Now that I feel like chopped liver…

June 30, 2006 · Posted in Personal stuff · 4 Comments 

Reading through JFA? as I do daily, I came across this portion of a comment by “ablogbunny”:

Yes, it’s his blog (I think) and he can do as he pleases, and so can those who are looking for local news and information. This post is a prime example of the inane — who gives a hoot about the subject (the photos are well-taken, but so what?).

That said, it is sad that this blog seems to be going the way that Delmarva Dealing (sic) went and Duvafiles is heading. Several months ago there were three significant local blogs, soon we may have none. (emphasis mine)

Unless someone upstairs has other plans, I’m not going anywhere. So does that make me insignificant? Please.

Obviously “ablogbunny” hasn’t read here. Maybe I’m not so much into the local news, but I’ll contribute where I see fit (certainly on the development issue.) I’ll probably have much more of a local focus once we get past the 2006 election and 3 members of the so-called “Dream Team” begin their campaigns. Will we have a Crisfield-style “clean sweep”?

A blog is completely up to the writer, if they are like me they write about what is interesting to them. So I’m not all local politics, I delve into other issues and also like to have recurring features that no one else does (Shorebird of the Week, Ten Questions, Political Calendar, etc.)

The blogs were quite popular a couple months ago, things have tailed off as usual during the summer. Come Labor Day, we’ll be back in the news as we all focus on the elections. (In monoblogue’s case though, my hit rate has still slowly increased. This month I should have over 30,000 hits, although the system is skewed because I had one day when I was being hammered by comment spam, that probably added an extra 6,000 hits to a “normal” day.)

Speaking of other blogs, let me take this moment to welcome two more blogs to the Maryland Bloggers Alliance – Crablaw and Kevin Dayhoff’s blog. We have now reached a membership of nine, although I’m still the only one on the Eastern Shore. Welcome aboard to you two!

Maybe they see me as more significant than “ablogbunny” does.

Ten questions for…Dennis Rasmussen

June 30, 2006 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, Ten Questions · Comments Off on Ten questions for…Dennis Rasmussen 

Finally, a candidate who responded in time! Bonus points for that, he sent them to me back on June 7th. Originally I had trouble getting in contact with his campaign, so once I finally did a week had passed so he had that extra week to answer the Ten Questions. (If you recall, the original date was May 31st.)

Without further ado, here are the questions and the answers Dennis provided to me.

Question #1:

There are several schools of thought regarding the problem of illegal immigrants, or as some would call them, “undocumented workers.” Some solutions offered range from complete amnesty to sealing the border with a wall to penalizing employers who hire these workers. Currently there are competing House and Senate measures – in particular the House bill has spawned massive protests around the country. While I have listed some of the possible solutions, it’s no exhaustive list. What solutions do you favor for the issue?

First and foremost – the flow of illegal aliens must be stopped. If that means more patrols, enhanced technology, bringing in the National Guard and building barriers, then let’s do it!

Second – we need to implement formidable disincentives so that businesses do not hire illegals. That means sizable fines and other legal sanctions. We need to be able to have employers verify an immigrant’s status.

Third – we need to register all aliens. If you do not have a valid “citizen” or “visitor” I.D., then you discontinue all public assistance.

Fourth – We need to recognize that we can’t deport 12 million people. Currently, we cannot track down all the individuals for whom there are open arrest warrants, and we know their names, where they live and where they work. Identifying, much less deporting, 12 million illegal aliens with no incentive to identify themselves is unrealistic. For those who meet the requirements on a selective system, we must assimilate them into our society.

Basically, I like the concept of “Closed Borders and Open Doors” with a selective, but fair, immigration policy. Diversity has been a strength of America. However, we are a nation of laws, which must be enforced.

Question #2:

Another top-burner concern is the current spike in the price of gasoline. Again, this is a broad issue with many scenarios that can be played out. Possible solutions that have been bandied about in recent days are a temporary suspension of the federal 18.4 cent a gallon tax on gasoline and easing environmental restrictions on gasoline blends (as happened after Hurricane Katrina). Further down the road but possibly affecting prices on the futures market would be the approval of additional oil drilling in ANWR and the Gulf of Mexico. If you were elected, what solutions to this issue would you pursue and why?

The energy issue is solvable, but it may require the American people and American businesses to compromise to achieve a strategy of conservation and energy independence.

First – The mileage standard for auto and truck performance must be increased at least an additional 4-5 miles/gallon, including SUV’s.

Second – We must provide incentives and approve exploration of the liquefied natural gas resources located on the northern slope of Alaska.

Third – We have limited refining capacity. We must build more. In addition, we need the ability to produce and blend bio-fuels, particularly ethanol.

Fourth – Mobilize the scientific community and provide researchers the funds, facilities and mandate to develop alternative, commercially viable fuels and sources of energy.

Fifth – We need to re-allocate subsidies to the large oil companies and utilize those funds to encourage the development of new power plants and install environmental technology to existing fossil burning power plants to eliminate dangerous mercury emissions.

Question #3:

Recently the news has featured ethics scandals involving GOP donor Jack Abramoff and former House member Duke Cunningham of California as well as Democrat House members William Jefferson of Louisiana and Allan Mollohan of West Virginia. If elected, what steps would you take to help eliminate ethical improprieties among our elected representatives?

This one is really simple. No ability for lobbyist organizations, including trade associations to give, raise or steer campaign contributions to anyone in office or running for office. Take that ability away, and you have instant reform. The role of the lobbyist is to educate and inform, not control the power to vote.

Question #4:

Along that same line, many people have seen the vast sums of money that seemingly are required to run for public office and were under the impression that campaign finance reforms such as those enacted with the McCain-Feingold bill were supposed to relieve this inequity. On the whole, however, the money trail has not ceased even with these laws. How do you favor strengthening these laws to make them more effective, or do you agree with some First Amendment advocates who think these laws should be eliminated?

Campaign financing is a more difficult issue. Money – and the ability to raise it – is a measure of viability of a candidate or cause. I do believe that citizens’ ability to express their desires and concerns via political involvement is a First Amendment Right.

