As longtime fans of my website know, the occasion of the South Atlantic League All-Star break was my chance to update fans of my Shorebird of the Week feature on the fortunes of the over 100 players selected as such over the seven seasons I have carried it. At this time last year, however, I debuted the SotW Tracker page, which made the information available at the click of a menu item at the top of my website. (It’s the SOTW Tracker item on the gray menu bar above.) Every few weeks during the season I take a half-hour or so and keep the page updated with the latest on the players who are still active.
Because of that, I really didn’t need to do a long summary page. But I thought it was interesting to do a statistical breakdown of those who remain – for example, out of 134 players I selected between the 2006 and 2012 seasons, 65 are still active as players in various leagues and levels and 38 of them are still property of the Orioles. By season, it breaks down as follows:
- 2006: 6 of 22 active, with one in the major leagues, two at AAA, one at AA, one in independent league baseball, and one playing in Japan. None remain property of the Orioles.
- 2007: 5 of 19 active, with one in the major leagues, one at AAA, two at AA, and one in independent league baseball. Two remain as Orioles property. (Only 19 players were “new” Shorebirds of the Week; three were selected in 2006 as well.)
- 2008: 9 of 22 active, with two in the major leagues, three at AAA, one at AA, two playing in independent leagues, and one playing in Mexico; however, he is one of the two players who remain Orioles property as he was loaned to the Mexican League team.
- 2009: 8 of 18 active, with three in AAA, three in AA, and two playing independent league baseball. Five of those eight are still in the Orioles’ system. (Four players were selected as Shorebird of the Week in 2008 as well.)
- 2010: 7 of 17 active, with five at AA, and two at advanced-A. All but one are still Baltimore’s property. (This was the year with the most repeaters to date – two repeated from 2008 and three from 2009.)
- 2011: 13 of 18 active, with one in the major leagues, two at AAA, seven at advanced-A, and three in independent leagues. Just eight of the 13 still belong to the O’s. (Four were previously selected as Shorebird of the Week in 2010.)
- 2012: All but one of the 18 players are active, with two in AA, eight at advanced-A, five with Delmarva this season, one in rookie-level baseball, and one in independent baseball. Fifteen of the seventeen still play for Oriole affiliates.
If you look at the category of those in the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame – 15 inducted, with a 16th to be added at season’s end – there are five who are playing in the majors right now: David Hernandez of Arizona (SotW in 2006), Pedro Beato of Boston (SotW in 2007), Pedro Florimon of Minnesota (SotW in 2008), and the Orioles’ own Zach Britton (SotW in 2008) and Manny Machado (SotW in 2011.)
At this point in time my initial inductee Brad Bergesen is playing in Japan, but most of the SotW Hall of Famers are dotting AAA and AA rosters: Brandon Snyder for Boston’s team in Pawtucket, Blake Davis for Milwaukee’s team in Nashville, Matt Angle with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ farm team in Albuquerque, Joe Mahoney (who was up with the Miami Marlins briefly back in April) playing in New Orleans, and a handful remaining in the Orioles’ system between Norfolk and Bowie: Xavier Avery, Kyle Hudson, L.J. Hoes, and Dylan Bundy make up that list, which also includes future 2013 inductee Zach Clark, who debuted earlier this season.
Only Ryan Adams, who was a SotW back in 2008 and made the SotWHoF in 2011 with the Orioles, is out of baseball. But there is a caveat: he was suspended by Major League Baseball after last season for 25 games, so he has to serve that before resuming his career with whichever team signs him. It’s possible he may be on an independent league team’s restricted list since most haven’t reached the 25-game mark quite yet.
If you haven’t looked at the SotW Tracker page over the last few weeks, you’ll notice I updated it with the honorees from 2013′s first half. At this point only one of the 2013 crop is a repeater from last year while five of them remain with the Shorebirds – so you can probably expect somewhere between 18 and 20 “new” players this season as well.
Lastly, I normally wrap up my post by detailing how the Shorebirds’ representatives did at the SAL All-Star Game. But Josh Hader might be in a Baltimore uniform before the game gets underway as Lakewood is experiencing the same rainy weather plaguing us this evening. As of 9:30 posting, the rain was still being waited out. Once I find out, I’ll let you know how Hader did in what could well be his last appearance as a member of the Shorebirds.
Yesterday I found out that District 34 State Senator Nancy Jacobs will not seek another term in Annapolis. In a release, the 18-year veteran legislator said it was time to move on:
This has been one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make. I’ve met so many wonderful people over the years who have not only supported my political career, but who have become my friends as well.
The time has come for Bruce and me to begin a new chapter in our lives. I will return to private life on January 1, 2015. Bruce has always been my biggest supporter and ally during my entire political career. It is time for us to be able to spend more time together.
You may recall Nancy also made an unsuccessful bid for the Second Congressional District seat last year, winning the GOP primary nod but losing with just 31% of the vote to Dutch Ruppersberger. While Dutch is rumored to be interested in running for governor next year, the release by Jacobs would seem to indicate her vote gathering days are over.
And while I commend Senator Jacobs for her lengthy service – which included a brief stint as Minority Leader in the Senate – I’m putting on my Central Committee member hat in bringing this up as an example for other party leaders and legislators to follow. Even if you don’t go public with the announcement as Nancy did, candidate recruitment is much easier when we have a direction toward which we need to recruit candidates. Obviously we need to contend for seats currently being held by the opposition, but now GOP leaders in Cecil and Harford counties can also work to find Nancy’s replacement with plenty of time for contenders to bring a campaign up to speed. Delegate Glen Glass would be the natural successor as he’s the lone GOP Delegate in that District; obviously this would also attract interest from his Democratic counterparts Mary-Dulany James and David Rudolph. In turn, those challengers for Delegate could be emboldened by the opportunity of winning an open seat in the House of Delegates.
