Monday, October 30, 2006

O'Malley Gets Shining Endorsement from Baltimore Sun

For all the hoopla caused by the Post's lackluster endorsement of Bob Ehrlich, the Sun yesterday came out strong for Mayor O'Malley.
Mr. O'Malley has demonstrated these leadership skills. When he was first elected mayor in 1999, the former two-term city councilman inherited a city of rising crime, failing schools and shrinking economic prospects. He was able to reverse course in all these areas. He made fighting crime and beefing up the Police Department a priority, and reduced the number of murders and other violent crimes. He helped rescue the school system from the financial brink. And even the most jaded critic would have to concede that the city's economy has leaped forward dramatically - from the expanding Inner Harbor and east-side biotechnology park to the growing list of reviving neighborhoods, such as Patterson Park and Reservoir Hill.
Like O'Malley, the Sun understands that Baltimore can continue to improve but the City's rebirth would have been slowed or nonexistent absent Mayor O'Malley's leadership.
There are still too many murders, too much poverty and too many failing students in the public schools to even contemplate such a notion. But the progress under the mayor's tenure is clear and irrefutable. He has demanded accountability to a degree that his predecessors did not - and his CitiStat tracking system has become a national model.
Not surprisingly, the Sun had few good things to say about Gov. Ehrlich. In their critique of the incumbent, the Sun took a different view of some of the Post's rationales for endorsing Ehrlich, including his poor performance on the environment, higher education and taxes.
On too many fronts, from his refusal to endorse a state minimum wage to the rising tuition he forced on Maryland's public universities through budget cuts, Mr. Ehrlich has turned his back on issues important to the middle class. At times, he has not even seemed particularly engaged with the day-to-day demands of the job. And too many of his most noteworthy successes - the $1.4 billion Thornton funding boost to public education, the state's investment in embryonic stem cell research, and the Healthy Air Act curbs on power plant pollution, to name a few - were forced on him by the Democratic legislature.

The incumbent likes to boast that he "solved" the state budget deficit. But mostly, he has deferred the problem by raising fees and taxes to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars annually and by diverting money from the state's vital transportation and land conservation programs. His piecemeal approach to fiscal policies - and an upswing in the economic cycle - have only forestalled the effects of the continuing structural deficit.
The Sun also hammered Ehrlich on his willingness to play childish games with the office of Governor.
[O'Malley] has also had to endure personal attacks through a rumor campaign that was traced to a member of the governor's inner circle. And Mr. Ehrlich's brand of testiness has proved far more problematic, particularly in his dealings with lawmakers and the press. When confronted with an embarrassing sale of land in St. Mary's County to a politically connected developer, his response was to blacklist a Sun reporter and columnist.
Eight days left.

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Originally posted at Outside the Beltway

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