The Royal Farms that won't die

The latest twist in the Towson Royal Farms saga arrived at the County Council Monday with all the trappings of a classic Baltimore County development dispute — throngs of protesting constituents, accusations of deep pocketed developers buying county officials, debates about the tradition of councilmanic courtesy and intimations that the county executive was encroaching on the council’s authority over land use. And the matter was dispatched with all the usual Baltimore County efficiency. Council Chairman Tom Quirk — who represents Catonsville, not Towson — announced to the crowd that he had been in extensive talks over the weekend with the developer, Caves Valley Partners, Royal Farms and County Executive Kevin Kamenetz’s administration and that all sides are willing to renegotiate in hopes of a “win-win.” (Balt. Sun)

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Mileah Kromer: Md. politics -- the 'Resistance League' and the 'Hogan Coalition'

To win elected office, every candidate must have at least one political superpower. Faster than opposition canvassing! More powerful than outside money! Able to leap negative press with a single bound! For a Republican governor running for re-election in a blue state, arguably the most valuable political superpower is the ability to build a bipartisan voter coalition. It’s no easy feat. You must develop a message that excites the base, turns the independent vote in your favor, and — here’s the hard part — convinces members of the opposition party to choose you over their own party’s candidate. During the last gubernatorial election cycle, Republican Larry Hogan built the now-eponymous “Hogan coalition” — a winning mix of moderate Democrats, independents and Republican voters — on concentrated economic messaging. (Balt. Sun)

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Settlement of AAMC-CareFirst dispute a welcome, but mystifying result

There was widespread relief last week when Anne Arundel Medical Center and CareFirst announced they had settled their dispute over rates. In a joint statement Friday, hospital and insurance officials said they reached an agreement that will mean no disruptions to care or coverage for CareFirst customers who use the many services offered by the hospital in Annapolis. The two will sign a three-year contract that takes effect on Sept. 1. As for what the settlement was, or really what the details of the dispute really were, the 1 million people who live in the area served by AAMC remain in the dark. (Capital)

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Marisol A. Johnson: Five things I learned on the Baltimore County School Board

Over the last five years it has been my utmost pleasure to serve families in Baltimore County’s Second District as their representative on the board of education. These have been dynamic times as the county becomes a 21st Century community. Our challenges today arise not simply from new growth but from managing aging facilities, systems and policies. In June, I stepped down as vice-chair of the school board to pursue the Democratic nomination for County Council in the Second District. During my tenure, we focused on ensuring an excellent education for every student regardless of background. (Balt. Sun)

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August 8 // Free speech and Hogan's Facebook page

Shortly before the ACLU of Maryland filed suit against Gov. Larry Hogan for erasing comments and banning some users from his Facebook page, a federal judge in Virginia found that a Loudoun County supervisor had violated the First Amendment by blocking one constituent from her page for all of 12 hours. The ruling is instructive not because it necessarily means the ACLU will win its suit against Mr. Hogan — this was, after all, the opinion of one federal district judge, and the circumstances were somewhat different. But it does illustrate just how thorny the issues of free speech are in the digital age. (Balt. Sun)

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Mayor was right to rein in chief, but missed the point

Ever hear the old saw about two wrongs not making a right? Ever wonder what two rights make? That is what Annapolis got last week when Mayor Mike Pantelides forcefully reminded his department heads not to comment on national issues. Although it came in the form of a reminder, anyone in the working world for any amount of time recognized the tone as something more. This was a note from the boss about guidelines that might not be written rules but carry the risk of getting fired for anyone who ignores them. (Capital)

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How did this school employee get away with allegedly abusing students for two years?

Each new detail that emerges about the alleged sexual abuse of students in Charles County brings an added horror. The number of boys victimized has grown to 24, and it’s feared there are more. Some of the assaults occurred in the classroom of a middle school where the alleged assailant worked as a teacher’s aide. The victims were not only abused but also allegedly deliberately exposed to HIV. How such events could have gone undetected for two years is the unsettling question that school and law enforcement officials in this Southern Maryland county must answer. (Wash. Post)

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Baltimore's ceasefire weekend was just a beginning

Were lives saved by Baltimore’s grassroots campaign for a murder-free weekend on Friday, Saturday and Sunday? Were the four shootings, two of them fatal, a sign of failure, or might the violence have been worse if not for the thousands of city residents who marched, rallied, stood together and implored that “nobody kill anybody” for 72 hours? The Internet had a quick answer to that. On Twitter, Facebook and the comments sections of news sites (including ours), cynics were quick to label it a “total failure,” the shootings “hillarious” and proof that “thugs don't care about laws or dumb slogans.” (Balt. Sun)

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