CECIL CHATTER: (State Edition) Empty ‘Green Bag’ and $ for Cecil; Hogan Arts Grudge Match
HOGAN âGREEN BAGâ has CECIL COUNTY HOLE; STATE CAPITAL $ to CECIL LAGS
The annual rite of Annapolis, the governorâs âGreen Bagâ of appointments to various influential and inconsequential state boards and commissions, came out recently and as usual Cecil County was bypassed for anything of consequence. Just one local name was put forward, for a social worker licensing oversight panel.
In contrast, Governor Larry Hogan touted how many of his new 169 appointees would be dealing with important job creation and economic development initiativesâand they hail from the Baltimore area and the Montgomery/Prince Georgeâs counties urbanized areas. But even some other more rural areas fared better than Cecil County in getting appointees to panels that matter.
The âGreen Bag,â so-named for its presentation to the General Assembly in a historic, ceremonial green velvet bag containing a list of names for appointments to various state panels, was sent to legislators 2/19/16, with Hogan touting the fact that 10 percent of the appointees would be dealing with important economic and business development initiatives such as the Maryland Economic Development Commission or the Maryland Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO) Board of Directors. (Sorry, Cecil County, none for you.)
Howard, Montgomery, and Baltimore counties and Baltimore City got the coveted economic development slots. In addition, the Public/Private Partnerships Marketing Corporation panel got a lot of new members, who mostly hailed from the urbanized counties and Baltimore City, with one seat going to Talbot County on the Shore.
Cecilâs lone âGreen Bagâ appointee is Letha Faye Meyer Moszer, named to the state Board of Social Work Examiners.
AND to add insult to injury, a new governorâs office analysis of Hoganâ proposed state capital expenditures budget, issued on Monday, defensively states that his budget is attuned to the needs of all counties and areas of the state on capital expenditures for projects such as roads, bridges, etc.
BUT Cecil County ranks near the bottomâat number 18 out of 24 jurisdictions statewide for state capital project aid. Cecil County is listed as getting $4.9 million in the governorâs new proposed budget for total state support for capital/construction projectsâfor roads, infrastructure, school construction or other building projects. That figure is just six slots from the bottom statewide and falls far behind much smallerâin terms of population or geographyâcounties such as Somerset County ($17.4 million in state investment); Wicomico County ($10.1 million); Garrett County ($9.6 million); and Dorchester County ($7.5 million.)
Since Cecil County voters overwhelmingly supported Hoganâs election in 2014, local residents might wonder why our county is so left behind in Annapolis. Perhaps we need to look to Elkton and our current county executiveâs administration, and its weak ties in Annapolis?
HOGAN ARTS GRUDGE MATCH
Gov. Larry Hogan recently, and belatedly, sang some opera tunes to profess his love of the arts in Maryland, but it was a little too late to obscure a political revenge gambit against House Speaker Mike Busch and Hoganâs veto of funds last year for an important arts facility in Annapolis.
Only after the General Assembly overwhelmingly voted recently to over-ride Hoganâs 2015 spiteful veto of about $2 million in long-planned funds for renovation of the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis, did Hogan suddenly find his inner operatic voice.
Hogan announced a few days ago that he was boosting spending on the arts by $700,000, with the money going to the Maryland Arts Council, and he proposed separate legislation calling for transfer of $2 million from a special fund for âpreservation of cultural artsâ in the state to the arts council account. Cecil County may get an unspecified boost for the local arts council from the budget and legislative proposals.
But Hoganâs belated announcement on 2/16/16 came after he received an earlier recent political slap from the General Assembly over his own politically-tainted veto of a $2 million significant arts allocation in the home district of Speaker Busch last year.
A renovation project for the Maryland Hall for the arts in Annapolisâin the Speakerâs districtâhad been planned for years and had gone through various state review panels with overwhelming support.
But Hogan rejected the legislation to carry out the long overdue project last year, with no substantive objections or support for his actions from state advisory panels.
We have visited the Maryland Hall for the Arts in Annapolis, which is housed in a former high school building that is outdated and in desperate need of improvements. Despite its physical limitations, the center is a treasure of community-based arts education and performance options and has hosted such renowned performance artists as Herb Alpert (as in the old âTijuana Brassâ top of the charts group) performing in a scaled-down incarnation in the vintage school auditorium. We also witnessed senior citizens interacting with youths of all ethnic backgrounds in small studio art classes at the site.
The General Assembly was right to override Hoganâs veto of the aid for renovation of the MarylandHall for the Arts in Annapolis, and Hogan was simply being politically spiteful to try to kill an important arts asset just because it was located in the district of a powerful Democrat that Hogan wanted to poke in the eye.