Thoughts on Louise Smith and fireworks

The subjects are correlated because the thought of Louise Smith advocating a tax increase created fireworks!

Actually, I began this as a comment on Salisbury News but as I kept writing I figured I just might as well post it here. Plus this way I can expand my remarks because there is a relationship between the passion exhibited by a few on both subjects.

This is pretty much what I was writing in response to Salisbury News. I edited it more as I went along for this post.

You may smell a recall petition under way; however, be advised that even if everyone who voted for Louise signs a recall petition, you’re still not even halfway to the required number of signatures for it.

The hard-working volunteers who tried to overturn the 14% tax increase (a tax hike that directly sucks money out of the pockets of Salisbury residents) could only get 18% or so of the voters. I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t try to recall Louise Smith (I’m certainly disappointed in her actions as an outside observer), just don’t expect a massive groundswell of followers.

I think we in the blogging business overestimate the number of people who care about an issue or support a candidate because we as a group tend to be extremists when it comes to caring about certain things. We’re growing in the number of people within our sphere of influence, but not yet to the threshold necessary for that kind of change. This is made more evident when the forces of the mainstream media stack against us or take a stance on neither side.

I do have to play devil’s advocate to my own argument in one small way though. Part of the surprise about the immigration bill controversy was the amount of vigor exhibited by a group that was reasonably small but vocal – just compare the number who were passionate about that bill and aware of the ramifications of it versus the number who followed the jailhouse exploits of Paris Hilton on a daily basis.

But I think there’s just not the passion there to remove Louise Smith despite her advocacy of the 14% property tax increase – most people are just going to chalk this up as SOP for Salisbury city government and shrug.

And then we have the on-again, off-again saga of the Salisbury Jaycees fireworks show. I’ll credit the group that Joe Albero acted as part of with attempting to restart this event after the plug was pulled, only to find out the breaker box was gone. As I noted on Robinson’s show, a lot of people thought the government should step in and save the show. It’s become a topic of wailing and gnashing of teeth in these parts over the last day or two, almost as if the residents of Salisbury were entitled to a fireworks show by right.

I’ll give John Robinson credit for stating the obvious – if you really want a fireworks show, the Shorebirds are providing 19 of them this season, including one July 3rd. If it has to be on the Fourth one can go to Ocean City and catch two simultaneous shows, or down to Crisfield to see fireworks. Joe also pointed out Hebron is doing a show that night as part of their carnival. I guess it’s the attitude some feel (not necessarily Albero, Shorebirds GM Chris Bitters, et. al.) that a governmental entity needs to step in and save the day that bothers me.

I’ve been in and around a number of organizations who have solicited community and business support for whatever endeavor the group is trying to accomplish, and it’s a very difficult job to sell support for your charity or organization regardless of the cause. (Those of you with kids, think about how sick you get of the kids having to become junior salespeople to support the PTA, Little League, the soccer team, or what-have-you.) It’s not like the people of Salisbury in particular or Americans in general aren’t generous and charitable (far from it) but we have our wallets tapped in so many ways by entities we can’t live easily without – the electric bill goes up, gas prices increase, but most of all the cost of running our various levels of government continues to spiral out of control without them ever questioning their priorities or considering “doing without.” Witness the 14% tax increase when an alternative budget was presented, or (from the Sun) the “doomsday budget” the state’s pushing as part of softening up opposition to yet more tax increases.

And it’s community groups like the Jaycees that feel the pinch, as their cost of doing the fireworks increases in a like manner. Consider not just the cost of fireworks, but security, fire protection, liability insurance, and other costs of regulatory compliance. Back in 1967 these costs were nowhere near the factor as they are 40 years later. Nowadays if the unthinkable happened and a fatal accident occurred because of the fireworks it’s most likely the local Jaycees would be wiped out financially in civil court, or find insurance for future events impossible to obtain.

The cost of liability insurance is what scares me most about having the fireworks return in 2008. For all of the corporate donations, the most important one might be some local insurer picking up that coverage gratis.

