It’s rare that a player spends a full year with Delmarva without being named a Shorebird of the Week, but back in 2010 Matt Hobgood managed that dubious distinction. Quite frankly, his numbers (3-7, 4.40 ERA in 94 innings covering 21 starts) were quite pedestrian and nothing you would expect from a guy picked 5th overall in the 2009 draft out of Norco High School in California. As we saw a couple years later with uber-prospect Dylan Bundy, we were expecting dominating performances and getting nothing of the sort.
The story got even worse in 2011 as Hobgood had some serious setbacks, including a nightmarish 8-game stint at Aberdeen where Matt went 0-6 with a ghastly 10.46 ERA and WHIP of 2.4. Something was definitely wrong, and Hobgood finally went under the knife in April of last year, missing the entire 2012 season due to rotator cuff surgery. In a March Baltimore Sun piece, Hobgood described himself as pitching pain-free for the first time in four years this spring. In essence, 2013 is the first season we’re seeing the “real” Matt Hobgood.
And what a year he’s having with Delmarva! On Tuesday Matt pitched a season-high five innings, shutting down Lakewood on just one hit, striking out seven and lowering his ERA to 1.17 in the process. Granted, Matt was soaking up innings in a one-sided blowout we lost 9-2, but by one report he was touching 98 on the stadium radar gun. In the outing where I took these photos last Thursday Matt blew away the last hitter of the night with 95-96 MPH heat. (That outing was actually one of his worse ones, where he allowed two runs in three innings.) Overall, Matt leads the team with four victories – all in relief – and has allowed just 17 hits and 12 walks in 30 2/3 innings, giving him a WHIP of 0.95 to go with 24 strikeouts.
Obviously the length of Hobgood’s outings is suggesting he may return to a starting role, but for now Matt is in the bullpen pitching long relief. If you consider that, had he gone to college, he would be at an appropriate level for a 22-year-old midlevel prospect (as opposed to a Kevin Gausman) it seems like the school of hard knocks has taught Matt about the lessons of pitching – and of life without baseball – as much as the grind of pitching for a Division I program would have.
This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for several weeks, but kept putting off because it’s hard to put into words. But I decided I had better get it in while I still have a few readers left, as readership on a political site generally declines markedly over the summer and that begins with Memorial Day weekend. Pretty much every year I’ve had this site I’ve noticed that trend, although perhaps this summer of scandal may help reverse it a little bit.
Bloggers generally fall into two groups: those who have the wherewithal to make a full-time gig out of it because they can relate their other work to it and those who may not blog every day because they have other outside work which pays the bills. In my case, I straddle both worlds to some extent but economic conditions have forced me to do this with an outside job, so I’m slipping more and more towards the latter. For the most part, this economic reality is why I can only do a post or two a day – fortunately I’m very much a night owl, I can get by with maybe six hours of sleep a night, and many of my posts (including this one) are written well after 10:00 at night.
There are two or three general methods bloggers use to make ends meet, particularly the ones who are trying to make a full-time gig out of it. Most of the bloggers I link to sell advertising on their site, a number which includes me. (More on that in a little bit.)
Another favored method is the tip jar, which can be effective in its own way. Once in awhile I’m pleasantly surprised when mine is rattled and a little bonus shows up in my PayPal account.
The third and final method, but one you don’t often see on political sites, is a sponsored post or one with keywords. I have a couple non-political friends who use this tactic to some extent, but one has a “mommy blog” and the other has multiple websites.
If you look at my “ads” page, which I updated last night to reflect the contents of this post, you’ll notice I have three possible types of advertising. I’ve always been surprised no one has ever taken me up on the banner space I have on my header since it would be so prominent; however, John Robinson has been a steadfast supporter over the last few years with his sidebar ad and I have a couple text link ads as well. I used to have a couple others but their economic situation changed and they couldn’t sponsor me anymore.
Of course, I have the tip jar and, if you read the ads page, the opportunity to sponsor a series of posts such as my Shorebird of the Week post. So in that respect I cover all three bases, and I try to use some social media to build my audience. monoblogue has its own Facebook page I try to update at least once or twice a week. It’s been stuck on 94 followers for too long, though.
With respect to all that, I would say I have probably grown my audience so that, barring a major discovery by a much larger site that refers to my humble little space a lot – such as my Rushalanche 5 1/2 years ago - I am probably at a point where my audience isn’t going to get tremendously larger unless some changes are made in the posting tempo. In short, the direction is up to you, my loyal readers.
As I said up top, I work outside the home, and the reason I do so is that writing alone doesn’t pay the bills. While I have a current very loyal client for my writing and have done paying work for others in the past, I would love to secure a paying position writing political commentary. Unfortunately for me there are probably 200,000 other people who would say the same and maybe 1,000 such positions in the country. That’s not to say there’s no room for new talent, but the odds are against a blogger who has a thousand or so readers a week getting that break. If that blogger got to ten thousand or even fifty thousand readers a week, though, then there’s more of a chance.
