Truing the vote: Maryland bills of interest

February 16, 2015 · Posted in Cathy Keim, Maryland Politics, Politics · 1 Comment 

By Cathy Keim.

I received a mass email from Delegate Neil Parrott a couple of days ago and he mentioned a Voter ID bill that he was introducing this session. I decided to check out what voter integrity bills were listed so far. There were three that were particularly interesting to me.

The first one concerns Voter ID (HB1017) and is sponsored by Delegate Neil Parrott. Among the co-sponsors are our own local delegates, Mary Beth Carozza and Charles Otto. Its summary reads:

Requiring an election judge to establish a voter’s identity and verify the voter’s address if the voter seeks to vote a regular ballot; requiring an election judge to qualify a voter by requesting the voter to present a current government-issued photo identification; requiring an election judge to authorize an individual to vote a regular ballot; allowing a voter who is unable to present a specified form of identification to vote by provisional ballot under specified circumstances; etc.

It is just common sense that we should know that the person voting is who he says he is. While this is less of a problem in Wicomico County where the election judges are likely to know you by name, it still encourages the citizens’ confidence in the system when they know that IDs are checked. The bill includes a provision for the citizen that forgets their ID to still vote provisionally. They can provide the ID after the election.

HB1076 concerns proof of citizenship to vote and is also sponsored by Delegate Parrott. The summary reads:

Requiring individuals who apply to register to vote after June 30, 2015, to submit proof of United States citizenship; providing that individuals who are not citizens of the United States are not qualified to be registered voters; requiring an applicant for voter registration to submit specified documents or information to prove United States citizenship; etc.

Currently, when a person registers to vote in Maryland, the Voter Registration Form has a two-part question:

Are you at least 16 years old?  Yes No
Are you a U.S. citizen?  Yes No

IF you answer NO to either question, do not complete this form.

It clearly states in bold letters to not proceed if you are not old enough or are not a citizen. That is the only thing that keeps a non-citizen from registering. The local board of elections cannot check an applicant for citizenship and now the Washington Times reports:

President Obama’s temporary deportation amnesty will make it easier for illegal immigrants to improperly register and vote in elections, state elections officials testified to Congress on Thursday, saying that the driver’s licenses and Social Security numbers they will be granted create a major voting loophole.

But don’t worry:

Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, Massachusetts Democrat, said he doubted illegal immigrants would risk running afoul of the law — which could get them deported — just to be an insignificant part of an election. (Emphasis mine.)

Never mind that we have an elected public official denigrating the responsibility of each citizen to vote. How can he be sure that it is an insignificant number? It could certainly be enough to swing close elections, especially on the local level. Every illegal vote cancels out a legitimate vote.

The final bill of interest is HB253, sponsored by Delegate Pat McDonough. The summary reads:

Requiring the State Board of Elections to execute a memorandum of agreement to participate in the Interstate Crosscheck Program for purposes of identifying possible duplicate voter registration records and instances of individuals who voted more than once in the same election; requiring the State Board to utilize the data obtained through the Interstate Crosscheck Program for specified purposes; etc.

This bill makes great sense. We have our own local evidence that some citizens break the voter laws. Wendy Rosen was the Democrat candidate for Congress in Maryland’s 1st Congressional District in 2012. She had to withdraw when it was discovered that she had voted in both Florida and Maryland in the 2006 and 2010 elections. She pleaded guilty and reached a plea agreement for five years of probation and a $5,000 fine for her illegal voting. It is unlikely that this would have been discovered had she not been a high profile candidate.

No matter how valid the concerns of the citizens of Maryland that their elections are not being protected by reasonable precautions, the Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee are likely to agree with another Democrat quoted in the same Washington Times news article:

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s nonvoting member of Congress, accused Republicans of an effort at voter suppression.

“The president’s executive order gives immigrants the right to stay — immigrants who have been here for years, immigrants who have been working hard and whose labor we have needed,” Ms. Norton said. “The Republicans may want to go down in history as the party who tried once again 100 years later to nullify the right to vote. Well, I am here to say they shall not succeed.”

This is the usual method that is used to avoid addressing the real concerns of voter integrity. First, Ms. Norton says that the immigrants have been here for years and that they have been working hard – neither of which are necessarily true, then tops those with the winning claim about needing their labor. We have millions of Americans out of work and yet we need illegal immigrants to do those jobs? Then she switches gears to decry the Republicans as the party who wants to nullify the right to vote. Excuse me, but wasn’t it the Democrats that were in charge when black citizens were being excluded from voting by Jim Crow laws?

Since the voter fraud deniers cannot come up with valid reasons not to secure our voter integrity, they just lie about our history.

It is unlikely that these voter integrity bills will pass because there are too many people in power that are committed to blocking any and all reasonable measures.  That alone should make you wonder why?

Creating his own outlet

February 15, 2015 · Posted in Campaign 2016, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Creating his own outlet 

To be perfectly honest and up front about it, I have not listened to the subject of this post, as my life and items are still in some disarray after our recent move. (This includes my headphones, which are in some box somewhere.)

But last week Dan Bongino released the second of what is now a weekly series of podcasts. And given the fact he’s used the political world and running for office twice in the last two federal cycles to make a name for himself in the media world, I wanted to use this post to ponder whether if we would see Bongino go three-for-three with the 2016 U.S. Senate race or a rematch with John Delaney in Maryland’s Sixth District.

Let’s look at a little history first. At this time four years ago, no one outside of the world of the Secret Service and law enforcement knew who Dan Bongino was. But in the spring of 2011 he made the decision to begin his political career with a run for the U.S. Senate seat in Maryland, and with an engaging personality and conservative stands on many issues, Bongino made enough of a name for himself to win a crowded primary and the right to face incumbent Ben Cardin.  While Bongino had some good fortune in the fact no former candidate like Eric Wargotz or Michael Steele, regionally known officeholder like Pat McDonough, or former governor Bob Ehrlich decided to jump into the race, it’s likely he weighed all these possibilities and had an idea they would skip the race before he got in.

Something Bongino succeeded in doing with his 2012 Senate race, though, was nationalizing his effort. In most northeastern states, a Republican running for a statewide office against long odds would attract little notice outside the state, but Bongino made waves with his race once he received a Sarah Palin endorsement. His 2014 Congressional effort continued on the same path.

But something else we learned about Bongino was that he was a natural at broadcasting. Over the last few years he’s graduated from occasional guest to guest host, taking over for both Sean Hannity and Mark Levin on occasion. If he ever lands a spot sitting in for Rush Limbaugh we’ll know he’s in the big leagues.

