Election Calendar – July 31 thru August 13

July 30, 2006 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on Election Calendar – July 31 thru August 13 

Again, just not a whole lot in the way of specific events. The only four people I have found with events listed in the next two weeks are District 5 County Councilman Larry Dodd, U.S. Congress candidate Jim Corwin, and District 38B contenders Jack Lord and Bonnie Luna. They are among the few who update their campaign calendars on a regular basis.

Dodd has on his calendar that he’ll be at the upcoming NAACP candidate forum (see below.)

Corwin is planning to being amongst the crowds at the Seafood Feast-I-Val in Cambridge on August 12th.

Lord will be at the Showell Fire Department on the 1st, the Blessing of the Combines in Snow Hill on August 5th, and probably one of many Worcester County-based candidates at their county fair (also in Snow Hill) on August 11-12.

Finally, Luna will be at a “neighborhood reception” in Berlin on August 5th and the “Concert on the Lawn” in Berlin on August 13th.

This coming Thursday, August 3rd, the final NAACP candidate forum will occur at the First Baptist Church auditorium, 528 Booth Street, in Salisbury. Hopefuls for the General Assembly are slated to attend, but it will be interesting to see which ones actually do – plus how many other candidates (such as Larry Dodd) will attend. By the way, I still haven’t filled out my candidate survey I got from them yet.

At the moment, that’s the only candidate forum I know of. With county fairs taking center stage for consecutive weekends in August (Wicomico’s runs from the 17th to the 19th) it’s not real likely that there will be many more, time is growing short before the primary election.

Finally, here is Bill Reddish’s WICO-AM morning show schedule so far as I have it:

Monday, July 31: Wicomico County Council District 1 candidate Mac Hayward.
Tuesday, August 1: Wicomico County Council District 4 candidate Bryan Brushmiller.

Brushmiller will be the last Wicomico County Council aspirant on the “hot seat” for the time being. After that, we hear from the many candidates for the two seats representing District 38B in the House of Delegates.

Wednesday, August 2: Candidate Bill McDermott.
Thursday, August 3: Appointed incumbent Jim Mathias.
Friday, August 4: Candidate Sonny Bloxom.

Monday, August 7: Candidate Michael James.
Tuesday, August 8: Candidate Jack Lord.
Wednesday, August 9: Incumbent Norm Conway.

I haven’t received anything further than that from Bill Reddish, but I would hazard a guess that he’s trying to get Bonnie Luna (the other 38B candidate) on for the 10th or 11th. Fortunately (for me) he’s getting the district I’m most interested in on first, before I go on vacation for a few days.

Because of that vacation, next week’s Election Calendar will be an extended version that will cover all the way up to August 27th.

Ten questions for…Tony Bruce

Editor’s note: Sadly, Mr. Bruce passed away August 5, 2006.

On Wednesday I featured Patrick Armstrong with the first edition of the Ten Questions for the Maryland General Assembly. Today by sheer happenstance we’ll hear from his primary opponent Tony Bruce.

You should know the format by now, questions in italics, answers in plain text. Unlike yesterday’s U.S. Senate candidate Richard Shawver, these answers were e-mailed to me so I don’t have to transcribe. Thank you Tony!

Question #1:

Some of you participated in the recent special session to modify the large rate hikes that were to be enacted by Baltimore Gas & Electric. However, our electrical rates from the local Eastern Shore suppliers went unchanged. With that in mind, would you be more in favor of a total repeal of the 1999 deregulation laws, or do you believe the concept is sound and only needs a few guardrails and rate safeguards?

Generally, I believe that public utilty regulation should have been continued. I don’t believe you can have true competion when there are a minimum number of suppliers and only one distributor. That being said, I think we now have to see how the new Public Service Commission is going to act, before trying to reassemble the reguation laws.

Question #2:

In the last two sessions of the General Assembly, the issue of health insurance and who pays for it has taken center stage. (Examples: the Fair Share Health Care Act and its proposed expansion with last year’s HB1510, which was sponsored by Delegate Hubbard and defeated in committee.) Recently the state of Massachusetts adopted legislation effective in 2007 mandating all residents secure coverage under some public or private health insurance plan or face a financial penalty. Do you see this concept as an idea Maryland should adopt?

The health care bills this year were for political theatrics and lent nothing to expanding health care coverage or minimizing costs, private or public. Tax credits are a better approach then penalties to encourage coverage although I am willing to look at the specifics of the Massachusetts or any other approach.

Question #3:

Within our area, Somerset County traditionally has among the highest unemployment rates in the state of Maryland. In every election, well-paying jobs and how to secure them is an issue. If you are elected to the General Assembly, what policies would you favor commencing or retaining in an attempt to create or lure good-paying jobs for the Eastern Shore?

1. Assure that there are facilities availiable for relocating business to consider, even if the spec building sits for awhile.

2. Have preapproved sites available for business relocation/expansion. The agencies responsible for approvals need to have a checklist approach with generic formulas; e.g. The amount of storm water containment will be # if the impervious surface is # .

3. Enforce job formulas tied with financial assistance: if the loan/grant/tax package was supposed to produce a given number of jobs and did not, there should be a payback with lien status not subordinate to other financing.

4. Do a better job of uniformly utilizing existing economic development tools such as the enterprise zones, arts districts, main street or commercial revitalizations, employee training, state purchasing, minority business programs, etc. Right now the local business wishing to expand does not have sufficient awareness of what is availiable. They need to be able to go to one place with realistic expectations enhanced with a good business plan. The Universitys’ business development assistance for business planning needs better
publicity.

5. We need to assure that the public school systems and the post secondary systems are sufficiently flexible to offer the skill/knowledge base a particular employer needs in a timely manner.

Question #4:

This year a state takeover of several failing Baltimore City Schools was thwarted by the General Assembly overriding an earlier veto of a bill Governor Ehrlich rejected. A few states, though, are attempting to remove themselves from the federal “No Child Left Behind” regulations for various reasons, even at the risk of losing federal dollars. Do you support the federal NCLB mandates or do you feel the state could and should go without the additional restrictions (and funding)?

I do not see how we can turn down federal funding until another source of funding is found, notwithstanding the mandates of No child Left Behind. If there was an independent source of funds, then a Maryland only approach might be desirable, but in truth the State Board of Education (and other State agencies) have always imposed their own unfunded mandates that are often the least desirable approach to the responsible local agency.

Question #5:

In the 2006 General Assembly, the Blackwater development in Cambridge became a contentious issue which led to legislation that was eventually defeated. However, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has continued to apply pressure to legislators and encouraged voters to speak out on what they perceive as a threat to bay water quality. On the other hand, the city of Cambridge sees Blackwater as a needed shot in the arm for its economy and tax base. Where do you see yourself on this issue and related development matters?

If the proposal meets the approved requirements under State law and those parameters have been been included in the local regulations in reliance, the local political subdivision should have the final say.

Question #6:

The last two sessions of the General Assembly have seen an inordinate amount of time spent dealing with personnel matters and political appointments. Some have claimed this as a usurpation of power properly belonging to the executive branch (governor’s office) but others see this as a proper extension of the duties of the General Assembly. In your opinion, has the General Assembly gone too far or does the Governor still wield too much power when it comes to personnel decisions?

I think the politicalization of this issue has contributed to a lack of confidence in both the executive and legislative institutions. I believe the replacement of many career individuals was foolish and shortsighted, but the Governor has the right to take that approach. However, the General Assembly has the duty to monitor public agencies and eliminate or modify them when the job is not getting done.

Question #7:

For the Eastern Shore, transportation can sometimes be tricky because of Bay Bridge traffic and traveling to and from the beach on a summer weekend can be a real headache. Solutions advocated range from another Bay Bridge to a ferry service to a light rail system, and as always people want the existing highways improved. What transportation improvements do you feel are a priority for the Eastern Shore, and how would you pay for them?

I think light rail or some other mass transit approach is the only long term cost effective approach with minimal demographic impact. User fees and the fuel tax are limited, but I am unwilling to consider a dedication of a part of the sales tax to mass transit until I am sure the whole State including the Eastern Shore will benefit.

Question #8:

Drugs and gangs are a growing problem on the Eastern Shore. The local authorities do their best but we’re a long way from fighting the problem successfully. In what ways do you think the General Assembly can best address this crime issue, and what tools do you see working best?

