Book review: Give Yourself A Raise (2nd Edition), by Gordon Bennett Bleil

November 30, 2013 · Posted in Book Reviews · 1 Comment 

While yesterday, Black Friday, was a day of “shop until you drop” revelry featuring what merchants try to advertise as “can’t miss” sales, we all know that for many the bill will come due sooner or later. A common complaint is how January is the most difficult month to get through financially because all the Christmas bills come due. It’s why vowing to straighten out finances is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions.

But what if you could enable yourself to have a few extra dollars to purchase nice gifts without driving your credit card balance through the roof? It’s the premise of Gordon Bennett Bleil’s book, Give Yourself A Raise.

Writing a review of a financial book can be difficult because the plot isn’t a constant, nor can the book be indicative as a history of events. But GYAR can be used as a guide to the future if used properly and in the spirit of financial improvement.

Not so much of a traditional book as it is a series of lessons, GYAR comes chock full of charts, worksheets, and advice for climbing out of the financial hole more and more Americans find themselves in. Of course, the first step is evaluating your situation and this is handled ably in the introduction and expanded upon in the first chapter through what Bleil calls the Financial Freedom Risk Assessment Quiz. Chances are a high percentage of those reading the book need some help.

But much of what Bleil talks about can be termed common sense in money management: pay yourself first and live within your means. Those who are deep in a financial hole need to be reminded that the process of getting out of it will take a little bit of time.

One thing which struck me about the book – and perhaps a bone of contention – is Bleil’s advocacy of multiple, interconnected bank accounts in what he calls the Family Freedom Money Management System. It’s a complex system of checking, savings, and retirement accounts with a heavy reliance on electronic banking and bill paying. A hands-off approach such as this may be fine for a family on solid financial footing, and may already be in place for families to some extent as many already have checking, savings, and retirement accounts set up. But Bleil advocates tying all these together in order to transfer funds as needed.

Common sense returns in the second half of the book as Bleil applies his financial advice to debt management, spending strategies, and a series of chapters on financial literacy which briefly introduce readers to several aspects of the fiscal world. There’s no question that financial literacy is something which has to be learned by most because it’s not generally taught. Bleil’s is not a bad guide to doing so.

As it stands, the book can be a useful guide to those who wish to right the financial ship and want to invest the time in doing so. For example, there’s a time-consuming portion of the book where Bleil advocates analyzing spending over a month to determine where petty cash goes. While it’s true that those Starbucks lattes and trips to the corner store add up, going through statements and receipts may be a daunting task for many.

But in this book there is one huge drawback which must be improved to make it useful. Perhaps this is an oversight, but many of the charts in the book which are supposedly found on an associated website can’t be found there. Certainly this is a drawback to the usefulness of GYAR.

Unlike other authors, though, it’s worth pointing out that the price of the advice lies completely in buying the book and perhaps running a few copies of the charts. Bleil doesn’t use the book as a jumping-off point to sell other services, although he has worked in the academic and broadcasting fields as a financial expert.

So as a self-contained financial primer, this book could be useful to those who are looking for advice on getting out of debt. It’s a system which can work if one wants to devote time and effort to putting it in place and keeping an eye out for trouble.

Disclosure: the author of this review was provided a copy of the book by The Cadence Group, for whom he has reviewed a number of volumes.

An American Black Friday

While Black Friday has spilled over into Thanksgiving Day for some retailers, the bulk of merchants still open extremely early on the Friday after Thanksgiving, promising loss leaders which normally fall into the realm of electronics. Sadly, practically all of these items are made overseas which means Americans aren’t making them or generally raking in the profits from their sale. More than anything, this change in operations over the last half-century has been blamed for the decline of the middle class.

Last year Scott Paul, who heads the Alliance for American Manufacturing, penned an op-ed for the Huffington Post where he noted:

The day after Thanksgiving, “Black Friday,” is also an American tradition, albeit a more recent one. Shoppers sometimes maim and maul each other to find bargains at big box stores and shopping malls. It’s ugly. And in a way, it represents the very worst of America.

Black Friday is also the most visible symptom of what’s really dragging down our middle class: we consume too much from overseas, and we don’t produce enough here to make up the difference. That burdens us with debt, and leaves us fewer options for jobs.

There is a solution, and it may sound quaint, but it’s never been truer than it is today: this Black Friday: Buy American.

They’ve also put out a list of American-made gift ideas from each state, a unique collection which features everything from lip balm to motor homes. (Representing Delaware is local brewery Dogfish Head – not a bad choice for someone like me although I prefer 16 Mile. Dogfish Head was selected based on nationwide distribution.)

Obviously I’m of the opinion Americans need to make more things; the same can be said of Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ron George, who has spent the most time of his cohorts touting the idea of bringing manufacturing to Maryland. Recently he pointed out the state is dead last in the country in certain key metrics.

The way I see it, there are certain things state and local government can do to accomplish this: among them are a stable and predictable regulatory regime, a corporate tax rate that’s fair and doesn’t punish achievement or investment, and the transportation infrastructure required to whisk goods to market in the most rapid fashion possible. Hopefully all these work to a point where counterproductive incentives like tax abatement or abuse of eminent domain aren’t necessary.

Unfortunately, it seems the AAM has a different idea on how to achieve the goal. Most of their federal advocacy is barely-veiled protectionism, which in the long run discourages innovation and results in fewer opportunities for the consumer. Of course I think trading partners should deal with us in a fair way, but one also has to figure out that there has to be some reason an American company can manufacture goods overseas, load them on a ship and wait a week or two for them to arrive – paying for that service – and still make more money on the products than they would in an American factory with American workers. It can’t all be labor costs.

It would be nice to be able to go to a Walmart or Best Buy and find American-made electronics rather than support a regime with missiles pointed at us. Unfortunately, we don’t seem to want to change the system to make this happen and protectionism isn’t the answer.

It’s funny because automakers from around the world set up shop in America to build their cars, so it’s obvious some industries prefer our workers. Granted, putting together a television exhibits nothing close to the complexity of building an automobile, but if the complex assembly of a car or truck can be made here profitably we should be able to make anything cheaper and better. Now that we know we have enough inexpensive energy reserves to last us for generations, let’s make our future Black Fridays more prosperous by encouraging the return of manufacturing.