Thanks to Jackie Wellfonder, at CPAC I met Pete Ingemi, who does a site called Da Tech Guy on Da Radio. I’ll call it DTG for short.
Now Pete is a very nice guy who would probably give you the shirt off his back. He’s also a struggling blogger, as evidenced by his pitch:
I was a Computer Tech who used to blog at the HiWired blog before we were all laid off and let go. I now support myself with a Radio show on WCRN 830 AM. I buy the time from the station, sell ads and live off the difference. That and DaTipJar is it.
I would be very interested in a position writing either a regular column or blog for your group or media organization. I would be willing to provide a weekly column for $40 If you are interested in carrying Under the Fedora, let me know.
If you notice on DTG, Pete also has a little thermometer-style widget tracking his weekly progress in making his rent money, with the goal being $300 a week. Obviously he also does his radio show, which I haven’t yet heard but is probably worth a listen just for the thick Bahstan accent. That’s apparently how he makes his living, and it’s a wonder he’s made it to CPAC for so many years.
Just as a comparison, Pete’s site is ranked 176,143 on Alexa and I’m at 368,769. (I have been as low as in the 250,000 range, though.) I would presume his readership is probably about fivefold what mine is, though, since that top 200,000 echelon is hard to crack without probably 500 to 1,000 readers a day. I think in order to get to that level I would probably have to do 3 or 4 posts a day – maybe I could get away with two if they are really meaty. Obviously I would need to work on more of a social media presence as well.
But here’s the rub – if I’m lucky I can get two posts in a day, and generally they are on subjects I can write relatively quickly about. Obviously I write a lot about Maryland politics, which is good but somewhat limiting. I would love to write more in-depth on a number of issues but I simply don’t have the time to do so and function well at my paying job. One thing I pride myself on is having at least some content every day, unlike other sites which may post 5 times a week one week then go for a week without an update. If you thought building an audience with one post a day was tough, try doing it with one a week.
Pete tries for $300 a week from his tip jar, which works out to $15,600 a year. So I got to thinking, gee, if I had 150 readers pledge to donate $100 a year to my cause – that’s less than $2 a week; you’ll pay more than that in new taxes and fees annually if you live in Maryland – I could probably leave my part-time job and write full-time once I got the first 50 to 75 donors in. And if I could write full-time, I could build up my audience because I could develop other aspects and storylines I’ve been wanting to delve into but couldn’t because I’m so worn out from my outside job and its associated travel. Yes, I can live on six hours of sleep a night but that doesn’t mean I’m as focused after doing so for days on end.
Of course, this doesn’t have to be a donation – I also sell ad space and would be happy to work with you if you have a product to sell. Something I noticed last night on Google Analytics – for the first time, Salisbury is not the city with my highest number of visitors. Perhaps I should be scared by this fact, but that distinction now belongs to Washington, D.C. Over the years I have gone away from local news for the most part, which makes sense because there are others who already cover that ground. Obviously I keep my hand in this area for certain events and subjects, but that’s not my main focus anymore.
Quite honestly, there are but two likely outcomes. If nothing comes from this, well, I can muddle on for the time being but there may come a day when I have to make the choice of cutting back on this enterprise because it’s not paying the bills. If you think of the time I’ve spent here which could be doing other things, it’s quite an expensive hobby.
On the other hand, I could get enough people to take me up on my offer to pave the way for success: more readers and advertisers here, more writing and media opportunities elsewhere, a much broader success for my second book (and perhaps a renewed interest in the first.) I don’t mind sending out autographed copies for the right price.
Once I compared my site to another by saying mine was like National Review and his was like National Enquirer. The readership comparison at the time was similar, too. But I pressed on, confident that what I wrote enabled me to sleep at night because it was written with integrity and to high standards.
But one thing I have said over the years is that if an area doesn’t grow, it dies. The same is true with blogging – either I slowly fade into obscurity or I catch a second wind and thrive. It’s happened before with the Rushalance and perhaps it can happen again if 150 people (or more, they are always welcome) care enough to chip in.
So who wants to be first?
I have written testimony on bills before, but never have I done so for a budget hearing. But when Jackie Gregory, a friend and supporter of this website from Cecil County, wrote up her ideas on her county’s budget and posted this to Facebook, I asked her if I could share and she kindly gave permission. This is as she prepared it for delivery:
I do not believe that the current budget proposed is a responsible budget. I lay that at the feet of the council since one of your few powers is to appropriate funds. I do not advocate a slash and burn approach, but as a citizen and taxpayer, I expect the council to go through the budget line by line, find points of agreement on what can/should be cut, and make those decisions for the benefit of taxpayers. I haven’t seen that process play out with the council or any real collaborative effort to actually delve into the budget. This is very disappointing to say the least.
