PlanMaryland repeal redux will get a hearing

January 13, 2014 · Posted in All politics is local, Business and industry, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, Radical Green, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on PlanMaryland repeal redux will get a hearing 

I’m glad conservatives are playing the game liberals in the Maryland General Assembly play – if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Many of the restrictions and regulations we’re currently saddled with came on the second, third, or later try in the General Assembly.

So it’s nice to see that a PlanMaryland repeal bill is being introduced again, by Delegate Michael Smigiel. It was pre-filed this session as HB74.

Understandably, the Maryland Liberty PAC was pleased to see this:

Plan Maryland is a statewide development plan designed to consolidate everyone’s property rights into one simple document.

Centralized government planning has never and will never work, but that won’t phase (sic) Martin O’Malley.

The agenda behind Plan Maryland is not to improve our state, it’s to kill all new development that doesn’t match the left’s green agenda.

Many of you, especially those who are property owners or business owners in the development industry know all too well the headaches caused by Maryland’s radical land use policies.

Well now, Plan Maryland is just another headache that we have to deal with statewide.

I used to talk about things which were in the category of “duh” and the last three sentences of this portion of their notice fit the bill. But this bill will get a hearing in the Environmental Matters Committee on Thursday, January 30 at 1 p.m. Delegate Maggie McIntosh is the chair of that committee, and she is definitely the keeper of all things Radical Green in this state.

The MLPAC notice goes on to note the bill introduced last year, but in reality this is the third straight year a similar bill was introduced. However, the 2012 version had many more co-sponsors.

In both cases, though, the votes were there to kill the bills in committee. And even though they were both 17-6 against the side of good, it’s worthy to note that Delegate Herb McMillan switched sides between 2012 and 2013, voting to kill the bill in the latter case. Delegate Patrick Hogan, who was excused from the 2012 vote, voted the correct way in 2013.

Bear in mind this is not the same bill as the one which attempted to rescind the 2012 Septic Bill, a proposal which was introduced by Delegate Mike McDermott last year but failed. The Smigiel bill simply tries to eliminate the aspect of a statewide plan in favor of leaving things to the local jurisdictions which best know their own situation.

There are a lot of bad ideas which eminated from the General Assembly over the last several years, so many more repeal bills need to be introduced. This is one which has merit – if a county wishes to be less than developer-friendly it’s their right. But don’t impose those restrictions on places which may seek to utilize their resources in the highest and best manner.

Wicomico Pathfinders meeting reset – again

As I predicted last week given the high probability that Delegate Justin Ready would be unavailable on date number 2, the Wicomico County Pathfinders gathering was rescheduled once again, for Saturday, April 13. It will be held at the original intended location, the Salisbury Chamber of Commerce building (where Wicomico County Republican Club and Republican Central Committee meetings are generally located) from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Most importantly, lunch will be provided.

Registration is $35 and a direct link to the registration site is here. The MDGOP also has some background information on the concept.

Something we have harped on is finding good candidates who will fill up the ballot in 2014 – no exceptions. Okay, perhaps one exception as Republicans can’t run for the Democratic Central Committee. (But conservatives certainly can, and I encourage those who just can’t shake the concept of abandoning their daddy’s party but nevertheless agree with our pro-liberty principles to give that a shot.)

In Wicomico County there are a total of 22 elected positions available – 15 for the county and 7 for the state, although 6 of those are shared to various extents with other counties. Obviously some of these offices are already held by Republicans so we don’t necessarily need a challenger for those positions, but there are a number of Democrats who have been in their respective offices far too long and need to be replaced with people bringing fresh blood and new, conservative ideas. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Norm “Five Dollar” Conway.)

But with as much bashing of the state GOP as I’ve done over the last months and years, I have to credit them for doing something right. Two copies of this appeared in my mailbox today.

I am sure some are going to make an issue of the second bullet point about redefining marriage, saying it’s an issue we shouldn’t discuss in a city election. Indeed, though, Ireton has publicly expressed his support for same-sex nuptials. Nor would it surprise me to find out that a large proportion of Ireton’s out-of-town contributors – a subset which accounts for more than half of his individual donations – are active in the gay community. A cursory look at two of his more prominent contributors, Victor Shargai and Duane Rollins, led me to believe that a significant backing comes from that political arena. (Rollins is alleged to have a shady political past, too.) Four of Maryland’s complement of openly gay legislators (Delegates Luke Clippinger, Anne Kaiser, and Maggie McIntosh, along with Senator Richard Madaleno) have also chipped in to Ireton’s cause.

One has to ask, then: is their support more about the job Jim’s doing or promoting the rainbow banner he’s holding up? Is Jim Ireton one of the quota of gay mayors we must have to be an “inclusive” society? Personally, I’d rather have someone who does a good job in getting the local economy going again – too bad I don’t have full faith in either candidate to do so.