So it brings up the question for a multimedia player like Bongino: what’s in it for him to make a 2016 run?

Bongino is in a spot in Maryland similar to the one which Sarah Palin occupies nationally. Dan’s support for a candidate is looked upon with approval from a large number of conservative voters in Maryland, just like a Palin endorsement appeals to a particular subset of voters nationwide. Both, however, are becoming more well-known in media circles than for accomplishments in office (which is a shame on Palin’s part, since she has been elected several times.)

If Bongino runs again and loses again, will that tarnish his standing among conservatives who can’t point to electoral success on his part? On the other hand, will he feel that the media exposure he’s gaining is going to put him over the top? With just a few hundred plays on his Soundcloud (I cannot discern how his iTunes podcasts are doing) it’s a nice outlet but not one which gets him a lot of exposure like a guest-hosting slot would give.

Over the next few months, the 2016 races will begin to take shape. I would expect at least a couple members of the Maryland General Assembly to run from cover for federal positions but not to announce their intentions until later this summer. Those who have less name recognition will probably start in the next month or so since the primary is less than 14 months away – depending on how the Presidential race shakes out, we may see more attention paid to the downticket races like U.S. Senate.

If I were to take my educated guess, I think Dan is going to pass on 2016 unless the Senate seat becomes open through the retirement of Barb Mikulski. With 2016 being a Presidential year, turnout will be more like the 2012 turnout and that tends to favor Democrats in this state.

On the other hand, 2018 creates a host of possibilities on both a state and federal level, giving Dan more options should he decide to jump in a race.

Once I get my stuff together I will take about 45 minutes and listen to what Dan has to say – chances are I will enjoy it. But my thoughts always work to the next cycle and all the possibilities within. If the question is whether Dan Bongino will be in the mix, I think the answer is yes. I’m just not sure where one of the many young guns the Maryland GOP has will fit in.

Political gamesmanship

I was inspired to write this by a recent Facebook post I came across, which initially touted an upcoming debate between Republican candidates for governor. One of those sharing the post was making the statement that Larry Hogan would be a no-show, and further discussion centered on why he would miss it.

But one commenter asked the following:

Why should (Larry Hogan) debate? Please someone provide me some legitimate reason.

So I responded:

Because to not do so gives the impression he has something to hide. Remember, perception is reality despite the fact we’re dealing with primary voters (who tend to be more attuned to the situation.)

I wanted to add a little more context to what I was saying, so here is the history of Hogan’s campaign.

I would argue Larry made the decision to jump into the race several months prior to his actual January announcement. One thing which convinced me of the inevitability was his farm tour of the Eastern Shore as the debate over phosphorus regulations was raging. That tour was conducted in October, so we can start the timeline then.

After the holidays came and went, the first joint appearance by the candidates was the Fox45 debate in Baltimore January 16 – an event Hogan was invited to but decided to skip. (At the time he had not formally announced, though.) It’s set up a pattern where pre-scheduled events have precluded Hogan’s participation in joint appearances such as the Charles County Lincoln-Douglass Dinner and a radio debate hosted by WCBM’s Pat McDonough.

The only joint appearance Larry has made was with fellow candidate David Craig at an event where no press was allowed – not even cell phones. While it wasn’t billed as a debate, fellow candidate Ron George was upset at not being  invited. And perhaps this is a sign that Hogan will begin making more joint appearances.

It’s understandable that candidates can’t be everywhere at once, but the reasons I think Hogan needs to debate are twofold: first, to explain his position on issues which are off his economic message, such as education, the environment, and so forth, and secondly to prepare himself for the joint appearances he will have to make in the general election to get his message out. There will be several debates between the candidates leading up to the November election, so Larry needs to be ready.

Obviously the political experts would have you believe that, as the frontrunner, you avoid debates because you have more to lose than the other person. For years I lived in a Congressional district where the Democrat incumbent would follow that strategy to the letter and never debate her Republican opponent, yet be rewarded with re-election time after time. But what may be politically successful isn’t always right, and that’s why I’m speaking out on this. People should be informed without having to pull teeth to get the facts.

We are hoping all of the GOP gubernatorial candidates show up for our April 12 Wicomico County Lincoln Day Dinner. It won’t be a formal debate, but at least we may have a chance to compare and contrast the candidates in one place.

Much ado about HB1513

March 16, 2014 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2014, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Much ado about HB1513 

Controversy is still swirling about a proposed bill that is all but universally despised by Republican Central Committee members and the state party itself, with one local member alluding to a new twist in the saga.

Scott Delong, who is a member of the Harford County Republican Central Committee, sent out a lengthy e-mail yesterday to fellow Central Committee members detailing his opposition to the move. While this bill has remained bottled up in the Rules and Executive Nominations Committee of the House of Delegates due to its late introduction, a committee where no further meetings are planned for this session, Delong alleges that sponsor Delegates Rick Impallaria. Pat McDonough, and Kathy Szeliga are trying to petition the bill to the floor.

Assuming this is indeed the case, it’s worth pointing out that petitioning is a rarely-used alternative to the standard committee process, but while the GOP is seemingly afraid to use this procedure to move bills along which have merit, such as repeals to onerous legislation like the Septic Bill or so-called Firearm Safety Act, these members are apparently embracing this manuever to promote a bill harmful to the state GOP. It wouldn’t surprise me to see mostly Democrats sign this petition just as a way of dividing their opposition prior to an important election.

Delong also comments on the responses from Delegates Szeliga and Impallaria in links from his e-mail. It seems that the good Delegates have some concerns about the way things have operated in the past, which is fine. So why wait until after the filing deadline to put this bill in the hopper if this has been a concern? Amazingly, the 12 positions on the Harford County Republican Central Committee have attracted a total of 32 aspirants – only the far larger counties of Baltimore and Montgomery have drawn more for their positions, but many more will be elected from those jurisdictions.

Again, the biggest problem I have with this proposal is that it’s none of the Delegates’ business who sits on the Central Committee, aside from the vote they cast in that election. Moreover, certain people who are co-sponsors of this bill don’t even have that right because they don’t live in Harford County –  neither McDonough nor Szeliga live there, as both come from Baltimore County. To use Wicomico County as an example, there could be four Republicans in our county delegation but potentially only one actually living in the county. And because all of Harford’s (and Wicomico’s, for that matter) members are elected at-large, would it be fair for someone for whom only some of those who live in the county cast a vote to have the power to represent an entire county in this manner?

Let’s hope the bill remains buried in committee. I also call on the Delegates to abandon any effort to petition this to the floor, as it is simply a divisive and unacceptable abuse of power to follow through with this bill.