From the perspective of an average middle class citizen: There are many things in my house that need improvement, which I can’t afford to do all at once; they require me to break up the projects over the course of a couple of years. Yet I see the library asking for a $400k increase on a 4 million dollar budget in one year, because they have a lot of improvements they would like to do at once. They should decide what is necessary to do now, and what they want to defer until the next budget cycle. Also, I can’t afford to send my son to camp for a week overnight, yet this budget asks me to pay for other people’s kids to go on vacation for a week (North Bay). I don’t believe the current budget is responsible as written.
A rule for using the fund balance should be that only the amount gained in the fund balance over the course of the previous year should be used. Otherwise, it will be quickly depleted. You don’t want to adopt G.W. Bush’s economic policies: low taxes, increased spending, increased debt and deficits. Any new spending should be paid for by cuts elsewhere.
Also, new mandates beyond your control such as WIP compliance and the teacher pension shift need to be explained to the public with dollar figures attached to them so that the citizens understand what portion of new spending you control, and what portion you do not control. I believe that the teacher pension shift accounts for over 3 million dollars of the new spending in this budget.
In addition, I am aware that spending does not happen once a year, and that many taxpayer dollars have been wasted/lost due to poor decision making in the past. We lost millions and gained a continuing financial burden due to the sabotage of the sale of waste water plants to Artesian (by Councilwoman Broomell). That act alone adds 300k of unnecessary spending to this year’s budget, for upgrades to those facilities. The last board (Broomell, Mullin, Dunn) voted to waste half a million taxpayer dollars buying up development rights from a farmer to give them to the federal government. Citizens need to realize that the budget is not a one day event, and I encourage citizen involvement in government beyond just the final budget passage.
This board needs to vote down the current budget or delay it until you can come up with more significant cuts.
For the new capital road improvements, have bike paths been added into the design features of the roads in compliance with the new bike plan? If so, that should be stripped. It’s not something we need right now.
Getting rid of the turf field and replacing it with something else should eliminate a couple hundred thousand.
The sick leave issue should be dealt with.
I would cut the library budget significantly; they should defer half or more of the projects until next year.
I would give Cecil College flat funding. We already subsidize the majority of a Cecil College student’s education. At the post secondary level, the amount asked of taxpayers for the purpose of funding a college education should be much less than it is. College students are not small schoolchildren, and they and their parents need to take more financial responsibility for their own education.
Improvements on Oldfield Point Road are slated for 800k. I know that has been on the CIP for awhile, but I live near there and there really is no dire emergency to upgrade the road. It is fine. I would defer that till next year.
I don’t think there is any great emergency with the Rolling Mill Bridge either; if it isn’t vital, it should be deferred until next year too. (Those two road projects alone would save a million.)
The auditor can be cut/scaled down. An outside auditor to deal with particular issues that may arise may be legitimate, but we should not be paying a full salary and benefits to do the job members of the council are supposed to do. If a council member feels incapable of doing the job you were elected to do without the help of an in-house auditor, then it is time for you to find a new line of work.
The school budget has increased drastically. They should not be expanding preschool beyond the state mandate, and the North Bay trip is back in the budget. When I was a child, most kids, including me, did not attend preschool, and my parents never took the time to teach me anything. Yet my peers and I did just fine. I understand that there is a preschool mandate for at-risk kids, but the district should not be expanding preschool beyond that. Given the number of new mandates, I would offer the schools flat funding plus the cost of teacher pensions. That would probably save about 1.4 million. Remember, they also have a fund balance they can dip into if they believe their budget requests are crucial enough.
What I have listed above is probably close to 3 million in cuts. I’m sure there are others who can offer other suggestions. Please consider them.
If you choose to rubber stamp this budget without offering up significant cuts, then there will be a lot of citizens, including this one, who will feel like we were duped into supporting folks who were going to use their business experience to run the government in a more efficient, taxpayer conscious way. I sincerely hope you use your skills to cut the budget to a responsible, reasonable size.
Obviously I’m not a resident of Cecil County – although its politics are perhaps the most interesting in the state, particularly for a county of its relatively small size – so I don’t know the lay of the land that well. Yet I could well understand exactly what Jackie was talking about in a larger sense, and her points were well taken because she not only advocated for a more limited government, she spelled out a lot of specifics on what could be pruned from her county’s financial docket.
Oftentimes I’ve gone to Wicomico County’s dog and pony show, although I skipped this year’s rendition because I don’t have the confidence anymore that my County Council will go to the wall for fiscal conservatism since the Bennett Middle School debacle. Meanwhile, our County Executive whines about not having enough money but obviously doesn’t mind adding millions in debt while convincing the bonding agencies that our situation is better than it really is.
But I digress. One problem we’ve had is that everybody and their brother can say “we can’t afford this budget” but they’re quick to exclude their pet project from the chopping block. Instead, Jackie sacrificed a road repair near her house, telling her County Council that the road was in decent enough repair to last another year.
She also brought up a very, very important point – one rarely mentioned by those who create the budget. Just how much do state mandates cost us as a share of the budget? It would probably be an eye-opening experience to see this; for example, one state mandate cost Wicomico County taxpayers $1.3 million (see page 8 here) although it may have “saved” us from a $14 million hit. No one would call the bluff, though, and now the County Executive wants to go $1 million above and beyond maintenance of effort, meaning every year we will have to come up with an extra million dollars because the bar will be raised – by yet another state mandate, since maintenance of effort is a state law.
