Suit opposes O'Malley on child care union

STATE DIGEST

October 06, 2007

Two Republican lawmakers on the state's legislative review committee are seeking to block the governor's order allowing a union to represent family child care providers during negotiations for state subsidies.

Del. Michael D. Smigiel Sr. said he and Sen. Allan H. Kittleman oppose O'Malley's August order because it oversteps the authority of the executive branch's power.

The lawmakers and the Maryland State Family Child Care Association filed a lawsuit Sept. 20 arguing that the voting process for family child care providers to pick a union was flawed because it didn't include mail ballots in enough native languages, according to association Director of Public Policy Donna Fowler. She said union representation worries some because it could increase the cost of day care for the state's 5,800 providers and threaten their business.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals placed a stay on the case through Tuesday. The plaintiffs have until then to argue against the stay.

Associated Press

Queen Anne's

: Centreville

Fire commission chairman charged in $167,000 theft

Maryland State Police have charged the chairman of the Queen Anne's County Fire Commission with felony theft, accusing him of stealing more than $167,000 from the county.

Authorities say Ted Frederick Jackson used his position to order a variety of equipment for the county, but the items were never purchased. An audit by county finance personnel found 14 orders for equipment between July 2006 and September of this year, including six tents, 15 trailers and 21 generators.

Jackson was arrested and released on a $20,000 unsecured bond.

Associated Press

Eastern Shore

: Stevensville

Federal funds to give Shore broadband Internet access

New federal funding to bring broadband Internet access to the Eastern Shore will be announced next week, according to Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski.

The state-private partnership to benefit area residents and educational facilities will provide broadband service from NASA's Wallops Island Flight Facility to Salisbury University. Schools, medical centers, business and individuals between those two sites will also be able to connect to the network, according to Mikulski. She and Gov. Martin O'Malley are to announce the additional funding Tuesday morning.

Western Maryland

: Energy

Governor inspects planned sites of wind farm development

Gov. Martin O'Malley inspected some proposed wind-power sites in the Western Maryland mountains yesterday and said he is seeking a balance between the need for clean, renewable energy and the potential for environmental damage from scores of giant windmills.

Wind farm development has been stalled in Maryland for years, with four projects proposed but none built despite the state Public Service Commission's approval of two wind farms in 2003. This year, O'Malley signed legislation sought by developers that eliminated from the PSC's approval process reviews of large wind farms' potential effects on wildlife, endangered species and forest fragmentation.

O'Malley said he is satisfied that the change, making Maryland's regulations similar to those in neighboring states where windmills are whirling, won't weaken the protection of natural resources because developers are still subject to environmental enforcement. But O'Malley said he hasn't decided whether he wants giant turbines lining Maryland's highest ridges at the chosen sites.

By viewing the sites by helicopter, O'Malley said he hopes "to try to find a balance between cleaner, renewable energy supplies that are here in Maryland and the natural resources which all of us pay taxes to preserve for future generations."

The two PSC-approved projects are a 40-turbine wind farm planned on Backbone Mountain in Garrett County by California-based Clipper Windpower Inc. and a 25-turbine project planned by Pennsylvania-based US Wind Force on Savage Mountain in Allegany County. US Wind Force also plans to build a smaller project on Dan's Mountain in Allegany that won't need PSC approval because it would produce less than 70 megawatts of electricity, company president Thomas Matthews said. The fourth project, proposed by Annapolis-based Synergics Inc., would put 17 turbines on Backbone Mountain in Garrett County.

associated press

Allegany County

: Cumberland

Teacher arrested in theft of $10,000 from high schools

An Allegany County teacher has been arrested in the theft of about $10,000 from two county high schools.

Carmen Harden, 35, of Frostburg is charged with embezzlement and theft from Allegany and Westmar high schools. The arrest follows an investigation that began in June when the county school board reported the suspected theft to Cumberland police.

Investigators say Harden was an adviser to several student groups. Harden was arrested Thursday at her home and posted bond later in the day. Police say she is no longer teaching.

Associated Press

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