After the 2010 election, where Norm Conway barely carried the Worcester County portion of his former district by 311 votes over Mike McDermott - and just 665 over third place finisher Marty Pusey – I’m sure statewide Democrats didn’t want to take a chance on an upset in 2014 given Worcester County’s trend toward the Republican Party. So they drew him into a single-member district which mostly held onto the far western end of his existing territory here in Wicomico County but also gave him some new voters close by Salisbury University, knowing that this part of his old district was perhaps the area which backed Norm the strongest.
It took awhile for a local Republican to answer the challenge, but Delmar mayor Carl Anderton, Jr. wrapped up the process of filing yesterday and is now on the June 24 primary ballot. Anderton, who is also the current president of the Maryland Municipal League, seems to be the young, energetic challenger Republicans were looking for once the district was drawn. Conway, who will be 72 in January as the General Assembly session begins, has spent over half his life as an elected official – he was first voted onto Salisbury City Council in 1974, moving to the General Assembly in 1986. (Interestingly enough, according to his official state bio, Conway was also a Maryland Municipal League officer, but only as a regional vice-president.)
Anderton has served as Delmar’s mayor since 2011, replacing longtime mayoral fixture Doug Niblett.
The candidacy of Anderton serves as a reminder why it’s so important to have a political “farm team” in place. While it may seem like a mismatch in terms of political experience, one has to really ask what having an entrenched, longtime politician has really done for a county which has seen its workforce shrink by nearly 2,000 in one year (July 2012 – July 2013) and a net loss of 1,573 jobs during that same period.* The only reason unemployment fell from 8.5% to 8.3% was the bottom falling out of the workforce – otherwise unemployment would be well over 10 percent. If that’s the mark of a successful chair of the House Appropriations Committee I’m afraid to know what failure would be like.
It will be interesting to see the platform Anderton develops, but one thing is clear: the incumbent is going to point to a few key votes where he was allowed to depart from the Annapolis majority in order to save face in his district. Ask yourself: where was his leadership against all these issues in the first place?
* Here are the actual numbers:
July 2012: 54,801 in workforce, 50,161 employed, 4,640 unemployed, 8.5% unemployment rate
July 2013: 52,964 in workforce, 48,588 employed, 4.376 unemployed, 8.3% unemployment rate
I got to thinking the other day – yes, I know that can be a dangerous thing – about the 2014 electoral map for Maryland and an intriguing possibility.
Since State Senator E.J. Pipkin resigned a few months back, a sidebar to the story of his succession – as well as that of selecting a replacement for former Delegate Steve Hershey, who was elevated to replace Pipkin – is the fact that Caroline County is the lone county in the state without resident representation. However, with the gerrymandering done by the O’Malley administration to protect Democrats and punish opponents, it’s now possible the 2015 session could dawn with four – yes, four – counties unrepresented in that body based on the 2012 lines. Three of those four would be on the Eastern Shore, and would be a combination of two mid-Shore counties and Worcester County, with the fourth being Garrett County at the state’s far western end.
Granted, that scenario is highly unlikely and there is probably a better chance all 23 counties and Baltimore City will have at least one resident member of the General Assembly. But what if I had an idea which could eliminate that potential problem while bolstering the hands of the counties representing themselves in Annapolis?
The current composition of the Maryland Senate dates from 1972, a change which occurred in response to a 1964 Supreme Court decision holding that Maryland’s system of electing Senators from each county violated the Fourteenth Amendment. Furthermore, Marylanders had directly elected their state Senators long before the Seventeenth Amendment was passed in 1913. Over time, with these changes, the Senate has become just another extension of the House of Delegates, just with only a third of the membership.
So my question is: why not go back to the future and restore our national founders’ intent at the same time?
What if Maryland adopted a system where each county and Baltimore City were allotted two Senators, but those Senators weren’t selected directly by the voters? Instead, these Senators would be picked by the legislative body of each county or Baltimore City, which would give the state 48 Senators instead of 47. Any tie would be broken by the lieutenant governor similar to the way our national vice-president does now for the United States Senate.
Naturally the Democrats would scream bloody murder because it would eliminate their advantage in the state Senate; based on current county government and assuming each selects two members of their own party the Senate would be Republican-controlled. But that would also encourage more voting on local elections and isn’t that what Democrats want? It’s probably a better way to boost turnout than the dismal failure of “early and often” voting, which was supposed to cure the so-called ailment of poor participation.
If someone would argue to me that my proposal violates “one man, one vote” then they should stand behind the repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment. How is it fair that I’m one of 2,942,241 people (poorly) represented by Ben Cardin or Barbara Mikulski while 283,206 people in Wyoming are far more capably represented by John Barasso or Mike Enzi? We have counties in Maryland more populous than Wyoming.
No one questions the function or Constitutionality of the U.S. Senate as a body, knowing it was part of a compromise between larger and smaller states in the era of our founding. It’s why we have a bicameral legislature which all states save one copied as a model. (Before you ask, Nebraska is the holdout.) What I’ve done is restored the intent of those who conceived the nation as a Constitutional republic with several balances of power.
