Joining a crowded field

Honestly, this one came out of left field for me, but several published reports indicate Anne Arundel County Delegate Ron George will formally announce his intent in June to run for governor in 2014, abandoning re-election to his House of Delegates seat in the effort.

It’s interesting to me that, in a state where I’m continually told by conventional wisdom that the Democratic primary will determine the next governor, so many Republicans are considering the race. Most of my readers already know the field by heart, but just as a reminder it most likely includes (in alphabetical order) 2012 U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino, Harford County Executive David Craig, 2010 Congressional candidate and AFP Maryland leader Charles Lollar, and Frederick County Commission president Blaine Young. I’m becoming less and less convinced that early 2010 gubernatorial hopeful and Change Maryland leader Larry Hogan will make a run; in fact it wouldn’t shock me if at least two others of those mentioned above begged off the race.

There’s no question that George will be trying to make history as just the second governor in modern times to ascend from the House of Delegates to Government House, and the first to be elected – Gov. Marvin Mandel came into office in 1969 as the successor to Gov. Spiro Agnew, who became Vice-President under Richard Nixon. Mandel was elected by the legislature, as the office of Lieutenant Governor wasn’t created until 1970 in the wake of Agnew’s departure.

George hinted that his focus would be on economic issues, being quoted in the Capital as promising:

My plan is to really build a new Maryland – one that has true economic growth, not government-created jobs that don’t last long.

But is that the whole package? From a conservative’s standpoint, George is great on certain issues. But on the monoblogue Accountability Project, George only has a lifetime score of 73 and that puts him in the bottom third of Republican Delegates – one caveat being Republicans from that area tend to score a little lower as they cater to a more moderate district.

Evidence of that is easy to find, since his 2010 election website is still up. It includes accolades from well-known state Republicans Bob Ehrlich and Ellen Sauerbrey and praise from Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese, but also has a section devoted to “Democrats and Independents for Ron George,” including this from member Gil Renaut:

In the current “hyperpartisan” climate, he stands out as a delegate who can and does work across party lines for the public good.

But this site also poses a question which should give those up in arms about Agenda 21 and other environmental opportunism pause:

Did you know that Ron also supported and voted for The Clean Air Act, The Clean Cars Bill, The Chesapeake Bay Trust Fund, The Living Shoreline Protection Act, the Green and Growing Task Force, Performance Standards and Accountability that help Smart Growth, the Smart Green and Growing Commission, the Standing Bill and many, many more?

(snip)

That is how Ron George was nicknamed the Green Elephant.

Aside from the nickname, I can pretty much guarantee I knew this, hence his fairly low score on the monoblogue Accountability Project. I recall, however, that this bid to curtail illegal immigration was one of his bills I wrote testimony on some years back.

So while he has some appeal to the center of the political spectrum and those people who equate “it’s for the Bay” with “it’s for the children”, is that enough to propel him to the GOP nomination? After all, in a statewide election the question generally is why vote for Democrat-lite when you can get the real thing?

And on a more political level, why not announce before the state Republican convention when all the activists are there to be catered to? Yes, we had a messy race for Chair but the distraction may have been helpful.

George is staking out a position alongside David Craig, as both are apparently trying to portray the pragmatic centrists as opposed to the more fiscally conservative Blaine Young, the brash outsider in Dan Bongino, and the more socially conservative Charles Lollar. The latter three seem to be seeking the hearts and minds of the pro-liberty wing of the Maryland GOP, so maybe George’s entrance is good news for them.

Much, however, depends on what other surprises await as the 2014 campaign slowly comes into focus.

Incorrect hiring practices?

April 30, 2013 · Posted in Campaign 2016 - President, Maryland Politics, Politics · 1 Comment 

By now readers are probably aware of the brewing prison scandal in Baltimore, where it’s been widely reported that the Black Guerrilla Family ran the Baltimore City Detention Center to the extent where inmate and BGF leader Tavon White is quoted as saying, “This is my jail…I make every final call in this jail.” If you’re not, this Washington Post article by Ann E. Marimow and John Wagner is a good place to start, while Jeff Quinton at The Quinton Report is critical of the lack of calls for accountability from the Maryland GOP. Quinton also links to the indictment press release and ponders the impact on O’Malley’s nascent presidential run – in short, he’s been a bulldog on this one.

However, that’s not to say individual GOP members have been silent. State Senator Joe Getty was quoted in the Post piece, and Delegates Michael Smigiel and Michael Hough have opposite opinions on the fate of Maryland Public Safety and Correctional Services head Gary Maynard.

