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Morning Read: Md. House Leaders Meet On Gambling, Still No Decisions

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AM Read: Still No Decisions on Md. Gambling

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, center, receives applause from Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, left, and Speaker of the House of Delegates Michael Busch, right, after delivering his State of the State speech Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012 in Annapolis, Md. O'Malley urged lawmakers to invest in the future to spur job growth. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)

Maryland House leaders met behind doors Monday to discuss a state gambling expansion plan, but reached no conclusions, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Gov. O’Malley is still deciding whether to call a special session on the matter. A work group he called to reach an agreement on the plan -- which includes a new casino in Prince George County -- failed last month.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch said he called Democratic leaders to Annapolis "to listen to their views and opinions" on the proposed expansion.

According to The Sun, Busch said the meeting was intended in part to help him “make a fair assessment” of the views in his chamber and relay the information to the governor.

* The Loudoun County Board of County Supervisors is set to vote Tuesday on whether it wants to chip in the necessary cash to complete the project, which would extend Metrorail service past Washington Dulles International Airport.

Read more here.

* The D.C. Council plans to meet face-to-face with Pepco officials as soon as Tuesday to address the “unacceptable” pace of the utility’s recovery efforts after Friday night’s derecho storm, according to the Washington Times. 

The utlity provider serves more than 800,000 people in the District and Maryland.

Loose Lips reports that federal authorities have obtained records from at least two different sign-making businesses the Gray campaign used in his 2010 mayoral run.

This is the second sign-making company authorities are obtaining records from in connection with the Gray campaign.

The latest, Gelberg Signs, is a local company Gray’s campaign paid more than $16,000.

LL doesn't know for sure why authorities are interested in sign-makers, but he speculates that it could have something to do with an alleged shadow campaign.

* The Republican National Committee chairman appointed Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to head the platform committee at next month’s Republican National Convention. The platform committee signs off on the initiatives the party and the presidential nominee will advocate in the November election.

* The federal government took possession of two vehicles once owned by former D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr.—who is serving a 3-year prison sentence for embezzling more than $350,000 from the city—and is preparing to sell them.

Thomas admitted to using some of the stolen money to purchase a Chevrolet Tahoe and a Victory Motorcycle.

* Michael Paul Williams of the Richmond Times-Dispatch wrote that Gov. McDonnell’s reappointment of Rector Helen Dragas to the UVA Board of Visitors was a bad call.

Dragas should have walked away like Vice Rector Mark Kington, who resigned from the board during the peak of a standoff that pitted him and Dragas against much of the University of Virginia community. That McDonnell reappointed Dragas suggests he is sympathetic to the rector's concerns about Sullivan. Frankly, in the aftermath, he has seemed to be more supportive of the rector than the president.

His statement all but accused Dragas' detractors of sexism, a notion that seems misplaced. You could describe what happened at U.Va. as a tug of war between academic integrity and fiscal prudence, a corporate assault on liberal-arts education or a struggle for the soul of higher education. But few people had suggested gender as foremost among the factors driving events.

Portraying the protagonist in this melodrama as the victim of sexism appears to be a ploy to garner her undeserved pity. If anything, the governor should have been more focused on the lack of racial and ethnic diversity on a 17-member board whose only member of color is Richmond lawyer George Martin.

McDonnell's reappointment of Dragas has muddled any sense of closure at U.Va. A traumatized campus has received a mixed message on how it should move forward.

The News & Advance similarly wrote that McDonnell “fumbled the ball at UVA.”

Dragas plunged the University into 16 days of turmoil, the likes of which it hasn’t seen in its 193-year history. Massive protests on the Lawn by thousands of faculty, staff, students and alumni. A vote of no confidence in the rector and board by the Faculty Senate. A high-profile resignation by a top professor who labeled the entire mess “a dumb decision.” National and international attention — none of it positive — on the University.

All the handiwork of one woman, who the governor just named to a second term on the Board of Visitors.

Was the Dragas reappointment likely part of a deal by which Sullivan was reaffirmed as University president June 26? In all likelihood, yes. And that’s sickening.

But it doesn’t make what McDonnell has done right. Dragas has proven herself a mortal danger to UVa, indeed a mortal danger to Thomas Jefferson’s vision of secular, liberal arts education and its role in a democracy. He now owns the disastrous events of the past month at the University; the consequences will be with him for a long time to come.

The Republican Governors Association, headed by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, has out fundraised the Democratic Governors Association, headed by rival Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

The Washington Examiner reports that the RGA raised $16.7 million between April 1 and June 30, while the DGA raised $13 million during the same period.

In the first six months of 2012, the RGA has raised $29 million while the DGA raised $21 million.

* Montgomery County’s Commission on Health is recommending that the county ban smoking n front of stores. The Commission is also asking the County to support an increase in the state tobacco tax, the Washington Examiner reports.

Last year, Montgomery County banned smoking in common areas and within 25 feet of playgrounds that serve apartment complexes.

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