So if your county (or city, or state) is going through its annual budgetary battle and you have the opportunity to have your say, use this as a guide: know your facts and come prepared with alternatives. This was an outstanding effort.
I don’t know what it is about Mia Love’s announcing she will try once again for Congress that made me think about this, but ponder and write about it I will. Perhaps it’s the fact she’s a black woman who happens to be an elected official and quite conservative. Maybe the latter is no surprise in Utah, but nevertheless I hope she wins next year.
But I’m more curious to see who will be Maryland’s answer to Mia Love. While filing for the 2014 election began last month, just 10 Republicans have filed for state positions (as opposed to 30 Democrats.) Originally the filing deadline was in April, 2014 but an ill-considered act of the General Assembly moved that up to February. It was all a political calculation designed so that incumbent members knew who would be running against them and vote accordingly on legislation. All this means is a little more pressure on my to have the 2014 monoblogue Accountability Project finished by mid-June next year so people know just which legislators should be ousted, in the primary if possible.
Here in Wicomico County, we haven’t had any local filings although a Worcester County Democrat named Mike Hindi has already filed for the new District 38C seat, which will encompass the eastern end of Wicomico County. Meanwhile, John LaFerla is trying again for Congress as I already discussed.
As a member of the Republican Central Committee, I would love to be assured that we will be filling out our lineup card thoroughly this year. I’m convinced we probably could have picked up a few more General Assembly seats last time if we could have given the thirty-odd Democrats in the House of Delegates and dozen-plus Democratic Senators who received free rides an opponent. Understandably, there are districts in this state which are less fertile for Republicans (although I cede no ground) but the idea is to engage the other side in a debate over their ideas and make them defend the indefensible. If they are tied up defending their seats they can’t help others, with the 38C race a case in point: it’s probably a fairly safe GOP district but now we will have to fight for it rather than have a pass to help other local Republicans like Mike McDermott or Charles Otto stay in office.
The same goes for county races: certainly we have some long-standing Democrats in office, but one has to wonder whether their offices can’t stand some improvement and new blood. It seems as though the State’s Attorney office received a breath of fresh air when Matt Maciarello was elected, so why not some of the other county offices where the respective tenures began in years starting with 19?
There are, I believe, 23 offices in Wicomico County, counting state legislative posts. I think we should be able to find 23 good Republicans to fill each of those ballot slots, and the Central Committee is waiting to point you in the right direction.
The O’Malley/Brown job creation narrative took another hit last week as it was announced Maryland lost the third-highest number of jobs in the country, with a decline of 6,200 jobs in April. Sadly for President Obama and his steadfast ally in Government House, the announcement came on the same day Obama was touting his record of job creation – a real “inconvenient truth.”
And wouldn’t you know it, Change Maryland and its founder Larry Hogan – which much to the chagrin of Martin O’Malley and his heir apparent Anthony Brown is adding social media followers at a faster pace than O’Malley is creating good-paying jobs – had to point this out:
The President has had a rough week. Visiting Maryland to tout job creation on the same day a report shows Maryland lost the third highest number of jobs in the country is just another stroke of bad luck for this President…(b)ut it is tragic for Maryland’s struggling middle class families.
After nearly seven years of failed economic policies, it has become crystal clear that the O’Malley-Brown Administration just does not get it when it comes to jobs. Year after year, their jobs, jobs, jobs rhetoric is simply that – rhetoric. But their record stands in stark contrast. The fact of the matter is when it comes to jobs, our increased reliance on government to create jobs has left Maryland’s economy vulnerable to the ever changing political winds in Washington.
Now it’s not like I haven’t featured helpful suggestions in this space – some mine, some by others – to help relieve the state of its over-reliance on the “industry” we call the federal government, but so far they’ve fallen on deaf ears. Two of my favorites are energy extraction and Anirban Basu’s idea of eliminating state corporate taxes – a thought that probably brings Annapolis liberals to the verge of a coronary or a stroke.
What seems to go unrealized in this day and age of shrinking paychecks, stunted home values, and millions collecting checks from Uncle Sam without the production one would normally associate with “earning” a salary is that every dollar the public sector takes from a participant in the private-sector economy is a dollar the average Joe can’t direct to the highest and best use of the market. If Joe Sixpack wants to invest in home improvement but can’t because his property tax bill went up thanks to an EPA mandate to clean up Chesapeake Bay – even if our state didn’t create the largest share of the problem and other remedies go untried – that’s going to affect the home improvement supplier, which may lay off a worker or two and throw their financial world into a tailspin. Granted, a measly $100 or so won’t do that by itself but those hundreds turn into thousands and thousands into millions. Even if Jill Sixpack simply couldn’t afford the morning latte because the tax bill increased it eventually affects jobs in this consumer sending-driven economy.