Because they had the advantage for so long in local races, Democrats developed a fairly deep bench of replacements as veteran legislators and executive branch officials retired or moved up the political food chain. But the fact that Republicans are faring better in many localities and actually have the majority of local elected officials in Maryland should begin to work for them on a state level next year. That’s not to say any election will be a cakewalk in this state, but our opportunities should now be greater.
And thanks to Senator Jacobs and her timely announcement, we know we have a seat to defend with a new contender.
You may recall the dustup last fall when the Maryland Republican Party decided to take its show on the road, assisting Mitt Romney’s campaign in Virginia and Pennsylvania at the expense of candidates who maybe could have used the assistance here. Obviously the 2012 election didn’t work out the way the party had wanted, but hope springs eternal and there’s always another election.
This brings me to make this point: since we’re not busy trying to win ten races at the top of the ticket (along with a handful of local races) it seems like NOW would be a good time to lend ourselves to other states’ races, and the Maryland Young Republicans are doing just that.
Our friends in the Massachusetts Young Republicans need your help to send another Republican to Washington next Tuesday.
We are asking all Young Republicans who are able to set aside some time in the next week to make phone calls for Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Gabriel Gomez.
Gabriel Gomez is a Navy SEAL and businessman who is challenging long-term incumbent Ed Markey. Ed Markey is a product of the out-of-touch liberal establishment in Washington; he’s been in in Congress since 1976 and been a key Democrat on virtually every liberal policy that has impacted your way of life. He is not deserving of a promotion.
Gabriel Gomez can help us fix what insiders like Ed Markey has broken. And you can help.
The site to sign up is here if you’re interested.
It’s interesting that three years ago, when Scott Brown pulled the upset and won the U.S. Senate seat from Massachusetts, there was a Maryland politician who helped out then, too. It didn’t work out for him later on, but I’m sure Eric Wargotz learned something from the experience.
But my point is that this IS a race where Marylanders can help out, particularly since the race will have national attention. The same will be true for the New Jersey Senate race in October, since it will be two weeks before their off-year state elections, as well as Virginia’s gubernatorial election this fall. We can learn a little bit from those races, get some volunteering done, and hopefully next year when it’s our turn take advantage of the lessons learned. In this case, the Maryland YRs get it.
First off, I want to wish all those dads out there a happy Father’s Day. I spoke to my dad in Florida this morning, and got a call this evening from my daughter in Ohio.
And because it’s Father’s Day, the news is sort of slow – unless you want to count sniping at Barack Obama’s Father’s Day picture with his super soaker squirtgun. Yet those who would be the Republican candidate for governor in Maryland have been busy laying out their campaigns, preparing for the grunt work of getting the word out to voters.
As one example, I got these in the mail Friday from the Ron George campaign.
These are actually fairly slick palm cards, with one flap highlighting Ron’s bio and record while the other two serve as an information collector and return envelope to the campaign. Very nice and efficient.
Meanwhile, last week David Craig put out a highlight video of his June 3-5 campaign tour, although most of it focused on day 1.
But more importantly, Craig used his connection with the advocacy group Change Maryland to highlight the fact that Maryland’s spending is out of control, projected to rise at twice the national average. It allowed Craig to assess the situation: “This government taxes too much, takes too much, regulates too much and is expanding at the expense of job creators and taxpayers.”
In comparison to several other states in our region, the data suggests Maryland looks even more like a drunken sailor.
With the possible exception of the gas tax that takes effect next month, there is no tax reviled more by Maryland conservatives than the EPA-mandated “rain tax.” (In reality, it’s an impervious surface fee, but the effect is the same: money out of property owners’ pockets.)
And even though he’s not officially in the race yet, Charles Lollar had some pointed comments about this fee, with a little praise for Frederick County Commission president Blaine Young:
(T)here is a much deeper story that is not being covered and that many folks haven’t considered.
If you all remember, last year to “balance” the state’s budget, the administration pushed much of the teacher pension costs back to the counties. This move has severely hurt county budgets as they’ve had to move appropriations from certain capital projects to cover these new pension costs. The governments across our state that are the closest to the people are often our counties. Don’t worry, our counties will figure out how to make it work, but it makes it much harder for them.
So what is this rain tax really about? In my estimation, this is just the state paying the counties back for pushing pensions down to them, using the EPA mandate as an excuse. I applaud Frederick County Executive Blaine Young for only charging the residents of Frederick one penny per ERU. The law forced him to comply but he made the right choice by mocking a laughable law.
This bill is hurting non-profits like churches and could drive them out of service. It’s going to drive up costs for malls, grocery stores, and just about everything else with a large, “impervious surface.” In the end it will drive up the costs for consumers to buy products and make it even harder for people to find jobs.
I don’t know if Charles knows something we don’t or is trying to make a subliminal suggestion, but Blaine Young isn’t Frederick County Executive. There’s a chance he may be after the election as that newly-created office will be filled for the first time, but for now he’s simply their commission president.
Regardless, Lollar brings up an interesting sidebar – one for which I have a mild rebuttal. If this were true, why didn’t all 24 counties have to pay this fee? If my memory serves me correctly, my home county of Wicomico is getting a disparity grant from the state to help with assuming the cost of the teacher pensions because we’re one of the less well off counties (and state policy seems to be that of keeping us that way by choking off development.) But at some point we will have to figure out how to pay on that mandate to the tune of $1.2 billion over 10 years – bear in mind our county budget runs in the $120-130 million range.
My hope is that whoever becomes governor will stand up to the EPA – in court if necessary – and tell them to go pound sand. Certainly a clean Chesapeake Bay is desirable, but the state budget also has to address higher-priority items like public safety, infrastructure, and education. It would be great to see a Maryland governor tell the federal government “no thanks” to unfunded mandates because, even if they chip in for a year or three to defray the state’s short-term costs, we end up being stuck with the tab.