Shorebird of the week 6-28-2007

June 28, 2007 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Shorebird of the week 6-28-2007 

Miguel Abreu isn't afraid to work hard and get dirty, as this photo from a May game against Lakewood can attest.

For most of this season, the second base position for Delmarva has been held down quite well by Miguel Abreu. Miguel’s been a steady presence around the middle third of the batting order, providing some protection for the guys above him because he’s also shown some pop with the bat. So far this season Abreu has connected for six blasts, which ties him with Brandon Snyder for third best on the team. (Chris Vinyard and Brandon Tripp each have nine.)

The 22 year old Puerto Rican was picked by the Orioles in the 2005 draft, well down the line in the 28th round. But he’s garnered at least one honor on his minor league journey as he was an All-Star last season in the NY-Penn League, representing Aberdeen. And his power numbers this year are even better than his Aberdeen stats. Last year he hit .269 in 69 games with 3 home runs and 26 RBI for the IronBirds; and, while the average is a bit lower at Delmarva this season (.256) he’s beaten both his home run and RBI totals from ’06 already (6 HR, 36 RBI) in fewer at-bats – with close to half a season to go. If he can stay healthy, he should get to double-digits in home runs and about 60-70 RBI – solid totals.

And Gary Kendall can just keep writing “Abreu, 2b” on his lineup card.

Free choice remains for employees

June 27, 2007 · Posted in Inside the Beltway, National politics, Politics · Comments Off on Free choice remains for employees 

In a victory for the process of “let the people decide”, Republicans stayed almost united and dashed union hopes for simply organizing by “card check.” Democrats could not achieve cloture by a 51-48 vote so S.1041 has been killed. But Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio (a union lackey if there ever was one – I oughta know) vowed to the AP that the bill would be brought back “year after year after year.”

In case you’re wondering, the one RINO in this case was Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. As expected, all four local Democrat Senators voted for cloture and played their part as union lackeys.

As I’ve stated before  (Ok, I couldn’t find it in my archives. But someplace I’m sure I did!) I really have no issue with collective bargaining, but I think the card check to secret ballot process in place is relatively fair. Besides, if my memory serves me correctly, unions win their elections about 60% of the time. Just trying to game the rules a bit more so they can coerce more union dues. It’s the mother’s milk of their existence.

Jumping in the big pond

Editor’s note: Reaction from the Maryland GOP and more of my personal comments added at the bottom. 

As usual, Michelle Malkin has an excellent diatribe on the immigration fight going through Congress. One thing that concerns me is that the people who are pinning their hopes on the House not passing this may be real disappointed. From the article (no source material cited – perhaps a press release?):

The House Republican Conference today by 114 to 23 passed a resolution introduced by U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) that expresses opposition to the Senate immigration bill. “Today’s vote illustrates overwhelming opposition among Republicans in the House to the Senate immigration bill and the process in which it was developed,” Hoekstra said. “The Republican Conference has always advocated for immigration reform, but the Senate bill is bad public policy that does not reflect our position.” The text of the Hoekstra resolution is as follows: “Resolved the House GOP Conference disapproves of the Senate immigration bill.” “We have always reserved concerns about the policies that it advocates, but until now we have remained on the sidelines,” Hoekstra said. “It is important that we publicly express our opposition to the Senate bill before consideration is complete.”

 I actually commented on the site that 114 to 23 is pretty scary:

On June 26th, 2007 at 10:14 pm, Michael said: I’m getting a bad feeling about the House. If the Hoekstra vote was only 114 to 23, that means we’re talking about probably 40 Republicans who will join most of the Democrats in passing this. The D’s could even excuse some of their more “conservative” members and have enough to pass – remember, they only need 218 and we know Bush will sign this piece of garbage. 

Enforce the existing laws first!!

As most of you know, the immigration bill died for lack of cloture. Here’s what the Maryland GOP had to say about this:

Today, the United States Senate failed to obtain the 60 votes needed to end debate on the Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Reform Act of 2007.  Maryland Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski voted for cloture.  Chairman James Pelura of the Maryland Republican Party made the following statement:

“Today was an exercise of democracy in action.  Americans called their Senators to voice their opposition to the immigration bill and crashed the Senate phone system.  In the end, Senators Cardin and Mikulski joined with 44 other Senators, not even a majority, in support of this very problematic legislation.  Just as our government should not grant amnesty to those who break the law, the Senate should not give amnesty to the current immigration bill.  We need to fix the broken immigration system, and future legislation must respect the rule of law, make border security a priority, and not grant amnesty.”

