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From MarylandReporter.com:

TAKE THE BUYOUT? If you are a state worker and are thinking about taking the $15,000 buyout offered by the O'Malley administration, read the interview Ryan Sharrow of the Baltimore Business Journal did with career counselor Anne Headley. They discuss which state workers would benefit in the long run.

Jay Hancock of the Sun says he, like others, thinks the state buyout deal seems like a very small incentive.

BUYOUT SAVINGS In his Second Opinion column for the Sun, Andy Green writes that the savings from the state buyouts could prove substantial in the long term — as long as the state holds itself to a requirement to permanently abolish the positions of those who take the deal.

O'MALLEY AIDE The new top staff job at the Democratic Governors Association goes to Colm O'Comartun, an aide who has been with O'Malley since his days as the mayor of Baltimore, blogs the Sun's Annie Linskey. John Wagner of the Post reports that O'Comartun starts his new job Jan. 2, 2011.

M O'M BACKS O O'Malley is backing President Obama's tax cut extention deal with Republicans, saying that while it isn't perfect, it protects millions of families by also extending unemployment benefits.

THREAT CASE A Parkville man accused of threatening O'Malley heads back to court in a case that has lasted two years, WBFF-TV reports.

EHRLICH ON FUTURE Former Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich is not interested in pursuing another state or federal office in Maryland but hopes to keep a voice in national politics, he tells Liam Farrell of the Annapolis Capital.

SLOTS BID DENIED A state board has denied an appeal from a Canadian homebuilder whose bid for a slots casino in downtown Baltimore was rejected last December, opening the door for the state to rebid the license for the Baltimore casino, Ben Mook reports for the Daily Record.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE A majority of senators on a key committee in Maryland now favor legalizing same-sex marriage, making it increasingly likely that the state will join five others and the District in allowing such unions, John Wagner of the Post reports.

HO CO REVENUE Recent revenue numbers are offering Howard County leaders glimmers of hope that tax collections are slowly improving, but that news comes amid fears that the General Assembly could shift teacher pension costs to the county, the Sun's Larry Carson reports.

LIQUOR BOARD VIOLATION An eight-month investigation by the Maryland Comptroller's Office confirmed that the government-sanctioned Worcester County Liquor Control Board engaged in price discrimination and other illegal trade practices by selling vodka and wine below cost to some retailers but withholding those deep discounts from others, reports Brian Shane of the Salisbury Daily Times.

HOUSE GOP LEADERS State House Republicans re-elected Del. Anthony O'Donnell to lead its caucus in the 2011 legislative session, and affirmed his selection of Del. Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio to be the new minority whip, Alan Brody reports for the Gazette.

ETHICS REDO Sherry Greenfield of the Gazette reports that two members of the Frederick Board of County Commissioners want to do away with the ethics regulations that prohibit them from taking campaign contributions from anyone who has pending business with the county.

CARROLL AGENDA Term limits, property rights and prayer before meetings are among new Carroll County Board of Commissioners 10 philosophies, Jim Joyner writes for the Carroll County Times.

TRANSPARENCY RATING A study released yesterday ranks Maryland poorly for the transparency of its programs giving businesses subsidies and tax credits, Scott Dance reports for the BBJ.

Megan Poinski of MarylandReporter.com writes that the study pointed out that Maryland has some of the nation's best online transparency – namely reports posted on StateStat and the state's comprehensive stimulus spending tracker. But it also has programs that are lacking in the extreme.

SINGLE PAYER Dr. Margaret Flowers, the Congressional Fellow with Physicians for a National Health Program, appeared on the Marc Steiner Show on WEAA-FM to offer an update on health care reform efforts in Maryland. She and other single-payer health care advocates are campaigning for the Maryland Health Security Act, which would provide universal coverage to all Marylanders.

CIVIC HEALTH Maryland's "civic health" – the engagement of citizens in public life – compared to other states is good, but not outstanding, according to a new study, reports Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com.

EPA ADVISOR QUITS A senior advisor to the Environmental Protection Agency administrator for bay issues is leaving his post at the end of the year, writes Pamela Wood of the Annapolis Capital, joining the state's environment secretary in leaving bay restoration at a crucial time.

NPR

Nostalgia, Now Out On DVD, With 'Wonder Years' And 'Pee-wee' Releases

In what may be a last gasp for DVD collections, some of the new boxed-set releases are aimed at Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers with favorites like The Wonder Years and Pee-Wee's Playhouse.
NPR

From NFL to 'Scandal,' Whole Foods Buys TV Ads To Boost Its Brand

A pioneer in selling organic, sustainable groceries, Whole Foods now finds itself beset by competitors. So it's launching its first national ad blitz to sell socially conscious consumers on its story.
NPR

Obama Has To Balance His Base Without Hurting Dems In Red States

If Democrats have a chance of hanging onto Senate seats in southern states, they need to do well with African American voters. But for President Obama, that creates a difficult balance between turning out the base and energizing GOP voters who don't like him.
NPR

In Silicon Valley, Paying For Access To Peace Of Mind

The San Francisco area is the home to the high-tech sector and has a history of embracing Eastern spirituality. Now the two meet in the yoga and meditation classes popular with the local tech workers.

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