In print: Republican activities, a well-kept secret, can benefit the entire state

Today my op-ed for the Salisbury Daily Times was published as part of their “Point & Counterpoint” series, with the topic: “What’s at stake in Maryland’s 2014 midterm elections?”

This piece is the “as submitted” version, which differs slightly from the actual print run and internet edition available at the paper’s website.

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While we are still months away from knowing who the nominees will be for Maryland’s state and local elective offices, one thing which is becoming more and more apparent with each passing day is that the key issue on the ballot will be a stark choice.

With the exception of one term of Bob Ehrlich, the Republican governor who presided over a sound Maryland economy and was defeated for re-election despite positive approval ratings, the Democratic Party has held each of the three statewide elected offices and control of the General Assembly for decades. They’d be the first to tell you that this phenomenon is due to voter satisfaction, but we contend instead that the reason is the perception – reinforced by Democrat-friendly media outlets in the state – that the Republicans have nothing to offer and are a weak, ineffective opposition party.

So what they don’t tell you is that Republicans have, for the last several years, annually put up an alternative budget in the General Assembly – one which holds the line on excessive spending and returns money to the pockets of hard-working Marylanders regardless of their party affiliation.

It’s been a well-kept secret that instead of amassing all state power in Annapolis and making the state itself prostrate to the whims of inside-the-Beltway bureaucrats who tell the state how high to jump, Republicans fought for the interests of counties and of rural Maryland – the state’s breadbasket. But measures to repeal the state’s onerous 2012 septic bill were haughtily dismissed this spring in Democratic-controlled committees; meanwhile, our right to own a handgun was severely curtailed by tone-deaf members of the majority despite the pleas of hundreds from all parties who signed up to testify on behalf of the Second Amendment.

This cavalier Democratic attitude of know-it-all superiority even extends to the voting process, as state law dictates their candidates will be listed first on the ballot.

Just because Republicans haven’t had the opportunity to govern in this state with control of the state’s General Assembly and statewide offices doesn’t mean they won’t be able to do what’s right for the state in key areas such as job creation and education. Instead of the stagnation of the last eight years and legislative rot stretching back decades, Maryland can turn a new page and join other successful states where Republicans have control.

It only takes one vote: yours.

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The key difference in the print version was combining the final sentence with the preceding paragraph, which made it lose its punch somewhat. (Mark Bowen, my Democratic opponent, got his concluding sentence to stand by itself.) They also butchered the last sentence of the penultimate paragraph in that version, leaving it hanging a little bit. Hence the need to set the story straight, sort of like the “director’s cut” of a movie.

But it’s interesting how Bowen and I interpreted the question in different ways. When I received the invitation to write this piece, I was told the subject would be Maryland’s 2014 midterm elections, so I looked at it on statewide level. Obviously Bowen chose to approach this from a national perspective as he discussed Obamacare and the prospect of electing “right-wing extremists.” (I happen to think we need about 300 more of them in Congress so maybe we can get a body which will properly assist in running this nation.) He really didn’t address the state situation at all, which leads me to believe they think things are in the bag here. I’m all for shocking the world on that one.

It’s unfortunate, but I didn’t save my original draft. I had to cut it under 400 words so I had to leave a couple subjects on the cutting room floor. I would have liked to point out the 40 tax increases enacted under our current regime but decided the idea of the alternative budget was a better way of looking forward. The key element of my argument was showing how out-of-touch the current administration in Annapolis truly is, yet it only takes one vote to change it.

So what do you think? Did I mop the floor with Mark Bowen? I encourage you to leave the Facebook comments and let the online Daily Times readers know that the state is truly ready for a change.

In print soon

August 30, 2013 · Posted in Campaign 2014, Delmarva items · Comments Off 

Today is a very busy day and evening for me, so I’m just going to write a quick reminder that on Monday you will have a reason to buy or check out the Daily Times website: I will have an op-ed in the paper.