The party had talked about getting more active in local elections this year, and with the investment of a few hundred dollars have done just that. Kudos to them – and guess what? It spawned some new media involvement, too.

Salisbury money races have surprising leaders

If you were wondering whether the challengers could financially keep up with the incumbents in the Salisbury primary elections, wonder no more. The initial pre-primary financial reports are out and there are some intriguing results.

First of all, it’s no surprise that the small District 1 race has attracted very little in the way of contributions; in fact, challenger Cynthia Polk begged off the detailed report as she didn’t raise enough. Fellow challenger April Jackson has only raised $595 from just four contributors, with the most interesting one being $200 from Friends of (Delegate) Rudy Cane. Incumbent Shanie Shields has raised $860 from 19 different benefactors, with the largest being a city-mandated maximum contribution of $250 from former Salisbury mayor Barrie Tilghman.

As would turn out to be the case for most contenders, the largest expenditure for the District 1 aspirants was signage, although Shields spent over $150 on a fundraiser which apparently only about broke even, based on contribution amounts.

More surprising was the amount of money raised on the District 2 race and who’s raised it. Jacob Day is the clear fundraising leader, with 50 line-item contributions (some were by couples) totaling $6,295. Out of all eight candidates, Day just missed being the overall head of the class – with a caveat, as I’ll explain later. Former mayor Barrie Tilghman maxed out her contribution to Day with $250, but so did a number of others I recognized as local builders, realtors, and developers – Brad Gillis, Michael Weisner, Ronald Morgan (of Becker Morgan Architects), members of the Gilkerson family, and so forth. Also worth noting on Day is that 30% of his individual contributions came from outside the area. The only other candidate with a similar profile is Jackson, who received two of her four donations from a Florida family – perhaps related?

Meanwhile, Jack Heath finished a distant second in contributions with $2,400 from 26 benefactors. A number of prominent local Republicans were in that group, including former County Executive candidates Ron Alessi and Joe Ollinger, who both chipped in $100 apiece. However, Heath also has over $2,800 in loans outstanding – all to wife Linda.

In a bit of a surprise, incumbent Debbie Campbell lags behind in the money race having raised only $1,026 from ten contributors, including $250 from herself.

As was the case in District 1 signage was among the leading expenditures for all three District 2 contenders, although Heath has also invested in a mailing. (It may not have reflected on this report, but my fiance and I both received a mailing from Day yesterday so his fundraising prowess is being spent.)

The mayor’s race, though, proves to be an interesting case in campaign finance.

Incumbent Jim Ireton takes the prize for neatest and easiest-to-decipher report, for the most part. There are 79 contributors listed, who donated a total of $5,818.65. (Five donated a hokey amount of $20.13, which explains the odd total.) His contributors run the gamut from local progressives to a number of local politicians like former County Councilman David MacLeod, Register of Wills Karen Lemon, and perennial Orphans’ Court candidate Peter Evans. There are also Democrats from around the state who added to the pot, such as Delegates Luke Clippinger, Maggie McIntosh, and Anne Kaiser, along with unsuccessful District 1 write-in Congressional candidate John LaFerla. Even Salisbury University president Janet Dudley-Eshbach and local left-wing activists Mike Pretl and Harry Basehart added a few dollars to Ireton’s till.

On the other hand, challenger Joe Albero raised the most money with $6,550. But as I said earlier, there’s a caveat – Albero donated $5,000 to his own cause. The other $1,550 came from just a dozen contributors, several of which were businesses. Included among that subset were Electrical Solutions, Gary Pusey & Sons, MoJo Management, Market Street Inn, Ltd., and Crown Sports Center. It’s not illegal, but Albero has by far the highest proportion of these business-based contributions. A perusal of Albero’s Salisbury News website shows several of these businesses are also advertisers.

It’s also worth mentioning that while Albero’s “official” shell of a mayoral website that’s currently ‘under construction’ has an authority line, Salisbury News – a site where Joe freely takes swipes at his opponent under the guise of “news” – does not. The same is true, however, of the rarely-updated On Your Side blog where Campbell is listed as a contributor along with Council president Terry Cohen, although Debbie apparently hasn’t authored a post since at least 2011. Neither Campbell nor Cohen post an authority line there, although tucked at the bottom is a disclaimer that they speak for themselves and not the whole Council.

Once again, signage seemed to be the largest expenditure in the mayoral race. But it’s interesting to note that the services of DiCarlo Printing were sought by both mayoral candidates as well as Jacob Day. John Robinson’s printing business was also a supplier to Albero and Day. The other candidates mainly utilized other local printers for their signage, although Campbell chose an out-of-state printer for hers. And while I don’t want this to be perceived as “pick on Albero” day, shouldn’t he have included the cost of his “Albero for Mayor” shirts as an expenditure? While he hadn’t officially filed yet at the time the shirts were designed and purchased, it would probably be prudent for the record to know where that money came from and who the supplier was.