So it looks like immigration reform is history, at least for this term. However, that doesn’t mean that we should stop the enforcement uptick that’s seemed to be the practice the last six months or so. As I say, enforce the existing laws properly and we’ll see what needs to be tweaked in the next Congress.

WCRC meeting – June 2007

June 26, 2007 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Politics · 4 Comments 

Lots of great food and drink at this month's meeting. I wish we could promise this EVERY time but if we get more members anything's possible!

First of all you can’t beat this spread. Thanks to Bobieanne and Charles Adams for all of the food! They do this about once a year and last night was the time.

Last night’s meeting was not supposed to have a speaker, it was pretty much a business-only meeting as we’ve decided to tackle a by-law revision this year much as the state party has. Thus the by-laws were slated as the topic of discussion.

After dispensing with the usual niceties (Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, minutes, and treasurer’s report) we first got a Central Committee report from county Chair Dr. John Bartkovich. While it’s old news to monoblogue readers, he recounted the selection of Robert Laun as our newest Central Committee member. But we also heard about upcoming events like the Tawes Crab and Clam Bake on July 18th (I’ll be there!) and our booth at August’s Wicomico County Farm and Home Show.

That was the county party in brief. The membership also got the news about the WCRC website, to be relaunched July 1st with all new information. In mid-July there will be the first of a quarterly series of newsletters placed on it with all of the other information. That responsibilty falls to the Second Vice-President, who happens to be…me. (Why do you think I took the gig? I can’t be President because it’s not allowed in the by-laws.)

So we got down to the business at hand, which was soliciting the input of those present regarding the club’s by-laws. Earlier the executive committee had gone through and placed suggested changes in an easy-to-read format in order to promote discussion. Well it worked!

We had several members who were passionately defending their views on particular items, from one who demanded that our club change its name to the Wicomico County Republican Party and drop the Central Committee moniker (state law dictates that the Central Committee be elected and call itself such) to whether we should allow only Republicans to be members. A compromise on that issue seemed to be that we would allow non-voting Associate memberships for those who aren’t registered Republicans, but Associate members could not be officers.

All of this actually will be voted on at a future meeting, since there needs to be 30 days’ notice of changes. But we had another gentleman, known to most of my readers but one who will remain anonymous in this discussion, stand up and suggest we look at three items for inclusion in the by-laws. Two of them I had no real issue with, a definition of how the club will spend its election money in support of officeseekers, and the other being the timing by which the club supports candidates. Generally the club as a body refuses to take a stance for or against a candidate during the primary season, a position that I personally support.

But the third policy idea is what rankled me the most. As I understood it, essentially this gentleman advocated a by-law where club members and officers could not speak out in public against a Republican incumbent or candidate. I immediately thought of it as the “hush monoblogue” rule. And it’s not like we haven’t had a similar discussion before.

This is the way it is, people. There are a few dissident folks on the Central Committee and active in local Republican politics who just don’t care for the way I speak out on the issues because I have a set of opinions on how the Republican Party should be run at all the levels from Wicomico County all the way up to the national level. Also, I share my feelings about a number of issues with a reasonably wide audience and it’s well known that I disagree with many of the GOP politicos on some things, particularly immigration. Further, I’ve made some negative comments about our Republican member of Congress because I didn’t agree with his voting record and even skewered a Bush initiative (Medicare Part D) at the same time, noting, “Medicare Part D was perhaps the final nail in the coffin for equating Republicans with fiscal conservatism.” That’s just in the last week or two.

But I’m not changing who I am just because there’s a few who don’t like it. I have two pieces of advice for them. Number one, if you don’t care for my performance as a WCRC officer, feel free to run for the office I hold come January. And if you don’t like me being on Central Committee, you have until September 2010 to line up supporters. But I plan on winning re-election – in fact, I’d welcome a contested race in both cases.

