Sunday, February 28, 2010

Love me some Proudfoot

I've been told recently that I may have an "agenda"...and I look forward to someone taking the time to tell me what that may be. In the meantime, I want to do my best to broadcast the candidates that I think can do a "darn" good job at running our county. I recently asked David Proudfoot, candidate for School Board, to tell me what he thought about Allen Dyer's recent positions on the BoE budget. David was kind (and brave) enough to give me an answer:

After reading the article about the operating budget, I am in agreement with the majority; the 6 board members who approved the budget and sided to allocate funding for transportation to parochial school students.

Even though increasing opportunities and extra curricular programs for elementary students are important (which is what Mr. Dyer proposed) I feel that the funding should continue to be used for providing transportation to parochial school students. I believe that all residents of the county are required to pay taxes for the purposes of educating children and that all residents should get a return on their investment.

Using a portion of school operating funds for parochial reasons is not unconstitutional. In the case, Reynolds v. United States, the Court did not find any violations in collecting taxes for the purpose of sending children to a religious school. According to the Court, providing for transportation is analogous to providing police protection along the same transportation routes - it benefits everyone, and therefore should not be refused to some because of the religious nature of their end destination.

Once again, thank you for inquiring about my viewpoint on this important issue.

(Me again) I think this guy is great. As someone looking to start a family in Howard County, I want someone like David on the board. The Board of Education gets very little attention, but they speak for a lion's share of our budget. I would like to hear what kind of questions you may have for Mr. Proudfoot, so that he may develop answers to those questions as his campaign goes forward. That's my agenda!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

County Council District 4 -- Again

Color me confused. According to a link on the Howard County Central Committee website, Jeffrey Underwood has thrown his hat in for District 4 County Council. I've never met Jeff, and can't find so much as a candidate web presence. I was able to find Mr. Underwood's business website...a brokerage for "fine homes and fine firearms." I also found a decision and order for Mr. Underwood's petition for a zoning variance. (I guess he's with me on the whole "Better to ask forgiveness than permission" deal.)

The grand reveal on who the other challenger may be is in the comment section for the District 4 post below. Does this mean that we will get a primary? Let's go ahead and make the hill steeper, why don't we?

County Finances in Crisis

You have to wonder whether the Howard Section print edition is for news that is to be hidden, or news that is to be well-read. I say this because somehow, I am able to sit at my computer and tell you what is in the section, but the Sun has not so mastered the Internet that they are able to get these articles from Mr. Carson's computer to the Sun website. (UPDATE: Day late, but still many dollars short, har har har). Maybe the delay is caused by the news filtering through the "bar of respectability" that this medium does not have.

Anyhow, there is a frightening article in said Howard section that should have the county "rainy day fund" shaking in its rain-boots. Some excerpts (ugh, I have to type these out):

"A computer model assuming only a 1.9 percent growth in education spending -- which includes no teacher pay raises -- would still result in red ink for fiscal years 2011, 2012, and 2013 before revenue is predicted to again outstrip expenses."

"Howard County can't raise income tax rates, which are already at the state's maximum." (Phew)

"The computer model shows that continuing authority to borrow up to $100 million through bond sales will boost that debt service cost from $84.2 million next fiscal year to to $95.3 million by fiscal 2014, when revenue is expected to rebound."

"If the state shifted teacher pension would cost Howard up to $60 million a year."

"That three year forecast for up to $29 million in revenue shortfalls led [county budget director Raymond S. Wacks] to warn that using the rainy-day fund in a long-term situation could end in a structural deficit -- a continuing gap between revenue and spending."

A few additional notes:

1) Ken Ulman and the Council only control 30% of the locally funded county budget, which last year was $1.4 billion. Google tells me that that is $420 million.

2) Why is the rainy day fund still at $48 million after a year? I'm no banker, but I'm pretty sure my 8 year old cousins received a higher rate of interest on their allowance than we were given on our rainy day fund...unless we were hedging against a state-wide bank failure.

3) How will Ken get himself out of this one? Tune in next time.

Friday, February 26, 2010

What a Great Night

I just got back from Anthony Jordan's Happy Hour, and I am excited. Not only did I see the ideal of politics in action (i.e., a candidate reaching out to strangers and listening to their ideas and concerns), but I really feel like the party is getting itself into the right gear. This is not a Republican blog, but I've told you all a long time ago that I am a Republican. To restate an earlier post, this isn't a subscription to a set of ideas, but rather an alignment with a group of people for a joint purpose of promoting a vague, but somewhat constant set of goals. I'm not trying to convert anyone, but I do think that your best access to candidates and the opportunity to change your government is the Republican party.

Without going into too much detail, I talked to some people tonight, healed some perceived wounds, and saw what this party could be when firing on all cylinders. One of Abraham Lincoln's most famous quotes (which is actually from the New Testament) is "A house divided against itself cannot stand." It is a shame to see people with the same goals have artificial divisions get in their way. Let's heal, people. It's a new day.

County Council District 4 Challenger (Coming Soon)

Looks like Mary-Kay will have more to worry about than how you equate the cost of sprinklers to the cost of a human life. (Easy, as long as you remember to carry the one). I've heard that there is a veteran challenger looking to shake the dust off his door-knocking boots (don't read the last three words too fast, this is a family blog). I am not at liberty to say who this may be, but since I live in the District, I am excited that we will get a council race just like just about every other district (except District 5, I guess)

Even MORE importantly, maybe this will get Mary-Kay back to her door-knocking ways and I will be able to ask her about county mandated elevators, lawn-care, personal chefs...and the like, in furtherance of her efforts to equate expenditures of others to life-saving mandates. (Note that property taxes are unaffected by whether you have a sprinkler system...they didn't care THAT much.)

As soon as this is made official, I'll pass the word.

Delegate Dwyer Says "Meet Me After School By The Swingset"

(Per a Baltimore Sun blog post [motto: above the low-bar of respectability]): After Delegate Don Dwyer suggested AG Gansler should be impeached for his position paper on gay marriage, one of his challengers Justin Towles got himself some slinging-mud and said Dwyer was "unstatesmen-like" and "radical." In the third comment on that post (gotta love this "information age") Delegate Dwyer appears to challenge Towles to a debate.

All of this over a position paper! You will be hard pressed to find someone whose life has in any way been affected by an Attorney General's position paper. It has little more precedential relevance than an article in the Harvard Law Review.

Now, before any one gets their nose bloodied, why don't we focus on the budget and save the "I know you are, but what am I"s for the campaign.

GGO Gadget Columbia Redevelopment Plan

Interesting read on the market's view of GGP restructuring and its affect on the Redevevelopment zoning. As we used to say in the gubment, this is "above my pay grade" as far as investments and such are concerned, but I stand by my "Same as the old boss" comment. Rouse became GGP, which is going to become GGO, which may or may not have a new set of principle investors...yawn. The most interesting note in the article is the suggestion that GGP's financial troubles may cause the redevelopment to happen "on the cheap." I think that is pretty ridiculous to say. Disagree with me all you want, but GGP didn't lobby "on the cheap," if ya know what I'm sayin' (nudge nudge, wink wink, knowatta mean, knowatta mean). I can't see throwing that much money into this project at the front end, and then have toothpicks and glue at the back end, but then again, can't get water from a stone.

Whether you are for redevelopment or not (or refuse to make such distinctions), Columbia is clearly an investment jewel. Those that have invested are going to give it all to make sure the investment pays (i.e., draws people into Columbia to spend their money, for better or worse).

