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N.J. Congressman Fires Aide Charged with Soliciting Sex from a Minor-Caught by Gaithersburg Police

WASHINGTON (AP)— A New Jersey congressman has fired his chief of staff after the aide was arrested in Maryland on a charge of soliciting sex from a minor.

Rep. Steve Rothman (D-9th Dist.) took the action after learning that Robert Decheine was among 11 people snared in a Gaithersburg, Md., police sting. Police placed ads on a website and an undercover officer communicated with customers through phone and text messages.

Police said the 48-year-old was arrested on Nov. 17 after soliciting to have sex with an underage girl. Decheine was released on $15,000 bail.

The Record newspaper reports Rothman's office issued a statement saying the New Jersey Democrat considers the alleged criminal act "to be shocking, appalling and indefensible."

DC, Maryland, and VA Youth Receive Scholarship Awards from Interior’s Blacks In Government

WASHINGTON, D.C.— In partnership with the Student Conservation Association (SCA),  the Department of the Interior’s Blacks In Government (BIG) Chapter celebrated the academic achievements of ten high school students from the National Capital region today during its 5th annual awards ceremony.  Robert Stanton, Senior Advisor to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, and Flip Hagood, SCA Vice President for Strategic Initiatives, led the ceremony in which the students each received a Dr. Dorothy I. Height Scholarship from BIG and work opportunities from SCA.

“The ten students receiving scholarships today are the future leaders of our country,” said Robert Stanton. “They have demonstrated great academic and extracurricular achievement and this scholarship will enable them to continue to aim high in their educational development and careers.”

Maryland Governor's and Senate Race Projections

According to projections posted by The Huffington Post, it seems that democratic candidate Governor Martin O'Malley is ahead of republican candidate former Governor Robert Ehrlich.

O'Malley leads by 51.5% while Erhlich trails behind with 40.6%.

In the race for Senate, democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski has a steady lead against republican candidate Eric Wargotz.

Mikulski is projected to win with 56.4% compared to Wargotz's 36.2%

For more election coverage, watch WUSA9 or click WUSA9.com.

O'Malley/Brown Set-Up Underway

It's a gorgeous day on the Inner Harbor and a fantastic location at the American Visionary Arts Museum where the O'Malley/Brown team has just begun to set up shop for Maryland's gubernatorial race.

Today, Governor Martin O'Malley faces former Governor Robert Ehrlich in a heated competition.  With voter turnout in Maryland forming at a steady pace,The Baltimore Business Journal reports that both campaigns have turned to social media to spread the word and get residents to the polls.

O’Malley’s Twitter feed, @GovernorOMalley, started blasting tweets at 6:30 a.m. telling voters: “Polls open in a half hour. Are you ready to move #md4ward? #mdvote”

Absentee Ballot Applications for Montgomery County Now Available

We received this story from Marjorie Roher of the Montgomery County government:

Voters who are unable to cast their ballot for the Gubernatorial General Election on Election Day (November 2) or during Early Voting (October 22 - 28), may now request an application to vote by absentee ballot.

To obtain the application electronically visit our website – www.777vote.org – and select Absentee Voting.  Follow the instructions for completing the application which may be mailed or, if already a registered voter, faxed (240-777-8560) or e-mailed (absentee@montgomerycountymd.gov) to the Board of Elections.  To obtain an application for another person, please call 240-777-8553 for detailed information.

Maryland Cell Phone Ban Begins

Maryland residents and those residents who travel through Maryland need to know that on Friday, October 1, 2010 (this Friday) - cell phone use will become illegal while driving. The offense will be a "secondary" offense, meaning that offenders can only be cited with it if they are pulled over for another primary offense like speeding or running a red light.

Beginning on Friday, people who wish to make a call while driving MUST use a hands free device. The fine will be $40 for the first offense and $100 for subsequent violations of the law.

Texting while driving has been illegal for some time now and already carries a fine.

Maryland is following suit with several other states with cellular phone bans while in operation of a motor vehicle, but it is one of the only (if not the only) state to list the law as a "secondary" offense.

Montgomery County Council Members Meet Head-On with Pepco

Montgomery County Council President Nancy Floreen, Vice President Valerie Ervin and Council members Phil Andrews, Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich, George Leventhal, Nancy Navarro and Duchy Trachtenberg are set to meet in Baltimore on August 17 with Pepco’s chief operating officer and senior officials as the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) performs “a proceeding to investigate the reliability of Potomac Electric Power Company’s (Pepco) electric distribution system and the quality of electric distribution service that Pepco is providing its customers.”

According to the Commission, Pepco’s response to power outages and their communication with customers has been far from superior with the recent summer thunderstorms that have occurred in the area.

The continual year-round power outages that occur in Montgomery County have made the need for a more trustworthy electric company a “top priority”, says President Floreen.