It’s also worth pointing out that Charles Lollar has his announcement tour planned out and will be in the area Thursday morning and early afternoon – alas, I will likely be working when he’s here. He’s at Bay Country Bakery in Cambridge at 8, an unspecified location in Derlin at 10, and Salisbury University at 12:25. Surely I’ll get a little more detail as the events near. Maybe the Daily Times can cover it?

So look for the piece Monday, read it, and tell me what you think!

Chamber/PACE Council forum attracts interested voters

Five of six Salisbury City Council hopefuls pleaded their cases before over 100 voters and observers at Perdue Hall on the campus of Salisbury University last evening. Included among the audience were the other three members of City Council not up for election and mayoral candidate Joe Albero. Mayor Jim Ireton was a no-show from the event as was District 1 candidate April Jackson, who was dealing with “health issues.”

Unfortunately, I arrived a little late and missed most of the candidates’ opening statements. But the questions, delivered by moderator Ernie Colburn, mainly dealt with the business aspect of Salisbury – something to be expected when a co-sponsor is the local Chamber of Commerce.

One example was the lidlifter, which asked candidates what their top three priorities for change would be. Shanie Shields would “build partnerships for positive change,” focusing on business, education, and advocating for a STEM program (science, technology, engineering, and math.) Her District 1 opponent, Cynthia Polk, told the audience “my first priority would be jobs.” She wanted to take advantage of local universities and the proximity of Wallops Island as well.

District 2 incumbent Debbie Campbell believed the “things we can do are only limited by our ability to work real hard.” Economic development and public safety were among the items she wished to focus on in a third term, citing her “attention to detail” as an asset. She pointed to the River’s Edge development as a possible way to drive tourism business from Ocean City.

Meanwhile, Jake Day saw it as a matter of restoring prosperity and pride, particularly pride in our government, which he claimed suffered from a “culture of antagonism and pessimism…it has to change.” He wanted to encourage more youth involvement as well.

“My role will be one of a catalyst and culture changer,” said Jack Heath. He then reiterated the familiar themes he’s established throughout his campaign: enhancing the quality of life through jobs, recreation, education, and a safe environment, creating an inviting and vibrant downtown, and having the city government adopt the best ideas regardless of where they came from.

The next question seemed to be tailored as an attack on District 2 incumbent Debbie Campbell, since it asked about the “culture of ‘no’” on the City Council. Heath drew the first response, calling himself “a negotiator…it all starts with culture.” He vowed that, if elected, “I will sign a civility agreement” and ask the others to sign as well. Jake Day agreed, saying we needed open communication and “an entire culture shift.” He promised to establish what he called “coffee talks” and a mayoral/council blog. (It’s worth pointing out that one mayoral candidate and two Council members already have blog sites.)

Debbie Campbell is one of those Council bloggers, but she disagreed with the premise of the question. “This Council has said yes to 70 out of 80 ordinances and 190 out of 200 resolutions,” she countered. If the Daily Times would put news on the news pages and opinion on the opinion pages, we would be better off, she assessed. On the other hand, the renovated Bateman Street/Onley Road intersection was an example where “no” eventually became “yes” once the project was improved, said Campbell.

Shanie Shields disputed Campbell’s account, noting that some of the projects which Council rejected would benefit District 1, like the Bricks project. She wouldn’t sign the Heath civility agreement, since it’s “just a piece of paper,” but wanted to bring back the goal-setting sessions Council used to have.

While Cynthia Polk didn’t have experience with the Council, she pointed back to her time at the former Dresser facility where she organized the employee assistance program. Citing the declining health of her husband of 46 years, she wistfully noted that “once I become a city council person, that’s my family. Family is everything.”

Returning to the economic scene, the question of how to attract higher-paying jobs was next. Debbie Campbell drew the leadoff answer and declared “I think that we leverage what we have…(Salisbury is) uniquely positioned to fill a void” on tech jobs. One other idea worth implementing was using the excess EDUs from the Linens of the Week property, offering them to an entrepreneur who could utilize the property as a job creator.

Shanie Shields, however, believed that property should revert to something along the lines of the neighborhood’s residential nature, like a community center. We need to give kids hands-on experience, Shanie declared, but concluded by asking the question “Are we business-friendly in this town? The answer is no.”

