A Shorebirds preview of sorts?

February 28, 2007 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on A Shorebirds preview of sorts? 

I’m here writing this on Saturday night but my thoughts are turning to spring…I figured this would be a nice post-election break from the political routine! So this actually appears on Wednesday.

Blogging through fellow MBA member Oriole Post, I ran across this article last week by Jeff Zrebiec in the Baltimore Sun regarding the poor progress of Oriole hitting prospects. As it turns out, it appears the Shorebirds will be the beneficiaries of most of the more promising players, including one returnee. If it all pans out we may have one of the best hitting infields in the SAL. Around the horn:

At third base, we may get 2006 first round pick Bill Rowell. He split time between both of the Orioles’ short-season squads in Bluefield and Aberdeen, hitting a combined .328 with 3 homers and 32 RBI (and a sick .917 OPS), outstanding for a raw 17 year old (at the time) player. While he’s barely 18, the 6′-5″ Rowell will tower over most of his teammates. And it’s not unheard of for the Shorebirds to have an 18 year old in their midst since pitcher Brandon Erbe spent the season here last year at that tender age. Also in Bill’s favor for starting at Delmarva is the fact he was a 2006 Baseball America Rookie All-Star.

Shortstop would be manned by Pedro Florimon, who also spent time at both Bluefield and Aberdeen last year. Pedro struggled a bit at Aberdeen with a .248 mark in 26 games but still put together a nice season, combining for a .293 average with a homer and 13 RBI. The switchhitting Dominican did reasonably well in getting on base with an OBP of .403 between the two teams. Not really fleet enough to be a leadoff or #2 hitter, Florimon still could be a dangerous #9 hitter who wouldn’t slow up the top of the order when he got on base.

Moving to the keystone sack, second base might well be held down by Ryan Adams. Last year’s 2nd round draft pick by the O’s was a shortstop last season but may move left a few paces to take over the 2B position in Delmarva. Adams spent much of the 2006 season in Bluefield but got a cup of coffee in Aberdeen during the final week of the campaign. Combined he hit .263 in 40 games while plagued with hamstring problems. He did manage 3 home runs and 12 RBI, plus a solid .782 OPS.

A Shorebird returnee in a new position will take over the 1B position. In 2005 Brandon Snyder was the Orioles’ first pick in the draft and the youngster was primed for a big 2006 in Delmarva behind the plate. But he never got untracked, was sent to Aberdeen, and had his season end under the knife with surgery on his left (nonthrowing) shoulder. So Brandon will remove the tools of ignorance and start out Delmarva stint #2 by donning a slightly different glove and finding out about catching, not just blocking, balls in the dirt. 2006 was a lost season offensively for Snyder, batting just .194 for the ‘Birds with 3 homers and 20 RBI in 38 games. (For hitting so poorly, the RBI total was very good.) Adding in the numbers for Aberdeen, Snyder had only a .213/4/31/.590 season (average/HR/RBI/OPS) – especially concerning was striking out 98 times in 268 total at-bats. Hopefully with the experience of last year, a fresh position, and a healed shoulder, Snyder can show more of the reason he was drafted highly and return to his 2005 form.

The biggest problem with the 2006 Shorebirds was their ineptitude at the plate, especially in the second half. With an infield boasting the last two Oriole #1 draft choices plus a #2 (Florimon was signed as a free agent as Dominicans aren’t subject to baseball’s amateur draft), here’s hoping that this year’s edition will be able to put more runs on the board and better support the very good pitching we’ve had here the last few seasons.

And then there were six…

February 27, 2007 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Politics · 2 Comments 

Actually, my prognostications weren’t too bad, with a couple notable exceptions. If I had flipped the positions of Louise Smith and Gary Comegys I would’ve batted pretty close to 1.000. The four I had as the lowest tier all missed the boat and, with the exception of Smith, my predicted middle tier finished three through six. But congratulations to Louise Smith as the top vote getter. I know she worked hard to get that honor and will continue to do so until all the votes are in April 3rd. (Then the hard work begins, right?)

Realistically, the race now becomes whether Tim Spies can hang on to the number three slot and make this a Crisfield-style “clean sweep.” With such a dreadfully low turnout, the more motivated voters (which tend to be blog readers as well) managed to turn out and they pushed the three favored candidates of my partners in crime, if you will. It looks like the seemingly relentless favorable coverage of Comegys in the Daily Times backfired and all of those signs in rental yards only showed that the support of the Ewalt/Atkins/Comegys team was as real as a Potemkin village. Meanwhile, this also pointed out that the televised debates made a huge difference because Smith, Spies, and Cohen seemed to perform the best in those while Gary Comegys stumbled in both. That hurt him in the vote, but with his incumbency and its advantages he can’t be counted out – he needs only to make up 11 votes to stay in his Council seat.

What will be interesting to see is who the four ousted candidates throw their support behind. (I know Neil Bayne reads monoblogue on occasion, perhaps he’ll comment.) And I’ll continue to watch with interest as the campaign doesn’t have much of a break – only 5 weeks until the general election April 3rd, but a lot can happen in that time. (Maybe we’ll get an audit? You never know.)

There’s one other fascinating aspect to this result. When you think of the Eastern Shore in particular and rural areas of America in general, you think of the “good old boy” network. But should Cohen and Smith be elected, Salisbury’s City Council will be 4/5 female (with a female mayor to boot) and the County Council is close behind as there’s 3 of 7 members who are female, plus their Council Administrator. (Not to mention the parts of Wicomico County represented in the House of Delegates by women.)

And to which party do the majority of these women belong? (Hint: it ain’t Hillary’s.) Just grist for the mill and a point to throw out.

I was also going to do a post on my experience this morning on AM Salisbury and how I thought I did, but it’s late and I have an all-day seminar in Snow Hill tomorrow (that continuing education stuff, you know) so I’ll defer that until tomorrow or Thursday. But there is another post I wrote over the weekend in the monoblogue pipeline so you’ll have lots of new stuff to close out February and bring in March like a lion.