One thing that may bear further scrutiny, though, is the backgrounds of the thirteen women, aged between 24 and 31, who were indicted as rogue correctional officers. It’s interesting that State Senator Lisa Gladden noted in the Post, “A lot of times, (female corrections officers) become smitten with the inmates.” But what if they were already acquainted with the inmates? Is BGF also prevalent outside the walls of the prison, too? Were any of these women gang wannabes in their youth, and recruited by the gangs from the inside?

Something which needs to be addressed is the workplace practice which, first, leads to a situation where there are female corrections officers guarding male inmates, and, second, seems to permit behavior where suspicions should have been aroused. If someone comes to work with the name of an inmate tattooed on their neck, shouldn’t that have raised a red flag?

This scandal, which came to light just as Governor Martin O’Malley was trying to raise his 2016 profile with a trip to the Middle East, also could spark a debate over whether the death penalty should have been rescinded.  If you read the indictment, it’s clear that Tavon White would stop at nothing, not even murder, to further his aims. If it can be proven that he ordered a “hit” from his jail cell, with the rescinded death penalty there is no ultimate punishment awaiting him.

At this time, it doesn’t appear there will be a petition drive to overturn the ill-considered legislation that ended the death penalty in Maryland, and that’s simply wrong. I can understand the logic of fighting the gun law in the courts, but it’s shameful that no similar effort seems to be possible to restore the ultimate punishment.

Two dates to keep in mind

April 29, 2013 · Posted in Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Two dates to keep in mind 

It’s not really the season for a political calendar quite yet, but there are two upcoming events I thought important enough to devote a little space to.

For all the caterwauling about MDGOP Executive Director David Ferguson’s March trip to South Carolina – part of which was intended as a conduit to secure speakers for Lincoln Day dinners and the like – well, he may have struck gold with an upcoming event at Bowie State University, or it may have been sheer coincidence. Regardless of the reason, Bowie State’s Students for Liberty president Eugene Craig III excitedly let me know that:

(We have) secured U.S. Senator Tim Scott as our major keynote speaker for this semester… The event will start at 6:30 p.m. (on Tuesday, May 7th), and will be in the Martin Luther King Building Auditorium.

I think this is a prime opportunity for our party to make major inroads in the African American community. We have a unique situation where for the first time in at least a decade an elected Republican is addressing the university, and it just so happens that he is a Black American addressing the old HBCU in Maryland.

It seems pretty sad that it has been a decade since an elected Republican has addressed these students, and I would really love to know how many Democrats have been there in the interim. Nevertheless, this is quite a coup for the group, as I’m sure many groups would love to hear Senator Scott relate his compelling story of growing up poor and building his life for himself. For a few weeks Scott was in the unique position of being the only black Senator until Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick countered by selecting Mo Cowan as a caretaker Senator until the conclusion of the special election for John Kerry’s unexpired term, as Cowan declined to participate in that balloting.

Closer to home, another member of Congress will be the beneficiary of a fundraiser in Ocean City on Monday, May 13. Rep. Andy Harris gets the benefit of the $100 per person event, but the reason I found this noteworthy was that one of the event sponsors is Dr. Mark Edney – coincidentally the featured speaker at the Wicomico County Republican Club June meeting. Of course, Andy could use a good show of support from local movers and shakers willing to continue backing our Congressman.

2013 Salisbury Festival in pictures and text

April 28, 2013 · Posted in All politics is local, Business and industry, Delmarva items, National politics, Politics · Comments Off on 2013 Salisbury Festival in pictures and text 

After missing the event last year because I was out of town, I got to return to the Salisbury Festival this year for one occurrence. (Unless the date of the MDGOP convention is changed for next year I’ll miss the SF again in 2014.)

I had to be there early to help set up our space, so I happened onto the annual firemen’s awards. It’s always neat to see Old Glory raised up this way.

Once the firemen were finished, the color guard paraded to the intersection by which I was standing.

Having helped to set up our place (after the mixup we had was resolved) I first wandered the Plaza looking around.

A staple of the Salisbury Festival is its emphasis on artistic forms of all sorts. A number of craftsmen and artisans had set up shop hoping to make a little money from their efforts. But it was slow going on the far end.

This is the same locale where just a week and a day before Third Friday had set up shop outdoors for the first time this year.

Art of all sorts was on display, with an emphasis on the youngest attendees.

Many of them were hard at work chalking the Plaza at its entrance.

There were also performers on the Plaza, trying to instill us with culture.

Talented as they were, for me they were no match to the appeal of Detroit iron.

For those of you under around the age of 35 – notice something missing in this picture?

Look in the trunk.

Yes, the Corvair was a rear-engine vehicle which was rather popular back in the day until Ralph Nader killed it. It certainly wasn’t all that expensive.