But to me, the biggest surprise was how poorly the District 2 incumbent is doing in the fundraising department. While it’s quite likely she can survive the first round based on her name recognition, it’s very difficult to make up ground in the remaining weeks before the general election. In the last several cycles, those who finished “in the money” in the primary went on to win almost every time. The one recent exception I could find was where Gary Comegys overtook Tim Spies to grab the third and final spot in 2007 – Spies was third in the primary. But the dynamics of a “top three” race are different than this winner-take-all set of battles.

On Tuesday we will find out if all that money raised by the challengers is enough to secure a position in the General Election April 2.

Speed camera repeals receive hearing date

February 8, 2013 · Posted in All politics is local, Business and industry, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on Speed camera repeals receive hearing date 

You know ’em, you hate ’em. Those inaccurate revenue generators which were placed for dubious purposes of “safety,” speed cameras, will have their repeal discussed in hearings in both the Maryland Senate (February 20, 1 p.m. under Judicial Proceedings) and House of Delegates (March 5, 1 p.m. under Environmental Matters.) We’ll deal with the same committee chairs many of us dealt with Wednesday when the O’Malley gun infringement bill and repeal of last year’s septic bill were discussed, Senator Brian Frosh and Delegate Maggie McIntosh.

For all the complaints they receive regarding the ongoing political soap opera in Cecil County, it should be noted that the lead sponsors for SB785 and HB 251 are Senator E.J. Pipkin and Delegate Michael Smigiel, respectively. Other Senate co-sponsors are Richard Colburn and Nancy Jacobs, while a bipartisan group of 12 Delegates co-sponsors the House version. (It’s bipartisan due to Delegate Nathaniel Oaks of Baltimore City.)

One group happy to see these bills get to the hearing stage is the Maryland Liberty Caucus, and they’re targeting Delegate McIntosh’s district with literature to make sure the message gets across. I would imagine they will make an attempt to do the same with Senator Frosh’s district, although Montgomery County isn’t as well-known of a speed camera haven as Baltimore City is.

The part which interests me the most will be finding out who testifies at the hearings. Obviously the companies which operate the speed cameras will have representatives there since it’s their golden goose being threatened. The question to me is how much law enforcement backing these will get, because it makes their jobs easier – unless they have to clean up the accidents from people suddenly slowing down to avoid the fines. (Of course, then they write the citation for not maintaining assured clear distance.) Of course, the local jurisdictions will be testifying against the repeal bill as well because it’s a revenue stream they’d like to continue.

But if it were really about safety, there would be a physical police presence at a work site or school zone. Not only could they actually witness the speed of a car, they could also check for erratic driving and other offenses. All a speed camera does is track someone for speeding, at least in theory, even hours after school has let out or during school holidays when no children are present. (To me that’s proof it’s all about the Benjamins, or in the case of these cameras, the pair of Jacksons.)

And while I doubt the repeal would pass, the record will be clear as to who stands for the people and who stands for Big Brother. And it would be fun to watch the city crews remove all the cameras they installed – it would be something worth recording with a camera for the ages.

But you wouldn’t have to pay $40.

Odds and ends number 71

Since it’s Super Bowl Sunday and the better part of my audience is going to be tuned into the game because the hometown Ravens are playing, I thought it a good time to clean out my e-mail box and join the celebration. (As a Lions and Browns fan, I’m watching for the commercials. Maybe someday I can have a rooting interest.)

Last week those of us in Maryland were subjected to the State of the State address by Governor O’Malley. In the footnoted version, it’s 14 pages of bilge and big government. The “official” Republican response by Delegate Andrew Serafini (the last 15 minutes here) seemed awfully tepid, so you knew others might have both barrels blazing.

Enter Change Maryland head Larry Hogan, who skewered O’Malley’s speech with a rhetorical spit:

Governor O’Malley’s slogan used to be ‘believe’ but that speech was pure make believe. The Governor continues to misuse facts to portray a false narrative of his administration’s legacy. Only Martin O’Malley could actually call a 30 percent increase in spending and a budget he has increased by $9 billion as making government smaller…The governor said he cut $8.3 billion but that’s just not true. He has increased spending every single year since he has been governor, a total of more than $9 billion. So his math is off by more than $17 billion.

He talked of making tough choices, but after 24 consecutive tax and fee hikes, the only tough choice he has to make is what can we possibly tax next?

Governor O’Malley said we have the worst traffic congestion in the nation. On this we agree. But he failed to tell you that he is the reason we are in this predicament because he diverted funds from the transportation trust fund to pay for other things, and then of what was left in the transportation budget, he only allocated a tiny amount to roads.

He talked about what he inherited. I was a cabinet secretary in the previous administration, and I can tell you that when we turned the keys over to the O’Malley administration, we had a billion dollar cash surplus in the bank, and the state was in the best fiscal shape it had been in decades.