But I’m not through yet. If the Senate idea doesn’t grab you, another thought I had was to rework the House of Delegates to assure each county has a representative by creating seats for a ratio of one per 20,000 residents. (This essentially equals the population of Maryland’s least-populated county, Kent County. Their county could be one single House district.) In future years, the divisor could reflect the population of the county with the least population.
The corollary to this proposal is setting up a system of districts which do not overlap county lines, meaning counties would subdivide themselves to attain one seat per every 20,000 of population, give or take. For my home county of Wicomico, this would translate into five districts and – very conveniently as it turns out – we already have five ready-drawn County Council districts which we could use for legislative districts. Obviously, other counties would have anywhere from 1 to 50 seats in the newly expanded House of Delegates. Even better, because the counties would have the self-contained districts, who better to draw them? They know best which communities have commonality.
Obviously in smaller counties, the task of drawing 2 or 3 districts would be relatively simple and straightforward. It may be a little more difficult in a municipality like Baltimore or a highly-populated area like Montgomery County, but certainly they could come up with tightly-drawn, contiguous districts.
And if you think a body of around 300 seats is unwieldy, consider the state of New Hampshire has 400 members in their lower house. Certainly there would be changes necessary in the physical plant because the number of Delegates and their attendant staff would be far larger, but on the whole this would restore more power to the people and restrict the edicts from on high in Annapolis.
Tonight I was listening to Jackie Wellfonder launch into a brief discussion of whether the Maryland Republican Party should adopt open primaries, an idea she’s leaning toward adopting – on the other hand, I think it’s nuts. In my estimation, though, these sorts of proposals are nothing more than tinkering around the edges – these ideas I’ve dropped onto the table like a load of bricks represent real change. I think they should be discussed as sincere proposals to truly make this a more Free State by restoring the balance of power between the people, their local government, and the state government in Annapolis.
I’ll charitably call it a race run on a sloppy track, but let’s just say the weather conditions kept most but the diehards away from this year’s Good Beer Festival – despite the welcoming sign from my favorite brewery.
Once I get to the upcoming Weekend of Local Rock feature you’ll better see what I mean, but for the most part Saturday’s proceedings were endured in a steady light drizzle. It’s unfortunate because there were some neat new features this weekend, like the Local Beer Garden.
Several local breweries secured a small corner for their pouring stations or a place to enjoy the product.
Another corner had a unique feature which many enjoyed and employed.
Me? I was just doing what I was told (for once.)
(Yes, I can be a smartass at times. But if you can’t have a little fun in life, why bother?)
Aside from the chalkboard, I took those shots before the event even began Saturday. Meanwhile, the volunteer pourers were receiving their final instructions.
It was only when I walked over to the ribbon cutting that the sprinkles began, literally minutes before the GBF was opened.
Among those participating were Wicomico Recreation Chairman Allen Brown (holding microphone), who actually wielded the scissors, and fellow Commission member April Jackson to his left. Elected officials flanking Brown in the background from left to right were County Council members Bob Culver, Gail Bartkovich, and Stevie Prettyman, with Delegate Addie Eckradt at the far right. Aside from a brief walkaround, though, I don’t think the elected officials stuck around.
At least I had the little sampling glass they gave out. The slips of paper served two purposes: a sticker for the event you could wear and a ballot for the Taster’s Choice Awards.
It wasn’t a complete surprise that local favorite Evolution Craft Brewing Company was knocked out of its three-time defending Taster’s Choice champion perch by the Tall Tales Brewing Company – after all, Tall Tales was the lead event sponsor. But newcomer Fin City Brewing Company from Ocean City finished third. All this was announced just before closing on Sunday.
So you could tell Saturday’s rain had its effect on the crowd. This shot was taken about 1:30, looking down the food court.
Did I say food? Yes, they had plenty of food to go with the beer, for the most part conveniently lined up along the fence line. I had some good pulled pork sliders, North Carolina style.
Yet a strange thing happened: by 4:30 there were a LOT of hungry folks despite the persistent mist. I wondered where they all came from!
As it turns out – and I was floored by this – they had 1,700 at Saturday’s event. No, it’s nowhere near record territory but for the conditions of the day I was impressed.
The crowd – and a week’s worth of rainy conditions – was already beginning to take a toll on the grassy meadow the GBF is held on.
So when I arrived Sunday morning, and found a nice puddle had collected on the roof of our tent, it was no surprise to find some no-go zones. The tape was removed before the event formally opened.
One thing I’ve noticed about the Sunday crowd (as opposed to the Saturday gathering) is that it’s somewhat smaller and many of them partake in the other amusements scattered about the grounds. Always popular on Sunday is this tent with the big screen televisions.
Others played cornhole, although this group had a different idea of the rules.
Luckily, I think she missed – didn’t need an Orlando Brown incident at the GBF.
Meanwhile, this little game can be maddeningly addictive. I keep coming thisclose to hooking it.
Sunday also brought the home brewers out, with their own contest and enclave.