I think the statutes are already on the books. We cannot lock up everyone. As it stands, a person develops a record before being incarcerated and serves on probation a series of convictions. The weak link is the underfunded parole and probation departments and an extrodinayily too heavy a case load per agent. If probation has a chance of working the agent must have the time to deal with the offender.

The only statutory change I see would be the elimination of the annonimity of the juvenile record. I do not see any justification for any sentencing authority not to be aware of and consider the juvenile record.

Question #9:

This year, you will be the first in the history of the General Assembly to be nominated and elected through the use of early voting. Proponents have stated that early voting is beneficial for turnout, but others claim the new regulations will encourage fraud and have petitioned to place the issue on the ballot as a referendum. In addition, these same laws have made absentee ballots available upon request with no reason needed. With that in mind, are you in favor of repealing the early voting laws, and why?

The manner of early voting is imposing an unfair burden on the rural election boards, when the simple appoach would have been to allw them to use absentee ballots. We will see if it encourges voting. If it does. then the concept is not objectionable. I do not expect there to be fraudulent voting problem related to early voting.

Question #10:

It is almost a certainty at this early date that either Governor Ehrlich will be reelected or Baltimore mayor Martin O’Malley will take over the governor’s chair early next year. If you are elected to the General Assembly and the representative of the opposite party (i.e. a Democrat would be working with Governor Ehrlich, a Republican would be working with Mayor O’Malley) wins election, with what issues do you see being able to find common ground with the governor?

I know of no reason reasonable people cannot find common ground. Since I expect to have the unopposed Senator from the opposite party as the Senator for District 38A with whom local issues demand agreement, I expect to make compromises so long as everyone is approaching issues as problem solving. Were the Governor to be of the opposite party, I would expect the same approach and good faith efforts. Most of the time all of us have the same concerns; the expense of government, minimal regulation, assisting education, assuring health care and making the tax burden fair. It is a matter of making the extra effort to try and find common ground.

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

Here is another case of what I intended the Ten Questions to be – reasonable and detailed answers to each question with elements of specificity. Since I don’t read the answers prior to my compiling the posts (I like to be surprised and/or amazed) it’s nice to sit here and read answers like Mr. Bruce gave. I may not agree with the answers but by and large he did a good job of answering the questions.

The next edition of Ten Questions will be answered by District 38B hopeful Jack Lord this coming Wednesday, for the first time we’ll hear from the Republican side of things.

Ten questions for…Richard Shawver

A late entry into the Senate race, Richard Shawver is a Republican candidate that I snail-mailed because the Board of Elections had no e-mail address on file for him.

Here’s his (fairly brief) answers to my Ten Questions, translated from paper to pixels as written. I would assume in certain places he’s citing the Constitution.

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?

Illeghal immigrants, are illegal. Anyone hiring illegal’s are breaking the law. Send the illegal’s back, fine the employer’s.

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?

I see no reason why companys can’t drill for oil, as long as they are responsible for any spills.

If we are in Iraq, they should be paying for the war. And we should have all the oil we need.

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?

To eliminate ethical improprieties Article 1, Section 5.

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?

My run for office should coat (sic) less then $5000, it’s hard to think of people or company’s from out of state giving money to candidates.

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?

Before any troops are sent to any country, it should be clerly (sic) look into, remmber (sic) Korea, Viet-Nam.

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?

If Iran nuclear program, is for electrical power, fine. If it’s to threatened (sic) Israel it should go befor (sic) the U.N.

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 reform? Social Security is voluntary for U.S. citizen, mandatory for legal aliens.

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?

There only a deficit, because Congress won’t do their job, Article 1, Section 1-10.

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?

NAFTA is unconstitution (sic). Article 1 Section 1-10.

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.

At this time I have no one in mind.

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

Again, I have transcribed this as written, with the exception of the original letter being ALL CAPS. But it’s obvious this man does have a good understanding of the Congressional duties under the Constitution, the problem is that not everyone else does so things get lost in the translation.

Tomorrow I’ll be back to the Maryland General Assembly race, and, unless I get another response before Tuesday, once again Tuesday will be black as far as the U.S. Senate version of the Ten Questions goes. Their loss.

NAACP candidate forum (7-27 version)

July 28, 2006 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Politics · 2 Comments 

Once again, I was back playing intrepid reporter. And there were spills, thrills, and chills aplenty at the forum tonight – just to find a parking space. Yes, the attendance was quite a bit better for the Sheriff’s race version of the NAACP forum, I think we did have closer to the 150 people the paper claimed was there last time.

Actually, I did have to be the candidate for a few moments. The initial item on the agenda after the welcoming remarks and the prayer was to have the candidates for Central Committee rise and introduce themselves. On the Republican side, there was…me. Well, Gail Bartkovich introduced herself on her husband’s behalf. On the Democrat side, there were 5 candidates present and four of them were sitting side-by-side two rows behind me. I suppose it’s a telling statement of party unity there, isn’t it?

The order of events was fairly straightforward after that. State’s Attorney Davis Ruark was the first to go. Aside from us Central Committee folks rising and stating our names, he had the easiest job because he’s unopposed for another term. They did ask him a couple questions, one regarding minority employment and the other about serving the Spanish-speaking population. Ruark said that his office was the first on the Eastern Shore with an African-American assistant State’s Attorney and generally anywhere between 30 and 70 percent of his administrative staff has been African-American. With regard to the Hispanic population, he had hired within the last year an assistant State’s Attorney and intern who were bilingual. Ruark further remarked that the office “need(s) to develop trust” with the Hispanic community.

We then heard from the five aspirants for Orphan’s Court. To me being from Ohio, it’s a curious name for the probate bench, but originally it was set up for children who lost their parents – a more frequent occurrence back in Colonial times. The questions asked were about how the Orphans Court service benefits the county and what the “critical issues” were for the court. This will be placed in the order of their opening remarks.

Incumbent judge William Smith stressed his bipartisanship in his remarks. Despite being the lone Republican of the three, he stated that the trio on the court now hadn’t had a disagreement in four years, always ruling unanimously. To him, the critical issue was being equitable to all people even in this age of rising estate values.

George Ossman, the other Republican running for the post, thought that change in the Orphan’s Court would be “beneficial” and wanted to bring some new ideas to the court, while striving to add efficiency and accessibility to the mix. Moreover, another goal of his was to “promote public trust in politics.”

A longtime judge of 24 years, including 21 as chief judge, Norma Lee Barkley told a supportive gathering (which she addressed as her “brothers and sisters”) that she strove to make court patrons “feel comfortable” and that experience “equips” the judges to do their job, which is to come up with a justifiable decision in all their cases. Barkley did caution that judicial canons prevent much in the way of issue advocacy, a point on which she is correct. But she also plugged her fellow Democrat judge…

Melissa Pollitt Bright, who has “half the experience” of Barkley, Bright being a 12 year veteran. One key point of her emphasis on experience is that she helps to run the “baby judge school” for new Maryland Orphan’s Court judges. Bright brought up an interesting topic, showing a concern about banks not always following court rules about minors not being able to access accounts, talking about instances where banks change hands and court orders slip through the cracks.

Finally, Peter Evans seeks the Orphan’s Court post with a background that suggests he’s been on another side of the court, that of real estate. The Army vet played up his 30 years of experience in that business and made the obvious but otherwise forgotten point that each case is a “critical issue” to those involved.

At this point, we took a short break, but there was a palpable buzz in the room because the red meat of the forum was yet to come. It was sort of like that time after the warmup band leaves and the house lights come on as they set up the stage for the new hot headliner band.

Now, there is one difficulty in reporting on a Sheriff’s forum. Much like I said on a prior occasion, there’s not a sheriff in the land who doesn’t want to cut down criminal activity. With that as a given, honestly the only differences would be with their areas of focus. And of course, most if not all of them stressed communication with the community plus a desire to reopen the substations and maintain the school officers among their key points, so it’s not really worth bearing a repeat of these common ground areas in my summaries.

I must say, while the initial remarks by the moderator claimed this would be a 45 minute period, I’d be willing to bet we took twice that on the Sheriff’s race. We ended up with eight questions, and it went in a little bit of a patchwork order as the alloted time passed and they asked for closing remarks, but the moderator and organizers then decided that more questions were necessary because of the format constraints. In order, the eight questions dealt with:

* Budgeting, personnel, and executive experience.
* Racial profiling, lack of minorities in the department, and division in the community.

The next question returned to racial profiling because moderator B. Orville Penn deemed that no one answered the question. Eventually, it became a question of whether the candidate thought there was racial profiling in the department. As this is my blog, I’ll handle that as a separate theme after I deal with each candidate.