Jake Day used a sports analogy to begin his answer. “We have a great defense, but we need to turn it to a great offense.” He walked through a laundry list of accomplishments from those in his high school class, pointing out one thing in common: they weren’t done here. The kids left Salisbury because opportunities weren’t here, said Day. We need to be more proactive and set ourselves up for success, continued Jake, adding we should remove investment barriers, create a business incubator, and have a full-time economic development officer. Opponent Jack Heath more or less agreed with Day, adding “we need to challenge the university” to come up with additional ideas.

Cynthia Polk recalled the “runaround” she had to endure when opening her business, making the suggestion that it could be done as a piece of software the city could sell.

The next topic got the luxury of longer responses, and crime was the subject. Again Campbell received the lead answer, and she told the audience that while we’ve made progress – in part due to the Safe Streets program – there’s a long way to go. Debbie bemoaned the fact that, for years, the city lost officers to other jurisdictions where they could be paid better, but salary adjustments were made in this budget and the mayor chose not to veto them.

When it comes to increased pay for officers, “I couldn’t agree more,” said Jake Day. But he went further, calling for another 30 police officers. He warned we’ll have to make “hard choices” when it comes to other investments, but didn’t want to ignore technology improvements, either. Those were far down his list of crime-fighting measures, however, as the extra personnel was key.

Jack Heath, however, cautioned there’s another side of the issue – “Thirty cops is extremely expensive.” He quoted a figure of $100,000 per officer (which means the city would need another $3 million each year for 30 more police officers.) Technology could help in high crime areas, he added, but he would defer to the wishes of police Chief Barbara Duncan.

“You can’t lock everyone up,” said Cynthia Polk in her response, which focused more on the root causes. “I don’t know how much that would cost,” she said of after-school programs, but she felt something was needed to respond to a “sense of desperation” on the west side. Polk also came up with a thought about teaching chess in these after-school programs, claiming you could tell the difference between a “chess mind” and a “checkers mind.”

Shanie Shields was more clear: “I do not want to see the city become a police state…most of the people in jail look like me and Cynthia.” (All three District 1 candidates are black.) She called on more preventative programs, but believed they should be funded by Annapolis and Washington, “instead of locking up people.”

The next question dealt with the choice between raising taxes and cutting services. “That’s a loaded question,” Jack Heath replied. He believed revenue could be gained through increasing economic activity.

Jake Day agreed with that principle, although he couched it in terms of increasing property values. To achieve that end, Day called for a downtown-centric approach, wondering aloud how a city could value riverfront surface parking when “we have to create vibrant, livable places.” He repeated an earlier point about removing barriers to investment, and wanted to use budget surpluses to keep a 10% operating reserve. In the meantime, though, “we may need to cut services.”

Debbie Campbell disagreed, though. “This year proved we didn’t have to do either,” she noted. In fact, they funded a few extra items to avoid a tax increase as the budget plan they adopted had items she didn’t care for funding. And after she pointed out that business development pays for itself (as opposed to residential development being a net loss) Campbell concluded “you need a legislator who sharpens her pencil every year.”

Shanie Shields also believed the mayor didn’t have to raise taxes. “Taxes are a bad word,” said Shanie, but she also warned “you can’t cut everything in a budget…I don’t believe in going line by line.” Shainie also bemoaned the fact we have no retail downtown, complaining you have to get in the car and run to Royal Farms or Walgreens to get an aspirin.

So how do we create a business-friendly climate? the body was asked. For Jack Heath the answer was simple: it’s culture. Negotiate the best deals possible, and return to the inclusion process the city had several years ago. Cynthia Polk extended this inclusion idea to one of cultural inclusion, calling for a downtown filled with ethnic eateries.

Debbie Campbell was more direct: “I don’t believe in developer giveaways,” she said. But instead of dealing with excessive bureaucracy, business developers “ought to feel like they just checked into a five-star hotel,” Campbell concluded.

