Former Gov. Larry Hogan dropped a new video this week as he continues his will-he-or-won’t-he flirtation with a third-party or independent presidential bid.
This one focuses on foreign policy, with the Republican ex-governor intoning, “Our allies question whether they should still trust us, and our enemies question whether they should still fear us,” as clips of violence in the Middle East and Ukraine splash on the screen.
There are quotes of Hogan on news shows offering support for Israel, contrasting his position against other politicians.
Hogan channels former President Ronald Reagan at the end of the 90-second video, saying: “I believe in peace through strength. And I believe in standing up for our allies and standing up to our enemies. We need to stand with our allies and secure peace through strength.”
The video was put out by Hogan’s advocacy organization, An America United. He’s also a national co-chair of No Labels, which has considered a controversial plan to offer a third-party presidential candidate.
While Hogan continues to get national attention for his consideration of a presidential run, he’s scheduled to appear in Maryland next week.
Hogan and former Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford will be featured at an event at Howard Community College in Columbia on Wednesday called “Extreme Politics: Bridging the Gaps.” The format will be a “fireside chat” led by Paul Skalny, managing director of the Davis, Agnor, Rapaport & Skalny law firm. Rutherford is a lawyer with the firm.
Mayor and City Council feud over last-minute redistricting veto
Days after Mayor Brandon Scott issued an eleventh-hour veto of the Baltimore City Council’s redistricting plan — effectively denying the body a chance to override him and ensuring that his own map would take effect — the two sides remained at odds over the decision.
Council President Nick Mosby and the seven other members who had voted for his version of the map sent a letter to Scott Wednesday arguing that his veto ignored hours of community input into their plan, and crying foul over his decision to nix the plan at the last minute.
“This redistricting process ended in a way that was disappointing to us and the residents of our city,” the group of eight wrote. “We were proud of how we went about ensuring community involvement, and for their voices to be ignored in this veto decision is disheartening.”
Scott’s decision to veto Mosby’s map scrapped many adjustments the body had made to answer community concerns about the mayor’s version, a point the council members emphasized in their letter. Mosby’s map narrowly passed the 15-member council last month in an 8-6 vote, with members Robert Stokes, Antonio Glover, Mark Conway, Odette Ramos, Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer and Sharon Green Middleton — also the signatories of Wednesday’s letter — in support.
Mosby informed council members at Monday night’s meeting that he had received notice of the veto from the mayor just minutes earlier. The body did not attempt to override the decision, and Monday night’s meeting represented their last and only opportunity to respond to a veto.
The eight council members also pointed to analysis by a third-party consultant that found Mosby’s map outperformed Scott’s proposal in seven of eight criteria.
The mayor, though, argued in a letter announcing his veto Monday night that the council’s map fell short of his standards for balancing district populations and ensuring an equitable distribution of resources and institutions.
Scott spokesman Bryan Doherty said Friday that the council failed to acknowledge that the analysis of the competing maps came from their own hired consultant. He argued that Mosby’s team refused to meet in the middle during meetings on the redistricting plan in recent weeks, “leaving the Mayor with no choice but to veto.”
“Our team repeatedly tried to engage the Council President to identify compromises between both maps that would address our concerns,” said Doherty, alluding to an offer the mayor had made that the council retract its map and re-pass an amended, compromise version. “It is disappointing that the Council President is now trying to politicize this issue to overcome their own unwillingness to compromise.”
Aside from the particulars of district lines, the timing of the redistricting process was an issue for both sides from the start.
The city was working under a hard, 60-day deadline to finalize its map, and Mosby had urged the mayor to disclose a decision by Monday if he intended to veto in order to allow the council a fair chance to respond.
“That simple request was ignored purposefully by sending the veto letter minutes after we gaveled into our Council meeting Monday night,” the council members said.
The ‘Ruby’ opens in East Baltimore
The Perkins-Somerset-Oldtown transformation project in East Baltimore may be one of the city’s most complex and high-stakes development deals in its history. That’s why it should come as no surprise that state, federal and local officials turned out in droves Wednesday for a ribbon-cutting event at the second of four mixed-use buildings being built at the site of the former Somerset Homes public housing complex.
Named the “Ruby” in honor of local jazz legend Ruby Glover, the 72-unit building will eventually house tenants at a mix of incomes, some paying market-rate prices for their luxury-style apartments and some paying below market rate or at “deeply affordable” prices for the same quality unit. Housing Authority of Baltimore City president Janet Abrahams said Wednesday that at least 52 of the units will be designated for renters paying below market rate.
“It’s a hard project, and funding at times is limited,” Abrahams told the crowd gathered for the nearly hourlong ceremony and celebration before the ribbon-cutting. “But we will deliver, and we’ll go down with this ship if we have to.”
The 244-acre project, which aims to fill the “hole in the doughnut” situated in between Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Inner Harbor, comes with a nearly $1 billion price tag that includes a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and a $105 million tax increment financing deal from the city.
It has involved about 10 years of negotiating, planning and financing and has forced the relocation of more than 500 households out of the Perkins Homes public housing site. Each household has been given the option to return to the site once it’s completed — a stipulation of the Choice Neighborhoods grant.
Wednesday’s event featured remarks from Justin Williams, Baltimore’s deputy mayor for community and economic development; Greg Hare, assistant secretary of development finance at the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development; and Richard J. Monocchio, principal deputy assistant secretary at HUD, who acknowledged the project’s complexity.
“It’s not easy to close the gap,” Monocchio said, adding that the prestigious Choice Neighborhoods grant and several American Rescue Plan Act commitments from Mayor Brandon Scott’s administration have helped this phase of the massive undertaking reach the finish line. “Inclusion and a grocery store — what’s more important than that?”
Baltimore County’s elections HQ moves to Owings Mills
The Baltimore County Board of Elections held a ribbon-cutting Tuesday for its new headquarters and voting center in the Dolfield Business Park in Owings Mills.
The new elections board office will “consolidate” the board’s four previous locations into one 45,100-square-foot building, moving its ballot canvassers from its former Hunt Valley headquarters, and housing equipment that’s been held across three other warehouses.
The elections board has a 15-year lease from St. John Properties, Baltimore County’s press office said; beginning May 31 next year, the county and the Maryland State Board of Elections will pay just over $654,200 for the headquarters’ annual rent.
County elections director Ruie Lavoie said in a news release that having the building capacity to “offer an accessible, safe and welcoming voter experience” was a priority for the board moving into the 2024 elections.
County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., who attended the ribbon-cutting, said the new location near Red Run Boulevard “offers the space and security to properly store voting equipment, conduct training and canvassing activities and provide the public with a convenient voting center.”
Voters will be notified of the location change on sample 2024 ballots.
U.S. Senate race update
The endorsements continue in the Democratic primary for Maryland’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2024.
U.S. Rep. David Trone, one of the Democratic front-runners, announced an endorsement from U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, who represents parts of Baltimore and Carroll counties and Baltimore City..
In a video announcement, Ruppersberger touted Trone as “an ally to Baltimore City and the county, from his first day in the House of Representatives.”
This is Trone’s first endorsement from within Maryland’s delegation, as all the others who’ve endorsed so far have gone with rival Angela Alsobrooks, the Prince George’s County executive.
Alsobrooks, meanwhile, announced an endorsement from U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.