Ho­gan of­fers money for midges

Gov­er­nor prods Kamenetz to have Balto. Co. help pay for spray­ing pro­gram

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Michael Dresser mdresser@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/michaelt­dresser

Midges — those tiny, swarm­ing in­sects that drive peo­ple in­doors — have be­come the lat­est sub­ject of po­lit­i­cal jock­ey­ing be­tween Gov. Larry Ho­gan and Bal­ti­more County Ex­ec­u­tive Kevin Kamenetz.

The Repub­li­can gov­er­nor on Wed­nes­day called on Kamenetz, a Demo­crat, to come up with $650,000 for a spray­ing pro­gram to com­bat the per­sis­tent midge nui­sance on the Back River in east­ern Bal­ti­more County.

Ho­gan, speak­ing dur­ing a meet­ing of the Board of Public Works, said his ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fered last week to pay half the cost of spray­ing the gnat-like in­sects this year and next if the county matches that sum.

He said the state has yet to re­ceive a re­sponse from the county and at one point urged Sen. Johnny Ray Salling, a Bal­ti­more County Repub­li­can who at­tended the meet­ing, to push Kamenetz to act.

Salling, who rep­re­sents the east­ern county, spon­sored leg­is­la­tion this year to re­quire the state to pay for midge con­trol at lo­cal mari­nas.

It failed, but Ho­gan took up the cause of midge re­lief any­way.

Ho­gan spokes­woman Amelia Chasse said the gov­er­nor was not at­tempt­ing to show up Kamenetz, who is con­sid­ered a po­ten­tial ri­val in the 2018 gu­ber­na­to­rial elec­tion.

She said the ad­min­is­tra­tion rec­og­nizes that Kamenetz hadn’t had much time to re­spond to the Sept. 28 let­ter.

“No im­pli­ca­tion of foot-drag­ging was in­tended,” she said.

But Salling said Ho­gan’s nudge was jus­ti­fied.

“The money is there,” he said. “Let’s hope our county ex­ec­u­tive steps up.”

A spokes­woman for Kamenetz said a de­ci­sion will come “as soon as pos­si­ble.”

“We just re­ceived the let­ter a cou­ple days ago and we’re re­view­ing it,” spokes­woman Ellen Kobler said.

Ho­gan and Kamenetz have clashed on mat­ters much larger than midges — trans­porta­tion projects and air con­di­tion- ing in schools among them.

Ho­gan raised the midge mat­ter as the board voted to ap­prove about $9 mil­lion in loans to Bal­ti­more and Bal­ti­more County for im­prove­ments in­tended to re­duce pol­lu­tion from the Back River Waste­water Treat­ment Plant.

Sewage overflows from the plant are be­lieved to con­trib­ute to the con­di­tions that make the Back River an ideal breed­ing ground for midges. The area is a Ho­gan stronghold. Midges don’t bite peo­ple, but they can make life mis­er­able by swarm­ing around peo­ple and fly­ing into ears, noses and other places where they aren’t wel­come.

Re­garded as more of a nui­sance than a health threat, they have drawn com­plaints from res­i­dents, mari­nas and restau­rants in the Back River area.

The spray­ing pro­gram is in­tended as more of a short-term so­lu­tion to the midge menace.

If the county comes up with its half, there will be two spray­ings at a cost of $105,000 this year and a full series of spray­ings worth $1.2 mil­lion next year.

MATTHEW COLE/BAL­TI­MORE SUN ME­DIA GROUP

Bar­bara Knight stuffs a few bills in the bra of Char­lie Pa­s­tore of First Mariner Mort­gage dur­ing the an­nual "Bras for the Cause" fundraiser at Union Jack’s pub and res­tau­rant in An­napo­lis on Wed­nes­day night. The event raised $21,000 to­ward early de­tec­tion of breast and cer­vi­cal can­cer.

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