Reminder (and shameless self-promotion)

February 26, 2007 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Personal stuff, Politics · Comments Off on Reminder (and shameless self-promotion) 

Tomorrow morning monoblogue hits the airwaves. Ok, at least I do as I get to sit in Bill Reddish’s “hot seat” on WICO 1320 AM tomorrow morning at 7:40.

When Bill and I set this up, it was ostensibly to give my take on the City Council election tomorrow, but I’m sure we’ll touch on the local blogosphere and maybe a little bit on state politics as well. Hey, it’s his radio show, and as Rush Limbaugh likes to say about his radio show’s callers, I’m just there to make Bill look good. So we’ll see what happens.

WCRC meeting – February 2007

February 26, 2007 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Politics · Comments Off on WCRC meeting – February 2007 

This month we had a relatively low-key meeting compared to many past ones. With no speaker scheduled, it was a chance to see just what kind of draw regular club business had, and I’m proud to say we outdrew the Democrats by a 2 to 1 margin. (Or should I say Democratics? Maybe Democritics would be more apt?)

Anyway, after the regular club business of doing the Pledge of Allegiance, short prayer, approving the minutes, the treasurer’s report, and pretty good news on the voter registration front from Woody Willing, we set to revising our by-laws with some minor changes in format and fixing up misspellings from the old typed version. Also, a change was made allowing our Secretary to concurrently serve on the County Central Committee. Dave Parker requested the change in order to fulfill both tasks – more on that shortly. We also discussed a couple other possible by-law changes but tabled those until the new officers got started, they weren’t of an emergency nature.

Chris von Buskirk filled us in more about the upcoming changes to the Wicomico GOP’s website, which should make it more user-friendly (including a page for the revised by-laws.)

Dustin Mills spoke up about an effort by the SU College Republicans to put together a GOPAC Candidate School later this spring for those interested. He’s also on a parallel track with me as far as getting the Lower Shore YR’s started up again, but I can work with him on that.

We elected our new officers by acclamation. Starting next month the slate will be:

President: George Ossman

First Vice President: Marc Kilmer

Second Vice President: Michael Swartz

Third Vice President: Brad Bellacicco

Fourth Vice President: Helen Shockley

Treasurer: Tom Hughes

Secretary: Dave Parker

Retaining Parker as Secretary was the purpose of passing the by-law change. But we have an interesting mix of people coming in and I look forward to working with them. By the way, part of my duties include the club newsletter and press relations. (That task starts at 7:40 a.m. tomorrow.) They actually asked me to do this a year ago, but I deferred until I felt a little more settled in – now I do.

We heard briefly from our County Councilpersons in attendance, Joe Holloway and Gail Bartkovich. While the honeymoon may be over, they are still working diligently on the county budget, particularly on capital improvements. Louise Smith, candidate for Salisbury City Council, also was there and spoke briefly. We also found out from Brad Bellacicco that another Council candidate forum for the six survivors of tomorrow’s primary will occur March 8th at Salisbury University (PACE is a co-sponsor.)

County Chair Dr. John Bartkovich closed out the proceedings by announcing the Tri-County Lincoln Day dinner date was set for April 29th at the Carousel in Ocean City.

So it was a pretty quiet proceeding tonight, without a lot of fireworks. But things will begin to hum again soon enough with the early Maryland primary barely over a year away. Now’s the best time to lay the foundation for success in the next two election cycles. 

Top 10 priorities for the Salisbury City Council

February 23, 2007 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Politics · Comments Off on Top 10 priorities for the Salisbury City Council 

With apologies to David Letterman and despite the fact I don’t actually live in the city (but do work and do much of my shopping there), here’s my Top 10 list of priorities for the new Salisbury City Council.

10. Fill in the blanks on annexation.

I seem to recall that one thing that the “Dream Team” wanted to do was “square off” the city of Salisbury, but instead they’re attempting to do a number of “pipestem” annexations. Work on filling in the unincorporated spaces so we don’t have situations when we drive down a road and pass in and out of the city several times.

9. Finish the Northeast Collector, and make it go someplace.

We all know that the plan for the Northeast Collector takes it up past the future Aydelotte Farms subdivision and to Zion Road – where it stops. Has anyone put some thought into tying Zion Road into the U.S. 13 interchange by extending the on/off ramps that exist? That way one could either get off at North Salisbury Boulevard (Business U.S. 13) or drive farther down the off ramp to a signal at an intersection built along the existing Zion Road for the Northeast Collector (or vice versa from the southeast on 13/50.) That would make the highway more useful.

8. Be more fiscally prudent.

I’ll cheerfully admit that I don’t have much of an idea about city finances, but logic dictates that a municipality that has a lot of existing debt is going to get killed on the bond market if they go to it again to add more debt. If I borrowed money like the city does, my credit rating would nosedive even if I paid the payments faithfully. Stop mortgaging the future.

7. Pay and/or benefits parity for public safety employees.

At least enough to stop the bleeding. Even if it’s not in pay, figure out other incentives for employees to stay. I liked the comp time idea brought up in Tuesday’s forum by Tim Spies, it’s at least something to move along the conversation on this subject.

6. Help Wicomico County update their Comprehensive Plan.

It’s interesting that, despite the fact the city of Salisbury is perceived as the 800-pound gorilla in the county, it’s actually home to only about 30% of the county’s population. But because of its location in the core growth area, the city has a lot to say about how the county is going to grow so the city also needs to contribute its share of decisionmakers to this effort.

5. Do SOMETHING with the Old Mall – preferably without giving away the store.

Because Nero has been fiddling while Rome burns, we’re no closer to doing something with this property than we were in 2004 or even 1998. And I have what I think are legitimate questions regarding the current plan. If this plan is so good and a surefire winner for the developers, why is the TIF necessary? Secondly, has there been a study of the entire existing building? I know some of it was condemned after a fire and other parts are in extreme disrepair, but is it possible to save any of the building? The reason I ask the question is why not look into alternatives to the Natelson/Dzaman plan, like salvaging some of the existing building as a place that could be rented out to entrepreneurs, a sort of business incubator? I’ve seen this successfully done in other places. With the 6,000 or so housing units allegedly in the pipeline, why not take a little time and explore alternatives that don’t add to this burden? Let the market catch up a bit and fill in vacancies we have!

