August 5 // Bay Bridge's future needs serious study

You could describe last month’s three-vehicle crash on the Bay Bridge — in which a car wound up in the water — as a wake-up call. But you can’t awaken politicians determined to stay asleep. Just ask state Sens. John Astle and E.J. Pipkin. The two area legislators have been trying for 10 years to interest the General Assembly in approving a $25 million environmental impact study on building a third span of the Bay Bridge. (Please don’t ask us why an environmental study has to cost that much.) The response they’ve gotten every year boils down to two words: Go away. (Capital)

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Don't cut preschool program funding

As parents begin to register their young children for kindergarten and preschool classes in the fall, looming sequestration-related budget cuts add a sobering touch to the normally joyous process. Some of the cuts affect public education, but cuts that affect Head Start programs add a new twist to the story: The number of seats in Head Start programs, which serve 3- and 4-year-olds, are expected to decrease; however, if the cuts are made only to 4-year-old programs, those prekindergarten students could be shifted into public school programs if enough spots are made available. (Daily Times)

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Dan Rodricks: City violence goes on amid statewide gun-buying frenzy

When it comes to guns, there's Baltimore and there's the rest of Maryland. The city has a horrible problem with guns; the rest of the state can't seem to get enough of them. In Baltimore, people are marching against gun violence; in the rest of the state, they're lining up to buy guns by the thousands. Some gun dealers have been so eager to move inventory this year that they've sold weapons to people with criminal records. Indeed, with our largest city suffering through a summer of almost daily gun violence, Marylanders are in the midst of a gun-buying frenzy. (Balt. Sun)

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Norman Augustine: Raising standards with education reform

The chief problem with U.S. schools apparently isn’t high dropout rates or under-qualified teachers but standardized testing. This is the only conclusion that can be drawn from the push by parents and teachers in Buffalo, Philadelphia, Seattle and elsewhere to help students opt out of taking standardized tests. Members of this burgeoning anti-test movement fail to grasp testing’s valuable role in motivating and guiding students and teachers. Preparing young Americans for success in the global economy will require our schools to improve, not abolish, academic standards. (Carroll Co. Times)

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Hiring practices a concern

While it is good that the Carroll County Commissioners have decided to set basic guidelines for the hiring and firing of their personal assistants, residents still should remain concerned about this board’s apparent penchant for doling out high-paying positions without advertising them and, apparently, with no public scrutiny of who is being hired. (Carroll Co. Times)

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Maryland's reckless gun dealers

Here's the scary thing about the news that the Maryland State Police has found 30 cases in which gun dealers decided not to wait for the state to complete a background check and handed firearms to people whose criminal histories made them ineligible to own them: It's almost certainly just the tip of the iceberg. For the sake of public safety and any pretense they have to moral authority, gun dealers must immediately stop releasing guns before background checks are complete. (Balt. Sun)

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Gansler's good suggestions for sunshine laws

Attorney General Doug Gansler, who’s winding up to take his shot at the Governor’s Mansion, is, in his present position, the man who oversees enforcement of the state’s Open Meetings and Public Information acts. He should know, we might hope, how best to open up Maryland’s government to the cleansing sunshine of public scrutiny. As part of his “Build Our Best Maryland” series around the state, Gansler is releasing several policy initiatives. One of them outlines six ways to make state government more transparent, accountable and open. (News-Post)

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Ellen Valentino: Bottle deposit would hinder Md. recycling

In her commentary, "Bottle bill would boost recycling in Md." (Aug. 1), Emily Scarr argues that a bottle deposit bill is a "common-sense" solution to promoting recycling and reducing litter. Ms. Scarr couldn't be further from reality. While the bottle deposit scheme sounds simple — assess Marylanders a fee, say 5 or 10 cents on every bottle or can of water, soda, beer or juice they buy — it opens up a world of unintended consequences that ultimately leads to a more expensive and more complicated recycling system for Maryland. These are consequences that Ms. Scarr hasn't yet thought through. (Balt. Sun)

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