These people who speak out against me (and more particularly, monoblogue) sort of remind me of the Republican mindset before 1980…let’s just get along with the Democrats and we’ll take whatever crumbs they toss at us. My two political heroes are Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich – we know what they did for the Republican Party and more importantly the conservative movement. I’m working to reinvent the Republican Party in a new image, combining conservative small-government values with a more libertarian social outlook in many areas and a focus on restoring states’ rights.

We have a choice in the Wicomico County Republican Club. We can be a meek social group that’s rapidly graying or we can be a body that’s not afraid to take a stand and be critical of those above us running the party when we feel they’re steering away from the values that make America great. In my opinion, in growing the club we might just have to ruffle some feathers and a club policy muzzling dissent is a sure path to extinction.

Short update

June 25, 2007 · Posted in Personal stuff · 2 Comments 

I did get sort of a reprieve on my project deadline, but all that did was extend my work out over more days – so next week may be light too. However, this will give me a small bit of a break this weekend to catch up.

Tomorrow I should be able to update on the goings-on of the Wicomico County Republican Club, and what I consider might be another possible attempt by a few of the “hush monoblogue” folks to silence my website, or at least temper some of my criticism of certain folks. Stay tuned.

Light posting week

June 24, 2007 · Posted in Personal stuff · 3 Comments 

Because of a heavy work schedule, posts will be less frequent this week. Your patience is appreciated. In fact, it may be a good time for newer readers to scope out my archives! Just pick a subject on the left-hand side and see where it takes you.

More thoughts on growth and development

June 24, 2007 · Posted in Delmarva items, Personal stuff · 6 Comments 

In many ways, this will be a summer rerun. Back in May of 2006, I posted this article. At the time I only averaged about 200 or so readers a week and hadn’t joined the Maryland Bloggers Alliance, so this may be new to most of you.

After I reread my words, I think there’s really not a whole lot I can add. Many of the questions I had are still unanswered, but I do have a few more thoughts – particularly with the growth (or lack of it) that’s plaguing Salisbury. After all, when I wrote the post in the first place, the assumption was that by this time construction would be well underway on the Old Mall project and its hundreds of housing units. Yeah, the market was softening a bit but little did we know how it would crater by now.

So the Old Mall just sits there and people are starting to question whether any work will ever be done before the building meets the fate of the former Civic Center almost 30 years ago. (Until the Daily Times mentioned it, I had no idea that most of the existing Civic Center was essentially a large addition to the portion not wiped out by the fire. Learn something new every day.)

As I note quite often, I work in the development business. My job is to make the dreams of owners and developers become reality. (Sometimes it takes overtime, like this coming week.) We should be happy that people want to invest in our area. However, I can see the point of those who would like to maintain as much greenfield space as possible. It can’t always be done, but to me there’s nothing wrong with reusing a perfectly good building for a new purpose. Look at the soon-to-be-former Station 16 and the battle underway to control the fate of that building. Personally, I think it could be a good restaurant location, and the clock museum idea could have some merit too. I happen to think it would be better for Salisbury if the building was back on the tax rolls than if the city maintained ownership and control, but a good argument is possible from the other side.

And using the Old Mall as an example again, I’d be interested to know if the mold problem has taken over the building entirely or if there’s some portion that’s been spared. Obviously it would take a tremendous amount of work to clean up the building and sadly most of it will likely meet the fate of the old Boulevard Theatre. To me, it’s a good candidate for a business incubator IF the place can be cleaned up enough. Maybe that’s not possible anymore.

But we need to be as business-friendly as possible on the Eastern Shore and in the state of Maryland itself (although Delaware is close enough to create jobs for our area too.) While we have more than enough residential development to go around, we’re still lacking in good white-collar jobs, the kind that can keep SU and UMES graduates around.

And we need to strike a balance. I can understand more now why people in Maryland have a passion about Chesapeake Bay. Let me say that I don’t want a dirty bay; no one does. I just want a better balance between the radicals who seem to inhabit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the people interested in bringing development and good jobs to this part of Maryland (like me.)

