A parting gift for the lieutenant governor

The departing Lieutenant Governor, Boyd K. Rutherford, was surprised this week with a lasting gift as his tenure comes to a close.

Part of Rosaryville State Park in Prince George’s County has been named the “Rutherford Area,” an honor that Rutherford did not know was in the works when he visited the park this week.

Since 2019, Rutherford has been on a mission to visit every single state park to promote appreciation of the outdoors; Rosaryville was second on his list and the property now known as the “Rutherford Area” was bought by the state and added to the park in 2020.

Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, left, and Gov. Larry Hogan pose for pictures at the newly designated "Rutherford Area" of Rosaryville State Park in Prince George's County on Dec. 8, 2022.
Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, left, and Gov. Larry Hogan pose for pictures at the newly designated “Rutherford Area” of Rosaryville State Park in Prince George’s County on Dec. 8, 2022. (By Patrick Siebert, courtesy of the Office of the Governor)

Rutherford said he was “truly humbled” to have part of the park named for him. “My hope is that this area will be a place where all Marylanders can enjoy our state’s natural beauty, create lifelong memories, and understand the need to protect our natural resources,” he said.

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“Lt. Gov. Rutherford has been such a great friend, a partner to me through challenges neither of us could have predicted, and has been such a tireless advocate for Marylanders in need,” said Gov. Larry Hogan, who engineered the surprise. “For decades to come, all Marylanders and visitors to Rosaryville State Park will be able to reflect on his legacy and many contributions to our state.”

Hogan and Rutherford are wrapping up their second terms in office and the Republicans are working to hand the reins over to Democratic Gov.-elect Wes Moore and Lt. Gov.-elect Aruna Miller in January.


Council President Mosby drafts resolution to honor his wife, State’s Attorney Mosby, but pulls it from final agenda

Come 2023, only one member of Baltimore’s most prominent political power couple will hold office.

State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby will exit her role as the city’s top prosecutor early next month, after losing to attorney Ivan Bates in the Democratic primary this summer.

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Ahead of a City Council meeting Thursday, City Council President Nick Mosby, her husband, put a resolution on a draft meeting agenda to honor her “8 years of distinguished service to the City of Baltimore.”

But the resolution did not make it onto the final agenda.

After the meeting, the council president said “the timing didn’t work out“ but that he plans to introduce the legislation at a future meeting.

State’s Attorney Mosby will leave office in early January. She first entered the role in 2015, months before the death of Freddie Gray from injuries sustained in police custody sparked citywide protests and unrest. Her decision to charge the officers involved in his arrest with a range of crimes, including misdemeanor and false imprisonment, made national waves. Her office ultimately failed to convict any of the officers.

Her husband represented West Baltimore as the city’s 7th District councilman during the unrest. He announced a bid for mayor later that year, but dropped out months before the Democratic primary to endorse Catherine Pugh.

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He was appointed to represent Baltimore’s 40th District in the Maryland House of Delegates in 2017 by the Democratic Central Committee, following a vacancy. In 2020, he successfully ran for City Council President.


From political candidate in Maryland to university chancellor in New York

After an unsuccessful run for governor this year, Democrat John King has landed a new gig: chancellor of the public university system in New York state.

The State University of New York’s board of trustees voted unanimously to approve King for the $750,000-per-year job on Monday. He’s expected to start the job in January.

The board settled on King following “a year-long global search.” He was also the unanimous pick of a search committee.

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Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate John King outlines his "One Baltimore" plan during a news conference in Mount Vernon on June 21, 2022.
Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate John King campaigns in Baltimore in June. He was just hired as chancellor of New York state’s public university system. (PAMELA WOOD)

In addition to the generous salary, King will get other perks, according to SUNY documents: the use of a university-owned house in Albany; a $12,500 monthly housing allowance for a place in New York City; the use of a university-owned vehicle or a $1,000 monthly car allowance; a driver when traveling on official business; and up to $4,000 per month for travel expenses between New York and Maryland.

King was an educator before entering politics, having served as U.S. education secretary under then-President Barack Obama. He also was the top administrator of New York state’s public school system, a principal, a charter schools leader and a civics teacher.

Before his run for governor and in the months since, King led the Education Trust, a nonprofit advocacy organization in Washington, D.C.

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“I’m deeply, deeply honored by the confidence you’ve placed in me and for the opportunity to advance Gov. [Kathy] Hochul’s vision of making SUNY the best public higher education system in the country,” King said during a SUNY Board of Trustees meeting on Monday after he was given pins representing SUNY and the State of New York.

