Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Apolitical Juice Blender: Pay Raises for PG Politicians, Shorter Sentences for MoCo Criminals // Plus, a Curfew Update

UPDATE: The Washington Blade has additional details about the Howard County gender discrimination bill, as well as its supporters and opposition (which includes former candidate for D14 Delegate Vanessa Ali from MoCo).

Here's a random blend of apolitical tidbits from recent news, starting with a Washington Post article discussing a scheduled pay raise for politicians in Prince George's County and other area governments:
Apolitical Juice #1: The Prince George’s County Council and county executive, already among the highest paid county government officials in Maryland, are due for a 3.4 percent raise next month. The increase comes at a time when public employees are enduring pay freezes and unpaid furloughs to plug local government budget gaps....

In Prince George’s, three council members said they will return their raises or donate them to charity. County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), whose salary is slated to increase from $174,539 to $180,473, said Tuesday that he will either turn back the raise to the government or donate it to a nonprofit group.... Prince George’s council members are paid $96,417.... In Prince George’s, council members have taken different approaches to handling the raise....
The Post proceeded to compare Prince George's handling of elected officials' pay raises with the actions of Montgomery and Howard Counties:
In neighboring Montgomery, County Council members’ annual salaries are due to rise next month by 5 percent, to almost $100,000. But all nine members, who are paid $94,351 a year, have pledged to return the increase to the county government. County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) is not due for a pay increase this year, but he has returned raises and taken unpaid time off in previous years, a spokesman said.

In Howard, County Council members’ salaries will rise slightly, from $53,400 to $54,600, and the executive’s salary will increase from $160,198 to $163,842. County Executive Ken Ulman (D) plans to accept the raise after having taken unpaid time off in previous years, a spokesman said....

Apolitical Juice #2: In addition to giving up pay raises, officials in Montgomery County are also trying to save taxpayer dollars by reducing prison costs. The Gazette reported on MoCo's prison-based austerity measure:
Montgomery lawmakers want to shorten the stay of inmates in county jails to save money.

For the third year in a row, the county council is supporting legislation that would prohibit judges from sentencing criminals to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility for more than 12 months, said Councilman Phil Andrews (D-Dist. 3).

Before fiscal 2010, the state reimbursed counties for all inmates held longer than 90 days.... The state cut all reimbursement payments for those held less than a year....

“The bottom line is, the state’s decision not to reimburse the county for holding prisoners who stay longer than 12 months in our jails, costs the county a little over $3 million a year and this is the third year of that,” Andrews said.

Apolitical Juice #3: Transgendered rights advocates appear poised for another success in Maryland, as the The Baltimore Sun is reporting on growing momentum for an anti-discrimination bill in Howard County:
The County Council is poised to make gender identity a protected classification under county law.

All four council Democrats sponsoring the bill confirmed their support for it after a public hearing Monday, Nov. 21 that was filled with personal stories about transgender discrimination....

The sponsors make up a clear majority on the five-member council. All four said after the hearing that the testimony they heard affirmed the need for anti-discrimination legislation.

...Howard County would be only the third jurisdiction in the state, behind Montgomery County and Baltimore, to adopt such legislation....

The council is scheduled to vote on the bill Dec. 5, and while it appears sure to pass, it is unclear whether councilman Greg Fox, a Fulton Republican, will support the measure.

"There was nothing that really convinced me one way or the other tonight," Fox said after the hearing.

Apolitical Juice #4: Last but not least -- it appears as though the Montgomery County curfew proposal might be fading into oblivion. The Examiner's Rachel Baye wrote this simple headline today: "MontCo curfew unlikely to pass." Her article noted the following interesting development:
Most Montgomery County Council members say they do not support the youth curfew County Executive Ike Leggett has pushed since July....

Though the council was scheduled to vote on the bill Dec. 6, that vote has been canceled, said Councilman Roger Berliner, D-Bethesda, who is set to take over as council president next month. No new vote has been scheduled.
Is it too soon to pop the O'Doul's?

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