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Lt. governor tours downtown

June 06, 2007|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN - Downtown Hagerstown was on display Tuesday for Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, who saw firsthand the city's efforts at urban redevelopment.

A pack of municipal leaders and community figures escorted Brown along South Potomac Street, where they met with developers Mike Deming and Donald Bowman.

They stopped to gaze at Deming's restored Schindel-Rohrer building, which houses a restaurant and a nightclub, and the adjacent building that Bowman is restoring.

Brown listened to details about a planned school for the arts and the city's new parking deck.

They stepped inside The Maryland Theatre and Washington County Free Library.

They also went to the two-year-old University System of Maryland at Hagerstown, which some consider a catalyst for further downtown projects.

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Brown, a Democrat, later visited The Herald-Mail to talk about public safety, the possibility of legalized slots and the death penalty, among other topics.

Talking to Herald-Mail editors and a reporter, he said the main issue he heard in Hagerstown was how to weave a sense of work and home for residents into the city's redevelopment.

During the walking tour, Deming explained the mix of businesses and condominiums that his company, Demcore Development, has in mind.

The mood was light among the entourage accompanying Brown. Even Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, and Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, a Republican who criticized Donoghue in the last election and backed his opponent, joked with each other.

Much of the discussion at The Herald-Mail centered on the state's relationship with the prison system's rank and file.

Brown said the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a union that represents correctional officers, has praised Gary D. Maynard, the new secretary of public safety and correctional services.

After several weeks in the job, Maynard called for the closure of the antiquated Maryland House of Correction in Jessup.

"As we say in the Army, he's a soldier's soldier," Brown said. "He leads from the front."

Brown said it's likely that the Maryland General Assembly will have a special session to work on a structural budget deficit estimated at $1.4 billion. A revenue package probably will include slots at horse racing tracks and possibly new or increased sales, income and gas taxes, he said.

"I think, at this point, it's important not to take anything off the table," he said.

Brown said he shares Gov. Martin O'Malley's opposition to the death penalty. "The way that it's administered is unacceptably unreliable," he said.

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