It’s also fun to see what restorers go through. This was an unusual display for a car show.

But from this shell may come something which looks a lot like this.

For all I know, these cars could have been on the line at the same time – both are 1968 Pontiac Firebirds.

Yet I’m now of an age when the cars of my childhood are joined as “classics” by the cars of my formative years. Believe it or not, this car is nearly 30 years old – but I drove a similar model in my drivers’ ed class.

And I wasn’t the only one walking down Memory Lane, er, Main Street.

Now something I skipped in my little narrative was the block or so between the Plaza and the car show. That was fraught with fun and frivolity as well.

I talked about this group awhile back, and the local chapter of Move to Amend was out adding to the minor amount of political goings-on.

I had an interesting discussion with the guy, but obviously our end goals are different: he wants to erode the power of corporations in government by stifling their rights to contribute money (which, to me equates with their right to free speech.) I’d rather just limit corporations’ power and influence by limiting the size and scope of government. Of course, this guy made the classic mistake of assuming I wanted no government.

Speaking of people who make classic mistakes, the Democrats were mixed in with a group of private interests. I thought they should have been next to Move to Amend.

One piece of advice I gave to my Democratic friends: Tootsie Rolls and warm, sunny days do not go well together.

But they were right across from one of the two City of Salisbury setups, where my Council member Laura Mitchell was sitting. I should have asked if she was going to sit on the other side of the street, too.

But I was getting hungry and decided to check out the food court. I was also wondering where my fiance was.

You know, it really helps to turn your phone off silent when you are done with the event you turned it off at. Turns out she (and her daughter and friend) were down by the river, where I took this shot.

It was empty at the time, but this lot on the other side from downtown is where the Salisbury Festival hosts many of its evening activities. Later on Saturday there would be an international beer festival.

I almost took a photo of the rockfish I had for lunch, but I decided not to share.

Now when you have kids in tow your priorities change a little bit. Normally I would pretty much ignore the carnival portion of the SF, but that doesn’t happen with two teenagers.

A few rides, a basketball and couple (live, in a plastic bag) goldfish later, they were happy and Kim and I went our separate ways as I relieved a relieved Jackie. The Plaza was abuzz with activity by then.

Meanwhile, we soldiered on in our modest little space. The biggest problem, as it turned out, was having our tent banner paired up with a small table. We made it work.

The final photo is of two presidents: Ellen Bethel of Republican Women of Wicomico and Jackie Wellfonder of the Wicomico County Republican Club.

GOP table 2 (640x480)

It was nice to see our downtown alive and vibrant for a day, at least. Come Monday after 5 it will be back to its sleepy self, save for a couple pockets of activity.

A winning future?

In the spirit of unity and exploring ideas in the wake of a bitter and contentious campaign for state party Chairman, I want to respond and share my thoughts on a letter handed to me at the convention by party activist and onetime Delegate Don Murphy. I’m not going to reprint the whole letter, which runs a page and a half, single spaced, but I will go through some key points Don makes.

In his diatribe, Murphy has a long preamble which makes the key statement:

It is time to stop defending the status quo, which only serves to keep us in our state of irrelevance. Things could not be worse, so clearly, the risk is worth the reward.

The first point Murphy brings to the fore is the idea of an open primary:

In the near future, (unaffiliated) voters will represent a plurality, and then a majority of the electorate. At some point between now and then, they will demand and receive participation rights in our primaries, or rightfully, call for an end to taxpayer funded nominating elections. The MDGOP should be prepared for this eventuality, and we should embrace it.

His argument goes on to state that several northeastern states, which have high percentages of unaffiliated voters, have elected either Republican governors, Senators, or a majority of state legislators.

Yet the question to me isn’t one of strictly electing Republicans. Indeed, that part of the country has elected a share of Republicans over the years – but do the names Arlen Specter or Lincoln Chafee ring a bell? They were nominally Republican but eventually became Democrats because they were so liberal. I don’t think the northeastern states are a good example to follow given that reasoning. In essence, the way I look at it is that all an open primary does is dilute the vote in a more moderate direction so that we would end up with liberal, milquetoast Tweedledum on the GOP side and liberal, milquetoast Tweedledee for the Democrats.

But Don then throws a wrench into the process:

Opening the primary to unaffiliated voters doesn’t mean we should lose control of the nomination process. It is time for the Party to endorse candidates in the primary. After all, how can we recruit better candidates if we do not support them through the nomination?

Of all the people for Don to hand this to, you would think he would know how much I absolutely hate, loathe, and despise the idea of pre-primary endorsements, such as Rule 11. Did I mention I can’t stand the thought of its invocation?