Happy Thanksgiving 2013

November 28, 2013 · Posted in Personal stuff · Comments Off on Happy Thanksgiving 2013 

If this looks similar to what I wrote the last couple years, you’re right! But why mess with good sentiment, I always say.

As always I’d like to take a little time on this holiday which values family and the things we hold dear to wish you and yours a blessed Thanksgiving.

In my case it will be spent with both friends and family, although technically I haven’t married into my significant other’s family (we are engaged, though, so that’s a start.) Once that occurs it will give me something more for which to be thankful.

For those who travel, it looks like the weather in these parts will be conducive for doing so, if a little cold and windy – looks like we escaped the snow and ice, though. I have about two hours of driving between the two stops for which I’m scheduled, but luckily both are both pretty much off the beaten path so traffic shouldn’t be an issue.

So I hope all of you who take the time – whether daily, weekly, or even a first-timer – to read my site have a great holiday. Even though times have been somewhat rough over the last several years, I’m thankful for what I have and look forward to spending time with people I hold dear. If my Lions can run roughshod over the Packers and actually win a Thanksgiving Day game for the first time in ten years, so much the better.

After today, we’ll be into the hustle and bustle of trying to find the right Christmas gift and making New Year’s plans, so it’ll be five weeks of overdrive for our schedule and overindulgence for our bodies. So take the time today and relax. Work will be back before you know it.

Oh, and if anyone tries to spout off Obamacare talking points at the family table, keep in mind that cranberry sauce stains – so aim carefully. Or just throw the drumstick at them, then alert them to reality.

Happy Thanksgiving, all. And for my Jewish friends, a Happy Hanukkah! Today is the first full day of that celebration, and I heard this is a once-in-a-lifetime coincidence.

Going for the throat

Every so often I have to just sit and shake my head.

As I usually do when I look at Facebook, I take a look at what various groups post on their pages. Last night I spied the Wicomico Society of Patriots page and found that Andrew Langer had posted a link to a Red Maryland article claiming Matthew Adams of Somerset County was behind a fairly new blog that seemingly, in the eyes of those on Red Maryland, exists only to bash them and those who work with that group, particularly my friend Jackie Wellfonder. The Red Maryland post, written by Mark Newgent, is based on photos from this post at the MD Watch site.

So I was appalled to see over 170 comments on that Facebook post, most consisting of a running argument between Langer and various local WMSOP members including Julie Brewington, who’s had her own share of run-ins with Red Maryland leading to her naming by the blog as Maryland’s least valuable conservative player.

Yet in reading all of the blow-by-blow regarding this situation, there’s one question Mark Newgent, who’s usually a pretty good investigative reporter, missed: who is the “we” referred to in the MD Watch post? Obviously Matt Adams was there at the Hogan event and I’ll allow the allegation that he was in the Executive Committee meeting to take the unflattering photo of Jackie from behind to stand for the sake of argument, given the case put together by Mark.

But is it Matt Adams who is writing as a collective “we” of the Lollar campaign or did someone else use the photos attributed to Matt in writing the Hogan/Wellfonder hit piece, which is authored by “James”? “James” is one of the two attributed writers on the MD Watch site; the other is “Veracruz.” Other posts have no attribution. Find out who “James” and “Veracruz” are and we’ll get a long way toward solving some problems.

Lord knows I haven’t often agreed with Matt Adams on many things – for example, he was a Diana Waterman backer – but I don’t see the evidence he did anything but take the pictures and own the domain name to the administrative part of the Lollar website. I’ve figured out that the guys at Red Maryland don’t care much for Matthew Adams and Julie Brewington (and seem to have a pretty dim view of the Lollar campaign in general) but I don’t see the leap to the accusations they made in their post. We may find out the owner(s) of MD Watch have nothing to do with any campaign and just like stirring crap. If so, sad to say they did a good job.

Then again, as poorly written as that MD Watch website is I would probably hide behind anonymous pseudonyms, too. Rehashing press releases is one thing, and I often use excerpts myself. But at least I try to advance conversation with them. And, for heaven’s sake, use spellcheck and proofread!

However, I do agree with a point Andrew Langer made in the long Facebook discussion – where is Julie Brewington in condemning the Wellfonder photo, particularly given Julie’s past history with being the subject of leering, candid photos, or shots she was the subject of but thought better about later on? I get the “freedom of speech” part, but don’t act the victim then when it’s pointed at you.

When I write, I try to use facts and learned opinion in my argument. My learned opinion of the Wellfonder photo is that it was garbage and doesn’t belong in a serious discussion. If anything, I would suggest that there’s a little jealousy of Jackie in play here, since she’s rather rapidly become part of the insider GOP crowd in the state. To make fun of her size, well, I thought we got past that once we left junior high. (And yes, I’m on the portly side too. Jackie likes her Starbucks, I like my chocolate.)

Still, it’s unfortunate that there’s no shortage of bad blood these days from a few who apparently fall within the tent of Charles Lollar supporters directed at Jackie, who’s doing her best to make a living at disseminating the campaign knowledge she’s learned over the last few years. She’s starting small, running a Delegate race, and so far seems to be successful with her instincts. We’ll see how it all works out come June, both in the Delegate race she’s running and her bid for our county’s Central Committee, which wasn’t news to me. Guess I won’t be on the bottom of the ballot this time.

Red Maryland is what it is; we’ve had our differences and I’m sure they may crop up again. Personally, I have to say these two wrongs don’t make a right.

You know, I’m not from Maryland, so I didn’t really know a lot about the whole blue crab thing growing up. (But I know what a buckeye is, both the object and the food product.) One tidbit I’ve learned since moving here, though, is that a group of crabs, when caught in a crab pot, will work together in one key respect: to pull down the leader who tries to escape. Obviously that’s good for those who are looking for dinner, but Maryland Republicans seem to have this crab mentality down pat.

We can argue now, but I want to make sure that on June 25 it’s full speed ahead getting rid of the Democratic dominance in this state. I know some will protest about my choice of words and say they should have the right to defend themselves, but I think most would agree that petty crap like this has to come to a halt. Just remember who perpetuates it henceforth.

2014 Maryland dossier: part 6 (War on Rural Maryland)

November 26, 2013 · Posted in All politics is local, Business and industry, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics · Comments Off on 2014 Maryland dossier: part 6 (War on Rural Maryland) 

I suspended this process for several days in the incorrect belief that Larry Hogan would jump into the race and give me some direction on where he stands with the various issues I’ve already covered. But since he’s passing until January I will continue to vet the others without him.