4. Take care of our water situation.

We have the Wicomico River as our backup water supply, but it’s not in a convenient form. Being at 25% of the reserve capacity we should have is truly an unacceptable situation for everything from fire protection to drinking water. From the debate on Tuesday it sounds like water and sewer fees are going to a lot of things that aren’t water or sewer.

3. Establish a fee schedule that’s fair to both developers and the city.

From all accounts, Salisbury has become known as a city that developers can do business in at little cost to them. The fear I have is that the pendulum will swing too far the other way and growth will be choked off. (Actually it may just go to Fruitland, Delmar, or unincorporated portions of the county.) Obviously developers would pay zero extra if it were up to them, but this just isn’t realistic anymore. Some coordination with others in the county may assist in this as well.

2. The audit.

Hopefully it will be here in time for the general election in April. Someone has to hold the city’s feet to the fire on future audits so this situation doesn’t happen again. Apparently we only have one City Council person who’s willing to do so, but hopefully that number will be at least three after April.

1. Making the streets safer with every method at our disposal.

Crime in Salisbury is the number one problem according to most people you talk to. Lately some extra help has come from the Sheriff’s Office, and that’s good. But we also need to reclaim our neighborhoods. And the crime problem enhances many of the woes that befall Salisbury.

Let’s take a look at crime’s impact on home ownership as an example. Salisbury has an owner-occupied housing rate that runs about 25 percent. Obviously we’ll never be at 100% because of the University, but I’d say 50% is an achievable goal.

There’s been many complaints over the time since I’ve been here about the lack of affordable housing around our area. Much of the housing stock that is moderately priced is so because it’s also in neighborhoods that are crime-ridden. So discerning people who would be in the housing market are apprehensive about purchasing a home in many Salisbury neighborhoods. (I know I was.)

But if we can get a handle on the crime problem and begin to turn it around, perhaps a few brave souls will invest in these moderately-priced houses and make them their own. And an owner-occupied house with a family that takes care of their surroundings can trigger other ones in the surrounding area. Moreover, areas that are just starting to slide into that abyss of blight because of an increasing number of landlords who don’t keep up their properties may reverse this slide if houses that were rented revert back to owner occupation.

(In defense of landlords, most are folks who rent our their properties to supplement their income and do take decent care of them. Obviously it’s a two-way street where renters also should be cognizant of the fact they’re entrusted with living on someone else’s property – so don’t trash the place.)

Of course, this is my list and it’s far from complete. There’s as many priorities for the new City Council as there are voters who can exercise their right to elect their leaders come Tuesday and on April 3rd. (So if you live in Salisbury please do so!!) But I feel we do need people who have a vision of what lies ahead for our area and not people who are seemingly in the game to take care of their personal interests. It’s called public service for a reason.



Odds and ends no. 7

A little bit on a lot of subjects tonight, with some help from the Sun and Gazette.

Today Governor O’Malley testified in favor of Maryland repealing its little-used death penalty, which is already on hiatus following a Court of Appeals ruling late last year. But there was a good point made by State Senator Nancy Jacobs, who related that David McGuinn, already serving a life sentence, stands accused of murdering a guard at the Maryland House of Correction last July. Jacobs noted that if McGuinn is convicted that this killing would be “a freebie for him” if the death penalty were repealed since the state would have no higher punishment available.

Personally, I thought the statistics cited by O’Malley were dubious at best, particularly on the cost of housing the inmate vs. the lengthy appeals and court battles that seem to be necessary to see justice served. It’s the tying up courts with endless and sometimes frivilous appeals that adds to the cost of the death penalty, and a limitation on the number of appeals would cut the cost significantly.

Leaving aside the irony that the party pushing the rights of people tried and convicted of taking another’s life in cold blood is also the one who advocates keeping the wholesale slaughter of unborn babies legal, I think the death penalty needs to stay and does serve as a deterrent. Further, it’s because of DNA testing and other forensic advances that Kirk Bloodsworth and others have come off death row, so the argument that an innocent person may be executed rings much more hollow as well.

Speaking of pushing rights of people tried and convicted, hearings are set for at least one bill that would repeal the three-year waiting period already in place for multiply-convicted felons who have served their sentence to regain voting rights. The gentleman who was quoted in the story only has to wait a few more months to be legally granted the right under Maryland’s current law anyway – and had he been convicted of just one count he’d already be eligible. Interestingly enough, the bill also removes the prohibitations on people convicted of buying and selling votes to regain the franchise.

And of course, here’s more voting madness brought to you by Maryland Democrats. As expected, the early voting bill cleared the House of Delegates 101-31. On the majority side locally were the three Democrats (Cane, Conway, Mathias) and Page Elmore, while Delegates Addie Eckardt and Jeannie Haddaway correctly voted against this measure. (A similar bill passed the State Senate 31-16, and I’m guessing both our Senators were in the minority simply because that roll isn’t on the General Assembly website quite yet.) As I’ve said before, there’s no need for this early voting when we already have “shall-issue” absentee ballots. Those multi-vote bus trips to Ocean City for inner-city Baltimore residents who get the (also legal) “walking-around” money from their Democrat ward heelers might not be as much a joke as I thought when I came up with that analogy.

I’ll put an end to the bad news from Annapolis for tonight by commenting that not only are Democrats trying to pick up votes through the devious means of adding convicted felons to the registered voter list and allowing them weeks to vote as many times as necessary, they’re also trying to buy union votes by ramming through a so-called “living wage” – that hearing was yesterday and all of the anti-business types made it to testify. While state Labor Secretary Tom Perez stated that the goal of this effort was to “strengthen and grow the middle class”, this will certainly make state contracts more expensive by arbitrarily increasing the salaries of particular workers in private companies, and in turn discourage bidders on state contracts who don’t want to deal with the additional red tape – fewer bidders means less competition and higher bids. And of course taxes have to pay for these contracts. So the state puts money in some middle-class pockets but takes it out of a whole lot more of them through higher costs. Plus, see for yourself the bill’s enforcement provisions, which sound like they could be a real good witch hunt against a business who may innocently slip up.

