Reporters Notebook: Harris' heavy hitters come to the plate early
Andy Harris isn't waiting until the election year to bring out the big lumber.
A familiar face, current RNC Chairman and ex-light guv Mike Steele joined Harris at a fundraiser Wednesday at the chic Imperial Hotel in Chestertown.
Two more events come after Turkey Day. The first, on Dec. 2 in Cambridge, features Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price of Georgia. The group of more than 100 House Republicans promotes a conservative social and economic agenda in the House, according to its Web site.
Several days later on Dec. 7, Bob Ehrlich will try to help Harris rustle up some cash in Baltimore County before the Ravens' Monday night tilt against Green Bay.
Rumors still abound that E.J. Pipkin will get into the race before year's end, and Harris has to play catch-up against incumbent Frank Kratovil, who reported $691,000 in the bank as of Sept. 30, more than twice Harris' total.
For his part, Kratovil has a cocktail reception scheduled for Saturday in Chestertown featuring Steny Hoyer. Guess that nay vote on health care reform didn't leave any scars.
Shop 'til you drop
Politicians are getting that Black Friday itch.
Within the span of several hours Wednesday, Peter Franchot and Jim Smith sent e-mails promoting holiday shopping in their respective jurisdictions.
The economy must be bad if pols are making sales pitches in hopes of stimulating business and generating tax revenues.
Franchot's letter encouraged Marylanders to shop at small and independent businesses that have been hit particularly hard by the recession.
"These are folks who took enormous risks to start their own businesses in a world dominated by mega-malls, big box stores and Internet retailers," he wrote. "Businesses like these are the very backbone of vibrant downtown business districts and revitalized Main Street communities, and, unfortunately, too many of them are struggling to survive in this current economy."
Franchot, who provides a link to the Maryland Chamber of Commerce's business directory, pledged to fill his stockings with goodies from small retailers.
Meanwhile, Smith joined with fictitious shopping maven "Merrie Holiday" to launch a radio and social marketing campaign to promote neighborhood shopping and dining in Baltimore County.
Yes, Holiday, albeit not real, has a Facebook page that shares her seasonal recipes, party planning pointers and shopping tips, and provides a forum for others to post their recommendations. It's all part of the county's "ReDiscover Your Neighborhood Downtown" marketing campaign that supports 3,000 local businesses.
Maybe someone ought to remind these guys they're not running against each other.
Left in the cold
State employees may have escaped more furloughs or vast layoffs in the latest round of budget cuts, but they may feel the impact in other ways.
The state will save about $165,000 by eliminating 350 parking spaces it leases at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium parking lot and reducing the frequency of commuter bus service to and from such satellite parking facilities.
The good news is that state workers and others (ahem, members of the State House press corps use the stadium lot, too) won't be left in the cold this winter. The trimming back of commuter bus service won't begin until April. The stadium space restriction, which the administration said was done to reflect actual usage and leaves 650 spots for employees, takes effect in December.
So a word to the wise for state employees who park at the stadium: better think twice before hitting that snooze button.
Red meat before turkeys
Who doesn't enjoy some red meat to ring in the holiday season?
Enter Maryland Business for Responsive Government, which is hosting a reception in Waldorf two days before Thanksgiving, when the terms "turkey" and "politician" are not necessarily interchangeable.
The free reception, which is being hosted by newly minted Maryland GOP chair Audrey Scott at Cheney Enterprises, where she works as general manager of land planning, will include a discussion regarding how to improve the state's business climate and a presentation on how to lobby legislators effectively on business interests.
Johnny Wood, who has repeatedly ranked high in MBRG's annual listing of pro-business legislators, will be guest speaker.
Hoyer's fave harmony?
Who'd a thunk that a Prince George's County native would be a country music buff?
Roll Call reported that Hoyer was one of two congressmen Illinois Republican Aaron Schock was the other to attend last week's Country Music Awards in Nashville.
Hoyer spokeswoman Katie Grant told the newspaper that her boss was in Music City USA doing fundraisers, but joshed that "no one would mistake him for a country singer," even though he received an invite to the show.
From either shore
Wednesday's Board of Public Works meeting drew a crowd carrying signs that urged the board to "Keep Upper Shore Open."
The Upper Shore Community Mental Health Center in Chestertown was slated for closure after the board's second round of cuts to the fiscal 2010 budget in August. But the panel agreed to re-evaluate the decision in light of Wednesday's third round of $362 million in cuts.
Ultimately, the board affirmed its decision to close the facility, but only after a parade of public officials that included an odd teaming of Heather Mizeur, one of the legislature's most liberal lawmakers, with four Republican lawmakers from the Upper Shore's District 36.
Mizeur, who Martin O'Malley jokingly referred to as the District 36 delegation's fifth member, sided with the delegation in urging the board not to close the hospital.
"I don't think this would be approved if it were left to the legislature to decide," she said.
The issue led to another odd alliance.
Pipkin, who led the District 36 testimony against the closure, wore a bright green sticker on his suit jacket that read "PatientsEmployeesCommunity/UNITED/Gov. O'Malley/ Keep Upper Shore Open/ AFSCME."
Pipkin's pro-labor stance, at least in this case, did not go unnoticed.
"This plan is truly historic because we have Senator Pipkin and AFSCME agreeing," Walter Palmer, chairman of the center's board of trustees, said in his testimony to the board.
Sean R. Sedam