Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley today signed a bill banning the sale of assault weapons, limiting magazines to 10 bullets, requiring handgun purchasers to submit fingerprints and get a license, and creating penalties for people who don’t notify police when their firearms are lost or stolen. The Baltimore Sun reports that gun control advocates are now planning Baltimore-area TV ads to bolster support among Maryland voters, in case of a future referendum or campaigns to oust lawmakers who backed the bill in the General Assembly.
This ad buy begs the question: Could Maryland’s anti-gun control community gather enough support to change course in the state? The NRA’s threats “scared the pants off Congress,” says Donald F. Norris, professor and chair of public policy at UMBC. But, he clarifies, the national stage and state are different matters.
Asked about potential efforts to remove legislators who supported the gun control bill, Norris noted, “Whether that will work in Maryland, I’m not so sure. My gut tells me no. They might be able to knock off a few people, but I think it’s very much a long shot.”
Larry DeWitt, public policy Ph.D. student and former public historian for the U.S. Social Security Administration, has published the new book The Other Welfare: Supplemental Security Income and U.S. Social Policy (Cornell University Press 2013) written with co-author Edward D. Berkowitz.
The book offers a comprehensive history of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), from its origins in 1972 as part of President Nixon’s social reform efforts to its pivotal role in the politics of the Clinton administration.
Reviewer Christopher D. Howard (College of William & Mary) writes, “Calling The Other Welfare one of the best histories of a U.S. social program would be true, but that would not be strong enough praise…Edward D. Berkowitz and Larry DeWitt take a relatively unknown social program and make its history seem absolutely central to the history of U.S. social policy.”
Stress Testing the USA: Public Policy and Reaction to Disaster Events, a new book by professor of public policy John Rennie Short, arrives in stores tomorrow!
Stress testing is a procedure, common to fields from medicine to engineering, that is used to reveal a system’s weaknesses. In his new book, Short applies this concept to analyzing four serious traumas the United States experienced at the start of the 21st century: the invasion of Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, the financial meltdown, and the BP oil spill.
In Stress Testing the USA (Palgrave MacMillan), Short identifies specific structural flaws with the potential to fracture our nation: a large, active military that promotes a state of permanent war; an aging physical infrastructure with bridges and roads that receive failing grades; financial and corporate deregulation; and a blind acceptance of institutions’ increasingly risky behavior.
Identifying these systemic problems clarifies a broader concern for Short: our tendency to sideline unpopular perspectives or more subtle voices that might alert us to possible threats. “For every event there was a small group of people who new exactly what was happening,” says Short, “we just didn’t listen to them. So the point of the book is we should be more careful and more attentive to alternative, dissident voices.”
His book website notes, “Illuminating and relevant, Stress Testing the USA is a guide to what ails the United States and what needs to be done to fix it that proves essential to any scholar of public policy, current affairs, or disaster management.”
“The worst kept secret in Maryland is that Martin O’Malley is running for president,” says Donald F. Norris, professor and chair of public policy at UMBC, in a Washington Jewish Week article on O’Malley’s recent visit to Israel and Jordan. He suggests, “One of the important bases that has to be touched is showing you have foreign policy experience. Another is going to Israel. He’s doing a twofer.”
Formally, the 8-day visit was a trade mission; the O’Malley administration notes that in 2012 Israel was Maryland’s 43rd largest trading partner. Twenty Israeli companies already have offices in Maryland and three additional tech will open offices in the state soon.
Norris also this week commented in a Gazette story on a change to Maryland’s GOP leadership with the election of Dels. Nicholaus Kipke (R-Dist. 31) of Pasadena and Kathy Szeliga (R-Dist. 7) of Perry Hall to the positions of minority leader and minority whip. Norris suggests the selection of Kipke, a member of the House Tea Party Caucus, might indicate the Maryland GOP is moving further to the right. This could make GOP candidates less electable in the Democratic-leaning state and, Norris argues, “guarantees the party’s total irrelevance in Maryland.”
As the initial shock following last week’s indictment of inmates and correctional officers at the Baltimore City Detention Center gives way to more detailed analysis, the Baltimore Sun is asking what ramifications this case could have on Gov. Martin O’Malley’s future political career.
“It’s a major problem that has to be fixed,” Donald F. Norris, professor and chair of public policy at UMBC, told the Sun, suggesting the debacle’s ultimate political impact will depend on how O’Malley handles it going forward. He noted, “It could tarnish O’Malley. It could also rebound in his favor.”
Yesterday’s allegations that state prison guards helped a gang operate a contraband smuggling scheme from behind bars at the Baltimore City Detention Center are prompting strong responses from Maryland lawmakers. While Sen. Brian E. Frosh said the O’Malley administration deserves credit for its role in a “very bold, aggressive and appropriate” prosecution, Del. Curtis S. Anderson called the indictments “just horrific” and asked for further explanation from the governor.
Donald F. Norris, professor and chair of public policy at UMBC, told the Washington Post that any political fallout from the episode for O’Malley, who is considering a 2016 presidential bid, will likely be determined by “how he handles this, whether he gets out in front of it.” Norris notes, “If the state were riddled with incompetence and corruption, that’d be one thing, but it’s not. … This kind of thing happens in all prison systems, though maybe not this flagrant.”
In the last year, three top aides and three department secretaries have left Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration. Although some have voiced concern, Donald F. Norris, professor and chair of public policy at UMBC, tells The Daily Record, “This is not at all unusual for the second half of the second term of a term-limited governor.” Norris notes, “If the replacements are qualified, there’s no brain drain.”
A new Washington Times commentary critiquing government contracting programs for minority- and women-owned firms references testimony by UMBC professor George La Noue on why federal contacting preferences should be reexamined. La Noue is an expert on education policy, constitutional law and policy, and public procurement policy, and is a frequent witness in Congressional testimony.
Dean Edward Montgomery of the Georgetown Public Policy Institute at Georgetown University will present the talk “Mr. Chips Goes to Detroit: Participating in the Auto Industry Rescue” at UMBC on Tuesday, April 2, as part of the Spring 2013 Social Sciences Forum Lecture series.
Dr. Montgomery served as a member of President Obama’s Auto Task Force and as Director of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers. He will use his talk to discuss the economics and political considerations involved in the rescue of General Motors and Chrysler and efforts to rebuild communities reliant upon the auto industry.
This event is co-sponsored by the departments of public policy and economics. It will be held in the Albin O. Kuhn Library, 7th floor, at 4:00 p.m. on April 2. All are welcome to attend!
Former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon will kick off the Associated Black Charities’ speaker series next month, sparking speculation of a possible return to politics. “This is the year I’m going to decide,” Dixon told the Baltimore Sun, of her desire to run for office again after having completed probation following her 2009 embezzlement conviction. “I’m not going to hide the fact that I enjoyed what I was doing during my 27 years in public office.”
Donald F. Norris, professor and chair of public policy at UMBC, told the Sun that the substance of Dixon’s talk might signal, more definitively, her interest in returning to elective politics. “I would be listening for some indication that she is repentant for what happened,” Norris said, “and recognition that she’d made some mistakes.”
Although Dixon still has some supporters in Baltimore, Norris noted that if the city’s voters were to return Dixon to public office, “It would say to the outside world that a corrupt elected official can spend a little time away and get re-elected.” He concluded, “That’s not an image Baltimore wants, or that any city needs.”