To Court, Batman

I'll be heading off to court this morning (don't worry, I am a lawya), so I won't really have a chance to do my normal scan of the news (the post below notwithstanding). If there are articles you would like to see "digested" here, please comment and I'll get to them later today.

Also! I wouldn't be Ultra-Pro-Anthony Jordan if I didn't tell you about his Happy Hour TONIGHT at Azul 17 between 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. $2 Beers. $5 Margaritas. This is a new place and if you haven't made your way out to try the food, I can think of no better excuse than "I'm making the establishment shake in their boots via $2 Beers and $5 Margaritas!"


The blog Red Maryland gave the Howard County GOP Central Committee a shout out...and a bit of a spanking. I was at this meeting, but have made a promise to myself and members of the club that I would not be "reporting" on matters of the club after the "fury" I raised by questioning the manner in which the club election was run (however, I never questioned the results, which appears to be the new dirty rumor spreading about the since deleted post).

Seeing that Brian Griffiths posted on the subject, I'll lend my two cents (btw, was that the guy with the sports jacket and the jeans? [UPDATE: No, it wasn't] I never trust people who pair SJs and Jeans who are not at an "I Love the 80's" party).

1) I truly believe that John Wafer and the Central Committee have the best interest of the party in mind. They are collecting names to recruit volunteers for precinct captains. While I've had my own interpersonal issues with some members, I never doubt their dedication or motives.

2) I think the CC may be out of touch with the populist anti-establishment fervor of the club. The Committee, fairly or not, is viewed as an elitist group. (See "House Members opinion of the Senate"). They could ask the club for a glass of water and I think they would be waiting for a bit. On top of everything else, when a member of your group runs against the current president, you can't expect things to be back to the status quo at the next meeting. I'm all for democracy, but I also know that people's feelings get hurt and lines are drawn in the sand. If you can't work with that, you aren't a leader.

3) A potential "third way" is instead of saying "This is what the Central Committee is doing," members should reach out to Karen Winterling (the club president) and partner together for this precinct captain effort. "The Central Committee and the Club have partnered to..." Maybe it's just semantics, but it certainly sounds nicer and answers #2. The only hold-up may be that there will have to be concessions of control.

Now, go ahead and interpret this post to say that I think the Central Committee eats babies, for all I care.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

She's a Witch! BURN HER!

You would think AG Gansler declared crab cakes illegal in Maryland the way people have responded to his opinion that Maryland agencies are to recognize gay marriages from other states. Delegate Don Dwyer (a hero in local conservative circles) has said he will look to impeach Gansler for overstepping "his constitutional bounds." I will admit that Delegate Dwyer presents a great argument in his letter, but I honestly don't think impeachment is possible or necessary.

This is Gansler's job. When there is an unclear area of the law, he is the chief legal analyst for those matters that are not brought to judicial scrutiny (which requires parties in interest, a controversy, and many many years of litigation). The statutes that refer to "spouses" or "marriage," more than likely do not have statutory definitions stating "only those marriages we don't find yucky or make us uncomfortable in any way." AG Gansler was asked by the legislature to issue an opinion. The reason for this is to evaluate the effect of the current legal regime and adjust it, if necessary.

I would suggest that Delegate Dwyer direct his impeachment fury towards passing legislation, you know, the old fashioned democratic way, instead of burning witches.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Put Up Ya Dukes!

A bit of a brouhaha going on in the comment section of one of Wordbones's posts. My opinion is that Mr. Howard is being attacked unfairly for his voluntary role in a development dispute. The Redevelopment opponents are, rightly, annoyed at being constantly referred to as "nuts" and "yahoos," and appear to be taking it out on a convenient target. It is amazing how virulent this discussion has become. An interesting observation that is secondary to the heart of that discussion is whether the so-called "nuts" are outliers, or whether the promoters "doth protest too much" as far as this opposition is concerned. As I've noted before, I don't get why proponents of a 30 year plan would find the need to ridicule the referendum effort if they are sure that most people agree with them and are enthusiastic about the project. The only thing I can think of is that they think these opponents can mobilize better than they can, and therefore have a non-representative body of voters shoot this plan down.

All I do know is that Civility appears to be the goal, unless you fail to agree.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Maybe It's "sNOw" Hoax


Mista Foot says we may have some more snow to deal with. This doesn't mean last week's e-mail wasn't a hoax, but it does mean whomever put it together has ticked off the snow gods, who are not to be trifled with.

Firemen Don't Save Lives, Council-Members Do

From the "Let's See What They Do Now" department, comes word that the Howard County Council will be passing a bill requiring sprinkler systems in all new homes. This requirement is already in existence for new townhouses. This will add, by the most conservative estimates, about $1.60 per square foot of every new house built. Hmm, what else uses that math? Oh, that's right, property taxes. This is a new tax on all new houses in order to force you to live in a safer house. As always, we the people can't be trusted to take care of ourselves.

Larry Carson seemed enamored by Mary-Kay Sigtay's response to the "cost" question (which governments tend not to care too much about anyway) in saying "How do you equate that to the cost of a human life?" Well while you're at it Mary-Kay, stairs are just plain dangerous. People go up and down stairs everyday! How can we let this stand? Let's require elevators in all new homes! And people are walking around with spinning blades all for the sake of having an attractive front yard! Just about every-weekend!!! We need to stop this! Professional lawn services for every household! And where are these fires coming from? Often the kitchen! Where people are cooking their own food! EVERY DAY! Professional chefs with fire-proof kitchens in every home!

Because honestly, how do we equate these costs to the value of a human life? Give me a break.

Rusher Baker's Fundraising Practices

This will have to be a quick post, but I want to reference you to Maryland Politics Watch, which does a great job of diving into the fundraising practices of the Prince George's County Executive's "interesting" way of doing business. Relevant to here is an apparent loan of $10,000 to Candidate Eric Wargotz, who is running for Mikulski's seat.

The NEW Health Care Proposal

The Washington Post has a nice graphic outlining the key features of President Obama's new proposal. While I enjoy the graphic and it provides a nice primer for following the talking heads on the radio and TV, I had to shake my head to pull myself out of the trance that these types of things put you in. All of the sudden you think "I get it" and you either agree or disagree. The problem is, you don't get it. Not at all. These pieces of legislation are hundreds of thousands of pages long.

In fact, the sheer mass of these bohemoths foster the divisions that cripple this country's government. "I don't have to care too much about that because I am on the red team, and the red team says that it is bad." "Well, I am on the blue team, and we like it, so I like it too." Meanwhile the people writing the darn stuff (hint: it ain't the legislators) do so with the understanding that only the most committed will dive into the paperwork. Of those, only the properly educated will understand it. And of that fewer number, only a select few will be dedicated, educated, and not be considered a crack-pot for screaming from the rooftops about what they found.

So, lurking commenter, is it idealistic of me to say that I believe better government is possible? Or is it more naive to think you really know what your support and disapprove of based on how you registered to vote? Both teams are very good at making charts.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Free the Darn Grapes Part Deux

Check out this video without some of our elected officials discussing the hurdles and the benefits that can be expected for the direct wine shipping legislation.

Vote against this bill at your own peril, Howard County politicos. I will weld all of my insignificant, naive, idealistic influence against you!

UPDATE: Howard County's own Ian Mendelsohn of I.M. Wine is on the Board for Marylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws. Get that! A board and nail wine shop is in favor of the bill. VOTE FOR IT!