Stepping over the line

Every year there are bills introduced late in the session which seem to be fraught with peril. For example, last year we were saddled with a new gasoline tax from a bill introduced one year ago Tuesday, well after the cutoff for new bills to avoid the need for Rules Committee approval. Last year’s session also brought a late bill, introduced at the end of February, which radically changed campaign finance law and, among other things, pushed the filing deadline to February from April. Bad idea.

Because the filing deadline was much earlier this year, a certain delegation must not have liked the hand it was dealt insofar as those running for Central Committee. To that end, the Harford County delegation introduced House Bill 1513, which makes a key change to the Central Committee in that county only.

At this time, there are 12 members of the Harford County Republican Central Committee – twelve positions that a whopping 32 people are seeking. (All of them are at-large countywide positions similar to many other counties in Maryland.) Out of that crowd, it’s apparent that a number are members of the local Campaign for Liberty chapter, and those who would be considered the “establishment” came running to their General Assembly delegation for aid. The result was HB1513, which is written as an “emergency” bill so it would take effect once passed and approved by the governor. Generally this occurs no later than May.

The idea behind the bill is that Republican members of the county’s delegation to Annapolis would become ex officio members of the HCRCC, with voting power in just two instances: removal of members and new appointments. At this time, there are seven members of the Harford County delegation who would become members: Glen Glass, Rick Impallaria, Susan McComas, Pat McDonough, Wayne Norman, Donna Stifler, and Kathy Szeliga. With the exceptions of Norman and Stifler, all could be members going forward into next term if this law passes.

What this bill would do is expand the voting from 12 members to 19 members (as it stands now) or perhaps even 20 members if all members of the General Assembly from Harford are Republicans. (There is one Democrat among the eight presently.) The key reason for this is to make the difficulty of having a 2/3 majority on these issues – where 8 of 12 have to agree – to a situation where it becomes 13 of 19 or 14 of 20.

I think the fear is that a majority of the insurgents will win over so-called “establishment” candidates. By stacking the numbers with members of the General Assembly, they need only convince about half of the existing body to vote with them in order to reach a 2/3 majority. (I use this number because it’s an operative one here in Wicomico County.)

While the numbers would be much less significant here in Wicomico County, if a similar law were passed for us it would add four members to our nine. In that case, attaining a 2/3 majority if the Delegates voted as a bloc could require only a minority of original members (4 of 9.) In Harford’s case, it could be a 6-6 split turned into a 13-6 majority.

And while we certainly would welcome our Republican delegates to our meetings, I think this bill sets a tremendously horrible precedent. There was nothing stopping any of these Delegates from running for Central Committee, aside from the obvious fact not all of them live in Harford County – that in and of itself is a terrible feature of the bill. Again using Wicomico County as an example, all four Delegate slots would go to members who live outside Wicomico County. Shamefully, the only two resident Delegates we have are Democrats.

Unfortunately, it wouldn’t surprise me if this bill passes, even if it does so on just Democratic votes (which is very possible.)  And I’m not sure what sort of legal challenge could be made to it, aside from perhaps the fact they would be adding non-residents to the Central Committee – but it could be argued as well that they were voted in by the people of Harford County, too. And if it does, look for a lot of copycat bills in the coming years as the legislative branch consolidates power.

To this I say not just no, but “hell no!” They won’t let us come vote in the General Assembly on bills, so why should they have the right to vote on our Central Committee?

Losing valuable time

Sometimes the best of candidates are derailed by bad management, bad preparation, or just plain bad luck. I’m not sure how much any of those three apply to a campaign which initially held promise, but it’s sad to see Charles Lollar get such bad press. Some, like blogger Jeff Quinton, are comparing Lollar to Doug Gansler – to me that’s way out of bounds. On the other hand, this push against Lollar has been greeted by a somewhat shrill retort by Julie Brewington, who is my local Lollar campaign coordinator. That light you see on the horizon is all those bridges she’s torching.

Still, both have some valid points. I’m going to focus on three which are holding him back.

At this stage in the game, the most valuable introduction to a campaign is their website, which is supposed to serve as a one-stop shop for getting to know the candidate, soliciting donations and volunteers, and keeping abreast of their comings and goings. Certainly there’s a place for Facebook, Twitter, and other social media as well, but I prefer to have all of this information in a single point source and I’m sure others do too.

So I have to question why the Lollar team has had three separate URLs, including a .co which made little sense as a political website. While the other campaigns have registered a fairly simple, straightforward .com address, these guys can’t settle on a site.

On the other hand, I disagree with Quinton in that the new Lollar site (assuming its layout and design remains as he’s pictured) looks to me very clean and easy-to-use. It would be a contrast to the photo-heavy splash pages of all three Democrats; more businesslike. The other two GOP contenders have intro pages which seem just a bit too busy to me, but it’s all a personal preference. I’m sure my layout isn’t for everyone either.

While I admire Julie’s tenacity in sticking up for her chosen candidate, the question she doesn’t answer is why Charles has missed a number of key events, including the opportunity for free media on Pat McDonough’s radio show last week (for which he ran a few minutes late.) Far be it for me – of all people – to be a subscriber to conventional wisdom, but there are times to play the outsider and times where it doesn’t pay to. I’ll grant that perhaps Charles was out meeting voters and working on retail campaigning rather than hang around with people who would almost certainly at least vote for him if he garnered the nomination (in the same grudging respect that many Brian Murphy supporters like myself bit the bullet and backed Bob Ehrlich in the general election) but there are places where your face needs to show once in awhile to be considered serious. Out of the three contenders, Charles is the only one who’s not won a general election. (The same can be said, though, for Larry Hogan if he gets into the GOP race.)

Whether Karen Winterling has to go, or whether former jailbird Jason Boisvert is a help or hindrance to the Lollar effort – that’s really only relevant to some political junkies and others looking for blog fodder. (I think Jason’s a halfway decent writer, though, at least insofar as education is concerned.) Most of that does weigh into my decision on the race as intangibles, but to me what really matters are issues.

So at this particular moment in time the piece which irks me most is the website being down because I’m working on dossiers of the GOP candidates for use in future posts about the race. An issues page is quite useful in that regard – heck, if the Lollar campaign is reading this (I’ll bet they are) can you shoot me an .html of the issues page of the website? Or just get it up and running?

I think Charles is learning that being a statewide candidate is an entirely different animal than working around a Congressional district. Let’s hope the road from here on out becomes a lot less bumpy.

Free as the wind?

March 8, 2013 · Posted in All politics is local, Business and industry, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, Radical Green · Comments Off on Free as the wind? 