Just six years later and by any objective measure, by any objective group, the state is in far worse shape than ever before. Businesses, jobs and taxpayers are fleeing our state in record numbers. We have fallen behind all the states in our region and most states across the country in nearly every economic indicator.

But Larry saved the best for last:

Unfortunately he checked out of this job some time ago, and is focused on his next one. His entire focus is about his national political aspirations and not about the needs of average hard-working Marylanders who continue to struggle.

I guess he means O’Malley’s future job as a consultant? Sure, he may run for the 2016 Presidential nomination and maybe try again four years later. But Maryland’s getting tired of his one-trick act.

While Hogan may or may not be running for governor, we know David Craig is. His reaction, in part:

Today Governor O’Malley offered a narrative about better choices in his State of the State Address. I share the Governor’s passion for better choices and a better Maryland. The Governor’s choices; however, have resulted in a higher tax burden for Maryland families and businesses, increased regulation, and a myriad of unfunded mandates passed on to local governments.

I would like to offer an alternative vision. We need to strive for the “Best Maryland”. The Best Maryland begins by government allowing individuals and business to lead in partnership with the State. We need to continue to improve our state, but not at the expense of the taxpayer.

We need to make pragmatic choices that balance our priorities and encourage private-sector growth and investment. The “Best Maryland” begins with an approach where our state is not dominated by one set of ideas and one set of leaders.

Is there really anything to that statement? Honestly, who wrote that?

At least with Delegates Susan Aumann and Kathy Szeliga, you have the scripted banter of a rebuttal. It’s worth pointing out that the wind turbines would be in the Atlantic Ocean, not Chesapeake Bay.

But the reaction to one portion of the State of the State address will be seen this coming Wednesday as Second Amendment supporters gather in Annapolis to protest the gun grabbing bill sponsored by Martin O’Malley. Those coming from the lower Eastern Shore to protest have an additional travel option. From the Wicomico Society of Patriots:

Things are heating up in Annapolis with two important hearings occurring on February 6th.  The gun hearing will be held before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee at 1:00 p.m. and Mike McDermott’s repeal (HB106) of the 2012 septic bill hearing will be held before the Environmental Matters Committee (House of Delegates) at 1:00 p.m.

If you would like to attend to testify on either of these issues or to protest, then you can drive up yourself or you can sign up to ride on a bus with other patriots.

Bus Option #1:  Worcester Tea Party and Stop Agenda 21 are sponsoring a bus to go to Annapolis on Feb. 6th.  The bus will leave WOC Park & Ride at 7:30am and Boscov’s in Salisbury at 8:15 am.  Call 410 251 3585 or 410 430 7282 to reserve your seat.  Also, you can email:  www.worcestercountyteaparty.com  or stopagenda21maryland.org for more information.  Cost is $10.

Bus Option #2:  Jamie Wink at Wink’s Gun Shop in Princess Anne is also sponsoring a bus to go to Annapolis.  Please call Jamie at 443 783 3993 for more information about this bus trip.  Cost is $20.

I think Jamie Wink would be a great monoblogue advertiser, how about you?

One important note about the proceedings:

If you are testifying: Please arrive as early as possible to sign in, the committee will take sign ins until about noon. You will be given 3 minutes to speak.

If you are submitting written testimony you must bring a copy for each of the Senators who sit on the committee (11 copies) and submit them to Committee staff before noon so they can make sure all of the Senators have the materials on their desks.

There are various parking garages in Annapolis, or you can park at the Naval Academy Stadium and ride the Annapolis Shuttle/Trolley to Lawyers Mall – The Senate Building is right across the Street.

Be prepared to spend the whole day here, whether you testify or not, what is important is that we are there in numbers to stand in opposition. We need thousands of gun owners.

They have all night. However, a little organization may be in order as those who rode the bus (and may have to return by a set time) should speak first. Also be aware that the committee chairs (Senator Brian Frosh and Delegate Maggie McIntosh) are probably going to be more of a stickler for rules and time limits from the pro-liberty side than from those wanting gun restrictions and more oppressive government.

More on SB281 from the National Association for Gun Rights:

Senate Bill 281 drastically broadens the definition of an assault weapon and constitutes one of the most outrageous assault weapon bans proposed in the country.

This bill classifies 15 different types of semi-automatic pistols as “assault weapons” as well as certain types of shotguns and rifles.

This means that if Senate Bill 281 passes these guns will be illegal to purchase or bring into the State of Maryland.

This 38-page bill also bans high-capacity magazines limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.

If this bill becomes law, it criminalizes all citizens owning newly banned weapons unless they immediately register their guns with the State of Maryland.

Gun owners who don’t register their “banned” weapons would face up to 3 years in jail or a $5,000 dollar fine under O’Malley’s Gun Grab Bill.

Current law governing carry permits in Maryland makes it almost impossible to carry, yet this bill will make it even harder by requiring a new 16-hour handgun training course.