And before I finished, I wanted to make some comments on the coverage of last night’s candidate forum. Apparently my assumption that “Cato” and Joe Albero were both present was correct, as were commenters from Duvafiles – “sneeky peek”, “sbygal”, and “iyeska” – based on what they added to Bill Duvall’s post.

Saying that, I’m a bit disappointed by the bloggers’ heavy emphasis on how poorly Gary Comegys did. Like it or not, I do have to agree with what Tim Spies said this morning on Bill Reddish’s radio show – most voters in Salisbury get their news from the Daily Times so all that they know about Gary Comegys from last night is that he essentially ran on his record. The DT also pegged Terry Cohen as a tax raiser, as well as citing Louise Smith and Tim Spies’ calls for an Adequate Public Financing Ordinance. This effectively plasters the reformers with a high-taxation label. Meanwhile, John Harris and John Atkins were placed in the “growth pays for growth” camp that the current City Council people seem to believe is the case (giving out TIF’s to developers aside.) This implies that they’ll not pass along what are sure to be increased city costs to taxpayers.

This election is not just a referendum on one City Councilman. And Joe, because of what I’ve stated above I doubt Gary will finish out of the top six as you think he will – in fact I’m of the opinion he’ll be the number one vote getter in the primary, solely on name recognition. It’s a lot like people think about Congress – Congress as a whole is terrible and corrupt, but my Congressman isn’t one of those terrible and corrupt people.

While we as bloggers are gaining influence in the city of Salisbury, I’d still guess that 80% of the voters in Salisbury couldn’t name one of the local blogs. Obviously our writing community is one made up of people who are more than average in the motivation department; otherwise, I wouldn’t sit here for two hours writing this, perusing the Maryland media for backup items to my assertations while trying to make this effort sound like one that makes sense to the reader AND one they enjoy reading. The same sort of thing applies to my cohorts, who spend a lot of time on their websites as well.

So when bloggers complain about the lack of balance in the regular media, they need to avoid being the pots that call the kettle black. While as a group they may not like the actions of “Bubba” Comegys, they also need to give reasons that people should vote FOR the alternative candidates too.

One final note. Speaking of the regular media, yours truly is going to get a crack at it on Tuesday morning. I’ll be filling the “hot seat” at 7:40 on Bill Reddish’s AM Salisbury radio program (1320AM, WICO). This is literally hot off the press, so there’s a scoop for you all.


Missing the event

February 20, 2007 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Politics · 6 Comments 

Well, I have to apologize to “lwd”, whoever he or she is. I didn’t get the e-mail message in time yesterday to post on tonight’s candidate forum, nor could I make it myself. I did see that there was notice posted on the other three “major” blogs in town so I’m sure hundreds read it.

But I was surprised that there were no articles regarding the forum up yet on Salisbury News or even Delmarva Dealings (as of about 10:30.) The reason I would’ve liked to have seen something on either (or both) website(s) was to gather the attendance and mood of those present. To be honest though, my guess is that there were almost more candidates and hangers-on than general public. The Daily Times story cites “dozens” but that could be as few as two dozen. So I’ll figure about 60 folks and hope I’m quite low.

The larger point that I want to make is that I spent a little time upon my return home looking up the numbers from previous Salisbury elections. My supposition for this election is that about 2,200 voters will vote. I believe they get three votes apiece, which leaves a “pool” of about 6,600 votes. Thus getting 1,000 votes should be enough to make it into the general election field, but more often than not the contest is between the top four in a race that eventually is weeded down to three.

So who looks like the top six? It’s very hard to figure since there really hasn’t been all that much said about most candidates. Aside from incumbent Gary Comegys and Terry Cohen, who both seem to have decent financial backing and name recognition so they should easily advance, I think most of the other eight could finish anywhere from third to 10th. But I’d say the “bubble” candidates are Neil Bayne, Patrick Hannon, Keith Wright, and maybe John Harris. John Atkins, Don Ewalt, Louise Smith, and Tim Spies are probably the middle tier but turnout will be key for them, making sure their supporters make it out to the polls. If they can’t get people out for them, they could slide down to 7th or 8th and not advance.

A lot of decisions will be made based on a small number of factors, though:

  • How the candidates come across in the media – in particular what is said about them in the Daily Times, their performance in Saturday’s televised debate, and to a lesser extent, their interviews with Bill Reddish on WICO and their coverage on the local blogs.
  • How much actual door-to-door and face time campaigning they can get in.
  • And how much assistance they get from loyal supporters in putting up yard signs, making sure people get to the polls to vote for them, etc. etc. Don’t be surprised if there’s not a push to vote for a single candidate (bullet vote) sprung up someplace along the line.
  • Name recognition may help here. Obviously Gary Comegys has been on the ballot before, as has Neil Bayne in the recent past. I know Louise Smith has been on for GOP Central Committee, and I believe Patrick Hannon, Don Ewalt and Keith Harris have ran for some public office as well. It’s my recollection that the other four are first-time candidates.
  • On the other hand, any gaffes made will hurt their cause, like the “blite” mailing debacle.

I do want to open up a little more as far as comments go regarding tonight’s performances, which is why I brought up the topic. Not knowing what the other blogs will do regarding their coverage, I did feel that it was important to post on the Salisbury Council race even though I have no say in the matter. So feel free to share your impressions if you were there!

On the AIA and green architecture

February 19, 2007 · Posted in Personal stuff · 1 Comment 

As I mentioned a couple weeks back, I’m once again a member of the American Institute of Architects. Today in my work inbox was the usual weekly update from the AIA, and its major point of emphasis was a webcast tomorrow called “The 2010 Imperative: Global Emergency Teach-In.” Needless to say, I think I’ll pass. But I looked into the “2010 Imperative” and here’s one key point for educators at the college level:

Beginning in 2007, add to all design studio problems that “the design engage the environment in a way that dramatically reduces or eliminates the need for fossil fuel.”

But wait, there’s more…

By 2010, achieve a carbon-neutral design school campus by:

  • implementing sustainable design strategies (optional – LEED Platinum / 2010 rating)
  • generating on-site renewable power
  • purchasing green renewable energy and/or certified renewable energy credits (REC’s, Green Tags), 20% maximum.