I don’t recall who won, but it was with a fruit-based home brew. It’s worth pointing out that, in the spirit of the Halloween season, a number of breweries had pumpkin-based beer. There was also one concoction featuring Old Bay I didn’t try and the 16 Mile Killer Tiller Brown Ale, which I did. That stuff BURNED all the way down. I’ll stick with the Blues’ Golden Ale (which, sadly, wasn’t on tap there), thanks.
It’s also a more intimate gathering. My guess is that attendance was about 1,000. You’ll notice in my 1:30 shot that it’s cloudy but the rain held off all day.
I know I’ve discussed the more humorous signage at the Autumn Wine Festival and Pork in the Park, and the brewers are beginning to catch up.
And if you wanted to flaunt your drunken humor I’m sure these guys had the shirt for you.
But perhaps most emblematic of the rollicking, fun-loving spirit of the Good Beer Festival were these young ladies who happened to be next door to us. (No, not the guys in the kilts.)
Where else could you do this?
The Salisbury Roller Girls aren’t a new group and they’re regulars at Third Friday. But I found out that they have Old Bay as one sponsor and they were using the arm wrestling as a fundraiser along with shirt sales and such. It takes money to get the rinks, hire the refs, and travel around the region playing teams like the New Jersey Hellrazors or Black Rose Rotten Cherries.
So why was our humble group of Republicans there? Because the Democrats weren’t!
Among my Sunday volunteers was County Council candidate Muir Boda, who’s in the center between Greg Belcher and Shawn Jester.
Shawn is also in this shot with District 38C hopeful Mary Beth Carozza, who stopped by with the signs and magnets you see in the above picture. And remember that name of Shawn Jester; I think you’ll be reading it in the future here.
So I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my volunteers: not just Shawn, Muir, and Greg, but Phil, Bob, and Bunky as well. It made for an enjoyable weekend – and wasn’t that the point? Giving out literature, meeting Republicans who urged us to keep up the fight, and recruiting new potential Wicomico County Republican Club members is great, but the idea is to be in the community and enjoy being there.
We will see you next weekend at the Autumn Wine Festival, but you’ll be able to relive the bands which played as an installment of Weekend of Local Rock over the weekend.
It appears that Wicomico County is trying to bully those who choose to homeschool their children into conforming with how they think it should be done.
Homeschooling parents received a letter from the county school board asking for information they weren’t legally entitled to, according to Scott Woodruff, Senior Counsel of the Home School Legal Defense Association. “(Y)our letter is out of line with state policy in a number of respects,” wrote Woodruff.
In particular, objections were raised about requests for contact information, including mailing address, cell and home phone numbers, and e-mail address. There’s noting in state law which requires this.
The letter also attracted the attention of the Maryland Liberty PAC, which restated that:
The Wicomico County Board of Education recently sent a letter to area homeschool families that misquoted and misapplied the Maryland homeschool regulations and made improper demands.
Yet, while at least one parent objected to the requests made by the Wicomico County Board of Education, how many unthinkingly returned the form? And now that Lori Batts, the Supervisor for Counseling for Wicomico County Public Schools, has this information, what are the chances the families may come under additional scrutiny? Even the slightest hint of abuse – or behavior which could be interpreted as such – may be used as an excuse for authorities to intervene, especially as they already know the child is receiving an unapproved course of education. I’m sure that’s the concern of the Maryland Liberty PAC and those who brought this up – as one observer noted:
It is…an example of the kind of thing we might expect from a school board that is Governor-appointed and therefore not responsive to the people of Wicomico County whom they are charged to represent. With little to fear from voters, this kind of overreach should not come as a surprise. The big question, of course, is what we can do to stop it.
So let me remind you that the only people standing between you and an elected school board in Wicomico County are County Executive Rick Pollitt and Delegates Rudy Cane and Norm Conway. The County Council has twice requested the state take the steps necessary to bring the issue before voters and they have been rebuffed twice because Pollitt wasn’t on board. So don’t blame the County Council.
This can be rectified in 2014.
I found this quite interesting.
In doing a little research for another project I found that Jim Ireton had established a state campaign account called “Ireton for Maryland.” Bear in mind this was done way back on May 17, shortly after he won another term as mayor of Salisbury. The account appears to be a continuation of “Friends of Jim Ireton” established in 2006 and closed earlier this year; an account which was probably established for Ireton’s 2006 campaign for the Democratic Central Committee, where he finished seventh and last. (Fortunately for him, that was good enough as seven spots were available.)
So it could very well be that Ireton is just getting his ducks in a row to return to the Central Committee, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. It’s interesting to notice, for example, that he is literally one house into Norm Conway’s District 38B (and by extension, Jim Mathias’s Senate district.) While indications are that both Conway and Mathias are seeking re-election, the fact that Jim is sitting on a small pile of money from his leftover city election could mean a challenge – but I doubt it.
If I were to guess, the reasoning behind the setup of the campaign account was twofold: if, as some pointed out, Ireton was on the short list for a lieutenant governor’s spot under Doug Gansler it would have provided another funding source for the Doug Gansler ticket (Subsequent rumors seem to indicate Gansler is looking elsewhere.) If not, it turns out to be a convenient place to park money for a future mayoral run or give to other candidates. Ireton had $2,188.71 remaining in his city election account to transfer out once he filed his final report a few days late in May. (It’s the first in the series of financial reports here.)
