Saturday, July 31, 2010

Dr. Beams has a position!

For your digestion:
Dr. Zaneb Beams I just visited a couple dozen homes, talked to some great folks about bicycle safety, nurturing our schools, taxes, and preventing big box development. We had some good laughs. THIS is what running for public office is all about; connecting with the community, and working with them to build a stronger Howard County.

Driving Mr. Ulman (Saturday Morning Links)

Last night, I attended a function for David Proudfoot over by T-Bonz in Ellicott City.  It was great to see David and his lovely wife April, as always, but I also had the chance to talk to Eddie, who is part owner of T-Bonz.  He told me about all of the really cool events that the restaurant-bar has planned over the next few months, and I thought you beer lovers may want to check it out.  I am most interested in Friday the Firkteenth, which is coming up on August 13th.  I'm no beer blogger, but in summary, a firkin is a small barrel of beer that is normally served fresh from the brewery (i.e., as Eddie told me, not a keg that has sat in a warehouse for months).  T-Bonz will be offering the firkin beer as well as kegged beer so that everyone can taste the difference.  He also told me about how they are in the process of renovating the downstairs of the bar so that they can handle additional capacity.

Eddie is another small business owner that is passionate and excited about his business.  I really enjoy the opportunity to talk to people like Eddie, who want you to be just as excited about what's going on as they are.

Links  (There wasn't much in the Howard section, so I'm just going to do a normal round of links)

Larry Carson has a piece in the Sun today about Ken Ulman's police drivers.  One would think this issue has been fully developed; however, Larry notes that Ken has been using these drivers for non-government events.  What's up with that, Ken?  These events include filing for re-election, the Columbia Democratic Endorsement meeting, and the victory rally for Obama's election.  What.  Is up.  With that.  Look, this isn't about money.  According to the article, these drivers cost the county about $21,774 a year.  This small expense may be why Ken has dismissed critics on this issue over and over again.  The problem, as we have discussed in many different contexts on this blog, is the appearance of impropriety.  Why don't our elected officials "get" that we don't want to see them using police drivers as chauffeurs?  We certainly don't want to see police "in the car with the engine running," as described by Greg Fox (that is so "not Green," Ken).  The reason we don't want to see this is because in an ideal world, the difference between the County Executive and my next door neighbor will be little more than where they go to work.  You are not royalty.  You are not more important.  You just have a different job than the rest of us.  Doctors, nurses, firefighters, teachers -- all manage to drive themselves to work.  So can you (in your County-owned Ford Escape Hybrid).

Convicted child-molester John Merzbacher may have his life sentences nullified due to a flub up by the Baltimore City State's Attorney's office.  Still think Jessamy is doing an a-ok job there, Martin?  Someone needs to be fired.  (Oh, and while I still don't think Jessamy is accountable for the Charles Village murders, this video is quite the indictment).

Attorney General issues a letter of opinion on the recording of police officers.  It's a Witch!  IMPEACH HIM!

Any readers participate in Cross-Fit here in Columbia?  I hear it is bonkers...and can't wait to try it. 

Sarah has a music suggestion for you (and is about to get a little crazy this weekend).  The rest of my blogger brethren are busy having fun.  Have a great Saturday.  I have a buddy coming in from out of town and it is rude to blog with company, so you may not hear from me for a bit.  My Twitter feed tells me that Dr. Beams will be hitting the pavement today.  If you see her, please remind her that her campaign website is way over-due.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Did Not Expect THAT

This afternoon I planned to meet up with my Dad for lunch.  We are very close and normally try to meet up for lunch at least once a month.  This time around we decided to meet at the Red Pearl on the Columbia Lakefront (next to Sushi Sono).  I'm not going to go into a full review, but I wasn't all that impressed.  Admittedly, I ordered Sino-American food (General Tso's) and not true Chinese food, so feel free to dismiss my review.  (Both my Dad and I still miss Wok 175).

Anyway, as I'm walking up to the Red Pearl, I see a table full of people with headphones out on the lakefront pier-stage (what is that thing called?).  I put one and one together and realized that this must be the And Then There's That crew.  To make a long story short, the guys were kind enough to have me on for the end of their show to chat.  I don't know if we discussed anything particularly enlightening, but it was fun.

[Whoops...Correction] Michael Oberman, witness of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin's unmentionables was the guest...and it was very entertaining.

Oh, and I finally gave up on my "secret identity."  You just won't ever see that name on this website.

Disqus Acting Up

For some reason, posts with comments are not showing that there are comments.  Hopefully this will cure itself, but if you are interested in "that kind of thing," I suggest you ignore the "0 Comments" and click on the post headings.

Right now my posts are like a box of chocolates, you never know...

Jen Webs It Up!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you...Jen Terrasa's campaign website.

Flashy?  No.  Informative?  Somewhat.  But most importantly, it is there.  Digesting and critiquing the content of this website is for another time.  Today I am just happy in the fact that all of our Council candidates are comfortably in the 21st Century.

One more thing, is there a special candidate school that teaches you how to halfway roll your sleeves up so that you still look like you're all business, but that you are ready to get your hands dirty?

Doug Gansler Thanks You For Your Incompetence

Doug Gansler has a fruit basket to put together.  According to this article in the Gazette, "The state GOP's last-ditch efforts to field a candidate for the race apparently were scuttled by the refusal of one of its own county chairmen to waive a required 10-day notice before executive committee meetings take place."

James F. Shalleck, a lawyer from Montgomery Village, said he was prepared to run and had been vetted by party officials about five or six days before the July 21 party nominating deadline, but the executive committee's failure to call a meeting prevented him from being added to the ballot.


Party bylaws require executive committee meetings to be announced at least 10 days beforehand. That rule can be waived with the unanimous consent of all 24 local central committee chairs, Mahoney said.

When one person refused to go along, the party's efforts were dashed. The state executive committee needed to approve the nomination of any statewide candidate once the July 6 filing deadline passed.

How does the quote go?  Republicans follow the rules, Democrats break them.  First, I call shennanigans on that one in light of all the pre-July 17th signage.  Second, your rules suck.

Litmus Test Voting...And Why You Should Use It

In a recent comment conversation over at Frank Hecker's corner of cyberspace, we discussed the nature of litmus test voting and whether, in the context of gay marriage (i.e., civic equality), a politician's position on that single issue would win or lose them our vote.