On the other hand, Shanie Shields called herself a “business-friendly person” and told those gathered we need to bring people to the table. We weren’t willing to work with the developers of the abandoned Station 16 project, a building which is downtown sitting empty, said Shanie. She praised the expansion of Salisbury’s enterprise zone to new areas along Snow Hill Road and Eastern Shore Drive.

Once again pounding the themes of being proactive and reducing barriers, Jake Day said we need to become a community willing to invest in itself. But we need no new impact fees, Day said.

The closing statements were quite diverse. Cynthia Polk made it known that she’s not the greatest public speaker, but she had other skills in business ownership and development to make up for it. “I am very versatile,” she said. “I look at people from soul to soul.”

Shanie Shields felt it was her “experience and love for people” that gave her the edge. She spoke about growing up in Salisbury and dealing with family tragedies here, but she had chosen to stay in the town where she was born.

“I stand on my record,” said Debbie Campbell. Noting that legislation required someone who was “detail-oriented,” she cautioned that if a proposal violates state or federal law, “that should be enough to stop you.” It was not her goal to have a “rubber-stamp Council.”

Vowing to bring a “new energy” and “spirit of partnership,” Jake Day seized a little bit on Campbell’s theme, noting that his time in the Army had made him a leader, a planner, and detail-oriented. He would work hard in the position, Day added.

The final word belonged to Jack Heath, who, when asked why he was interrupting his retirement to run, said it was because he loves the city. “Work needs to be done (and) I have the experience,” Heath stated. He promised to make decisions based not on his personal beliefs but what was best for Salisbury.

This is among the final public forums for the six City Council candidates, who will be whittled down to four come next Tuesday. Obviously April Jackson’s health issues come at a most inopportune time as she faces two political veterans, and it may be hard for her to overcome that disadvantage. Yet with such a tiny probable number of votes cast in her district, it’s really difficult to know just how the District 1 race will turn out.

In District 2, however, I suspect Campbell and Day have the advantage going into the final weekend. Jack Heath needs to make a last-minute push for votes to avoid elimination, as I see it.

Is a conservative, pro-liberty message viable in Maryland?

The question expressed in the title is perhaps the most vital one going forward for Maryland Republicans. Some are already arguing the state is a lost cause, and when your state’s winning Presidential write-in is Santa Claus (yes, Santa was an official write-in candidate so his votes counted) it’s pretty likely that too many expect things from the government.

In 2012 there were two statewide candidates bearing the Republican ticket and two Libertarians. While the circles aren’t perfectly together, if you made a Venn diagram there would be a lot of common ground and that percentage could make a difference someday. So for the sake of this argument I’m adding them together.

  • President: Mitt Romney 971,869 + Gary Johnson 30,195 = 1,002,064 (37%)
  • U.S. Senate: Dan Bongino 693,291 + Dean Ahmad 32,252 = 725,543 (27.5%)

Arguably, of the two Republicans the case can be made that Bongino was the more conservative while Romney was perceived by most as relatively centrist (and the closer he got to the end of the campaign, the more he drifted toward the center.) But in that Senate race there was the third man, and polling suggests that for every two votes he took from Democrat Ben Cardin he took three from Dan Bongino. Add 60% of Rob Sobhani’s total to this mix and you have 984,103. Figure in the 2.7% undervote on the Senate race as compared to the Presidential one and it looks like the current conservative/libertarian ceiling is about 1 million votes statewide.

So let’s say that 1,000,000 is the magic number. If our side had turned out 1,000,000 votes for each past statewide election:

  • The 2010 statewide elections for Governor and Comptroller would have been nailbiters rather than over by 30 minutes after the polls closed.
  • Those elections would have been for an open gubernatorial seat because Bob Ehrlich would have been re-elected in 2006. Michael Steele would have ran this year as an incumbent, and the other two statewide races would have been agonizingly close losses.

You’ll notice that these are gubernatorial cycles rather than Presidential – simply put, 1 million votes in Maryland won’t win in a Presidential year. The only GOP candidate to ever exceed 1 million here was George W. Bush in 2004 and he was running as an incumbent (and still lost big.)