Democrats have it easy, since all they seem to know how to do is turn the screws on hard-working taxpayers as a method of amassing money and power to redistribute, showering favored group with undeserved goodies. Unfortunately, other peoples’ money always runs out so new solutions are needed.
I look forward to a spirited debate about a new paradigm.
Earlier this week my friend and colleague Jackie Wellfonder did a piece about two possible entrants to the 2014 Maryland GOP gubernatorial chase, Michael Steele and Larry Hogan. While I’ve written about Steele’s bid in regards to how it would affect the race, I’ve sort of dismissed Hogan’s chances for two reasons.
One reason is reminiscent of why Newt Gingrich didn’t run for president in 2008 – at the time, Newt was getting American Solutions off the ground and couldn’t legally maintain his leadership role with that group while participating in an exploratory committee. While the rules are probably different in Maryland, Hogan’s role as leader of Change Maryland – a group he regularly touts as nonpartisan – may have to be ceded should he decide to get into the race for governor.
Wellfonder, though, makes the point an upcoming fundraiser Hogan is hosting on Change Maryland’s behalf could be an opportunity to announce, and the timing would be correct. But this might also be a little deceptive, since those who attend may be interested in helping Change Maryland financially but may not necessarily be as willing to support a Hogan gubernatorial bid; in fact, this sort of speculation might just keep would-be supporters who back other candidates away.
In truth, insuring that fundraiser’s success given the important role Change Maryland is playing in Maryland’s conservative movement is a pretty compelling reason itself to end the speculation and announce he would take a pass on 2014. But the other reason I had mentally checked Larry off the list was shown here, on page 3:
I first accessed this file back in January, at a time I was trying to line up an interview with Larry for my moribund Ten Question Tuesday segment. It was still on my computer here because I don’t clean out my “downloads” folder. But it was an “aha!” moment of sorts, particularly when you figure $325,000 is a sizable chunk of change from anyone’s personal funds outside of Warren Buffett or Bill Gates.
However, I found out last night there’s more to the story. In fact, the 2012 campaign finance report I cited was later corrected because Hogan paid off the loans in 2010 once he wound down the exploratory committee. (Page 5 on both documents.)
The original 2012 report I saw back in January and filed in July of 2011 was what I based my mistaken assumption on. Now one could come back and say that Hogan and his treasurer filed a false report, but it’s worth pointing out that these were corrected several months ago, not at a time when public outcry demanded it. It may have been as simple as forgetting to eliminate the last page from the filed report, since generally reports have to be carried over from one reporting period to the next; perhaps the state Board of Elections noticed the discrepancy and alerted Hogan’s campaign treasurer to it as they reviewed all the 2012 information.
In short, someone made a mistake, it was fixed, no harm no foul. This should be a non-issue, and I bring it up only to explain some of the reasoning I had all but dismissed Hogan as a 2014 candidate. In fact, one could use this to argue he believed strongly enough in the state to put that much of a personal stake in the race, even as he promised to withdraw if Bob Ehrlich ran. (Never mind the formation of Change Maryland and all the time and effort Larry surely puts into it.)
Given the already-crowded field and the possibility Michael Steele could indeed get into the race, I’m still fairly convinced Larry Hogan will be happy to remain on the sidelines. However, should he decide to run it will be with a clean slate financially.
This piece continues a theme I undertook a few days ago, but adds the rebuttal from the DBED, among other things…
Last week on my home site I speculated on the motives of selecting three Maryland companies for inclusion in a state-sponsored program called MaryLand of Opportunity. The program puts three businesses in the spotlight through a series of television and radio spots, paid for in part by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.
The three businesses selected are B’More Organic, which manufactures and sells an Icelandic yogurt variant called skyr in smoothie form, wind-powered electrical broker Clean Currents, and Apples & Oranges, a Baltimore-based supermarket located in an area of the city determined to be a “food desert.” The theme used to sell the trio to the public was one of “Good for you, Good for Maryland, Good for the Planet.” At this point, the campaign has put together a thirty-second television commercial for B’More Organic and radio spots of thirty and ninety seconds for Clean Currents; DBED is also promoting the campaign on social media via Facebook and Twitter.
Conventional media outlets included are the Baltimore Sun, CBS Radio, and WJZ-TV, which are matching the $130,000 chipped in by Maryland taxpayers with services to bring the campaign’s total value to $350,000.
(Continued at the Watchdog Wire…)
At the tail end of last year, I saw an outfield of three players who all came up within the last month of the season and figured that would be the outfield of 2013. The first of those three to make Shorebird of the Week this season is the one who struggled the most at the tail end of 2012: Lucas Herbst.
A 26th-round pick from the 2012 draft out of Santa Clara University, Herbst was initially ticketed for Aberdeen last season but put together numbers solid enough (.270/1/16/.690 OPS) in his first 38 games to play out the string with a Shorebirds team which wasn’t going anywhere. On August 20 last year Herbst made his Shorebird debut and struggled, hitting just .136 in 13 games but at least hitting 2 home runs in that time.
Perhaps it was that tough stretch which kept Lucas off the initial Delmarva roster for 2013, but when Creede Simpson went on the disabled list it was Herbst who got the call to replace him and he’s responded with a solid spot of hitting. In 35 Shorebird games, Lucas has hit .287/2/13/.730 OPS and held down left field admirably in Simpson’s absence due to a hamstring injury.
So the California native, who turns 23 just after the end of the regular season, stands a pretty good chance of sticking around during the always-perilous changeover between halves, when a handful of Shorebirds are typically sent down to Aberdeen to get more playing time at a slightly lower level. He’s on a good track to advance up an Orioles system which seems bereft of outfield prospects once you get past AAA.