Martin O’Malley and Anthony Brown would have you believe that Maryland is a thriving state under their policies, and that the Free State weathered the recession better than its peers. Perhaps it did, but if losing 6,200 jobs qualifies as a recovery I would hate to see what a recession looks like.
If you do the math and factor in for various other elected officials along the way, on average any given member of Congress should deliver his or her party’s response to the weekly Presidential address about once a decade. And while I’d have much rather avoided this situation because it’s a member of the party opposing the President who gives this address in response to the President’s message, that opportunity fell yesterday to our own Congressman, Dr. Andy Harris.
Of course, this is something most of us already know but when you consider Harris is already a fairly tall guy (6′-3″ maybe?) the stack of papers dubbed as the “Red Tape Tower” looks pretty imposing. Of course, it’s also an appropriate week to discuss Obamacare as the House again voted for its outright repeal; a measure sure to die a quiet death in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
But as Richard Falknor writes at Blue Ridge Forum, there is a lot more which can be done. Perhaps this statement uttered by Andy Harris had to have the seal of approval from House leadership. continues Falknor, but the House also has the power of the purse if they’re willing to use it to achieve the desired end, that being the scrapping of Obamacare.
As a physician – his specialty is anethesiology – Dr. Harris is obviously familiar with the process of diagnosis, and certainly the sheer mass of regulations incumbent to Obamacare is but one symptom of why it would be detrimental to the American health care system, a patient for whom we are all interested in seeing survive.
But in truth, Obamacare isn’t really so much about the health care system as it is about providing the means to pay for the health care we receive. While it begins via the employer-provided health insurance we have become accustomed to over the past 70 years or so, as that becomes regulated out of existence due to the increasing difficult prospects of profitability for insurers we will begin to see an evolution in the industry where either favored private insurers become the only ones approved for providing coverage – with the reams of regulations in place to assure no smaller competitor can come along to steal market share among perhaps the ultimate in captive audiences – or a situation where the market becomes unbearable for any private provider and a program like Medicare is simply expanded to cover everyone. At that point you have the statist’s dream of complete dependence on the government, regardless of its budgetary impact.
The better solution, and one we should work toward, is to reduce the influence of government on health care. If people want simple and basic catastrophic incident health insurance and don’t mind paying out-of-pocket for routine events, that should be made more readily available – unfortunately, the trend line has run the other way for decades. You should even have the choice of not being insured at all.
Now, I haven’t even talked about the scary scenario of increased IRS influence which comes as an Obamacare feature. If they have asked questions about donors to TEA Party groups, for what else can they use all the information gleaned? That thought alone should cause heartburn among caring Americans.
Due to a prior commitment, I missed the April edition of Third Friday – which marked its return outdoors, where it thrives by being able to use the whole downtown plaza – but Friday evening turned out to be a winner weather-wise and because of that hundreds came out for this month’s edition of the event.
I had seen the crowd was a good one on approaching the event, but arriving on the Plaza it looked quite healthy.
It didn’t hurt that my friends from Semiblind were playing down there.
In and of itself, that’s not unheard of as they’ve played Third Friday before. But they seemed to lend a different flavor to the event you may not get with an acoustic act.
One big difference I noticed this year, though, is that the scope of the event seems a little smaller. If you look at that link, you’ll notice there were bands all the way down Main Street, but now the event seems to be concentrated just on the Plaza and the unit block of North Division Street.
In fact, there was a second band at the courthouse called the Edge-ucators but I didn’t make it over in time to catch them. There were other activities over there, though, which seemed to cater to kids and support the overall theme for the month of flight and things which go up in the air. As they said, “If it flings, flies, or floats… we are all about it!”
The open space of the courthouse yard lent itself to activities like disc golf as well.
And the kids had their own little space.
For the little ones, it was perfect: a bounce house, nearby snow cones, and plenty of sidewalk chalk. What else could a child want?
The local artistic community has also taken the event to heart, with Salisbury University getting in on the act by using a nearby building as exhibition space. Two new exhibits opened yesterday.
If you didn’t see “Immortals” and “Young Philly” yesterday, you have a little more time to check them out.
Let me just say I’m not an art critic and this question didn’t dawn on me until I went through my pictures this morning. But who actually sits at the exhibit during the time it is open? The artists? Seems like a lot of time out of a week to man an exhibit for 24 hours (Wednesday to Saturday 12-6, according to the flyer.)
Maybe if I went to this party I could find out. This is to benefit the fine folks at SWAC.
But accompanying the 3F theme of flight were several other exhibits. Posters similar to this were spread around the Plaza.
You could try your hand at making a paper airplane and seeing how far you could make it sail.
Even human-powered flight was encouraged.
Salisbury Mayor Jim Ireton was contemplating this one.
I can tell you he made it just shy of 9 feet. My bad knee and extra ballast left me a little short of 8.
But these guys were a draw without leaving their feet.
Why were they so successful? Well, there was the element of danger.