The impetus behind this webcast is a group called Architecture 2030, headed by New Mexico architect Edward Mazria. With his doomsday scenario of claiming the built environment is a key cause of global warming, Mazria has convinced the AIA (among others) to adopt what’s called the 2030 Challenge, where “all new buildings, developments, and major renovation projects be designed to use half the fossil fuel energy they would typically consume. Then, the fossil fuel reduction standard for all new buildings should be increased to 60 percent in 2010, 70 percent in 2015, 80 percent in 2020, 90 percent in 2025, and carbon-neutral by 2030.”

But it doesn’t stop there. Why am I not surprised?

“To support this effort, (Mazria) suggests the establishment of a mandatory, full-year, studio-based program in architecture schools to promote problem-solving ideas based on understanding the relationship between nature and design. He also states that major reductions in the emissions can result from using low-embodied energy materials, technologies, and processes. Mazria encourages that architects, designers, and planners accept the challenge and responsibility of carbon-neutral architecture and building construction.”

Let me say right here that I’m a huge skeptic about the theory the global warming is manmade. The people who are making these wild estimates of global sea levels rising 20 feet are the same bunch who predicted all those hurricanes last summer. But…no hurricanes hit the U.S. in 2006. And these same Chicken Little arguments have been made for the past 20 years or so, foretelling doom if we don’t act by a certain date. And when that date comes and goes, they still predict the same dire results, just 20 years hence. (I can just see the comment fellow MBA member Jeremy at The Voltage Gate has about all of this.)

One weapon the AIA has in enforcing its beliefs onto the membership at large is their requirement for continuing education. They began the trend and have convinced most states (including Ohio, where I’m currently licensed; and Maryland, to which I’ve applied) to compel architects to take a certain number of hours of continuing education yearly in order to maintain their good standing with both the AIA and the state(s) they’re registered in. And a heavy dose of their coursework works into the AIA pet theory that only green architecture can save Planet Earth.

Now don’t get me wrong, I really don’t have a problem with looking for energy efficiency and using sustainable materials when it’s possible. But, let’s face it, in order to comply with all of these pie-in-the-sky mandates they wish for, it’s going to cost clients a boatload of money. And this is the reason the AIA is also heavily into lobbying the federal government to force owners and developers into these high-dollar items by mandating their usage, like the steps that would need to be taken for carbon-neutrality.

If you ever pick up and read an architecture magazine, you’ll see that most projects in them won’t talk about the budget that the architect fortunate enough to have his or her work featured “labored” under. Generally, these designers are lucky enough to have clients with deep pockets. And those clients will have the money to spend on making these buildings carbon-neutral. But most of us toil with developers who want to squeeze the maximum amount of profit from a project with minimum cost to them. They, in turn, have contractors who have a certain way of doing things that they’ve always done and hate change. And both these groups already look at the architect as a necessary evil, who they need solely to get the drawings sealed and the building permit secured.

Personally, I’d rather the AIA look less at green architecture and more at quality architecture and design. Spend more time lobbying for a renewal of good craftsmanship so that even an “average” job is done in a way that will last more than a decade. Let’s talk about real-world problems like liability and tort reform, shortening the statute of repose period, or reducing the amount of red tape the average architect has to go through to get permits because of excessive government regulation. I’ll accept all the lobbying you’ve done for continuing education (grudgingly) if you lobby for someone like me who would like to practice in three states and feels he should be able to seamlessly – after all, I passed the identical test people in those states did to get registered.

On a more personal level, I didn’t see it as an important enough subject for its own chapter in my 50 year plan, but I’d love to see a return to quality and craftsmanship being a factor in people’s everyday consumer choices rather than just the lowest price. Unfortunately, society today has almost every possible price point available to it for a particular good but in most cases high quality is difficult to find. It’s almost like we’ve accepted that our cordless phone will not work in three years or our TV in six. Or we figure that the car’s going to be recalled someplace along the line.

This feeling of mine probably comes about because I’m sort of a perfectionist. While I’m certainly not the smartest architect out there or the greatest designer, I still hate making mistakes and when I’m told I’ve made a drawing set or a spec book that’s damn near bulletproof, that makes my day. So I wish the AIA would quit making the mistake of believing these people who claim the sky is about to fall (or maybe better put, the ocean’s about to engulf half of our coastline) and place emphasis on what should be their number one task – helping us practitioners succeed.

President’s Day appeal

February 19, 2007 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Personal stuff, Politics · Comments Off on President’s Day appeal 

I actually wrote this piece about 2 weeks ago (on the day before Reagan’s birthday) as an e-mail to my fellow GOP office holders and a few other candidates. To date I’ve received more responses telling me that my mail has bounced back to me than responses to the actual e-mail (exactly ONE.) It’s a pretty sad state of affairs.

You’ll understand what I’m attempting to do once you read this message. By the way, through the magic of postdating my post, I’m sitting here Sunday morning doing this but the post will come up at midday Monday. In reality I should be sitting at work when this posts, because I’m a member of the productive private sector!

So here is the appeal I sent out to perhaps 30 to 40 people. Let me know if you’re interested yourself or know someone who is…

Greetings to my fellow Central Committee members, and others:

With today being the eve of Ronald Reagan’s birthday, I thought this would be a great time to recommit ourselves to the task of building our local Republican Party. Among other things about this great President, he inspired me to get involved in my local political scene. Naturally the outlet I chose once I learned of the opportunity was joining my local Young Republican chapter.

It is part of our task as Central Committee members to “establish and support Republican clubs.” While there is a Lower Shore Young Republican Club, insofar as I know it’s currently inactive and this leaves a serious void in getting our message to resident voters between the ages of 18 and 40. And let’s face it, the membership in the “regular” GOP organizations is graying. It’s time to start to rebuild the party structure here lest we begin to suffer the demographic decline that already affects the Democrat Party.

So today is the day we need to recommit ourselves as a group to building up the Lower Shore Young Republicans. I’m starting this by seeking contact information for those folks you know who could be interested in giving the Lower Shore club a boost. (This is also why I’ve added other former candidates and elected officials to the mailing list; some of their younger campaign volunteers or they themselves would also be likely to want to join the reestablished YR club.) Once I can get a database of current members and other who are interested, we can begin the work of making this club more active.