To purchase or rent a handgun, citizens will now have to pay roughly $400 dollars in fees, background checks, training courses, and finger-printing.

How many criminals will this make out of otherwise law-abiding citizens? Registration can be the first step toward confiscation.

I can almost guarantee you that a vote on SB281 (whether a floor vote or committee vote) will be part of the 2013 monoblogue Accountability Project.

But let’s not forget the federal level. I received this note from Heritage Action for America, which alerted me that they are “…looking to build a movement of conservative activists in these areas to hold Congress accountable.” I think I have enough readers all across the Shore who can fit the bill.

These readers (and many others) owe it to themselves to consider a piece by Bradlee Dean at The Brenner Brief. You probably remember Bradlee from his visit last October to the Wicomico Society of Patriots meeting, but in this case he’s speaking more about the idea of obedience to the state rather than to God, and how to reconcile the two.

Finally, the question on everyone’s mind: who will win the big game, the Ravens or 49ers? For the Move America Forward group and their troop care package competition, it’s a razor-thin margin after the 49ers jumped out to an early lead. We’ll see if the real Super Bowl follows the same pattern.

My prediction: Ravens, 30-28. Not that I much like it, but Baltimore’s shown a history of winning games they had no business winning – just ask Cleveland, Kansas City, San Diego, Denver, and New England (arguably Dallas, too.) A little karma the other way and they may have been 8-8.

But at the end I’m going to say what I have said for many years, beginning with ex-wife #1:

Me: Well, the Super Bowl is over, so you know what that means…

Spousal unit: What?

Me: (in a rising voice): Only seven days until PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT!! (Nine for Orioles fans.)

Bring on the baseball season, baby. My Tigers have some unfinished business to take care of. (Sorry, Orioles. Your time will come.)

Odds and ends number 70

More and more items pique my interest as the General Assembly session wears on, so you might find these continue to pop up on a regular basis. As always, these are items to which I devote anywhere from a sentence to a few paragraphs, so here goes.

I’ll begin with this pre-emptive strike by Delegate Justin Ready I learned about a few days ago. He’s planning to introduce a bill which will prohibit the state of Maryland from enacting user fees based on mileage driven to replace or supplement the existing per-gallon gasoline tax. The state of Oregon has, for several years, been exploring ways of doing this and the latest ties into existing onboard and smart phone technologies. But the Luddites out there should take this under advisement; this comes from the Council of State Governments piece Ready links to:

Importantly, the use of GPS also will not be a requirement. For those who reject all the private sector technology options despite being able to choose between them and despite their information not being transmitted to a government entity, another option would allow drivers to pre-pay for the miles they expect to drive at a rate based on 35,000 miles minimum annually. Those drivers will pay a substantially higher flat fee than what most drivers whose mileage is more closely tracked will likely average. Instead of paying at the pump as participants in the initial pilot program did, motorists will pay at the end of the three-month demonstration. State transportation officials foresee monthly or quarterly charges if the system were to be adopted on a statewide basis. (Emphasis mine.)

So the options are, in my case, either “voluntarily” allow the government into my personal car to see that I drive roughly 20,000 miles per year or pay a significantly higher penalty to keep my freedom. Some choice. It almost makes raising the gas tax more attractive, which may be the overall aim of Annapolis liberals. They constantly harp on the fact we haven’t raised the tax in 20 years or so – well, if you would spend it on what it’s meant for instead of wasting it on mass transit no one rides, we may accomplish the road repairs and construction for which the gas tax was intended.

Another pro-freedom push to free Maryland’s roads comes from HB251, a bill introduced by Delegate Michael Smigiel to repeal Maryland’s speed camera laws – a bill which has my full support and should have yours, too. (Locally, Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio is a co-sponsor as well, and should be thanked for that support.) Meanwhile, the Maryland Liberty PAC correctly notes that these devices comprise a large portion of “O’Malley’s War On Driving”:

Speed cameras are nothing more than the privatization of our due process rights and the contracting-out of law enforcement duties.

The Maryland Liberty PAC has an ongoing petition drive to dismantle the speed cameras once and for all; they also stress that pressure should be brought to bear on Environmental Matters Committee Chair Maggie McIntosh to give the bill a hearing (none has been scheduled yet.)

If speed cameras were truly about safety, the violation wouldn’t be a civil offense but a criminal one. Yet they know that, with a criminal offense, one has to be able to face their accuser and the evidence wouldn’t be admissible (because the speed camera can’t be a witness like a patrol officer can.) So they made it a civil offense based on the much lower standard of “preponderance of the evidence.” My judgment is that speed cameras should be banned.

There are also local steps which need to be undertaken, says Sam Hale of the Maryland Society of Patriots. Among them are:

  • Asking Wicomico and Worcester counties to nullify the “Septic Bill” and refuse to draw the counties into tiers,
  • Contacting Salisbury’s City Council and asking them to withdraw their membership in ICLEI, a group promoting anti-liberty incursions on rights such as PlanMaryland and the septic bill as an extension of the United Nations,
  • Asking Worcester County to join the Maryland Rural Counties Coalition.