The definition of “War on Rural Maryland” is rather broad to me, but generally focuses on land use, environmental, and agricultural issues. In many ways, the three are intertwined but over the last seven years the prosperity and freedom rural denizens of the state enjoy has been significantly eroded by decisions from on high in Annapolis. This is an effort to grade the candidates on how they would react and reverse some of these ill-considered ideas.

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David Craig:  As Governor, I will return land use decisions to local government where they belong and will replace a punishment and control regime with a conservation agenda. I will work with the Governors of New York and Pennsylvania to clean up the Susquehanna and reduce that major source of Bay pollution.  I will end the practice of Maryland bearing the brunt of responsibility for cleaning up the Bay and being responsible for a 64,000 square mile watershed that includes surrounding states.

(snip)

I will work with local governments to promote sound planning but leave the control of land use where it belongs, closest to the people. (campaign site)

*

When asked “where will you stick PlanMaryland?” Craig answered back with, “where do you want me to stick it?” (WCRC meeting, July 22, 2013)

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What I’ve found is the best way is to actually listen to the farmers have to say and have them come up with solutions for what they think needs to be done, and then convince the other farmer this is the best way to go – it’s not government talking to you. (They’d say) I did this on my farm, it saved me money, it did this and saved me all these rules and regulations.

But we get all these people that are in environmental services, they have this job, they’re lawyers, they’re environmental – but they know nothing. I had a situation talking with the Maryland Department of the Environment, I said give me an example of this rain tax, I have two – or septic tax. I have two farms, tell me which one’s the worst. How will I be able to determine which one – one guy’s doing the good job, one’s a bad job? And the guy looked at me and said we can’t figure that out. (monoblogue interview)

*

Perhaps the biggest environmental enigma about David Craig is Harford County’s on-again, off-again flirtation with ICLEI, or the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. (It’s better known as ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability.) In 2010, to much fanfare, Harford County became one of Maryland’s ICLEI members, saying it had “taken another step towards achieving the goal of environmental stewardship” by joining the group.

But less than three years later, the county more quietly withdrew from the group, with the local Harford Campaign for Liberty taking credit along with an assist from the county’s Republican Party and a resolution it passed early this year. Perhaps they read the group’s charter?

Somehow, though, that notice of withdrawal has escaped the county’s Sustainability Office, which is instead in the midst of promoting another cherished leftist scheme, Car-Free Days, next weekend. (monoblogue, September 15, 2013)

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He called for a repeal of the state (“rain tax”) law, then went on to suggest that Maryland should back off from a range of measures adopted in recent decades to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. His proposals include elimination of the 1984 Critical Areas Act, a measure regarded by environmentalists as the crown jewel of the state’s Bay protection laws.

“Why don’t you get rid of all the previous bills?” Craig said. “Let’s get rid of of the Critical Areas Act.”

In addition to the critical area law, which restricts development on parcels within 1,000 yards of the bay and its tributaries, Craig said he would like to get rid of a 2007 law requiring developments to avoid any increase in stormwater runoff and abolish a 1998 law requiring farmers to limit the runoff of fertilizer and animal waste. (Baltimore Sun, September 17, 2013)

*

“While I share the desire for a clean and healthy bay, as most of us probably do, I question the priorities of those in Annapolis who feel that no price is too steep to pay for only a marginal improvement in bay quality,” Craig said. “Our businesses and taxpayers expect us, as county government, to act as their last line of defense against over-the-top polices from the state and federal governments whenever possible, and that is what I intend to do.” (Washington Post, September 18, 2013)

Ron George: Ease Farm regulations that over reach while making large areas unprofitable.

Restore, Conserve and Preserve Our Natural Resources without punishing the very people who live, work and recreate here because  they love our beautiful state including businesses, homeowners, boaters, farmers,  watermen or taxpayers…or anyone who gets rained on.

Dredge the “silt pond” above the Conowingo Dam, which causes far more harm to the bay’s ecosystem each time it overflows or the dam is opened.

Encourage planting of Maryland’s tall deciduous tree species including Oaks and Maples.

Allow for the hunting of overpopulated species.

Giving the dollars for bay oyster restoration directly to River Keepers and their volunteers. (campaign site)

*

In a past campaign, Ron George billed himself as the “Green Elephant.” Here’s a list of some of the environmental restrictions he’s voted for in the past eight years – many of which he cheerfully admitted voting for in his 2010 campaign. The number in parentheses afterward is the number of opposition votes in the House of Delegates.

All of these votes were graded in previous editions of the monoblogue Accountability Project.

Maryland Clean Cars Act of 2007 (17 votes)
Clean Indoor Act of 2007 (39 votes)
Chesapeake Bay 2010 Trust Fund (30 votes)
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – Maryland Strategic Energy Investment Program (25 votes)
EmPOWER Maryland Energy Efficiency Act of 2008 (33 votes)
Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Critical Area Protection Program – Administrative and Enforcement Provisions (15 votes)
Smart, Green, and Growing – Local Government Planning – Planning Visions (7 votes)
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act of 2009 (30 votes)
Smart, Green, and Growing – Smart and Sustainable Growth Act of 2009 (12 votes)
Natural Resources – No Net Loss of Forest Policy – Forest Conservation Act (23 votes)
Agriculture – Lawn Fertilizer – Low Phosphorus Fertilizer (19 votes)
Smart, Green, and Growing – The Sustainable Communities Act of 2010 (27 votes)
Stormwater Management – Development Projects – Requirements (13 votes)
Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard – Solar Energy (31 votes)
Smart. Green, and Growing – Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission (20 votes)
Chesapeake Conservation Corps Program (27 votes)
Natural Resources – Forest Preservation Act of 2013 (27 votes)

I will note, however, that the majority of these votes came during Ron’s first term in office (2007-10) and he has moved somewhat away from the “Green Elephant” designation – one key example was voting against the Septic Bill in 2012. But how do we determine Ron’s line in the sand? (monoblogue, September 15, 2013)

Charles Lollar: I am committed to saving the Bay – and to doing it in a right and in a balanced way.

First, I will support full annual funding – $50 million – of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund, created in 2007. Those trust funds must not be diverted to general and other purposes, as the O’Malley/Brown Administration proposed in FY 2010. Other budget needs and challenges will be addressed directly – and not bailed out by grabbing Trust Fund monies.

