Monthly Archives: May 2015

The Ehrlich record on clemencies

For handy reference, here’s a Washington Post 2012 write-up and a short post at Pardon Power. From the latter:

[Bob] Ehrlich, who became Maryland’s first Republican governor in 36 years when he was elected in 2002, made clemency requests a priority of his administration from 2003 to 2007. Ehrlich assigned five lawyers in his office to consider clemency cases, with two of them fully devoted to them. He met with them once a month to consider cases.

In his four-year term “Ehrlich granted 227 pardons and 21 commutations.” This was a much faster pace than Democratic predecessor Parris Glendening, and even more so than successor Martin O’Malley, who after six and a half years in office had 105 pardons and three commutations.

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Why cook for your kids when the state will do it?

To reduce stigma, or so it’s said, Maryland will serve free school breakfast, lunch, and summer meals to more kids whether they’re poor or not [Rebecca Lessner/Maryland Reporter, earlier] Gov. Hogan has signed the Hunger Free Schools Act, a bill sponsored by Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Kensington) that seemed to enjoy near-universal support in Annapolis; leveraging more federal money may have had something to do with that. Pushing for the measure was an outfit called Maryland Hunger Solutions.

I can’t go along with blogger Tom Coale of HoCo Rising, who seems to see it as a positive indicator for a county to have moved more of its less affluent families away from home meals with family and into government feeding options. Under his analysis, counties like Howard and Frederick with low breakfast participation rates come off as laggards, drawing attention away from the possibility that they should actually be counted as successes: their less affluent families, for what may turn out to be admirable reasons, succeed better at feeding their kids at home.

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Governor Hogan signs “Tesla bill”

HB 235, ratifying direct consumer sales for electric cars, could be a small step toward a more rational system for auto retailing in Maryland. But only a small step, suggests my Cato colleague Peter Van Doren, because the bill also entrenches the existing inefficient legal segmentation of retailing in the conventional gasoline-powered market.

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Chevy Chase: “town has become farcically overregulated”

Discontent at a land-use control process perceived as “condescending and obnoxious” helped fuel a surprise voter revolt in affluent Chevy Chase, Md., just across the D.C. border in Montgomery County. [Washington Post] Aside from intensive review of requests to expand a deck or convert a screened-in porch to year-round space, there are the many tree battles:

[Insurgents] cite the regulations surrounding tree removal as especially onerous. Property owners seeking to cut down any tree 24 inches or larger in circumference must have a permit approved by the town arborist and town manager attesting that the tree is dead, dying or hazardous.

If turned down, residents can appeal to a Tree Ordinance Board, which applies a series of nine criteria to its decision, including the overall effect on the town’s tree canopy, the “uniqueness” or “desirability” of the tree in question and the applicant’s willingness to plant replacement trees.

More: Philip K. Howard with ideas for fixing environmental permitting. [cross-posted from Overlawyered]

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Cut Baltimore property taxes

For any real chance for Baltimore to bounce back economically, you need to cut its high property taxes. Reihan Salam argues the case, drawing on work by Stephen Walters (Loyola Maryland) and others. As a percentage of value Baltimore’s property taxes are not as extraordinarily high as Detroit’s, but in both cities the tax has contributed to severe problems of property abandonment.

From a Facebook discussion, Bruce Godfrey:

One other effect of Baltimore city’s high property taxes is the disproportionate concentration of nonprofit organizations in the city. These nonprofits are exempt not only from income taxes on their operations, but every asset they own is exempt from the state real estate and personal property taxes, which are more than twice those of the county surrounding it.

More: Lengthy new piece on Baltimore abandonments by Washington Post reporter Terrence McCoy never mentions property taxes. So they must not be a problem!

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In miniature, May 8

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“Probable cause from a Baltimore police officer has always been a tenuous thing….”

What went wrong with police-community relations in Baltimore, and are there any hopes for improvement? I liked David Simon’s interview on this subject so well that I edited it down into a sort of highlights reel in a Cato at Liberty post. (cross-posted from Overlawyered).

I’ve also posted lately at Overlawyered and Cato on the economics of how riots occur; in this roundup, on the very harmful aftermath of the 1960s riots for the labor market in affected communities; and in this post, on knife law, the filing of charges against six BPD officers in the death of Freddie Gray, and the union’s response (“none…are responsible.”) And this flashback: “At least twelve Baltimore cops sought workers’ comp for stress after using deadly force on citizens [Luke Broadwater, Baltimore Sun/Carroll County Times] I was a guest on the national Leslie Marshall show Monday, guest-hosted by Newsweek opinion editor Nicholas Wapshott, on the topic of Maryland’s Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights (on which here, here, etc.).

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