Because I’m (barely!) over the age of 40, I technically cannot be a member of the Lower Shore Young Republicans. However, I’m willing to take some time to be a facilitator and mentor to this group, as I was a member of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Young Republican Club from 1995-2001 and served as TMAYRC President in 2000. So I have a little bit of expertise on the subject, and I’m sure the state chapter would help with whatever blanks we would need to have filled in.

I did a little bit of research over the weekend. There are 36,282 registered GOP voters between Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties. Based on the Wicomico numbers, roughly 1/4 of these are considered active voters, and about 1/8 of that active group are between 18-40. That leaves about 1,100 voters in the tri-county area who fit both categories. (There’s probably more now as many have just registered and voted in 2006, my information on active voters is pre-election.)

But a good club can be formed and run with 25 dedicated people – that’s just 2% of these voters. And as the group becomes more active, more people join, and more can be accomplished.

A modest YR club can be just a gathering of people who meet on a regular basis to socialize and discuss political issues. As they become larger and/or more ambitious, they can add to this effort by sending their representatives to state conventions. The next step would be campaign involvement – volunteering as a group to start, then taking the step to assist in fundraisers (eventually hosting their own). Some ambitious YR members may run these campaigns or even become candidates themselves for local or state offices.

Eventually, a YR group can become large enough to host a state convention or hold standalone events for the general public like a Ronald Reagan Birthday Party or their own straw poll. I know all this because I was a member of a club that did all of these things. At our peak, we had about 55 registered members. While the base population is smaller here than in Toledo, the Lower Shore is also far more Republican.

What the reformed Lower Shore Young Republican Club will do is totally up to them. But this is the perfect time to push for a renewal. We’re already seeing the disastrous effects of Democrat leadership on the state and local levels, yet we have plenty of time to build momentum for a big push in 2008 for the Presidential election and then again in 2010 for our next state election.

One reason I ran for my Central Committee post was to get more youth involved in the party, because of my firm belief that our next two generations can be the ones who return the country to the path our Founding Fathers intended. Thus I apologize for the length of this communication; however, America’s freedom is a subject I’m damn passionate about.

So here’s how you can help. If you know of people who would be interested in becoming a YR, please get their contact info to me – heck, forward them this note if you want and they can put in the effort. My e-mail address is michael@monoblogue.us.

Right now, in our state our party has nothing, and on a federal level we only have the Presidential post assured for two more years. When you have nothing, you have nothing to lose. But our nation has everything to lose if we don’t begin to act.


Michael Swartz

Member, Wicomico County Republican Central Committee

Let’s see if this does any better at creating a database for me to work from. As I said, I can’t be a member because I’m over the age but I can be the person who helps get things underway again. Despite the voting record of some of our GOP representatives (who shall remain nameless, you know who you are) we at the grassroots can create a push to reinvent the GOP if the youth want it to be reinvented in a manner to become more reflective of its principles. Reinventing the party and making it a majority locally, statewide, and nationally is the goal I’m out to achieve.

Questions, problems, thoughts, opinions, or comments?

February 18, 2007 · Posted in Personal stuff · Comments Off on Questions, problems, thoughts, opinions, or comments? 

With thanks to my 9th grade science teacher, Mr. Geer, I’ll paraphrase his pet saying…(it was actually “Are there any questions, problems, thoughts, opinions, or comments before we get started?”)

It was pointed out to me yesterday that I’m tough to get a hold of for comments and such that pertain to monoblogue but not necessarily the post at hand. So near the top of my left-hand column from now until I decide on a different template (which may be awhile, I like this “Journalized Sand” one), I’ve posted the e-mail address that goes with monoblogue. And in response to my person from yesterday, I promise to check it more!! (You’ll see another reason why tomorrow.) In fact, I’ll do it as soon as I finish this post.

Also, thanks to my commenters regarding the local blogosphere post. I enjoyed moderating them. But don’t stop if you have more to say!!

A 50 year plan: The Long War

February 17, 2007 · Posted in 50 Year Plan, Inside the Beltway, National politics, Politics · 4 Comments 

Editor’s note: In breaking news, the Senate did not advance this resolution, voting 56-34 in its favor. Sixty votes were needed to advance it. Seven Republicans broke ranks and nine did not vote; meanwhile, save for Joe Lieberman, all 50 healthy Democrats voted “aye”. I found it most interesting (and it buttresses my point below) that Sen. Harry Reid stated that any subsequent actions would not be nonbinding. I’m not surprised.

I actually hadn’t planned on doing this chapter quite so soon, but yesterday’s vote in the House on a non-binding resolution (H. Con. Res. 63) goaded me into action. First of all, I’m quite disappointed that our Congressman, Wayne Gilchrest, was one of 17 Republicans who broke ranks and voted for the resolution. So I wrote him an e-mail, which reads as follows:

As you’re probably aware, you and I have had a number of policy disagreements over the course of the last two years I’ve resided in Maryland. It’s apparent from your voting record and the words that I write on my website that my political philosophy is quite a bit to the right of yours even though we both are elected officials in the same party.

However, I’ve not been so disappointed with a vote you’ve cast than the one you cast today on H. Con. Res. 63. In your press release, you tell us that “(o)ur troops deserve to know that their elected leaders back home care enough about their lives to make sure that their mission is justified and their cause is just. As a former Marine platoon sergeant, I know I hoped for that when I was in Vietnam.” But my contention is that the majority Democrats are going to use this resolution as the first step on a slippery slope to start squeezing our forces in Iraq; and knowing this, the enemy can bide its time and wait until President Bush has no choice but to withdraw, handing the enemy a victory they surely could not accomplish on the battlefield in a fair fight.

In June 1970 the Senate passed a similar resolution regarding the Viet Nam war. This resolution, known as the Cooper-Church Amendment, ended funding for U.S. troops and advisers in Cambodia and Laos, banned combat operations over Cambodian airspace to support Cambodian forces without prior congressional approval, and cut funding to support Southern Vietnamese forces stationed outside of Vietnam. It was a small step and seemed harmless enough because it would have no real effect on American troops fighting within Viet Nam. (In fact, the original bill died because of a veto threat, only to have a slightly modified measure pass a lame-duck Congress that December.)