Second, we must find deal smartly with the sources of pollutions, including those coming from other states in water that flows into the headwaters of the Bay. Our approach to the public and private point and non-point sources of the pollutants that threaten the Bay must be prudent, balanced – not extreme. Our approach must avoid economic dislocations and injuries that can result from overzealous regulation.

As Maryland’s Governor, I will fully engage directly with the Governors of the other Chesapeake Bay states and federal officials at the Environment Protection Agency to determine the best approaches to be taken to continually improve the quality of the bay and protect its eco-systems. (campaign website)

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“This cronyism, and this opportunity to shut down the agricultural industry in this state, is going to come to a stop.” (YouTube video at Hudson Farm, September 8, 2013)

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Since the Democrats are the ones perpetrating the War on Rural Maryland it’s doubtful they will back off. In fact, Doug Gansler’s entire environmental platform seems to be one of making chicken farmers convert waste to energy, while the other two major candidates basically ignore rural needs.

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I think that, in order to give David Craig a fair evaluation, I have to know which one I’m talking to. Telling them to stick PlanMaryland, repealing the rain tax, and wiping out the Critical Areas Act would be a great start to restoring balance, although I guarantee the media coverage sensationalized what he said in the latter case just to make him look like he’s for dirty water. (I don’t fall for the hype, figuring local areas could have regulations which are just as strident, which is the beauty of local control. Or they could work toward something more reasonable.)

But then again, three years ago he was signing up for ICLEI and the county he runs still has a Sustainability Office. So I’m left to wonder just how serious he is about ridding us of overbearing government and over-the-top radical environmentalism. I think I’ll give him 8 points of 12 for now.

To a great extent, the same applies to Ron George. It’s worth pondering how he was pushed from being a “green elephant” to the point where he at least talks about easing farm regulations (but doesn’t provide a lot of specifics) and votes against an onerous septic bill. It seems to me that Ron is trying to skate a middle ground between what he thinks people want to hear and actions which would potentially help farmers and rural counties but can be portrayed negatively by the major media outlets (as Craig was.) So I can only give him 6 of 12 points, right in the middle.

In listening to Charles Lollar speak at the Hudson farm, I was struck by his passion. But when I read his brief statement on environmental matters – one which accepts the premise that the state has to spend $50 million (or more) a year in a vain attempt to coddle an environmental group which will never be satisfied, I wonder what his real plan is. Certainly it needs more study, but I can’t see at this point where he would make a bold statement on repealing legislation or rolling back regulations. If he can accept the status quo on the trust fund, what else will he leave in place? So I can give him just 5 of 12 points.

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I haven’t decided if I will double back to Obamacare before tackling the higher priorities or not. Only one candidate has answered me directly on the subject, while another is promising me more information. With this being a holiday week I will likely make the decision for Friday, since I already have a book review planned for Saturday.

WCRC meeting – November 2013

It was our last formal meeting of the year, but it also featured a return to scheduled speakers after last month’s work session. District 37B candidates Christopher Adams and Johnny Mautz, Jr. did the honors. (Incumbent Delegate Addie Eckardt, who is seeking re-election, was also invited but could not attend.)

As always, we began with the Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, and introduction of an expanding roster of distinguished guests. There were probably 40 people in attendance, which has been becoming the norm as the 2014 election draws closer and closer.

One new wrinkle is that I no longer need to read the meeting minutes, which are now posted online at the WCRC website. (I updated the page last night with the 2013 minutes.) We still heard the Treasurer’s Report, though, which had the distinction of no comparison to last year’s totals. (You may recall our November, 2012 meeting was wiped out due to the aftermath of flooding from Hurricane Sandy. The Chamber of Commerce building sustained serious damage from the “superstorm.”)

Neither Adams nor Mautz spoke at any great length, and mainly stuck to the generalities of introducing themselves and explaining why they were running rather than issue advocacy.

For example, Christopher Adams was right up front about it: “I’m a business person, first and foremost.” He added that he was “not necessarily comfortable” in politics, but ran because he was “frustrated with what I see in Annapolis.”

Adams recounted his experience at the state party convention over the weekend, saying it was “very exciting” to be part of the Maryland Republican Party. For him, the highlight was Senator David Brinkley’s remarks where Brinkley relayed the story of Senate President Mike Miller paying a rare visit to the GOP caucus in an effort to provide opposition to his own party’s excesses.

Speaking as a businessman, Christopher noted the state “is starting to tighten down” on businesses like his. Christopher became involved as the leader of his industry organization, as his company (Value Carpet One) was cited by the state for employment law violations which could have severely (and unfairly) impacted his company. His was a “test case” on the law, which has since been changed.

His goal was to be a true “citizen legislator” and eventually return to the business. I asked Christopher if he would term-limit himself and he indeed gave himself a two-term limit, based on the ages of his children who would be completing college by then and may wish to follow in his footsteps with the business.

On the other hand, Johnny Mautz was a little apologetic, saying he hasn’t been in Wicomico County enough. But the Talbot County native – whose “entire life has been invested in the Eastern Shore” – also made the case that his business (Carpenter Street Saloon) is “facing a lot of challenges.” Johnny described himself as a legislative lawyer in Washington by day, and a business manager at night and on the weekends.

Johnny described Maryland as “the leading edge of the progressive movement,” using the proposed phosphorus regulations as an example of our “out of touch” government.

But he also made a very salient point: many of the issues we are discussing now may be resolved by the time he would take office in 2015.

Mautz drew an interesting question from an audience member, who asked if the party was afraid to scuffle and “get its nose bloodied.” But both candidates – as well as District 38C hopeful Mary Beth Carozza, who was in attendance as well – made the case that you “have to be tactical.”

“Annapolis is a dangerous place for a Republican,” Mautz concluded.

After Jackie Wellfonder noted the passing of a longtime member, Dave Parker injected a lot of humor into his Central Committee report. But he turned serious when he called the Iran deal our “Neville Chamberlain moment.”

He also let the group know about some of the outcomes of the state convention, particularly the demise of the open primary which was not going to get a favorable vote from the Executive Committee.

Turning to local events, he reminded us that the next Central Committee meeting will be December 2. He also bemoaned the local employment picture, stating that the number employed in the county has been declining for several months on end. And as always, Dave encouraged people to run, saying the Central Committee needed some “new blood” as some members would be seeking other offices. “It takes a lot of courage” to run for office, said Dave.