I thought wind was free. So why will electric bills go up $1.50 or more a month to provide us with wind power?

That seems to be the direction Maryland is going after the Senate approved its version of offshore wind on a 30-15 vote, with Republicans providing most of the sanity. The same was true in the House, but this hot air and rhetoric still passed there 86-48. And as I read the proposed law, the $1.50 monthly limit only applies through June 30, 2016. It’s covered in Section 3, and as Section 10 states:

AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That Section 3 of this Act shall take effect June 1, 2013. It shall remain effective for a period of 3 years and 1 month and, at the end of June 30, 2016, with no further action required by the General Assembly, Section 3 of this Act shall be abrogated and of no force and effect.

A pricing schedule can always be changed, but the portfolio requirement that 2.5% of Maryland’s electricity be created by offshore wind isn’t part of that restriction. If history is any guide, the percentage will be increased in order to try and coerce the market into building this offshore boondoggle 10 to 30 miles off Ocean City.

In his usual “bull in a china shop” fashion, Delegate Pat McDonough blasted O’Malley’s scheme and made a little wager:

I know this story may be hard to believe, but the Governor wants to construct 40 wind turbines that are 80 stories high (think: Baltimore’s tallest building) and 20 miles out in the ocean. This has never been done before. The cost of this green pork scheme is currently calculated to be $2 billion. I believe that estimate is very shallow compared to the eventual real costs. Of course, the usual ATM machines, meaning the people of Maryland, will be mandated to pay for these monstrosities through another new surcharge. The surcharge will be about $2 per month for consumers and unlimited for the business community. I will purchase a free crab cake for every rate payer in the State if this project costs $2 billion or less.

Someone else can have my crab cake as I don’t care much for them – not that I expect dinner on McDonough anytime soon. A more reasoned criticism was delivered by experienced O’Malley needler Larry Hogan of Change Maryland:

It seems Martin O’Malley’s priority is to make electricity and motor fuels more expensive. He wants an increase in the gasoline tax while simultaneously pushing a wind energy policy that is not cost effective and guarantees that electricity will be more expensive for rate payers. The timing couldn’t be worse.

There are no assurances that this offshore wind proposal will not devolve into crony capitalism that reward friends of the governor and political donors.

While there may be political support for offshore wind among narrow special interest groups, 96% of Marylanders are opposed to higher taxes. And make no mistake, the Governor’s offshore wind proposal is simply a tax by another name.

This governor has raised taxes and fees 24 times, taking $2.4 billion out of the economy each year. That is likely soon to be at least 25 with top-elected officials including the Governor rigidly adhering to increasing the motor fuel tax and adding charges to consumers’ electric bills.

Actually, Larry, O’Malley’s priority seems to be that of making life itself more expensive.

It just boggles my mind that we have a governor who “can’t imagine” using proven resources and technology to drill for oil offshore or explore for natural gas under the hills of western Maryland yet wants to go into an area with limited experience and a lack of reliability. You know those howling winds we’ve had the last few days with our most recent winter storm some thought was a “second Sandy“? Wind turbines don’t work in those conditions, nor do they have a history of reliability. Who pays if one of these 400-foot behemoths tumbles over in the middle of a hurricane?

If a private investor thinks it’s a grand idea to put up a wind farm and capture the free energy thought to be blowing around out there over Davy Jones’ locker, I say knock yourself out. Just don’t make the rest of us pay for it.

If it were such a great idea, one would think they wouldn’t need the coercing force of law to make it so. Bluewater Wind failed to make it, and that should be the clue our illustrious governor buys.

Odds and ends number 69

It’s not meant to be a weekly Saturday fixture, but thus far in 2013 it was worked out that I’ve done an O&E post each Saturday. (I have to look the prior one up to see what number I am on – can’t duplicate the series, you know.) So once again I have a boatload of items which deserve anything from a sentence to a few paragraphs, but not enough for a full post by themselves.

First of all, the news is full of angst over the Sandy Hook massacre, mainly because the knee-jerk reaction has been: we need more gun laws. But MDYR president Brian Griffiths called Governor Martin O’ Malley’s new gun provisions just simple posturing:

Instead of introducing supporting meaningful proposals that would actively reduce gun crime, O’Malley has decided to sign on to proposals that will have only one meaningful impact: to inhibit the ability of law-abiding Marylanders to purchase and possess firearms.

Yet I suspect one proposed Maryland gun law will go nowhere. Delegate Pat McDonough is slated to introduce “The Criminal Gun Control Act,” which, as he terms, will:

…prohibit any offender convicted of a criminal act involving a gun from receiving any form of early release.  This proposal would include parole, probation, or good time early release credits.  The bill would also disallow a plea bargain.

After claiming 40% of all Baltimore City gun murders were perpetrated by felons with previous gun law violations, Pat added:

The solution to gun violence is not to destroy the Constitution and law abiding citizens’ rights to bear arms.  Politicians are hypocrits (sic) when they attack good citizens and pass laws that benefit criminals like early release.

I thought, though, there was already an extra five years tacked on to a sentence for committing a crime with a gun. Perhaps someone in the judicial system can clue me in on why that’s not effective.

Meanwhile, Maryland Shall Issue is more succinct and to the point:

Respectfully tell those you speak with that you are against Gun Control in all its forms. You do not need to pick the magazine limits, or discuss the definition of so-called “Assault Weapons.” You must make your representatives understand that all Gun Control must be off the table.

Compromise is not possible when it comes to fundamental rights. Our lawmakers must be told that we will not willingly give up any of our rights. They will need to take them from us.

Maryland faces elections in 2014. Make sure they know we will remember who stood for our rights, and who wanted to deny your fundamental right.

Of course, when the chips are down and government has overstepped their bounds, there is the option of non-compliance, a route that Patriot Post editor (and one of my few bosses) Mark Alexander is vowing to take.

I hereby make this public declaration: In keeping with the oath I have taken in the service of my country, I will “support and defend” Liberty as “endowed by our Creator” and enshrined in our Constitution, “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Accordingly, I will NOT comply with any defensive weapons ban instituted by executive order, legislative action or judicial diktat, which violates the innate human right to defend self and Liberty, as empowered by “the right of the People to keep and bear arms.”

After all, wasn’t it Hillary Clinton who said “we have the right to debate and disagree with any administration?” Last time I checked, inalienable rights endowed by our Creator trumped laws which violate same.