* Gun crimes and community cooperation.
* Whether there were gangs in Wicomico County. (Duh.)
* An interestingly worded question: why do the kids know where the drug dealers are but not the cops? That brought a pretty good chuckle.

We had the so-called closing statements at this point, but ended up with two more questions:

* Initiatives on crimes against women and children. I thought this was the weakest question, akin to asking someone “have you stopped beating your wife?” It led to too many bland and similar answers.
* Dealing with drug dealing.

Again, WCSD and “the department” are shorthand for Wicomico County Sheriff’s Department. I’m not wanting to type this all night! Once again, I’ll feature my impressions of the candidates in the order they made their opening statements.

This means I start with Ken Pusey. Pusey hammered on just a few main themes, stressing his experience in the department, having the department be more “aggressive” and “proactive” yet also becoming more diverse, claiming there was no recruiting system set up for the department. On the question of budgeting, Pusey claimed that, while he hadn’t done a large-scale budget like the WCSD has, it’s “twice as hard” to do a budget like the ones he did for a non-profit agency because the money’s not so much of a given. Ken also brought up a need for four-person special operations units to fight specific types of criminal activities deemed a problem by the Sheriff. Above all, Pusey wanted a more cost-effective and accountable WCSD that was efficient for “all citizens”, not just a “small group” of them.

Claiming that “I need to make a difference”, Wayne Lowe also warned that there were “no easy answers” to the crime problem here. Lowe thought that the officers should be held to a higher standard as they would be out in the community more – Lowe is one of the candidates who notably advocates community policing as a goal for the WCSD. He also said that the department needs to “hit the streets” in order to recruit officers and create a more diverse force. Lowe also raised a few eyebrows by saying that the gang problem was “going to get worse”, but it was still his task to make sure “kids were safe from doorstep to doorstep.” As he did in the last forum, Lowe also took a few moments to stress the court side of the task, again making a goal of his “better documentation” by the WCSD as part of “aggressive” investigations.

Another WCSD veteran, Robin Roberts went through a laundry list of tasks he’s done since joining. Vowing to make “no false promises…or excuses” but find solutions, Roberts spent a lot of his alloted time on the idea of “working together”. He claimed that he’d be “the people’s sheriff” and “lead by example.” One intriguing comment he made was on treating those who were arrested well, the idea being that they may be more cooperative in a later situation. He also had the idea of training someone to be a recruiter to local colleges to find those interested in a career in law enforcement. Working together with the public also inspired him to seek a “Sheriff’s Advisory Board” that would meet quarterly if he were elected. Above all, he wanted a department which would have good role models.

Starting right out of the gate by saying that he was “eager to accept the position” and “change the tide” of crime that’s overwhelming Wicomico County, Mike Lewis seemed to have the loudest support. He made it plain that his experience in drug interdiction (frequently speaking about his narcotics busts) would be his best asset, so as for the administrative side he would keep the people in place who already handle it. The plain-speaking Lewis further vowed he “will eliminate” gangs with enforcement “like never seen” and called the fact that there’s 2 African-American and no Hispanic deputies in the WCSD “unacceptable.” (If you haven’t noticed, yes I find Mike very quotable.) Another thing that’s “unacceptable” to Lewis is that people, particularly seniors, are “captive in their own homes” which is a “quality of life issue.” I think the best line he uttered was that crime prevention starts at home, and we need to get kids “from crack houses to churches.” I was sitting next to a lady who was curious to see how people would answer the question about the kids knowing the drug dealers more than the cops did, and eventually I think Lewis came closest to pinning the tail on the donkey with that answer (although it was actually spoken to a later question) because he brought parents into the mix.

Chris South was one candidate who seemed to enjoy mixing a few facts and numbers in with his presentation and attempting to be concise. During his opening remarks he eschewed a lot of the personal information, claiming it was available on items at the forum or through his website. On several occasions he had a ready statistic, as in citing that while 32% of all Maryland youth were African-American, 72% of incarcerated youth were. But one approach he alone seemed to take was having the thought that the WCSD is a “professional service” and should be managed like one. Instead of “running radar” the WCSD should get back to patrolling the neighborhoods, and most importantly they need to begin teaching kids earlier about the police officer being the good guy and the gangbanger being the bad guy despite the lucrative nature of the drug trade.

“What do I offer to you?” was the question Kirk Daugherty opened with, and he spent his time giving several answers to it. He focused a great deal on two groups – children and seniors. As he did in the first forum, he advocated a program for “at-risk” youth to attempt to steer them away from getting into the criminal justice system and messing up their adult lives. Further stating that it’s not just a village, but a “community that raises a child” he promised to work with the Board of Education on school officers and kids’ safety. While I knew that Daugherty was the president of the Maryland State Troopers Association, I was unaware that he served as sergeant-at-arms for the Maryland Senate, which he claimed gave him insight on the legislative process. Since a great deal of WCSD money comes in one form or another from the state, that’s possibly a useful asset.

Generally in life ladies are first, but as it happened Doris Schonbrunner was the final candidate to make an opening statement. Each candidate played up their strengths, and in the case of Major Doris, her strength lies in the administrative and budget sides. However, as second in command, she is also acting Sheriff when Hunter Nelms is absent. Certainly no one can question her educational background, as she has two degrees and is working on a third (a Master’s Degree in Public Administration.)

In some ways, she’s actually the simplest candidate to sum up: she has the experience “to step into Hunter Nelm’s shoes” and the education “to lead the WCSD into the future.” She also wanted to form a Citizen’s Advisory Board for the Sheriff’s office which would have monthly meetings, and got to be the one to announce that after five years of trying, the budget this year will allow them to reopen substations. Doris was also an advocate of establishing youth programs like a Police Athletic League in order to lessen community mistrust of law enforcement and possibly reduce the fear of retaliation. The more kids involved, the harder it is to single one out as a narc.

This brings me to the question of racial profiling. Eventually as it was, moderator Penn had those who believed racial profiling was a problem in Wicomico County stand and those who didn’t stay seated. Standees were Lowe, South, and Schonbrunner. This is the part of his presentation where Wayne Lowe cited the need for the WCSD to follow a “higher standard” and Chris South related the statistic about the percentage of incarcerated youth. For her part, Doris Schonbrunner stated she thought that racial profiling was a problem because of community input she’d received in her campaign.

The naysayers had vastly different reasons for their stands. Pusey simply said that profiling wasn’t a problem here, but Roberts claimed it “exists everywhere”. He added that the WCSD keeps track of racial statistics as far as those who are stopped for violations, etc. Mike Lewis claimed that he only profiles “criminals” and is prejudiced against them. This brought a loud burst of cheers and applause. Kirk Daugherty noted that he’d not worked in the WCSD since 2000 so he couldn’t address the issue.

So finally the forum was finished and I was standing up and putting my stuff together when Ken Pusey and his wife came up to me. They wanted me to clarify a remark I’d made in the post I did on the first Sheriff’s forum where I said:

“as part of a restructuring (Pusey) promised he would as quickly as possible place five more deputies on the road.”

I think when I said “deputies” I misspoke somewhat – to me, all those who are under the sheriff are what I call deputies. What he wanted to clarify was that there were five officers in the department who wouldn’t have a problem with returning to road duty, and there weren’t going to be new hires. So I was happy he and Mrs. Pusey came over to tell me this, I have no problem with attempting to get the story straight. What was funny is that they didn’t know me until they heard me introduce myself as a candidate for Central Committee. At that point I was busted. Oh well.

The other thing that should be interesting is that I received a NAACP questionnaire called “Value Our Vote.” What’s going to make my day is that the NAACP position is automatically “support” for each question, and just looking at the back four questions I already oppose two of them. As the survey says, “If the candidate answers “oppose” to any of the questions, please ask for an explanation for that response.”

Oh, this ought to be fun! I have the feeling I’m going to find out why Rush Limbaugh calls them the “NAALCP” as the L stands for Liberal. And I doubt the NAACP is bargaining for a multipage response but they’ll get one. Actually, now that I look at this full thing – I might just oppose all but about two or three of these. Yeah, I’m going to be one of those “racist, bigoted, sexist, homophobe Republicans” but my guide sits by my desk, it’s called the Constitution.

Shorebird of the week 7-27-2006

July 27, 2006 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · 1 Comment 

Shorebird infielder Blake Davis in his first pro at-bat July 11.