It’s acceptable on a philosophical level to want more restrictions on a state level; after all, I’m in favor of states’ rights. But I’m also opposed to overly restrictive laws at any level. It’s why I wasn’t opposed to the Blackwater development and really perturbed that the state arbitrarily killed a development of Kent Island, despite the developer complying with the rules. That attitude is what frosts me, and I’m going to keep fighting it.

I found a different link (from WBAL-TV) to the Kent Island story – originally I used a Sun article but the link wouldn’t work anymore. Here is the phrase that pays:

“It’s a project of monumental environmental proportions,” said Comptroller Peter Franchot, who voted against the permit. The developer, K. Hovnanian, needed state approval to build sewer lines and a bridge over Cox Creek.

Before rejecting the permit, though, board members spent four hours combing through state development rules. The builder met all requirements for winning the wetlands permits (emphasis mine), but Franchot and Gov. Martin O’Malley argued that it was proof the requirements need to change.

“Isn’t there a point at which our understanding and common sense should not be derailed by outmoded practices” on approving permits, O’Malley asked.

Even state Treasurer Nancy Kopp, who ultimately voted for the permits, said the long debate over the Kent Island project showed a need for new development rules.

Whether you think the rules need to be changed or not, the fact is they were followed. To me this vote was simply O’Malley and Franchot taking matters into their own hands like the good little socialists they are.

Legislative checkup, June 2007 (Congress)

I have to admit that I let this get a little out of hand, so a lot of this will be summary information. But I’m going to attempt to hit the highlights.

What I looked at this time were the doings of the three people we on the Eastern Shore of Maryland elected to represent us – Wayne Gilchrest, Ben Cardin, and Barbara Mikulski. (Well, we may not have elected all three but the majority ruled in those cases.)

I’ve noticed something about all of the bills these three have introduced. Unlike, say, the immigration bill (more on that later), their pet bills are sent to committee and most haven’t gotten out yet. Gilchrest’s main bill is a reathorization of the Chesapeake Bay program. He’s also placed a resolution out there about a diversified energy portfolio.

Meanwhile, Senator Cardin has also focused quite a bit on energy in those bills and amendments he’s introduced. The one most interesting to me is S.1165, which mandates LEED Silver certification for new and renovated federal buildings. I have a vested interest in that particular field as some of you know. On the other hand, Senator Mikulski seems to focus more on health issues. While it wasn’t her exact bill, a similar measure to one she sponsored, “A bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to provide waivers relating to grants for preventive health measures with respect to breast and cervical cancers” was signed into law this year. So we get another government mandate. *sigh*

But more important to me is how these representatives of mine (not always by my personal choice) voted. I’ll start with Wayne Gilchrest.

I have 11 different votes here, and there’s a lot of them where the votes were split generally along party lines. Gilchrest tended to be a reliable vote – for the Democrat side. Check these out for yourself, I included the roll call number.

  • HR 2771, Legislative Branch Appropriations for FY 2008, passed 216-176. Gilchrest voted yes with 202 Democrats – Roll No. 548.
  • HR 2764, Department of State, etc. Appropriations for FY 2008, passed 241-178. Gilchrest voted yes with 210 Democrats – Roll No. 542. He also voted with the D’s on a number of amendments to this bill, several rolls previous to No. 542 show this.
  • H. Con. Res. 21, Calling on the United Nations Security Council to charge Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with violating the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the United Nations Charter because of his calls for the destruction of the State of Israel; passed 411-2, Gilchrest voted “present.” Roll No. 513.
  • HR 2638, Department of Homeland Security Appropriations 2008, passed 268-150. Gilchrest voted yes with 223 Democrats – Roll No. 491.
  • S 5, the “Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act”, passed 247-176. Gilchrest joined 210 Democrats in the majority – Roll No. 443. He also joined in providing for embryonic stem cell research in an amendment (H. Res. 464) passed 224-191 with 211 Democrats in favor – Roll No. 441.
  • HR 1252, “Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act”. Since when should the feds determine gouging, what with their tax rates? Anyway, Gilchrest joined 228 Democrats in passing this 284-141 – Roll No. 404.
  • HR 2082, “Intelligence Authorization Act”, passed 225-197, Gilchrest one of just 5 Republicans voting “aye.” – Roll No. 341.
  • HR 2237, To provide for the redeployment of United States Armed Forces and defense contractors from Iraq, failed 171-255, 2 Republicans voting yes. But Gilchrest was not one of them. On this he did join the GOP.
  • HR 1592, a “hate crimes” bill. I hate crime too, but this isn’t what they mean. Passed 237-180, Gilchrest joined 212 Democrats in supporting this. Roll No. 299.
  • HR 1905, District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act. Gilchrest voted for this with 219 Democrats as it passed 241-177. Roll No. 231.