Now it’s time to turn to another issue where our state government is failing us: economic growth and opportunity. I talked about one aspect of this the other day, but Change Maryland and Chairman Larry Hogan also had some suggestions for Martin O’Malley on rebuilding Maryland manufacturing:

Since 2007, Maryland lost 20% of its manufacturing employment base, the 10th worst decline in the country.  Over 26,000 manufacturing jobs vanished during that time.

“It is unacceptable that the state’s most powerful elected officials do nothing with numbers as clear and convincing as these,” said Hogan.”These are the results you get when economic development is nothing more than cherry-picked pie charts and bar graphs in the Governor’s power point demonstrations.”

Just over a year ago, (New York’s) Governor Cuomo forged a three-way agreement with the senate majority leader and assembly speaker on executive proposals to cut taxes and create jobs in advance of the 2012 legislative session.  The corporate income tax rate for Empire State manufacturers was cut to 6.25%.  Maryland’s rate is 8.25%. New York’s decline of year-over-year manufacturing jobs is 1.4%, less than half of Maryland’s decline during the same period.

Hogan urged that, like so many other areas where O’Malley has followed Cuomo’s lead, a tax cut for businesses should be considered. Yet the advocacy group stayed on O’Malley this week like white on rice, also condemning his bloated budget:

This budget increases spending 4% over last year, to a record $37.3 billion, and does nothing more than continue the spend-and-tax governing that Martin O’Malley feels will further his political objectives.

Nowhere in this budget document is any mention made to helping Maryland’s blue collar workers and other regular working people. However, we’re all told to wait for some undefined sales and gas tax increase later on that will hit poor people the hardest.

Missing is any understanding whatsoever on how to bring jobs and businesses back to Maryland.

Hogan had more criticism for the Governor:

Martin O’Malley also showed again today in the budget briefing slide show for reporters why he is the most partisan governor in America, lauding the President for wanting to raise the debt ceiling and blaming in advance the U.S. House of Representatives for any largess that may not come Maryland’s way.

Martin O’Malley only wishes he had a debt ceiling, but unfortunately for hard-working Maryland families he has to raise taxes and fees on an almost annual basis to maintain the wish list he calls a budget. The $37.3 billion docket proposed for FY2014 is the largest in Maryland’s history and is a far cry from Bob Ehrlich’s last budget in FY2007 that totaled $29.6 billion. (Ehrlich’s last budget, by the way, was 12% higher than the $26.4 billion tab the previous year, in FY2006.) Up 4 percent from last year, O’Malley speaks of “cuts” but those cuts are only in his fantasies because the budget is 26% higher than it was seven years ago and up 41% from FY2006 levels. For most of the rest of us, we’ve not seen a 41% increase in our salaries since 2006.

It’s worth pointing out on the whole job creation issue that small businesses across the country fret about the impact of government, with the results of a new survey by the advocacy group Job Creators Alliance pointing this out.  Taxes were the number one issue, with fully one-quarter of the 600 small businesses survey placing it atop the list. Add in the effects of Obamacare and government regulations, and the response swells to nearly half of those surveyed.

The group was pessimistic in its assessment, stating:

As America’s small business owners look forward at 2013 they do so with a great deal of concern about the obstacles Washington is placing in their path. As the engine of job creation, pessimism among small business owners does not bode well for job growth this year.

Lest we forget, 7 to 8 percent unemployment seems to be the “new norm.” Of course, if they untied the hands of the energy industry we could do a lot better. (That includes Marcellus Shale, Governor O”Malley, but not your pipe dream of offshore wind.)

But to get jobs, we need a better educational system and that means giving parents a choice in where to send their child for their education. National School Choice Week begins next Sunday, but no local organization on Delmarva has yet stepped up to participate in an event. (There are 22 in Maryland, but all of them are on the Western Shore. No events are planned in Delaware or on the eastern shore of Virginia.)

As it turns out, my fiance made the choice to send her child to a private, faith-based school. It’s good for her, but it would be even better if money from the state was made available to cover her tuition and fees. Years ago I volunteered for a political candidate whose key platform plank was “money follows the child” and I think it makes just as much sense today.

So that’s yet another wrapup and cleaning out of the e-mail box. We’ll see if I go four Saturdays in a row next week.

The rush to introduce

Believe it or not, the siren song of doing something – anything – to address problems which come to the public’s attention through sensational headlines is nearly as irresistible to politicians on the right as it is those on the left. Today I received another object lesson from an officeholder who rarely makes a move without the press being made aware of it; that would be Delegate Pat McDonough. He trumpeted three new bills he’s introducing; although the release says “introduces,” the deadline for pre-filing has passed so these would presumably get first reading early in the 2013 session:

  1. GUN OWNER PRIVACY ACT – This legislation will prohibit newspapers and other publications from printing personal or private information about firearm owners.
  2. CRIMINAL GUN CONTROL ACT – This legislation will prohibit early release, including parole, from incarceration of any offender convicted of committing a crime while using a gun.
  3. CAPITAL PUNISHMENT FOR MASS MURDERS ACT – This legislation will retain and mandate capital punishment for anyone convicted of committing a crime of mass murder.

Obviously #1 is in reaction to the news about a New York newspaper printing names and addresses of gun permit holders in two New York counties and #3 was likely brought on by the Sandy Hook massacre. Interestingly enough, if I were to handicap the chances of passage for any of the three bills I would say #2 has the best odds. All would likely wind up in Delegate Joe Vallario’s Judiciary Committee, although the Gun Owner Privacy Act could be placed in Economic Matters with Delegate Dereck Davis. Chances are all three will get a great view of the inside of the respective committee chair’s desk drawer, though.

It’s also worth questioning whether a bill such as the GOPA passes Constitutional muster. Obviously the publication of this information has created an uproar and the fear that, for some of those on the list, their well-being could be compromised. (Not all permit holders own guns, and not all weapons belong to law-abiding citizens.) Some could argue that the list represents a “no trespassing” sign for criminals because of the greater possibility that the resident is armed; on the other hand it also creates an enticing target for burglars who believe they can steal guns from the residence. Meanwhile, turnabout has become fair play for employees of the Journal-News.

The most contrarian bill of the three would be the last one, particularly since Governor O’Malley has no desire to stick the needle into any deserving criminal, let alone a mass murderer. That would be vetoed in a New York minute, especially since O’Malley is making all his moves with an eye on 2016.

But O’Malley could probably get behind #2 because it would make him appear tough on crime in Maryland. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if a substantially similar bill isn’t written by a Democrat and passed through the General Assembly, as sometimes happens when the “wrong” party writes a popular measure.

Without reading the bill text I can’t say whether I would support these bills, but insofar as their title suggests they generally seem to be aimed at a conservative electorate. (Carefully note, though, just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t always go by the bill name. One example: “The Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012,” which will lead to neither growth nor agricultural preservation.)