He must have kept me in mind:

This should not be a closed process like we experienced with the Rule 11 waivers, but an expanded convention or caucus process, similar to the Virginia model, which is opened to nearly 10,000 convention delegates all elected by the voters within their districts.

I guess the question which comes to my mind then is: why have a primary at all? If we’re so much smarter than the voters, why don’t we just fill out the Republican side of the ballot all the way up and down the line? All a would-be candidate would have to do is figure out a way to appease the 10,000 party activists in a state race and for local races it would perhaps just be the nine Central Committee members.

Now I liked what Collins Bailey had to say about opening our convention to the public and trying to make it a more broad-based event even though it would entail conducting some sensitive party business inside a fishbowl. But while I don’t always agree with who the state as a whole selects as a candidate, I think the idea of maximizing Republican participation in the electoral process to the fullest extent possible makes the most sense.

But there is one final main point Don makes, and it’s one I think has by far the most merit of his three main proposals.

…while voting is our Constitutional right and duty, ballot access under the GOP banner is not. Dozens of state parties require signatures to gain access to the nominating ballot and/or fairly high filing fees. Neither of these hurdles keep anyone off the ballot, but they serve to separate the serious candidates from the perennial candidates. These state parties believe their registered voters have the right and a reason to determine ballot access. More importantly, requiring candidates to gather signatures, only serves to make them credible and electable in the long run…

Granted, we had a candidate who petitioned his way onto the ballot in 2012 by spending oodles of his own money to get the signatures. But get them he did.

I’m actually familiar with the process, both on the level of having to go out and get a minimum of five valid signatures to run for Central Committee in my home state of Ohio as well as trudging out in the freezing January cold to do the same thing for a state House candidate. (Obviously his signature threshold was significantly higher, perhaps 500 signatures.) Maryland’s process is indeed incredibly easy as it only involves a filing fee.

And while I am all for having contested primaries and the like, I think this is a pretty good idea. Most states have a reasonable threshold of ballot access signatures, with a statewide candidate generally required to collect from either every county or every Congressional district. The volunteers and assistance needed to secure ballot access via petition can oftentimes be the beginnings of the campaign staff needed to run a good grassroots campaign.

Murphy goes on to make two other minor suggestions, asking that Delegates and Alternate Delegates to the RNC National Convention be elected on the same line (instead of separately as they are now) and to require photo voter ID in the Republican primary – “The MDGOP should lead by example.”

After discussing Murphy’s ideas, I would like to add one of my own, something which I think would encourage participation. In fact, I would gladly trade the idea of having to collect petition signatures for being let out of the requirements spelled out below.

Being on the Central Committee isn’t quite a thankless job, but it’s relatively close. Yet we have to have a treasurer and file campaign finance data for an UNPAID position. Who came up with that brilliant idea and why?

Now I understand that all I have to do is fill out a form called an Affidavit of Limited Contributions and Expenditures (or ALCE for short) on an annual basis to keep the Board of Election wolves at bay. But I still think having to have a campaign finance entity for a job which pays me nothing is nothing short of ridiculous.

There are a number of other thoughts I’ve had on the state and local parties in the week since the convention was hurriedly brought to an end. But I think the back channels between Chair and onlooker may be a better venue for those.

Denying common sense

April 26, 2013 · Posted in National politics, Politics, Radical Green · Comments Off on Denying common sense 

Our illustrious president and his political front group, Organizing Against America For Action, are now trying to poke fun at climate change “deniers” in Congress. A video released earlier this week by the campaign suggests Republicans don’t know what they are talking about, claiming the overwhelming consensus of science is that climate change is real.

(Of course, this is put together by a party which has a member who worries about Guam tipping over, so take from it what you will.)

Seriously, there are two key problems with the assumption that Obama’s minions are making. First and foremost is the premise that mankind has anything to do with the climate whatsoever. Yes, we can affect weather in a limited way by seeding clouds and there is a proven effect of heavily populated and paved areas being slightly warmer than the surrounding countryside, but in the overall scheme of things changes in the sun would have vastly more effects than mankind would, regardless of how many SUVs there are. After all, there have been periods in earth’s history far warmer than today’s climate, as well as times much cooler.

Corollary to that point, the records of weather patterns go back less than 150 years, with fairly accurate and detailed observations only available for perhaps the last 50 or so. Simply put, we have very little to go on in terms of worldwide measurements to know how weather is behaving in comparison to how it was a hundred years ago. Superstorm Sandy may have had its match and more 500 years ago, but we have no way of knowing this.

And who is to say that our climate is the optimum one? Having a more temperate climate in the far reaches of the Northern Hemisphere wouldn’t be a bad thing because it opens much more land mass to agriculture.