So our esteemed Republican Congressman may have found a second home in the Democrat caucus, or so it seems. If I wanted those types of votes I’d have voted for, say, Cardin and Mikulski.

And speaking of that not-so-dynamic duo, I conjured up a list of votes that I object to where the two voted as a block. In several cases the margin was such that, had they switched sides, the opposite action would have occurred (e.g. passage becomes failure and vice versa.)

While Cardin hawks energy independence, he and Mikulski voted against an amendment to H.R. 6 (the so-called CLEAN Energy Act) allowing natural gas drilling off the Virginia coastline. This was Vote No. 212, and it failed 43-44. One or the other could have made this happen. Overall the bill passed yesterday, 65-27 (both in favor, Vote No. 226).

And both of them voted that they had no confidence in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. (to invoke cloture on S.J. Res. 14, failed 53-38, Vote No. 207.) I’m not real happy with him either but let President Bush make the decision.

On S.1348 (the original immigration bill) our esteemed Senators voted for the following:

  • They both voted to invoke cloture (Vote No. 206, failed 45-50).
  • Neither supported an amendment to enforce existing laws before amnesty (Coburn Amendment, Vote No. 202, failed 42-54).
  • They were the difference in killing an amendment that would have mandated a biometric check-in system promised since 1996 (Vitter Amendment, Vote No. 199, failed 48-49.)
  • An amendment that did pass where illegal aliens could not claim the Earned Income Tax Credit still drew our Senators’ disfavor (Sessions Amendment, Vote No. 192, passed 56-41.)
  • This one floors me. An amendment to permanently bar immigrants who are “gang members, terrorists, and other criminals” was defeated 46-51 with the help of these two (Cornyn Amendment, Vote No. 187).
  • Not surprisingly, an amendment to S.1348 that mandated presentation of voter ID (amending the Help America Vote Act of 2002) got “no” votes from both (McConnell Amendment, Vote No. 184, failed 41-52.)

And then you have taxation. True to the Democrat “tax and spend” reputation, these two worked to keep taxes high in the following ways this spring:

  • On S.761, “A bill to invest in innovation and education to improve the competitiveness of the United States in the global economy”, they both voted to table an amendment stating, “To express the sense of the Senate that Congress has a moral obligation to offset the cost of new Government programs and initiatives.” (Coburn Amendment, motion to table carried 54-43, Vote No. 140.)
  • They voted to raise taxes. Instead of voting for an amendment keeping the current rate structure, our pair voted for raising rates anywhere from 3% to 4.6% – essentially nullifying the Bush tax cuts (Graham Amendment to S. Con. Res. 21, failed 46-52, Vote No. 107.)
  • They both voted twice against changing the alternative minimum tax. (Lott Amendment to S. Con. Res. 21, failed 49-50, Vote No. 113; and Grassley Amendment, same bill, failed 44-53, Vote No. 108.)
  • Even worse, they voted three times in the same stretch against any change to or repeal of the death tax! (Cited are votes on amendments to S. Con. Res. 21: Kyl Amendment 507, rejected 47-51, Vote No. 83; Kyl Amendment 583, rejected 48-51, Vote No. 102; DeMint Amendment, rejected 44-55, Vote No. 109.)