John Palmer asked Dave to relate the story of Annapolis mayor-elect Mike Pantelides, who was the beneficiary of a Super Saturday which found a lot of new voters. Mary Beth Carozza chimed in at that topic, pointing out that education was needed about the process – she was getting quite a few registration changes by reminding would-be voters they have to be Republicans to vote for her in the primary election (and having the requisite cards handy.)

We got a number of quick updates from other candidates as well, with Marc Kilmer, Muir Boda, and Carozza making the rounds of constituent meetings and planning fundraisers.

But Delegate Charles Otto is a candidate as well, seeking re-election. (Even though no one in the room will be able to vote for him in 2014 because Wicomico County has been excised from his new district.) Otto gave some of his thoughts about matters being discussed, predicting the phosphorus regulations “would be devastating to us.” And even though there was no real scientific basis for the changes, the state was “just going to do it” so Martin O’Malley could have an environmental feather in his cap. But Otto warned that the “voters of Iowa listen to corn growers” and the incoming president of a national corn growers’ group hails from southern Maryland.

Otto also said that Obamacare “was what we said it was going to be” and told us the state was again facing a structural deficit of about $500-600 million.

Jackie Wellfonder mentioned one other event, a local fundraiser for gubernatorial candidate David Craig on December 1.

We also got an update on what promises to be a great WCRC Christmas Party on December 15. The WCRC will also be represented at the Jaycees Christmas Parade on December 8th, so organizers were looking for volunteers and a vehicle.

One final significant topic of discussion was brought up the owner of a local sign company, who posited that “we took down more signs in this county than we put up.” Simply put, he didn’t feel the county was friendly enough to business and pointed to the recent pullout of a proposed Cracker Barrel restaurant (as well as a TGI Friday’s) as evidence. Another member added that the county was also “very unfriendly” to transportation.

Obviously this was a pretty good time to bring up the topic with three candidates for and one sitting Delegate in attendance as well as a member of County Council and two others openly seeking to join him.

But I thought the subject was one which needed to be publicized, since he owns a business which depends heavily on other businesses to survive. His story needs to be backed up with facts and told in a larger venue than our small meeting.

Said small meeting, however, was the last such one of 2013. The WCRC will next convene (after the Christmas Parade and Christmas Party, of course) on January 27, 2014 – less than a month before the filing deadline.

The impending announcement

Last night I spent the better part of a lengthy post discussing the Friday night fall harvest party and impending candidacy of Larry Hogan, expressing the sentiment that, while the party was nice, I’m sure a lot of people were expecting a more formal announcement.

But when looking into the mechanics of such a campaign I suppose I can see why this situation had to happen.

I know enough about campaign finance law to realize that Larry has to have an active account with the state Board of Elections before he can do any financial activity related to a gubernatorial campaign. His former account set up for the 2010 election was closed, so on Thursday when I checked he had no new account set up yet. The BoE is generally a few days behind so the possibility of a Friday setup was there.

But there will have to be a transition by Change Maryland as well. Because it’s a 527 organization, Change Maryland can’t advocate for Larry Hogan as a candidate without forming a PAC. According to the Summary Guide of Maryland campaign laws:

Other political committees not registered with either a state or with the FEC, i.e. 527 organizations or political clubs, may make contributions to a Maryland political committee. Additionally, they are not required to file any campaign finance reports or statements with the State Board.

However, if the political organization engages in campaign finance activity or express advocacy regarding a candidate for a State election, then the organization may be required to form as Maryland PAC.

Obviously Change Maryland can continue to function without Hogan, but as the public face of the organization going without Larry would make things a little more difficult. By pushing the announcement to January, the transition can be formalized, although I’m sure those plans were already in place some time ago.

And having Change Maryland as the vehicle for Hogan’s brand awareness presents some great advantages. As Larry pointed out in 2011 in Change Maryland’s early days, “it certainly wouldn’t hurt if I run.” As it stands, Larry can use Change Maryland in the same sort of fashion that Charles Lollar used his draft campaign – looking gubernatorial in one respect, but allowing himself to be coy when needed. As I said a month ago regarding Hogan’s Eastern Shore appearances:

Most people who are in the real estate business aren’t going to make a farm tour of the Eastern Shore. But if you’re seeking the Republican nomination for governor, it’s certain you will be talking to your base and that number includes a heaping helping of Eastern Shore hospitality.

Larry can make these trips – presumably on his own dime, although it’s possible Change Maryland paid for it (how would we know?) – but can also tell the Gazette he’s looking for the “perfect scenario” to enter the gubernatorial race or be critical of the budget in the Easton Star-Democrat without disclosing what he may do if elected. That’s the beauty of “being” Change Maryland.

The second advantage to waiting until January is that it will be possible to know just how well his three opponents, who have already filed and would have to turn in campaign finance reports to the state BoE by the middle of that month, are doing financially. In his 2010 run, Hogan was willing to drop $325,000 into his personal kitty so he could have that to fall back on as seed money.

Of course, there are a couple drawbacks to this strategy. One is that money and volunteers have a couple more months to accrue to other campaigns. But the other is the nagging perception of entitlement and unflattering comparison to Bob Ehrlich’s late entry to his doomed 2010 campaign, where he dithered for months on whether he would run, flirted with the notion of running for U.S. Senate, and finally announced just seven months before the election with just one barely-known opponent because Hogan had ceded the race a few months earlier.

Moreover, Hogan is the one candidate in the race with a direct connection to Ehrlich as his former Secretary of Appointments.

I suppose what makes this troubling for me is that we have less of a chance to vet Larry Hogan before the election next June. Certainly we can gather that he’ll be a fiscal hawk, but what about other issues like the Second Amendment, transferring power to local jurisdictions by reining in Annapolis bureaucrats, or dealing with federal mandates on education or Obamacare? Change Maryland has been a valuable resource in the fight against the O’Malley/Brown administration on the tax front, but when running for governor you need more than an one-note samba.

2013 Maryland GOP Fall Convention in pictures and text

I think I can get all this in one part. To be quite honest, this convention didn’t match the buildup.

It was sort of strange. I noted earlier in the week that the whole Lollar controversy in the blogosphere overshadowed the months-long debate over the open primary question, and then the prospect of a Larry Hogan gubernatorial announcement upstaged several other events.