Minority Report

At the start of the next school year, white students are expected to be less than 50% of the student population in Howard County schools. This is largely attributed to a progressive influx of diverse immigrant populations (primarily Asian).

I remember when I was growing up out in Highland, it was an almost entirely white student body. I recall being in classes with some asian and some black students, but not many. It is exciting that my children will grow up in an environment where differences in appearances and backgrounds will be assumed and no longer be grounds for separation or stigmatism. Diversity in the classroom has been affirmatively proven to enrich the quality of the education and the well-roundedness of the students. This is also a snowball effect in that the quality of the education will draw additional students, which will further enrich the classroom experience. I am no education major, but this is all good to me.

I understand that there are those among us that will view "immigration" and "immigrant" with distaste, no matter the legality. Often these arguments have little substance and end with the three words "take our jobs." The only thing taking anyone's jobs is capitalism, and competition is the root of your problems there. As Obama says "it's a race to the top."

What's Ehrlich Waiting For?

A good friend of the blog recently suggested in conversation that Bob Ehrlich is waiting out Barbara Mikulski to see if she retires, and, if so, will enter the race as the "Super-Candidate" Republican. An interesting post on echoed that idea here. It would be interesting, but I just feel like former Governor Ehrlich has a beef with Governor O'Malley and would like to settle the score. Anyone who has listened to his radio show knows that he spends a good portion of the time dishing on the administration's policies and faults. But, then again, what is he waiting for? It's been a long while since Burning Bushes were telling people what to do.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

New Friend of the Site

Jessie X from Hometown Columbia has reached out to welcome me to the blogging community and let me know that the blog has come to the attention of some influential folk. When I started this site, almost a year ago, that notion would excite me. Now, I don't know how I feel. It is certainly intimidating.

So thank you Jessie for reaching out, and I encourage everyone to check out her site, which is linked above and to the left.

Anoymous Posting

I haven't found anything in the news that has piqued my interest today, but after some dings I've taken from Anonymous posters both here and on some other sites, I would like to discuss a topic related to the medium of "blogs," and that is Anonymous posting.

First, my most steady and consistent poster is Anonymous. I know he does not like doctors, is against re-development, and has very strong litmus test positions that I sometimes disagree with. Although I've never met this person, I like them and appreciate their continued support. I am 100% certain that this blog would have died in August had it not been for their prodding and disappointment that I did not keep up with my posts.

Second, I would appreciate the opportunity to develop this relationship with other readers and posters. Even if this is just a common string of posts signed with "TP" or some other marker to note a persona, I think it would help the discourse. I suggested this before, and it didn't seem to take on.

Third, I think Anonymous ad hominem attacks are cowardly. They don't help the conversation and tend to be pot shots. Just like the unwritten rules for school-yard fighting was no kicking, no biting, and no head-butts, the unwritten rule for Anonymous posting is "If you're going to throw insults, stand there to accept the response."

I would like to hear why some prefer to remain completely and totally Anonymous without even a nome de plume. Do you think it helps the discourse? If so, how?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

HHAP Asks for $500K

A while back, I had a post about how HHAP (aka Healthy Howard) had 200 participants and that this made Dr. Beilenson's claim that the program played a part in Howard's ranking as one of the healthiest counties incredulous. Well an Anonymous commenter told me that there were "600" participants and that I should "check my facts." I tried! I can find the fundraising numbers of every politico in the state (ring, ring), but I can't get membership stats for a program that our county is throwing money into. Are you telling me that we can't get a ticker that shows us where our money is going?

Well the curtain has opened once again, and the 600 number was pretty close (671). That tells me one of two things: 1) Hello Howard County gubment; or 2) Someone in the know has a source that I can't find. I used to work for the gubment, and I can tell you that if it was the former, be careful. While you may feel like you are protecting the defenseless Dr. Gov, I doubt they want you to be the fountain of government PR. If it was the latter, let's chat.

I'm sorry, but 600 people does not change the health of 274,995 people. I can't even say how much it effects the health of all 600 people! What exactly is a health coach telling these people that 20/20, 60 Minutes, People Magazine, Oprah, and Ellen Degeneres isn't? Fast food - bad. Exercise - good. For those that don't get the paper edition, I will link the article tomorrow. Dr. Gov finally admits that 2,000 in the first year was optimistic...but he has yet to admit that 2,000 in the first TWO years is also out of reach. He barely had 2,000 people apply (2,550)!

People are losing their jobs in this county, Doc. Your people. Your employees. I wonder if they are part of your 2,550? This is not the time for $500,000 more to be pumped into the program. You promised this could operate independent from the county. How? I think we all may be willing to ride this pony a little longer (for a lower price tag) if you would pull back the curtain and give us some more transparency. Otherwise this appears to be the Peter Beilenson, M.D. Employment Program.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Take a Letter, Maria

Nice little letter to the editor from a good friend of the blog. I'll save you the click:

Thomas Jefferson once said, "Public offices were [not] made for private convenience." I was reminded of this quote when considering the recent pay raises passed by the Howard County Council for our executive and council members. This vote somehow passed, despite the fact that this same council approved budgets that now require the layoffs and furlough of our county workers.

Courtney Watson and Greg Fox reflected Jefferson's sentiment in being the only "no" votes on the council, and I applaud them for that. I also appreciate the fact that these raises were first approved by a citizen board, but it takes real leadership to recognize that these raises are inappropriate and frankly unnecessary.

As a candidate for such office, I can tell you that there is no shortage of qualified candidates that are not concerned about the rate of pay. It is inconceivable to me how our elected leaders add to their plate while others are denied the slightest morsel. Private convenience, indeed.

Anthony Jordan


Anthony Jordan is a candidate for County Council.

For those that don't get the Title, this young, inexperienced blogger knows good music when he hears it:

The Dangers of Class Warfare

I am patiently waiting, flipping through channels, and watching Olberman or Maddow closely. I squirm uncomfortably as their guest talks about how the offered government health care program isn't big enough. I sit through this in anticipation of one thing: The Blame Game. How long before Joe Stack's attack on the IRS building in Austin is blamed on the Tea Party movement, conservatives, or Republicans? Somehow, it didn't trickle through last night, but I don't expect it to be long.

If you actually read Stack's note, which admittedly gives him more attention than he is due, you'll see that there is an entirely different psychological issue going on here. Joe Stack embodies the dangers of class warfare that are so easily stoked by populist rhetoric from politicians who are from the very class they seek to vilify.

Rich is bad. Poor is good. The wealthy must have committed evil deeds to reach their comfort. The poor are blameless and have been victimized. This is harmful talk. It guts the very "American Spirit" that used to be valued above all things. The "rags to riches" story is no longer the "American Story." Instead, the poor are told that they will always be poor unless the government helps them by tearing down the rich.

Joe Stack rails against the wealthy CEOs that get the tax breaks that he thought he deserved. He is bitter that the government that promised to go after the rich goons is instead helping them rebound from a market disaster. I have no doubt that Stack was insane from the start, but what happened here is he developed a motive.

I do not "blame" the populist talk for what Joe Stack did. Joe Stack is an embodiment of a danger that we all need to recognize, but there is little reason to say that rhetoric caused violence in and of itself. I just hope that the next time millionaire Obama puts on his Robin Hood cap, he knows that he is building an artificial wall between the haves and the have-nots. I think he does.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Snow...sad face (Hoax?)

