests.  Proving that their PR person must be asleep, the principals' union is fighting against the extra set of eyes. 

The Sun profiles Maryland's first lady and her efforts to assist the passage of same-sex marriage, including her infamous "cowards" comment that stirred the pot immediately prior to the vote.

Information on Baltimore City contracts is available online to open the door on what the City spends its money on.  In light of the embarrassing audit findings over the past few months, I think you can expect "citizen auditors" to find even more gems as this transparency tool gains popularity.

A recent study showed that over one third of Baltimore City residents do not have "ready access" to healthy food and instead must rely on corner markets and fast food for their daily nutrition.  City officials are looking to address these "food deserts" by allowing residents to order healthy food online and have it delivered to local libraries.  Interesting idea, but I wonder how sustainable it is.

Featured Blog Post(s) of the Day: The local blogosphere has noted two important events tonight.  First is the vote on the new redistricting plan.  53 Beers seems to think that D1 may "lean GOP" in 2014 and we will go back to a 3-2 Council.  The second event is the LWV Candidate Forum for BOE candidates prior to the April primary.  WB notes that this is available online for those inclined to watch, but not to attend.

That's all for today.  Have a great Monday doing what you love!