So the liberty movement is well-represented here, but how about Washington, D.C.? Maybe not so much.

For example, take the debt ceiling. It was panned by both Americans for Limited Government and the Coalition to Reduce Spending. Bill Wilson of ALG reacted:

This is a partial repeal of representative government. Through the elimination of the debt ceiling, even just until May 19, the American people now have no say in the amount of debt the government contracts. The only say whatsoever representatives had on the some 60 percent of the $3.7 trillion budget that operates on autopilot, which includes Social Security, Medicare, and other forms of so-called ‘mandatory’ spending, was the periodic vote on increasing the debt ceiling.

“Now that it has been suspended, the debt ceiling may never be reinstated. All the Senate needs to do now come May 19 is again threaten default should the debt ceiling suspension not be indefinitely extended. Under those circumstances, House Republican leadership is likely to fold under even the slightest pressure.

Added Jonathan Bydlak of the Coalition to Reduce Spending:

Congress today again avoided its duty to be a responsible steward of the public trust. Stalling is not a serious solution to federal debt created by habitual deficit spending.

By delaying a vote on whether and at what cost the federal government should be allowed to borrow more money, House members chose to deny accountability to the public.

This move goes against the clear wishes of American voters. As a recent Rasmussen poll showed, 73% nationwide believe the federal government should cut spending in order to deal with the nation’s current economic problems.

The Coalition to Reduce Spending recognizes that choosing to increase the public debt is ultimately one of the most important decisions a legislator can make. It’s for that reason that this decision should never be pushed into the future haphazardly.

The only thing to like about the bill is that it holds Senators’ salaries hostage until they pass a budget, although our Senator Barbara Mikulski whined and cried poverty about the prospect. Well, all you need to do is your job.

Perhaps they can act on this measure which failed to get through the last Congress, something which could give the legislative branch a little control over regulators run amok. Ryan Young of the Competitive Enterprise Institute sums things up brilliantly:

There is too much regulation without representation in this country. In an average year, Congress will pass a little over 100 bills into law, while regulatory agencies will pass more than 3,500 new regulations.

It’s easy to see why members of Congress like agencies to do their job for them. If a regulation turns out to be unpopular, or more costly than expected, they can just shift the blame to, say, the EPA or FCC. It’s well past time for Congress to take its lawmaking responsibility seriously again. REINS is the first step in that process.

In general, there are those who favor a more militant approach, even with the belief we should learn from our opponents. I look at it this way: if conservative principles are as popular as we believe them to be, we should stick out our necks for their adoption on a daily basis. If not, it proves my point from yesterday about the need to educate, although we should be doing that regardless.

This lesson isn’t lost on professional golfer Phil Mickelson, who, as my friend Jim Pettit points out, is simply doing what’s best for his personal situation by contemplating a move out of high-tax California. I don’t think he’ll be looking to move to Maryland; instead states like Florida and Texas – which combine a more temperate climate with non-existent state income taxes – may be attractive. (Thousands of professional athletes live in Florida for that very reason.)

Another angle those who love liberty are pursuing is finding the right Presidential candidate for 2016. Those who favor Judge Andrew Napolitano, a group I wrote about late last year, are still actively seeking petition signers. But they updated their totals to say they have over 10,000 signers now, and the Facebook page now boasts 3,319 fans. Napolitano may well say no, but the backing behind him is slowly growing.

Finally, this story has a little local interest as well as a tie-in to a group I’ve supported. Move America Forward is holding their “Super Bowl Rally for the Troops”:

The Ravens fans have taken an early lead, but there’s still plenty of time for Niners fans to come back! Vote for which team you think will win by sponsoring a package full of goodies for the troops!

SUPERBOWL XLVII is only ten days away so time is running out to participate in our Super Bowl challenge to all of our pro-troops supporters out there. Whether you happen to be a 49ers fan, Ravens fan, or just a football fan, the whole mission at the end of the day is to support our TROOPS serving overseas. They are the real winners in this competition and they deserve our thanks and gratitude. (Emphasis in original.)

If the Ravens win this particular competition, additional items will be included for a fortunate group of troops from Maryland.

Ironically, MAF ran a similar competition last year in which Giants fans outpaced the Patriots faithful. It’s sort of a sad commentary that fans of a team named after our colonial forefathers couldn’t win this competition, and maybe that karma got them this season.

That’s plenty for now, but it probably won’t be long until my mailbox is full of interesting items once again.

Jobs report dreadful to Shore

As has often been the case, Martin O’Malley’s personal irritant – that burr under his saddle known as Change Maryland – came out with hard jobs data which showed he’s the job-losing governor.