Moreover, when the theory of anthropogenic climate change is something only modeled on computers – models which don’t account for all the possible data – how can a theory become proven fact? Given the right amount of inputs of selected data, a model could probably be made where global temperature decreases several degrees. On a planetary scale, man does not mean a hill of beans.

As has been the case for the last 30 years or so, the specter of climate chaos (formerly known as global warming, and, when that didn’t work, global climate change) is being used to force us into a lifestyle we may not have willingly endured otherwise. This push by OFA supposedly is to embarrass Republicans who are wise to the idea that “a crisis is too good to waste” and creating a crisis where none exists is a surefire method to assume more control.

Shorebird of the Week – April 25, 2013

April 25, 2013 · Posted in Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Shorebird of the Week – April 25, 2013 

If you were to write a work of fiction featuring a baseball player, you might give the protagonist a name like Creede Simpson. But in the case of the Shorebirds, fiction is reality – although the numbers right now for the infielder may suggest a tall tale.

Indeed, the season is but 20 games old, but consider that Simpson is leading the team in RBI with 17 despite only playing in 16 games. Much of this is because Creede has been absolute money with runners in scoring position, hitting a sick .545 (12-for-22) in that instance. That number is even better than his overall average with runners on base, which is a paltry .536 (15-for-28).

Because he’s had more chances with runners on than without, Creede is the early candidate for a team Triple Crown with the top average (.389), most home runs (3 of the team’s 7 overall), and RBI (17). All this may be a pleasant surprise to the Orioles’ brass which only picked him in the 25th round after he played ball at his hometown SEC participant Auburn University. While the SEC is fairly well-regarded as a baseball conference, Auburn is generally an also-ran in the league.

Moreover, the 23-year-old Simpson had a mediocre debut at Aberdeen last year, hitting .234/5/28/.647 OPS for the IronBirds last season. But he advanced to Delmarva this spring nonetheless and has seized his opportunity with a fast start.

While it’s likely his stats will balance out somewhere in the end, the question as always is where that level will be. If it’s something along the line of .280/15/75/750 OPS that would be cause for celebration as the Orioles could have a diamond-in-the-rough prospect from a low-round pick. Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction.

An early – and interesting – endorsement

I’ve actually sat on this piece of news for a few days, as it didn’t seem to attract a lot of notice anywhere else and I think I know why.

On Tuesday I received a message in my e-mail from the “Draft Charles Lollar” campaign telling me that:

I am honored and deeply humbled to be endorsed by Dr. Ben Carson regarding my consideration to run in the upcoming election to become the next Governor of Maryland.  Dr. Carson is a great leader who exemplifies the American spirit.  This is the same spirit that I intend to bring with me as we begin to share our message with Maryland’s voters now and all the way to Annapolis. – Charles

Great, outstanding, a nice “get” – but what did Dr. Carson actually say? You see, in most endorsements the person promoting the candidate will have a few words to say but in this case we only have the statement that Dr. Carson endorsed Charles. I don’t say this to call Charles Lollar or those working on his nascent and still unofficial campaign liars – don’t misunderstand – but perhaps they need to learn a little more basic technique in writing press releases. And maybe that’s why what would ordinarily draw attention didn’t do a whole lot for the campaign.

On the other hand, given Carson’s comments about gay marriage which led to him withdrawing as Johns Hopkins commencement speaker, the lack of attention may be good. Unfortunately, these comments on political correctness in general have detracted from the good work Carson does in his community and could reflect poorly on Lollar if we don’t seize the narrative.

Still, this is the clearest indication yet that the race for Governor may be between at least four major candidates. All four of these men had presences of various sizes at the recent Maryland GOP state convention, but of that quartet only Frederick County Commission President Blaine Young has used the words “for Governor” in his campaign. 2012 U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino, Harford County Executive David Craig, and Lollar, who made an abortive try for the state’s top job in 2010 before withdrawing and running for Congress instead, have been non-committal beyond an exploratory stage of sorts, although Craig’s campaign is planning a three-day tour of the state in June, according to his local “county point person.” I would presume this would serve as Craig’s official launch to the race.

On the other side of the fence, it’s worth pointing out that Larry Hogan and Change Maryland sat out this convention with the exception of providing a program sponsorship. With four strongly hinting at running for governor, the field may be a little crowded for Larry to jump into. The same goes for Michael Steele – yes, some would like him to run, but would anyone step aside for Steele after eight years away?