The Republican Party amassed a good amount of its early Millennial success off of litmus test votes, primarily in the abortion and death penalty fields.  If you were pro-life and pro-death (respectively) you were pro-GOP.  The 2004 election had an under-current of Gay Rights issues, but the national Dem candidates included this issue among the many "I was for it before I was agin' it" planks of the Democratic ticket (plus, Dick Cheney's daughter was gay, which the national media was forever unable to make heads or tails of as far as how they would cover it...and just retreated to the comfortable position of "Dick Cheney is Darth Vader").

Civic Equality has all of the features of a litmus test issue.  It has two names: Civic Equality and Gay Marriage (See Death Penalty and Capital Punishment; Pro-Life and Pro-Choice; Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide).  Most candidates would rather not talk about it, so long as the position they are running for has nothing to do with the issue.  And most people have a defined, clear view of what they think about how the issue should be addressed (although I think Abortion allows for a little bit of nuance in how that opinion is expressed).

Civic Equality, at least from my perspective, is the civil rights issue of my generation.  We have a group of people that do not have the same rights as everyone else, due to the very nature of "who they are" as people.  Pure and simple.  If we had a politician that was interested in re-instating segregation, most would agree that the litmus test should apply, and he or she should not get your vote based on that issue alone (even if they had a well developed plan for World Peace in their back pocket).  Right now, our country is still deciding if the prohibition of equal civic rights between gay and straight members of our community can be properly equated to segregation.  I would proffer that it can and should be discussed in such terms.  That doesn't mean that those against civic equality are racists, but it does mean that they are standing in the way of equal rights.

For those with religious protests: Matthew 21:22.  Why do we allow our government to meddle in our religious ceremonies?  I don't believe a Church should be forced to marry anyone, anymore than I believe anyone who wants to get married must get married in a Church.  This discussion relates to the government recognition of a life choice between two adults and the legal repercussions of that decision.  Not who gets into Heaven.

I don't like litmus test issues and think such voting normally gets bad politicians into office.  But in this respect, I would rather have bad politicians who will open doors, than keep the ones that have kept them locked.

It's FRIIIIIIIIiiiiiIIIIIiiiiIIIDAY (Friday Morning Links)

If my "It's Friday" seems especially enthusiastic this week, it is because I am especially enthusiastic about this Friday.  This week has really dragged on for me and I am exhausted.  Every single night this week, I had "something" to go to, which means there has been very little "ah, the work day is over" moments to regroup my thoughts (and possibly get in some solid sleep).  Waa waa waa, enough about that.

Next week, the League of Women Voters will be having their Voter Forum for the General Assembly Candidates in Districts 9, 12, and 13 as well as the Board of Education.  I truly wish I could make it out for this, but one of the experts in one of my cases wants to chat with me that evening (Waaaaa), and I'm not sure how long it will go.  If I get out at a reasonable hour, I will try to make it over there, but I doubt it will happen.  (The following week is County Council candidates, which I will make a special effort to make it out for so that I may either 1) Find out if Dr. Beams has any ideas; and 2) Capture Reginald T. Avery and have him tell me where he has hidden his gold).


Buck Showalter is the new Oriole's Manager.  There is no doubt that this development will provide the fans with at least one thing: Proof that this team's problems have nothing to do with the manager.  (Oh yeah, O's win).

Peter Franchot wants to have a fireplace sit-down with the Charles Village murderers and O'Malley says it is the judges' fault for letting these people go.  As with all crime stories, politicians benefit by discussing the crime and the circumstances in the micro.  The macro is what gets them in trouble.  Franchot has nothing to do with this (and his quote is pointless), but O'Malley is a former mayor of Baltimore.  He had his bite at the apple.  There are ambitious, potentially politically unpopular programs that will address the drug crime that is at the root of this city's problem.  All the politicians every do is blame the police and ask for more funding.  As long as they say "tragedy" enough times when a white researcher gets killed, I guess their hands are clean.

In light of SRB's background and shown intelligence, I think she may have some ideas.

Doughoregan received the final stamp of approval from the County Council.  Let's hope these poor people aren't processing sewage in their backyard five years from now.

I've heard scuttlebutt that despite the rhetoric about this being a "Republican Year," Maryland GOP politicos are not getting support from the National Party.  This can be contrasted against the $100K that the MD Dems received from their national party.  If the national party doesn't support you, it is a good indication that their poll numbers fail to suggest that the incumbents are vulnerable.  That is a little surprising to me, since the general feel I get is that Ehrlich is making some strong in-roads in this State.  Maybe those attending Dennis Schrader's event on August 24th, attended by GOP Chairman Michael Steele, can ask Mr. Steele "What's up with that?"

The good news is that even if the National GOP doesn't support Schrader, Senator Ben Cardin does. (Just stumbled across that.  Isn't it wild?  I wonder if any Terrasa supporters are scraping their Cardin stickers off their car...supporter, Terrasa supporter.  [I kid, I kid, but seriously, where's the website?])

John Bailey may not have won the Dem endorsement, but he did get to meet Bryan Voltaggio...and that proves to be that there is some balance in this world.

HowChow: Sushi King has some new rolls!

Sarah is kicking ass at work...and notes that Arizona's (Judicially Neutered) Immigration Law has some unintended intended consequences.

Wordbones interprets this picture from the Food Bank like it is the Last this incredibly dorky, but I just thought of how cool it would be if we had a Howard County Last Supper with faces super-imposed.  (I am disappointed with how geeked out I have become over Howard County politics).  For now I will have to settle with the Star Wars Last Supper.

That's all I have for you.  Tomorrow I will be heading back to the Day Center after a long hiatus.  No races this week.  I'll be going to my first National's game on Saturday and am pretty excited to try out the food (which I hear is far superior to that at Camden Yards).  On Sunday, I will be cycling around Ellicott City with a friend who is a dedicated cyclist.  I may be walking with a wobble on Monday.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

HoCo Vino

We are a few days away from the County Council passing legislation that would allow wineries in the HoCo!!  I don't really like Maryland wine (although I have yet to try Black Ankle, which I hear is great), but I enjoy going to wineries and all of the events they put on.  The HoCo Scene could use a winery to celebrate the seasons, bolster the art scene, and give our farmers one more location to showcase their goods.  This winery bill is about more than booze.  Our already dynamic community has the opportunity to take on another feature.

I, for one, am very excited.

Poop (No Link Thursday)

My dogs have their own room.  I put them in their room every night unless:
A) One of them does not feel well;
B) There is a thunderstorm (the big one gets the shakes);
C) Wifey gives the Imperial Thumbs Up and says we should let them stay in the room.

