Rose back leading Baltimore Co. police union

Baltimore County’s Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 4 has once again elected David Rose its president.

Rose, who was the police union’s top dog from 2019 to 2021, made his first public appearance Tuesday since returning to the police union’s top position. He spoke in favor of council Chair Julian Jones’ proposals to establish an inspector general oversight board and require that administrative subpoenas be approved by a judge during a heated Baltimore County Council work session.

“There is no oversight and therefore it is rife for abuse,” Rose said during the Tuesday meeting. “As police, we know the value of having judicial review of all of our search and seizure warrants.”

Rose added that he’s worked with Inspector General Kelly Madigan’s office before, “and I found them to be very, very accommodating, inquisitive, polite and helpful.”

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“But I’ve been in this county for almost 37 years,” he added. “And I’ve seen what almost unfettered power can give somebody, and what harm can be done by having that unfettered power.”

Rose lost a reelection bid for FOP president in 2021 to Dave Folderauer. But late last month, rank-and-file police officers nominated Rose as their leader by 347 votes over Folderauer, a retired colonel who had criticized department officials’ lack of transparency when it came to disclosing violent crimes, such as nonfatal shootings, to the public.

Folderauer also led the police union, which represents around 2,000 sworn officers, in its unanimous no-confidence vote of former police chief Melissa Hyatt in 2022, and demanded County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. remove her from her post. The FOP had argued Hyatt was unwilling to work with the union and supported changes to statewide police disciplinary processes they said would have effectively eliminated due process boards for officers accused of misconduct.

Olszewski, who first defended Hyatt, later allowed her contract to expire at the end of 2022, but never provided a substantive reason for the decision.

— Taylor DeVille

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Olszewski names two to Fair Election Fund commission

Three years after Baltimore County voters approved the creation of public financing for candidates running for local office, County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. has announced his nominees to the commission tasked with hashing out its details.

Olszewski has nominated to the Fair Election Fund Commission Marietta English, a longtime educator who for years led the Baltimore Teachers Union and served as vice president of the American Federation of Teachers and president of AFT Maryland.

She’s also a member of the Baltimore County School Board Nominating Commission.

Olszewski also nominated David Mister, a former Baltimore County assistant state’s attorney, who previously ran a private law practice with Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger. Mister’s firm has represented Baltimore County developers and businesses, the Baltimore County Revenue Authority, and the Baltimore County Licensed Beverage Association, according to its website.

In addition to the county executive’s appointments, the Fair Election Fund will consist of seven other county residents put forth by members of the Baltimore County Council to four-year terms.

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County residents voted to establish the fair election fund in the county’s charter in 2020. The initiative was championed by Olszewski during his first term. The commission is expected to determine the amount of funding needed to support certain candidates running for council or county executive jobs for each election cycle, beginning in 2026.

The council is expected to confirm Olszewski’s nominees at its Dec. 18 meeting.

— Taylor DeVille

Joint committee highlights key audits

In a sweeping review of state financial audits, agency heads updated lawmakers on their solutions to problems they inherited from their predecessors.

Audits published this year uncovered errors made by Gov. Larry Hogan’s Department of Labor, Department of Health, and the Maryland Transportation Authority, and have now fallen to Gov. Wes Moore’s cabinet secretaries to resolve.

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The agency heads explained to lawmakers how they plan to fix and prevent the costly errors from happening again on their watch.

An audit of state Medicaid reimbursements found the health department paid for services without first checking whether patients could have used other insurers. Auditors examined records from August 2018 to March 2022.

More than $7 million was paid on behalf of people who had died and on services for incarcerated people who weren’t eligible for benefits at the time.

Health Department Secretary Dr. Laura Herrera Scott told lawmakers her department is committed to fixing the problems by continuing to fill vacancies, improving their processes where there were none, automating manual processes, and looking at ways to update the department’s mid-90s information system.

Higher than usual vacancy rates, the COVID-19 pandemic and a devastating December 2020 ransomware attack contributed to several points of failure, Herrera Scott said. She rejected theories that problems were caused by worker competence, saying health department staff have not been given the resources to do their jobs. She said staff are “the core of what we do” and “work hard — day in, day out.”

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The Maryland Transportation Authority updated the committee on fixes being made after a March audit found the tolling system charged more than 82,000 drivers twice for a single trip on some roadways. The analysis also found regular crossers of the Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge were overcharged.

Acting Executive Director Percy Dangerfield said his agency places the utmost importance on accuracy, integrity and customer service.

Labor Department Secretary Portia Wu updated lawmakers on the progress the department has made in correcting a lag in processing payments and accepting employer payments. Wu said 13 of the audit findings have been resolved and six, which involve banking relationships and data reconciliation of a legacy system, are still in process.

“As the exhaustive history on these audits have shown, there’s still a lot to be corrected about unemployment insurance,” Wu said.

— Brenda Wintrode

Comings and goings in the governor’s office

Manny Welsh has been named deputy chief of staff to Gov. Wes Moore, focusing on the Board of Public Works, the Department of Commerce, the Department of General Services, cannabis, alcohol regulation, social equity, labor issues, and small and minority business.

Since January, Welsh had been Moore’s executive to the Board of Public Works, essentially the governor’s point person on all contracts and decisions that go before the powerful spending board.

Before that, Welsh was a longtime employee of former Comptroller Peter Franchot, including as his chief of staff.

Meanwhile, Harold “Bud” Frank is retiring from his position as deputy chief of staff for public safety and homeland security. He’s a former state trooper who has held various positions in state government related to homeland security and emergency response.

Frank’s position will be filled on an acting basis by Adam Flasch, currently the director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security. Flasch is retired from the Maryland Army National Guard and the U.S. Army after reaching the rank of brigadier general.

— Pamela Wood