In miniature, March 12

  • Members of elite Baltimore police task force falsified search warrants, robbed at least 10 victims “including some who had not committed crimes, officials said.” And oh, the overtime: “one hour can be eight hours.” [Washington Post]
  • Advisory state panel swallows dubious health claims, urges schools to cut off wi-fi [ACSH]
  • “GOP legislators offer pension reforms” [Dan Menefee, Maryland Reporter]
  • Desire for retribution aside, hanging homicide rap on dealers after overdoses unlikely to solve opiate problem [Mark Sine and Kaitlyn Boecker, Baltimore Sun]
  • May I caress your shoulder now? “Maryland ponders dangerous ‘affirmative consent’ proposal” for Montgomery County schools [Ashe Schow, Watchdog on MC 14-17, Kelly-Morales bill]
  • Recalling Tom Perez’s unusual 2013 Maryland Chamber endorsement [Tim Carney, Sean Higgins] Critical 2011 view of CASA de Maryland [James Simpson, AIM]

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Reverting D.C. to Maryland?

The idea of reverting all of Washington, D.C. or at least its residential sections to Maryland is not new; there used to be a southern portion of D.C. across the Potomac that reverted to Virginia long ago, which in no way has prevented the Pentagon and similar installations from functioning as federal buildings just like those housing other cabinet departments. Whatever the idea’s logic, however, it would seem to be a political non-starter. “According to an April 2016 poll, only 28% of Marylanders support annexing DC, while 44% are opposed.” [Chad Hughes, Greater Greater Washington]

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“Why Maryland lawmakers should not ban fracking”

“In fact, fracking has massive environmental benefits. The rapid expansion of natural gas production has prompted power plants all over the country to switch from coal to gas, which is both cheaper and burns much cleaner. Last year, largely thanks to this mass migration, American carbon emissions hit a 25-year low. Given its own grand green ambitions, Maryland ought to be embracing fracking.” [Chris Summers, Maryland Public Policy Institute]

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In miniature, February 7

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Baltimore’s DOJ police consent decree

Yesterday the city of Baltimore signed a 227-page consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice putting the city’s police department under wide-ranging federal control for the indefinite future (earlier).

The decree (document; summary of high points) mingles some terms that rise to genuine constitutional significance with others that no court would have ordered, and yet others that appear not to be requirements of the law at all, but at most best practices. Many are virtually or entirely unenforceable (“professional and courteous” interaction with citizens). Whether or not the decree results in the less frequent violation of citizens’ rights, it is certain to result in large amounts of new spending and in the extension of the powers of lawyers working for various parties.

In November David Meyer Lindenberg of Fault Lines, the criminal justice website, wrote this opinion piece about the failure of DoJ police reform consent decrees to live up to the high claims often made for them (more: Scott Shackford, Reason). Our consent decrees tag traces the problems with these devices in a variety of public agencies such as those handling children’s and mental health services, as well as the budgetary rigidity they often impose.

Since Congress passed enabling legislation in 1994 in the aftermath of the Rodney King beating, the Washington Post and Frontline reported in a 2015 investigation, “Twenty-six [police] investigations — a little more than half of them since President Obama took office — have led to the most rigorous outcome: binding agreements tracked by monitors. More than half were consent decrees, meaning they were approved and managed in federal court.” As of that point only Ohio, at 4 agreements, had had more than Maryland, at 3.

This 2008 report from the Alabama Policy Institute by Michael DeBow, Gary Palmer, and John J. Park, Jr. takes a critical view of the decrees’ use in institutional reform litigation (not specifically police), and comes with a foreword by Sen. Jeff Sessions, now the nominee to replace Loretta Lynch as Attorney General of the U.S. Speaking of which, there’s something so weird about some liberals’ eagerness to hand the keys to big-city police departments over to Mr. Sessions. It’s as if they think once Main Justice is calling the shots it won’t think of using that leverage on issues like, say, sanctuary cities.

[cross-posted from Overlawyered. Note also Reuters’ new investigation of police union contracts, and related coverage in the Baltimore Sun (McSpadden case), Ed Krayewski/Reason (three years to fire misbehaving cop), and more Sun (deadly effects of police slowdown)]

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In miniature, January 4

  • May 2015 work slowdown by Baltimore police may have led to long-term higher crime rate [Daniel Bier/FEE, Alex Tabarrok/Marginal Revolution] “11 Incredible Findings from the Report on Baltimore PD” [Bier, FEE]
  • Claim: lawmakers can “give” private employees paid parental leave and “there’s no added cost to employers” [Kate Ryan, WTOP citing views of Montgomery County, Maryland council member Tom Hucker]
  • Irony alert: Get-money-out-of-politics measure passes 53-47 in Howard County after backers outspend foes 10-1 [Len Lazarick, Maryland Reporter]
  • “FBI fingerprinting for Uber and Lyft in Maryland would do more harm than good” [Washington Post letter to editor from Arthur Rizer, R Street Institute]
  • “Economist: Baltimore Minimum Wage Bill Punishes Small Business Growth” [Connor Wolf]
  • Major overhaul of state contracting proposed, along with hundreds of changes to regulations [Maryland Reporter]

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Let’s do better in 2017: Maryland rated 46th freest state of 50

Maryland remains at its fourth-from-worst position of #46 in this new report ranking freedom in the 50 states by the Cato Institute, with which I’m affiliated. “Occupational freedom is extremely low, for health professions and for others….Educational freedom is among the lowest in the country. Homeschools and private schools are tightly regulated, the latter more so (mandatory state approval and teacher licensing).” While scoring average on taxes and criminal justice, our state, long known as the Free State, is worse than average on business subsidies, land-use control, and firearms unfreedom. We are 49th (next to worst!) on regulation, occupational, and land use freedom and least free of all 50 on education.

Adjacent states are ahead of us: Virginia at # 21, Pennsylvania #26, Delaware # 31, and West Virginia at # 39.

Most of these problems cannot be fixed without electing a better legislature in Annapolis.

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ACLU blasts Hogan education plan

I wish we had a civil liberties group in Maryland that focused on civil liberties, rather than going to bat for the legislative agenda of the teachers’ union.

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In miniature, November 13

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Back now

Yes, I took a break this fall to catch up on personal business. Posting should resume shortly.

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