From Reader Tim:

Issued by The National Weather Service
Baltimore, MD
7:56 am EST, Wed., Feb. 17, 2010







Update: In order to meet the "low bar of respectability" required of this medium, I did a little extra research and it looks like someone may be playing on our fears.

Whoa, Mr. Sun Paper, Calm Down! (UPDATED)

The Sun writes a glowing article about Senator Mikulski, which serves the dual purpose of one 1) Discrediting her challengers; and 2) Painting her as some public "saint" that (quote) would "prefer that constituents view her as a public servant, rather than a candidate." I mean, this is sicky sweet stuff.

But most interesting is the vivid contempt the writer shows for the blogger medium:
On Monday, shortly after Bayh surprised Democrats by announcing that he was quitting, an obscure right-wing blogger posted a report that Mikulski would be announcing in a few days that she will step down. The groundless report was picked up by other blogs - including some that clear the very low bar for respectability in this realm - without bothering to check its validity.

I would say it borders on the unprofessional, but in fact it falls way into "thuggery" and "bully pulpit" territory. According to the Hedghog Report, which also questioned the validity of the rumor, this talk about retirement came from The Vail Spot's "impeccable source." Well get to "peccing" because that source didn't work out.

A quick comment on bloggers: For the most part, our source is the newspaper. I think the medium augments and supports the online readership of local papers. As I say repeatedly when I bash the Sun, I wouldn't want to see a day without it. Do I think they are doing a poor job at providing the "disinfectant" for our local governments? Absolutely. Is the coverage skewed towards the blue? There is no question. But when I need to back-up something I've heard or look to make an argument based on the facts, the first place I go is The Sun website. So Paul West, turn the contempt down a skosh.

By the way, the two "non-major opponents" thus far are:
Jim Rutledge and
Eric Wargotz

I'm sure these men (and their families) would take umbrage at the suggestion that they are not mounting serious campaigns. I think to print such a thing would imply a "very low bar for respectability."

Three "non-major opponents" to Barbara Mikulski (Thanks Eludius)

Meet Carmen Amendori who is to be congratulated for purchasing a domain name, but appears to have done little else on that front. Looks like we may have a crowded primary field.

I put all three names into the Campaign Finance Database (pretty sure bat-phones ring across Howard County when I mention that site on this blog) and found that Wargotz is the only one with reported money in the coffer at about $20K.

SIX "non-major opponents" to Barbara Mikulski (check it out here, which does not note Ms. Amendori).

Apparently John R. Leopold (County Exec in Anne Arundel County) is considering a run...hmm...well, I'm sure he was considering a run until someone violated the "if the Impala is a-rockin', don't come a-knockin'" rule.

Daniel McAndrew has his campaign site up and running. Mr. McAndrew is a proud member of the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows and an engineer.

Last, but certainly not least (and probably not even last) is Corrogan R. Vaughn, who even has a YouTube channel set up.

I'm a recovering comic book nerd, and this reminds me of when Superman died and there were four other semi-supermen with some of the powers of the expired Superman. Each of these candidates have their own qualities and abilities, but it will take a while to come up with the "Super-Candidate."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Our County is Better Than Your County

Howard County was just noted to be the healthiest jurisdiction in Maryland. This has nothing to do with the fact that those with higher education and wealth tend to live healthier lives. No, according to Dr. Beilenson, it is because of our county's paternalistic smoking ban and the 200 participants in the Healthy Howard program:
"Howard health officer Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, who formerly served as Baltimore's health officer, said that although general wealth and high educational levels helped the county in the survey, public policies like the smoking ban and efforts to provide access to health care to the uninsured also made a difference."

I'm sorry Doc, but let the people take the credit on this one. I know that certain mindsets view the populace as a nice set of Sea Monkeys that will play baseball if you provide the kit, but it is incredibly arrogant and downright foolish to suggest that your programs, one of which you repeatedly say is still in its infancy, can be credited with the outcome of this study. If you insist that you are the root of all progress, please make us the luckiest county by a large scale four-leaf clover planting campaign.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

To the Mattresses

Looks like the Redevelopment Wars have gone to "the mattresses." Russ Swatek and Co. have started "Taxpayers Against Giveaways" and will be renewing efforts at a petition to get this vote to referendum.

I can't find a link for the group, but this is an interesting (however predictable) turn of events. I don't really know where I stand on this. On the one hand, I've seen the mess that direct democracy can have (i.e., California). On the other, open referendum will allow these "people on the margin" as they were inartfully described, reach their "court of last resort." There can be no further debate if the referendum approves the redevelopment plans. If it is the will of the people, then let nothing get in its way.

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

Allow me to be the first to welcome our new overlords, Simon Property Group, who reportedly are in the process of buying GGP.

I don't see how this will have any effect locally, but I think "Simon" is a much better "Big Brother" type name than "GGP." There is the possibility that new corporate leadership may wash away some of the historical anecdotes that have been thrown around either for or against GGP's role in the redevelopment. It also may change the nature of the "on-going" negotiations for the 30 year plan.

Most importantly for the incumbents, does this mean they get to double dip with their GGP/Simon campaign contributions? Oh, what dreams may come!

Monday, February 15, 2010

"You wanna drive?" & A Reflection on Lincoln

My wife and I often have "back-seat driving" disputes, wherein I will flinch and grab onto the various handles in the passenger seat, while she grimaces and tells me that I'm not such a peachy driver myself. My biggest issue is that I don't feel there is a sufficient "bubble" between us and the car in front of us. This inevitably leads to the question "do you want to drive?"

Now the Democrats are asking the Republicans if they want to drive the budget, however, this is after the Republicans have been sitting int he backseat going "hey uh, red light!...SLOW DOWN THERE'S A RED LIGHT!"

This is clearly a political move, but unfortunately the GOP is taking a political response of crossing their arms and saying "No, you didn't listen to us before and now you are just trying to make us look bad." I'll tell you this much, that's not what Abraham Lincoln would have done. His political career is defined by games of chicken, in which he almost always won by acting first. His early years in the political arena were defined by him acting against this will of his party, the later years acting against the collective judgment of the press, however he knew what he had to do and he got it done.

There is no doubt that many Republicans have given pretty speeches in the past that referred to Lincoln as a Republican and stating how they model themselves after him in some way. I encourage them to act strongly here. Yes, the collision course has already been set by previous votes and there will be painful results. However, all eyes are on the red ties this week. If Republicans can produce a strong proposal to "restructure" (not "cut") state spending, it could have long term repercussions on how this state views its politics.

My own proposal is simple. Government programs should know how to run themselves more efficiently than those elected to office. There are some sub-programs that are working, and others that aren't. Make the directors "cut the baby." All government programs should have to submit three budgetary proposals with 0%, 5%, and 10% level cuts. These proposals can be reviewed to see where the leadership thinks they have room to cut. If the electeds are unwilling to force those cuts, they can accept the 0% budget. Otherwise, they can allow the programs to do the cuts for them.

This may be seen as "passing the buck," but it is also how corporations will review the necessity of "redundancies." GOP is left without egg on their face and the Dems are left without an excuse.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Google It

I'm encouraging all of my readers to check out Wordbone's new initiative to bring Google's Broadband demonstration project to Howard County. This is beyond just the boom the local economy may receive from this project or the new jobs for the #1 best employer in the country. This is a citizen initiative with no politician trying to link his horse to the wagon. Said otherwise, politics won't get a chance to funk this up (I said "funk").

