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Thumbs up: To the Maryland General Assembly’s Joint Audit Committee, which decided in December to recommend that the administrative budgets of state agencies that show repeat audit problems be cut. The committee determined that too many follow-up audits find the initial concerns haven’t been addressed. Hitting the agencies in their administrative budgets might force them to take corrective measures and wouldn’t target the citizen programs.

Thumbs down: To the University System of Maryland regents and University of Maryland, College Park President Wallace D. Loh for closing the meeting at which the vote was taken to move the school from the Atlantic Coast Conference to the Big Ten. Following the vote, the nonprofit Student Press Law Center wrote that the regents had violated Maryland’s open meetings law by giving no advance notice and voting behind closed doors. At a news conference announcing the conference switch, Loh said that the regents had been advised by Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler that a closed session was warranted. The regents, however, could have opened it had they so chosen.

Thumbs up: To the group of Maryland business owners, former lawmakers and ex-political staffers in the Maryland chapter of the Fix the Debt coalition, which formed in November for its nonpartisan call for congressional action to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” Included in the group is Michael Enright, former chief of staff for Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), and Chip DiPaula, who was chief of staff for former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R). If nothing else, the group could serve as a role model for certain lawmakers.

Thumbs down: To the push to start “Black Friday” earlier each year. In November, a number of retailers opened before midnight Thanksgiving night. Clearly, retailers have been hard hit by the recession and the slow recovery and are trying to recoup their losses or gain an edge on competitors. But Thanksgiving is one of the only remaining occasions in which families can count on getting together. Whether or not said family members are sick of each other by nightfall, cutting into that time seems somehow wrong.

Thumbs down: To the defenders of the ever-expanding use of speed cameras. Supporters can argue all they want about their primary purpose being safety and, yes, motorists do slow down in speed-camera zones once they’re cognizant of their presence, but to call them much more than a governmental money grab is something of a stretch.

Thumbs up: To the Maryland Board of Pharmacy for its decision to strengthen regulations on out-of-state operations permitted to conduct business in the state. The recent outbreak of meningitis linked to tainted drugs at a compounding pharmaceutical facility in Massachusetts spurred the action. A compounding pharmacy alters medications to fit patient needs. The state pharmacy board has a comprehensive set of regulations for facilities that operate within Maryland, says Anna Jeffers of the board. But Maryland’s board doesn’t inspect facilities outside the state. Now, the board is looking into ways to do just that.