Last night, Brodie (the big one) wasn't acting right so we let them stay in the room.  I wake up this morning to find a big ole pile of poop in the family room.  Dealing with said poop took priority over my blogging adventures (although some of you may say "what's the difference").

Hope you all have a great Thursday.  Friday is almost here!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Song About "Lefty"

I once had someone tell me that they thought I was too "thin skinned" to run a blog.  While I think they were close to the mark, I would rather say I am too combative.  The attacks I can take, so long as I can reply to them.  I will admit that I am self-important.  I think this blog is important.  I dedicate at least an hour a day to putting up posts (of questionable value) for my readers to enjoy, disagree with, or ignore.  But at the end of the day, this blog is not Howard County; it is not Republican Party; it is just me.  I've taken flak for that.  I lost false friends over this site.  I've been in fights with true friends over what I post here.  This little blog, for as much as it is, has been as much of a tool as it has been an albatross for me.

That's why I get a bit...fussy when I see a post about the necessity of a "lefty blog."  To the extent that I am a "righty blog," I am certainly letting my people down.  Shouldn't I be talking about "lie-berals" and "Owe-bama"?  Shouldn't I be equating gay marriage to marrying your sister (or your dog)?  Shouldn't I, at the very least, be singing the virtues of the Taxpayer Protection Initiative?

If I may be so bold, I think those that request a "lefty blog" just want someone that agrees with their point of view (and their politicos) 100% of the time.  For all of the talk about what "we need," Sarah writes one hell of a blog that often refers to articles that no one else has seen, and presents a point of view that is left of mine...but I guess not left enough.

When I see a call for a "lefty blog" I feel like it detracts from every minute I put into this little site.  I am not writing as the "righty" voice, but I also don't pretend to be neutral.  I'm a (still) twenty-something conservative, frustrated that his political affiliation won't align with his social concerns, and is otherwise stuck in the middle.  My cousin is gay and one of the best people I've ever met.  I work with convicted criminals that want a second chance at life, and I don't agree with capital punishment (sorry PZ).  I volunteer with homeless men and women that are ignored by the "white horse" liberals that have all the proper bumper stickers on their cars.  Label me if you want, but I expect your "lefty" blogger to be at the Day Center with me on Saturday.

Jody Venkatesan And Loretta Gaffney Tubes

I noted a few days ago that I would like to see challengers use YouTube more to get their message out.  Well Jody Venkatesan (Ven-ka-tay-sen), candidate for State Senate in District 13, has really taken hold of this medium with his own YouTube channel.

One click of the mouse and I was taken over to Loretta Gaffney's Channel

Nice job! 

It's Not The Sidewalks, Stupid (Wednesday Links)

I had a bit of a "snap out of it" moment yesterday in an e-mail conversation with a friend that knows much more about County politics than I, who noted that "land use issues" are the furthest thing from most voter's minds when they cast their County ballot.  Taxes, Education, and even "CUT WASTEFUL SPENDING" resonate a lot better with voters and are easier to understand in brief encounters.  So while we may obsess about bike lanes, traffic patterns, and transit-oriented-development (ok, not the last one, which I still haven't completely wrapped my head around [other than the words' plain meaning]), your average voter doesn't really know what the County Council does other than operate as a mini-Congress.  The indifference of the average voter would appear to be the "intangible" that flubs up contests between two vested interests, which at the end of the day will come down to D and R's.

I appreciate all the comments about the candidates that I am "missing."  I promise you this much, I have been out in the County A LOT over the past six months (to the continued complaint of Jane) and I only report back here with what I see.  If Loretta Gaffney (website still under construction with little over a month and a half before the primary?) and Jody Venkatesan have a particular part of this County on lock-down, I've missed it.  Noting Ed and Kyle in my last post was not to suggest the other candidates aren't working hard, either.  I've been very impressed with Jeff Robinson, but I am concerned that he is not getting the volunteer support he needs (although I am quite certain he makes it through the primary).  So rather than take offense, take this little website to be an unofficial poll of what is getting out there, and realize your candidate may be behind.  Or ignore me.


For those that were unaware, we live in a world where people say they are "hunting to rob someone."

Anyone want to see an neutered Battleship...ahem...Self-Defense ship?

Challenger for the Baltimore City State's Attorney race Gregg Bernstein has used the stabbing of JHU research assistant Stephen Pitcarin as a political launching point for attacks against State's Attorney Jessamy, which I believe is truly unfair.  The SA's office is overworked and understaffed.  If Bernstein has a solution for that, then that would be fair, but to say she "allowed" this murder to happen doesn't sit right with me.

I'm sorry if being one of 19 finalists for $3.4 billion in education funding is not something that gets my heart pumping.  I find it disturbing that our federal education funds are distributed in a model that replicates American Idol.

HowChow covers some local restaurants in the Baltimore Mag.  I realized just how spoiled we are with HoCo food after spending the weekend in Hagerstown, where Olive Garden has an hour and a half wait.  There are at least seven places I can name off the top of my head within seven miles of my house that serve excellent food.  Not just good, but excellent.  Food snobs may differ, but I tend to stay away from food snobs.

Jessie X says sharing is sexy (so share this post on your Facebook and Jessie may drop you a line).

Frank Hecker posts the third part to his series on civic equality in HoCo.  This one touches on some local politicos and their positions on gay marriage (something that is very important to my generation and hopefully everyone who understands the progression of civic consciousness)...(that comment is going to get some disagreement, I suppose).

Sarah proposes you imagine a world without Air Conditioning.  Sarah, I've been there.  It is called Cyprus.  And siestas would be nice, if it wasn't too hot to sleep.  Everybody stinks.

Wordbones sits down with my buddy Bob, who is running for Delegate in District 12B against the winner of the Bailey-Bobo (I just love typing that) match-up.

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I Hope They Didn't Pay Him

The Columbia Flier has a piece about the September 14th primaries in the HoCo.  We've known about these primaries for a bit so it is unclear what is "news" about this story, other than the inclusion of the opinions of "at least one political observer"; that being Donald Norris, public policy professor from UMBC.  Mr. (Dr.?) Norris's conclusions leave a lot to be desired, and it is questionable as to how much attention he was paying to our Council and Delegate primaries before Ms. Breitenbach got him on the phone.