So we will see next month what other noise will be made by the boisterous Delegate from Baltimore County. No session is complete without a little of Pat McDonough’s grandstanding, whether the bills he introduces and supports have merit or not. Certainly he would argue that someone has to take the slings and arrows, and he seems to be one of the most willing to do just that.

Odds and ends number 64

Since my e-mail box is filling up with items I’ve been meaning to get to and I spent part of my day today cleaning out our garage, it’s in that spirit that I present to you yet another heaping helping of items I figure are worth a couple paragraphs or so.

First of all, it seems our newly elected friend up Cecil County way, County Executive Tari Moore, is just getting everyone mad at her. Cecil County GOP head Chris Zeauskas chastised the woman he called “whichever way the wind blows” Moore for appointing Winston Robinson as her finance director. Robinson was a loser in the Democratic primary for the post Moore now holds but has lengthy experience in the financial field, according to the Cecil Whig. Zeauskas also blasted Moore for not hiring either one of two people who she presumably passed up for the appointment: county treasurer Bill Feehley and budget manager Craig Whiteford. Both are Republicans.

Meanwhile, the Campaign for Liberty is raking Moore over the coals for promising to appoint a person to run economic development in Cecil County. Their point is that:

Businesses and individuals build our economy, not government officials.

The idea that we need more bureaucrats to help those in the private sector to navigate red tape is proposterous. (sic)

Why not eliminate the onerous regulations that businesses face and eliminate the “need” to hire a government employee?

(snip)

In a Cecil Whig news article, Tari Moore “promised to create a business advocate position to create incentives and work with businesses to create jobs in Cecil County.”

The key here is provision of incentives.  Why should government have the authority to pick winners and losers in the market place?

Why should county government be giving your hard-earned tax dollars to private companies?

Every time the government uses your tax dollars to give hand outs to private businesses, it distorts and inhibits a truly free market.

It seems to me that both of these parties make valid arguments, particularly the Campaign for Liberty. However, I suspect in the Zeauskas case that if Moore hadn’t changed her registration the Republican Central Committee would have invoked the Eleventh Commandment and remained silent about the Robinson pick. The Campaign for Liberty knows no such thing and will just as readily skewer a Republican as it would a Democrat.

In fact, the C4L goes a little farther, calling on Moore to defund all economic development programs because:

Taxpayers in Cecil County have been forced year after year to give millions of dollars to county run economic development programs.

Yet, over the past two decades Cecil County has had the highest unemployment rate in the region.

By returning the money spent on these programs back to taxpayers we can start to create some real economic growth in our county.

Rather than taking potshots at a decision Tari Moore made simply because the group is upset about a change in partisan affiliation, at least the C4L has a basis in fact that perhaps another direction is needed for economic development. The data doesn’t mean that having an ineffective economic development department is the cause of the issue (since many of the peer counties are in other states, which have their own set of advantages) but could be a factor to consider going forward.

And at the moment the liberty movement in Maryland is feeling its oats, based on the glowing report I received from Maryland Liberty PAC head Patrick McGrady about their hospitality suite at the recent convention:

Our Maryland Liberty Caucus event had more visitors than any other event, by far. Not only were we able to rally our own troops to attend, but we met many new allies and friends who want to fight side-by-side with us in Maryland.

On the other hand, McGrady was blunt in his assessment of the political scene:

Although we met many old and new friends on Friday, we also came away with a very clear conclusion: the Political Establishment in Maryland is strong and will not go away easily.  These people are addicted to power and are sell-outs to the conservative cause.

These Big Government Republicans and Democrats are destroying our liberties and burdening us with over-the-top wasteful spending.

Tell me something I hadn’t figured out already, Patrick. We’ve been fighting that battle off and on since I joined the Central Committee in 2006. Unfortunately, we have way too many Republicans who go along to get along in Annapolis.

Another Pat, Delegate Pat McDonough, bemoans the “Radical Blue” nature of Maryland politics in a recent release:

The dynamic of the voting power in Maryland probably ensures there may never be another statewide Democrat office holder from Baltimore after O’Malley, Cardin, and Mikulski have moved on.  The Baltimore area voters have become captive step-children to the massive voting power of the Washington, D.C. suburbs.  Baltimore’s “radical blue” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake presides over an urban landscape beset by murder, muggings, economic stagnation and a dim future.  She suffers no real opposition, except possibly from another “radical blue” political challenger.  The diversity of electoral politics or public policy is non-existent in Charm City.

All doubt about this growing power was removed when the 7 questions on the ballot achieved a solid victory created by a deluge of votes from the D.C. suburbs.  The problem is compounded by the fact that the two major press organs dominating Maryland, the Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post, both reflect the “radical blue” philosophy in their editorial and reporting  practices.  They are enablers, not objective journalists.

I would prefer that a neither a Baltimore-based Democrat nor a Democrat based in the Washington suburbs see statewide elected office again after the way both of those groups have ruined a once-fine state. The “landscape beset by…economic stagnation and a dim future” is the state of Maryland as it stands now. So why is Delegate McDonough conceding this ground?

Be that as it may, McDonough later makes the point that the wealthy in Maryland are “voting with their feet” and leaving the state. However, a recent decision by the IRS pointed out to me by Jim Pettit means these changes will be harder to track:

 (T)he IRS Statistics of Income Division attributes the decision to cancel the program, which dates back to 1991, to coordination issues with the U.S. Census Bureau.  There is no official word yet on why the program was cancelled.

Pettit also stated:

The IRS tax migration data is the best indicator we have of how state and local governments are doing in developing their tax base. If there is no effective way to monitor changes in the tax base in the context of macro-economic trends, then state and local governments are at a severe disadvantage in making key legislative, regulatory and fiscal policies that address the challenges of funding government budgets.

This data was a key cudgel used by the advocacy group Change Maryland to point out the multiple failures of Martin O’Malley’s economic program for the state of Maryland. Now we’ll be down to anecdotal evidence of people leaving Maryland and seeking states more friendly to their economic interests.

Soon the transport industry may follow, as it’s all but certain the General Assembly will once again consider a gas tax when they reconvene next month and may even try to work out a mileage tax as part of their “War on Rural Maryland.” But I’m putting that cart ahead of the horse a little farther than Americans for Prosperity is by setting up their opposition to a gas tax via petition. (Of course, it also builds up a healthier e-mail list.)

Let’s just hope Republicans stay unified in opposition to a gas tax this time around, mmmmmmkay?

