Costello endorses Mosby in City Council President’s race

Another newsy tidbit came out of Baltimore City Councilman Eric Costello’s decision to run for reelection — the Democrat endorsed Council President Nick Mosby in his bid for another term as leader of the legislative body.

“I support him 100%. And I’m asking every single person in this room to do the same thing, because this is the type of leadership we need in Baltimore City,” Costello said at a Wednesday night fundraiser, facing a crowd that included a slew of prominent business leaders, former Mayor Sheila Dixon and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Ivan Bates.

The nod is not exactly a surprise. Mosby and Costello have long been public allies, while the City Council president has bumped heads more publicly with Councilman Zeke Cohen, who is up against Mosby in the race. Former Councilwoman Shannon Sneed is considering a run.

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‘The Body Politic’ set to screen at The Charles theater

A documentary that followed Mayor Brandon Scott’s 2020 election victory and first year in office will have its first Baltimore screening at the end of the month.

“The Body Politic” will be screened on Aug. 20 at The Charles Theatre in Station North, as part of the New/Next Film Fest.

The film, drawn from hundreds of hours of footage collected by director Gabriel Paz Goodenough, traces the mayor’s process of creating and implementing his group violence reduction strategy.

“I thought I was going to make an election film,” Goodenough told an audience at a panel after a screening I attended in Washington, D.C., earlier this summer, recalling how he followed Scott and other candidates Sheila Dixon, TJ Smith and Thiru Vignarajah jockeying in the crowded race. “Unfortunately, the murder of George Floyd and the pandemic happened. ... and we decided we want to follow the change in City Hall after.”

Goodenough — and, in my opinion, the film — were not subtle about his feelings about the mayor. “Fortunately, Brandon won,” he said at the panel.

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Many Baltimoreans, from sources featured in cutaway shots to people I’ve made small talk with at the bar, have asked me if it’s worth watching. This City Hall reporter didn’t learn many new things about the mayor from the film, but if you’re interested in the mayor or his public safety efforts, chances are the documentary’s broad meditation on Scott’s group violence reduction strategy and the people at the heart of it will get you thinking.

Beyoncé inspiration for ... fundraising?

Beyoncé is a singular sensation who inspires so many of us — even, apparently, politicians and their fundraisers.

Queen Bey’s Renaissance World Tour stopped in Prince George’s County last weekend, prompting Gov. Wes Moore to declare Beyoncé Day in the state and inspiring at least two candidates to quote the musician in their pitches.

Ahead of the concert, U.S. Senate candidate Angela Alsobrooks sent out a fundraising solicitation full of references to Beyoncé's music, including: “When she said girls run the world, she didn’t lie,” followed by a clapping hands emoji.

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“Her music inspires me to always raise the bar and to raise my voice for the things that matter, unapologetically. And if I’m lucky enough to be elected Maryland’s next senator, I’ll be dancing to Beyoncé all the way to the Senate!” reads the Democrat’s fundraising pitch.

Baltimore City State’s Attorney Ivan Bates also must be a member of the Beyhive, because he sent out a fundraising email this week saying he went to the concert and was inspired by her line: “Never let success go to your head, never let failure get to your heart.”

“I’ve repeated Beyonce’s words to myself many times since becoming State’s Attorney in January, because I’ve experienced both, sometimes on the very same day,” Bates wrote. The Democrat’s email went on to invite supporters to join him for a bowling fundraiser and celebration of his 55th birthday in September.

Battle for attention in U.S. Senate race

In the competitive race among Democrats for Maryland’s soon-to-be open U.S. Senate seat, candidates Will Jawando and Angela Alsobrooks have been pushing out signs of support.

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Alsobrooks, currently the Prince George’s County executive, added 16 more names to her list of endorsers that now numbers 89.

The latest batch of endorsements includes two former county executives: Don Mohler, who led Baltimore County in 2018, and Ken Ulman, who led Howard County from 2006 through 2014.

There also are several new endorsers from the greater Baltimore region, including: Del. Elizabeth Embry from Baltimore; Dels. Michele Guyton and Nick Allen from Baltimore County; Sen. Dawn Gile and Del. Dana Jones from Anne Arundel County; Del. Vanessa Atterbeary from Howard County; and Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley.