So the question truly becomes that of ambition: how far does Jim Ireton want to go in his political career, and how soon? While it’s certainly possible he could win a race for County Council, it wouldn’t be a step forward. Much on a local level depends on the 2014 plans of Delegate Conway, State Senator Jim Mathias, and Wicomico County Executive Rick Pollitt; county executive would be the most natural progression from mayor. But Jim also has to balance any ambition with the fact that his own re-election campaign would be right around the corner, as all city positions will be contested in November, 2015. Frankly, Ireton’s reality hasn’t lived up to his rhetoric in Salisbury, but at the age of 43 he still has several years of politics ahead of him.
And given that much of his local money came from sources away from Salisbury, it’s doubtful his goal is to be mayor of a sleepy small city forever. The question is where he will turn next.
Next week local Wicomico County readers (or those within driving distance) will have a chance to help “Build A New Maryland” or “Achieve The Dream.”
First up: the Wicomico County Republican Club meeting Monday evening, where Ron George will be the third gubernatorial candidate in as many months to speak before the club. If time allows beforehand, George may drop by the club’s happy hour which will take place this month at the Cellar Door Tavern on Camden Street, just off the Downtown Plaza, from 5 to 6:30. The regular monthly meeting of the WCRC takes place at the Salisbury Chamber of Commerce on East Main Street, beginning at 7:00. Ron will get the opportunity to speak close to the top of the agenda, so be there early.
Then on Wednesday night, fellow candidate Charles Lollar comes to Salisbury to address the Wicomico Society of Patriots meeting at Brew River on West Main Street, beginning at 6:00.
Julie Brewington passed the note along to me:
It has been some time since we have formally met. It seems the state and the country are sinking further into despair. I know it’s very discouraging for liberty minded people. Once again the election cycle is rolling around and we have a chance to get involved and influence it. The good news is that we have some very promising candidates that could alter the direction of this state. I think it’s timely that we would meet again to interview the candidates for the jobs that they are seeking as public servants.
All she asks is that you e-mail her [julie.brewington (at) comcast (dot) net] to let her know you’re coming so she can give Brew River an estimate of the number coming.
It’s exciting to see this much attention paid to the Eastern Shore between the three main contenders for governor, as I’m sure David Craig is planning more visits as well.
While I was helping the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition and my friends Jim and Michele Hogsett by attending and supporting their (Save the) BreastFest fundraiser last night in Ocean City (more on that in a future installment), Friday the 13th also marked the quiet return of a local voice in the blogosphere. I’m pleased to see that Right Coast Conservative is back, or as they say, “baaaaaaaaack!” (Generally it’s one contributor but she has a number of guest posts, so I refer to it as a collective.)
Julie has been more active locally in the last few weeks, so it’s not a complete surprise she’s returned. Few can walk away after that bite of the apple, and she still has the passion:
My intent is to focus primarily on Maryland politics and local news. However, if something strikes my fancy, I may just go off the reservation now and again. I won’t be twerking or anything, but I may not always stay on task.
Her first piece is on a new candidate for Wicomico County Council, Marc Kilmer. If you’ve read my website for awhile you may have seen Marc leaves the occasional comment and once in awhile I will use his op-eds as a starting point for my thoughts. If you could find someone more qualified for the job than someone who looks at public policy for a living, well, good luck. I also have it on good authority that another quality young candidate will be formally announcing next week.
Quietly our fair county is in the process of turning over a new leaf of leadership to a younger generation, and that process will likely accelerate now that three longtime members of County Council are leaving – between Council members Sheree Sample-Hughes, Gail Bartkovich, and Stevie Prettyman the Council loses a combined 36 years of experience; there is the potential that we could see a turnover comparable to the 2006 election where none of the four Democratic incumbents at that time chose to seek re-election, (That was the year the county shifted from a commission-style system where County Council served as the executive body to having an elected County Executive.) After the 2006 election Bartkovich and Prettyman were the only holdovers from the previous Council because the other person who sought re-election lost in the primary.
But I digress from my main point: it’s good to gain another voice on local political affairs. Having seen the contentious times which marked the infancy and adolescence of local blogging, here’s hoping the discourse stays on a more mature level. Welcome back to the Right Coast Conservative!
Most counties have a traditional county fair, but ours does it a little differently as they bill it the Farm and Home Show. But it’s on the 77th annual rendition, and as always they promised a whale of a time.
Actually, this 70′ long whale replica came from the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Not to be outdone in the aquatic wars, the Phillips Wharf Environmental Center brought out their Fishmobile.
Somewhat more on the exotic side were these alpacas, which are raised locally for their wool. They are not camera-shy, either.
Yet while all three had their patrons, the WFHS still had its bread and butter of more mainstream, rural attractions, like this mechanical bull.
This was accompanied by a somewhat obnoxious huckster who probably made his money off the photos he was selling for $5 a pop. Nice work if you can get it, I suppose.