Sometimes in life you get to see a first. Once in awhile, it’s the beginning of something special. The jury is still out on the second part, but I happened to catch the professional debut of this week’s SotW a couple weeks back. While he’s not setting the SAL on fire yet, Blake Davis has moved into the starting shortstop role for the Shorebirds and is doing a respectable job at the plate. Thus far in 14 games he’s 14 for 53, which translates to a .265 average – 30 points better than the team’s as a whole. In addition, the speedy Californian has stolen 4 bases. For a full season that works out to 40 so he’s a threat to run.

Drafted in the fourth round this year out of Fullerton State, Davis may well be on a fast track up the Orioles chain. Generally the draft class of 2006 toils in Bluefield or Aberdeen but Davis made his debut in a Delmarva uniform. With Miguel Tejada being the subject of trade rumors because the Orioles are “sellers” at the trade deadline, the roadblock for Davis’s major league dream may be shoved aside. While he’s certainly not ready at this early career stage, it’s quite possible this picture may be of a future double play partner to Brian Roberts.

For the record, that initial at-bat led to a groundout to second base. However, he did get his first pro hit later in the same contest, a bloop single past the diving Lexington shortstop.

Ten questions for…Patrick Armstrong

This is the first edition of the Ten Questions series that deals with candidates for the Maryland General Assembly. As I stated when I sent all of the questionnaires out, resposes will be posted on a “first come, first serve” basis so response number 1 comes from District 38A Delegate hopeful Patrick Armstrong.

Obviously, this will also be the first time that the “Maryland General Assembly” edition of the Ten Questions is posted, so let me know what you think of them!

Question #1:

Some of you participated in the recent special session to modify the large rate hikes that were to be enacted by Baltimore Gas & Electric. However, our electrical rates from the local Eastern Shore suppliers went unchanged. With that in mind, would you be more in favor of a total repeal of the 1999 deregulation laws, or do you believe the concept is sound and only needs a few guardrails and rate safeguards?

We have seen the effects of deregulation of energy across the country over the past several years and those who pay the bills have felt the pain in their wallet. I believe that deregulation was a mistake made several years ago by the General Assembly and I favor repealing that decision. I believe that energy is such a vital service that we must not allow shifting markets and unforeseeable problems to stand in the way of access to electricity. As it stands today I support efforts to reduce the strain of increased electricity costs to families on the shore. I do not believe re-regulation is likely to occur but I would support it and encourage it if elected. I also would have worked with the General Assembly and the Governor to address the rate hikes taking effect from Delmarva Power. We need a new leader who will stand up and give the lower shore a voice in the legislature.

Question #2:

In the last two sessions of the General Assembly, the issue of health insurance and who pays for it has taken center stage. (Examples: the Fair Share Health Care Act and its proposed expansion with last year’s HB1510, which was sponsored by Delegate Hubbard and defeated in committee.) Recently the state of Massachusetts adopted legislation effective in 2007 mandating all residents secure coverage under some public or private health insurance plan or face a financial penalty. Do you see this concept as an idea Maryland should adopt?

I think this idea should be given serious consideration by the General Assembly. While the infrastructure is not yet in place to a point where we can force individuals to purchase health care it is possible to however to work towards this goal. The high cost to Maryland taxpayers paying for emergency room visits by those who have no insurance must be addressed. This is an issue I feel should be taken up the legislature and I would support it with the proper safeguards in place to protect working families and the working poor.

Question #3:

Within our area, Somerset County traditionally has among the highest unemployment rates in the state of Maryland. In every election, well-paying jobs and how to secure them is an issue. If you are elected to the General Assembly, what policies would you favor commencing or retaining in an attempt to create or lure good-paying jobs for the Eastern Shore?

I believe the eastern shore can thrive with the growth we are already seeing and that we can manage that growth to fit within our communities. I support business incentives to draw companies to the shore. I support easier access to community colleges and universities for our residents who wish to study a trade. I support an increase in job fairs and mobile job recruitment vans. I would support legislation to encourage businesses to invest in the shore and create infrastructure capable of allowing businesses to expand onto the shore. I believe growth and expansion must be managed keeping in mind the way of life of the communities involved and ensuring proper environmental protections as we try to bring new jobs and smart growth to the lower eastern shore.

Question #4:

This year a state takeover of several failing Baltimore City Schools was thwarted by the General Assembly overriding an earlier veto of a bill Governor Ehrlich rejected. A few states, though, are attempting to remove themselves from the federal “No Child Left Behind” regulations for various reasons, even at the risk of losing federal dollars. Do you support the federal NCLB mandates or do you feel the state could and should go without the additional restrictions (and funding)?

Today I believe that Maryland should stick with NCLB and the federal funding it brings. As for he legislation passed by Congress, NCLB is a lousy legal mess. The problems it creates for teachers and the roadblocks it puts into place for students are numerous. While many provisions are important for the future of our schools the majority of NCLB has failed our children and our schools, as many states and school boards across the country and in Maryland have discovered. This in mind, Maryland is currently in compliance with NCLB and I believe that we should continue to accept the federal assistance for our schools at this time. As for Baltimore, if a failing school cannot be remedied by the local jurisdiction than it should be taken over by the State until a solution can be found. No school in Maryland should be allowed to fall below our highest expectations for performance and quality education.

Question #5:

In the 2006 General Assembly, the Blackwater development in Cambridge became a contentious issue which led to legislation that was eventually defeated. However, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has continued to apply pressure to legislators and encouraged voters to speak out on what they perceive as a threat to bay water quality. On the other hand, the city of Cambridge sees Blackwater as a needed shot in the arm for its economy and tax base. Where do you see yourself on this issue and related development matters?

I believe that development can occur without serious damage to the bay and surrounding waters. Unfortunately, at this time we do not have in place the proper laws requiring strict environmental protections from runoff and waste disposal. I believe that Blackwater is a dangerous development plan and should be held to much stricter environmental protections than those that are currently in place. As for the lower shore, we understand the importance of the Bay’s health and we understand the need for growth. I propose we hold developers accountable for protecting the bay as they build and ensure that every possible safeguard is in place to prevent further devastation to the waters around the eastern shore.

Question #6:

The last two sessions of the General Assembly have seen an inordinate amount of time spent dealing with personnel matters and political appointments. Some have claimed this as a usurpation of power properly belonging to the executive branch (governor’s office) but others see this as a proper extension of the duties of the General Assembly. In your opinion, has the General Assembly gone too far or does the Governor still wield too much power when it comes to personnel decisions?

Members of both political parties can agree that political establishments in Maryland have too much power. I believe that removing some of the more basic appointment decisions from the governor is a reasonable step to take. Our executive branch has more power than any other in the country and by reducing that power we can be sure that appointments are keep in check now and in future administrations of either political party.

Question #7:

For the Eastern Shore, transportation can sometimes be tricky because of Bay Bridge traffic and traveling to and from the beach on a summer weekend can be a real headache. Solutions advocated range from another Bay Bridge to a ferry service to a light rail system, and as always people want the existing highways improved. What transportation improvements do you feel are a priority for the Eastern Shore, and how would you pay for them?

I believe that we must focus on improving the highways we have and in looking into the addition of a new Bay Bridge. If it were to be deemed economically feasible for a ferry or light rail crossing to succeed than I would strongly support both measures in an attempt to lessen the stress of traffic on our highways and the Bay Bridge. Were a light rail system to be in place to bring residents from Baltimore and neighboring counties all the way to Ocean City than I would see that as a major step toward reducing highway traffic, environmental impacts, and reducing the strain on our oil supply. If this would be used by residents I would strongly support such a project as would I support a ferry crossing.

Question #8:

Drugs and gangs are a growing problem on the Eastern Shore. The local authorities do their best but we’re a long way from fighting the problem successfully. In what ways do you think the General Assembly can best address this crime issue, and what tools do you see working best?

Gang violence starts small and spreads. We need a strong crack down on gang violence in Maryland. The General Assembly needs to consider increasing state funding for police in areas where a limited tax base cannot afford the necessary improvements to police forces. The lower shore needs such support to curb gangs and violence. The General Assembly must also stand strong in supporting after school programs on the lower shore. Nothing has proven more effective in stopping gang proliferation than healthy after school programs for kids in danger of falling through the cracks.