Public financing has some merit, but how do you decide the criteria for who gets the money? If you leave that policy to elected office-holders, I can assure you they will create a system that will limit funds to challengers.

McCain-Feingold had good intentions, but produced the unintended consequences of creating independent 527 organizations. There are legitimate pros and cons to that occurrence. Reform is needed, but it needs study and honest input.

Question #5:

While the above issues have captured the headlines, our War on Terror (particularly in Iraq) is never far from our minds. It goes without saying that the vast majority of us support our troops; but the question is whether you favor our current approach or something different in terms of sending additional troops, seeking more multinational support, or a complete pullout. Maybe your thoughts are someplace in between these listed or would be considered “out of the box” thinking. What approach would you favor?

It is too late to argue the merits of being in Iraq. The question is how do we objectively measure and achieve a winning outcome? The consequences of losing Iraq will affect the next several generations. I do not support an arbitrary time-frame for withdrawal. An exit strategy needs to be fully developed with definitive objectives that can be measured before any meaningful withdrawal of American resources. We must win with honor, secure Iraq for the Iraqi people by providing means of law and order and basic infrastructure, and return our troops as quickly as possible!

Question #6:

Related to the above question is the controversy over Iran’s nuclear program. The oil-rich nation claims that this program is for the peaceful use of generating electrical power for its citizens, yet on the other hand its leadership has threatened the nation of Israel with annihilation hinted as being from a nuclear bomb. While the President has the final decision, what course would you advocate he take (a pre-emptive military strike, diplomacy either through the UN or some other way, or leaving them alone as a sovereign nation) and why?

I favor full international sanctions and isolating Iran if they fail to be part of the Community of Nations. If they truly want only nuclear power, we should assist and control the output of fusionable material. Iran will threaten to bargain with oil and access to oil. In the long run, it will destroy their economy, so I don’t believe they would withhold oil or access to oil as a long-term weapon. Military strikes are a last resort, and only after an attack or the threat of an eminent attack on Israel or others in the Middle East.

Question #7:

Back to domestic issues. One pillar or goal of the Bush administration was to enact Social Security reform in the second term, but it has stalled because of claims there’s no problems with the program and privatization reforms are simply a way to enable Wall Street to profit. Do you think the Social Security program is fine as it is, or what changes would you advocate happening with the program?

Social Security is a disaster, and unless common sense returns to the Congress, instead of protecting and defining ideologies, we will have a new generation of poor and no system surviving past 2050. Social Security needs to be maintained at current levels to assure a reliable safety net for Americans approaching retirement. We must also assure all working Americans that their private sector pensions will be remain secure and available at their time of retirement. Borrowing from Social Security trust funds has weakened the financial stability of the system. Measures must be taken to assure that adequate funds will be in place to provide full benefits to retirees as originally promised by Congress.

Question #8:

Some in Congress have raised the question of “pork” or excessive earmarks because our federal budget always runs in deficit and eliminating these earmarks would be a simple way to help balance the budget. But no Congressman or Senator wants to cut their district’s or state’s project. To balance the budget, would you consider sacrificing some of your district or state’s federally-funded projects or would you prefer measures to enhance federal revenues to meet the gap?

The system of “earmarks” has been an integral component of the U.S. budgetary process. In past years, this system, if used in a prudent and limited basis, allows the funding of priority projects when that response is appropriate. Unfortunately, in the past several years, out-of-control spending by Congress has resulted in absolute abuse of this budgetary mechanism. Earmarks have exploded from approximately 1,700 to 16,000 in the past five years. This is irresponsible and unacceptable. Earmarks should be continued as long as there is timely and full disclosure as to the sponsor of the earmark, the reasons for its request and its appropriate justification.

Question #9:

Now to the question of trade. When I go to a store, many’s the time that I see a product is made in China – hence we run a large trade deficit with that nation. President Bush has advocated a hemisphere-wide free trade zone that would add Central and South American countries to the umbrella originally created by the NAFTA agreement a decade ago. Given these items, and knowing also that the number of manufacturing jobs in this country remains flat to slightly lower even in this era of steadily expanding employment, where do you stand – do you see free trading eventually shifting our economy to one mostly comprised of service and technology jobs, or do you feel we should take more steps to preserve our core manufacturing positions?

We can no longer think in terms of the U.S. economy alone. We are truly a global economy. Free trade or limited restricted trade benefits both buyer and seller in the long run. The promotion of trade between nations also promotes peace. Nations that trade have an economic stake in each other do not make war on each other – military or economic.

Another economic truth is that production follows cheap labor and nothing will ever change that. But America can and does compete. Who does the world look to America for brain power, technology, medical breakthroughs, particularly when it comes to quality, dependable high skill-level workers? They look to the U.S.A. Where do the world’s automobile manufacturers, computer manufacturers, medical manufacturers come? They come to the U.S.A. for those skills and quality. What universities and educations are the most sought after? It is the U.S.A., again. We should welcome and embrace global trade, because in the end, the world wants and needs what we produce and consume.

The trade deficit is primarily an illusion – we are the largest market in the world today. If we buy the goods of the world in sheer volume, we buy more than the rest of the world. To believe that the rest of the world or individual nations buy an equal amount of our product is unrealistic. China may, in the future, alter that balance. We need to monitor China’s expansion plans very carefully and develop a strategy of containment.

Question #10:

This question should present you with the shortest answer. Given that in 2008 either you will be seeking re-election to the House and hoping for some coattails at the top of the ticket, or preparing to work with a new President (for the Senators), if you had a short list of 3 to 5 names you’d like to see seek the job, who would they be? Please note that they do not have to be candidates who are considered to be running for the post at this time.

As a Moderate, Common-Sense candidate for the U.S. Senate, I would favor candidates that show an ability to govern from the middle.

I am drawn to Sen. Biden’s approach to international issues. I admire John Kerry’s plan to make sure that all children have healthcare. I appreciate John Edward’s concern for the poor. I am a fan of General Wesley Clark and his strong military leadership. However, the 2008 election is, politically, a lifetime away. After evaluating all declared candidates, my support will go to the candidate whom I believe can best lead America through consensus, integrity, and an ability to develop common-sense policies.