She’s not known for the op-ed, but Maryland GOP Chair Diana Waterman tried her hand at the art of the written world recently, penning a piece called “Free Markets, Free People Eliminate Poverty.”
In last week’s edition of The Economist, it was reported that capitalism and free markets are credited with helping pull over one billion people out of poverty in the last 20 years. The article also pointed out that the biggest obstacle to bringing another billion people out of destitution are governments that progressively take over more control of the individual and only “boost inequality.” It said, “the biggest poverty-reduction measure of all is liberalising markets to let poor people get richer.”
This discussion is very important to the future of the United States because the real battle is occurring in state capitals across the county. Republican Governors like Rick Snyder in Michigan, Bobby Jindal in Louisiana, and Brian Sandoval in Nevada are working to balance state budgets, lower dependency on government, and create an environment that is more friendly for job creators. However, in states like Maryland, Governor Martin O’Malley has continued a sense of hostility and rigidness that has only served to send businesses to nearby states where they are welcomed with open arms.
Prior to the release of that article, Governor O’Malley gave a speech to far-left Washington insiders at the Center for American Progress to discuss his policies here in Maryland, the same kind of policies that have limited the potential success of so many around the world. To highlight his delusion, at one point in the speech, he said, “We have cut, in Maryland, more spending than ever before in state history.” The facts say otherwise. Spending in Annapolis has skyrocketed nearly 30% from $28.8 billion in 2007 to $36.8 billion for 2014. This spending increase has been matched by sharply raising taxes 54 times for a total of $2.8 billion, or nearly $2,000 per family per year.
In his speech, Governor O’Malley attacked reform-minded Republicans like Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin for the broad expansion of jobs and opportunity to all Americans. Well Governor, your tired rhetoric is wrong, your attacks are backwards, and The Economist agrees. As Republicans, we do not want to limit success. We want every person who has the desire to be successful, a willingness to work hard, and play by the rules to meet their maximum potential.
Martin O’Malley and Anthony Brown’s method of governing has tried and it has failed. Liberalism has failed the unemployed among us. Liberalism has failed the small businesses struggling to survive. Liberalism has failed college students who cannot find a job when they graduate. And catastrophes like the Baltimore City Jail have proven that liberalism has failed the trust of the people of Maryland.
Now is the time for a new direction and new leadership. We invite you, your family, and your friends to join the Republican Party where we believe it is our role to make government smarter, more effective, and more efficient. If you believe that your taxes are too high, your freedom is under assault, and your government is out of control, then we welcome you to join your 1,000,000 fellow voters in the Maryland Republican Party. On Thursday, June 20th, we invite all voters to hear Congressman Paul Ryan discuss his “Path to Prosperity” at the 23rd Annual Red, White, and Blue Dinner at the Renaissance Hotel in Baltimore City.
Republicans are ready to serve and we need your help. If you would like more information about running for office or the Maryland Republican Party, please visit www.MDGOP.org or call us at 410-263-2125.
Waterman’s op-ed has a nice length, and makes some great points. But the message I got out of the piece in The Economist was twofold: it would take a global push to eradicate poverty around the world, sponsored by government, and a social safety net was required. At one point in the Economist piece they remark:
The world now knows how to reduce poverty. A lot of targeted policies — basic social safety nets and cash-transfer schemes, such as Brazil’s Bolsa Família — help.
According to Wikipedia, 26 percent of the Brazilian population is covered under the Bolsa Familia program, which has in the past been propped up by loans from the World Bank. In essence, this is the same sort of governmental wealth redistribution scheme which Martin O’Malley has been trying for seven years to perfect and shore up a permanent underclass which will continually vote Democratic. Perhaps The Economist lauds capitalism for its effect in creating wealth for governments to redistribute as they see fit, so perhaps Waterman picked a weak analogy for her point. After all, it’s those who succeed in Maryland – despite the headwinds put in place by state government – which drive the state’s economy.
A stronger thought piece was put out on Tuesday by Dan Bongino, soon to be officially a candidate for Congress. In speaking about the NSA scandal, he packed a lot of wisdom into a short release called “Why the NSA Scandal Matters”:
As a former federal agent who has appropriately used the judicial review provisions of our Constitution to gather information while investigating criminality, I am tired of the “If you are doing nothing wrong, then you have nothing to hide” argument concerning violations of privacy. You may continue to ignore the government’s relentless pursuit of expansive new powers but I assure you, it is not ignoring you.
As Americans, we value our liberty and its corresponding privacy. We have the right to choose which part of our lives should be public and which should remain private. The fact that we do not want our private lives monitored by government representatives who can use the information for malicious purposes (exhibit 1: IRS), does not mean we have something criminal to hide.
It is the reason we put shutters on our windows, passwords on our accounts and phones and keep the doors to our homes closed. We want to choose when the public self begins and the private self ends and we certainly do not want the government to make that choice for us.
The overwhelming majority of Americans are good people who make mistakes on a regular basis but very few of these mistakes involve criminality or deadly intent and I object to being monitored using the exact same tactics for both.
If an American’s private life does not include criminal behavior or infringe on the rights of others, why should government representatives be allowed an open door into our lives while using their expanding government bureaucracy to hide behind their own?
If you believe, like I do, that we should stand up against big government overreach, please join our campaign today and contribute to our cause.
Now it helps Bongino’s message when he has some personal experience with the subject, but he goes farther to personalize the situation for the intended audience using a number of simple real-life examples. Furthermore, he appeals to the good in all of us while realizing that many of us slip up on occasion – although I would be interested to know what he defines as “mistakes.”
I will make the point here that Dan Bongino has spent the last two years running for some office or other and in that time he’s had many opportunities for refining and honing his message for mass consumption. On the other hand, Diana’s been behind the scenes as an organizer who’s never really had to create a message which appeals to the masses. She did a reasonable job with this opinion piece, as on the surface it makes very good points. And while I have my interpretation of the underlying message of the Economist piece, quite frankly, 99 percent of the people who read this op-ed in their local paper (should it show up there) will never see it. The reference is truly there simply for gravitas.