Question #9:

This year, you will be the first in the history of the General Assembly to be nominated and elected through the use of early voting. Proponents have stated that early voting is beneficial for turnout, but others claim the new regulations will encourage fraud and have petitioned to place the issue on the ballot as a referendum. In addition, these same laws have made absentee ballots available upon request with no reason needed. With that in mind, are you in favor of repealing the early voting laws, and why?

No. I believe that early voting is essential to providing working families convenient access to the polls and will give a voice to those on the shore who are far away from their designated polling places. I also believe that increasing access to absentee ballots will improve voter turnout and accomplish the goal of easy access for citizens on the shore.

Question #10:

It is almost a certainty at this early date that either Governor Ehrlich will be reelected or Baltimore mayor Martin O’Malley will take over the governor’s chair early next year. If you are elected to the General Assembly and the representative of the opposite party (i.e. a Democrat would be working with Governor Ehrlich, a Republican would be working with Mayor O’Malley) wins election, with what issues do you see being able to find common ground with the governor?

I have supported Governor Ehrlich’s budget plans and his fiscal responsibility. I support his dedication to stem cell research. I also support limited slot machine usage at certain Maryland racetracks under strict containment conditions. I believe working with either Bob Ehrlich or Martin O’Malley will involve great cooperation and a healthy spirit of ideas. I would like to be elected to represent the lower shore in the General Assembly regardless of an individual’s vote for Governor. Crossing party lines is a great show of just how much choice we have in America when we go to vote. I hope that members of both political parties will choose me when voting for the House of Delegates.

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

Some very compelling answers from Mr. Armstrong, thus it appears this setup for the Ten Questions is off to a solid start. The next one on the docket just so happens to be Tony Bruce, who will be Patrick’s Democratic Party primary opponent on September 12. This will be Saturday’s edition of the Ten Questions.

I got a letter in my snail mail today with two neatly handwritten pages on it. That will be typed out on Friday as the next edition of Ten Questions. The sender was U.S. Senate candidate Richard Shawver, who was one of the very late entries into the race. But he’ll get his due space on monoblogue.

I also got an e-mail this morning from District 38B candidate Sonny Bloxom with his answers to the Ten Questions so that will be upcoming a week from Saturday, as he’s the fourth to respond. He’ll be one of two 38B candidates to have his TQ answers posted next week, the other Jack Lord.

WCRC meeting – July 2006

July 25, 2006 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on WCRC meeting – July 2006 

To continue the seafood theme that last week’s Tawes Crab and Clam Bake began, people were packed in like sardines for this month’s meeting. Over 60 were stuffed into our meeting room and dined on crab dip among other finger snack foods, thanks to volunteer (and District 5 contender) Dorothy White.

Now originally when this meeting was announced, District 37 Senator Rich Colburn was the featured speaker. But thanks to Colburn’s calendar having conflicting events, Wicomico County Sheriff candidate Mike Lewis was added to the speaker bill, and honestly I think he’s the one who drew the increased crowd.

As usual, we started with the Pledge of Allegiance and the usual business of the minutes and treasurer’s report. And as usual, both were motioned, seconded, and passed unanimously. Interesting how that works. But we did find out that there’s 227 active members in the club now, with 61 unpaid.

We did hear first from Dustin Mills, who was volunteered to restart the dormant Lower Shore Young Republican Club. He was hopeful to get it off the ground in late September, and it would involve the same three counties that host our Lincoln Day dinner (Wicomico, Worcester, Somerset.) A word of advice to young Dustin, from someone who’s been there…make sure you have motivated volunteers and a leader who knows how to delegate. Unfortunately, I’m probably the worst delegator in the world. But the part about motivated volunteers is helpful because without them you have no one to delegate to.

Also, the club needs a food volunteer for next month’s meeting. I’m not sure how to beat crab dip though.

We also heard briefly from Woody Willing of the Wicomico County Board of Elections, where they still need GOP election volunteers. But the main part of his remarks was a breakdown of the current party affiliation by Council District (there are 5 in Wicomico County.)

District 1 (which takes in the northwestern sections of the county, including Delmar and Hebron) has 5,448 Democrats and 2,450 Republicans.

District 2 (the western section of the county, including Sharptown, Mardela Springs, Fruitland, and the small communities along State Route 349) runs 5,418 Republicans to 5,200 Democrats.

District 3 (Pittsville, Willards, Powellville, and the remainder of eastern Wicomico County plus a swath along its southern border that curls around to the U.S. 13 bypass and the southeastern portion of Salisbury) has 4,637 Republicans and 4,345 Democrats. This is my district because of that curl – if I walk across Old Ocean City Road I’m in District 5.

District 4 (predominantly the southern half of the city of Salisbury, but with a panhandle that takes in a narrow swath between U.S. 13 and the north branch of the Wicomico River in Salisbury) has 3,637 Democrats and 2,591 Republicans.

District 5 (sort of the northeastern section of the county between U.S. 13 and Parsonsburg Road, it includes part of Parsonsburg and the northeast quadrant of Salisbury including the Centre of Salisbury) contains 4,259 Democrats and 3,382 Republicans.

By my public school math skills, I added these totals up to give me 22,889 Democrats and 18,478 Republicans. While my goal as a Central Committeeman would be to reverse these numbers in four years, it still means that the 7,000 or so independents are going to decide many an election.

After Willing finished, we got to hear from Senator Colburn. Stating that this is “the most important election in my lifetime”, he related a story from his childhood. When he was four years old, Hurricane Hazel struck the area and Colburn said he could recall it clearly. A month afterward, Governor Theodore McKeldin was reelected but Colburn said he had no memory of that. However, what makes that important is that 1954 was the last time a Republican governor won a second term in Maryland. While I’m sure no one would like a major hurricane blowing through Chesapeake Bay again, we’d all like to see Governor Ehrlich remain in office. One reason is the two appointments that the incoming governor will make the the Maryland Court of Appeals. Further, Colburn commented that despite the usually negative editorials from the Baltimore Sun, the paper still termed the election as being “up for grabs.”

For his part, the Senator remarked that when he was first elected to the House of Delegates in 1982 (in his second try, he lost the first by just over 300 votes) he was one of just two Republicans in the Eastern Shore delegation. Even with his move to the Senate, he’s remained a very staunch and pro-business Republican, getting high marks from organizations like the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation for Independent Business, and Maryland Business for Responsive Government. All of the organizations gave him a rating of at least 90% as far as his votes, the NFIB score was a perfect 100.

But, Colburn warned, this record would make him a target for the liberals. He saw the opposition galvanizing around three votes he made in the last two sessions – the Healthy Air Act, the minimum wage bill, and the Fair Share Health Care Act. In defending these votes, he stated that the effects of the Healthy Air Act could be the closing of one power plant and possibly brownouts due to the constrained supply. He criticized the minimum wage bill as “politics over economics” and noted that the Democrats didn’t make this an issue when there was a Democrat governor who obviously would’ve supported it.

His most stinging rebukes were saved for the Fair Share bill, a measure he said was “unfair…and selective” and was a “highly partisan bribe to (the) unions.” Continuing in that vein, he quipped that this was a “tough month for the liberals” as they lost two court cases concerning the Public Service Commission and the Fair Share bill, plus saw the utilities they chained up by passing a so-called rate relief bill have their bonds sink into junk bond status, thus guaranteeing them higher interest rates for borrowing.

To close, he said he expected “lies and innuendo” from the Democrats campaigning against him, and concluded “I don’t want Maryland managed like Baltimore city”, an obvious jab at Baltimore mayor and Democrat candidate Martin O’Malley.

Upon Colburn’s finish, the assembled perked up as Mike Lewis had a video presentation to go along with his words. First, he did have a few remarks, stating up front that he was a “die-hard Republican” who fully supported Bob Ehrlich, Michael Steele, and President Bush.

Lewis rolled on, speaking of his Maryland State Patrol career where he became an expert at interdicting drugs. He started out doing this along U.S. 13, which he claimed became the preferred alternative route for drug traffickers after the heat became too intense along I-95. Some of the nation’s largest crack seizures occurred along our stretch of that road. In fact, he noted that he was so good at stopping the smugglers that he had two contracts on his life, which led the MSP to promote him to become a sergeant at the Annapolis MSP office for his safety. He got back into the interdiction game when he was placed in charge of overseeing the task statewide by Governor Ehrlich.