But much more work went into the exhibits which were spread throughout the Farm and Home Show’s exhibit hall and show areas outside. Whether it was produce…
…dozens of youth and adult participants competed for the elusive blue ribbons and best of show designations. And it wasn’t just in those categories – photography holds a special place in my heart as well.
You likely can’t see it on the left, but one of my fiance Kim’s pictures is there with a blue ribbon on it, denoting it won its subcategory. On the right is one of her daughter’s photos, with not just a blue ribbon for subcategory but a purple one denoting “Best of Show” out of the entire junior division.
I also happen to know the woman who swept the adult “Best of Show” divisions, and it was no surprise Francie Davis won those because she’s won at the Delaware State Fair before. I’ve seen her work there and she’s quite good.
Yet there were other competitions held at the Farm and Home Show. Over the course of Saturday afternoon the antique tractor pull pitted man and machine against weight and mean old Mr. Gravity.
If you liked smoky and noisy, that was the event for you. And the kids even got to join in the fun – with pedal power, of course.
This big kid likes to see cars which were around when he was a little one – yes, I am a sucker for a car show.
This old Ford Fairlane was fascinating with its retractable hardtop. Not sure I’d be a big fan of what would then be a trunkless car, which is probably why the concept never caught on.
But I do like the more exotic models – not necessarily the 1950s-era Bentley someone brought, but this old Nash Rambler.
I’m of an age where I remember a dashboard full of doodads like this one.
And there’s other interesting detail as well. How did we survive with these bumpers?
I’d be curious to know where this was in Millsboro. This dealership has probably been out of existence for forty years or more, but lives on with the nameplate.
There were also people hawking their wares. One of the more interesting people I ran across was E. Dee Monnen, who is an author and one-time president of our Wicomico County Republican Club. So what does she mainly write on? Old-time baseball.
As I found out, her interest in the sport came from her grandfather. He was a contemporary of the legendary Washington Senators pitcher Walter Johnson and was, in fact, his first mound opponent, she claimed.
Of course, I was there to handle the Republican table at the event. Muir Boda took my pic there, with longtime volunteer Bob Miller on the far left (a rarity.)
Apparently, though, I missed out on many of the politicians who dropped in. While I saw County Council members Joe Holloway and Bob Culver in my rounds today, apparently Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, Delegate candidate Mary Beth Carozza, and Delegate Charles Otto were supporters of the auction they held Friday night and Delegate Ron George dropped by yesterday to say hello and drop off some “Ron George for Governor” yard signs (which, by the way, are in my possession at the moment.)
I also saw this worst-kept secret made official.
Looks like Jim Mathias has a fight on his hands.
But as another Wicomico Farm and Home Show went into the books, one has to ponder if it’s going the way of these tractors: old and functional, but symbols of another time passed by.
I saw quite a few kids there, but many more gray hairs. If the WFHS is to survive, I think it needs to find some more items to cater to a younger crowd. It’s most likely the Wicomico GOP will remain there as supporters, but they truly need to figure out a way to increase attendance. There’s no admission fee so no one really counts the patrons, but if there were 500 people on the grounds at any one time (including workers and help) I would be surprised.
Maybe it’s time for a fresh approach. If antique tractors and cars can be made into works of art, so can this event.
Update: Speaking of antique tractors, I wanted to point out one more thing and it actually works into the theme with which I concluded.
I don’t know the woman personally, but being in the farming environment I’m sure Katie Howard has earned every one of her gray hairs. Yet that didn’t stop her from getting off the sidelines and trying her first “hook” as a tractor puller.
She didn’t win her class, but she pulled it a respectable distance – more than some of the others pulled. A little more speed and she would have done even better; of course, that knowledge comes from experience and she could be better next time around.
It’s that combination of experience and willingness to try something new which often leads to success, and it’s a lesson for the WHFS to learn for the 78th rendition next year.
I’ve been sitting on this for a few days, but it’s a Saturday evening and I think the time is right for visual aids.
Their philosophy is simple, but so, so ignored.
It’s a tenet of limited government that the government which is necessary is best enacted at a point closest to the people. The Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution seemed to intuitively know this, which is why Congress only had a limited number of functions (as intended), the Bill of Rights spelled out what Barack Obama considers “negative liberties” – in other words, the government cannot do actions like limit the press, expression of religion, petitioning of redress of grievances, and so forth – yet it wasn’t intended to be a catch-all, so the Ninth and Tenth Amendments were added.
(Indeed, there are those who argue the Articles of Confederation was even better at limiting the federal government, but it would have been nearly impossible to get 50 states to agree on anything – not that there would have been 50 states because many states claimed far more territory to their west.)
An example of how government overreaches can be found in our state’s infamous “rain tax.” Once the federal government decreed our state had to pay a share of Chesapeake Bay cleanup – although it’s not necessarily a share proportionate to our fouling of the Bay, as those who advocate the cleanup of sediment trapped behind the Conowingo Dam may attest because that sediment comes from states upstream – the state, in turn, decided the local governments had to collect a certain amount in what are called Watershed Implementation Plans, or WIPs. (Wicomico’s county cost is estimated to be over $900 million over 12 years, while neighboring Somerset County, which is the state’s poorest jurisdiction, has about the same bill but concedes there is no way they can handle this with existing resources on a county budget of under $40 million annually. In some respects, the “rain tax” may be a handout from richer to poorer jurisdictions.)