Another tax which stands a good chance of being increased yet again is the cigarette tax, but Marc Kilmer of MPPI punctures a hole in the logic of the Baltimore Sun and lobbyist Vinnie DeMarco in his usual clear, level-headed way. It’s worth a read since the cigarette tax increase proposal is another of those Maryland General Assembly rites of spring.

Taxes are also on the mind of national politicians thanks to the closeness of the so-called “fiscal cliff.” But a coalition of nineteen conservative groups called on Congress to “…reject tax increases, refocus negotiations on spending cuts and entitlement reform, where they belong, and send a strong signal to Americans they can count on their elected representatives to look out for them in the upcoming budget negotiations.” But that would require members of Congress to exhibit some backbone, which is in short supply inside the Beltway.

I could go on but you get the idea. Despite the holiday season, politics doesn’t seem to take a break and vigilance is always required.

Illegal alien Question 4 debated at Salisbury University

On Wednesday night, sliced in among the debate spin on the local news, you may have seen a few sound bites spliced out of the debate held by PACE at Salisbury University. The topic: in-state tuition for illegal aliens – and yes, “illegal aliens” is the correct legal term.

Moderator Fran Kane of PACE was flanked by four participants, two taking the side for Question 4 and two against. Both sides had a Delegate and an expert, with the pro-Question 4 side featuring Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez of Montgomery County and Kim Propeack of illegal alien advocates CASA de Maryland. The pair against Question 4 were Delegate Pat McDonough of Baltimore County and Bob Dane of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

McDonough drew the opening statement for his side, making the case the debate is about another dream: the American dream. While Pat stated he was “firmly and vigorously pro-immigration,” he stated the case based on two principles: the rule of law and economic justice. Regarding the latter, “you will hear a lot of emotional and compassionate arguments” in favor of the law, but warned “you cannot govern a great nation on emotionalism.”

Bob Dane explained the purpose of FAIR, making the brash statement that “we don’t give a damn about business and their addiction to cheap immigrant labor.” The question before us, though, was one of whether to respect the rule of law or bend it to allow lawbreaking. “Being an illegal alien in Maryland is a pretty good proposition,” said Dane.

Speaking for the pro-illegal side, Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez called the ballot language (which was projected on a screen beside the participants) a “wonderful summary,” claiming “there’s a lot of misinformation out there.” The bill is similar to one vetoed by then-Governor Ehrlich in 2003, Gutierrez continued, and the law applies to those here “through no fault of their own” who graduated from a Maryland high school and enrolled in community college. Moreover, those taking advantage had to have parents who filed their taxes (she started to say “paid” but caught herself) and promised to apply for permanent residency afterward.

Propeack added that the out-of-state tuition was three times the expense, which had to be paid entirely out of pocket because illegals were ineligible for aid. “We can talk about the rule of law,” Propeack countered, “but this law is broken.” Kim went on to emphasize the “diversity of support” the law had; everyone from CASA de Maryland (a “worker justice organization,” as she described it) to the unions which supported the Maryland DREAM Act “without exception.” Even 25 high schools around the state filled with what Kim referred to as “DREAMers” were supporting the ballot issue as well as a row seated within the audience.

At this point, the questions solicited from the audience were asked. It was a little muddled because Kane chose to combine a lot of specific questions into ones which were more broad.

The first question was actually covered in an opening statement, as it asked about financial aid. Gutierrez repeated that illegals weren’t eligible for aid, while Propeack added that those in Guatemala don’t have an in-state option like a Maryland college.

On the other hand, McDonough posited that the discount, which adds up to about $40,000 per student, “doesn’t come out of thin air.” The illegals displaced American students, and if 1,000 students took advantage it would cost the state $40 million per year.

This actually segued well with the next question about economic impact, where Dane asserted if we pass the DREAM Act, it’s only a matter of time before we end up in the same boat as California. It’s an “incentive for more illegal immigration,” Dane said.

Delegate Gutierrez countered that “education is our best investment” and that these students would have an opportunity to become professionals. The illegal population pays $52 million in taxes annually, added Propeack.

When asked about the Obama amnesty, Gutierrez called it an “incredible benefit.” 1.7 million can take advantage of the executive order, with 30,000 of those in Maryland. But there was no legal obligation to become a citizen, countered Dane. Instead, the DREAM Act excuses parents from their responsibility and “one amnesty benefit fuels another round of illegal immigration,” said the FAIR representative.

McDonough also remarked on the subject, reminding the audience that there was no pathway to citizenship yet established for these students.

Propeack responded by saying the impact in California, a state where the DREAM Act is already in effect, has been “very, very small.”

“This is not an immigration bill, it is an education bill,” she added.

In that same vein, answering the next question, Kim asserted that the community colleges could accommodate the students; in fact, the Maryland Association of Community Colleges is the bill’s “strongest supporter.”

Yet Dane claimed that 10 years of illegal immigration in Maryland had seen $32 billion sent away to the various homelands claimed by these workers. And with 30,000 potential students affected by the bill, Dane called it a “falsity that (community colleges) are open enrollment schools.” If they are underfunded it affects access. Moreover, “there has to be a higher principle,” said Bob.

Someone asked why it was important to be a citizen. McDonough said “the most important thing to an American is citizenship.” His fellow Delegate Gutierrez made the more emotional appeal – an immigrant herself, she told us “I would not be here as a citizen under the current laws…now we’ve closed the door.” Propeack made the statement that the law had “nothing to do with status, but the value of education.”

Finally, they were asked whether the state law would violate federal law. Propeack said the issue has been litigated and doesn’t violate federal law. But Dane disagreed, calling the Obama executive order “illegitimate, unconstitutional, and a breach of the separation of powers…the most corrupt use of a social policy.” We allow more immigration than any other country, Dane added. McDonough restated his belief that America needs to reform our immigration policy.

There was a question I had regarding how the veterans were added to the bill. Pat McDonough said that portion was actually introduced as a standalone bill, with the measure then “filled with feelgood stuff that doesn’t really matter.” That’s what I figured.

Each participant made a closing statement.

“The law will win or lose, depending on how you vote,” said Bob Dane. “The glue that holds us together…is the law.” Bob went on to say that “Maryland is heading in the wrong direction,” and concluded “the DREAM Act is an amnesty benefit…parents should not be absolved of lawbreaking.”

“You can’t be like the President and circumvent the law,” said Delegate McDonough. “There are a lot of emotional arguments…you must look at the facts” and not the “Pinocchio language” of the bill. “This is not a Disneyland for illegal aliens,” said Pat.