These were the scenes around the main ballroom on Friday night after arrival.

There was no doubt that they were proud of their achievements.

And something tells me that most of these stickers were gone by the end of the night.

The Change Maryland party even had a live band, called the Great Escape Band. I noted on Facebook that may be something subliminal if Larry doesn’t win.

Aside from one song they sort of butchered up in my line of thinking, the band was really pretty good. They also reinforced my belief that there’s not a band which doesn’t know ‘Mustang Sally.’ Although he actually didn’t write the song Wilson Pickett must be proud, wherever he is.

But when they took their break, the real rock star came into the room.

What I have found interesting in looking back and listening again to what Larry said is that my interpretation is much different than what Larry presented to other outlets.

This, which I transcribed from the remarks he presented, is part of what Larry Hogan said last night:

Now everyone who knows me knows that I love this state, I hate to let people down, and that I’ve never walked away from a tough fight.

I’m not a professional politician – I’m just a businessman – but I don’t think that you need to be campaigning all throughout 2013 for an election that takes place at the end of 2014. But, you know, we are getting pretty close to the end of the year.

I promised my wife and family that I would spend a little quality time with them over the holidays, and I’m looking forward to that.

And as you may know I founded and run a group of companies that has brought hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs to Maryland, and I promised the employees and my colleagues that I would stay at the helm and continue to work hard with them to try to have a strong finish to the calendar year.

So there won’t be a formal announcement or an official launch until January, but tonight – tonight I wanted to be very clear about our intentions.

I happen to believe very strongly that the people of Maryland simply cannot afford another four years of O’Malley/Brown/Gansler tax and spend policies.

Hogan went on to say, “This isn’t a fight between right and left, it’s a fight between right and wrong.

I honestly believe people went in there expecting Larry to make the formal announcement last night, so once he made his remarks a good percentage of the people left his party.

Of course, Hogan’s wasn’t the only party. Before I stopped by the Change Maryland event, I dropped in to Ron George’s suite which featured this.

I had one other photo which, alas, didn’t come out. Ron actually had a pretty lively thing going early on.

Just downstairs from Ron was David Craig’s suite. The candidate wasn’t there because he was at the RGA meeting in Arizona, but David had a lovely second-in-command to take his place.

LG hopeful Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio held down the fort. It’s worth noting they had pretty good traffic.

They also have a slew of printed material. I suppose you can cut out the Craig part if you really share the sentiment.

Instead of a suite, fellow candidate Charles Lollar (who was also in Arizona at the RGA) had a lobby table.

On the table, among the other handouts, was a letter explaining his absence, which read in part:

Unfortunately, this means I will miss the opportunity on Friday evening to meet with you, answer your questions, and tour the hospitality suites, but I look forward to joining everyone on Saturday to share my plans for returning prosperity to Maryland.

One place Charles may have found himself welcome was the Maryland Liberty PAC suite, which was all by itself on the other end of the building. Despite that, they had a lively group.

Alas, I think I missed this presentation.

The other suites were county suites from Montgomery and Anne Arundel counties. This photo was of the Anne Arundel suite, which by the way had the best food.

But it seemed like a lot of the air was sucked out of the celebrations early, with most of the parties finished before the clock struck 12. That’s when I took to Facebook and wrote:

So my thoughts on day 1 as I head to bed:

I’m sure I’m not the only one scratching my head over Larry Hogan and his decision to wait to announce his intentions until January. The chatter around the convention seemed, well, less than positive. He had 1,000 supporters in a festive mood and plenty of press only to cite family and business as reason to wait.

There were a number of good parties about, though, and I renewed acquaintances with a number of friends and fans. But pardon me if tomorrow seems a little less exciting.

I think I’ll have some more thoughts on all this tomorrow, but allow me to move on. They probably won’t be in line with the thoughts of these gentlemen: from left to right, Jeff Quinton of The Quinton Report and Greg Kline, Mark Newgent, and Andrew Langer of the Red Maryland Network.

And no, I was not on their show last night. Wasn’t sought out and didn’t seek them out – gave some others a chance.

This is what I saw looking out the window this morning.

So when I woke up, I was at least expecting to deal with this lengthy issue regarding open primaries – finally, a chance to decide. Wrong!

I suppose I should back up and point out that I did not cover the Friday evening Executive Committee meeting as I usually do. There were a couple reasons for this, but the primary one is that I was the escort for a good friend of mine who was the lucky recipient of my second Change Maryland ticket. But had I done so I may have found out that open primaries wouldn’t be discussed. Nor did I do breakfast this time, because the speaker didn’t appeal to me.

So the first (and only) Saturday event I attended was our combination lunch and session.

Let me say that I thought having the lunch and session as we did was a splendid idea, with the key reasons being we didn’t have to get settled in after lunch in a different venue and the fact we could sit at tables – no more balancing my note pad on my lap.

First we heard welcoming remarks by Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman.

Yes, the photo is dark. But Laura had an intriguing story of being an MBA without being a high school graduate. Her remarks reflected a philosophy which said “over and over, if I worked hard, opportunity would be available to me.”

“My story could only happen in this country,” she added. “That’s why I’m a Republican.” She expressed the belief that hard work should equal opportunity.

Our luncheon speakers both came from the RNC.

Kristal Quarker-Hartsfield is the director of African-American Initiatives whose family “has been Republican since Reconstruction.” Her task was to spread the Republican message to areas not typically reached by the party, including black churches, historically black colleges and universities, and so forth. She added that Reince Priebus was “serious about going into these communities and doing things the right way.”

Meanwhile, Stephen Fong noted there’s “a good mix of people” here, and talked about the GOP’s renewed emphasis on minority communities. He made the case that many blacks would “consider” voting Republican if we were “just showing up.”

There was a buzz about the next speaker as well.

Described by Chair Diana Waterman as the future of the party, Annapolis Mayor-elect Mike Pantelides briefly outlined some of his secrets to success, particularly in social media. (The Twitter debate seems like a good way to promote brevity of remarks.)

With that out of the way, we rolled through some convention business so routine I snapped this on the Allegany County sign.

I guess the one interesting part was the complaint that the minutes didn’t reflect a resolution which was on the spring agenda but not brought up – the Tari Moore resolution tabled a year ago. But parliamentary procedure showed it was dead once the gavel fell in April.

