Odds and ends number 47

The occasional rundown of items I find interesting and deserving of a paragraph or two…begins now.

In the category of acting locally, thinking globally I’ll pass along the annual dog and pony show against the Wicomico County revenue cap called the Public Hearing for the county’s FY2013 operating budget, which will be held in the Flanders Room of the Wicomico County Youth and Civic Center this coming Thursday, March 22nd at 7 p.m.

Since the deadline for county departments to submit their budget requests only passed this week, we probably won’t see the county’s FY2013 budget proposal until it’s distributed at the meeting. The obvious sword of Damocles hanging over our fiscal head is the prospect of a shifting of teacher pensions to the county, and that hasn’t been resolved at the state level yet.

So there’s a lot of uncertainty in the Government Office Building these days.

One thing that Marylanders can be certain about regarding state government is that they LOVE to spend money. As another example, the Maryland Senate Republican Slate makes this point:

The planned relocation of Maryland’s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) from Crownsville to New Carrollton will cost millions of dollars when it’s a mystery why the move is necessary. O’Malley’s administration is guarding the project’s feasibility study, even after repeat attempts by legislators to have it released.

The move takes the agency from its state-owned headquarters, with an annual operating budget of $1.7 million, to a rented space that costs $3.6 million a year. And then there is the cost of the actual move – about $1 million.

The stated reasons for the prospective move is that Prince George’s County has no state agencies headquartered there, to which I say: so? Should every county get its very own state agency then, and if so why have a capital city as seat of government? Let that corrupt cesspool get its own industry if it can – maybe some changes in the approach of county government are in order beforehand.

In the meantime, Maryland is a state which is among the leaders nationally in the number of boats registered, simply because it was such a vast amount of coastline. And that’s yet another cash cow in the eyes of the O’Malley administration, which is proposing to raise the fee from the current $24 biannually to a range between $50 and $350, depending on boat length.

Admittedly, $24 is not a whole lot to pay for a boat (when renewing my license plates for 2 years costs me $128) but the reason for the increase is to make up for $40 million pilfered from the Waterway Improvement Fund over the years to help Martin O’Malley balance the budget. Nor is it just recreational boaters who will pay, but those watermen who depend on their boats for their livelihood will see yet another dent in their bottom line.

With early voting for the April 3 primary just days away, campaign news is easy to come by.

On Friday I spent a post detailing what’s going on with the Dan Bongino campaign for Senate, and there are some similar themes coming from primary opponent Richard Douglas. Both are attacking the correct target, though: incumbent Senator Ben Cardin.

For example, the opening to this radio ad from Douglas:

Man: (shocked)  Honey, did you see where gas prices could go to $6?
Woman:  Shhhhhhhh…you’ll wake Ben Cardin. (snoring man sfx)
Man:  (in a barely whispered tone)  With our jobs going to Virginia, how are we going to afford that?
Woman: (in a hushed tone):  Please!  You know how Ben Cardin gets when he hasn’t had a full term of sleep! (snoring man sfx)
Man: (barely containing himself through gritted teeth)  Well I am SORRY that Rip Van Cardin might actually wake up and have to do something….
Woman:  Brian!!!  We have had Ben Cardin long enough to know that he needs a full 6 years of rest before we can ask anything of him!!!  Now let Ben Cardin sleep. (stirring and then more snoring sfx)

A very populist approach. Douglas wasn’t through on the gas price issue, though:

Governor O’Malley is addicted to tax increases, including those on gasoline, and Senator Ben Cardin, through his silence, is one of his chief enablers. Ben Cardin’s failure to speak up on the regressive gasoline tax is an endorsement of out-of-control spending which comes out of the pockets of hard-working Maryland families.  Our system of federalism is an important governing principle, but it is not an excuse for a senator to remain silent and abdicate leadership at this critical time when our state is headed in the wrong direction.

And both have acknowledged the attempted softening of Cardin’s image with a media buy. Douglas in particular noted:

With record spending, record debt, jobs going to Virginia, and gas prices we have never seen before, Ben Cardin is talking about the benefits of brushing your teeth.  It’s no surprise that the incumbent Senator would rather distract voters with commercials about dental hygiene than work on fixing Maryland’s problems.

It seems like Douglas’s campaign has found its stride, and it’s apparent he’s shifted his focus from an earlier one which spoke more about the foreign policy aspect of the Senate and other inside baseball that the striped-pants crowd would understand but regular lunchpail voters wouldn’t relate to. Gas taxes and entrenched, out-of-touch politicians – yes, it’s coming dangerously close to the politics of class envy but these are points to be made.

On the other hand, this “win lunch” contest from Douglas may be somewhat of a misstep because it reminds me of an Obama fundraising approach that has been roundly panned and skillfully skewed by this observer.

Speaking of skillfully skewed, I just had to pass along this line from the spokesman of Sixth District Congressional candidate David Brinkley, Don Murphy:

“Roscoe Bartlett’s support for fiscal discipline rings as hollow as a Charlie Sheen ad for sobriety,” stated campaign spokesman Don Murphy. “If the 20-year veteran fights for a balanced budget amendment and energy independence like he fights for term limits, they’ll never get accomplished,” he said. “He’s had his chance.”

Turning to the national scene, it’s likely we’re not going to see any of the national candidates come to this part of Maryland in advance of the April 3 primary. But we have their surrogates duking it out this coming Friday as part of a candidate forum hosted by the Worcester County Campaign for Liberty and featuring libertarian radio talk show host Adam Kokesh. Playing the parts (respectively) of Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum will be Mark McIver, Mark Novak, Audrey Scott, and Hank Piasecki – all are running to be delegates to the Republican National Convention in September and will be on the April 3 ballot. All except Novak are on the slates of delegates approved by their respective campaigns, but he is a Ron Paul supporter.

Kathryn Danner-Smith is the contact person for the event, which will be held at the American Legion Hall at 2308 Philadelphia Avenue in Ocean City – her e-mail is caleb0504 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

And lastly among my items I wanted to comment on an item I ran across in the Baltimore Sun, a poll which attempts to restate the stereotype that Republicans are “old, white, and in trouble.” Author David Lauter points out that Latinos view the GOP unfavorably by a 60-30 margin while they favorably view Democrats 56-31. By the same token, the under-30 crowd likes Democrats by a 54-35 margin and dislikes Republicans 53-34.

This has been the case for many years, though. A quote falsely attributed to Winston Churchill notes, “if you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart.  If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.” But the point is correct – young idealists tend to fall for the whole liberal line but are snapped back to reality when they mature and begin collecting paychecks.

But what the Pew Center for the People and the Press (which did the poll) didn’t note is that younger people (and Latinos) don’t tend to vote as often as those who are older and white do. There’s no need to refine our message, which is the implicit “concern” of Lauter. All we need to do is relate it better and call bullshit when the mainstream media gets it out of line as Lauter does.

My new links over the last couple weeks: The Lonely Conservative (who’s really not all that lonely based on readership and comments), the Twitter aggregate site Twitchy, and a Maryland-based blogger who appears to qualify as one of those idealists who hasn’t yet been smacked upside the head by reality, Sarah Says. (Really, she seems to be only an average amount of left for Maryland.)

They’re all good reads, though, and now my e-mail box is nice and tidy.