Ken & Martin

Larry Carson writes a great piece on County Executive Ulman and the 30 year redevelopment plan. Frequent readers know that I am normally critical of Larry and his creative adjectives in "news" stories, but I think Sunday's piece (normally Saturday, but I didn't get mine until today) addresses the core issues and shows that Ulman used to be one of those concerned about the infrastructure burden. That was when Charlie Brown was kicking the can down the road. Now that Matt Stover is kicking the can down the road and Ulman can shade his eyes and look into the distance, things will clearly be just fine.

Ronald Reagan once promised to abolish the Department (*edit -- thanks James) of Education. This was reconfirmed as a GOP party plank in 1996. The argument was that the federal government did not need to involve itself with what had previously been a sovereign power of the state. Well as nationwide standardization has spread, our Nation's quality of education has fallen back in the ranks. Nonetheless, our Governor wants to link up even closer with the feds by lining up state policy with Federal funds. I guess the teacher's union doesn't have the bite it used to?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

That's How You Write a Letter

This is so good, I don't even want you to have to click away from this page:

America is in need of health care reform. On that fact, virtually all Americans agree. Yet I take issue with the letter "Who do Republicans think they're helping?" (Readers respond, Feb. 11) and the insinuation that Republicans are distorting the facts and against reform in general.

Here are the facts:

Republicans and Democrats have been calling for reform of the health care system for years. The health care system has gone through many reforms dating back to the 1990s, and reforms continue to this day. The Republican Party has offered a new reform package, and posted it online, which is a far cry from the backroom deals and shady shenanigans the Democrats have used throughout this process.

It's a fact that the entire health care debate was not captured live on C-SPAN, as President Obama said it would be.

It's a fact that the state of Louisiana was given $300 million as part of the Senate health reform bill, and that no other state was given such funding. Presumably this deal was given to get the state's holdout senator on board with the reform package.

It's a fact that a deal was carved out for Nebraska to be given a permanent exemption from the state share of Medicaid expansion. No other state was given an exemption from payments. Presumably this deal was given to get the state's holdout senator on board with the reform package.

It's a fact that part of the funding for the health care reform package offered by the Democrats is to come from a tax on "high-cost" health insurance plans. And it's a fact that the only Americans exempted from this tax are organized labor unions. And it's a fact that organized labor unions are among the largest contributors to the Democratic Party. And it's a fact that under this plan the 87 percent of Americans who don't belong to a union will now foot the bill for a $60 billion giveaway to those who do.

On tort reform, it's a fact that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's 1,990-page bill contains a provision that provides "incentive payments" to each state that develops an "alternative medical liability law" but strictly forbids payments to states that enact laws that "limit attorneys' fees or impose caps on damages." Of course, everyone knows these limits are exactly the tort reform that's needed, in addition to requiring trial lawyers to pay the fees of defendants who win frivolous lawsuits. It's a fact that the American Association of Justice, the top trial lawyer lobbying group, has given Democrats 96 percent of its $627,000 in contributions, and Republicans only 4 percent, and that a Washington Examiner analysis of the 15 firms on the National Law Journal's "2008 Plaintiff's Hot List" shows that for 2009, their employees have contributed $636,305 to federal politicians and PACs, 99 percent going to Democrats in 2009. And the payback from the Democrat's has been sweet, to the detriment of the American people.

These are the facts, and they easily refute Burke Sampson's suggestion that Republican distortion of the facts is even necessary to put the brakes on this boondoggle. And the 219 page Republican reform bill posted on should refute Mr. Sampson's claim that the Republicans have no viable ideas for how to address these problems. I suggest that Mr. Sampson, like virtually all Americans, has read neither the Republican reform package nor the Democrats' reform package in it's entirety, and hence has no idea if the Republican reform measures are in fact viable. It's a fact that the Republican reform package is much less expensive, and that President Obama just revealed a $3.8 trillion budget on Monday, by far the largest in history, which includes another $1.3 trillion to be borrowed from the Chinese and other lenders.

Lastly, it's a fact that the Democrat's could have passed their health reform package last year without a single Republican vote, as they had a filibuster-proof majority. All they needed was a bill that all Democrats could swiftly agree on. So the blame Republicans mantra isn't going to wash on this one. All they needed to do was come up with a bill that didn't stink, and it would have been game over. Unfortunately, the Democrats are beholden to too many special interests, rendering them incapable of concocting a bill that would actually benefit America's struggling middle class. And Americans who were paying attention hardly needed Republican's to tell them that.

Michael P. DeCicco, Severn

Friday, February 12, 2010

Press Thumb to Nose, Wiggle Fingers

When you see stories like today's article about Senator Ulysses Currie, don't you feel like we need an Elliot Spitzer type prosecutor to just go bananas on these jokers? State Prosecutor Robert Rohrbaugh tried to do this, but was mocked for ending up with nothing more than a gift card scandal totaling, at most, $500. Meanwhile, we have a legal framework in place that makes it impossible to get to the heart of government corruption, such as legislative immunity, which cloaks the actions of legislators from criminal scrutiny (i.e., BRIBERY).

I'm just so frustrated that we live in a world where Sheila Dixon can play the victim and Ulysses Currie votes while the federal government bobs and weaves his illegally paid attorneys in their investigation of his malfeasance.

In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve. If you aren't busting your butt for real honest government, you deserve no better than what you have. Senator Currie appreciates your acquiescence.

Rescue 911

(Loved that show)

The Sun provides a classic rescue story from HoCo in which not only did they have to use special transport for the patient, but also the physician! All of the young families in my neighborhood were saying they can't wait until their toddlers grow up so they don't have to shovel anymore. Well, this story shows that your waiting may be for naught.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I got nuthin'

With all the snow coverage, there isn't too much to sink our collective teeth into. I am snowed in, yet again, and will be working diligently on depo summaries and motions to dismiss.

Very interesting discussion going on over on TTC about, you guessed it, Columbia and what dreams may come. I love that the HoCo blogger community (to which I am but a hatchling) has such informed (and opinionated) readers and commenters. I've learned so much from the comments that I would never have picked up from the papers. Being one that finds argument to be the only route to truth, please keep it up!

Speaking of fellow bloggers, I find some interesting contradiction over at "53 beers on tap" that I hope will be explained. First, the blogger took great umbrage at insults against the Redev propoponents. However, more recently he has suggested that the Redev opponents cannot be trusted with a "canned food drive" (among other slings and arrows). I just don't get the ad hominem attacks that have washed over in the wake of the rezoning bills passage. What started as civic discourse has devolved into mud tossing. (And "issues following the rules"? I thought there was a collective agreement that they got screwed on the petition drive.)

And that's all I have for now. Please keep the comments rolling.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Howard County Bonds

Wordbones has a post on Howard County municipal bonds getting a AAA rating. This clearly speaks well for the stewardship of Executive Ulman, but I also wonder what may happen if the rainy day fund was tapped and whether using those funds has been delayed due to the rating. I know, I know, this may be foil hat material, but I have heard from some that they expect the fund to be tapped sometime in 2010.

And let's not forget that the ratings are not given the same prestige as they once carried.


Enough with all these big mean words about two blizzards in a row. I often cite my father as a font of wisdom, and one of the quips he told me was "If there isn't anything you can do about it, don't let it bother you." So I say "Kahunamattata" to this mess...