******************************

I appreciate these thoughtful responses, they were among the best I’ve received thus far.

Because Tuesday is a holiday, I’m going to skip doing the Ten Questions for that day and resume with them on Friday. There are 12 more U.S. Senate and local U.S. House candidates to go, so next week will be the halfway point for the hopefuls’ responses. Also next week I’ll finish compiling a similar set of questions for local House of Delegates and State Senate candidates. I just checked the Maryland Board of Elections website and there are 19 people who would get these because they’ve filed (20 if you count one I’m aware of who has yet to file.) So those will be scheduled starting in mid-July.

Keep your eyes peeled on monoblogue, because I have the feeling the local folks will be much more accomodating in answering these questions. I have one question to rewrite, otherwise they’re set to go.

Shorebird of the week 6-29-2006

June 29, 2006 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Shorebird of the week 6-29-2006 

SAL All-Star Quincy Ascencion of Delmarva is snapped midswing in a recent game.

This week the SotW honors go to Quincy Ascencion. The outfielder has been a fixture in the Delmarva lineup for most of the season as he was in 2005. He got off to a slow start in 2006, but he’s had a habit of slow starts. The undrafted 23 year old native of Curacao has slowly worked his way up the Orioles system and hopes to someday join the exclusive club of major league players born on that island, a self-governing part of the Netherlands Antilles off the Venezuelan coast. The most notable player of this five-man group is Atlanta’s Andruw Jones.

Quincy has improved on last year’s numbers (.254 average, 3 home runs, 44 RBI in a team-leading 126 games played) enough to merit the All-Star selection. The average is up to .274 and he’s ripped a team-leading 18 doubles thus far in 2006. Definitely a line-drive contact hitter, he’s homerless on the season so far but does have a little bit of power potential. Despite being placed mostly in the 6 through 9 spots in the batting order until recent weeks, he’s still managed to amass 25 RBI so far, good for fifth on the team.

So Ascencion had been quietly having a good season until he was selected to the SAL All-Star team. Now the rest of the league knows a bit about this young man who’s still a trailblazer in his homeland.

Ten questions for…Kevin Zeese

June 27, 2006 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, Ten Questions · Comments Off on Ten questions for…Kevin Zeese 

Editor’s note: oh did I screw up! I actually DID have his reply in time and misplaced it! So look on a post July 8th for his answers!

Today is a double bummer. First of all, the Shorebirds game I had tickets for tonight was “rained out.” I’ve been in and out the last couple hours as I got my evening walk in and I live fairly close by the stadium…it’s rained maybe 5-10 minutes. I’m pissed because they could’ve gotten this game in easily. I wanted to get to a game this week but obviously I attended the WCRC meeting last night so I hoped all day the rain would hold off…it did and I got the shaft anyway. So I’ll have to wait until Saturday I guess. Bummer number one.

The other downer was not getting my response back from Kevin Zeese. I think they would have been interesting responses since he’s been nominated to the Senate seat by a coalition of parties – the Green Party, Libertarians, and Populist Party all cross-endorsed him. Because of that, he automatically skips the primary process and proceeds straight to the November ballot. (Do not pass GO, do not collect $200.)

Furthermore, when this whole process started he was among the first to respond with interest in answering the questions – but not a peep since. Of course, maybe he’ll see this and do as Allan Lichtman did, sending me the answers in response to this post. Time will only tell.

I suppose the one thing good that does come out of this is I didn’t realize the Maryland Populist Party had a website so now I’ll link to it too. If the Constitution Party would come around we could make the Maryland ballot very interesting. Sometimes the career politicians need to be taken down a peg.

Oh, by the way…for the first time, I actually have the Ten Questions answered in advance so I’ll post this responder’s answers on Friday. This way you won’t have to read my ramblings, but important information for primary voters to decide on.

WCRC meeting – June 2006

As the primary election gets closer, the number of folks attending our little gettogethers increases as well. Tonight we had over 40 people packed into our room to have some very good food and hear our main guest speaker, County Executive candidate Bob Culver.

First things first, we took care of business. I’m not sure if it was a highlight or not, probably not, but they asked me to read the minutes of last month’s meeting. Didn’t think I wrote that much! But I wrote the minutes and my blog post at the same time, and normally I don’t have to read my writing aloud. Oh well, they were accepted as written.

We did get the treasurer’s report, and again it was a profitable month for the club, the balance is deep into five figures.

There wasn’t much else in the way of club matters to discuss, so we went right to our featured speaker. Bob Culver is a native of Wicomico County and has spend nearly his entire life living here, with the exception of a brief stint of college in North Carolina. However, he returned here to finish at SU and went into a long string of different businesses – most notably being onetime owner of the Market Street Inn and operating the paddleboat concession at the local park, in addition to being a farmer and an owner of storage facilities. At this point in his life he’s beginning to turn over some of these enterprises to his sons, so he’s decided to seek the county executive post because, in his words, Wicomico County “needs to be run like a business.”

A point he stressed early on was that the county’s citizens had shown frustration with their government, citing the passage of the 2% revenue cap a few years ago and the creation of the county executive post in the 2004 election as examples of voter displeasure. In regard to the revenue cap, Culver vowed that he “would not touch” the cap, and put his trust in the voters rescinding it when they feel the county’s government is moving in a satisfactory direction. More importantly to him, Bob felt that the county needed “a leader who can say no.”

His other pet topic on the evening was the state of the county schools. With the board of education taking over half the county budget, he questioned the ability of possible Democrat opponent Rick Pollitt to stand up to the Board of Education when necessary since Pollitt is currently on the board. Culver also wondered what good a new $80 million Bennett High School would be if the listed capacity of the school was just 150 students more than the capacity of the school it replaces. To him, working on the issues inside the school such as discipline made much more sense. In what was probably his most humorous quote, he deadpanned that we need to “add onto the alternative schools so that no child’s left behind.”