But Cooper-Church opened the door, and once the GOP was blown out in the 1974 elections, Democrats felt free to cut off funding from the Viet Nam war entirely. We all now know what tragedies awaited the people of Southeast Asia in the years immediately after our shameful withdrawal. After Saigon fell, did it not make you wonder as a Viet Nam veteran whether the lives of friends and fellow servicemen that were lost in Southeast Asia were sacrificed in vain?

My stance on this war has also been in support of our troops. But further, I support their overall mission and I support the President’s prayerful handling of this mission. I have to believe that President Bush made the decision to add more troops after consulting with his top military brass, and decided as Commander-in-Chief that it would be the best course of action to take. No President has ever handled a war flawlessly, if he did, we would have lost no lives while attaining victory. To me, the increase in troop strength combined with more aggressive rules of engagement when it comes to Iranian interference in Iraqi affairs would go a long way toward victory.

Moreover, we face an enemy that does not deal fairly at the diplomatic table; where lying and deceit are acceptable tactics in their effort to spread radical Islam globally, and sacrifice of one’s self is considered noble as a shortcut to Paradise. The only way we can defeat this sort of enemy is to wipe them out in whatever manner necessary to demoralize them into surrender. Words will not do it, but in my mind military action has some chance of success. But by your vote today, you’ve made our nation take a step backward in this fight, and it’s a sign of weakness our enemies will surely find a way to take advantage of.

It also bears repeating that we were warned at the start about the time this effort would take. Noted President Bush on September 20, 2001:

“This war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion.  It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat.

Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes.  Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen.  It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success.”

Americans have seemed to forget that these words were spoken just over five years ago. We also seem to forget that several other countries have felt the sting of radical Islamic terror in the last few years, with major events in Great Britain, Indonesia, France, and Spain just to name a few. With the exception of the British, none of these countries have (or had in Spain’s case) a significant number of combat personnel in Iraq or Afghanistan, the main military fronts in this war.

By its nature, this war is totally different than the “Cold War” of my youth. However, the fear of nuclear annihilation is still present. Instead of the fallout shelters and drills of the 1950’s that were to prepare us for a missile attack from the Soviet Union, the threat is now just as great of a so-called “suitcase nuke” or “dirty bomb” rendering a city uninhabitable and costing untold American lives. Additionally, China has demonstrated an ability to destroy satellites, which could be another tool terrorists engage eventually. With warm relations between China and Iran and Tehran’s support of radical Islamic groups we’re currently engaged with in Iraq, it’s not difficult to imagine this technology becoming another weapon in the Islamic arsenal.

But Democrats seem to be in favor of diplomacy rather than solving this through the aggressive use of force. I heard this point made Thursday as Bill Reddish on WICO radio had a short interview with Maryland’s junior Senator Ben Cardin. Senator Cardin made the following point:

“Sacnctions will work in Iran if we have the support of the international community.”

I placed the emphasis on “if” because, as was proven in the “Oil-For-Food” program and in the assistance Russia and China have given the Iranians in their war efforts, that the so-called international community will cheat when they feel it’s in their best interests to. Combine that with the stated tendency of radical Islamists (and for that matter Communists like North Korea) to extend one hand at the negotiating table while readying the knife in the other hand for that stab in the back, it’s clear in my eyes that the only way diplomacy works is when one side is completely subdued and has its terms of surrender dictated to them.

Yesterday the Patriot Post published an essay that enlightened me about the two main and competing sects of Islam. I found it interesting that just 10 percent of Muslims subscribe to the Shi’ite sect, but that 10 percent are a majority in five nations. These five include both Iraq and Iran. So I looked a bit further and found that on the other hand, the Salafists (or Wahhabists) consider themselves as a purer form of the majority Sunni sect. This is the brand of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and to which Osama bin Laden subscribes. Also, the Taliban in Afghanistan are another subsect of Sunnis. In essence, our fight against radical Islam is against a small portion of the entire Islamic world – however, that small portion tends to congregate in countries that are some of the leaders against us in the Long War.

Because of this factor, we will likely be fighting these enemies for quite a spell; thus a difficult question arises as to what sort of help we can get. One theory I have on this is that we need to identify and support Islamic nations that are more moderate to help in this battle. To me, this is part of the reason we’re in Iraq and Afghanistan, making an effort to install leadership that is more friendly to our interests. Other countries such as Bahrain, Turkey, and Kuwait have also been helpful in providing forward bases for us to work from.

It’s here that I depart from the more mainstream conservative movement. Part of reinventing Republicanism is facing the fact that we are the source of freedom for the globe, and a healthy chunk of the world economy. Thus, our national interests transcend our borders and isolationism cannot succeed in the world today. While we do need to secure our borders better and work on free but fair trade (more on these subjects in future chapters) we need to realize that having American troops in far-flung places on the globe is going to be a fact for the foreseeable future. It’s one thing that our Founders may not have thought of in their era.

For example, George Washington opined in his Farewell Address:

“The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.

Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people, under an efficient government, the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world, so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it, for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But in my opinion it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.”

But he then stated:

“Taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.”

Where I differ with Washington solely lies in the fact that we are not in a “detached and distant situation” anymore. As I spoke of earlier, our interests are now global and our foreign policy must reflect this fact. To this end, we must do whatever it takes and resort to whichever “temporary alliances” are needed to subdue the threat posed by radical Islam.

I do have one other main point to make. Some are of the opinion that we need to pull out of the United Nations, and I tend to agree with them.

Unfortunately, by its nature the UN is populated with all nations, regardless of their devotion to the freedom of their citizens. A tyrannical nation like China has an equal say and veto power there as we do, therefore I believe it’s truly not in our best interest to be fully invested in such an organization. Add in the fact that it’s a bloated and relatively corrupt bureaucracy saddled by its inertia (hmm, sounds like the federal government) and the benefits from divesting ourselves from the UN grow. After all, the UN did nothing to a tyrant who violated seventeen of their own resolutions until we took it upon ourselves to build a coalition to take care of the problem, which we solved. Truly we have a better solution in “going it alone” if we must than having to beg for a hall pass from the international community.