And of course, no Democrat resume is complete without advocating embryonic stem cell research – never mind it’s not been proven to be effective in finding any cures for diseases while adult stem cell research has. (S.5, passed 63-34, Vote No. 127.)

But I’ll give credit where credit is due. Another amendment to S. Con. Res. 21 that would’ve allowed wealthier Medicare Part D recipients to pay a greater premium share lost, 44-52. They both voted against the Ensign Amendment (Vote No. 93.) Now I’ll give both Cardin and Mikulski credit since they did vote (Cardin being in the House at the time) against the original mess in 2003. So on a philosophical level I agreed with their vote (both now and in 2003), although something tells me that had John Kerry won the Presidency and submitted a similar package both Cardin and Mikulski would’ve voted in favor of it. Medicare Part D was perhaps the final nail in the coffin for equating Republicans with fiscal conservatism.

Hopefully this will inform the voters of the Eastern Shore just what their elected officials inside the Beltway are doing. Something tells me they’re not going to like it too much.

The pitfalls of organization (conclusion of a two-part series)

June 21, 2007 · Posted in Delmarva items · 4 Comments 

Last week I posted about how I’d gotten to the point I arrived at tonight, the first meeting of my still-unnamed neighborhood organization. Tonight was the big night, and I was looking forward to seeing how many of my neighbors would heed the call. I anticipated three, maybe four. And I got one.

I suppose I shouldn’t be too disappointed; after all, I’ve always found that people make and break commitments quite easily when life gets in the way. But I have to hand it to the one lady who came, she put off attending a 40th birthday party just to see what this was about – and I certainly thank her for that!

So instead of a formal meeting, it was more of an impromptu discussion. I introduced myself, gave her a bit of background on why I decided to do this, and we discussed some of the issues that we share insofar as problems in the neighborhood. We actually agreed on three of them: the possible influx of rentals, street lighting, and crime. She also had concerns about cars speeding down her street and making the area more bicycle-friendly as she and her husband are fairly avid riders (the bike rack on her car let me know too.) For my end, I’d like to see a small playground placed on one of the “paper streets” in our neighborhood, but the two aren’t dissimilar aims.

So where do I go from here? Well, I ain’t giving up. There were two other people who I know were interested but were away this week, and I like to think that I’ve doubled the number of concerned people tonight since I met someone else who’s equally troubled about potential problems in the area. In about 45 days I’ll try, try again. (It’ll likely be quarterly once we get established though.) One goal I do have is to find an actual quasi-public meeting place rather than my house. I’ll also see about a bit more advertising. But even if a few people bring a neighbor, that begins to grow the group. If my two or three no-shows come next time, I’ve doubled the group. If they each bring a neighbor the next time, we’re getting into double digits.

Something else I need to check into is whether there’s an active Block Watch-style group in the neighborhood. I see a few signs about that allude to neighbors watching neighbors but I don’t think we’re organized in that way. I guess this will give me something else to do, unless one of readers knows how to find out. They can get back to me since my e-mail’s here for all to see.

I suppose this would qualify more as a whimper than a bang, but every organization starts someplace. As I noted, tonight I doubled the number of people who want to get involved in this locally and we have nowhere to go but up.

Shorebird of the week 6-21-2007

June 21, 2007 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Shorebird of the week 6-21-2007 

Josh Tamba follows through with a pitch in a May 24 game. Tamba started and lost this one to Lake County.

Another pitcher who got off to a slow start but shown improvement is my pick for Shorebird of the Week. Josh Tamba was pretty highly touted after a good career at Cypress College in California, high enough to be last year’s 7th round pick by the Orioles. But the 22 year old righthander struggled in the chill of April, saddled with an ERA over 10 for the month and giving up a Ted Williams-like opponent batting average of .383 during the first weeks of the season.

A small change has helped him with his pitching, however. In his last few appearances he’s come on as a long reliever and the results are appreciably better. For the season he’s still 0-3 but the ERA has made a pretty steady drop to a current level of 5.33 – not great but half of where he was at in April.