When questioned later about Pollitt’s “two budget” plan (with and without the revenue cap) Culver stated that he wasn’t going to make a great fuss about that, he’d let the residents of Fruitland (where Pollitt is the city manager) talk about Pollitt themselves. Bob did claim that Fruitland, while doubling in size over the last few years, also has among the highest tax and utility rates in the county. Culver also touched on another growth issue as he spoke, saying that he had no problem with the package water treatment plants, and in some respects they were helpful to reduce growth – “sprawl for sprawl itself is wrong”, he concluded. A figure of 1/2 to 2% growth per year was acceptable to him.

While upbeat about the long-term future of Wicomico County, Bob also conceded that things in the county will “get tighter before they get better,” so a final goal of his was to make government simple, explaining it in the terms of a savings account and a checking account. He wanted to have a savings account of about 10% in case Wicomico County was hit with a unexpected large expense like this weekend’s flooding just to our north. It also tied in with a statement that, in touring the county, he’d seen more and more that different communities have different concerns and the interaction with each town and hamlet was educational.

At that point, Culver finished his speech and we heard from John Bartkovich, who was “excited” to see a lot of Republicans running this time around. He did warn about the 45 day rule regarding signs along state highways – even on private property some signs were being removed. Another rule he spoke about was one I didn’t know. The Central Committee has about 15 days after the July 3rd filing deadline to fill posts that are still open on the ballot. That puts some interesting power in their hands, talk about your “stealth” candidates!

Dr. John also expressed his disappointment in the turnout for the Lincoln Day dinner. I can’t say I blame him a lot for that though I recall some pretty light attendance at LD dinners I attended in Ohio. Personally, I think the date is too late in the year – there’s too much going on in June anyway and the nice weather hurts attendance.

After he exhorted us to work hard for our candidates who survived the primary (and sought lots of turnout for it) we heard briefly from Wicomico County’s Ehrlich camapign coordinator, Ellen Andrews. She does still have a few tickets left for the Shorebirds game on Saturday, with over 200 sold. And the petition drive is still ongoing, despite reports that the drive was short on signatures. Somehow a few hundred signatures were “un-counted” by Linda Lamone’s office. Finally, Andrews told us about Governor Ehrlich’s formal candidacy announcement on Wednesday and Sonny Bloxom chimed in that the LG announcement would come Friday. (One speculation I saw tonight was that the head of the Governor’s Office on Disabilities, Kristen Cox, would get the nod.)

We also heard briefly from most of the candidates in attendance. The list included District 38B hopefuls Bloxom, Bonnie Luna, and Jack Lord along with Michael James’s surrogate Dustin Mills. Sonny Bloxom had some passionate comments on those who would support Democrat incumbent Norm Conway because of his Appropriations chairmanship, asking about the real cost of the “table scraps” we receive after the “Western Shore liberals” get theirs. In particular, he railed about the 800 jobs (and spinoffs) possibly lost because of the Wal-Mart vote and the veto override of the latest BG&E rate “relief” that carried by just two votes, both Conway and recent Democrat appointee Jim Mathias voting to override. Since Conway was claiming he would retire after the upcoming term anyway, Bloxom wanted the voters to retire Norm a little earlier. I know I certainly don’t want Norm Conway retiring feet first like his late cohort Bennett Bozman.

Then it was the county hopefuls, including at-large County Council candidate John Cannon, a new entry for the post. Cannon spoke for a few moments about his pet issue, which was growth needing to be managed and having consistency in zoning. We also heard briefly from the two Sheriff candidates in attendance, Mike Lewis (who’s in his final days with the MSP as he retires June 30) and Doris Schonbrunner.

The last person to have the floor was elections official Woody Willing. What he and his board needs most (from both parties) are election workers, they are 20 Republicans short and I’m sure a fair number of Democrats as well. He also noted that, while the two main parties are treading water or slowly sinking in terms of registered voters, the number of nonaffiliated voters is swelling. There are about 41,500 voters registered by party, but almost 7,000 who are not. With the closeness of the two parties’ numbers, a swing one way or the other by the independents will decide the election.

I’m going to work out of order here as my closing, but John Bartkovich had one interesting piece of advice. He said that there’s going to be a certain number of people who may be leaning GOP, but may have a hard time supporting them because they don’t understand (my words) the War on Terror. In that case, it’s best not to get caught in national items – there’s really much more on our plate locally in terms of issues.

And this is true. I happen to support our troops and the idea that we need to fight terrorists in their back yard as we can. But here in Wicomico County we have so much more to discuss – schools, crime, the environment, and what seems to be my new adopted pet issue of development (thanks to Duvafiles.) I think the Republicans on a local level have good common sense ideas to address these, and given the fact that state and national GOP candidates have carried Wicomico County regularly for the last 20 years, maybe it’s time to place us in charge of local affairs and see how we do. I know I was impressed tonight with what seemed like a sensible set of ideas from Bob Culver.

Ehrlich’s hires and fires

June 25, 2006 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Personal stuff, Politics · Comments Off on Ehrlich’s hires and fires 

I’m going to start out from the title and sort of work around to my point, so be patient tonight. The germ of this post has come from a variety of different items I came across today.

In Duvafiles there’s a post about Governor Ehrlich appointing an openly gay judge to a District Court seat. This after firing one of his appointees to a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority seat last week because of percieved anti-gay remarks (which were really pro-Catholic.)

Well, to me that’s not the whole story. If you read the comments to the post, one stands out. I’m going to go ahead and paste it here so you can keep it in context. The author is BJ Corbin, who I know as a fellow WCRC member. (I can say this because he signed his comment, which is why I cite him and use this comment.)

As a social/moral conservative that is active in the Republican Party… I have already contacted the Governor, Senator Stoltzfus and the Wicomico County Ehrlich campaign coordinator withdrawing my support for the Governor because of his positions on gambling, embryonic stem cell research and his most recent action firing Mr. Smith for his Christian view of homosexuality. (So much for free speech and tolerance) I think there are many others that are just as disappointed as I am… even in the VERY LIBERAL BLUE State of Maryland!