Yet with four reasonably strong potential candidates, it looks like the race for the state’s top job could be a scrap on both sides. For the first time in nearly two decades, the GOP has no odds-on choice for governor such as they had with Bob Ehrlich from 2002-10 and Ellen Sauerbrey in 1998. Even the 1994 GOP race only featured two strong candidates, meaning that unless things change between now and the filing deadline the nominee could win with far less than 50% of the GOP vote, leaving himself just weeks to form a united front among disappointed supporters of the other contestants. (Obviously this also depends on the tenor of the primary race, with the hope we don’t relive a situation like the 2008 First District or 2012 Sixth District Republican Congressional primaries, for example.)

It’s an interesting field, one where at this early stage I could see Young, Lollar, and Bongino going after the same conservative wing of the party and allowing the more moderate Craig to slip through. Unfortunately for Lollar, the Carson endorsement wasn’t as well-handled as it probably should have been, particularly since Charles isn’t officially in the race yet. Perhaps this was a misstep by an inexperienced state campaign, but Carson’s was one endorsement which should have been held back for a few weeks.

Farm vs. farm

April 24, 2013 · Posted in All politics is local, Business and industry, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, Radical Green, Watchdog Wire · Comments Off on Farm vs. farm 

After the whole  Waterkeeper Alliance, Inc. vs. Hudson court case was finally settled in favor of the Berlin farm family, you would think Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. would be persona non grata in the agricultural community.  Perhaps he is, but the irony of a Baltimore group which, among its other ventures, runs what it calls the “Real Food Farminviting Kennedy to speak for a fundraiser didn’t escape notice from an internet-based farmers advocacy group.

In a letter from SaveFarmFamilies.org addressed to ‘major civic leader(s) in the Greater Baltimore area,” the group noted:

…we wanted to make you aware of an event featuring a voice that has been most troublesome in Maryland. It is to our deep disappointment that the Baltimore-area organization, Civic Works, is choosing to honor Waterkeeper Alliance President Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on April 24 at Goucher College. It is unfortunate that a venerable organization seeking to do so much good could honor Mr. Kennedy after he spearheaded an unjust lawsuit to bankrupt a 4th generation Maryland farm family struggling to make ends meet.

The group goes on to quote Governor O’Malley’s letter to University of Maryland Law School Dean Phoebe Haddon on the Hudson lawsuit as well as remarks from House Appropriations Committee Chair Delegate Norm Conway regarding $300,000 added to this year’s state budget to help pay the Hudsons’ legal fees. Having Kennedy speak to Civic Works would “tarnish the celebration of its achievements,” concluded the letter, signed by Lee Richardson of Save Farm Families, defendant Alan Hudson, and Herbert Frerichs, Jr. of Perdue Farms.

(continued at Watchdog Wire…)

Pro-liberty Free State citizens flexing their muscles

This is really going to be about two separate items with a common theme, sort of a compact version of my old “odds and ends” series.

In the first case, Patrick McGrady of the Maryland Liberty PAC was excited about getting “one of our own” elected as First Vice-Chair of the Maryland Republican Party.

We told you we were going to rock the Maryland Republican Party back to its roots and this past weekend we did just that!

(snip)

Not only are we building successful coalitions with Central Committee members but today I am proud to announce to you that the liberty movement is now represented in MDGOP state leadership.

On the convention floor this Saturday, grassroots conservatives and freedom fighters joined forces to elect Collins Bailey as (First) Vice Chairman of the Maryland Republican Party.

It bears pointing out, however, that the group wasn’t all that far from electing Bailey as the Chair, since Diana Waterman only won on the second ballot with 56% of the vote.

McGrady added, though, that the group had advanced a long way:

Last fall we successfully launched the Maryland Liberty Caucus and now this spring our Liberty forces picked up a top state Party leadership position.

As I pointed out in my look at the state convention buildup from last Friday night, the Maryland Liberty PAC had a very successful hospitality suite in which one of the featured speakers was Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild, a passionate pro-liberty elected official who has toured the state (including this local appearance) promoting a variety of ways to fight encroachments on liberty by Annapolis, Washington, and beyond.

I knew about Richard’s latest effort a few weeks back, but I wanted to hold off on mentioning it until it was finally ready to be formally rolled out. But UpholdMyOath.com was promoted at the convention and its key addition to the political landscape is ready for adoption. The “Draft Resolution of Non-Compliance” is designed for counties whose residents believe the Second Amendment to the Constitution – which, after all, is considered the supreme law of the land – trumps any unconstitutional efforts by the state to infringe upon our right to keep and bear arms.

So these are some of the developments on the pro-liberty front in the state of Maryland, and it just bolsters the case we are advancing, not to mention that I’m driving the loony Left crazy. (At the risk of giving this guy some actual traffic, you really should read that link and get ready to laugh.) If we can bring the pro-liberty movement into the GOP fold, it will give us an impetus to bring the middle our way.