One thing Josh will have to work on is not allowing so many free passes. Tamba has walked 32 in 52 1/3 innings of work, and allowing those extra 2 or 3 runners every 9 innings (compared to last season) hurts his chances of moving up in the system. Last season in Aberdeen he was much more stingy about giving up walks, just 21 in 70 innings. That works out to 2.7 bases on balls per nine innings, a ratio much closer to average.

So control should be the goal for Josh as he continues on with his Delmarva stint. Being such a high pick, he’ll get a little more forgiveness from the Orioles’ minor league personnel when they evaluate the season, but no player is safe from release regardless of the draft standing.

So where are the ’06 Shorebirds now?

June 20, 2007 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · 3 Comments 

One thing that’s quite fascinating about baseball as a business is the way the personnel shift around from season to season. Particularly in the minor leagues, it’s the goal of every player to get up to the next level and on up to the promised land of The Show.

And so it is with the 22 players I selected as Shorebird of the Week during 2006. Many have climbed the ladder to the next level, some are still toiling in a Delmarva uniform, a few have taken detours down their road to the Show, and there’s some who saw their chances at big league stardom extinguished.

Since the team is at a mid-season break I thought this was a good time to see how my personal flock was doing. So over the weekend I checked into where these players now pitch, hit, and field.

Many of my selections last year now call Frederick home as they advanced to the next level. Pitchers Josh Potter (my very first honoree), David Hernandez, Chorye Spoone, Brandon Erbe (my pick as Prospect of the Year); catcher Zack Dillon; infielders Mark Fleisher, Blake Davis, Jon Tucker, and last year’s Shorebird of the Year Ryan Finan; and outfielder Arturo Rivas all play for the Keys this season.

Three of the group remain with the Shorebirds. It’s year two in Delmarva for infielder Brandon Snyder, pitcher Brad Bergesen, and utility man Stu Musslewhite. All three are repeat SotW winners this season.

This leaves nine who are outside the Orioles organization. There were five who I could not locate on any roster, so it’s likely their careers are now over. The group includes Kyle Dahlberg, Juan Gutierrez, CJ Smith (he latched onto a Cardinals farm club after being released by the O’s but didn’t stick there either), fan favorite Quincy Ascencion, and Ryan Steinbach.

And the other four play on outside the Orioles organization. One signed on with a major league chain while the other three have gone the independent league route. 

Outfielder Lorenzo Scott actually moved up a notch with his new organization. Scott currently plays for the Jupiter Hammerheads of the Florida State League. That Florida Marlins affiliate is at the same level as Frederick.

Pitcher Trevor Caughey is playing for Kansas City. Not on the Royals, but the Northern League’s Kansas City T-Bones. You gotta like the name. I believe after his release from Delmarva last season, he went out there to conclude 2006 and was kept for this season too. Outfielder Jarod Rine plays his home games in a park I happened to visit last summer on my Ohio trip – he plays for the Washington (PA) WildThings of the Frontier League. A small park capacity wise but pretty nice to watch a game in. Both of these players were sent down from Frederick during 2006 so Delmarva proved to be their last chance to stay on the Orioles’ payroll.

But my favorite outside destination of all the 2006 SotY players was the team Vito Chiaravalotti signed with. Vito is probably wowing fans all over the Atlantic League with his majestic moonshots. He has ever-changing venues to do so because he plays on a team of the sort unique to independent leagues – the traveling team. In his case, the team is known as the Road Warriors and they’ll play each and every one of their games this season as the road team. The reason is that Vito’s Road Warriors were the team slated to play in Charles County, Maryland beginning this season but stadium construction was delayed. In order to maintain an even league schedule, the Road Warriors were resurrected for another year.

Thus, for many of my chosen players the dream lives on. One player that I didn’t get to pick as a Shorebird of the Week last year because he was called up prior to selection is relief pitcher Jim Hoey. Hoey eventually made it all the way up to the Orioles for a cup of coffee last September, and this week he’s back in their uniform as the O’s recalled him from Norfolk. There’s a decent chance that some other former Shorebirds I’ve watched over the last 2 1/2 seasons may follow him, maybe by this time next year. Indeed, they do live for this.

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