He had one interesting comment up front. There was one where he stated that he’d never been a principal in any racial profiling lawsuits brought by the ACLU or NAACP. In the later stages of his presentation, he did talk a lot about the “investigative advantage” of traffic stops. This led me to believe that somebody thought he was targeting too many minority drivers, but as he explained there’s telltale signs that one can gather illegal activity from regardless of race. Put another way, “Criminals are most vulnerable at traffic stops.” As an example, Mike recited how mass killers Ted Bundy and Timothy McVeigh were captured due to observant state policemen at routine traffic stops.

As to how he became interested in the Sheriff’s job, he told us that he’d been “hurt and concerned” over what’s happened in Wicomico County, but had no interest in the job until Sheriff Nelms announced he wouldn’t seek another term. At that point he decided to run, since he had served long enough in the MSP for retirement.

The first presentation he showed us was a short remainder of the events of 9/11. While it’s good to be reminded of that, especially from someone in law enforcement, I wasn’t quite sure of the point of showing it. I know I haven’t forgotten, but perhaps it’s true that as he stated too many Americans already have.

I found the second part of his presentation quite interesting, as he showed a video of a traffic stop he had made. There were several tips and techniques he showed that he’s teaching others to do on a national and international scale. The most intriguing one is placing a hand on the car as the trooper walks up to it on the passenger side. (Ask him about why, I kind of thought it was a neat trick of the trade and I’ll not reveal it.)

But the video he went through blow by blow as the perp was carefully observed and certain actions and clues led Lewis and his partner to believe the van was carrying drugs. Sure enough, once a K-9 unit was on the scene, it became obvious and the man driving the car was arrested for having about a half million dollars of cocaine in his car headed for PG County. I had to snicker when I saw Lewis and his partner at the end of the video bust trading high fives and a shoulder bump.

One thing Lewis stressed in his talk over the video was the importance of in-car cameras, and he claimed that there was federal money available for grants because of our having a commercial airport. This would be Homeland Security money and he would strive to get some to provide Wicomico County deputies with that equipment.

He concluded his presentation by showing us a fishtank stand. But it wasn’t an ordinary one. This one was rigged with electronic pistons that were activated by waving a transmitter over the back. Once activated, it revealed a secret compartment. This was found at a home in Salisbury, and at one time held over $200,000 in drug cash. Now it’s part of Lewis’s show-and-tell presentation while its former owner is cooling his heels in prison for the next 25 years or so.

Mike then took a few questions after this informative multimedia show. In a query about school resource officers, he was quick to answer “we need more of them.” But the problem wasn’t quite about that, it had to do with turnover. Lewis stated that he would assign officers and walk the halls with them a few times as needed to build the students’ trust in the officers.

I’m going to go out of order here because the second question of the three had the most interesting answer. But the last question had to do with priorities – while busting drug smugglers on Route 13 was important, what happens to the call about a vandalized mailbox? Lewis told the man who asked that “everyone will get a quality investigation” and not just a police report. He added that he’d do “everything in his power” to reopen all of the substations; in fact one is to reopen shortly, I believe it was in Powellville.

Now to that most interesting and magnanimous answer. A question was asked about the Sheriff Department’s $7 million budget and 110 employees and how Lewis would handle the administrative end. Mike admitted that it was probably his weakest point and clearly stated that Doris Schonbrunner would be appreciated and welcomed to stay on as his second-in-command should he win the job, continuing in her current post.

He concluded by saying that he was planning to take his retirement and continue teaching the methods of drug interdiction full time until the opportunity of the open Sheriff’s chair came about. But in boiling the presentation down, it’s all about, as he termed, “organized crime against disorganized law enforcement” and that was something he was going to work to change.

As I wrote at the top, we had quite the turnout there. So there were a few closing remarks made, mostly by John Bartkovich. Much of it was soliciting volunteers for upcoming events, including the Farm and Home Show next month. I’m signed up to be there on the 17th at 4:00 p.m., the first guy out of the chute. But we’ll also have workers manning a space at the Riverfest in September and the Chamberfest and Autumn Wine Festival in October.

Another subject brought up was voter registration and getting those cards filled out. There’s a course on it and a call was placed about whether there would be interest in a club-sponsored class on that. Since there would be more discussion on it afterward, I don’t have the results at the moment.

But this month’s meeting was probably among the best we’ve had, particularly with turnout. We did a quick (well, except for Bonnie Luna and John Cannon) introduction of all the candidates who were there, and I counted 21 including myself. Just like on the ballot, I was the last one. So vote from the bottom up.

Election Calendar – July 24 thru August 6

July 23, 2006 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on Election Calendar – July 24 thru August 6 

I really have very little to place on the calendar this week, as only two candidates have formally scheduled events on their dockets, and they’re both District 38B contenders. You actually can save me the typing and just go to Jack Lord‘s and Bonnie Luna‘s websites, they are linked to the side. (I am curious how Bonnie will be two places at once on the 29th.)

There are at least three main events coming in the next two weeks. I’d love to have a member of the Wicomico County Democratic Club (or whatever it’s called) confirm this, but I believe they normally meet on the 3rd Wednesday…that was the day of the Tawes event so perhaps they pushed that meeting back? I’d love to give them equality of opportunity. But equality of positive results is another thing entirely.

Anyhow, for those reading in Wicomico County:

July 24: The Wicomico County Republican Club meets in their usual monthly meeting at the Chamber of Commerce Building at 144 E. Main Street in Salisbury – social hour is at 7:00 and meeting starts at 7:30. Originally Rich Colburn, incumbent Senator from District 37, was slated to speak, and he will. But late word is that Wicomico County Sheriff candidate Mike Lewis will utter some remarks (and probably inspiring one-liners) as well.

July 27: NAACP candidate forum at the Mills Memorial Baptist Temple at 1323 Jersey Road in Salisbury. This one will feature those running for Sheriff, State’s Attorney, Judge of the Orphans Court, and the two central committees. So I’ll be there (since I’m on the ballot for Central Committee) and hopefully the gentleman with the ten stickers and the gawdawful green O’Malley shirt will be there too, I thought his badge said Wicomico County Democrat Central Committee. Just keep that shirt at home, please.

August 3: Another NAACP candidate forum but this time the location shifts to the First Baptist Church auditorium at 528 Booth Street in Salisbury. The final of three forums the organization is sponsoring will focus on the General Assembly races.

Unfortunately, I don’t seem to be getting a lot of help from the campaigns so the calendar is getting a bit thin. It’s not worth a lot of time if I’m just finding relevant events from two contenders; not to say that their website calendars aren’t useful but it may be more prudent for me timewise just to note that their calendars on their websites have these events and stick to the more public ones. You know, the Election Calendar is and remains a work in progress.

Now, as for Bill Reddish’s WICO-AM morning radio show, I’m aware of the following scheduled guests. All of these are for Wicomico County offices:

July 24: District 4 Council candidate Neil Bayne.
July 25: District 3 Council candidate Mike Pretl.
July 26: District 4 Council candidate David MacLeod.
July 27: District 5 Council candidate Ed Werkheiser.
July 28: District 5 Council candidate Joe Holloway.

July 31: District 1 Council candidate Mac Hayward.
August 1: District 4 Council candidate Bryan Brushmiller.

After that, we begin on the state offices, all of these are contenders for the House of Delegates District 38B seat:

August 2: candidate Bill McDermott.
August 3: appointed incumbent Jim Mathias.
August 4: candidate Sonny Bloxom.

If Bill Reddish happens to be reading this, I’d love the update on who’s coming in the first week of August and also if he’s managed to reschedule Martin O’Malley’s slated appearance. (Late edit, I knew Bill would come through – and he’s adding “issue interviews” in the 8:40 slot now where possible.) I believe it was last Wednesday that both he and Michael Steele were to be interviewed over the phone. Steele made his interview slot (a couple minutes late) but O’Malley never called in. Somehow I don’t think that qualifies as “Leadership for Maryland.”

A couple final notes: there will be no Political Calendar on August 13th, I’m going to be on vacation. So the August 6th one will probably creep a few extra days into a third week so folks can stay on top of things.

Also, astute readers of monoblogue might have noticed that there wasn’t a Ten Questions on Friday. As I said, I’ve exhausted all of the responses I’ve gotten from Maryland candidates to date. You can click on the “Ten Questions” category in the upper left corner to catch those who have replied and those who got snarky remarks because they didn’t.

So far I have 7 replies out of a total of 28 people for the Senate seat and none of 4 for the Maryland District 1 House seat. I have two people who I haven’t sent the Ten Questions to because I just crosschecked my list vs. the state’s and I’m two short. That will be rectified in the next couple days. So far I’ve gotten replies from:

Democrats (4): David Dickerson (July 7), Allan Lichtman (June 5), Dennis Rasmussen (June 30), and Mike Schaefer (June 20).