*sigh* It’s all coming down to this?

February 15, 2007 · Posted in Delmarva items, Personal stuff · 18 Comments 

There are days I wonder if the “golden era” of Eastern Shore blogs has come and gone, with little real change effected. 

I just checked my “favorites” list and under “Eastern Shore Blogs” I have 18 different blogs listed. Now let me see…we have Salisbury News, operated by one Joe Albero. Because of his, shall we say, attitude, we have now FOUR bloggers (by my count) who started their blogs to take issue with his. And this doesn’t count Gunpowder Chronicle who has his own differences with Joe but also writes on a number of other topics instead of being all anti-Joe, all the time.

And then we have the grandfather of the local bloggers, Duvafiles, which up until yesterday had its own parody site called Duvalies. (As of today it’s now a private website.) One person who’s been suspected of being the operator of Duvalies formerly had his own website called Justice For All?, that man being former County Executive candidate Charles Jannace. He shut down JFA? after the election, joining the ranks of other late lamented blogs like Fertilizer for our Bay and Westside Wisdom.

Looking to the east in Worcester County, it’s pretty much an all-out flaming war between three of their local blogs as the folks behind Worcester, WorcesterRight, and Integrity Matters Only Sometimes are battling in and out of their various comment sections. When I noted a comment about one of these folks becoming “the Joe Albero of Worcester County” I started to wonder if the local blogging scene has jumped the shark.

To change gears a bit, I’m going to take all of my readers back and do a little bit of history as far as the local blogging scene goes. This history is as good as my memory is, so maybe a better term would be a “narrative.”

The first local blog I became aware of was Duvafiles. What got me started reading it was the hullabaloo back in early 2005 when Bill Duvall made his infamous “wetback” comment that got him in a lot of hot water. Being of fair mind, I was curious about the context that it was written in, and I enjoyed his use of the various character names for local personalities.

A month or two later, I discovered the original Delmarva Dealings site along with the Justice For All? site and started perusing those and commenting occasionally. This was also about the time I started my original blog called ttown’s right wing conspiracy. So there were only a handful of local sites back then, plus one that wasn’t truly local but run by a local native who lived upstate called Goldwater’s Oracle. Now it’s known as Gunpowder Chronicle.

About the fall of 2005, a certain commenter and photographer who posted frequently with Charles Jannace became fairly well known. His name was Joe Albero. Together they blew the lid off problems at the Salisbury wastewater treatment plant and at the Salisbury Zoo. I suppose it can be argued that in the next year or so both these men became local celebrities and they parlayed their newly found fame in different directions. With help from Joe Albero, Charles Jannace entered the political arena; and with help from Jannace’s website, Albero branched out into his own site, originally known as National Joe-A-Graphic but evolving into what’s now known as Salisbury News.

Meanwhile, new players came into the local blogging scene. Delmarva Dealings left us for awhile but returned late last year. Crabbin’ and Delmar DustPan were among the most-read out of about 8-10 blogs that debuted in the early part of last year, and both are still around. It wasn’t until close to the end of the year, after a nasty divorce of sorts between Jannace and Albero, that many of these new bloggers came online. These anti-Albero blogs (The Maryland Townie, Paranoia and the Homunculus Photographer, Joey Albero is an American Idol, and Yh8 are four) became bases on which to flame Albero while Joe worked on trying to “out” the people behind them.

So we have the abovementioned feuds going on. It makes for (sometimes) interesting reading but unfortunately all of this infighting is what’s giving the blogging “profession” a black eye.

Now I sit here and toil on a little website that I call monoblogue. Like the rest of these folks, I’m based out of the Salisbury area. But I like to think I’m just a little different, particularly since I don’t focus on local issues as much as the Albero site does, nor do I focus on personalities like the anti-Albero sites do. I suppose some of this is because I’m part of a larger group of bloggers throughout the state of Maryland. If you look at the members of the Maryland Bloggers Alliance, you’ll find that I’m politically way to the right of a few of them, particularly Bruce at Crablaw and Stephanie at Jousting for Justice.

But when we in the MBA have disagreements, we focus on the argument and not the personalities behind them. We treat each other with respect and complement each other when it’s due. It’s actually a nice experience sometimes to get through the “Eastern Shore Blogs” part of my reading and on to the “Maryland Bloggers Alliance” folder I have. At times I get through the Eastern Shore blogs and feel like I need a shower. (And I’m sure that some people will read this and start slinging blame at others.)

Now I’ve never met any of my MBA cohorts; however, I have met a few local bloggers, including Charles Jannace when he was still on his JFA? site. On a few occasions, I have played pool with Joe Albero and a group of friends; also, I’ve met “Cato” from Delmarva Dealings and may be working more closely with him on certain items in the future. I have zero problems with them personally, but that could be a matter of being relatively close in our political views. It could be that I’d get along with my fellow bloggers on the left, but there would have to be more civility shown than I’ve seen on some of their sites.

I guess the other comment I have is about “outing” bloggers and commenters. In most cases, I’ve commented either with my full name or under “Michael” which is probably just as good. (It depends on how I’m signed up for the website.) So it’s not like I hide what I say behind some assumed name. Besides, I also keep a log of what I consider my best comments here. (Just click on “My feedback” under Internal Links.) It’s also no secret that I already hold a political position, and I have a disclaimer that notes that my views aren’t necessarily those of the Wicomico County Republican Party. I don’t speak for them and Lord knows they don’t always speak for me!

But it’s needless to say that I’m becoming quite disappointed with most of the local blogging scene, as it’s sinking down to the level of “gotcha!” politics. With the Salisbury City Council elections upcoming (and national ones on the horizon), now is not the time for the Eastern Shore blogs to descend to the level of tabloids. Many complained about the Daily Times and how it slants the news, but right now the local blogs are hardly better. And because I get tarred with their brush anyway (anyone remember Ron Alessi? Or the situation with the Wicomico County Republican Club?) I’m taking it on myself to call bullshit on that. It’s time for all you children to settle down and play nice.


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