Using federal employment figures, the number crunchers at Change Maryland found out that 22 of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions have seen total employment fall from 2007 through 2011. The only two jurisdictions showing gains were St. Mary’s and Howard counties, with St. Mary’s state-leading growth pegged at 6.2 percent. (In real jobs, it’s just under 2,500. Howard County had a smaller 2.8% gain but it translated into just over 4,000 jobs.)

To be fair, though, the numbers through the first half of 2012 would prove sufficient to put eight counties in the black from their 2007 average. Even that comes with a caveat, though, for in June employment tends to be around the highest in the calendar year; in particular June numbers would pull Worcester County to a point where its employment growth would be 20 percent. That’s why Change Maryland opted to use a common yearlong average in compiling its bleak set of figures.

Speaking in the press release accompanying the numbers:

“Coming out of the recession, we’re just not posting strong gains consistently, across the state,” said Change Maryland Communications and Policy Director Jim Pettit. “And we’re finding that our largest jurisdictions are pulling employment levels down, and we need to see an opposite trend in order to restore economic performance statewide.”

On the very last page of their release, Change Maryland ranks each county in percentage growth (or decline) and that’s where Martin O’Malley’s War on Rural Maryland (and, in particular, the Eastern Shore) rears its ugly head. The bottom nine performers, the laggards in an already slothlike recovery, just so happen to be the nine counties comprising the Eastern Shore. (In order from bad to worst, they are Caroline, Worcester, Somerset, Dorchester, Queen Anne’s, Wicomico, Talbot, Cecil, and Kent.) 12,853 jobs have been lost in the period between 2007 and 2011 within that nine-county area, which had a total employment of 159,501 as of the end of 2011. Put another way, for every 100 jobs which existed here on the Eastern Shore in 2007, only 92 remained four years later.

So why is the Eastern Shore holding back the state? I have a number of theories, some of which can be traced to O’Malley’s liberal policies and others being systemic problems without such a quick fix.

Obviously the O’Malley bias against rural development is best shown by the passage of SB236 last year, a bill which allowed the state to butt into local planning decisions and encouraged growth only in limited areas. Want to build a job-creating facility in an area with room to expand? Not so fast. The ever-increasing taxes and fees adopted or expanded by O’Malley haven’t helped much either.

But we can’t completely blame O’Malley for everything, regardless of the temptation to do so. Bad decisions have been made by the previous federal, state and local authorities as well, most particularly in the area of infrastructure and transportation. Most glaring among those to me was not building a southern crossing over Chesapeake Bay at its narrow portion just west of Cambridge and not pushing to have a better north-south highway built through Delaware, to allow quicker access to the Northeast. Both of those would be difficult, if not impossible, to complete now in the present anti-growth climate.

There will be those who say the problem with the Eastern Shore is that it’s grown too much and losing its rural character. But I beg to differ, as that rural character is falling victim more to the ubiquitous, homogenized media culture than to any growth. We are a long, long way from becoming Howard County or the bedroom suburbs south of Washington, D.C. because we don’t have a large metropolis to serve as a driving force for suburbanization. (The largest Eastern Shore city is Salisbury, with a population just over 30,000. Several I-95 corridor suburban bedroom communities are larger by themselves, not to mention the root urban area.) Even if we grew at an astounding rate of 10 percent a year, Wicomico County would take decades to get to the level of a Montgomery County.

But we’re not going to get anywhere except to becoming the next deserted dust bowl if policies in Maryland (and nationally) don’t change. Change Maryland just showed us the evidence that what we’re doing now is a disaster.

As an aside, it’s worth pointing out that Delegate Mike McDermott introduced a bill to repeal last year’s SB236. HB106 is seventeen pages long, but practically all of the text is there in order to show existing law which would be scrubbed. A total of 24 GOP co-sponsors are behind the bill, which is awaiting a hearing in Delegate Maggie McIntosh’s Environmental Matters Committee.

The McDermott notes: weeks 11 and 12

April 1, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Business and industry, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, Radical Green, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on The McDermott notes: weeks 11 and 12 

Yes, I missed last week, but Mike had such a long week I didn’t have a chance to post in a Sunday slot – and I had a lot to write about anyway.

We’re now at the point in session where the hearings have pretty much ended and the House is now taking up a number of bills which have passed through the Senate. But as Mike wrote at the top of his Week 11 notes, “The news I bring you this week from Annapolis is not good.”

Some of the lowlights included the passage of a bill to further hinder Maryland’s opportunity to join in on the Marcellus Shale bonanza. “There was a significant amount of propaganda put forward by Chairman McIntosh citing many ground water contamination concerns”, wrote McDermott. “Although none of these instances has shown to have been caused by hydraulic fracturing in the process described, the chairman is a believer and is not swayed by many known facts.” But as he describes in week 12, there’s no problem with rushing offshore wind.

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The McDermott notes: week 10

March 18, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on The McDermott notes: week 10 

Last week was rather routine in the General Assembly, at least on the surface. But if you read between the lines of Delegate Mike McDermott’s weekly field notes, you can find some interesting observations.