Republicans (2): Earl Gordon (July 18) and Daniel “Wig Man” Vovak (July 15).

Unity Campaign (Green/Libertarian/Populist): Kevin Zeese (July 8 ).

And I’m pleased to announce that I have 3 responses thus far to my Maryland General Assembly “Ten Questions.” Look for these starting Wednesday, scheduled as follows:

July 26: District 38A Democrat Patrick Armstrong leads off the series.
July 29: Fellow District 38A Democrat contestant Tony Bruce.
August 2: District 38B Republican Jack Lord.

Right, but for the wrong reasons

Unless you’ve crawled under a rock only to emerge today, you should already know that last week a federal judge threw out the so-called “Fair Share Health Care Act” (aka the Wal-Mart bill.) Gunpowder Chronicle and fellow MBA blogger Maryland Conservatarian have excellent posts on the matter.

But while I agree with their takes for the most part, I did want to add my two cents in because in the early days of monoblogue and my former blog ttown’s right wing conspiracy, Wal-Mart was one of my pet issues. It was the first thing I ever spoke to Norm Conway about back when the override vote was going to happen in January.

What I told Norm was that I disagreed with the purpose and punitive nature of the act, however, I did have to begrudingly concede that to me the Maryland General Assembly was the proper venue for it. And this is what bothers me about Judge Motz’s ruling last week. There he cited that Fair Share is trumped by federal ERISA laws and also that it would be unfair for Wal-Mart to have to track its Maryland costs differently than it would in the rest of the country.

But Wal-Mart already has to suit its business to fit in 50 different states, not to mention a byzantine system of local laws. In some states they have design their stores with space to accept returned bottles, for example. Other localities prohibit Wal-Mart from having a grocery component. I doubt that you could walk into a Wal-Mart and find that it’s precisely the same as another Wal-Mart anywhere in the chain. So to me the cost tracking issue is a weak argument.

In fact, Motz notes, “In light of what is generally perceived as a national health care crisis, it would seem that to the extent ERISA allows (emphasis mine), it is strongly in the public interest to permit states to perform their traditional role of serving as laboratories for experiment in controlling the costs and increasing the quality of health care for all citizens.”

It seems to me that a true follower of the Constitution would have to say that ERISA was the problem and not the “Fair Share Health Care Act.” That’s certainly not to say that I’m a supporter of the Wal-Mart bill, but to me the proper way to eliminate it (short of legislation rescinding the bill) is to have a state court decide the matter on whether it violates Articles 16 and 17 of the Constitution of Maryland. And if they say it’s not forbidden by those Articles, we work to elect a General Assembly more amenable to the interests of businesses and other private job providers.

Akin to the Reds “winning” the 1919 World Series over the “Black Sox”, the result I wanted came out of this, but for the wrong reasons and in the wrong arena.

1,000 politicians

July 21, 2006 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Personal stuff, Politics · Comments Off on 1,000 politicians 

As advertised, if you were a politician in Maryland, you were more than likely in Crisfield yesterday eating crabs, clams, trout, corn on the cob, watermelon, and all the other fixins. And if you weren’t walking around with something political on your person, you were the odd duck indeed.

Here’s a few highlights and observations I had about the J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake. It’s the first one I’d gone to, so it was all new to me!

First of all, I think the organizers did a really good job. Whenever you cram 5,500 people into a fairly small area, you’re going to have lines. But in general, I sailed through them all with little problem or hassle. I guess they need more politicians at, say, the MVA, or the “20 items or less” aisle at Wal-Mart.

I got to talking to a LOT of people there. But one observation me and I think it was Dustin Mills (Mike James’s campaign person) had was that, of 5,000 people there, 1,000 were politicians, 3,500 were their hangers-on, and the other 500 were really the only ones from Crisfield. At least it was a funny joke to us.

Ended up speaking with 4 of the 5 38B Republicans, plus briefly with Page Elmore, all of the current GOP county councilpeople, and Major Doris. (Saw Mike Lewis but I was talking to someone else at the time so I didn’t get a chance to greet him.) One thing I think would have been more interesting for the Tawes people to do would’ve been to place the Republican and Democrat tents side-by-side. I sort of made the circuit from the GOP tent to the food line to the Pepsi truck but didn’t make a large number of detours to the Democrat tent, since they were stuck back in a corner. Need those links!

Also, I did reacquaint myself with Michael Steele, who was there, but I was very disappointed Governor Ehrlich didn’t make it down. Kristen Cox is a nice lady, I’m sure, but she just doesn’t have the star power of the Guv. I saw the grand entrance of one Martin O’Malley, escorted by a group of 15-20 people, mostly young, in these obnoxious bright puke green T-shirts. Mayor, if you govern the way your campaign coordinator picks out shirt colors, there’s going to be a mass exodus to Delaware. (Sort of like the one out of Baltimore, come to think of it.) The person I saw with the most campaign stickers on him had ten (by my count) and was wearing an O’Malley shirt. Had I been a little older and with more experience taking psychotropic drugs in the sixties, it may have induced a flashback seeing all those colors on one person.

I did notice that the rain came when O’Malley showed up. I suppose it all depends on your party affiliation as to whether the rain was a nuisance or welcome relief.

Speaking of rain, I was talking to Jack Lord (who is not dead), and I got to ask him something I’d been curious about for awhile. Since I knew he was a farmer, I had to ask him about something I’ve seen in my travels around Delmarva, especially down that way toward Crisfield and Pocomoke along Route 13. What I wondered is why it seems like a lot of the land down there is not agricultural but more of a scrub land. The answer Jack gave me was that the land doesn’t drain well, which I sort of suspected. (I did grow up in an agricultural area.)

It’s strange because the area I grew up in (Northwest Ohio) was once the Great Black Swamp, but the farmers and the fledgling state of Ohio developed a large system of drainage ditches and the onetime marsh became some really great agricultural land. I think the possibilities should be studied here, as growth swallows up farmland. Something tells me the zealots at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation would sue before the first shovel was turned. It’s what they do isn’t it?

I must say that the three hours passed pretty quickly. The rain started the exodus, but I hung around until about 4:15. Parking was a lot easier then, I had a 12 minute walk just to get to the line when I arrived but it seemed a lot shorter going back, probably because of all the empty spots. Hope the folks charging $10 for parking don’t spend all their money in one place, although that could be hard to do judging by some of the yards.

But what floored me the most wasn’t the food or the politics. The sheer fact that busloads of people from other parts of Maryland come down here for this event was what floored me. On that note, I wanted to put a shout out to Lynn, who I sat down with to get out of the rain (and stayed to talk to for awhile after the sun came out.) Thanks to her, I have a commemorative mug – reason being she was drinking beer because she was riding a bus home to Anne Arundel County while I was drinking diet Pepsi because I was driving back to Salisbury. She offered me the (empty) mug and I gladly accepted.

So the third Wednesday in July next year will be circled and I’ll go back down. It was a blast, Crisfield.

Shorebird of the week 7-20-2006

July 20, 2006 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Shorebird of the week 7-20-2006 

Shorebird catcher Zach Dillon checks his sign during a recent game.

When a team is last in the league in hitting, any offensive shot in the arm is good. When it comes from a player who plays a position that’s been lagging in offense much of the season, it’s a bonus. Catcher Zach Dillon has provided this offensive spark, at least in his first 21 games.

The Iowa native and product of Baylor University is knocking the ball around at a .313 clip in his 64 at-bats, with a homer and 10 RBI (and as an added bonus, 13 walks vs. 11 strikeouts.) He’s certainly not playing like a 20th round pick – usually those are the guys you pick to fill out the rookie league rosters and maybe they’ll stick for 2-3 seasons.

With this offense, skipper Gary Kendall is finding it tough to keep Dillon out of the lineup. Considering the other three catchers that have played most of the year (Dahlberg, Gutierrez, Snyder) are hitting a combined .203, the offensive hole behind the plate just found a filler. With this bat, the Shorebirds can be just a little more patient with some of the defensive lapses (3 errors in 21 games.)

It will be interesting to see whether this offense continues. Right now, he’s leaped over the two catchers picked in front of him this year (one apparently is unsigned, the other in rookie-league Bluefield) as well as last season’s #1 pick (former SotW and Aberdeen catcher Brandon Snyder.) But with the offensive struggles of the Shorebirds it seems like the hot bat will be in the lineup as a catcher or designated hitter for as long as the embers glow.