In all, the crowds seemed to hang around for the evening, making the Plaza a busy place. This picture was sort of random – I found the walking bush taking a rest!
It wasn’t all fun and games, though. Shortly before Third Friday got underway, these two businesses had a ceremonial ribbon cutting.
Both have been open for some time, but the local Chamber of Commerce wanted to give them an official sendoff.
As the evening progressed, the action began to shift to other places.
One eatery taking advantage of the weather and adjacent crowd was Roadie Joe’s, with a nice group of alfresco diners.
As it turned out, Kim and I enjoyed our late dinner outside at Roadie Joe’s as well, where Paul Brion was playing his final set of the evening.
The food was great, although the service was a little bit slow. But if the idea was to allow us to enjoy our evening without leaving downtown Salisbury, mission accomplished.
There were a couple times I overheard people say something along the lines of “I wish they did this more often.” I understand that part of the attraction of Third Friday is its uniqueness on the calendar, since it’s a single day each month where people can plan on enjoying downtown Salisbury. But in order to maintain a vibrant, thriving downtown that seems to be what’s envisioned by the city fathers, this needs to be a seven-night a week affair with several hotspots at once.
There’s also the argument that the Plaza should be permanently closed to traffic as it was for several years decades ago. For an event like Third Friday, which is kid-friendly, this makes perfect sense. It might not be a bad idea to close off North Division Street as well in order to better integrate the open space in front of the Government Office Building. Again, though, it depends on the vision for the Plaza – if it’s to be retail-focused then parking near the stores would be desirable, but something which is more of an entertainment district where nightspots may locate themselves up and down the block probably is best served with a pedestrian-only Plaza, with a taxi stand on the short street which runs off the Plaza toward Business Route 50.
Any such effort, though, is probably several Third Fridays away so enjoy the art-focused events and the nice weather while you can.
You know, it’s hard to come home after a nice evening and discuss bad news, but there it was on the table: Martin O’Malley finished the damage of the “90 days of terror” by signing the last of the approved bills from this year’s “very productive” General Assembly session. If it were any more productive we’d be a banana republic.
Of all the bills signed, though, it appears that just two will be subjects of a petition drive to referendum: the death penalty repeal and the gun law. The death penalty repeal is “officially” sanctioned by mdpetitions.com while the gun law is being challenged by another group, with the petition there at freestatepetitions.com.
Regardless who begins the effort, though, the rules are the same: by June 30 there needs to be valid signatures equal to 3% of the number of those who voted in the 2010 gubernatorial election (just under 56,000) with 1/3 of those required by May 31 – the end of this month. Both drives got sort of a late start.
Unfortunately, having seen the 2012 petition drives all defeated at the ballot box, the question is whether there is enough interest in seeing another potential wipeout at the 2014 election. Granted, the demographics of the vote may be more favorable to those who would like to overturn these issues but so far both petitions seem to be having tough sledding. Moreover, failure to get enough signatures for either or both petitions will probably embolden Democrats to pass even more egregious legislation – it’s bad enough we can’t petition appropriations bills and may have an even higher hurdle to overcome in the future.
There’s also the argument about the gun bill being brought to referendum because it’s placing our God-given rights to a vote. One thing a referendum would do though is delay the enactment of the bill, so there is a point to consider.
Still, it was a sad day for the formerly Free State yesterday, and I hope in 18 months we will wipe the smiles off their faces after the people take back their state.
That’s a sentiment shared by Maryland’s GOP, as Chair Diana Waterman admitted the following:
Cracking down on crime is clearly not part of Martin O’Malley’s presidential resume. Together with the Democrats in Annapolis, O’Malley has shamefully politicized the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut in order to advance his radical agenda and political aspirations. This legislation will do nothing to curb the effects of gun violence in Maryland, but instead only makes it even more difficult for law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
While other Governors like Bob McDonnell of Virginia and Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania and their legislatures are working to reform state government, Martin O’Malley, Mike Miller, Mike Busch, and the Democrat legislators in Annapolis have wasted the people’s time and money by imposing higher taxes, promoting government dependency, and assaulting the Second Amendment.
Elections have consequences. Whether it was an uninspiring top of the ticket, underperformance in filling out the ballot card, or not being effective in promoting a conservative message to the state’s voters, the 2010 election which should have been a slam dunk in t least restoring the GOP to a player in Maryland politics was, instead, a lost opportunity. In part, this led to the demise of our 2012 initiatives to roll back the welcome mat to illegal aliens and to maintain the common meaning of marriage.
Instead, we pretty much have to try again in 2014 to reinvent the wheel. Granted, there is potential at the top of the ticket for a young and dynamic presence, but the true test will be whether we can contest every race this time around. Hopefully the regressive nature of the O’Malley regime and the prominence he’s already given Anthony Brown as a hand-picked successor – and, in turn, Brown’s defense of the O’Malley record – will give the MDGOP something to build upon. A referendum drive or two won’t hurt the cause.