So the trick is getting the same base which comes out to vote in the Presidential election to participate in the gubernatorial ones. But at the same time we have to expand our share of the pie somewhat to be more competitive in Presidential races rather than having GOP campaigns write Maryland off as a lost cause before the campaign even begins.

While there is a share of the electorate which has as its focus a single issue (generally social issues like abortion or gay marriage, although this extends to items like Second Amendment issues or property rights) most people vote their pocketbook and unfortunately they’ve come to grudgingly accept that the government is going to take more out of their pocket regardless of how much they complain. After all, in 2010 – during a TEA Party wave election – Maryland voters re-elected a governor who had raised taxes on practically everyone. But Martin O’Malley successfully pushed the message that “a fee is a tax” and could paint his GOP opponent Bob Ehrlich with the same brush. (O’Malley and General Assembly Democrats then merrily went on to raise many of those same fees.)

Yet at the same time a growing proportion of these voters have become recipients of these same government handouts the increased taxes pay for, creating a situation where redistribution of wealth is the means by which the majority party maintains power. After all, when over half depend on government for their well-being then those in charge of the government tend to stay in charge.

Somewhere we have allowed the opposition to paint us as heartless government cutters. And the other problem is that telling people that “it’s your money” doesn’t work as well when they receive the money from a governmental unit. That doesn’t have to be the ever more ubiquitous EBT card – it can be employment by a governmental unit, whether city hall, the local school, or any of the thousand other bureaus, agencies, or even nonprofits which depend on government grants for their existence. Remember, that cop on the street, your child’s public school teacher, or the lady at the MVA are all government employees, but so is the Salisbury University professor or – indirectly – the grant writer at the nonprofit. Nearly all of them have a vested interest in making sure the taxpayer money spigot remains flowing, because many are scared by the common media narrative into believing the TEA Party is going to leave them high and dry.

Indeed, there are certain cases where they could be correct. But one argument I wish Dan Bongino could have amplified more, because it was effective, ran along the lines (I’m paraphrasing from memory) of being happy to pay for the cop on the street, the public school teacher, or the soldier in Afghanistan – but he drew the line at cowboy poetry festivals in Nevada.

Obviously one can argue the merits of a project which benefits one small area – the drought-stricken farmer in Indiana whose subsidized disaster assistance we criticize may feel the same way about Ocean City beach replenishment here. Moreover, those are small potatoes compared to the huge entitlement spending begging to be cleaned up on the federal level.

But we have to start small and gain trust, particularly when it comes to state politics. For all his tax-raising faults and sacrificing the needs of his state in order to pursue the personal gain of higher office, Martin O’Malley is not an unpopular governor. Arguably this could be due to plenty of help from a sympathetic media, but he’s used the state’s better-than-average unemployment rate (thanks to adjacency to the seat of federal government) to convey the message that all is well. Those who have differing opinions don’t have the same blowtorch to get the message out – 25,000 Facebook followers for Change Maryland is great but hundreds of thousands of Marylanders subscribe to the Baltimore Sun and Washington Post. While I wish to have thousands of readers a day and believe my message is worth the readership, I don’t reach that many with this little candle of mine – it’s no blowtorch quite yet. To be quite blunt, if you took the unique daily readership of ALL the political blogs which deal with Maryland politics – even including their attempts at multimedia – and added them all together, you might equal the readership of a regional newspaper like the Daily Times. As it stands at present, we’re the guppies in an ocean of media, and we have to work at expanding that sphere of influence as well.

Yet the very argument we have a winning message remains untested. Perhaps Dan Bongino was a nearly perfect spokesperson for a conservative message, but there were factors which affected his Senate bid: a perceived lack of life and business experience compared to his opponents, and the fact that one opponent ran a populist campaign with non-specific promises no one forced him to flesh out. Rob Sobhani wanted the debates and so did we, but Hurricane Sandy had other plans for our state and hard questions weren’t asked.