Jawando, meanwhile, will benefit from a new political action committee set up to promote his candidacy. Jawando is currently a member of the Montgomery County Council

The Maryland Democratic Action Network PAC says it has a team of “accomplished and diverse consultants” with expertise in TV and digital advertising, direct mail and polling. The PAC plans to put forward a “multi-million dollar effort” to promote Jawando.

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“Together, we will mobilize the people of Maryland to elect Will Jawando, a fighter who embodies the values we hold dear: compassion, justice, and a determination to deliver for the communities he serves,” said the PAC’s leader, former Obama administration Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton, in a statement.

The other leading contender in the Democratic primary is U.S. Rep. David Trone.

New transportation leaders

There are new leaders overseeing the state’s highways and toll facilities.

Joseph “Joey” Sagal is the new executive director of the Maryland Transportation Authority, which runs the state’s toll bridges, highways and tunnels. He previously was the MDTA’s chief operating officer.

William Pines, who had been the MDTA’s executive director, will move over to the State Highway Administration to be its administrator. SHA handles all of the other numbered state highways.

And speaking of transportation, members have been named to a new commission that will review how the state raises money for transportation projects.

The Maryland General Assembly created the commission to give recommendations for changes. One challenge: With vehicles switching over to electric, is the gas tax still the best source for revenue for highway and transit projects?

Frank J. Principe Jr., an administrator of the University of Maryland Global Campus, will lead the 31-member group with the official name of “Maryland Commission on Transportation Revenue and Infrastructure Needs.”

The commission’s first meeting will be Aug. 24 in Annapolis, and they are due to issue reports on Jan. 1, 2024 and Jan. 1, 2025.

Environmental honors

The Maryland League of Conservation Voters will bestow honors on individuals who are pushing for the state’s “clean energy future.”

Liz Burdock, executive director of the Business Network for Offshore Wind, will be given LCV’s John V. Kabler Memorial Award, named for a late longtime environmentalist.

Sen. Benjamin T. Brooks Sr. of Baltimore County and Del. Luke Clippinger of Baltimore City have been selected as LCV’s legislators of the year for work in passing legislation on community solar installations.

Del. Lorig Charkoudian of Montgomery County and Del. Dana Stein of Baltimore County will be honored as Climate Champions for their environmental work in Annapolis.

The awards will be given out at a celebration this fall.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, who is wrapping up his career in elected office, will be honored next March by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. He’ll be given the foundation’s Clean Water Legacy Award for his longtime support for clean water.

“The Chesapeake Bay is the heart of Maryland’s identity and economy, and the success of our state, region and nation relies on its sustainability. In the Senate and beyond, I will remain fully committed to continuing the work to improve the health of the Bay and its local rivers and streams so that it remains a national treasure for future generations,” Cardin said in a statement.

BaltCo councilman wants to slash plastic bag ban

Republican Baltimore County Councilman Todd Crandell wants to redefine what Baltimore County law considers a “reusable carryout bag” — to include plastic bags.

As phrased, the draft bill would effectively require businesses to sell plastic bags thicker than 2.6 millimeters to shoppers for at least 5 cents.

The southeastern councilman also wants to carve liquor stores and any business that sells food out of the county’s plastic bag ban, which goes into effect Nov. 1.

The Baltimore County Council voted in February to require grocery stores, restaurants and other retailers to charge at least 5 cents for any paper or reusable bag they buy. Businesses that violate the prohibition could face a penalty of up to $500. There are a few exceptions for “small retail establishments” and farmers markets.

The bill was proposed by Councilman Izzy Patoka and co-sponsored by first-term Councilman Mike Ertel, both Democrats. It was approved 5-2 — Crandell and Democratic council Chair Julian Jones dissented, saying the ban puts an undue burden on business owners. The original bill would have exempted shoppers who receive benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program from the 5 cent charge, but that was cut out of final legislation.

Crandell wants to exempt liquor stores and “food service” facilities — effectively any business that sells food — from the law’s requirements.

The council is expected to discuss the proposal at its work session Aug. 29.