In the meantime, let us concern ourselves with those things we can try to change:

First, despite having the continuous banner of "no ideas" hung around their necks, Maryland House Republicans want to get rid of the driver service for State Officials. This is being dismissed as an election-year ploy, but the funny thing about election years is that they are a good time to get things done that the people want. If you want to get down to it, all votes should be election year ploys, no matter what year they may find themselves in. I hate to tell ya there, Mikey boy, but there are a lot of people that do much more important work than you, and they don't get driven to work.

Second, there is a new measure proposed to address "really illegal immigration." What I mean by "really illegal" are those illegal immigrants that commit crimes. I think we need to be honest with ourselves and say that there is a moose in the room when it comes to immigrants: jobs that need to get done for low cost that Americans just don't want to do. Sure, you say, we have plenty of Americans that need jobs. That's true, but are they willing to work full days at minimum wage (or lower) doing manual labor or house-keeping jobs? Are you willing to pay "living wage" salaries of $10-$15 an hour for those positions? I don't think so. That is the root cause of our immigration issue, and until we can be honest withourselves about our own greed and "utlization" of the under-privileged, we need to shut up about building walls and shooting invaders.

There is something incredibly predictable about the political pendulum. It does not suggest the "correctness" of any one position, but rather the overall sense of the populace. Looks like it is swinging back into the Red.

The Chinese Military suggests China's Treasury sell US Bonds to punish us for arms sales to Taiwan. Before anyone gets too worked up, this can be equated to pre-1930s America seeking to devalue gold to punish other gold-standard countries. China's net worth is wrapped up in these bonds. They have effectively tied themselves to our economy. So go ahead China...its a long slow game of Chicken.

That's all for now...I may try another adventure today, but I do have some work to do. Hope you all are safe, warm, and without worries.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mr. Foot Speaks!!

(Or at least I think this is Mr. Foot...unless Mr. Foot is a mascot of some which case this might as well be THE Mr. Foot).

We really should applaud the great school at Crossroads, for giving their kids this great experience, and all of us the doomsday scenarios that follow. The Kahunapocalypse has really put Mr. Foot in focus, and I hope to one day refer to his pages for sunny days and UV indexes.

However, for now, we're looking at 16 inches (at best). To summarize the video: they are expected 1.6 inches of precip, which normally translates into a 1:10 ratio for inches. However, due to the cold temps, this may be more than a 1:10 ratio and may be as much as a 1:16 ratio. Either way, I hope your shovels are ready.

Consensus Building

If shared beliefs build confidence, we should be confident that HoCo is about to be walloped by Baby Kahuna.

I've checked this map a few times over the past two days, and the good news is that the red dot of fury appears to be moving north...the bad news is that we are still its huckleberry. This picture also puts us in the cross-hairs (but is a little old):

Foot's Forecast is giving us between 16 and 22 inches.
My wife went to Kendall's this morning (at open) to buy a snow shovel. They were limiting people to 3 shovels at a time and were sold out by 30 minutes into store hours.
The sad part is that somehow, somewhere, there is a Marylander with an unplowed street...and no toilet paper.
Make sure to also check out Wordbones' coverage of this once in a lifetime "double-the-blizzard-double-the-fun" week.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Free The Dang Grapes

I know the name of the campaign is "Free the Grapes," but as a wine-lover in Maryland, it's called "Free the Dang Grapes" to me.

Jamie Raskin, my favorite liberal fire-brand, is taking up direct shipping as his next crusade, and I say more power to him. Opponents hide behind the paternalistic standard of "but little Timmy will order it and get hepped up on Johnny Walker in his tree-house." Hog-wash. That excuse is basically telling parents that they can't parent. Furthermore, put yourself in the kid's head. He doesn't know when the package is going to come, so it could be Mother dearest receiving his shipment of fine Burgundy. Furthermore, these sites require a credit-card to verify your age, and I doubt Poppa Bear would appreciate a $200 bill for a bottle of Sauternes showing up on his Amercian Express black. Finally, what else can kids get online?

1) Salvia -- a hallucinogenic drug.
2) Ninja throwing stars
3) Just about every kind of pornographic material available (no links here).

This is clearly a protectionist measure, bought and paid for by our wealthy liquor lobby. It takes only a short visit to a North Carolina grocery store to realize that these people are making our lives more difficult. But don't worry, this regime is "careful crafted":

Liquor lobbyists strongly oppose direct shipping of wine, saying it bypasses the state's carefully crafted network of government entities that regulate the sale of alcohol.

Bull-honkey. I will tell you this much, this little bill is my litmus test. Vote against it, and I will return the favor in November.

Good Morning Snowbirds!

For those of you that didn't know, the last scheduled night launch took place this morning at approximately 4 am. For those that didn't try to add it on to their TV schedule, after an exciting and gratifying Super Bowl, here it is:

Sunday, February 7, 2010

HoCo Rising's Big Adventure

I went out in the snow today with my wife and my dogs. Boy, did I have fun! I've made a video for posterity, but most of my time was spent climbing up huge mountains of snow and pretending it was K2.

UPDATE: It appears YouTube is still processing my request. "Big Kahuna" and "adventure" may have raised some flags with the censors.

Opponents to Development Get Their Turn

The concerns and reservations against redevelopment have often been found in the 8th or 9th paragraph of stories covering the grandeur of "things to come." Larry Carson writes a nice piece (although proponents of development may cringe at Larry's "crammed with amendments" line), which seems to lay it all out. Most interesting is that anti-redev folks promote Jen Terrasa as their hero, yet coverage of the voting session suggested that Councilwoman Terrasa was a little "out of it" when it came to keeping track of the amendments.

I don't know where I fall on this whole thing. On one hand, I agree with most that this is just the first of a thousand steps and that there will be points of resistance/reformation down the line. On the other hand, the infrastructure issues are of great concern to me. I think the council would take big steps with the public if they could explain, from their own confident understanding, how this is going to play out and what costs "we the people" are going to have to bear for these new developments. I don't blame GGP for trying to make money. That's what companies do. However, if things play out like opponents suggest, we have reason to blame the Council for hiding the ball.

So for Councilpeople, proponents of "First & Goal," and anyone who knows, what is the deal with the infrastructure component? Are we bearing the cost (with the explanation of it being "worth it in the long run")? Is GGP (and I just missed it)? Should I invest in Port-o-Johns?

An Interesting Study in Gun Rights...and Sinatra

The Philippines provides a good case study of the next "level up" on strict gun laws in this country. You can obtain a license, but the legal hurdles and qualifications are much more cumbersome. Furthermore, there is no right to bear arms in their Constitution.

However, the murder rate in no way reflects this strict imposition of rules and regs on ownership (or at least not in the way Gun Control promoters would approve of). If anything, this case study proves the quip "If you make guns illegal, only the illegals will have guns." Check out this interesting story about how "My Way" at karaoke bars is getting people killed.

Guns don't kill people. Singing "My Way" out of tune kills people.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I believe you have proved your point, Mr. Kahuna

Man oh man, that is just about enough of that. The stop time for the storm has moved, in a matter of hours, from 10 am to 1 pm to 3 pm. Ellicott City has approximately 36 inches (my backyard). For those that have power, here are some links to check out:

Here is the outage map to see how close you are to fire-logs and good conversation.

Ken Ulman has declared a state (county?) of emergency...and I have no idea what that means. Do we have a "County Guard" that I am unaware of?

Here is the Plow-tracker, although if you are like most of us, the area between the plowed road and your car is impassable.