So we moved on to State Senator David Brinkley’s report on the Senate, where we have a “tremendous field of candidates.” He made sure to mention that if Anthony Brown thought he’d have a coronation, he should have a cup of coffee with Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

Brinkley bemoaned the economic state of the state, making the case that job creators are “voting with their feet” and “anyplace south of the Potomac is friendlier (to business) than Maryland.” If we want more manufacturing jobs, Brinkley added, “right-to-work has to be one of the conversations.”

Overall, David believed that “even the Democrats are disgusted with the games and gamesmanship.” All we need are candidates who are conversant with the issues.

On the House side, Delegate Kathy Szeliga was kind enough to pass out her report, which highlighted many of the measures to be considered in next year’s session. It’s a list which includes tax cuts, a repeal of the “rain tax” and Common Core, protecting charter schools and creating a voucher system, and modifications to the gun bill.

Moving into the Chair’s Report, Diana Waterman exhorted us to “take advantage of all the opportunities our liberal Democrats gave us.” She also pushed an initiative called the Old Line Club, which was a monthly fundraising of $8 or more a month, automatically deducted.

But I found the Executive Director’s Report from Joe Cluster made me sit up and take notice: county-by-county goals. Even the Republican strongholds of Carroll and Garrett counties had marching orders: hold what you have and help other counties out.

Nicolee Ambrose, in her National Committeewoman’s Report, touted the successes of the Super Saturday program in Annapolis and Frederick. It also served as a good test market for issue advocacy, and next year the program will be expanded and divided into pre-primary and post-primary positions.

She also related the success of 3-part fundraisers like the Allen West event in Prince George’s County as a model for others to follow.

On a national scale, Nicolee spoke on IT improvements the party was undertaking as well as the winter RNC meeting in Virginia.

As is often the case, National Committeeman Louis Pope was optimistic: “We’re going to have a phenomenal year in 2014,” he predicted. He shared good news on the financial front and on how the party was working on regaining its technological advantage. Moreover, Obama’s “Teflon-coated presidency is coming to an end,” said Louis.

Pope also spoke on Maryland, calling the state one with a “very angry electorate” and “very energized (GOP) base.”

Finally we made it to resolutions. Two of them made it out of committee and two didn’t.

The ones which were presented to the floor came from John Fiastro, Jr. and Dave Myers.

You could call Fiastro’s resolution the Don Dwyer resolution, since it seemed tailored with his situation in mind. But Delegate Michael Smigiel, who was carrying a proxy, spoke up and called it “too broad.” An amendment to allow for acts of civil disobedience to address Smigiel’s concerns failed on a voice vote when Smigiel noted “there’s not enough lipstick to put on this pig.”

Once the question was called, the Fiastro motion failed by a large margin, over 75 percent voting against.

The other resolution was one which called on the party to stop sending “mixed messages” and integrate the pro-liberty community. It lost on a voice vote, even after the “mixed message” portion was excised. But Diana Waterman promised to create an advisory committee to hear the diverse portions of the party after the first of the year. So we’ll see.

Certainly the Maryland Liberty PAC and other groups will be watching.

There was an attempt to get one other resolution to the floor concerning the Frederick robocall, which had some support. But more people wanted to adjourn, which was the motion presented by Nick Panuzio of Talbot County. He’s good at that. (Update: I’m told by Denise Lovelady of Talbot that it actually was Josh Horner who motioned to adjourn, but I heard the motion credited to Nick by the Chair. So let’s say Talbot County is good at that.)

Upon driving home, though, the four of us who traveled together saw perhaps the prettiest sunset we’d seen in quite some time, so I’m going to take it as a divine sign we did something right even if it wasn’t expected.

GO Friday: a phosphorus follow-up

November 22, 2013 · Posted in GO Friday · 1 Comment 

Last Friday I told you about the delay in new phosphorus regulations granted by the state of Maryland, giving local farmers some temporary relief from further onerous mandates. In the wake of that piece, District 38C Delegate candidate Mary Beth Carozza sent me a copy of her communication with Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Earl “Buddy” Hance decrying the proposal and its effect on local agriculture. Rather than use it as a postscript to the original, I asked if I could reuse it as an opinion piece and she allowed me to do so.

**********

November 15, 2013

The Honorable Earl D. Hance
Secretary, Maryland Department of Agriculture
50 Harry S. Truman Parkway
Annapolis, Maryland 21841

Dear Secretary Hance:

As a candidate for the newly-created Maryland 38C legislative district, I am joining with our Eastern Shore farm families, members of the Delmarva Poultry Industry and Maryland Farm Bureau, and the local business community to request an immediate withdrawal of the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s proposed regulations related to the Phosphorous Management Tool (PMT) and to allow time for an economic evaluation, as well as, for an extended phase-in of any new PMT tool based on a cost analysis and sound science.

After listening to individual families on their farms and attending the MDA briefings in Salisbury and Easton with approximately 400 concerned citizens at each forum, I strongly oppose moving forward with the proposed PMT regulations. It is simply unacceptable for the Maryland Department of Agriculture and our state government to impose new regulations without knowing the costly economic impact of the proposed PMT regulations and without the science to support that these proposed regulations would even improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed through reduced phosphorous leaving a farm.

Further, the proposed regulations do not take into account the improvements and efforts made by our Maryland farmers since the 2005 phosphorous implementation date of the Water Quality Improvement Act of 1998. Through Best Management Practices, Maryland farmers are doing more than their fair share in meeting the Chesapeake Bay Watershed goals and have exceeded them by 130 percent. Put simply, Maryland agriculture is the only sector to reach the Environmental Protection Agency’s cleanup goals.

Also, since the EPA is considering changes to the current Chesapeake Bay Model before the critical time period of 2017, which means reassignments of pollution responsibility by state and by sector, it only makes sense for the State of Maryland to wait for accurate model updates before proposing a new Phosphorous Management Tool. The updated Chesapeake Bay Model may indicate that Maryland farmers have already met their phosphorous reduction goals without the need for a new PMT, or the updated research may point to a new approach based on sound science to meeting the Chesapeake Bay Watershed goals.

Even more disturbing is that you, Secretary Hance, may be considering even going further in regulating the Agriculture community if municipalities cannot achieve and/or afford their WIP (Watershed Implementation Plan) by the Year 2017. It is almost impossible to expect the Agriculture community to accept almost the entire burden of the Chesapeake Bay Restoration program.

