Just as Mr. O’Malley might have been taking a victory lap in his final months in office, he was struck by two glaring management failures: the corruption scandal at the Baltimore City Detention Center and the costly failure of Maryland’s health insurance exchange. In 2013, federal authorities announced sweeping indictments of correctional officers and others at the city jail, which is run by the state, alleging that members of the Black Guerrilla Family gang had effectively taken control of the facility. They had such free rein that they not only smuggled drugs and cellphones inside with impunity, but the ringleader of the operation, Tavon White, actually impregnated four guards. When the scandal broke, Mr. O’Malley was on a trip to Israel. When he got back, he acted as if this was the plan all along. The indictments were a “very positive development,” he said, given that the state had requested federal help in investigating jail corruption. What he never really addressed was the fact that the corruption had gotten a hold on the jail under his watch in the first place.
A few months later, Maryland had one of the worst launches of an Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange of any state in the nation. Mr. O’Malley had been bragging that Maryland’s exchange would be a model for the nation, but when the time came to go live, it crashed almost immediately and never really recovered. Give him credit for this: His team found work-arounds that allowed solid enrollment in health insurance anyway, and their plan to scrap the software and piggyback off of Connecticut’s successful system the next year worked. But there’s no getting around the hundreds of millions of dollars that were wasted.