Please stop saying that this storm "disproves" climate change. I am not saying that the scientific theory is correct or otherwise advocating for it, but I am tired of people making cabooses out of themselves by assuming that it is either global warming or bust. Climate Change is the dramatic increase in weather events INCLUDING increases in temperatures and the incidences of severe weather patterns. If anything, Mr. Kahuna proves climate change. Anthropomorphic climate change is a completely different issue. It infuriates me to no end to see people attack straw men arguments. Man up to the real argument and present real counters. Global warming died in the 90's. No one told Al Gore.

I hope you all are safe and enjoying this once in a lifetime (or not [see above] event). Stay safe and please stay off the roads. We don't need any Marylanders getting Darwin Awards.

Warm Fire, Good Book, Great Company

Well my cable is out. There is something refreshing about being unable to link up to the talking box...comparable to the cold turkey method of breaking a bad habit (although I doubt that would ever be described as "refreshing"). I have a Kindle loaded up with good books, a couple hard copy books (including Atual Gawande's new one, which is a quick, good, read), my beautiful wife (who is currently cooking up some chili), and two dogs that required me to shovel this heavy a$$ snow at 6 am. No one will admit it, but I think most of us secretly enjoy being "snowed in."

Wordbones was kind enough to offer his 4WD vehicle in the service of Howard County General, but it looks like the Big Kahuna put the kabosh on that. For everyone that prays, please keep the people in need of medical service and the homeless in your thoughts today. While all of the romanticism of the previous paragraph still stands, a storm like this has terrifying implications for our most vulnerable.

Here's a quick clip of how it all went down:

For some other things to keep you busy, the Sun has an interesting new way to read its "paper" edition. I know the Sun gets trashed here, and in other talking circles, but I don't look forward to the day that we no longer have a regional paper. Just like everything else, the Sun presents itself to the public for criticism (and ridicule), but at least it's there.

Interesting story on the "politics of a snowstorm." Good luck SRB!

This guy doesn't seem too nice. Nails and glass in the driveway? What happened to the good old diaper in the mailbox?

The thing about this federal stimulus money, and the reason so many people/states are wary about accepting it, is because it is "sticky." It comes with preconditions that have very little do to with financial reform. It can be related to the famous quip by Clausewitz about war being "a continuation of politics by other means." Well the stimulus is the continuation of government policy by other means. In Maryland, business owners don't want to bite the poisonous apple offered by Obama and O'Malley (both names can be said almost in an "Oh Roger" exasperation way) is because it will require them to enlarge the unemployment pot, which would put additional taxes on their bottom line. Not to go all Ayn Rand on you, but how much longer can we in good conscience burden our business class? Their only obligation to society is distribute goods and services in accordance with demand. Why must they also be an engine for social programming? If our "people" are so dedicated to providing for the needy and disfavored, Saturdays should be an obligated day of service and all those interested should offer to pay a 50% income tax to provide for these "necessary" programs.

Really? Eliot Spitzer is making a political comeback? Sorry Mr. Fitzgerald, but I think you were wrong.

Doesn't look like the candidate forum is going down. I'll keep looking at our options there and allow for a bigger build-up next time. I don't want more candidates than readers. Ha ha.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Dawn of Big Kahuna (Link Dump)

Let's see what this storm has for us. I've heard anywhere from 10 to 50 inches. One of my friends is referring to the storm as the "Snowpacolypse," but I (obviously) like the Big Kahuna better. How 'bout we start off the weekend with some snow-day reading? Shall we? Let's.

Any student of politics needs to be fascinated by the tea-party/GOP dynamic. Tea partiers are most likely all registered Republicans, but that doesn't seem to be where their heart is right now. It seems they are "mad as hell, and they're not going to take it any longer." That is the only thing I can lock down on describing this group. I would suggest that any politicians looking to "tap into" this energy do so in the same way one taps their first keg. You ARE going to get beer on your face, the only question is whether you get enough that you have to go home to change. (Note: I like the writing in the New Yorker, and acknowledge that it is an incredibly biased journal, BUT this story seemed is loooong.

The Dems are not done slinging mud at Ehrlich. You guys can't wait until he steps into the ring at least? Are you listening to all the other radio stations to make sure the payola rules are following by the mortgage and personal finance shows? Give me a break.

Another disappointing story about how the undisciplined children and their litigious parents run the show. I am 100% against a teacher shoving a kid, BUT I am angry that this child that obviously does not know how to act in a classroom is now the victim. A 38 year old teacher that has been at this elementary school for seven years has had her career all but ruined because people can't work things out anymore. The parents should be ashamed.

Ron Smith agrees with me that O'Malley wrote one weird poem.

I think a Democrat stepped in Charles Krauthammer's lunch, because he is mad and is pulling no punches.

Las Vegas is one of the cities hit worst by the recession in the United States. Home values have gone down almost 50%! Yet our President keeps bopping them on the head like Little Bunny Foo Foo. Mr. President, you can say "Black-jack," "Poker," "Dice," "Cards," or whatever. Just leave Vegas alone, you great orator, you.

That's all for now. If you readers would do me a favor, could you just post "yes" if you would log in for a candidate forum this weekend. We have a "perfect storm" (intended) for getting candidates and readers to the same spot for some live blogging. However, I don't want to waste their time if there will only be two or three readers. I am pretty sure I can get Anthony Jordan and possibly John Bailey on board. I would hope to be able to pull in two or three other candidates, since there won't be much to do Saturday night. Let me know.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

You down with SRB? "You don't know me"

If you've got 15 minutes to burn, I would suggest checking out this fawning bio piece in the Sun of Baltimore's new mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. (You ever just want to walk over to the Sun's office, grab an editor, and say "HEY!! People would read your paper if they thought you were interested in 'speaking truth to power' or 'questioning authority.' Patty-cake can be found on the government websites under 'news release.' Your editorial board is running out of ways to defend O'Malley's policies...especially after embarassing themselves by claiming there would be no millionaire flight.")

Here's my take: I think she will be good for the city. This isn't because I was brain-washed by the Sun. It's because she is a no-nonsense career driven insecure (that's right) Mayor that knows her only ticket anywhere is by "fixing up the place." I say insecure because people like SRB that seek external praise and rewards via political office, at the end of the day, are just kids that didn't have enough "A" papers put on the fridge. Someone at sometime told them they wouldn't amount to anything, and they are out to prove them wrong. I think SRB is good at what she does, but she really finds confidence in her success, not vice-versa (as the Sun seems to suggest).

She will work harder than anyone else and will not let the corruption of Dixon's administration land on her door-step. I am sure that she was aware of everything that was going on, but someone like Stephanie would see herself as the super-hero that is above all of that nonsense. Not out of moral fiber, but out of pure arrogance.

So let me hear it folks. Here is a career politician that I am implicitly endorsing (although I doubt the Rawlings-Blake camp would see it that way). Much worse, A DAGGONE DEM-O-CRAT! Ya lost ya damn noodle?!?

Is this thing on?

Get it on record. These are the clear positions of our elected officials on the Columbia Redevelopment. If there is some "unanticipated" bump in the road (as all bumps tend to be), these words should be read back to them...slowly.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

It's Tea, but is there a Party?

Oh Sarah

(Thanks Tim)

This just doesn't look good...not at all...must of been McCain's advisors going for the fatality...or Kaitie Couric...or the inside-the-beltway mentality...or the bridge to no-where getting its revenge for all the mean talk.


Check out this post on TTC. Yowza. Looks like it will not only be the biggest snow-storm of my generation, but possibly yours as well.