On the whole I believe we can – and should – point out Martin O’Malley’s many foibles, although it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. But we also have to present a credible alternative, so hopefully Waterman (or whoever is writing these under her name) will continue to work on that side of the equation. Indeed, it’s likely we will be running against a continuation of the O’Malley-Brown regime here in Maryland, but Republicans need to make their intentions clear and defensible against the oncoming onslaught by the state and national media.
Every so often I point out how other states are taking advantage of avenues our fair state of Maryland cannot – or will not – compete in. One such area is energy exploration, which has benefited states like Texas and Alaska for decades, and more recently turned North Dakota from a state which was stagnant in population and lacking opportunity to America’s fastest-growing state, with a “new normal” of energy-led growth. Indeed, taxable sales increased 28.7% from 2011 to 2012, according to North Dakota Tax Commissioner Cory Fong.
Obviously in the several states results may vary, and Maryland doesn’t have that same petroleum-rich land mass that North Dakota does. But in the western end of our state we do have the potential for some nice job creation if we allow the tapping of the natural gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation like Pennsylvania has done for several years. And who knows what we could find under Maryland’s offshore waters? It’s doubtful we’ll ever be confused with a state like Louisiana, where dozens of oil platforms lurk just offshore, but the potential is there for a healthy bump in economic activity should we choose to take advantage of this.
One thing which seems to be lost in the question about whether oil and natural gas exploration would be good for the state is the sort of jobs created. Say what you will about the energy industry, but they tend to pay better than flipping burgers at McDonald’s. Sure, it’s likely to be demanding physical work for those who are semi-skilled, but they would be making a living sufficient to support a family – reminiscent of a bygone era where dad went to work 40 hours a week at the auto plant “makin’ Thunderbirds” (as the old Bob Seger song went) and mom could afford to stay home with the kids. And it also brings up the point about not necessarily needing a college degree (and the tens of thousands of dollars of associated debt) to make a good living. Then again, those who have the intelligence and drive to be engineers or even technicians and complete the college training required would find a very welcoming field. Our neighbors to the west in West Virginia have heeded this call.
Back in the 1970s, at the height of the oil crisis, those of us in rural areas had a saying that we should trade the OPEC nations a bushel for a barrel – they had plenty of oil but they needed food to feed themselves – and we had plenty of it. But in America we could develop the potential to sell other nations both the bushel AND the barrel simply by getting out of the way of energy production and dropping this silly notion about producing ethanol from corn.
Why not get the best of both worlds? All we need is some truly forward-thinking leadership, the kind which realizes we have the potential under our very feet to be dependent on no one outside of North America for our energy needs and future growth therein.
As I noted in my original coverage last Wednesday, I received the opportunity to have a one-on-one interview with gubernatorial candidate David Craig after he concluded his public remarks. Rather than ask him strictly about his stump speech, I wanted to ask about some of the topics which may be more important to my fellow Eastern Shore residents.
monoblogue: Just to ask you the first question, I know we’re the seventh stop or so on this tour…
monoblogue: …so how’s your reception been?
Craig: It’s been very good. Started out good – a little rainy when we started out…
Craig: …but good crowds everywhere we’ve been, the people who showed up have been very receptive (and) very happy about what was happening. Very impressive in Hagerstown, we got out there and did the walking tour of downtown and went in to see several businesses, went by the schools…a lot of people saw the bus, they saw me, and they started walking with us. Got a little reception afterward where people could just come in and talk about stuff.
We went to Silver Spring – how many Republicans are going to go to Montgomery County? But we drive through the neighborhoods and I think, “Why are these people voting for Democrats?” These people have their nice little homes, they obviously have nice jobs and stuff like that, paying taxes…
monoblogue: Well, the problem is they may have government jobs that depend on the government being large.
Craig: Well, they may depend on the federal government being large but not us. Anyway, it’s nice neighborhoods and things like that. The one in Prince Frederick was very good, Annapolis was Annapolis (laughs)…that was fun. So they’ve all been very interesting, you see the differences – everybody says one Maryland, but there are slight differences.
monoblogue: Yeah, well, for example I come from a rural perspective – I grew up in a rural area – and I know you talked in your speech about the lost balance between environmentalism and that. How’s that going to affect our “outhouse” out here?
Craig: (laughs) You tell people that farmers were the first environmentalists that we ever saw. Farmers are usually pretty fiduciary – they usually don’t waste money.
monoblogue: No, they’re trying to make money.
Craig: They’re trying to make money, so they’re not going to do things that are bad. What I’ve found in doing this in Harford County is I do have an executive – I have an Agricultural Economic Advisory Board and I have an Agricultural Preservation Board that I work with, and one of my deputy chiefs of staff is the agricultural deputy chief of staff. What I’ve found is the best way is to actually listen to the farmers have to say and have them come up with solutions for what they think needs to be done, and then convince the other farmer this is the best way to go – it’s not government talking to you. (They’d say) I did this on my farm, it saved me money, it did this and saved me all these rules and regulations.
But we get all these people that are in environmental services, they have this job, they’re lawyers, they’re environmental – but they know nothing. I had a situation talking with the Maryland Department of the Environment, I said give me an example of this rain tax, I have two – or septic tax. I have two farms, tell me which one’s the worst. How will I be able to determine which one – one guy’s doing the good job, one’s a bad job? And the guy looked at me and said we can’t figure that out.
monoblogue: Well, that’s reassuring. After they passed the septic bill and they can’t tell you that? I know there was a bill – and it was one of our Delegates (Mike McDermott) put it up – to rescind that entire septic bill. Now, if it does somehow get through the General Assembly would you consider signing that bill rescinding the law?