In summary, he thinks Alan Klein is a one-issue candidate and John Bailey is not a "credible" challenger.  (I had to check the date on this piece, since the same thing was said about both candidates at least two months ago).

There is also a quote from Howard Community College adjunct professor Joanne Drielak stating that the Sigaty-Klein race will be a barometer for voter opinions on land use issues.  What she fails to mention is that this will be the most useless barometer created since the other Council challengers have barely addressed land use issues (outside of Bob Flanagan's position on Transit-Oriented-Development; and Tom D'Asto's well briefed positions on Downtown Columbia).  Maybe if we had a barometer for CUT WASTEFUL SPENDING, Ms. Drielak's analysis may be of use.

The brief discussion of the GOP District 13 Primary was just as useful.  In short: no one is endorsing anyone.  The GOP Central Committee and club both are limited by By-Laws, which prevent them from endorsing anyone.  I've suggested that the Club adopt the Dem Club's method of endorsement, since that not only brought all of the candidates for the more obscure races, but also had press in attendance.  No surprise, my e-mail has not received a response.

These restrictions on endorsements are prohibiting the County GOP from creating excitement for their strongest candidates.  That's a shame, because Ed Priola and Kyle Lorton are working their butts off, while a weak party makes itself weaker by saying "No comment."  The endorsement issue should have been addressed in the off-season.  That's the opinion of "at least one political observer."

Powerful Healthcare Video

I'm not too interested in getting back into the National Healthcare Debate, but I did want to share this video that was shown last night at the Rutledge event.  As someone who has been on the fence as far as wanting universal coverage, but not through the government, this video was very powerful (and terrifying) for me.  Digest it however you want.  I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything. 

Rutledge for Senate (Tuesday Links)

Last night I went to a fantastic event for Jim Rutledge, who is running for U.S. Senate against Barbara Mikulski.  I've met Jim previously and really think he is worthy of your support (or at least a click over to his website).  When you meet Jim, you get the impression that (for lack of a better term) he's simple.  This is mostly due to a laid-back comfortability that he confers to just about everyone he meets.  But when the man gets up to talk, you realize that he is as sharp as a tack and has some real ideas for the Country and how to get them accomplished.  Jim also refused to attack any of his primary opponents, which can be distinguished from those in Eric Wargotz's campaign who frequently say that Jim is better suited to run for Attorney General than the Senate.

Nonetheless, some of you may prefer to vote for a Senator heading into her 90's.  (Or was the "old person" logic only applicable when it was McCain?)

I would be remiss if I didn't also note that the event was at Victoria's Gastro Pub, which has brought out its San Fran beer tap list.  This is a line-up that is not to be missed.  I had two beers to remember: a Watermelon Wheat and Freaktoberfest (which was a cool red that made a great conversation starter).  Restaurant week is ticking away, so I suggest you get in your reservation now, before it is too late!!


Robert Ballinger, candidate for Board of Education, has a new (very sharp looking) website.  I've had the chance to chat with Bob (however briefly) and pay a little more attention to his positions for BoE, and I've really been impressed.  Bob has a dedicated interest to special needs children, partly due to his family's own experiences with autism.  We need that.  He has also been closely following the Cradlerock mess (my term, not his) and has become an advocate for those parents.  There are some candidates for BoE that are trying to make their candidacy into a crusade, but Bob is just offering up his own experiences and thoughts on how to get things done.  That's something to be appreciated.

This is a tragic story about the Johns Hopkins researcher that was killed over the weekend.  By the looks of things, he was brilliant and we lost him for nothing.

So whenever a poll comes out that shows Ehrlich (wasn't there last night, btw) is leading O'Malley, the Sun says they're tied.  (And the WaPo says that O'Malley still has the lead.  Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics.)

Four kids biking coast-to-coast for charity.  Isn't that what America is all about?

(Additional Note: I was almost clipped on my bike yesterday by a lady with a "Choose Cycling" sticker on her car.  Seriously!  I almost wouldn't have minded if it said "Choose Civility," since I've become used to the fact that you people are jerks. ;-)

HowChow Trolling is BACK!  (Come on WB, get an entry in there already.  Same for all you candidates.  Free publicity!)

Sarah does not appreciate the dismissal of our "suburban malaise" by a man who proves his point by saying that we suburbanites don't say we are from "Columbia," but rather "Baltimore or D.C."  I will say that despite being from Ellicott City, I tell most people that I am from Columbia.  That kind of shoots my whole "rivalry" (see comments) in the foot, but enough people know Columbia that I don't need to reference Baltimore, which normally gets the " can't be from Baltimore!  Where's your Kevlar?"

WB posts about the celebration on Wednesday to note our "First Loser" status among the best places to live.  They are giving away free...ahem...taxpayer supported ice cream.  Taxpayers Against Giveaways are going to be PISSED.

That's all for today.  Hope to check in later, but don't expect to be able to post as much as yesterday (I had a bunch of pre-packaged posts from the weekend).  Have a great one.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Donde Esta Flanagan?

In light of the most recent approval of the Doughoregan housing development, I can't help but wonder, where the is Bob Flanagan on this?  What's his position on this clearly contentious bit of Council legislation right in his District?  In fact, where's Bob's position on Columbia Redevelopment?

Where is Bob's position on anything related to the day-to-day votes of the County Council?

Bob wants to stop "growing a government we can't afford."  That's well and good, but that's one vote.  The Council votes on the budget once.  There are a million of inane, boring votes that the Council makes on a daily basis, and I want to know where Bob's chit is going to go.  I'm not saying Bob needs to make an issue post about whether or not a cell phone tower should be allowed in rural HoCo, but I would like to know his general philosophy on County development.  We know that position for exactly five people (ok six) in these Council races.  But you want our vote because Healthy Howard is silly?  ( make a compelling case there.) 

And don't get me wrong, I don't mean to pick on Bob alone.  I think all of the County Council challengers need let us know where they're at on this stuff.  Otherwise, I think it is completely fair to say that these candidates are running on bluster.  (Or in the case of Dr. Beams, nothing at all.)

(Note: I originally drafted this post on Friday, but thought I would send Bob an e-mail to see if he had an opinion that had not been published.  I have not yet received a response.  That doesn't mean Bob doesn't have a position, but I think it's fair to comment on his silence.)

Ground Zero Mosque

I know, I know...this does not have to do with my neighbor's door color, roof height, swing-set, or any other Howard County big issues, BUT this blog is where I put my thoughts so here we go...