Delegate Gutierrez repeated her claim that “this bill does not violate any laws.” It showed the pendulum was swinging away from a “strong anti-immigrant climate.” Fairness and tolerance was “intrinsic” in the bill, said Gutierrez.

In her final remarks, Propeack quoted the president of the University of Maryland who stated “the American dream belongs to all of us, or none of us.”

The participants posed for a picture afterward. No, we did not have President Obama.

As predicted by McDonough, the side in favor of Question 4 mainly stuck to an emotional appeal, forgetting that these students will cost taxpayers real money the state doesn’t have. It’s true that we need to reform immigration laws, but this is not the direction immigration law should do as it rewards lawbreakers while putting those who did things the correct way at a disadvantage.

I thought this table of literature for support was interesting as well.

I tried to get a photo of the red bumper stickers up close, but my attempts wouldn’t come out. The reason these were fascinating was the authority line, telling me the stickers were paid for out of Delegate Gutierrez’s campaign funds.

Of course, the next question which will be considered at Salisbury University also depends greatly on emotional appeal for passage.

That forum promises to bring a full house, one likely filled with every local LGBT activist that can show up.

Odds and ends number 54

Yes, it’s time to clear out the e-mail box and since “random thoughts on the passing scene” was sort of taken by Thomas Sowell I call this exercise “odds and ends.” Usually I put up anywhere from a sentence to three paragraphs or so for items not long enough to stand a full post but interesting to me nonetheless.

Perhaps I’m reading more into this than I should, but the other day I found out Andy Harris is likely no fan of the FairTax. This is because, as part of an e-mail I received from him on real estate issues he wrote:

I oppose plans that would result in net tax increases by restricting or eliminating the home mortgage deduction.

Now maybe this is only in context with his next statement:

Reduction, modification, or elimination of all or some of the current tax benefits for homeowners will remain a risk as long as the Administration strives to reduce debt by raising tax revenue without getting wasteful and unnecessary spending under control.

This is where Andy was discussing recommendations by Obama’s deficit commission that would eliminate the mortgage interest deduction for certain (presumably wealthy) homeowners or cut these deductions across the board in an effort to raise revenue.

Andy makes the correct point in his note that we need to cut spending, but I’m hoping he’s not shut the door on a consumption-based taxation system.

One thing I can also say about Andy is that he’s not on any vice-presidential radar screen. But I got the results of a survey the other day which surprised me.

The Liberty News Network, which purportedly is representative of the TEA Party given its parent company is Grassfire Nation, conducted an online poll asking who Mitt Romney should select as his running mate. While the piece claims a “majority” of TEA Partiers prefer Marco Rubio, the last time I checked 36.6% wasn’t a “majority.” That, friends, is only a plurality.

Despite that LNN headlining faux pas, Rubio won the poll but I also find it interesting that the “racist” TEA Party’s top three choices were Marco Rubio, Allen West with 23.4 percent, and Condoleeza Rice, who had 18.2 percent. No one else was over 5.2% of the vote. Apparently almost 80 percent of these “racists” are fine with a Latino or black vice-president – I would be more happy with West than Rubio or Rice, though.

Speaking of Latinos, but more generally of the variety of those having dubious legality to be in our country, I was alerted to a Washington Post story that glowingly describes the city of Baltimore’s efforts to repopulate itself via the immigrant population. Shani George, the Post employee who occasionally feeds bloggers items of interest from the paper, wrote in her e-mail:

The welcome mats thrown out by struggling cities and states stand in stark contrast to the reception immigrants have faced in places such as Arizona and Alabama. Most of the immigrant-friendly measures around the country are in their infancy, so it is difficult to assess how effective they are.

Critics say cities that lure immigrants end up with high numbers of undocumented migrants. That also is difficult to measure, particularly now that immigration from Mexico, the largest source of illegal immigration, has dwindled to essentially zero.

And the story, by Carol Morello and Luz Lazo, starts right out with the emotional punch to the gut:

A native of Puebla, Mexico, (Alexandra) Gonzalez feels more at home in Baltimore with every passing year. She attends city-run nutrition and exercise classes in Spanish and takes her two young children to a Spanish-language storytelling hour at her neighborhood library. She plans to earn a GED and become a teacher.

Both of Gonzalez’s young children were born in America, so they are American citizens; meanwhile, the accompanying photo captions to the story say Alexandra and her husband are here sans permission. And it doesn’t sound like they’re looking to assimilate anytime soon, since she’s taking Spanish-language courses and sending her kids to similar classes. William Donald Schaefer is slowly spinning in his grave.

Of course, Pat McDonough weighed in. I did not change the text of this excerpt of his release – indeed, it is all caps:

THE MAYOR’S ‘AMNESTY ATMOSPHERE’ IS CREATING UNFAIR COMPETITION FOR JOBS AND ENTRANCE INTO COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOR THE LEGAL RESIDENTS OF BALTIMORE. THE MAYOR IS PANDERING TO THE HISPANIC VOTE, CREATING A SUPER MAGNET FOR AN INFLUX OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.

(snip)

I AM SURPRISED THAT THE MEDIA, PRESS, AND OTHER ELECTED OFFICIALS HAVE NOT CHALLENGED HER IN THESE EXTREME AND RECKLESS POLICIES.

For the most part Pat is right, but how many people are going to kill the messenger? Dude, lighten up a little, stop being a publicity hog, and fire whoever is writing your stuff in all caps. You just might be the reason no one is challenging these policies.

And it’s a shame because being a bull in a china shop like that, in many instances, drowns out more reasoned arguments like this one from writer Hans Bader about upcoming proposed rule changes in Maryland schools. In many, the inmates would end up running the asylum. (Sorry about the link – Examiner is really overdoing it on intrusive ads.)

Finally, I want to send out a bat-signal to a couple of my loyal readers who have items before the County Council, ones which will certainly be decided during their next meeting. Both the Charter Review Committee and Redistricting Committee have finished their work, and I know the County Council held a work session on both in their last meeting.

If I can get an executive summary of the proposed Charter changes and a copy of the proposed map, I would find it most helpful for analysis of both. The briefing book County Council used in their last meeting is 90 pages long with a lot of extraneous information. Even though I’ve been described as “wordy,” “verbose,” and “wonky,” I like concise information.

The next County Council meeting will be Tuesday, August 7, and it should be the monthly evening meeting. From what I’ve read on the Charter changes, they should be palatable to most but I just want to make sure my interpretation is correct. Meanwhile, I understand the county’s district map had to change quite a bit and I think it would be helpful for my commentary on it to have a copy for sharing!

So there you have it, the odds and ends of life.

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