King said he agrees with the SUNY board’s priorities of student success, access, affordability and completion. He said diversity, equity and inclusion should be a “cross-cutting priority” for the system as well.

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King won about 3.7% of the vote in Maryland’s Democratic primary for governor, finishing sixth among 10 candidates on the ballot.

Speaking of former candidates for governor, Republican Dan Cox posted on social media that he cleaned out both his campaign office and his House of Delegates office in Annapolis last weekend. He noted that a rainbow appeared as he was clearing things out, a symbol of “God’s mercy.”

“We are just beginning to speak for freedom,” Cox wrote in a Facebook post. “Generations to come must know we stood for Liberty.”


Fresh leadership at the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland

Maryland’s Black state lawmakers have a new leader to advocate for their perspective in Annapolis: Del. Jheanelle Wilkins.

Wilkins, a Democrat from Montgomery County, is the new chair of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, which represents the interests of Black delegates and senators in the Maryland General Assembly.

Wilkins replaces Del. Darryl Barnes, a Prince George’s County Democrat who announced this fall that he intended to resign as chairman. Wilkins, who had been the first vice-chair, assumed the chairmanship following Barnes’ resignation. The caucus plans to hold full elections in January.

The Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland is believed to be the largest caucus of its kind in the nation, and will grow to 64 members once the newest set of lawmakers is sworn into office in January.

“With new and historic leadership across the state and at every level, the opportunity to make a distinguishable impact on our state and transform the lives of Black Marylanders has never been greater,” Wilkins said in a statement.

Wilkins has served for six years in the House of Delegates, where her areas of focus have included modernizing election and voter access laws and ensuring participation in the 2020 census. She’s also been the parliamentarian, a leadership role that involves ensuring lawmakers abide by House of Delegates rules as they debate and vote on legislation.


Mosby pledges blanket opposition to mayor’s COVID-19 aid spending requests

At this week’s Board of Estimates meeting, City Council President Nick Mosby quietly opposed a string of 15 spending requests out of the city’s federal pandemic aid — an array of social service investments totaling more than $33 million.

The board’s clerk read the line of nay votes into the record at the start of Wednesday’s meeting, but there was no further discussion of the requests. Each passed the five-member board 4-1, with Mosby the lone opponent.

Asked about the solo stand, Mosby told The Baltimore Banner he recently decided that, barring a significant change in Mayor Brandon Scott’s strategy, he would not be supporting any of the administration’s proposals for spending out of the city’s $641 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding.

Mosby, who has been a vocal opponent of the city’s ARPA spending plan, said the city had a chance to target its funding towards two or three systemic issues — like housing or infrastructure development — and make a “generational,” “transformational” difference. Instead, the administration has decided to “try to appease every corner of the city by sprinkling the money” across different sectors without apparent strategy or planning for when the funding runs out, Mosby said.

While there are some good investments in the overall plan, he added, “at the end of that rainbow” the city can’t sustain the myriad programs it has decided to fund.

Scott’s office declined to comment on Mosby’s opposition votes.

Council President Nick Mosby, left, and Mayor Brandon Scott listen during a Baltimore City Board of Estimates meeting inside City Hall on 10/5/22.
Council President Nick Mosby, left, and Mayor Brandon Scott listen during a Baltimore City Board of Estimates meeting inside City Hall on 10/5/22. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

The mayor’s office has final say on how the federal funds are allocated and has divided the money between more than a dozen different spending categories. Big ticket investments include more than $100 million for various housing and blight elimination initiatives, $50 million to support a public health approach to violent crime, $35 million for expanding broadband access, and millions of dollars for local nonprofits, among many other priorities.

Mosby has been publicly critical of that spread and last year laid out a plan to use $200 million of Baltimore’s federal pandemic aid to revive the city’s famed Dollar House program. That proposal failed to move out of a city council committee.

The 15 ARPA spending requests on this week’s Board of Estimates agenda totaled more than $33 million, according to a Banner tally, and included allocations for a large Southeast Baltimore redevelopment project, blight remediation, job training, youth mentorship and a variety of social support programs.

According to a search of Board of Estimates voting records by the Comptroller’s Office, Mosby first cast a blanket ‘no’ vote on a pair of ARPA spending requests on Nov. 16, the last meeting before this week’s.

His stand amounts to a protest vote. Apart from the city council president and Comptroller Bill Henry, the Board of Estimates consists of Scott and two of his appointees, meaning the administration has majority control.

Even so, “sitting on the Board of Estimates every single week” and voting ‘yes’ with “this money flying through with no strategic plan,” said Mosby, “I’m just not willing to do that.”