Actually, I have no problem with Corbin’s views at all, but the question has to be asked: who would he support then? He has four choices in the governor’s race at the moment: voting to keep Governor Ehrlich in office despite the differences of opinion that he has with the governor; crossing party lines and voting for Martin O’Malley, who would’ve likely appointed the gay judge anyhow to promote “diversity”; or voting for Green Party candidate Ed Boyd, who would probably select a rainbow of openly gay judges. The other choice is skipping the governor’s race on the ballot entirely, which I’d bet he will do.

And this is why I like lots of choices when it comes to voting. Readers familiar with monoblogue can likely recall a time or two when I’ve cited my frustrations with the Ohio GOP for “annointing” candidates to avoid primary fights. The problem was they always selected the more “electable” (read: moderate) person to run.

In reading some of the party websites today for preparing my election calendar for the week, I came across a tidbit on the Green Party’s site (besides now knowing that Ed Boyd and James Joseph Madigan are their governor/LG candidates respectively) where they need to collect a certain number of signatures to keep a place on the ballot for the 2007-2010 election cycle. I know the Libertarian Party here in Maryland has the same dilemma, and I assume the Constitution Party does as well. (Unfortunately, their website is “under construction” so I bet they’ve already thrown in the towel.)

This may sound very strange from a guy who’s running for the Republican Central Committee and has a goal of making it the majority party in Wicomico County, but I’d love to see more parties get on the ballot and start fielding serious, credible candidates throughout the state. BJ’s comment shines a light on a problem that exists with our system that has two dominant parties who set the rules to suit them.

Yes, Governor Ehrlich is a Republican and theoretically all GOP members should support him. But in a lot of ways, he’s out of step with the conservatives in the party (recent hirings and firings a case in point.) In 2002, he had broad support from everyone in the GOP (who, conservatives among them, were thrilled just to have a shot at the governor’s chair after 30+ years away) and then Ehrlich siphoned enough votes from the more moderate Democrats who weren’t enamored with Kathleen Kennedy Townsend to win the race.

One thing the powers-that-be in the Democrat party sighed in relief about last week was having Doug Duncan drop out of the race unexpectedly. To me, though, it was a sad day because we voters lost our only chance at choice in the matter, now the primary is meaningless in that regard. On the other hand, the plethora of candidates for the U.S. Senate seat is great for voters, although most of the wannabes have no hope because they aren’t being backed by the party apparatus who thinks they aren’t “electable.” Technically, the Maryland GOP is supposed to stay neutral but come on, I don’t see John Kane, Ken Mehlman et. al. doing a lot to help out Corrogan Vaughn, who’s also a black Republican in the U.S. Senate race.

Republicans like to claim they have a “big tent”, where they have a broad enough list of principles to appeal to a large swath of voters, everyone from “middle-of-the-road” to neo- and paleo-conservatives, to the Main Street Partnership moderates (a group that includes Gov. Ehrlich and Rep. Gilchrest.) In theory, that does work as most GOP’ers will pull that lever whether they agree with all of the candidate’s views or not, as they put party above principle. (Democrats do the same thing, especially union members.)

But people like Corbin want to run things the other way and put principle above party, and I’m the same way. And this is where I have a problem with the two major “one-size-fits-all” parties. Because they seem to try and take as much choice from the primary voters as they can (at least in the major races) I think the best solution is to allow as many parties in as possible. Obviously the two parties in charge don’t like that so they set onerous goalposts for other parties to conform to, and I think we voters deserve more choices.

So I was really tempted to print out a Green Party petition form and bring it to the meeting tomorrow. Their website noted that they were only at about 2500 signatures and they needed someplace north of 10,000 by November to secure a ballot place for 2007-2010. But then since I can witness my own signature, I can just sign my own petition and send it in. I’m sure the Libertarian Party would send me a copy of theirs. (All it does is put them on the ballot, you don’t change your registration with it.)

As far as local Wicomico elections go, I’d enjoy seeing other parties’ candidates for the county offices, although this year we have a pretty good selection in just the Republican party because of the number of open seats. But assuming we win the ’06 elections, I’d still like to see at least some opposition for the incumbents in 2010 to put pressure on them. If you only could buy Fords, what incentive would they have to evolve and improve their product? The minute Chevy comes out with something, it puts Ford on notice that they have to do something to hold its share of the market. Throw Chrysler in there, and both have to redouble their efforts.

However, change has to start from the very bottom because it’s in the vested interest of the big money folks and the powerful special interests to maintain the system the way it is. Now, I’m all for unlimited monetary contributions (and full, instant disclosure of them) but I’m also for much easier ballot access to all who wish to put forth their platforms and slates. So I support these parties as they try to get on the ballot. I may not agree with them, but they should be heard, not just the same old Democrats and Republicans.

Election Calendar – June 26 thru July 9

June 25, 2006 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on Election Calendar – June 26 thru July 9 

Apologies are in order if you tried to access monoblogue earlier this afternoon. It was my server being down, obviously it’s corrected now since I was just finishing this entry when I lost contact. Luckily I saved it when I was 90% done!

Another week, another election calendar. Slowly I’m picking up more events although I’m still lacking in Somerset County for at least another couple weeks. The big Tawes event in Crisfield would be listed on that calendar.

Thanks to some help from my friends, I’ve found out about a couple Wicomico County events so now they have the largest number.

Wicomico County:

June 26: Wicomico County Republican Club meeting, Chamber of Commerce building, 144 E. Main Street, meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. Speaker is Wicomico County Executive candidate Bob Culver. I would anticipate a full slate of GOP candidates at the meeting – hopefully it will be relatively quick so I can post that night and still make it to bed at a decent hour!

July 1: I’m not sure if he’ll actually show up, but it’s Governor Bob Ehrlich Night with the Shorebirds. The game starts at 7:05 p.m. as the Shorebirds face the Lake County Captains, with fireworks to follow. Contact Ellen Andrews for more info, (410) 742-0927. Got my ticket last week, so you may want to verify there’s still space available (particularly with this game being a fireworks game.)

