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Maryland

Fewer Furloughs, More Harbor Point Opposition, & Fewer Construction Days For Baltimore's Grand Prix

Furlough days are coming to an end for civilian employees who work for the Department of Defense. The Downtown Management Authority – representing 1,200+ property owners – announces opposition to plans to fund the controversial Harbor Point development. Utilities call on state regulators to let them impose monthly fees on for customers who opt out of their smart meter programs. The man at the center of a contraband smuggling ring at the Baltimore City Detention Center has pleaded guilty to racketeering charges. Anne Arundel County Delegate Don Dwyer has again pleaded guilty to drunken boating. Organizers of the Grand Prix of Baltimore say course construction this year will take 10 fewer days than originally planned. And more.

Fewer Furlough Days For Civilian DoD Workers: The sequestration spending cuts had prompted the Defense Department to call on civilian employees to take 11 unpaid furlough days this year, a move expected to save the Department some $1.8-billion. But the Pentagon says it’s found savings in other parts of the defense budget, and now says that civilian employees will only have to take 6 furlough days; since workers at military installations around Maryland had been taking one furlough day a week for the last five weeks, that essentially means the furloughs are done next week. The Frederick News Post reports that the change impacts around 1,350 workers at Fort Detrick; the Capital Gazette says 1,500 at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis and 27,820 workers at Fort Meade will also benefit.

DMA Opposes Harbor Point TIF: A group representing more than 12-hundred downtown Baltimore property owners has announced its opposition to the city’s plans to finance the controversial Harbor Point development.The Baltimore Sun reports that the Downtown Management Authority came out against the $107-million dollar “Tax Increment Financing” plan. The Baltimore Business Journal reports that the DMA says it would only support the plan to finance Harbor Point, if Baltimore’s central business district was allowed to get similar public financing for infrastructure. The City Council’s taxation committee is planning to discuss the plan again today.

BGE Calls For Fees For Opting Out Of Smart Meters: Baltimore Gas and Electric wants customers who opt out of its Smart Meter program to pay an upfront fee and monthly recurring charges. The Baltimore Sun reports that BGE wants that initial fee to be 100 dollars, and the monthly fees to be set at 15 dollars. BGE officials say the charges are necessary to recover the utility’s costs.

White Pleads Guilty In Jail Smuggling Case: The man at the center of an alleged smuggling ring at the Baltimore City Detention Center has pled guilty to racketeering charges. 36-year-old Tavon White was reputedly the ringleader of the Black Guerilla Family Gang inside the jail; in yesterday’s plea, he admitted to using corrections officers to sneak drugs, prescription pills and contraband cellphones into the Detention Center. 25 people – including 13 corrections officers – were indicted in relation to the smuggling ring, which sparked numerous investigations into the state’s corrections system. White will be sentenced for his actions in February of next year; he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. White yesterday also admitted to an attempted murder charge; he was given a sentence of 20 years in prison for that crime. More here from the Baltimore Sun.

Dwyer Pleads Guilty – Again: Anne Arundel County Delegate Don Dwyer has again pled guilty to drunken boating, in relation to a boat crash on the Magothy River last summer that injured seven people, including Dwyer himself. The Washington Post reports that the guilty plea was made in Anne Arundel Circuit Court. Earlier this year, Dwyer entered a similar plea in District Court, part of a deal with prosecutors that called for no jail time. But the District Court judge sentenced Dwyer to spend 30 days behind bars – saying that, as a lawmaker, the Delegate should be held to a “higher standard.” To stay out of jail, Dwyer appealed to the higher court – which is set to make a decision in October. There’s more here from the Capital Gazette.

Smigiel Looks To Replace Pipkin In State Senate: Republican Delegate Mike Smigiel is hoping to move to the State Senate. According to marylandreporter.com, Smigiel has put up his name for the nomination to replace Senator E. J. Pipkin, who announced earlier this week that he’s leaving the General Assembly to pursue a masters degree in sports management at a Texas university. A decision on who’ll replace Pipkin will be made by the Republican Central Committees of Caroline, Cecil, Kent, and Queen Anne’s counties – the committees will send a nominee to Governor O’Malley within 30 days of Pipkin’s resignation. 

Grand Prix Prep For 2013, 2014: It’s going to take less time to prepare the track for this year’s Grand Prix of Baltimore than officials had originally planned… yesterday; they told the Baltimore Sun they’ll reduce the construction period by about a third, shortening it to just 21 days. To cut the construction time down this year, entire city blocks will be closed at night and in the early morning hours. The Grand Prix of Baltimore will be held on Labor Day weekend this year, as it has for the past two years… but next year, it won’t. That’s because of a major college football game already scheduled for M&T Bank Stadium that weekend. Officials with the street race tell the Baltimore Business Journal that they’re eyeing two other weekends in August of 2014 for the event, but aren’t saying which ones. 

Why Maryland Is Pursuing A Private Sector Partner On Purple Line: WYPR's Fraser Smith and John Wagner of the Washington Post talk about Governor O'Malley's announcement that the state will seek a public-private partnership for construction and operation of the Purple Line in the Washington suburbs, and what that means for Baltimore's Red Line. It’s this morning’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics

O’Malley To Stump In Newark: Governor Martin O'Malley will travel to New Jersey tomorrow in support of Newark Mayor Cory Booker's campaign to become Jersey’s next US Senator. The Baltimore Sun reports that O’Malley will appear on behalf of his fellow Democrat in Trenton and Paterson. O'Malley has been spending more and more time on the national stage in recent weeks, prompting more speculation that he’ll run for President in 2016; just days ago, O’Malley told reporters that he’s in the process of laying a framework for a presidential bid.

Rawlings-Blake Gets New Policy And Communications Director: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has a new policy and communications director. The mayor has hired former Obama administration appointee Kevin Harris to fill the key office. The Baltimore Sun notes that Harris recently served as regional press secretary for the Democratic National Committee during the 2012 election cycle. 

Upgrades To M&T Bank Stadium: Fans will notice a different look when they enter M&T Bank Stadium for a Ravens game this season. It's the first installment of a two-year, 35-million-dollar project which will add video boards and concessions. The Baltimore Business Journal has more

Baltimore Baseball: the Orioles beat the San Diego Padres last night; the score was 4 to 1. The two teams play again this afternoon.