After all, who could be against liberty?

WCRC meeting – April 2013

April 23, 2013 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on WCRC meeting – April 2013 

With new leadership in Jackie Wellfonder, the Wicomico County Republican Club re-established its routine – for one month, since we normally skip a May meeting due to its usual coincidence with Memorial Day as its fourth Monday – and had a very full agenda for its return from a March meeting truncated by an outside event.

But before the meeting began we embarked on something new, as several members and one local politician gathered down the street at Roadie Joe’s for a pre-event happy hour. This was an idea discussed by the club’s newly-installed executive committee at a meeting we had before being sworn in, and we hope to make it a tradition. While it was a modest success, it also gave me a chance to go over the agenda with our new president. Having to defer a meeting made for more business which needed to be conducted.

Leading off the meeting with Lord’s Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance, we soon learned we had a surprise guest who was in town. After I had read the minutes of the last two meetings, I suggested we amend the agenda to defer the Treasurer’s Report, but Congressman Andy Harris interjected, “no, hopefully your treasury is doing better than ours.” So we indeed heard the report before allowing Andy to speak.

It was “a good month to be a Republican,” Andy argued. We now had a distinct advantage on two separate issues: individual rights, as expressed with the loss of the gun bill in the Senate, and fiscal responsibility based on competing budgetary plans.

To Andy, the failure of the gun bill may be “where the President begins to lose his second term.” He couldn’t even keep his Democrats on board, Harris added, and the tactic of creating a 60-vote threshold (in order to prohibit popular pro-gun amendments from consideration) obviously backfired. Meanwhile, Obama “puts the brakes on the economy,” making him more unpopular.

And on the fiscal side, Harris pointed out that neither the President’s nor the Senate’s budget proposals ever balance. While it takes a decade for the House plan to reach equilibrium, Harris voted in favor of an alternative which would have accelerated the timetable to four years, a plan which failed. Yet Andy warned, “until we get true reform on entitlements, we won’t balance.”

Moreover,  the cuts would have to come from the spending side. “There is no way a tax increase comes through the House,” said Harris.

Andy also touched on a number of other subjects during his unscheduled remarks, alluding to what should be revealed as an interesting exchange between him and Eric Holder during an Appropriations Committee hearing, talking about what could be a common-sense incremental change to ethanol regulations, and assessing Hillary Clinton’s chances at the 2016 Democratic nomination.

We also found out a little bit more on the ammunition situation, to which manufacturers labor under contracts with the government specifying they must supply indefinite quantities to the government at indefinite times, up to a certain amount, with the federal government dictating the terms. Yet there are millions of rounds of ammunition stockpiled by the government already, and Harris is looking into a way of curtailing the stockpiles in order to make more available to the general public.

Further, Harris deemed the situation in Boston as a “setback” for both the anti-Second Amendment crowd and immigration reform.

Upon the conclusion of Andy’s remarks, it was time to hear from our original scheduled speaker, Delegate Charles Otto.

Charles didn’t have a lot of good news in his brief remarks on the recently-completed Maryland General Assembly session, noting that we passed a $37 billion budget with $1.1 billion more in state debt in addition to a lot of other ill-considered legislation.

But the subsequent discussion brought out a number of questions, such as why the governor hadn’t signed the gun bill yet? Otto noted that the governor has signing ceremonies for bills, generally in May, and the bill will be signed then.

We also found out that a $900,000 earmark for the relocation of Delmarva Public Radio mysteriously appeared in the final budget, despite the fact no bill was introduced for it during the session.

Joe Holloway chimed in about a bill which passed allowing the county to decouple its personal property tax rate from its real property tax rate. (Normally the personal property tax rate had been set at 2 1/2 times the real property tax rate.) Holloway described this bill as a possible end run around the county’s revenue cap. It should be pointed out, though, that last year’s Senate Bill 848 effectively ended Wicomico’s 2 percent limit on property tax increases.

Dave Parker gave a Central Committee report which noted that our Pathfinders seminar “apparently went well,” however, it was plagued by a somewhat small turnout. He also briefly recapped the election of Diana Waterman as Chair, noting our county was evenly split between supporters of Waterman and Collins Bailey, with a vote for Greg Kline thrown in. Two great candidates ended up as officers, though, said Parker.

He also alerted those present that the foes of this year’s Senate Bill 281 are eschewing the referendum process to fight the bill in court, determining their belief that Constitutional rights should be left to a ballot. If it does pass muster in the courts, though, he is working with other counties to propose a nullification resolution.

Our next Central Committee meeting will be May 6, Parker concluded.

In other WCRC business, we also learned we would present our annual scholarship to the winners at our June meeting.