July 6: Wicomico County Sheriff candidate Doris Schonbrunner will be among the participants at a Sheriff Candidates Forum at the Elks Club. I’m assuming that this is the one at 401 Church Hill Avenue (by the golf course and zoo) since that’s the only Elks Club I’m aware of here. Not certain of the time yet, but I’m sure someone will tell me. I’m betting I’m not the only local blogger there!

By the way, since Doris gave me the tip, she gets the billing. See how that works?

Worcester County:

Note: in finding out about the exact date for the Boat Parade on the Ocean Pines website, it appears the candidate dinner I had down as June 27th was last week. Either I misread Jim Corwin’s calendar, or he messed up. Regardless, I took it off this week.

July 4: Probably not the only aspiring or current elected official there, but District 38B hopeful Jack Lord has the Ocean Pines Independence Party on his calendar.

July 8: I also had to look this up from the Ocean Pines website, but both Jack Lord and U.S. Congress candidate (MD-1) Jim Corwin are slated to be at the Ocean Pines Boat Parade. The reason I had to look it up was that on Jack Lord’s calendar the date’s listed as the 9th, it’s actually on Saturday the 8th.

Dorchester County:

July 7: District 37 State Senator Richard Colburn is having the 10th Choptank River Cruise. This cruise will embark from the Suicide Bridge Restaurant (6304 Suicide Bridge Road in Hurlock) at 6:30 p.m. sharp, and the cost is $75. I don’t know about you, but my Young Republican club did similar fundraisers and they were always fun. I’m sure the Choptank River’s more scenic than the Maumee River in Toledo.

July 8: Jim Corwin‘s calendar also has him stopping by the Dorchester Democrat Central Committee fundraiser at the Canvasback Restaurant in Cambridge. So he’ll be a busy guy that day. Hey, if he has a few minutes to spare as he buzzes up and down Route 50 I’d love to talk to him, maybe he’ll answer my Ten Questions.

Sussex County:

July 2: U.S. Senate candidate Jan Ting has the Rehoboth fireworks show on his calendar as a place he’ll be. Per the Rehoboth Beach CC website, events begin at 8 p.m. but I’m sure the crowds (and candidates) assimilate before that time.

I lost a couple events numberwise from last week, but the good sign is that I’m seeing more events with local candidates.

Next Sunday, I’ll do it again for July 3 through July 16. July 3rd is the big day here in Maryland, that’s the final day to file for the primary. If I recall correctly, the Board of Elections office will stay open until 9 p.m. That ought to be interesting in and of itself. It’s too bad I don’t own a laptop with a wi-fi connection, THAT would be an interesting live blogging site in those last 2-3 hours.

Off to the Chicken Festival

June 24, 2006 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Personal stuff, Politics · Comments Off on Off to the Chicken Festival 

In an effort to a) improve my website by meeting some of the local politicians, b) meet and greet potential voters – I’m sure a few from Wicomico County will be there, and c) get out of my apartment and have some fun! I’m heading down to Snow Hill today for awhile just to check it out, particularly the car show!

So I’ll have a camera in my hand. If you’re curious about meeting the guy who does monoblogue, look for the guy in a “Toledo Mud Hens – 2005 IL Champions” shirt. I don’t think there’s too many of those on Delmarva!

Hopefully the rain that plagued yesterday’s events will stay away today, we got our share for sure.

Post-visit edit…I enjoyed my time there except for the mud! The other major bummer was not getting to see the car show that was scheduled, it was scrubbed because of the weather. Guess they really don’t want to drive the cars through the mud too much. But the rain held off by and large, I had a great BBQ’d chicken sandwich and some nice crispy fries for lunch, witnessed with my very own eyes and camera the World’s Largest Frying Pan, and I saw a slew of politicians there.

As promised in my calendar, Jack Lord was at the Chicken Festival with his little tent enjoying the fact it was actually dry. I also saw the remainder of the 38B candidates strolling about (Luna, Lewis, Mathias, Conway) with the exception of Sonny Bloxom and newcomer Bill McDermott, and jawed with Norm Conway for a few minutes about health care (very amicably I may add, I think we just agree to disagree on solutions.) Both Worcester County parties had a small tent there – GOP collecting petition signatures and passing out literature, the Democrats playing host to the two local state reps. In addition, U.S. Senate candidate Josh Rales had a tent there although he wasn’t present. I did tell his volunteers there about the Ten Questions, and have a new address to resend them to. His turn will come up in early August.

It’s early summer and the campaign’s starting to heat up with the weather. While I’m going to be busy with my own campaign, I’ll be out and about taking in the sights of a Delmarva election summer. It should be more interesting than last year’s version.

Oh, and I think I had the “allow comments” feature turned off on the last couple posts because of heavy spam volume – that problem has been taken care of. Akismet seems to be doing a great job.

Ten questions for…Jim Corwin

As I stated back when the Ten Questions were introduced, it’s not just the Maryland U.S. Senate candidates who I was asking them to, but hopefuls for the various local U.S. House seats. Today’s slated person was Jim Corwin, the man providing opposition to Wayne Gilchrest’s bid for another term.

He’s got a great calendar, but no answers yet. Jim, you’ve had the questions for 6 weeks, I think you had time to get to answering them.

By the way, I did get a comment from another Senate hopeful who wanted to submit his answers. It just might be the power snafus that have plagued the Eastern Shore today (mine was out about 3 hours) with the heavy storms slowed the e-mail down. So the offer I made to him still stands.

Now, it will be interesting to see if I get an answer from this person or another who expressed interest in answering when they came out but I’ve yet to hear from since. It seems like the “established” politicians are still afraid to answer them, we’ll see how the upstarts do.

I should also say that if you are a candidate for the U.S. Senate or House who happens to be reading this, or one of their loyal cadre of volunteers, I’m happy to resend the questions so they can be answered. With the backlog of folks who didn’t answer, I can likely slot them in upcoming open spots. (I did it for Allan Lichtman and Mike Schaefer.)

Let’s make this election about the issues, shall we? With Doug Duncan leaving the race for governor, the Maryland U.S. Senate race becomes the main draw for primary voters. I want all of their input.

Duncan drops out

June 22, 2006 · Posted in Maryland Politics, Politics · 2 Comments 

And then there was one.