Craig: I think there are many things that have been done over the last 20 years that ought to be rescinded, particularly when it comes – what was the one Parris Glendening did? I can’t remember, it was some kind of infectious disease thing…
monoblogue: I don’t know, it was before my time.
Craig: Anyway, they came up with all these ideas – for them it’s always about what’s the headline, what’s the media going to report in the next 90 days – after it gets done, do they ever go back and evaluate what the bill did, and whether it was effective? You know, William Donald Schaefer was the one who put the Critical Areas section in – I was the mayor, I had to adopt Critical Areas legislation in the city of Harve de Grace or no building was going to be permitted. I had to actually impose a tax, I was the first one to pay it because I was the first one to go for a building permit. And they kept saying, we need 1,000 feet from the bay to be doing this. And I would say we’re not the only ones polluting this, you think it’s just us, why are you doing this to us? And does it actually solve things? If I have someone who rebuilds something and fixes it up, isn’t that better than just letting it sit there the way it is? Let’s come up with real solutions for what needs to be done. Did the critical area and the critical area tax solve the Chesapeake Bay problem?
monoblogue: No. And the problem is they keep moving the goalposts…
Craig: Yes! And they’re made up – that’s the thing, the numbers are made up. Who came up with the idea a football field had to be 100 yards? Why couldn’t it be 120 yards, why couldn’t it be 90 yards? You know, it’s like – first they make a number up, I’ll give you this example. I was the mayor of Havre de Grace, we get hit with this issue with our sewage treatment plant that we have to do this change – $9 million it costs us to upgrade the sewage treatment plant.
A week later, the rules and regulations were changed. They came back and said, this is no longer functioning the way we need it to function, now you need to do this – $47 million. Here’s the problem, the analogy I use. Let’s say you decided to redo your kitchen – new refrigerator, new stove, new microwave, you buy new ones, you put them in there, spend $4,000 – and then you come back home, no I think we need to rip the whole kitchen out and you throw away those appliances. None of that $9 million was good enough to maintain the $47 million, so we wasted the $9 million. We’re still paying – the people of Havre de Grace are still paying…
monoblogue: Salisbury has the same problem, they’re messing around with their sewer treatment plant.
Craig: Yeah, so they keep changing the concept of what’s going on, and they don’t really look at real solutions. And if someone comes up with a real solution that’s not what the government wanted, then they ignore it.
At this point, we were interrupted by a well-wisher. When we got back to the conversation, I changed the subject.
monoblogue: You also talked about the – all the tax increases we had. I love how you used all the Change Maryland numbers, that’s great. I said I could tell Jim Pettit’s on his staff now…
Craig: Well, we’ve got them for a variety of things but when Larry Hogan started Change Maryland we talked about it and said, you know, I might run, I might not run, but if I don’t run Change Maryland’s going to go with you. And I’d like to admit that Larry’s done a good job getting that information out…
monoblogue: He does.
Craig: …and persuading people. I think in the long run Larry realizes that he’s making more money (laughs) being a private worker…
monoblogue: Oh yeah.
Craig: …and I think ultimately he stays there. But he can he huge in helping us reform the state party.
monoblogue: Right. But is there any chance we’re going to see some of that stuff rolled back if you’re elected?
Craig: I will look at all of them. But if somebody says “which tax first?” I’m going to look at all of them. There are certain taxes that probably haven’t been on the table that people said, would you ever get rid of this? If the state says that we’re going to make – we have a Public Service Commission to keep your BG&E rate as low as possible, why do we tax it? Why do we tax it? If we got rid of that, it gets rid of $5 on your BG&E bill every – well, it would save you 60 bucks. And guess what? You’re probably going to spend it somewhere else.
monoblogue: Well, that’s the idea. It’s where YOU want to spend it, not where the state wants to spend it.
Craig: You know, sales tax…I go back to that Calvin Coolidge thing with lowering the income tax, if you lower the sales tax more people would buy stuff here and it increases what gets sold. My wife’s not dumb – we live 17 miles from Delaware. You’re going to buy $4,000 worth of appliances times 6 – you do the math…
monoblogue: And seven miles from Delmar – if you go up 13 you’ll notice all the big-ticket items, furniture stores…
Craig: Yeah, look at the ads, look at the ads. I mean, I was looking at ads this morning on the TV when I was here and it was like – I forget what the particular issue was they were selling, and they go “in Delaware, no tax.” You know, it’s like – and how far away are you? Cecil County last month, in May, had twelve liquor stores give up their licenses…
Craig: …and close. And they did it because, if you live in Elkton in five minutes you could be in (Delaware), you can buy your liquor, you can buy your gasoline, you can buy your cigarettes. All that tax is lower or non-existent and we got nothing. And so, I don’t know how many people but say each had three business people – so 36 to 40 jobs gone?
Craig: And all because “oh, it’s an alcohol tax, it’s okay to raise it.”
monoblogue: And the same thing is true (for cigarettes), because I go to Virginia for my job every week and driving back into Maryland the last convenience store I see – “Last Chance for Cheap Smokes.”
Craig: That’s right.
monoblogue: Because Virginia’s tax is, like, thirty cents and ours is two bucks.
Craig: And if I throw out the issue of the corporate income tax, people are like “oh, you’re only for the rich people.” All right, I’ll throw out other issues: Harford County, a lot of military people stationed there, when they get done they retire. They move to Pennsylvania because their military pension is taxed. We shouldn’t tax a military person’s pension, they already made their sacrifices. So let them live here in the state of Maryland.
monoblogue: I think they have tried to do that a few times, and the legislature just doesn’t go anywhere.
Craig: Well, they haven’t gone with it because they haven’t been told to go with it. If the governor had said go with it, they would have gone with it.
monoblogue: That’s true, it’s usually Republicans who bring it up.
