Governor Martin O'Malley. He flipped on gay marriage and pushed it through the legislature, he brokered the budget/gambling impasse between the House and Senate, he passed a new income tax hike, he gerrymandered a new Democratic congressional seat, he helped Obama get re-elected, he led the Democratic governors to some surprising wins, and he made himself a TV talk show fixture and launched his fledgling 2016 White House bid. He also won the gay marriage, Dream Act, gerrymandering and gambling expansion referendum battles at the polls. He even, inexplicably, jumped into the Tiffany Alston replacement mess and won in the courts.
OK, his Democratic Convention speech bombed, his staff is abandoning ship and his offshore windmills bill lost, again. But, in exchange for gambling expansion, Senate President Miller is pushing windmills and death penalty repeal through the Senate, so look for another good year for O'Malley.
Only a plague of locusts could have made things worse in Baltimore last year. The Ravens saw their Super Bowl hopes vanish when Billy Cundiff missed a last-minute, 32-yard field goal. Homicides (217) increased 10 percent, the police chief resigned, a series of water main breaks flooded downtown, malfunctioning speed cameras issued faulty tickets, miscalculated water bills and property tax bills were mailed to irate citizens, the housing department refused to pay an $11 million lead poisoning court judgment, the city lost its last Fortune 500 company (Constellation Energy), a summer fish kill stunk up the harbor, youth gangs continued daylight wildings, the $60 million affordable housing fund was used to demolish old homes instead of building new ones, the population continued shrinking (Washington, D.C., now has more people than Baltimore), while city officials bickered over upgrading the city government's phone system.
And then there were the schools; test scores stalled due to a crackdown on widespread cheating (by administrators, not students), while chronic truancy (students and teachers) plagued the system. In August, The Baltimore Sun found widespread financial mismanagement including luxury hotel stays, $1,000 night club dinners, lavish retreats, $300,000 in unsupervised credit card charges, an $8,000 trip to Las Vegas for a bullying conference and one administrator's $250,000 office renovation. “Ours is a school system without any accountability, but let's keep pretending that we're doing fine,” criticized city Del. Keiffer Mitchell. Also, the community college president was fired.
Next, an October audit found $2.5 million spent for unearned overtime, $336,000 in unearned bonuses, 1,400 lost or stolen computers, contract overpayments and shoddy financial controls. Then, in December, when a city school employee impregnated a 15-year-old girl, it turned out that he was wrongly hired without proper vetting or background checks and in violation of hiring guidelines.
• Motorists who abuse handicap parking tags
• The flu
• Political robo-calls
• Speed cameras
• The derecho storm
• West Nile virus
• The “Occupy” protesters
• “Pink Slime” beef ingredient
• Ride-On buses catching fire
• Athiests protesting the Bladensburg Memorial Peace Cross honoring WWI dead.
“Thank God Maryland keeps raising their taxes One of these days they're going to catch up to us” –– D.C. Councilman Jack Evans commenting on Maryland's latest tax hikes.
“Jack O'Malley. Where's Jack?” –– President Obama forgetting Martin O'Malley's name at a White House dinner.
“There is something to be said about the fact that we don't have one African-American serving in the United States Senate”. –– State Sen. Anthony Muse (African American) running against U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (white).
“It is clear that the (congressional redistricting) plan adopted by the General Assembly of Maryland is, by any reasonable standard, a blatant political gerrymander.” –– U.S. District Court Judge Roger Titus.
“One week we are taking in less money, and the next week we are spending more. We are doubling down with a vote on a failed economic model.” –– Comptroller Peter Franchot on Maryland's fiscal policy.
“I think we should remember that no one in our state lost their house, lost their job or lost a business because of an additional penny on the sales tax.” –– Gov. Martin O'Malley
“We are the laughingstock of the nation.” –– D.C. Councilman Marion Barry criticizing fellow city council members' criminal convictions.
“I think a lot of people in the GSA came out of the private sector. ... So, I think it was the culture brought over from the private sector into the government agency.” –– U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin blaming the private sector for GSA's Las Vegas junket scandal.
“It's (petitioning a bill to referendum) probably been made a little too easy ... because of the Internet, that has been so easy to do electronically, that the legislature probably needs to revisit that.” –– Gov. Martin O'Malley suggesting stricter limits on the people's right to petition legislation to the ballot.
“I've been around longer than most. I have a thick skin.” –– Senate President Mike Miller taking blame for trashing the state budget when he didn't get his gambling bill.
“That's how bad the regular session treated Montgomery County. We are better off with the doomsday budget versus the original budget.” –– Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett.
“O'Malley wants to be president so bad that he sort of forgot that he needs to finish being governor first.” –– Todd Eberly, professor at St. Mary's College of Maryland.
“We leave here with a mission, and that mission is we're going to draw a line in the sand and we're not going to step back: We will protect our teacher pensions.” –– Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett before the Montgomery delegation caved in on state teacher pension aid.
“Hey diddle diddle, Ray Rice up the middle.” –– Ravens running back Ray Rice on his game-winning run against the Chargers.
Blair Lee is CEO of the Lee Development Group in Silver Spring and a regular commentator for WBAL radio. His column appears Fridays in The Gazette. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.