I believe the members of our Maryland farm community have proven their commitment over the years to meeting our Chesapeake Bay Watershed goals. As we move forward, I respectfully request that the Maryland Department of Agriculture consider this past progress, the economic impact of all proposed regulations, and sound science to ensure that any proposed regulations will improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay. I appreciate this opportunity to share my comments and look forward to working with you.

Sincerely,

Mary Beth Carozza
Candidate for State Delegate
Maryland District 38C

**********

Mary Beth added, “As way of background before writing the letter, I visited a couple local farms (Chesnik’s and Hudson’s), attended the Salisbury and Easton MDA briefings, one of the Tri-County meetings on this issue, and this week’s Salisbury Chamber of Commerce legislative meeting. Our farmers and AG business community really deserve credit for engaging and pushing back.”

It’s rare that the push back works, but sometimes we on the Shore catch a break.

It also should be pointed out that most, if not all, of the events she attended were outside Carozza’s district (although I believe the two farms are within the 38C district boundaries.)

While this piece more or less dropped into my lap, I could always use a Black Friday edition of GO Friday. No, I stay far away from the malls but would like to digest my Thanksgiving turkey without coming up with a new post. So have at it.

Going national

Normally in the state conventions leading up to a primary election, candidates for elected office scurry around, gladhanding the attendees and hosting hospitality parties therein. This is the path contender Ron George has chosen, alerting those of us on his e-mail list of his intentions today. He’ll be there, but at a much smaller scale than presumable future opponent Larry Hogan, whose nascent campaign has pushed a major event and announcement tomorrow night as well.

On the other hand, a competing event in Arizona has drawn two of the other challengers. The Republican Governors Association meets there this week and both David Craig and Charles Lollar have chosen to attend that gathering instead of the state convention, with Craig making a presentation there according to campaign spokesman Jim Pettit, quoted in the Baltimore Sun.

Not to be outdone, Lollar posted a photo on his campaign Facebook page with recently re-elected New Jersey governor Chris Christie.

Having Craig there may help provide Lollar cover from the naysayers who chide him for skipping party events, and he promised to be back on Saturday. But going to the RGA made perfect sense for Craig, who related in July that he would lean heavily on other Republican governors for guidance.

Since Hogan’s party has the prospect of sucking all of the oxygen out of the MDGOP affair, this may not be such a bad move. Certainly there will be representatives of both absent campaigns there, but with the convention coming just before Thanksgiving the news cycle created will be relatively short.

The event for which I’ll be anxious to see participation will be the Turning the Tides 2014 conference held in the very same hotel in January. Last year’s event was outstanding and organizers are going to great lengths to top it in 2014 by extending it to a evening/day affair similar to the MDGOP conventions. We’ll see who puts it on their calendar and who risks alienating a committed conservative crowd.

A change in tempo

November 21, 2013 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on A change in tempo 

Generally the interregnum between Election Day and New Year’s Day is a dead zone for politics. Admittedly, there are exceptions – Obamacare passed the Senate in a series of late-December votes culminating on Christmas Eve, leading to the potential for coal in a lot of stockings four years on; about the only use allowed for it anymore. But for the most part, the political world is placed on the back burner in November and December.

But I’ve noticed the Maryland gubernatorial campaigns are pressing on at an increasing pace these days, and there’s probably no stopping anytime soon as they try to blunt the impact of the presumptive new entrant, Larry Hogan. While Hogan and Change Maryland have continually been critics of the off-tune Martin O’Malley/Anthony Brown second term, the pace of Hogan’s criticism has picked up in recent weeks in preparation for what appears to be a gala announcement at the state’s upcoming Republican convention. One can argue that the Hogan candidacy was already priced into the market – for example, I received two mailings yesterday from the David Craig campaign proclaiming that “governor is not an entry-level position” and that David has “The experience we need. The leadership you can trust.” But when you consider he was talking about making a January decision, the fact Hogan moved his timetable up may be an indication that he feels the race would be getting away from him if he waited.

Larry also seems to be using the toughest rhetoric, saying Anthony Brown “intentionally misled” voters on Obamacare and accusing Martin O’Malley of “cherry-picking data.” Hopefully he will remain on that path of making the race a referendum on disastrous Democratic policies.

One offshoot of this potential Hogan entry will be how it affects fundraising by the other candidates. We won’t have our first indication of how any of the candidates are progressing on that front until mid-January, but it bears mentioning that several gubernatorial candidates will have to put fundraising on hold during the General Assembly session: all three on the Democratic side (Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, Attorney General Doug Gansler, and Delegate Heather Mizeur) as well as GOP Delegate Ron George. This is true unless they are taking public financing, and I doubt any Democrat will live under those spending limits.

So this won’t matter as much to the Democrats who are already pretty flush with cash, but Ron George will be at a disadvantage during that crucial time just months before the primary so he’s passing the hat now. If money gets more scarce with Hogan jumping in he would be placed at the largest disadvantage.

I suspect the race will be trimmed to three once again before the primary begins, but it’s anyone’s guess who the odd person out will be.

Par for the course

November 20, 2013 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Personal stuff · 1 Comment 

I think I plugged this once or twice early on, but as I wrote on the subject a couple weeks back I figured I had no shot of winning a Mobbie Award for Best Political Blog or Best News Blog simply because it’s more or less a popularity contest. I have good readership, but not necessarily within the Baltimore Sun‘s primary readership area.

So now that I lowered expectations enough, I found out last night I finished 10th of 14 in Best News Blog (won by Baltimore Brew) and 8th of 18 in the Best Politics Blog (Maryland Reporter came out on top.) Although I cracked the top 5 last year in the latter category, over the years I have generally ended with about the same overall placement I came in this year. Mine was the top finisher outside the I-95 corridor, though, so I’ll take it.

At least I beat out Governor O’Malley.

There were a couple winners in other categories for whom I cast a few votes, most notably Chesapeake Journal in the Lifestyle Blog category and The City That Breeds in Best Humor Account.

But I would like to thank all those who nominated me and took the time to cast a ballot or two my way. I’d be curious, though, to know how this would have turned out if you could have voted for more than one in a category.

In the meantime, I hope those who attended the bash enjoyed the free food. While they were partying I was getting stronger signals that a particular rumor may be true – we’ll know for sure soon enough. Once I find out, you can bet I’ll be analyzing the effects of the change as the days pass. It’s what I do.

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