I understand the "outrage" directed towards the "13 story mosque" that will be put near-by (don't listen to the fire-brands) the Ground Zero Trade Center site.  From a PR perspective, not the best plan.  However, what I do not understand is where in the Constitution, that document that many conservatives carry in their pocket, the government has the power to prevent a building from being built based on the religion that will be practiced inside.  If you look into this issue a little more, you will see that the mosque, for all intents and purposes, already exists.

Are we to hold all religions accountable for the crimes of their practitioners?  If so, I believe some more "popular" religions may have to be evaluated for their fitness as educators of children.  Maybe we should evaluate their structures for proximity to schools.  Many other religions should be evaluated for past discriminatory practices and associations with hate groups that would prohibit them from government funds.

Don't let the hate-mongers make you hate based on abstract ideas of religion.  The Founding Fathers were incredibly practical people.  That's why our government does not, and never will, have the ability to prohibit a mosque.

Bailey YouTubes It Up

John Bailey just posted a new YouTube clip about Job Creation:

I think YouTube is a great resource for challenger candidates facing incumbent war-chests.  John will never match Liz Bobo in fundraising, but he may be able to sell a better message and get it out through free or low cost mediums such as YouTube.  Hopefully we'll see more challengers tap this method of reaching voters in the coming months.

Stilt Walkin' Monday (Links)

Frequent readers may know that I participated in a Sprint Triathlon yesterday in Hagerstown.  I had a great time and actually finished pretty well (81/259; 1:18 time), but now my legs feel like two stilts wrapped in barbed wire.  I don't mind too much, since it is proof of a hard run race, but I do feel goofy walking around like I am pretending to ride a broom horse.

I guess those blue ribbons are a little harder to come by as you get older.  ;-)


Glad to see the thumbs are gone, David.  I don't necessarily agree that your opinions of the other candidates, which you admittedly "don't know that much about," are relevant, but the smiley faces were just plain juvenile.

The Sun is really doing a knock-out job with this Baltimore City Rape Case issue.  The most recent article points out that some of the cases dismissed by the police were later shown to be valid by DNA evidence.  Police say it is because they were focused on city shootings (Um, my TV says that you have a Special Victims Unit, and my TV is never wrong).  Some commentators are saying that this is just a symptom of the larger disease of Crime Statistic fudging.  Politicians have a lot to gain by reclassifying crimes (or not recording them at all) in order to keep their Crime Statistics low.  For some reason, the HoCo challengers have decided to leave the Crime issue on the table in our corner of the world, despite numbers that would jump out of any political ad.  Maybe it is because "CUT WASTEFUL SPENDING" is easier to yell.

Any reports of Bed Bugs out in the HoCo?   Call me heart-less but this line: "A Hampden man threw out his possessions and fled his apartment with only a bag of clothes and a handful of papers," made me laugh.

Most of us, in our suburban bubble, don't deal too often with social workers.  In some of the places I've volunteered, I've had the experience to see the work that the Department of Human Resources does in our community, and I have to say that I am truly impressed by the professionalism and dedication of Maryland case workers.  Looks like they have a new boss.

I don't see how either of the gubernatorial candidates can make a clear message out of the Arundel slots referendum, but it appears that they will try.  I may get a chance to speak with Gov. Ehrlich today, and, if I do, I will ask him.

Here is Larry Carson's article that I wrote about on Saturday.  I think it is well-written and fair, but I imagine those on the other side of the TPI issue disagree.  I listened to Bob Flanagan on the Kendel Ehrlich show on Saturday, and he seemed pretty confident that they were going to get it done.  I promise here and now that I will eat each and every one of my words from Saturday if they do.  However, it would seem to me that Bob is putting himself in a very awkward position of being the spokesperson for an effort that was eulogized in the Sun on Saturday.  (Maybe I do have candidate envy).

Can food blog writers get Pulitzers?  Because I think HowChow should at least be nominated for his ambitious search for the secret menus used at HoCo Chinese restaurants.

Freemarket: "Safeway makes Food Lion look like it's run by the government."  Sounds like an awesome yo momma joke.

Wordbones posts about Farmer Road-side stands.  Unfortunately, he has yet to find one that serves the perty chicken sandwich featured to the right of his page.

Jessie X posts a good-lookin' Tilapia recipe.

And now I will waddle up to my work computer (working from home today) and get some hours billed.  By the way, Friday's motion hearing was a great success.  I love my job.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Orioles Field Runner...Keeps Going And Going And Going

This is hilarious.

Busy Night (Friday Links)

I had a great time at David Proudfoot's Lardarius Webb event (that first name is harder to spell than it looks).  Webb's knee looked fine, Jason, and he said he is doing well (there was no limp).  David's supporters are the kind of "Our Town" group of people that you would hope to see come out for a candidate like David.  I met local business people, neighbors, co-workers, friends, family members, and people that had never met David, but had heard good things through the grapevine.  The hosts had an AMAZING downstairs bar area that would be ideal for any Ravens hang-out (maybe they should try to register for a Ravens Roost?).  Overall, a very good time and David should be proud.

I had to swing out a little early due to a curfew with the wife, but as I started driving home I realized how close I was to the VFW where the HoCo GOP Club was having their meeting.  I swung in there, saw some familiar faces, listened to some debate (missed the Candidate speeches), and swung back out.  (As noted before, I don't talk about GOP Club business on this site.)


Baltimore City School CEO Alonso orders an inquiry into pitiful test scores.  I think this man may be running out of leash.  There's only so much "we're looking into this" you can do before people start thinking "HEY!  You said you were going to 'look into this' the last time it was all messed up.  What are you doing about it?"

Living Wage dies.  Har Har Har.

Evidently, fire-fighters are a rowdy bunch.  We just received an influx from all over the Nation.

85 lbs of Marijuana?!?  85 LBS?!?

There is another review of a Columbia Restaurant in the Sun: Cazbar -- "across from Howard Community College."

Kimco made their presentation with regard to plans for the Wilde Lake Village Center last night.  From Larry's perspective, it seemed to have been well received.  You have to feel for these people on the grocery store issue, though.  I know, I know.  There is no "build it and they will come" maxim for commercial property, BUT I sympathize with the people that are missing out on one of the core practicalities of Rouse's plan -- the village center with a grocery store.  If I were a Mom & Pop shop like Boarman's out in Highland, I would see this, talk to an accountant, and look into buying a little corner store to meet the basic necessities.  Growing up in Highland, I feel like I have blasphemed just by imagining Boarman's outside of those four walls, but I know they have the money to expand  (even talked about reopening their gas pumps a while back) and these people are DYING for some milk, cereal, and eggs.