Yet even if Bongino had ran his 2012 race unmolested, the probability is strong he would have picked up around the same 36 to 37 percent which has seemed to be our ceiling in Presidential years. We have to convince about 300,000 more voters in a Presidential year that – assuming we have a conservative, pro-liberty candidate, of course – it’s in the best interests of both them and succeeding generations to cast their ballot for such a person. In one lump, that seems like a lot, but it really only takes a handful of politically agnostic neighbors or friends per activist to accomplish.

In the near future, 2014 is looming and there are at least four candidates who are looking for conservative, pro-liberty support (although they may or may not necessarily have a compatible message: think Bob Ehrlich.) Yet the same rules apply; as I demonstrated earlier getting 1 million votes in a gubernatorial year keeps us at least close and climbing the ladder for another 100,000 may put us over the top.

Yet we cannot rely on a politician – even one as articulate as Dan Bongino – to deliver our message for us. It’s time for all of us to do our part, even though many of us are still burned out on the lengthy 2012 campaign and the disappointment we feel with the results. Indeed, we lost this time but there’s always the next election. Spread the word that we CAN win!

Odds and ends number 57

A lot of little (and big) stuff to talk about in this edition of odds and ends. I want to start local as a follow-up to something I wrote last weekend about the Wicomico Board of Education. Wicomico GOP Chair Dave Parker believes the headline originally placed in this Daily Times story was “misleading,” and it was indeed changed online to that which you see in the story.

The original, however, was “Wicomico County GOP committee protests Board of Education nominee.” Yes, the Daily Times got that one wrong – the protester was me, speaking on my own behalf. Maybe Jennifer Shutt is familiar with my work and I suppose I have my share of influence, but I don’t speak for the committee as a whole.

Now that I have that cleared up, I can add a note sent to me by the “pretty in pink” Delegate Addie Eckardt, whose Crab Feast & Sausages fundraiser is rapidly approaching – Sunday, September 9 is the date. It’s going to be held at J.M. Clayton’s in Cambridge from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and the cost is $50 per person.

But if you’re a local Republican and don’t have the $50 lying around, you can still help. Our erstwhile headquarters coordinators Cynthia Williams and Bonnie Luna are looking for a few good men (and women, too) to staff our party headquarters from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. (We’re not opening on Sundays.) You can stop by the headquarters at 800 S. Salisbury Boulevard or call (410) 742-0308. We’re not picky in that respect.

Libertarian Muir Boda was kind enough to pass along a note regarding candidate forums he’s been invited to. One in particular is local:

“The Eastern Shore Farm and Environment Candidate Forum”  presented by the Maryland Farm Bureau and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. September 24, 2012 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM at Salisbury University’s Great Hall at Holloway Hall. PAC-14 will be recording the forum.

Unfortunately, I’m sure I can’t be there to tell you what really happened because that’s also the night the Republican Club meets. (I wonder if the CBF knew that when the date was selected.) But it will be interesting to see what softballs they lob up there for Democrat Wendy Rosen to answer – from what some non-biased observers have told me, that’s about all she can handle. After all, anyone who brings up the eeeeeevil Koch brothers in conversation may be worth the price of admission in entertainment value, but the scary thing is: some people believe her.

Hopefully more believe this:

This shirt is available for 15 dollars from the Worcester County Republicans.

This comes from Worcester County and I have one of these shirts. And yes, I get good comments from it. You can do the same for a $15 donation to the Worcester Republican Women’s club – contact Joan Gentile: joanierags (at) verizon (dot) net.

More local reaction comes from the Wicomico Society of Patriots, which sent me a sampling of opinions on the movie “2016: Obama’s America” that’s now playing locally:

  • I…went to today’s 1:05 show, and although (as a TEA Partier) I consider myself  ’informed’, it was well worth the ride from Ocean Pines.  The production was excellent, entertaining, factual, and to some was probably shocking.  I’m glad to say that it was a big crowd for a matinee.  Even if your mind is made up, you should attend if only to show your support for the efforts of the conservatives who made this movie possible.
  • I was there also… sitting on the point of my chair and asking, “how was that possible?”
  • Bring your friends, especiallly if they are a kind of democrat, or don’t know what (way) to vote !!!
  • Thank you Cathy for the update.  I had a friend go see it at 3:00 this afternoon, and she said it was very unsettling.  She also said the attendance was good, but very few young people.  The time of day may have had something to with that.  We will definitely be going to see it.
  • We went with two other couples tonight and all of us were motivated to keep up the fight, and even for those who “pay attention” we all learned some new things.
  •  Saw the 5:30 show…packed…I’ve put out the word too…we are going to have to work, but good will prevail over evil!