The governor’s race this fall became very much set this afternoon as Democrat candidate Doug Duncan dropped out. The announcement shocked the Free State political scene, particularly as Duncan revealed he’s suffering from clinical depression, which runs in his family. The Montgomery County Executive was gaining on Baltimore mayor Martin O’Malley in polls among Democrats with an aggressive attack on elements of O’Malley’s record.

So it will become an O’Malley vs. Ehrlich race in June after all. You may recall last fall there was talk among Democrats that a contested primary in September would be bad for the party – they wanted to hold the primary this month instead. Today’s Duncan stunner effectively did that job and enables O’Malley to train all his guns on Governor Ehrlich throughout the last 4 1/2 months of the campaign.

That’s the obvious. But I have other questions that aren’t so apparent.

First of all, what happens to Duncan’s running mate Stuart Simms? There’s speculation that Simms could run for the Democrat nomination for Attorney General, which would make it at least a three-person field that already includes Montgomery County prosecutor Doug Gansler and Montgomery County councilman (and law professor) Tom Perez.

More importantly, where does all the Duncan campaign help go? Hundreds of volunteers and the paid staff are now suddenly thrown out of work in one way or another. While they may have known that it would be an uphill battle for the primary victory on September 12, imagine the disbelief they have that the campaign is over on June 22. Will they bury the hatchet and join the O’Malley team, or go to local campaigns?

Actually, besides the hope that Duncan can get himself back in a healthy mental state (helping in that regard, he’ll not run again for Montgomery County Executive), the one bad thing I see on a personal level is that I’m going to miss one of the best political blogs I linked to. I actually enjoyed reading it – didn’t agree with hardly anything said on it politically, but it was well-written. A lady named Heather Birdsall should get credit for that, she wrote many of the entries.

So let the trickle-down begin. And I’ll need to credit David the Soccer Dad (a fellow MBA member!) from sending me a little note today alerting me to Duncan’s withdrawal. Thanks my friend.

Shorebird of the week 6-22-2006

June 22, 2006 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Shorebird of the week 6-22-2006 

CJ Smith of the Shorebirds strides into a pitch in a June contest against Lakewood.

This week the SotW honors go to a returning veteran of the 2005 Shorebirds, first baseman CJ Smith. A product of the University of Florida, the Gator was another high pick the Orioles have placed on the Delmarva roster, chosen 4th by the Orioles in 2004. He was drafted high enough and had enough of a profile (being from a nationally known college program) to have his own blurb on the draft board (from mlb.com):

TALL & WIRY. SOME STRENGTH. HAS PUT ON 15 LBS SINCE LAST YR. BUILD SIMILAR TO FORMER ML PLAYER PAUL O’NEILL. SLIGHT SPREAD STANCE, FLEXED KNEES. BALL JUMPS OFF BAT. WILL SHOW SOME PWR. CHANCE TO HIT FOR MORE PWR IN FUTURE W/ SOME ADJUSTMENT. BETTER RUNNER UNDERWAY. PLAYABLE ARM. GOOD ATHLETE. SHOULD HIT FOR SOME PWR. STRONGER THAN LAST YR.

Interestingly enough, he was drafted as an outfielder but he has good size (6′-3″) for a first baseman as well.

What he does need to work on is his hitting. The transition from college to pro has seen the 24 year old suffer at the plate. In 83 games here last year, he had just a .227 average but was a solid RBI producer with 45 knocked in. That total was third on the team, very good considering he had 295 at bats compared to over 400 AB’s for the two players in front of him. CJ’s on a slower pace this year though, with just 10 RBI in 88 at bats and only a .205 average.

But with a name like CJ, he’s almost bound to be a fan favorite. Hopefully with our support he can find the key to improving his batting average to a more respectable number.

And as suggested, several changes were made to the roster at the All-Star break.

The Shorebirds gained three players who were sent down after stuggling with high-A Frederick: pitchers Trevor Caughey and Russ Petrick (who pitched here in 2005) and infielder Ryan Steinbach. Taking their places on the Frederick roster with a promotion were Jon Tucker, Trent Baysinger, and SAL All-Star Jim Hoey.

Meanwhile some Shorebirds who had a tough time here became IronBirds in Aberdeen. That list included pitchers Kyle Schmidt and Luis Lebron (both who were here very briefly), infielders Rob Marconi and Rene Aqueron, and former SotW catcher Brandon Snyder. All three hitters were under .200 at the time of their demotion.

First half Shorebirds standings report

June 20, 2006 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on First half Shorebirds standings report 

It was a tough finish to the half for the Shorebirds. After battling the Lexington Legends tooth-and-nail through most of May, they fought to a draw in a visit to Lexington in their last May series. That seemed to take the wind right out of the Delmarva nine’s sails though, as they plummeted to a 6-12 finish in the first half while Lexington amassed a 14-4 mark in the same stretch to win the SAL North going away. In fact, the West Virginia Power snuck by the Shorebirds and grabbed second place at the halfway mark.

But as usual in the SAL, everything starts afresh on Thursday. All Lexington’s great finish got them was a playoff date in September, but nothing says they can’t have a poor second half. In the topsy-turvy world of the South Atlantic League, last year’s champion can be this year’s doormat – case in point, the Kannapolis Intimidators, who won the 2005 SAL pennant but frightened no one except their fans with a 20-50 first half mark this season.

So what I’m doing here is a rehash of the first half standings, and adding commentary on each team’s second half schedule. There’s a scheduling quirk in the SAL this season. To avoid scheduling onerous roadtrips for some teams, the league is divided into four groups, which are as follows:

What I’ll call group 1 includes Delmarva, Hagerstown, Lake County, and Lakewood.

My group 2 is the rest of the North Division: Greensboro, Hickory, Lexington, and West Virginia.

Turning to the South Division, group 3 is Asheville, Augusta, Greenville, and Kannapolis.

Group 4 is the Georgia group (almost): Charleston (SC), Columbus, Rome, and Savannah.