Nothing for Nothing

Businesses, law firms, and special interests all donate for a reason: influence. A WSJ piece clearly, and without any pulled punches, shows what these donations mean in areas of county governance that people like you and I never see. Give it a look-see.

Now about that Virgin-Mobile donation to County Exec Ulman...hmm.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Obama Gets His Trickle On

You cannot deny that trickle down economics works. However, you can hide it by calling it a "Small Business Plan" instead of "tax incentives."

Great Coverage of the Vote

My biggest concern is that Columbia's new motto will be "We've Got a There There."

Shout out to HoCoMoJo and Dave Bittner for getting some great interviews. Looks like we found the council-person who is hanging their on this project. My own council-person Mary Kay Sigtay! Well Mary Kay, behind door number one is a lake-front statute of you feeding the pigeons. Door number two is just a door...don't let it hitcha.

John Bailey on Redevelopment

John Bailey gives a good analysis of the new redevelopment plan and why some of the concerns may be addressed by the efforts to make Columbia a "destination" and not simply a place to work. For those of you that disagree, I invite you to respond to the points as they are presented. I know John is an occassional reader, so hopefully we can create some back and forth.

Find Me In Da Club

I want to reach out to the readers and strongly recommend attending this Friday's Howard County Republican Club Happy Hour. If I've learned anything over the past week, it is that the club is filled with dynamic personalities that all have strong opinions about making this a better county, state, and country. As you know, we don't always agree, but there is a common effort to be a strong minority fighting for a say in how things are done.

Just as with this blog, you are not expected to agree, but you have an obligation to speak. I will be there and I hope you will be too.

GOP and the BCS

"Appreciative nod" goes to reader Dave for sending this SI article my way on the Obama administration's "War on the Bowl System" (sounds like a serious digestion aid).

Two peripheral notes:
1) I would like to volunteer to be the official legal analyst for SI.
2) Scott Brown not ONLY won Teddy's seat, but he can also be thanked for brining down the BCS tyranny. What a truck!

Ed Priola on Council Pay Raises

Ed Priola spoke against pay raises for elected officials during a public hearing held on January 19. Here is the written testimony:

'I am here tonight to testify against Council Bill number 2, which proposes increases in compensation for the Howard County Council members.

You may think that the question before us is whether to raise the pay of local elected officials or not? But I think the real question is: do we cut libraries, schools or road repairs to afford those hikes? Or, do we increase taxes and fees on hard working citizens and small businesses to pay for them instead?

We must consider this bill against the pretty impressive backdrop of
the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Last year, the County laid off nine people! Homeowners' water and sewer fees rose by 6 percent, and the school system continues to struggle to keep its capital program up to speed.

With all respect, this is a philosophical point of view. It is my opinion that this kind of 'business as usual' is no longer affordable. It's the pennies that matter in this day and age.

For the record, I disagree with the Compensation Review Committee's argument that pay raises are necessary to 'attract the best possible candidates.' I know many outstanding candidates who reject this proposition.

Let's put the 'public' back into public service. These are part-time jobs meant to serve the community. They are not 'career' or 'wealth building' positions...

Council Members, I encourage you to do the right thing; reject any and all increases in pay outlined in Bill number 2.

Thank you!'"

UPDATE: Council split the baby...and donated their half of the baby.

Here it Comes

As you surely know by now, the Council unanimously passed the redevelopment bills last night. We've discussed the development here ad naseum, and now that it is passed, I can only be hopeful that the planned benefits of this new "lively" city-scape come true, and we are not in fact augmenting the creeping crime/traffic/housing problems that the county has barely attempted to address. Some additional questions:

1) By all appearances, both parties agreed on this issue. If redevelopment is good, Ken Ulman must be nothing short of a hero for playing maestro. Will Trent leave this issue off the table, or are there fighting points that I don't see?

2) Which of the present council-people are going to hang their hat on the redevelopment for the next executive election? Who are they going to blame if it goes wrong?

3) Will the creation of a "new city" make Howard even more blue than it already is?

So Is This An In Kind Donation?

Howard County Library put out this interview with Calvin Ball, which is certainly an interesting clip if nothing else. I don't feel too comfortable commenting on it, other than to say that I hope Greg Fox and the rest of the Council get a bite at this free promotion. And, gasp, maybe even some of the challenger candidates!

Monday, February 1, 2010

And This is What I'm Talking About

My fundraising run-down was given mention in the Tales of Two Cities blog and I thought I would give a quick response. Those numbers were not pretty for challenger candidates. I don't think Larry Carson should be characterizing the numbers that clearly speak for themselves. (Unless he wants to start a blog, at which time he can use all the adjectives he wants). Not every challenger can be bankrolled by wealthy families in other countries. I don't think candidates should be dismissed in light of these early numbers, especially when there is a great deal of discord in the electorate.

So to sum it up, Wordbones, I am hopeful because I think these incumbent council-members can be out-worked. I think the fundraising numbers are going to improve and the electorate is going to start checking out the political new-comers. I may be wrong, but it would be a shame if this election is decided by money alone. A true an unmitigated shame.

Inside-Out Post

Maybe this one should have been titled "Hold On to Your Hat"? Ha ha.

Hold On To Your Hat, Bessie

Another article from the weekend Sun addresses the "good news" about the approximately 40% increase in building permits issued by the county between 2008 and 2009. This is despite the worst job losses in 30 years.

Mr. Carson fails to address the elephant in the room (Larry is known to hate elephants) by ignoring the face that our council has been on a zone changing rampage. Of course buidling permits have gone up. People say "BRAC" and the council gets out their pen. I was one of those people that saw my house go down in value and thought "well that's ok, we'll have an influx of people in 2010, which will buoy the local market." Well that buoy can't float if we prematurely flood the market with housing, which is exactly what the developers and council-members are doing. If you read between the lines on the above linked article, it appears that the members are trying to create an artificial tax revenue stream under the premise of "maintaining county services."

The real shame is that the mess of all this is only going to be evident immediately after the 2010 elections. A good number of our current council members will be able to shrug, blame those that lost their seats, and wait out their term to hope that people forget the votes they made in 2009 and February 1, 2010 (big one today).

I am not anti-development. I did move to the county (and out of Baltimore city) because I enjoyed the rural/suburb/urban mix that Howard County is able to provide. This mix was made via excrutiatingly careful zoning and urban planning. One would be hard pressed to see any "care" in what's going on now. When you look at the statements of the council-members, they almost always appear to be caught up in a wave of unpredictability. They'll say things like "I look forward to seeing this play out in the years ahead" or "This will take additional examination before a resolution can be found" or "I haven't made up my mind on this issue" and then BAMMO they vote in an entirely predictable "Let's roll the dice" manner.

No matter where people stand on issues like development, there does not seem to be a solid voice in the council that the people can trust. If we're moving in the direction of redevelopment and rezoning, I want someone to say "Hey, this one's on me. If it works, I want a statute next to the lakefront. If it doesn't, pack my bags for me and send me into the desert." We don't have that. We have the Teflon Don in Ken Ulman, to which nothing sticks, and a pack of yes-men. I know I have at least one reader who is not a fan of Greg Fox, but I tell ya what, we should be thankful we have him. He has stood in the way of irresponsibile legislation on multiple occassions, even if it was only long enough for us to know it was happening. I know that Greg tends not to get too deep in the development stuff, since that doesn't directly affect his District, but he is more often the not the ONLY person that seems to have a challenging voice to those plans that are from the lawyer's drafting table to county law.