(Note: Frank Hecker's Analysis of the "Grocery Store in Wilde Lake" Issue)

WB: Seinfeld.  Marc Norman: Newman.

Sarah hits up the transportation issue through the lens of gubernatorial politics.  

HowChow: Dim Sum at Red Pearl.

And that is all.  I have a very busy day for a Friday, with a special appearance in U.S. District Court this morning (for me, incredibly exciting; for you, booooooring).  Hopefully I will kick some legally misguided butt, and come back with some scalps.  This weekend I have a triathlon in Hagerstown (and yes I know it will be 100 degrees).  Sleep when I'm dead, right?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Court of Special Appeals Takes Petition Case

Looks like the Court of Special Appeals will be having some say in what is on our November 2010 ballot.  Howard County Citizens for Open Government have appealed Judge McCrone's decision on the HoCo Board of Elections decision...breathe...that the referendum petition regarding the blocking of a new grocery store (Harris Teeter) in Turf Valley did not contain enough valid signatures to be considered on this year's ballot.  In effect, this is the third level of review.

For those unfamiliar with our Court system, the Court of Special Appeals has "mandatory" appellate jurisdiction, meaning the CSA has to take the case.  The next level, the Court of Appeals, has discretionary jurisdiction and may decline to take the case should either party appeal the CSA ruling.

Interesting stuff for a law geek like me.  I wouldn't be surprised to see the Court of Appeals take the case if CSA doesn't overturn.  This issue of petition signatures matching voter registration cards is causing a lot of Constitutional confusion, and that is what the Court of Appeals is supposed to cover.

GOP Plan For District 2

I've found that sometimes the articles on The Sun webpage will morph after the original posting to include additional information.  Larry Carson's piece about Anthony's withdraw from District 2 was just one of those articles.  When I first read it, I didn't see anything from GOP Central Committee Chairwoman Joan Becker.  I now see this:

Election board deputy administrator Guy Mickley said that once Jordan is the nominee, he can officially withdraw, and the Republican party centerl (sic.) committee can name a replacement. Party charwoman Joan Becker said that's her plan.

That would give a new candidate only six weeks to campaign, but Becker said the move is still worth making.

"It's just so people have an opportunity to vote for someone of their choosing," she said.

I wonder if Mr. Avery's phone is ringing?  I don't see why a candidate couldn't "campaign" prior to being named the GOP candidate on September 15th.  I would also be very skeptical of whomever the GOP proffered, and hope that they would have been someone that supported Anthony prior to him having to leave the race.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Top Secret Howard County

As you all are well aware, our own blog-den-mother Wordbones was consulted in conjunction with the recent WaPo series Top Secret America (which I am enjoying tremendously).  What you all may not know is that Ms. Priest also spoke with County-den-mother Ken Ulman.  Speaking about the folks that work at the NSA:

"These are some of the most brilliant people in the world," said Ken Ulman, executive of Howard County, one of six counties in NSA's geographic sphere of influence. "They demand good schools and a high quality of life."

This is then followed by a very curious passage about our school curriculum:

The schools, indeed, are among the best, and some are adopting a curriculum this fall that will teach students as young as 10 what kind of lifestyle it takes to get a security clearance and what kind of behavior would disqualify them.

(emphasis added).  As a former Department Counsel with the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals, I would be more than happy to instruct the youngsters of the career endangerment that may be brought on by sniffing too much glue.  The article even explains our traffic woes:

The impact of the NSA and other secretive organizations in this cluster is not just monetary. It shades even the flow of traffic one particular day as a white van pulls out of a parking lot and into midday traffic.

That white van is followed by five others just like it.

Inside each one, two government agents in training at the secretive Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy are trying not to get lost as they careen around local roads practicing "discreet surveillance" - in this case, following a teacher in the role of a spy.

The piece goes on to describe how these agents in training will zip down our roads at 60 mph with radio updates as to the location of police who are unaware of their training session.  Lest we believe this chase did not occur on the streets of Howard County, the agents end their surveillance at a Borders in Columbia.

Oh, and here's the profile of our local blogger:

Lane, senior vice president of Ryan Commercial real estate, has become something of a snoop himself when it comes to the NSA. At 55, he has lived and worked in its shadow all his life and has schooled himself on its growing presence in his community. He collects business intelligence using his own network of informants, executives like himself hoping to making a killing off an organization many of his neighbors don't know a thing about.

He notices when the NSA or a different secretive government organization leases another building, hires more contractors and expands its outreach to the local business community. He's been following construction projects, job migrations, corporate moves. He knows that local planners are estimating that 10,000 more jobs will come with an expanded NSA and an additional 52,000 from other intelligence units moving to the Fort Meade post.

Wild wild stuff.  I will admit to my fellow blogger Frank Hecker that I don't think she disturbed anything that should have been left secret...for now.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wading Into the Political Season

Despite writing about many of them, I haven't been able to get out to too many political fundraisers or events.  This is mostly because I am still in my twenties and don't have the money to lay down for $50-a-plate events (or even the more accessible $25 event at Toby's for Mary Kay) and otherwise want to spend time with my wife, who won't come out for those types of things.  Don't get me wrong, I know that the money has to come from somewhere, but a lot of these events turn into expensive candidate meetings, with very few paying customers.

Tonight, however, I will be heading out to Hoolihan's in Gateway Overlook for J'Neanne Theus's "Hooplah at Hoolihans."  This event had previously been for Anthony Jordan and J'Neanne, but due to recent events will be sans one (although he will be in attendance).  I don't know J'Neanne, but I know that people I respect think very highly of her.  She is running in District 13, which is getting a little crowded with GOP Candidates.  Pat McDonough, a Delegate from Baltimore with a lot of bipartisan support in his home District, will be speaking about immigration issues.

A few people have asked me how I think District 13 is going to go.  Outside of my prediction that Ed Priola gets a seat, I don't know which of the Turner/PenderBAM/Guzzone trio gets the boot, and I don't know if another GOP contender slips in.  My feel for these things comes from chatter, and I am not seeing much chatter about District 13 (or any of the Delegate races other than the Bailey/Bobo primary).  I expect this to change over the next month, but for now I will just be holding my breath.

Links Are Back! (Tuesday Morning Links)

Thank you for all the positive comments about the links.  I'm glad they are useful/enjoyable and will keep them going.