It starts right up with the hearing on HJ12, a resolution co-sponsored by McDermott and fellow Eastern Shore Delegate Michael Smigiel. First of all, this is just a resolution – there is no attempt to change any law here and the sum total of the actions called for would be the redress of grievances to our Congressional delegation. But only 6 of the 20-plus members of the Rules and Executive Nominations Committee could be bothered to show up, according to McDermott.

However, as I recall from my work on the monoblogue Accountability Project, the Rules Committee is a second committee some serve on along with other work. (That’s why I don’t have any of their votes on the mAP, because their three committee votes are covered elsewhere.) So there’s probably some good reason that many Delegates didn’t attend the hearing; moreover, this isn’t a complex bill. Hopefully the bill will get a committee vote, though, so it will be on the record who supports this rebuke and who does not.

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The McDermott notes: week 8

March 4, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Business and industry, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on The McDermott notes: week 8 

The session has sort of settled into a lull, as McDermott described more of the “routine” bills getting testimony and either passing through his Judiciary Committee or, as he puts it, they “met their fate.” None of them seemed like back-breakers to me, although Mike was quite descriptive with his opinion on a couple in particular. For example, in describing HB528, a bill which would limit the sentence allowed in county jails to be 12 months, McDermott stated that the change from 12 to 18 months was originally made when the state promised to chip in – now it has “become an unfunded mandate. Based on the fiscal note of $39 million, I am quite sure this is going nowhere, though it should serve as a warning to any who negotiate with the state,” said Mike.

Or HB1012, which would study the formation of a program to help ex-offenders: “I am skeptical of programs that tend to place the government in competition with existing private sector businesses.” Both assessments seem like fairly sound logic to me.

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Crony capitalism: it’s not just for the feds anymore

A story broken today by Mark Newgent of Red Maryland details the incestuous political relationship between Delegate Maggie McIntosh, who chairs the Environmental Matters Committee in the House of Delegates, and a number of other Maryland officeholders. According to Newgent, Delegate McIntosh has personally brought in nearly $400,000 to her direct-mail and consulting firm, called McIntosh Files, from other Annapolis politicians including Governor O’Malley.

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TEA Party Caucus: Maryland Democrats need not apply

I’ll state the news item first: a day after it was announced he had become vice-chairman of the nascent Maryland TEA Party Caucus in the House of Delegates, Baltimore City Delegate Curt Anderson withdrew from the group at the request of fellow Democrats.

Yeah, I bet it wasn’t fifteen minutes from the time the news hit the wire to Anderson being called on the carpet by his fellow Democrats. Perhaps Anderson forgot that bipartisanship only works one way in Annapolis.

Honestly, I was surprised Curt would be the one to cross the aisle considering he never scored well on the monoblogue Accountability Project – I would have picked a Delegate like Kevin Kelly or John F. Wood, Jr. as they were the top two most conservative Democrats during the last term. (Wood is a cosponsor of the sales tax relief bill, HB465, introduced by Delegate Justin Ready earlier this week.)

But the venom from his city cohorts, as noted in this Maryland Politics blog posting, is scathing. The TEA Party is the Anti-Christ to the Democratic party? Get a grip, Delegate Glenn. What a poor choice of words! Let me tell the Democrats I know who participate in the TEA Parties that they’re quite at home in your version of the party. </sarc>

This just goes further to show the arrogance and disrespect elected Maryland Democrats have for the common working person. But it also shows the character of Delegate Anderson that he returned to the plantation so soon – why stop now, when they’re still threatening to take away your delegation chairmanship despite the fact you stepped aside from the TEA Party Caucus? To me, principles matter.

And despite the best efforts to marginalize the TEA Party Caucus, they’ve scored a victory by attracting the attention of liberal Democrats. Delegate Maggie McIntosh is quoted in the Sun as saying, “(The caucus is) highly organized. We should take them seriously.”

Damn right you should take us seriously because now we have a full four-year cycle to recruit candidates and build a war chest to defeat the liberals who have taken Maryland a long way down a dead-end street of debt and overbearing government. We didn’t do too badly in basically one year of preparation and not a lot of help from the state Republican Party since we picked off six Democrats from the House and it took a ton of special interest money to eke out two of OUR Senate seats that are now simply on loan to their Democratic occupants. (Yes, that means you, Jim Mathias.)

Go ahead and try to redistrict us out of existence – it won’t work because there’s too many of us now. If they want war because they consider us in the TEA Party the Anti-Christ, well, I say give it to them.

But Delegate Curt Anderson’s not a victim of that war, nor is he even a casualty. He may be put in his place for a short while, but eventually he’ll be back in the fold because they’ll need his vote and all will be forgiven when he delivers. Most likely it won’t serve the rest of us well, but that’s how the game is played in Annapolis and that’s why it needs to change four years hence.

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