Jackie Wellfonder briefly went over some of her ideas for her term, which actually began at the March meeting cut short by the gun bill townhall meeting. With the happy hour being one proposal, she outlined desires for an additional fundraiser to supplement our Crab Feast and making upgrades to our website and social media presence.

Ann Suthowski took a moment to update us on voter registration efforts, including a Super Saturday we will hold in September – for which she’s looking for nearly 40 volunteers – and speak on behalf on gubernatorial candidate David Craig, for whom she is the “county point person.” He will be doing a three-day tour of the state in June, with our stop being June 4.

I took a few minutes to speak on candidate recruitment and its importance, passing out a list of all the offices contested next year and those who are incumbents. But we also need volunteers to help run these campaigns and to act as treasurers, I added. Next to the candidate himself, the treasurer is the most important person because of our state’s campaign finance laws.

My message was simple: I wanted to make sure every space on that paper had at least one Republican candidate. No longer can we concede offices to the other side because they’ve been there so long, because those are the Democrats who can help their fellows get elected.

While it wasn’t in my remarks last night, I should point out that most of those who have already filed for office at this early stage are Democrats. On the eastern edge of Wicomico County there is a new state legislative district, District 38C, and there’s already a Democrat in the running for what should probably be a reasonably Republican seat. Norm “Five Dollar” Conway no longer has the late Bennett Bozman to help him get votes in Worcester County, so they gave him a much more urban District 38B which mainly covers Delmar, most of Salisbury except the northwest part of the city, and Fruitland. It’s worth noting his district now includes most of the Salisbury University community, which explains the tremendous amount of pork suddenly delivered their way from the state. Amazing how libraries so quickly become a priority item.

That turned out to be the extent of our business, so we adjourned until June 24. Our next meeting will feature a few words from our scholarship winners, with the featured speaker being Dr. Mark Edney, a local surgeon who will be discussing Obamacare.

Pork in the Park 2013 in pictures and text

April 23, 2013 · Posted in Business and industry, Delmarva items, Personal stuff · 2 Comments 

Normally I have gone to Pork in the Park on a Saturday, but circumstances this year dictated I go on Sunday this year. It’s definitely a different vibe from going on a Saturday – the barbecue competitors are gone and the crowds are smaller.

But the ribs are still popular, and those who supply them seem to come back year after year.

This was the place I got them from this time; alas, the people I liked from last year opted not to return.

Instead of professional barbecue teams, the Sunday barbecue competition is strictly amateur. But I believe the overall winner here gets to compete against the big boys in 2014.

Some of these amateurs still have the great professional signage.

Because the professional pig roasters were gone, there were other competitions going on in their place. Anyone for cornhole?

The competition was a little more friendly on the drink end, and I’m glad many of our local establishments represented themselves. With pork, is it beer or wine?

The entertainment was more subdued as well, with just a couple bands there for Sunday. Pictured below the overall entertainment schedule were the Crawdaddies, who as you may expect from the name played with a zydeco flavor.

Crawdaddies (640x480)

Now Pork in the Park has held events like car shows and such to bring people out on Sunday, but this year they stumbled upon something which may be a winner. The real entertainment this day was provided by gluttony. First came a raft of amateurs who tried their luck at eating vast amounts of chicken wings – 12 pounds in six minutes.

But they paled in comparison to how the professionals took care of business. In 12 minutes their task was to eat 24 pounds of wings.

Now these were people on the Major League Eating circuit who had ingested large quantities of items like chili spaghetti, cranberry sauce, asparagus, and so forth. But the most famous competitor, Joey Chestnut, was the reigning Nathan’s hot dog eating champion, a fact gleefully played up by the Major League Eating announcer who breathlessly described the events in detail to a crowd of several hundred.

I found out later that Chestnut was the winner, having consumed over 200 chicken wings in the 12 minutes allowed.

The real winner, though, was event sponsor Wicomico County Recreation and Tourism. Yes, they lost a number of competitors and vendors from last year’s rain and the anger about the poor setup – this year the rides were shunted over to the stone parking lot last year’s food vendors hated and competitors placed where the rides were previously so there would be more room in front of the stage. It didn’t seem like the increased admission cost of $5 (when it was previously $2) did much to dampen turnout, since people probably perceived more value with the entertainment upgrade to a national act.

But it will be interesting to see whether they can top this year’s slate, particularly as a similar event (assisted in part by the former head of Wicomico Recreation and Tourism) makes its debut in a couple weeks down near Snow Hill. That one-day event, called Pig and a Jig, may seem like the “old” Pork in the Park before it became so popular.

Whether that event is rare or well-done remains to be seen.

 

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