Perhaps it may have taken federal action to goad states into compliance, but there are many cases in government, from highway safety to education, where Uncle Sam looks over the local shoulder and threatens to withhold funds for non-compliance with certain dictates and standards. And as the short video notes, every dollar which goes to Washington is returned many pennies short because the federal bureaucracy has to be paid their thirty pieces of silver as well. Some states are donor states and some states are considered recipients, but there was no real need to send the money to Washington for functions the federal government need not be doing. That was the point of Federalism in Action as well as a toolkit they recently made available for download.
It’s my preference to deal with my local government here in Salisbury for most matters. But too often they tell me their hands are tied by the faceless bureaucrats in Annapolis whose only thought about Salisbury and the Eastern Shore in general is how quickly they can traverse it in order to reach the beach. Yet those at the state level will often tell us they’re at the mercy of Uncle Sam, and it’s true that federal handouts comprise a growing percentage of our bloated state budget.
Fortunately, we can reverse a lot of this process over the next three years – if we choose our representation wisely, and keep the pressure on and frequently question those who seem to be on our side now. Maybe one day our children will be blessed by a government which knows its place, and they’ll be able to breathe free.
For the first of two consecutive months (at least), a gubernatorial candidate graced our Wicomico County Republican Club’s presence – and he brought his running mate along. It meant the attendance was much better than usual, as over 40 crammed into a Salisbury Chamber of Commerce meeting room to hear both David Craig and running mate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio.
So after a brief opening to recite the Lord’s Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance and introduce a number of distinguished visitors from near and far, David and Jeannie were introduced by campaign manager Paul Ellington. We sort of pressed him into that service, but Paul remarked that this election reminded him of two others he was intimately involved in: 1994 and 2002. He also made the point that “when you get to be governor, it’s nice to have a friendly legislature.”
That idea would return in Craig’s remarks, but he first noted that Maryland “has done good things” for ten generations of his family, dating from the late 17th century. Unfortunately, the state governmental monopoly seems to be all about maintaining itself and not about what David called the “forgotten Marylanders” from rural and suburban areas. For them, the last General Assembly session was “one of the most challenging.”
And while Craig was out to “give people a choice in 2014,” he told those assembled that he wouldn’t refuse $4,000 checks, but he would rather each person out there bring 40 voters apiece. Republican turnout in 2002 when Bob Ehrlich won, said Craig, was great – 68% – but speaking as a teacher, “that would have been a failing grade.”
After telling the group this was his 21st election – because Havre de Grace had balloting every two years – he introduced running mate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, who as David mentioned was the first Eastern Shore resident on a major statewide ticket in two decades. Of course, she really needed no introduction to us as many of those present were represented by her in the General Assembly.
Jeannie talked about cutting her political teeth as a political science major at Salisbury University and being involved in student government there, also bringing up the fact later that she strives to preach political involvement to area youth groups such as Girls State, which is annually held at SU.
Haddaway-Riccio also spoke about working in the House of Delegates, “fighting until we barely had an ounce of energy left” against some of the bills presented by the present governor and Democratic leadership. The implementation of that “leftist agenda” has led to “degradation,” Jeannie added.
Once both had spoken and David added a quip about needing a couple good Senators – looking at Delegate Mike McDermott, who was in attendance and has been gerrymandered into sharing a single-member House district with another delegate – Craig opened up the floor to questions.
Topmost on the mind of those attending was the idea of an open GOP primary, as the idea has reemerged as a discussion topic over the last few days. Craig was noncommittal on the concept, stating he would be satisfied with letting the state party make its decision this fall. There are “a lot of frustrated Democrats” who may welcome the idea, though, added David.
Craig was then asked what functions he would assign to Haddaway-Riccio. While he chided Democrats for “picking for an election.” David said of Jeannie, “she should be at the table all of the time,” meaning ready to take the reins if needed. He praised Haddaway-Riccio for her practical experience, common sense, and knowledge of rural Maryland.
Asked about business, Craig intended to hold quarterly business roundtables. Because it affected local businesses in advance of consumers, we knew about the recession back in 2008, said Craig, and Harford County made budgetary decisions in a proactive fashion based on that knowledge.
When queried about social issues, particularly being pro-life, Craig related that he didn’t push the issue with his children, but was pleased that they turned out as pro-life as they did. David also pointed out that he voted in a pro-life fashion during his time in the General Assembly. But he would rather have 5 million Marylanders decide than 188 in the General Assembly. Jeannie echoed the overall stance, adding for her part she was “conservative, Christian, pro-life.”
Similarly, when asked about the Second Amendment, David took the conservative line of being “a strong supporter of all amendments.” In fact, he added that the American Revolution wasn’t fought over taxation but the move by the British to disarm the colonists. David also joked that there should be a regulation: red doors for all gun owners and blue ones for those who don’t – “so they know who to rob.”
