Wednesday Wrap -- Postal reversal, Bay decline, other scandals

hogan_in_shades.jpgAs the week rolls on it's easy to miss some of the juiciest outrages affecting Maryland -- the USPS slowdown and its aftermath doesn't give Congress DeJoy; bye bye to a Hogan staff chief who cashed in too visibly (Larry is more careful); Hogan's "rain tax" gambit besmirches his stewardship of the Bay, and more. Should we be ashamed of always looking at the downside? Well, maybe -- but we aren't.



 

First things -- Maryland is Biden country, nobody's denying that... but Maryland had only one delegate out of 96 for Bernie Sanders? He got 8 percent of the vote. Sounds like banana republic election results. Even Lukashenko's rigged election in Belarus only netted him an 80 percent win. Maryland's Democratic Central Committees seemingly are are anything but democratic -- basically hiring halls for lackeys scuffling for the political-career pipeline, some might conclude.

On Monday, in the Progressive Maryland Weekly Memo, we referred to Roy McGrath as “Larry Hogan’s latest chief of staff.” This morning, he is Hogan’s former chief of staff, having caught just too much grief over arriving with a golden parachute – a year’s “severance” of $233,000 from his former job at another state agency, the Maryland Environmental Service. As Barry Rascovar notes in his rollicking blog, Political Maryland, the quiet and orderly resignation was probably just what Larry wanted to keep turmoil away, but the apparent fact that this is standard procedure for the MES when an executive leaves will probably bring unwanted scrutiny to that and other state agencies. Rascovar suggests that these practices in the Hogan administration might have been more widespread than known, just because they were seldom in the news. Who knows what will turn up?

Maryland joins multistate lawsuit challenging USPS cutbacks

From Conduit St, the Maryland Association of Counties daily news blast: AG Brian Frosh’s office said “The Postal Service cuts, including eliminating staff overtime, altering operations at state distribution centers, and removing critical mail sorting equipment, threaten the timely delivery of mail to individuals who rely on the Postal Service for everything from medical prescriptions to ballots.”

“Trump attacks on the postal service are designed to disrupt the election. They strike at the core of our democracy,” said Attorney General Frosh.

Conduit Street’s Kevin Kinally reported that “the suit was joined by the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced a complementary multistate lawsuit to be filed in Pennsylvania.

And the level of outrage brings a rare policy rollback in Trump World

Meanwhile Trump’s big donor and stockholder in private-sector competitors with USPS – that is, the Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy – has backed off his stealth “reforms” of USPS including policies slowing delivery by several means. Funny how a less efficient USPS serves his interest as an investor in private delivery companies as well as Trump’s interest in cutting public trust in the mail-in voting that is going to be critical for a fair election during the pandemic. Win-win, right? But DeJoy is going to face a suddenly aroused Congressional oversight effort, a Senate committee Friday and the House Oversight Committee on Monday. Not for the first time will we miss the trenchant work of Elijah Cummings as chair of that House committee.

The Bay is still getting fouler, and Maryland joins Pennsylvania in the penalty boxtrump-hogan_wbal.jpg

As Larry Hogan passed the chairmanship of the Chesapeake Executive Committee to Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia yesterday, Maryland’s increasing failure to measure up in keeping the Bay clean was not mentioned. The Executive Committee is made up of states in the Bay watershed plus the EPA and a cleaner Bay is job one for it. But Maryland, by the estimate of regional environmental groups who monitor the Bay, is joining Pennsylvania as top misbehavers on that topic. Here’s an account of that (virtual) handoff that includes links to two recent studies fingering Hogan’s efforts in Maryland in the six years since he was elected – and if you remember, his mantra in his first election was to ridicule stormwater management requirements, which he dubbed a “rain tax.” A real-estate magnate who just looooves unfettered development --- especially where his own holdings are concerned --  Hogan pushed back on those efforts successfully, incentivizing local governments to evade their own responsibilities for stormwater management. The result is clear – or rather unclear, going by the Bay’s increasingly murky waters.


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