The destruction of 2016

Martin O’Malley and Maryland Democrats were attacked on two fronts in recent days. One came from an old foe and thorn in “O’Guvnah’s” side while the other pointed out a nearly decade-old omission Martin O’Malley is trying to take advantage of. Both are related to MOM’s appearances on the Eastern Shore.

In Ocean City O’Malley addressed the Maryland Association of Counties for the seventh time as governor. I’m sure MACo president (and Wicomico County Executive) Rick Pollitt was nodding in agreement, but Larry Hogan and Change Maryland had a different, blistering opinion of O’Malley’s remarks.

(O’Malley) was not just stretching the truth, it’s worse than that. Nearly everything he said in his speech today was blatantly false, much of what he said was actually the complete opposite of the truth.

The governor is entitled to his own opinions but he can’t just make up his own facts and pretend that they are true. You can’t say you are most proud of your success in job creation, and say you recovered 99% of all the jobs lost, when you actually doubled the unemployment rate and lost 110,000 more jobs, more than any governor in history.

You can’t brag about your success in strengthening small businesses, when you have lost 6,500 small businesses. You can’t claim success in economic development when you have lost 10 of the 13 Fortune 500 companies in the state, under your watch.

How can the governor say that he cut more spending – more than anyone in history, when he actually increased spending by $8 billion, an increase of more than 30%, and claim that he lowered taxes when he enacted the largest tax increases in history, 40 consecutive tax hikes that take an additional $3.1 billion a year out of the pockets of struggling Maryland families and small businesses?

What we saw today was a governor spinning magical tales of successes that only exist in his own mind. The people of Maryland deserve to know the truth.

All of this and more was unearthed by Change Maryland over the last two-plus years, as they have done the research and fact-checking seriously lacking from most of Maryland’s mainstream media.

Of course Hogan is still being mentioned as a gubernatorial candidate, so this salvo isn’t completely unexpected. But it’s interesting he’s speaking about the term-limited incumbent rather than the heir apparent Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, who was endorsed by the aforementioned Pollitt recently. Maybe that works to the do-nothing narrative some in that race are trying to promote.

On the other hand, Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio is already on a ticket, but it didn’t stop her from raining on Martin O’Malley’s Dover Bridge parade.

It’s great that the Eastern Shore is finally getting a new Dover bridge, but this project should have been completed much quicker and for less money. The O’Malley – Brown Administration, in a flailing attempt to justify the gasoline tax increase, is trying to take credit for the Dover bridge that was already funded in the last decade. When this Administration took over, $41 million previously set aside for this project suddenly vanished.

Now, nearly ten years later, the Administration is ready to hold a press conference. As we’ve seen with other transportation projects across the state, the O’Malley – Brown Administration takes the money, spends it on whatever they want, then warns us that roads and bridges are falling apart and raises everyone’s taxes to fix the problems they created.

They are hoping that everyone forgets that tax payers are required to pay twice due to their reckless spending policies.  This is also going to cost $9 million more now that the project has been delayed.

The bridge, which lies in Haddaway-Riccio’s district, has been a sore spot for area residents for decades, and perhaps symbolizes the uncaring Annapolis attitude to those who live in Caroline, Talbot, and Dorchester counties. Moreover, as originally intended, the bridge would have already been completed two years ago if greedy fingers hadn’t allocated the money for who-knows-what.

But while Haddaway-Riccio rightly blasts the current administration and their General Assembly minions for their inaction on the Dover Bridge, we don’t really know yet what the game plan will be for a David Craig administration. Will they have the intestinal fortitude to cut off the Red Line and Purple Line, the former of which will be in the planning process and the latter at the verge of construction by the time Craig takes office? And will they repeal the 2013 gas tax increase, or shrug their shoulders and figure Marylanders are already conditioned to pay it and pocket the extra money for their pet projects, like bond bills?

Certainly the Dover Bridge is a vital link for the area, but what about other potential Eastern Shore projects like a bypass for Easton much like the one encircling Salisbury, or perhaps an interchange at U.S. 50 and Maryland Route 404, where traffic headed for Ocean City and the Delaware beaches go their separate ways in a bottleneck each weekend? (Improvements to Maryland Route 404 were cited in the same announcement as the Dover Bridge.) Longer-term, what about a southern Chesapeake Bay crossing? And I’m certain my friends up the Shore and in the state’s panhandle have their ideas for improving how they get around as well.

It’s nice to be thought of once in a while, but truly creating “one Maryland” will mean not embarking on boondoggles and making the serious investments in infrastructure most useful in every corner of the state.

In his headlong rush to the White House, Martin O’Malley has mastered the photo-ops, but he can’t sweep his record under the rug.