The Washington Times - July 5, 2011, 08:40AM

VIRGINIA GOV. BOB MCDONNELL has been working to raise his national profile without spending lots of time outside the commonwealth, out-of-state travel records released by his office show. In the first six months of this year, the Republican governor left Virginia eight times for politically oriented trips, according to records obtained by The Washington Times. He traveled six times for either fundraising purposes or events related to his position as vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association — once to attend a retreat in Baltimore for the House Republican Policy Committee and most recently to Vail, Colo., to attend a seminar hosted by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch.

MARYLAND GOV. MARTIN O’MALLEY, a Democrat, announced Monday he has created a five-member Governor’s Redistricting Advisory Committee. The committee will hold public hearings, take public comment and draft a recommended plan for the state’s legislative and congressional redistricting, according to the governor’s office.


The chairwoman will be lawyer Jeanne D. Hitchcock, who also serves as Mr. O’Malley’s secretary of appointments. The other four members are state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., a Southern Maryland Democrat who served on the GRAC in 1991 and 2001; state House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Anne Arundel Democrat; former state Delegate James J. King, Anne Arundel Republican; and Richard Stewart, president and chief executive officer of Montgomery Mechanical Services Inc. Mr. Stewart  also has been a member of the Maryland Stadium Authority since July 2007.

THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND WAS ESPECIALLY DEADLY across the region. At least three people drowned and a bicyclist was killed in a thunderstorm. An unidentified boy died Monday morning after being rescued from the water off Sandy Point State Park, according to the Maryland Natural Resources Police. An 11-month-old drowned Sunday after family members left the Germantown infant unattended in a bathtub, according to the Montgomery County Police Department.

Also on Sunday, a bicyclist riding along the C&O Canal near White’s Ferry apparently died in a thunderstorm after being struck by a fallen tree, according to the Montgomery County Police Department. The victim as been identified as Neil Reich, 56, of Forest Hills, N.Y. Mr. Reich apparently was riding with a friend when he stopped to put on his raincoat as the storm approached. The second rider found him pinned under a tree.

Maryland officials are resuming their search this morning for a man who fell overboard from a boat Monday afternoon when it made a sharp turn near Dobbins Island in Anne Arundel County. The victim as been identified as Robert Kane, 25, of Pasadena, Md. In addition, an unidentified man has been hospitalized in critical condition after being pulled Monday from a Germantown lake. Montgomery County police say a preliminary investigation revealed the 38-year-old man went underwater while trying to retrieve a radio-controlled sailboat on Gunners Lake. He was brought back to shore by a friend.

THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ROUTINELY LEADS THE REGION IN HOMICIDES each year, but Prince George’s County is slightly ahead through the first half of 2011, according to The Washington Times. In the first six months of this year, the county had 56 criminal homicides and the District had 55, according to statistics provided by their respective police departments.

VIRGINIA DEMOCRAT TIM KAINE HAS RAISED $2.25 MILLION in the first quarter for his 2012 U.S. Senate bid, his campaign reports. The figure marks a strong start for Mr. Kaine’s campaign, which was already $1.5 million behind fellow former governor and Republican opponent George Allen’s when Mr. Kaine entered the race in early April, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Mr. Allen’s second-quarter figures are not yet available, a spokeswoman said Monday, nor are figures for Republican and tea-party-backed candidate Jamie Radtke, who raised $55,000 in the first quarter.

MARYLAND’S LARGEST STATE EMPLOYEE UNION is expecting to see a big increase in funding because of a law that allows it to collect fees from nonmembers. The Maryland chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees will start collecting fees in mid-July, which could give the union $4.7 million over the fiscal year, according to the Baltimore Sun.

The fees are allowed under The Fair Share Act, which the state legislature passed in 2009, and will take as much as $389 dollars annually from some of the 12,500 state workers. Union officials say the extra money will allow them to improve services, but some state workers say they don’t have a lot of faith in unions. The fees will also be collected by smaller unions.

THE EXPECTED GRIDLOCK FOR THE OPENING OF THE MARK CENTER in Alexandria may be avoided, at least temporarily, according to the Washington Examiner. Local and state officials said the Defense Department has assured them that the 6,400 workers being moved to new offices near the intersection of Interstate 395 and Seminary Road will not all move in by the Sept. 15 deadline. Instead, only 2,200 workers will be moved by that date, significantly reducing the immediate effect the commuters will have on area roads. The remaining 4,200 workers would be moved by the end of the year.

CANDIDATE ARE LINING UP TO REPLACE LESLIE E. JOHNSON on the Prince George’s County Council when she leaves in October, but voters say none of her potential replacements are better suited to govern, according to the Washington Examiner.

Mrs. Johnson, Mitchellville Democrat, pleaded guilty last week to conspiracy to commit federal witness- and evidence-tampering charges, including stuffing $79,600 in cash down her bra on the instructions of her husband, then-County Executive Jack Johnson. While her resignation is inevitable, she is allowed to remain in office until Oct. 13, when she is scheduled to be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt. Among those rumored to run are Derrick Leon Davis and Arthur Turner, candidates whom Mrs. Johnson defeated in November, and former Councilman Samuel Dean, who lost a bid for county executive to Rushern Baker last fall.