A follow-up (on the follow-up) article in the Sun indicated that the "non-violent" inmates that were volunteering at the Day's End Farm were not so non-violent.  That's not the issue for me.  These were inmates near release that were dedicating themselves to a volunteer effort.  If you read about the program, these inmates were not taking the horses on training runs.  They were working in the field and dealing with those activities that are not automatically associated with the glamour of horses.  What if this was a post-release program for former inmates with violent non-violent histories like those noted in the article?  I presume that would have to be fine with the neighbors...unless there is something else going on here.

I work with nursing homes on a near daily basis and I am so happy to hear of the innovative learning that is going on with UMBC's Erikson school.  The bottom line is dignity.  Whether or not these programs are successful will play a big factor in whether you get to leave this world with it.

The Baltimore Sun is doing a little bit of razzle dazzle in interpreting recent poll numbers that indicate Ehrlich is surpassing O'Malley.  While the Sun may be able to pick a fight with "little known" Magellan, they can't argue with the larger trend, which is indicated by Real Clear Politic's poll averaging

Call Tom Clancy and the A-Team, because we officially have a "a rogue government agency" -- The Soil Conservation District!  I pity the fool that has to deal with this mess.

For those that haven't started reading Dana Priest's "Top Secret America," I would definitely recommend it to you.  I have to agree with friends that there are certain things that "don't need to be messed with" and Ms. Priest is definitely going out of her way to "mess with them."  She says her goal is to point out inefficiencies in an unwieldy system of National Security, but I really get the feeling that this is more about figuring out the magician's tricks, and then telling everybody what you found.  We'll see as the pieces move forward, but if all this does is knock down the Jenga tower of secret locations across the area, it would be a real shame.

Sarah put together a very well thought-out post on mixed-use buildings that I would highly recommend to all of you.  I would be interested to hear WB's thoughts on this post.

...that is, before he becomes a "disappeared."

HowChow posts about Fage Greek Yogurt.  Even since Jane got me into it, I've had Chobani Greek Yogurt every day at work.  Very good stuff and very good for you. 

Freemarket wants you to know about the Howard County Fair, and the fact that the signs for said fair may be illegal.

That's all for today.  I was at the Oriole's game last night...and am sad to say that my record on the year is now much closer to the Orioles' record: 2-6.  Why do I do this to myself?  Bring on the Ravens.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Sun Covers Anthony Jordan

Larry Carson just put out a quick piece about Anthony Jordan's decision to close shop on his campaign for County Council in District 2.  I don't really agree with the angle he took here, which basically portrays Anthony as sabotaging some GOP "plan" to unseat the uber-popular Calvin Ball.  Anthony made his decision last Thursday and notified the HoCo GOP Central Committee that same day (as well as some other GOP politicos who had supported him).  Believe it or not, there is not exactly a line of people looking to run in District 2 from the right side of the aisle.  By all appearances, no one said anything about the withdraw deadline to Anthony, but even if they had, I don't know if the county GOP would have found a candidate to plug in to the race.

For those looking to unseat Calvin, Reginald T. Avery is your pony.  If you ask him nice enough, he may even let you sign his petition...that is, if he'll talk to you about the election in the first place.

HoCo Cycling Efforts in the Sun

Those that read my post over the weekend about bike lanes may find this piece by Larry Carson to be interesting.

I got nuthin'

No links this morning.  I've been trying to make more substantive posts after a friend noted that the links "are easy."  I admit they are easy, but they take time.  If that time can be directed towards well thought out posts, then you all would be much better served if I did that.  I have the counter-vailing interest of keeping daily posts, which is why the daily links aren't going anywhere anytime soon.  But today, after a weekend chocked full of posts (and tweets), I'm just spent.  I'm also in an unexplainable bad mood, which makes it even harder to whip something up. 


Sunday, July 18, 2010

HoCo Rising Reviews: Venegas Prime Filet

(If this post seems choppy, I am in the midst of supplying CPR to my wallet.)

To start, Venegas knows what they are doing.  Steaks were amazing.  Now that I got that out of the's the scoop.  Jane and I went to Venegas solely due to a gift card provided by Momma and Poppa HCRising (which was awarded due to bad experience that was duly complained of).  I was expecting the worst.  Things got off to a rough start.  Jane and I order the cheese plate, as we normally do for fancy wine-oriented outings (note: wine list narrowly tailored to great wines by the glass.  Thumbs up here.).  Upon said cheese plate are a set of raspberries.  Two seconds after the cheese plate is on the table, Jane picks up a raspberry and pops it in her mouth "NO, STOP" I say, "Take that out!"  Big ole spot of mold on the raspberry.  Jane damn near passes out.  For those that don't know me and don't know Jane, she is a bit of a perfectionist (hence marrying me and all), so I didn't expect the mold to be forgivable.  BUT, she was a trooper.  She put said raspberry back on the plate, we told the server, and received a new plate (for which the raspberries were not touched, and the cheeses were great).

The steaks we ordered were great.  Worth the money?  Not really.  Worth the money minus $50?  Sure.  We ordered the Mini Chocolates for desert, which are deserving a visit all on their own.

I don't want to end this review without noting how great our server was.  Her name was Dolphina (or some variation thereof).  Jane doesn't do wine, but our server was able to find a wine for Jane based on some very vague parameters.  The raspberry situation was addressed without any wha-ha-happen explanations.  Just all around good job.

Will we go back to Venegas?  No.  Would I recommend it to a friend?  Probably.  Just check the berries.

(Note: Another Maple Lawn establishment goes down with the Pizza Joint next to I.M. Wine.  I don't want to hear one more person talk about how a new development "will be like Maple Lawn" unless they are predicting a failure.)

This Week's Buzz: Music Man w/ Mr. 90 seconds

Awesome Pics of HowChow

These pictures are so cool that I actually ran up a flight of stairs with my computer to show Jane.


Nice job to Matt Roth and congrats to Brent (aka HowChow) for his iconic status.

I Want to Ride My Bi-sick-cal, I Want to Ride My Bike

On this hawt day in July, I plan to knock out some honey-dos, spend some time with family, and ride my bike.  Owning a bicycle is one of those things where as soon as you buy one, you realize how many other people have one too.  Howard County is a biking community.  I don't think we have many biking commuters, but it certainly appears to be the recreation of choice, even over the equipment free run, jog, or walk.