I have not seen the movie yet, but probably will before it goes away next weekend. Whatever the attendance is – even if they’re selling out theaters around the country – you can bet your bottom dollar that pressure is being brought to bear to get that movie out of there by next week.

Speaking of upcoming events but looking at a state level, while Maryland and Virginia have had a family feud of sorts through their respective governors, a guy who knows something about family feuds is doing a fundraiser for Maryland businesses.

I’ll let Jim Pettit pick it up from here – he’s good at this sort of thing:

Legendary comedian Louie Anderson will headline Maryland Business Leadership Political Action Committee’s second annual fundraiser at the Baltimore Comedy Factory Wednesday, October 17th, for one show only.

“We don’t think politics and business in Maryland is a laughing matter,” said MBLPAC Chair Cal Ewing, “but we do think it is important for business to come together and support a shared goal – a better business climate in Maryland to create jobs.”

The PAC is an offshoot of the Maryland Business for Responsive Government group which is frequently cited on this site. Eventually they’d like to raise $250,000 for the 2014 election and Anderson’s appearance will help them get there $100 at a time.

Finally, I thought it was worth pointing out that Democrats seem to make up rules as they go along. I know that’s not news to many of you, but Senator E. J. Pipkin and Delegate Michael Smigiel believe the recently-passed gambling bill violates the Maryland Constitution on two fronts:

  • the Maryland Senate adjourned for more than three days and without the consent of the House, violating Article III, Section 25 of the Maryland Constitution, and, more importantly…
  • “The (gambling) bill combined revenues, tax rates, and gambling expansion into one piece of legislation.  Allowing for the referendum in November violates Article XVI, Section 2,” said Pipkin.  Smigiel added, “In the past, we have sought to allow voters take to referendum fiscal matters like tax increases and spending by removing Article XVI, Section 2 from the Constitution.  Every time Assembly leadership has rejected these efforts. Now, the General Assembly has passed a bill that in addition to expanding gambling, puts tax matters and appropriations up for a vote.”

Of course, since the Attorney General is a Democrat that complaint, however valid, will get nowhere fast. It’s another reason to vote AGAINST the gambling amendment, Question 7. Let’s make that an unlucky number for a General Assembly majority disinterested in proper process of law.

Somehow I made it through without mentioning Dan Bongino or Andy Harris. Oops, I guess I just did, didn’t I? That’s quite all right, both are worth mentioning.

Oh, one more thing as I toot my own horn. Tomorrow afternoon in the 4:00 hour (around 4:15 is what I’m told) I will be a guest on Blaine Young’s WFMD radio show. We’ll be discussing my book So We May Breathe Free. I asked about the possibility when he was here and we made it happen.

In print: Don’t put politics above security

This is a column I submitted to the Daily Times. A slightly longer version was submitted to another Maryland outlet.

In the 2011 session of the Maryland General Assembly, members of the House of Delegates tried and failed to get the Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Act of 2011 through the legislature. Undaunted by that legislative defeat, in early June Gov. Martin O’Malley signed an executive order to study an oil and natural gas-field process called hydraulic fracturing, with a final report not required until August 2014. It’s a demand to study a process used in more than one million U.S. wells during the past 60 years.

In layman’s terms, “fracking,” as the procedure is better known, uses a solution forced into hard underground rock formations to create tiny fissures. The fissures allow energy resources — in Maryland’s case, natural gas — to be released and extracted.

(Continued at delmarvanow.com…)

We support the County Council

A letter to which I was a willing co-signer appeared yesterday in the Daily Times.