The oddity is that Group 1 teams do not play Group 4 teams, so they’ll not have to face 3 of the top 4 South Division teams at all this season, while the Group 2 teams will play all eight South foes in the second half. Obviously the league doesn’t want a 13-14 hour bus trip (such as between Lake County and Columbus) to happen often. So Group 1 teams will have 4 games against just the Group 3 teams in the South in the second half, which as noted turns out to be an advantage.

Here are the standings for the first half along with the strength of their schedule in the second half. To determine that, I simply figured out the games below or above .500 for each remaining team on the schedule – for example the aforementioned Kannapolis team is a factor of minus 30 for each time played, and 44-25 Lexington would be a factor of plus 19 every time.

1. Lexington Legends (44-25, won division by 5 games.)

Second half schedule factor: minus 38 (3rd easiest). They play 4 games against each team in the other three groups, as well as 6 against Hickory, and 8 against Greensboro and West Virginia. They have 35 home and 35 away games.

First half summary: A 14-4 finish featuring an appearance by Roger Clemens boosted the Legends to the first half title.

Key games in second half: They play the South first half champion Rome Braves at home August 2-5 in what could be a championship preview.

2. West Virginia Power (39-30, second place 5 games back.)

Second half schedule factor: plus 32 (5th easiest). Just like Lexington, 4 games against the teams in the other three groups, along with 6 against Greensboro and 8 against Hickory and Lexington. They also are even with 35 home and away games apiece.

First half summary: Improved throughout the half from also-ran to second place club.

Key games in second half: A stretch from August 2-22 where they play 16 of 20 games at home, the lone road trip in the middle to Delmarva. The first homestand features Columbus and Rome, the second against division foes Hickory and Hagerstown.

3. DELMARVA SHOREBIRDS (37-31, third place 6 1/2 games in arrears.)

Second half schedule factor: minus 273 (easiest). As mentioned, they play only the four games each against Group 2 and Group 3 teams, along with 12 against Hagerstown, 15 against Lake County, and 11 against Lakewood. The schedule maker did give them a slight disadvantage of just 33 home games against 37 away from Perdue Stadium.

First half summary: Great pitching throughout, but a batting swoon cost the Shorebirds the first half title.

Key games in second half: They play the top two North teams as well as the second place South team (Augusta) a total of 12 times, all at home. By the way, if you’re sick of seeing Lakewood after 14 home games against them (of our 37 total), we don’t see them here again until the final home series August 28-31.

4. Lakewood BlueClaws (37-32, fourth place 7 games back.)

Second half schedule factor: minus 268 (2nd easiest). Just like Delmarva, only 4 against each team in Group 2 and Group 3. They play the Shorebirds 11 times, Hagerstown 15 times (11 at Hagerstown), and Lake County 12 times. They’re another even 35-35 team as far as road/home goes.

First half summary: After an 0-9 start, they rebounded with solid pitching to grab a first-division finish. Had they not dug such a hole, they may have been playoff-bound.

Key games in second half: A 12 game homestand August 11-22 against Lexington, Hagerstown, and Delmarva.

5. Greensboro Grasshoppers (36-34, fifth place 8 1/2 games back.)

Second half schedule factor: plus 74 (7th easiest). As with the other Group 2 teams, it’s 4 against everyone in the South and 4 against the Group 1 teams. They also have 8 against Hickory and Lexington, with 6 against West Virginia. They have 35 each at home and on the road.

First half summary: The Grasshoppers leaped into contention in early June after taking 3 of 4 at Delmarva, but the strong Lexington finish (at their expense) squashed the Grasshoppers’ hopes.

Key games in second half: Their final seven games (August 29-September 4) are at West Virginia and Lexington.

6. Hickory Crawdads (33-36, sixth place 11 games behind Lexington.)

Second half schedule factor: plus 94 (toughest). The final Group 2 team, they play that schedule along with 6 against Lexington and 8 each against Greensboro and West Virginia. They do get an advantage from the scheduler of 37 home games in the half against 33 on the road.

First half summary: The ‘Dads never really got going, they scuffled throughout the half and pretty much inhabited the second division throughout.

Key games in second half: A July 24-31 roadtrip to Columbus and Rome could drown the Crawdads’ chances for a second half crown.

7. Lake County Captains (29-41, seventh place 15 1/2 games out.)

Second half schedule factor: plus 16 (4th easiest). As with Delmarva and Lakewood, they get to skip most of the Georgia teams and Charleston, SC. They do play the obligatory four each against the Group 2 and 3 teams, along with Delmarva 15 times, Lakewood 12 times, and Hagerstown 11 times. A 35-35 split home to away is on their second half docket.

First half summary: Lake County’s Captains hit a late-winter iceberg at the end of April. After a 14-10 start they sank through the standings as they only won 15 more first half games.

Key games in second half: They finish with 8 road games August 28-September 4 at Hagerstown and Lakewood. Also, they start the second half at home with Delmarva for 4 games.

8. Hagerstown Suns (28-42, last place and trailing by 16 1/2.)

Second half schedule factor: plus 35 (6th easiest). The same deal as Delmarva, Lake County, and Lakewood, with 12 against the Shorebirds, 11 against the Captains, and 15 against the BlueClaws. Having 11 at home against Lakewood helped them have a 37-33 home to away advantage in the second half.

First half summary: Never in contention, but they managed to lay the wood to cross-state rival Delmarva at the end of the half.

Key games in second half: They have 17 of their first 22 games at home to begin the second half. Last season they won the first half title and tanked in half number 2 – so they hope for a reversal in fortune like Delmarva had last year. But there can be no all-Maryland playoff this season.

Just in: The North Division won this year’s SAL All-Star Game 4-0 at Lake County. There were four Shorebirds on the winning North team:

Quincy Ascencion started in left field and batted ninth. He played the entire game, collecting a single in 3 trips.

Brandon Erbe pitched the fourth inning, allowing one hit but striking out 2.

Chorye Spoone got the final out of the eighth inning. His first batter reached on an error and stole second but he got the strikeout to end the South’s inning.

Jim Hoey was selected to the team but didn’t pitch.

Also, the pitching coach for the North was the Shorebirds’ Kennie Steenstra.

So ends post number 150.

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