Craig: Well, you know, I think if enough veterans were showing up and saying – what was this whole thing about the governor pointing out and bragging about what he was doing about creating jobs for veterans, about a month ago? Remember he was changing some policies, it was going to make it easier for them to get a job?
Craig: Why would they want to come here and get a job and pay a higher tax on their pension that they also get and then a higher tax on their income tax? So, we need to change the income tax…(also) the death tax is ridiculous, somebody in your family passes away, they pay taxes on that money for their entire life – why are you paying a tax to inherit it? If they were smart I guess they should sell everything and give you the money before they pass away. But people leave the state all the time, go to Florida, no tax, go to Pennsylvania, don’t have to pay that tax.
The gas tax – I do tell people I have to be cautious to (not) say I’m going to get rid of this tax or lower this right away because – I’ll have to use the septic tax for an example – when Ehrlich was governor the septics were all done through PAYGO, so he didn’t have capital projects. This governor turned it to bonding, so if I’m stuck with paying off a bond I’ve got to do that first before I can get rid of the tax.
monoblogue: Right, exactly. I’m sure he’s created a few mousetraps for his successor to deal with if they want to change things. It’s going to be harder to undo this Gordian knot then most people would think.
Craig: And then they brag about, oh, we’re going to do this private-public partnership, this 3P thing, it’s like – most likely that’s not going to work. If you look at something that’s going to be a good financial thing with some private company coming in and doing something, they probably could have done it if they didn’t have to pay the minimum wage, if they didn’t have to pay the union fee, if they didn’t have to deal with the minority business stuff – you could probably lower the prices of those projects by 35 percent. Stephanie Rawlings-Blake just gets a billion dollars for school construction, well, $300 million of that is going to be wasted and she could have had it – that would have done how many more schools for her?
Craig: So which is better? Is it better to have a good school for the kid, or you created this “fake” job?
monoblogue: Right. I remember, being from Ohio, when Ohio built all its schools they actually eliminated the prevailing wage for schools just to get more bang for the buck.
Craig: Yeah, that’s what you should do. Period.
monoblogue: Speaking of education, I liked how you tied in the lack of – lack of academic achievement with our so-called “number one” ranking. Now where do you – where do you prioritize your spending to bring up the actual achievement and not necessarily worry about being “number one” in the country?
Craig: A couple things. There’s a lot of duplication that we could…a lot of duplication. Here’s the situation in Harford County. Since I’ve been County Executive, the size of the school board employees has increased by 650 employees. The school population has declined by 2,500 students. Why didn’t the size of the working staff decline?
Now, if they had had 2,300 new students move in they would have come to me and said, “we need 100 new teachers.” But when 2,000 went down they didn’t say, “well, we didn’t need 100 teachers anymore.”
Craig: So we have that situation, and I get teachers complaining to me all the time, “well, you know, the size of the class has gone up.” If you’re a good teacher, it doesn’t matter how many kids you’re sitting in the class. The first year I taught, 39 kids in the class. Second year, 42 kids in the class. Forty-two. I didn’t even have enough desks for the kids; one of them had to sit at my desk and one of them had to sit at a table. So when they say there’s 23 kids, the fact is, studies have been shown that the change does not occur until the size of the class falls below 15. So that’s what you’re going to do, if you say we’re reducing the size, we’re going from 24 to 23 – so what? If you’re a teacher, you can’t teach 24, can’t teach 25? That’s one thing.
But there’s duplication, so much duplication, in government – county government and school board government. I have a capital projects committee, they have a capital projects committee – why do we need both? I have the same guys that do the investigations, the inspections and all that stuff, I have a procurement department. I don’t buy chalk and all that stuff, but they have a procurement department. That’s duplication. I have a lawyer, a law department, they have a law department – duplication. They have a human resource department, I have a human resource department, duplication. Now, do I get rid of all those employees? No, but at least get rid of the top person. The person who’s making $150,ooo, instead of having two of them, you only have one. And you can probably merge a lot of things together and only have office – and none of that takes place in the classroom.
monoblogue: You need to think about that at the state level, and not necessarily the county level – I mean, if a county wants to do that, that’s fine and dandy, that’s their money. At the state level is where you’ll be concentrating…
monoblogue: …I would think we need to rightsize the state Department of Education…
Craig: I agree.
monoblogue: …because the localities should control anyway.
Craig: Yes they should. Yes they should. And it has grown exponentially. And if you look at higher education, when I was in the House I was always assigned the higher education budget and you look at a college that’s got nine vice-Presidents – why? We only have one Vice-President in the country, yet nine in a college? Come on! And are they teaching? No. You know, all these different people, you have all these professors that are teaching one class, maybe two classes. I had someone, when I was doing a debate one time, who said “what are you going to do about the cost of higher – you know, how much my education’s going to cost?” We need to reduce it on our size – on our side, for one thing. We’re forced to spend this money on that, it doesn’t need to be spent.
So there’s a lot of duplication in both higher ed and elementary through high school at the state level that I agree we could change.
monoblogue: Okay, I appreciate it.
Craig: Thank you.
Ideally, I wanted to come in about 15 minutes and with the interruption that’s about where I ended up. Hopefully this establishes some of where David Craig stands on various issues.
Tonight I’m pleased to announce that I will yet again be a collection point and participating blogger on the Hot Air Steamers team for Troopathon 6, coming up Thursday, June 27 and broadcast from the Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California. (Interesting choice of venue, but I digress. I’m sure their staff will bend over backwards to make it a good event.)
The 8 hour Troopathon will be hosted by San Francisco-area radio talk show host Melanie Morgan and Gold Star Mother Debbie Lee, along with co-hosts Gov. Mike Huckabee and Larry O’Connor of Breitbart.com. They always have an interesting roster of special guests as well.
