I suppose we were lucky he didn’t have a lot more to say.
The idea behind having Delegate Charles Otto of District 38A as this month’s guest speaker was for him to give us a rundown of the recently-completed Special Session, and once we went through the regular business of the Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, welcoming of guests, Treasurer’s Report, and a moment of silence for departed County Council members Ken Matthews and Bob Caldwell, it was time for Otto to speak.
After noting that one year ago we were in the midst of a heated campaign and thanking us for the opportunity to serve, Otto termed the Special Session a “success” – if only because they stuck solely to redistricting questions and didn’t make any attempts to raise taxes.
He then showed those assembled a number of the new maps, drawing snickers from some but getting the obvious comparison of District 3 to a Rorschach inkblot test. Yet that configuration received more than the requisite 85 votes (a 3/5 majority) for passage as an emergency bill, so pending any court action these are now Maryland’s Congressional districts. One piece of good news: “Andy Harris can stay in office as long as he wants to,” Otto said.
Yet there was opposition from a number of disparate entities like the League of Women Voters and a number of minority groups, including Hispanics which were neatly split by the new lines. Anne Arundel County was also “very upset.” In response to a question, Otto hazarded a guess the map will “most likely” end up in court.
Another question posed to Charles was how it felt to be on “the other side” after doing so much lobbying for local farmers. “I see the importance of organizations (now),” said Otto.
Something that will come up in the 2012 session will be a fifteen cent per gallon increase in the gas tax, which Governor O’Malley perversely claims will create jobs. “I can’t vote for a fifteen cent per gallon gas tax increase,” Otto noted. At that point someone suggested the total taxes involved should be posted at the pump. But Otto pointed out that counties were being pressured to endorse the measure.
The need for revenue isn’t coming from the lottery, as estimates of slots proceeds were too rosy. One conclusion drawn among the group is that will be an argument for adopting table games.
Charles believed that the TEA Party good government rally last Tuesday was “important” and a “highlight” of the session. He also mentioned to the group his belief “there is a war on rural Maryland,” pointing out factors like PlanMaryland, watershed implementation plans, and the proposed septic ban.
2012 “will be a difficult session,” concluded Charles. But one thing he’ll have to consider will be a request for a straw ballot just like in the 2011 session from Wicomico County. Gail Bartkovich made that announcement during the meeting.
Dave Parker gave the Central Committee report, conceding “we’re about to take the shaft” because “elections matter” and we didn’t get the right people elected. But our top priority at the moment is to fill Bob Caldwell’s County Council seat.
Parker was also at the Good Government rally and noted House speaker Michael Busch looked on and “didn’t approve.” Two days later, Dave spoke about three competing events – the Maryland Society of Patriots event he attended, the discussion on the revenue cap, and a separate presentation on PlanMaryland. Another upcoming event with “fantastic” speakers will be the Maryland CAN conference this weekend, Dave added.
Dave also made sure to mention our upcoming convention on November 11-12 and our Lincoln Day Dinner on February 25, 2012. We will be hosting a number of statewide candidates, with the primary just weeks away by then.
Other business mentioned during the meeting was our upcoming Christmas Party on December 4. I also took the opportunity to thank those who volunteered for me at both the Good Beer Festival and Autumn Wine Festival. Finally, Gail Bartkovich announced the next meeting of the Charter Review Committee will be November 8 in the Council chambers.
With that, we closed out the evening. Our final meeting of 2011 will be November 28, with a speaker to be determined.