Just like I noted with last week’s SotW, the way Nik Balog began the season suggested he would be demoted to Aberdeen once their season started in June. But unlike a 2nd round selection who’s considered one of the big club’s top 10 prospects, Balog is yet another of those players who eluded the eyes of most scouts and worked his way into the Orioles system as a non-drafted free agent. Unlike many of the others the Orioles picked up off the street, though, Balog has no Maryland ties; instead, the California native played his college ball for four years at the University of San Francisco.
Coming into the month of May, Balog was hitting just .214 and getting spot duty as the designated hitter and occasional backup to Christian Walker at first base. But Walker’s promotion to Frederick cleared the way for Nik to play every day and since May 4 he’s hit safely in all nine games he’s played, going 15-for-35 (.429) and raising his average all the way to a .286 mark. Included in that stretch was his first professional home run, hit Tuesday at Lakewood.
Perhaps it can be argued that the 23-year-old Balog is a little old for the SAL, but he certainly tore up a league perhaps not up to his level by hitting .376/0/10/.971 OPS in 28 games with the GCL Orioles last season. With those kinds of numbers, Delmarva seemed a more appropriate challenge than Aberdeen and Balog’s bat seems to be heating up with the weather.
Obviously there are areas where Balog needs to improve his game, particularly in drawing walks. But the left-handed hitter is now making his contribution to the Shorebirds lineup at a time when several of their best hitters are injured or promoted.
This William Warren cartoon seems to sum it up, doesn’t it? Between Benghazi, the IRS TEA Party targeting, the AP phones being tapped, the FOIA preferences at the EPA, questions on campaign finance in both 2008 and 2012, the Enroll America protection racket – the list can go on and on and on if you revert back to earlier activities like Operation Fast and Furious, Solyndra, or the handling of the Deepwater Horizon accident. And I’m not counting what goes on in Maryland, like the inmates taking over the prisons or having a governor who’s more concerned about presidential prospects than running the state. I suppose if power is the ultimate aphrodisiac then that must be why Democrats are pro-abortion; otherwise they would have a dozen or so children running around, by nearly as many mothers.
Now I’m certain the minuscule number of progressives and leftists who dare to read here would beg to differ and can probably point out all the scandals, conflicts of interest, and foibles of the Bush years, but really, guys, come on – what happened to the most transparent administration ever? I suppose in a perverse sort of way finding out about all these scandals is a type of transparency – too bad we were stonewalled every step of the way in finding out.
But are the American people and their notoriously short attention spans in danger of scandal fatigue in May of 2013, 18 months before the midterm elections? Sometimes the pre-emptive strike is the best thing in the long run, and there’s little chance of the rabidly partisan Democrats in the Senate turning on their leader and convicting him in the unlikely event we ever get to an impeachment trial. Moreover, Barack Obama doesn’t exactly strike me as a fall-on-the-sword kind of guy, so don’t bet on him resigning to save the country the agony of an impeachment trial like Richard Nixon did. Democrats know well what sort of electoral fate may await – the Republicans who placed country over party were “rewarded” by losing 48 House seats and 3 Senate seats in the 1974 elections, which were held just three months after Nixon left in disgrace.
Meanwhile, focusing on the scandals of the past will blind us to the issues of the present. Even if the GOP gains control of the Senate in 2014 – a likely possibility even without scandals as the sixth year of a presidency is traditionally unkind to the president’s party – the nation will simply revert back to the inverse of the situation we had back in 2007-2008, where a Republican president was crippled by a Democratic Congressional majority in both houses. Much of the damage was done in the two years the Democrats held absolute control of government, as the massive entitlement program dubbed Obamacare came into being and Barack Obama’s re-election means at least some of it will be in place by 2014. Once established, we haven’t killed an entitlement program yet. And there’s still the aspect of governing by executive order: “Stroke of the pen, law of the land. Kinda cool.”
Perhaps the one silver lining in all of this is the emergence of the new media as a force for uncovering these and other issues with the government in Washington. No longer do we have a small group of periodicals, newspapers, and television networks determining what is news and what remains on the cutting room floor. Certainly, there is a huge majority of the American public still in an celebrity gossip-induced slumber, but slowly people are beginning to see the light and it only takes an irate, tireless minority to effect real change.
In the meantime, though, there is plenty to write about for those obsessed with Obama scandals. That really is a shame because it makes it more difficult to argue with the other side on why their ideas are such a failure – I can hear it now: “Well, if you Republicans wouldn’t have made the Obama years such a partisan witch hunt he may have succeeded with his good ideas.”
But I suppose it comes back to the old saying about absolute power corrupting absolutely, doesn’t it? Do you see why the nation’s founders wanted a limited government yet?
A week or so back I referred to one of Delegate Michael McDermott’s summaries of the 2013 General Assembly session, and he’s come back with another installment today. In this one, he laments the economic effects of those “few pennies” we’ll be paying every day to the state in additional taxes and fees by reminding us that businesses will be paying them, too. McDermott concludes that:
As the government draws more money out of the economy through these new taxes and fees, taxpayers (and) consumers find themselves with fewer discretionary dollars. This always results in fewer dollars being put back into our local economy and every point of commerce suffers. When business slows, expansion is put on hold. When business suffers loss, people lose jobs.