In it, the nine of us who comprise the body agreed that two key votes made by our County Council were emblematic of their promise of fiscal responsibility and accountability.

Obviously the vote to push back Bennett Middle School construction by one year was not taken lightly, but we felt it was the right decision at a time when the county isn’t in a position to be forced to repay indebtedness. And while it seemed like an easier decision on the surface to call for an elected school board, it was a vote we’ve seen not taken by previous County Councils - even the last one where Republicans were in the majority.

At this time, our county exists in a situation akin to that of the federal government – a strong, left-of-center executive being kept in check by a conservative legislative body. Of course, Rick Pollitt isn’t exactly Barack Obama but he spent the first three years of his tenure whining about revenue lost to him because the county has a revenue cap – it was only when re-election stared him in the face that he moderated his tune. (Indeed, we may see this about 120 miles up the road in Washington, D.C. as well.)

But here was a chance to give the County Council some ‘attaboys’ (and ‘attagirls’) for making a tough but correct decision. When you think about it, students have succeeded from schools in far worse shape than Bennett Middle School – yes, the school shows its age but the building remains structurally sound. There’s no one rushing over to condemn it.  And the new BMS may be overpriced – unfortunately, some of that cost comes from ill-considered state mandates like LEED Silver certification. (I’d like to know the payback period on these additional features, if there is one.) Unfortunately, we can’t build a functional, inexpensive school building anymore and expect state assistance.

There’s no doubt that the next 42 months or so will bring many more difficult decisions, but right now it’s a case of so far so good. Keep up the great work, folks!

In print: Debate should be over pace of reduction

I’ll give Susan Parker credit for changing the title (I like hers better) but otherwise pretty much leaving the piece alone. This is in today’s Daily Times.

As I write this on the eve of President Obama’s State of the Union address, it’s anticipated he’ll talk about competitiveness and investment as vehicles to get our moribund economy going. Some Congressmen will stand and applaud particular lines while it’s likely the majority will sit on their collective hands because they disagree.

Yet all of the posturing misses the point which the State of the Union address always seems to convey – the solutions to those things which ail us generally lie in adopting a larger, more oppressive government.

(continued at delmarvanow.com…)

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  • Campaign 2014 – Maryland

    Primary election will be June 24, 2014.

    Governor:

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    David Craig
    Ron George
    Larry Hogan
    Charles Lollar

    Democrat

    Anthony Brown
    Doug Gansler
    Ralph Jaffe
    Heather Mizeur
    Charles Smith
    Cindy Walsh

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    Republican

    William Campbell

    Democrat

    Peter Franchot

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    Jeffrey Pritzker

    Democrat

    Aisha Braveboy
    Jon Cardin
    Brian Frosh

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  • More Campaign 2014

    First District - Congress

    Republican

    Jonathan Goff, Jr.
    Andy Harris (incumbent)

    Democrat

    John LaFerla
    Bill Tilghman

    Maryland General Assembly (local)

    Senate District 37

    Republican

    Richard Colburn (incumbent)
    Addie Eckardt

    Democrat

    Christopher Robinson

    ___

    House District 37A

    Republican

    (no candidates)

    Democrat

    Sheree Sample-Hughes

    ___

    House District 37B

    Republican

    Christopher Adams
    Rene Desmarais
    Johnny Mautz
    Allen Nelson
    Karen Tolley

    Democrat

    Rodney Benjamin
    Keasha Haythe

    ___

    Senate District 38

    Republican

    Mike McDermott

    Democrat

    Jim Mathias (incumbent)

    ___

    House District 38A

    Republican

    Charles Otto (incumbent)

    Democrat

    Percy Purnell, Jr.

    ___

    House District 38B

    Republican

    Carl Anderton, Jr.

    Democrat

    Norm Conway (incumbent)

    ___

    House District 38C

    Republican

    Mary Beth Carozza.

    Democrat

    Judy Davis
    Mike Hindi

    ___

    Wicomico County will be added after filing deadline,

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    For items which pertain to my campaign Michael Swartz for Republican Central Committee

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    Michael Swartz, Candidate

    February 10, 2014