Odds and ends number 36

Let’s begin with an item that only gets a couple paragraphs because of the circumstances. While I’m not at liberty to share the names of those who applied, I think I can safely say that we have no shortage of applicants to send four qualified prospects up to County Council in order to fill the District 4 seat made vacant by Bob Caldwell’s passing. Offoceseekers are both male and female, represent a broad spectrum of ages, and should be very interesting to screen. So that seat will be in good hands.

Now I could have had a great scoop in releasing the names but I respect the wishes of my Chair and the process too much to let any undue influence sway the decision, a circumstance which would certainly occur if the names were made public. Remember, this is not a typical political campaign because we as a Central Committee only make recommendations. The time for voting will be later and it will be done by County Council, not our committee.

All right, now for something a lot different.

Over the last couple weeks I have received a number of e-mails and press releases from a group called Demand Progress. Their concern is stopping the Protect IP Act in the Senate and a companion bill recently introduced in the House, as this video explains.

I can understand Hollywood fretting about losing business to piracy, but perhaps they need to take that up with China first. This drive is using teen sensation Justin Bieber as a poster child because he became famous by covering pop songs on Youtube videos which went viral. (For those who aren’t big fans of his, they may like this imagery. You stand convicted of making crappy music.)

But the civil libertarian in me agrees with them, and in theory I could run afoul of this law when I do any future editions of Friday Night Videos. (It’s on hiatus, but I plan on bringing them back for special editions every so often.) So that’s what attracted my interest in this bill.

Closer to home, we have two fronts opening up in the battle against Martin O’Malley. One is trying to raise objections to the gas tax increase MOM perversely claims will create jobs. Just ask Maryland Business for Responsive Government president Kimberly Burns, who said in a prepared statement:

Unfortunately, the (Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation Funding) has neglected out-of-the box thinking that truly addresses Maryland’s long term fiscal issues. The report proposes an unbalanced approach that falls disproportionately on the shoulders of Maryland motorists, truckers, delivery services, transportation providers, and ultimately, Maryland’s working families.

Creating a lock box provision, which requires a constitutional amendment or statute to ensure the transportation trust fund is not raided for other expenditures, needs attention first. The commission draft report acknowledges such protections are not a sure thing, but that likely won’t slow the legislature down from passing these tax increases in January without the necessary guarantees to the taxpayer.

Manning the other front is State Senator E.J. Pipkin, who is spearheading the opposition to PlanMaryland. It’s a key weapon in the War on Rural Maryland.

But they had a successful meeting last week, and hopefully the momentum kept up today:

Over 75 elected officials and other representatives from all corners of the state met today to voice their opposition to PlanMaryland and to formulate a collective approach to stop Governor O’Malley from implementing the Plan.

“The Governor calls PlanMaryland smart growth. But what it amounts to is no growth in the rural portions of the State,” says Senator E.J. Pipkin (District 36). “It usurps land decisions from the locals and takes away private property rights.”

PlanMaryland is a far-reaching, state-wide planning policy that, if not stopped, will be implemented by Governor O’Malley as early as mid-November. The centerpiece of the Plan is that the state will no longer pay for growth outside of areas they have designated for growth. According to the Plan’s growth maps, most growth will be allowed in Baltimore and in the Washington suburbs. That means many counties will not receive funding for schools, roads or water.

“The Governor’s goals are laudable, but it should not be done without local say. PlanMaryland turns the current planning model on its head and undermines local planning authority,” said St. Mary’s County Commissioner Cindy Jones.

The two hour meeting was the first time this many stakeholders from rural counties have met on PlanMaryland.  St. Mary’s, Frederick, Carroll, Cecil, Queen Anne’s, Anne Arundel, Caroline and Howard county members were present, creating a groundswell to squash the Plan.

“The Governor is dusting off an antiquated and controversial law from 1974 in an attempt to become the planning czar for the entire state,” said Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin. “He will be telling us where to live and work.”

The next meeting about PlanMaryland is October 31 from 12-5pm at the Pikesville Hilton on Reisterstown Road. Panelists include Lord Christopher Monckton, a science advisor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and White House environmental policy experts.

Understandably, our little corner of the state is just that: a corner, far away from the main seat of government. But I’d love to know why some of our local elected officials aren’t enlisting in the fight that Pipkin (or Burns) are sticking their necks out for.

It may be symbolic at best, but I believe a statement needs to be made by our elected officials that a 15 cent increase in the gas tax would be counterproductive to the needs and interests of our county. All it would do is drive business to Delaware, and when the revenues come up short of projections (as they often do) guess which counties keep their share and which ones suffer? (Hint: we ain’t in the first category.)

And while I expect five in our local elected delegation of eight will stand firmly against a tax increase, we need to remind Senator Mathias and Delegate Conway that they ran as conservatives, but their voting record has too often sided them with the Annapolis liberals. (Delegate Cane is beyond saving.)

PlanMaryland, unfortunately, is a little different. Because Governor O’Malley will unilaterally put that into place it may take a court fight to get rid of this oppressive document which purports to tell us how we can grow – which we won’t because MOM is killing development just fine without PlanMaryland. Aside from keeping amenities along the U.S. 50 corridor to ease the trip to Ocean City, it seems to me that our end of the state could echo a famous New York Daily News headline – O’Malley to Eastern Shore: Drop Dead.

If and when the brain trust in Annapolis finally drives Perdue out of the state, we may just do that. The Eastern Shore may become an area with most of its population around the edges and vacant in the middle, sort of like a donut. Overtaxation and a bad attitude toward business might just do that sort of thing.

Author: Michael

It's me from my laptop computer.

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