Now I can’t imagine the time and effort it takes to put together an 8-hour telecast with an ambitious fundraising goal – generally they aim for around $250,000, although the very first effort in 2008 raised $1.2 million. Since we now have fewer troops in harm’s way, the fiscal goal is more modest but the need is still there.
As I mentioned above, I’m once again on the Hot Air Steamers team which includes Hot Air (of course), The Lonely Conservative, myself, and some fourth blog called Raging Against the Rhetoric. Yes, my friend Jackie Wellfonder has graciously agreed to jump on board and will probably outraise the rest of us, so I better get cracking!
Something a little different this year is that the Troopathon is using the crowdsourcing website Fundly to raise money. If you follow the ”Please Donate” link on my site, whatever you donate accrues toward our team’s total – and I want to win this year.
The e-mail was from Americans for Prosperity, and perhaps it came across as a little shrill. But interim Maryland AFP director Nick Loffer brought up a pretty good point:
Governor O’Malley is spending your tax dollars on professionally produced TV ads in a new PR stunt to mask Maryland’s dreadful business climate. Outrageous! These government TV ads promote handpicked businesses and their products to convince job creators to pick Maryland without your consent!
You shouldn’t be forced by your government to promote any company period! It’s wrong, unfair, and abandons America’s free market economy! (All emphasis in original.)
What struck me about this, though, were the immaculately politically correct companies selected for this round:
Jennifer and Andrew Buerger traveled to Iceland in 2009 to help raise funds for Jodi’s Climb for Hope, a nonprofit honoring Andrew’s sister. Their mountain climbing expedition, led by Maryland’s Earth Treks, was a life changing journey. Jennifer and Andrew also discovered a healthy, nutritious Icelandic yogurt and launched B’More Organic, a business built around a 100% organic, fat-free, gluten-free, low-lactose yogurt smoothie that packs 30 grams of protein. You can find B’more Organics delicious yogurt smoothies in other small Maryland businesses like Mom’s Markets, Roots Markets, Earth Treks Climbing Centers and Wegmans. Good for you, Good for Maryland, Good for the Planet!
People across Maryland are signing up for wind power with Clean Currents. Co-founded in 2005 by Gary Skulnik, Clean Currents has helped 10,000 homes and 3,000 businesses make the switch to wind power in the Maryland region. Clean Currents provides wind power to Maryland businesses like Honest Tea, Woodberry Kitchen and Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company. A certified B-Corporation, Clean Currents is also growing the next sustainable energy generation with community partners like Baltimore’s Midtown Academy. It’s easy to switch to Clean Currents clean energy, there are no added fees, no equipment to install, just good clean energy. Good for you, Good for Maryland, Good for the Planet.
Apples & Oranges Fresh Market
Meet new neighbor, Apples and Oranges Fresh Market – a fresh market for a fresh start towards healthy eating and a better quality of life. A full service grocery store committed to providing nutritious and delicious food options for the community of East Baltimore, Eric and Michele Speaks-March, opened Apples & Oranges in March 2013. Stocking their neighborhood market with garden-fresh produce, fresh meat and dairy products, and offering customers recipes, nutrition information and healthy eating tips, this local Maryland business is clearly invested in a future that is Good for You, Good for Maryland and Good for the Planet.
If so inclined I might just have to look at the political leanings of those in charge of the businesses, but for this purpose the fact that all of them are deemed “good for you, good for Maryland, good for the planet” is good enough to deserve scrutiny.
If skyr (the Icelandic yogurt referred to in the first blurb) has a market here in the U.S. then it will be found. Why should Martin O’Malley and Anthony Brown help them with a promotional spot? The same holds true for Clean Currents and Apples & Oranges, as both could be considered niche businesses. Clean Currents is essentially an electrical service broker, selling wind-produced electricity at a slight premium over conventional rates (perhaps $2 a month, depending on usage) while Apples & Oranges is a food store which opened in an area termed a “food desert,” defined as a neighborhood where few healthy food items are available. (To bolster that narrative, it’s located across from a McDonald’s.)
Obviously I understand the idea of a business being a political prop – over the years, politicians of all stripes have attended the ribbon-cuttings, made campaign appearances at particular business locations, and so forth. Democrats and Republicans here and everywhere else have “their” businesses they lean on for various functions – as an example, I’ve attended many a meeting at Adam’s Ribs in Fruitland because it’s considered a Republican- and TEA Party-friendly establishment so we patronize them. Conversely, Seacrets in Ocean City tends to be the preferred location for fundraisers for Democratic State Senator Jim Mathias so one could infer they’re backers of his. The same was true of Main Roots Coffee for Democrat Jim Ireton in the recent Salisbury mayoral campaign.
The point of the AFP criticism lies in the “MaryLand of Opportunity” campaign, which belies the actual conditions encountered by most small businesses which don’t receive the break of state endorsement:
Governor O’Malley and Annapolis should be focusing on making Maryland the best place to do business by reforming our business climate, not masking the problem by wasting more of your tax dollars. Only through free market reforms can Maryland’s reputation as being flyover country for businesses and families that are choosing states with brighter economic outlooks like Texas and Virginia be erased.
With the state’s priority of pushing organic dairy products, wind-produced electricity, and produce markets in inner-city neighborhoods, one has to infer that a startup in the oil services industry, a gun shop, or a Christian-themed reception hall won’t be getting state help anytime soon. Yet they produce jobs, too, and eliminating the corporate tax and keeping state spending in line would help all of these businesses, not just the chosen few picked as the most politically correct.
Oh, and just to be nitpicky – I don’t consider Wegmans as a small Maryland business that sells skyr since it’s a New York-based regional supermarket chain. And the Clean Currents energy is not available “across Maryland” since I actually put my zip code in to check rates and it said their service wasn’t available here. So I used Annapolis instead. Typical “One Maryland” garbage.