State Digest

STATE DIGEST

November 22, 2006

O'Malley's team begins transition

Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley's 44-person transition team launched its efforts yesterday with the formation of work groups to tackle personnel assignments, the next state budget and the new administration's inaugural legislative agenda.

"We are fully aware of the challenge we face in a short period of time," said City Solicitor Ralph S. Tyler, who is executive director of the transition.

Tyler enlisted participants - whose backgrounds range from issues advocacy to political organizing to work in unions or business - to help nominate individuals to lead state government departments.

He said priority will be given to filling top spots at the departments of Budget and Management, Health and Mental Hygiene, Transportation, Business and Economic Development, Natural Resources, Public Safety and Correctional Services, Juvenile Services, and the Environment.

Tyler also said that at least 1,000 people have inquired through the transition Web site about potential employment with the O'Malley administration.

Lt. Gov.-elect Anthony G. Brown led the meeting yesterday at a state office building in Baltimore. The first half-hour of the session was open to the news media.

Jennifer Skalka

Baltimore

Angelos drops trade center bid

Lawyer Peter Angelos said yesterday that he has withdrawn his bid to buy the World Trade Center in Baltimore from the state, pointing to the change of administrations after Democrat Martin O'Malley's defeat of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. this month.

Angelos' announcement came one day after the deadline expired for approval of any sales contract by the current members of the state Board of Public Works, which includes the governor, the comptroller and the state treasurer.

In a brief statement, Angelos said he responded to a state solicitation of bids for the Inner Harbor tower several months ago. "Although I believe the process was impeccable and the price negotiated was a fair market value, I have decided to withdraw my offer," Angelos said.

"Many public officials have expressed concern about the disposition of this important state landmark," he said. "Given the fact that a new administration will take office very shortly, there should be an opportunity for further review and consideration of the proposed sale by all concerned."

State Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp has expressed reservations about the proposed sale, while Comptroller-elect Peter Franchot flatly opposes a sale. O'Malley has not taken a position.

Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan, a leading proponent of selling the tower, declined to comment on the Angelos statement. But he said any decision by Angelos to withdraw would not necessarily rule out a sale. "There are several bidders," Flanagan said.

Michael Dresser

Maryland

Franchot names transition team

Peter Franchot, Maryland's comptroller-elect, named his 47-member transition team yesterday, a group that will be led by former Maryland Gov. Harry R. Hughes and Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan.

Franchot announced that the panel includes public officials and representatives from the business, labor and environmentalist communities.

The team will meet over the next several weeks to make recommendations on personnel and policy matters.

Other members of the transition team include former Comptroller Robert Swann; former Deputy Comptroller Stephen Cordi; William Couper, Mid-Atlantic president for Bank of America; and former state Senate Minority Leader F. Vernon Boozer.

Associated Press

Frederick County

Park plan would cull deer herd

The National Park Service says sharpshooters offer the best solution for thinning the deer herd in Catoctin Mountain Park, the federal woodlands that surround the Camp David presidential retreat.

A draft deer-management plan recommends using guns and other lethal methods to kill 468 white-tailed deer initially and another 50 to 100 annually after that. The plan, released yesterday, is open for public comment through Jan. 26.

The proposal comes after 25 years of research into a deer herd blamed for damaging the 5,770-acre park by browsing excessively on trees and other plants.

The Park Service says killing the animals and donating the venison to charity is cheaper and more environmentally sound than using fencing, repellents and contraceptives to control the herd.

Associated Press

Prince George's

Ex-judge dies in apparent suicide

A retired Prince George's County Circuit Court judge was found dead in an apparent suicide after barricading himself inside his home.

Police found G.R. Hovey Johnson, 76, dead of a gunshot wound after an hours-long standoff in Bowie on Monday. They said the judge, who retired in 2000, might have suffered from dementia.

A former Army Green Beret who served two tours in Vietnam during his 23-year military career, Johnson served as an assistant public defender and worked in private practice before being appointed to the Circuit Court bench in 1982.

Associated Press

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