An interesting question was how he would deal with the federal government. Craig would lean on the Republican Governor’s Association which, as he noted, had grown from 13 states when he was first elected in 1979 to 30 now. But then he asked, “why don’t we have 60 Senators?”
On the other hand, when it comes to local government David vowed to be mindful of county interests. When asked “where will you stick PlanMaryland?” Craig answered back with, “where do you want me to stick it?”
“We created local government for a reason,” continued David, revealing there were now more planning and zoning mandates on his county now than there are public safety ones. That same philosophy guided David on education, where he made the case “money should follow the child” and that teachers should be allowed to teach to something other than a test. David cautioned against expecting sweeping changes right away, though, noting the state Board of Education is appointed in five-year terms.
Lastly, a concern on the mind of one observer was how David would run in traditional Democratic strongholds like Baltimore City and Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. “It’s all about reaching out to the people,” said David. He also noted that he’d beaten four Democratic incumbents over the years, but over time a couple became among his strongest supporters because “I didn’t get petty” and advised would-be candidates to “be the person you are.”
After Craig finally finished speaking, we returned to our normal order of business, with one exception: we sang “Happy Birthday” to the man we call “Mr. Republican” locally: Blan Harcum turned 90 years young. In turn, the June meeting minutes were read and approved, treasurer’s report was given, and WCRC president Jackie Wellfonder reminded us of upcoming municipal elections in Annapolis and Frederick which could use our help if interested and the August 1 joint meeting with the Republican Women of Wicomico on Agenda 21, featuring Grant Helvey.
In his Central Committee report, our David – county Chair Dave Parker – stated that “Tawes was fun” but we had business to attend to now: the question of opening the primary would come down to Central Committee members so those interested should express such to these local representatives. “Give us grief” if you don’t like our position, said Parker; however he added, “I remain to be convinced” on the merits.
After decrying the “truly disgusting” media treatment of the Trayvon Martin case, Dave shifted gears and cajoled those attending that we are still looking for candidates for next year. Some incumbents have alerted us to their intentions, but others have not.
Finally, we heard from a number of those attending on various pieces of business: Joe Ollinger reminded us that Crab Feast tickets are now on sale (in fact, I have some to sell if you want one) for the September 7 event.
County Councilman Joe Holloway rose to counter a report made by a local media outlet about fee increases for local restaurants, stating they were included in the County Executive’s budget (see “Health Department” on pages 20- 21 here.) County Council approved them as part of the overall budget. (Seems like $150 shouldn’t make or break a local eatery, though.)
Finally, Delegate Mike McDermott declared that Craig/Haddaway-Riccio was “a great ticket” and hinted at his own announcement in August. “We’ll take that Senate seat from Jim Mathias,” McDermott promised.
Speaking of local eateries, it should also be mentioned that the pre-meeting happy hour – this time at Evo – was our most successful, with several tables of Republicans enjoying the camaraderie. Our next happy hour may or may not be there, but we already have the second in what could become a monthly series of gubernatorial hopefuls joining us during our regular meeting as Charles Lollar drops by on August 26.
It appears one of our own on the Eastern Shore may be gracing a gubernatorial ticket.
John Wagner of the Washington Post is reporting that Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio will be selected as David Craig’s running mate next week. While Wagner goes through some of the ramifications of the selection, particularly the gender and generational aspects since Craig is 28 years Haddaway-Riccio’s senior, I also wanted to focus on the local angle as well.
Assuming this is true, suddenly a seat on the House of Delegates opens up in what’s a plurality-Republican two-seat district for a politician from Talbot, much of Dorchester, southern Caroline, or southern and western Wicomico County. Haddaway-Riccio is from Talbot County and her fellow Delegate Addie Eckardt hails from Cambridge in Dorchester County.
Obviously no one is going to announce their intentions before the word becomes official, but you can bet there are a couple politicians from Wicomico County who may covet this opportunity. Democrats only managed to run one candidate for the two seats in 2010 – Patrice Stanley from Cambridge – but with the opening they will surely have a primary battle, as may Republicans itching to move up after a decade of the same representation in District 37. Haddaway-Riccio was appointed to the seat in 2003 after the resignation of Kenneth Schisler, who was selected for the Public Service Commission by then-Governor Bob Ehrlich, while the other District 37 representatives have held office since at least 1998.
If Haddaway-Riccio is indeed the choice and Craig is nominated for the GOP bid, it would mark the third election in a row the GOP sends out a female LG candidate; Bob Ehrlich lost in 2006 with Kristen Cox and in 2010 with Mary Kane. The only Democratic ticket thus far announced is all-male, although current Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown is black and has a white running mate in Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. Other Democrats pondering a gubernatorial run are considering diversity of a different sort: prospective candidate Doug Gansler is rumored to be considering another Eastern Shore resident, openly gay Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton, as his running mate; meanwhile openly lesbian Delegate Heather Mizeur is angling to be the first LGBT statewide nominee in Maryland history.