Ten questions for…Earl Gordon

July 18, 2006 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, Ten Questions · Comments Off on Ten questions for…Earl Gordon 

This edition of the Ten Questions is going to be intriguing to say the least.

One of the candidates for Senate on the Republican side is Earl Gordon. Because he listed no e-mail address, I mailed his copy to him. About two weeks later, I received a large manila envelope in the mail from the “NWGOP”. Earl Gordon is the creator (or at least I assume so) of what he calls the “Nationalist Wing” of the Republican Party.

The problem I had is that this envelope came with the cover letter, and two sets of documents. Both are double-spaced, but “Domestic Policy” was 31 pages, and “Foreign Policy” was 16 pages. Obviously in answering my Ten Questions, he chose to send me ALL of his positions.

As a sacrifice to the cause of informing voters, tonight I sat down and reread both of these treatises. Twice. And still I couldn’t find answers to all Ten Questions, he skipped over the ones on ethics and campaign finance, and sort of glossed over pork spending. Plus his Iraq answer would’ve taken me all night to retype, so I put in what I saw as the highlights.

So I tell you what. If you want the full 47 pages sent to you, his address is P.O. Box 1513, Olney, MD 20830-1513. I did the best I could, and have transcribed his answers as they appeared on my copy. Any misspellings I found were marked (sic). But capitalization, punctuation, etc. are true to the original and I sourced the pages I found what answers I did find to these questions.

My Ten Questions work out to just about two pages in a WordPerfect file. His answers that I typed make it just under four, so he did have some depth to his answers, just not enough answers.

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?

“The United States does not face an immigration crisis. The United States is just lacking an appropriate refuges (sic) policy to deal with people who were displaced by the socioeconomic disaster that was created by the pro American Neo Cons brutal military-political dictatorships in Central and South America over the past years. The United States should treat these refugees with respect and human dignity, mindful of the contribution many are making to the economic stability of the food supply (farm workers) and housing market (construction workers.) Whatever financial cost is incurred by the United States in its treatment of some of these refugees should be charged to the nation from which they came, by subtracting the cost from the foreign aid that is given to these nations by the U.S. (All foreigners should be fully aware that English is the official language of the United States, there is no need for an amendment to the constitution on this issue).” (Domestic Policy, Page 25)

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 policy of the Neo Cons presents another act of deception. The American people are told that, due to the demands for oil by nation (sic) such as China and India, the availability of oil on the world market is very limited. So based on the gospel of supply and demand, the prices are high at the gas pump.

The claim by the administration is as deceptive as Iran/Contra and Iraq WMD claims. There are absolutely no shortage (sic) of oil on the world market. The former Soviet Republics have so much oil that they can sell America that, even if the Middle East was up in flames, gas prices should not have been where they are. Moreover, whether one believes it or not, there is enough oil and gas in Central and South America that could serve this nation’s needs for the next one million years at the rate of the present consumption level. This oil could be made available to the American people in a flash, if America’s politics were free of corrupt Neo Cons influences.” (Domestic Policy, Pages 27-28)

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?

(He didn’t have an answer for this.)

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?

(Nor did he have an answer for this.)

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?

“Mr. Gordon believes that it is full time for the voters and the legislative branch of our government to give an ear to Generals Scowcroft and Abizaid, and Director Goss as well as the other Americans who are expressing grave concerns about the Administration’s Iraq doctrine, and to further warn the administration of any military ventures into Syria or Iran (1) without the expressed permission of the United States Congress and (2) acting upon irrefutable evidence that those two nations were in the process of implementing a military strike against the United States mainland or on its military bases abroad. The administration has turned the Iraq war into a quagmire and possibly worse, in terms of potential for a wider war.” (Foreign Policy, Page 5)

“Mr. Gordon strongly supports Congressman John Murtha’s call for the withdrawal of American Military Forces from Iraq. Congressman Murtha is acting in the best interest of the U.S. long term security needs. Any one who condemns Congressman Murtha’s proposal, in light of the revelations of what is taking place in Iraq, should read the history of the German sixth army in Russia during the reign of Hitler.” (Foreign Policy, Page 12)

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?

“It must be noted that during the administration of Gerald Ford, the US wanted to sell nuclear reactors to Iran, because Iran was led by the Shah, a man they saw as America’s friend. The reactors the Americans wanted to sell to Iran were the kind that could produce the materials to construct nuclear weapons. Many of the senior government officials who wanted to sell nuclear reactors to Iran are some of the same people who are now pushing the war in Iraq and for democracy throughout the Middle East.

Today Iran is ruled by a group of men who would have loved to inherit those nuclear reactors from the Shah. Had they done so, Iran would have at least five hundred to a thousand nuclear bombs today. And they would have to be thankful to the Neo Cons.” (Foreign Policy, Page 9)

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?

“Mr. Gordon opposes every effort by the administration to tamper with the social security system. This system is the only federal program that guarantees citizens some form of social security from complete economic destitution. There are no valid reasons to disturb the program at this time, without replacing it with a system that offers better social security guarantees to the American people, something the President’s plan does not do. If the administration wants to tackle a big issue that is of value to the American people, it should tackle the national health care issue. Ducking this issue in the light of the frequency of international travel and the international medical situations that are presented by AIDS, SARS, the Asian Bird Flu, and international terrorists using chemical and biological weapons, is tantamount to ducking a vital national security issue.” (Domestic Policy, Page 11)

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?

(This is the closest answer for this question I could gather.)

“…This economic expansion should take the shape in many forms including the following:

(1) This country should seek an 80% improvement in the quality of life for all its citizens in the next twenty five years, because at present America is becoming one big, congested, semi-socially dysfunctional society.

(2) One of the best way (sic) to reverse this trend is by the impostition of a national economic development plan that is coordinated by a Office in the Federal Government that should be designated the National Economic Development Counsel. This counsel would be responsible for choosing at least ten different areas in this country, in ten different States where the Federal Government should then designate as national economic expansion zones and to build twelve new Philadelphia-size cities in the next twenty five years, with the surrounding industrial, living, and social infrastructure to support a population of at least sixty million Americans.

This project should be funded by private and government funds. This kind of economic activity would generate a boom in economic growth and at the same time creating a society where congestion would decrease and the quality of life would improve tremendously, not only for the present generation of Americans but for all future generations. (These cities and their surrounding areas would be built with the most advanced environmentally friendly technology and human imagination in history.)

The revenue that would be generated from all of the above economic activities would be sufficient to augment the other sources of income that would go to pay for a national health care plan as well as a more advanced and humane national education system. What the Republican Party and this nation need is not narrow minded so called sham compassionate conservatives. This nation needs constructive, visionary, and big thinking compassionate capitalists with big investment plans.” (Domestic Policy, Pages 14-15)

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?

“What America needs is an economic anti-desertion law that makes it illegal for American firms to close a manufacturing plant in this country and go build the same kind of plant in a foreign country. This law should be based on the law that makes it a crime for a member of the U.S. Armed Forces to desert the Armed Forces. A clause should also be added to this law that makes it a crime for any public official or private banking entity to give support to any deserter. If we do not take these kind of legislative actions the neo cons are going to lead this nation down the path that the Romans of ancient times tread.” (Domestic Policy, Page 9)

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.

(I couldn’t find a specific answer to this question, but this is Mr. Gordon’s self-description.)

“Mr. Gordon is John Adams/Teddy Roosevelt/Lincoln/Goldwater/Ike/William P. Rogers/and Melvin Laird oriented.” (Domestic Policy, Page 31)

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

This is the final set of prewritten answers to the Ten Questions that I have. But I just sent copies to the final four stragglers who entered the race, and one has written me back saying he’ll answer the questions once he gets through the questionaires that have a deadline. (You mean I’m not the only one asking questions? Wow.) So on Friday there may not be anything in this space, but most likely on that day I’ll go back over the people who have not answered the Ten Questions yet and prod them once again to answer.

And one week from tomorrow I’ll begin the Ten Questions for the state Delegate and Senate races. I have three answers back, so I suppose until more arrive I’ll just do one each Wednesday and Saturday until I get really backed up. This is an executive decision I made about 10 seconds ago. Besides, I’m going on vacation in August so hopefully things will collect in my mailbox and I’ll have a crush those last 3 weeks before the primary.

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