All this seems to be basic common sense which is lost on those who inhabit the Maryland General Assembly and vote with the majority party. It somehow never seems to seep into their consciousness that business aren’t going to pay maybe $100 a year for the so-called “rain tax” or the promised no more than $2 a month for “green” energy, nor will the effects of ever-increasing gasoline taxes be minimal for them.
The problem they have is twofold: the Maryland economy is dynamic and the geography is static. From my house I can be in Delaware in 15 minutes and Virginia in about 40. It’s worth pointing out that just four of Maryland’s 23 counties aren’t on a state border (Anne Arundel, Calvert, Howard, and Talbot as well as Baltimore City) while several border two states and Washington County touches three. Certainly it’s not like larger states where traveling to a different jurisdiction to take advantage of their business climate involves the expenditure of several hours and a half-tank of gas.
So Maryland has to compete on a playing field which is far from level, and savvy consumers know just where to go to get the best deal. It’s no wonder that neighboring states have large shopping meccas close by Maryland’s borders.
Now this isn’t all bad news for Marylanders, as some cross state lines to work just as some who live in neighboring states make up Maryland’s too-slowly growing workforce. But as critics like McDermott and Larry Hogan of Change Maryland point out, we can do better.
And don’t think Mike isn’t seeing the political reality. Note this passage in his report:
I am not sure where the disconnect lies with legislators who see nothing wrong with this tax and spend approach at governing, but I am quite sure the public is fully able to connect the dots. I was recently at a meeting of local business owners and entrepreneurs when a senator told them that what they could “conceive…the government would help them achieve.” Sadly this was repeated so there was little doubt where he was coming from in his thoughts regarding the purpose and scope of government.
It wouldn’t surprise me if the Senator in question isn’t the person McDermott will be facing next year.
It’s been perhaps the worst-kept secret in Maryland politics for over a year, but it appears as though David Craig will make his 2014 plans official on June 3 as he embarks on a real statewide tour, or at least one more geographically encompassing than Democrat Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown’s puny effort last week when he announced his gubernatorial plans.
Within the last couple hours, the first day of the Craig tour was laid out on Facebook: a 9 a.m. announcement from his front yard in Havre de Grace, followed by an 11:30 a.m. appearance at the Dundalk American Legion Post 38 and a 7 p.m. happy hour reception at Bulls and Bears in Hagerstown. I have it on good authority there will be a Salisbury stop on day 2 of the Craig tour, June 4, although details are probably still being finalized. On that front, I was also told by that same local Craig volunteer this would be a three-day tour, so it’s possible the local Eastern Shore event could instead be June 5.
Craig would officially enter a fairly crowded field as the Republican nomination is opened up for the first time since 2002, the year Bob Ehrlich first won his nomination over two perennial candidates. Arguably this could be the strongest gubernatorial field ever for the Maryland GOP, as the shadow of Bob Ehrlich and his three-election run as the established Republican standard-bearer allowed a number of good candidates to establish a solid local foothold while clamoring to get their chance at the brass ring.
At this point only one GOP candidate has officially filed, and Brian Vaeth – who finished dead last out of 10 would-be U.S. Senate candidates last year with 1.9% of the primary vote – probably won’t present much of a challenge to the remainder of the eventual field. While Blaine Young has been campaigning mainly to party insiders for the last several months and Ron George formally announced his plans last month, we are still awaiting official word from Charles Lollar and Dan Bongino. With the caveat that both are internet-based surveys and are not scientific, Craig has held his own in two recent preference polls on conservative websites with Bongino and Lollar, while Young lags behind. Meanwhile, Ron George performed respectably in the latest Red Maryland poll cited.
Obviously this will be a developing story, and Craig’s entry may break the dam for others to make their intentions clear. It’s likely June will also be the month Charles Lollar makes his draft campaign official while Dan Bongino has no set deadline in mind.
In Dan’s case, though, there is also the chance he could choose to bypass 2014 to concentrate on a 2016 Senate run for what could be an open seat given Barbara Mikulski’s advancing age (she would turn 80 in the summer of 2016) and declining health. In that case, much would depend on whether the GOP wrests control of the Senate (and their Appropriations Committee. which she chairs) from the Democrats. Obviously this is true of the others as well, but Bongino is the only one of the five with statewide campaign experience.
Then again, the other four will catch up on that front should they go through the primary of 2014. Look for more on the Craig front in the coming days.
Update 5/14: It appears the Eastern Shore will be served
either in the evening on June 4 or on the 5th, as thus far June 4 sends Craig to an 8 a.m. breakfast in Silver Spring, the Calvert County Courthouse at noon, and the Annapolis City Dock at 3 p.m.
Update 2 5/14: Salisbury’s stop will be at the Government Center at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, June 5th.