Finally, one has to ask what Haddaway-Riccio would bring to the ticket as far as legislative experience. Jeannie was the Minority Whip in the House for two years until being ousted by new leadership earlier this spring; however, she remains a member of the Economic Matters Committee and sponsored an interesting assortment of bills this year, with a bill expanding opportunities for small breweries being the lone one to pass muster. Two others for which she served as lead sponsor were vetoed as duplicative to Senate bills by Governor O’Malley.
In my years of doing the monoblogue Accountability Project, I’ve found Jeannie’s record is fairly parallel to her District 37 counterparts, as all have lifetime ratings in the low 70s. Jeannie is not the right-wing firebrand of the House and generally stops short of voting along the staunchly conservative lines of other Eastern Shore delegates like Mike McDermott, Michael Smigiel, or Charles Otto, but instead ranks among the middle of the pack overall.
In many respects Jeannie is a complementary choice for Craig, bringing youth and gender balance to the ticket while compiling a record inoffensive to most, although fiscal conservatives may not appreciate her seeming hypocrisy on bond bills. I’ve suspected for some time she would run for higher office at some point, having put in a decade in the House of Delegates before turning 40, and this seems like a great opportunity to set herself up for that success, whether in 2014 or down the road.
First off, I want to wish all those dads out there a happy Father’s Day. I spoke to my dad in Florida this morning, and got a call this evening from my daughter in Ohio.
And because it’s Father’s Day, the news is sort of slow – unless you want to count sniping at Barack Obama’s Father’s Day picture with his super soaker squirtgun. Yet those who would be the Republican candidate for governor in Maryland have been busy laying out their campaigns, preparing for the grunt work of getting the word out to voters.
As one example, I got these in the mail Friday from the Ron George campaign.
These are actually fairly slick palm cards, with one flap highlighting Ron’s bio and record while the other two serve as an information collector and return envelope to the campaign. Very nice and efficient.
Meanwhile, last week David Craig put out a highlight video of his June 3-5 campaign tour, although most of it focused on day 1.
But more importantly, Craig used his connection with the advocacy group Change Maryland to highlight the fact that Maryland’s spending is out of control, projected to rise at twice the national average. It allowed Craig to assess the situation: “This government taxes too much, takes too much, regulates too much and is expanding at the expense of job creators and taxpayers.”
In comparison to several other states in our region, the data suggests Maryland looks even more like a drunken sailor.
With the possible exception of the gas tax that takes effect next month, there is no tax reviled more by Maryland conservatives than the EPA-mandated “rain tax.” (In reality, it’s an impervious surface fee, but the effect is the same: money out of property owners’ pockets.)
And even though he’s not officially in the race yet, Charles Lollar had some pointed comments about this fee, with a little praise for Frederick County Commission president Blaine Young:
(T)here is a much deeper story that is not being covered and that many folks haven’t considered.
If you all remember, last year to “balance” the state’s budget, the administration pushed much of the teacher pension costs back to the counties. This move has severely hurt county budgets as they’ve had to move appropriations from certain capital projects to cover these new pension costs. The governments across our state that are the closest to the people are often our counties. Don’t worry, our counties will figure out how to make it work, but it makes it much harder for them.
So what is this rain tax really about? In my estimation, this is just the state paying the counties back for pushing pensions down to them, using the EPA mandate as an excuse. I applaud Frederick County Executive Blaine Young for only charging the residents of Frederick one penny per ERU. The law forced him to comply but he made the right choice by mocking a laughable law.
This bill is hurting non-profits like churches and could drive them out of service. It’s going to drive up costs for malls, grocery stores, and just about everything else with a large, “impervious surface.” In the end it will drive up the costs for consumers to buy products and make it even harder for people to find jobs.
I don’t know if Charles knows something we don’t or is trying to make a subliminal suggestion, but Blaine Young isn’t Frederick County Executive. There’s a chance he may be after the election as that newly-created office will be filled for the first time, but for now he’s simply their commission president.
Regardless, Lollar brings up an interesting sidebar – one for which I have a mild rebuttal. If this were true, why didn’t all 24 counties have to pay this fee? If my memory serves me correctly, my home county of Wicomico is getting a disparity grant from the state to help with assuming the cost of the teacher pensions because we’re one of the less well off counties (and state policy seems to be that of keeping us that way by choking off development.) But at some point we will have to figure out how to pay on that mandate to the tune of $1.2 billion over 10 years – bear in mind our county budget runs in the $120-130 million range.
My hope is that whoever becomes governor will stand up to the EPA – in court if necessary – and tell them to go pound sand. Certainly a clean Chesapeake Bay is desirable, but the state budget also has to address higher-priority items like public safety, infrastructure, and education. It would be great to see a Maryland governor tell the federal government “no thanks” to unfunded mandates because, even if they chip in for a year or three to defray the state’s short-term costs, we end up being stuck with the tab.
Democrats have it easy, since all they seem to know how to do is turn the screws on hard-working taxpayers as a method of amassing money and power to redistribute, showering favored group with undeserved goodies. Unfortunately, other peoples’ money always runs out so new solutions are needed.
I look forward to a spirited debate about a new paradigm.