Something interesting that isn't getting much press is that we are in the process of having bike lanes put in across the county.  County Roadway Design (as indicated by this Route One analysis) has made it a priority to place bike lanes where the width of the road allows (Note to non-cyclists: the shoulder is not a "bike lane").  The State has recently passed legislation mandating a three-foot bubble for cyclists, but we are still a long way off from having motorists pulled over for breaking this law, which is admittedly intended more for awareness than true implementation.  I applaud the county and the Ulman Administration for their initiative and forward-thinking in this regard.  These bike lanes will cost the county very little money, but will be a tremendous benefit for those that want to participate in the Cliff 2-Mile Challenge, or just want to add some fitness to their commute.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saturday Reporting on Sun Reporting (Again?)

I thought this was fixed?  About two weeks back, I went to the Sun website (on a Saturday mind you) and Larry Carson's journalistic treasures were there for all to see.  Today, not so much.  There is a great set of pieces on the Dem Club Endorsements, the mysterious Reginald T. Avery, and Ed Priola's sweat and boot leather campaign; however, those without a subscription are not privy to these pieces until Sunday at the earliest.  This is nothing short of a travesty and I will operate within the boundaries of "fair use" to get this info to your desktop, laptop, iPhone, and iPad.

First, the endorsements.  I think we need to view them for what they are: unrepresentative straw polls.  Anyone who operates around political clubs and "their" electeds know that incumbents should not sit down for fear of endangering the noses of the last person to kiss their caboose.  As such, I have to agree with WB that it is somewhat surprising to see that Liz Bobo only pulled in 70 out of 107 votes (with the quizzical 10 abstainers [were these members that were also running for office?]).  However, as much as I like John Bailey (site still running slow, John), 70 to 27 isn't going to make people start talking upset.  Same goes for Mary Kay's (I like the website, MK) 88 to Alan's 14.  What I take issue with is comparing these votes to those incumbents who had no primary challengers.  That's just plain ridiculous at best, and misleading at worst.  Larry's piece does a great job of laying this out and gets some good quotes from Bailey and Liz (who suspected that John was working on an "organized effort" to win the endorsement [yes, yes he is.  He is "organizing" a campaign to beat you.  Get over it.]).  Both of the challengers said that they don't think the Club is a representative sample of the electorate, which I agree with, HOWEVER, it may be a fair representation of the kind of people that get in their vegetable oil fueled Volvo to vote in a Dem primary.

Next, Larry gets to the bottom of this Reginald T. Avery fella...or gives a good try to.  I've heard some stories about this guy and from what I hear, he walks around with a big dude that gives the appearance of a "bodyguard."  If I were to guess, I would presume this is Frank Beardsley, Mr. Avery's self-professed campaign manager.  Despite being called by Mr. Carson, and given an opportunity to make himself known in the most widely read paper in this state, Mr. Avery "refuses to talk" about this election until August.  Hopefully he is willing to talk to at least 330 people in order to get them to sign his candidate petition, which is due August 2nd.  Meanwhile, Calvin Ball will be using his campaign money to adopt puppies for orphans.

Finally, Larry talks about Ed Priola's campaign.  I've made very clear that I think Ed gets a seat at the table when the dust settles in November.  He is smart, hard-working, considerate, ethically minded, and, by all appearances, a normal guy (nowadays that is a rarity in political candidates).  This is not to say I don't like the other GOP candidates in District 13, I just think Ed has the inside track.  I won't run through the whole article, but I think Larry gives Ed a fair shake, and that the incumbents have no idea how fast Ed is gaining on them.

That's all for today.  I've got some legal research to do for the Sober Houses and will be going to the baseball game later today.  Please check out my new Twitter feed as I figure out how the darn thing works.

I'm Twittering

Last night, I joined Twitter.  I saw that Jessie X was collecting hoco blogger twitter accounts, and felt like I should join the group.  Admittedly, I feel like a grandpa trying to change the time setting on his Beta-max, but I consider myself technologically competent, and will most probably be using the new forum to the extreme in the next few weeks.

Wish me luck.

Friday, July 16, 2010

HoCo Citizen's Police Academy

Over on the Explore Howard site, I was reading about the unfortunate incident in which a 54 year old woman was knocked unconscious by a Howard County police officer.  In the somewhat heated comments underneath the article, I found a recommendation from someone who clearly is a police officer pretending to be a neutral observer suggesting that the police detractors participate in the HoCo Po Po Citizen Police Academy.  Never having heard of such an Academy, I googled it and stumbled across this 11 week program that appears to include both classroom sessions and field activities with K-9's and firing ranges.  Unfortunately, budgetary restraints cancelled the Spring session, but it looks like they will be starting up again in September.

I've thought about how to phrase the following sentence for at least two minutes and can't think of any other way to say this...but...why would anyone want to spend 11 weeks on such a program?  Has anyone out there done this?  What kind of time commitment is there?  To clarify, if it was a one hour seminar once every two weeks for 11 weeks, that makes sense, but otherwise I just can't wrap my head around it.

Anthony Jordan Steps Aside

My friend Anthony Jordan, who was running for County Council in District 2 against Calvin Ball, has closed shop.  In my humble opinion, he ran for all the right reasons, and he is closing his campaign for all the right reasons.  His job has picked up speed and he has two young daughters at home that can't be expected to understand the time commitments that are keeping their Dad out of the house.  A friend of mine recently said "The life of a politician sucks," and it was no different in this case.  The link above connects to Anthony's full explanation, but I don't think anyone in their right mind can fault him for stepping aside.  I also want to note that despite being greatly out-matched in funds and name recognition, Anthony always kept his integrity and never bought into the negative campaign tactics that others were trying to hoist on him.  He was disparaged for not doing so, but I can tell you as his friend, I was incredibly proud of how he ran his campaign.

So unless Reginald T. Avery is able to collect 330 signatures, Calvin Ball is on his way to an unchallenged seat. 

We've Got a Flasher On the Loose

Not to alarm anyone, but please do not accept anyone's offer to show you their belt-buckle.  Especially not in Ellicott City.  According to the Howard County Times, there were two incidences of "Man observed exposing himself" over the first week of July.  These offenses appear to take place primarily in the morning and in parks.

You win this round, Eden Prairie!

Ghost Town (Friday Links)

On Friday mornings (around 7:00) you can literally lay down on normally busy streets like Commerce, and probably not have to get up for 10 to 15 minutes.  It is creepy how empty this place gets.  My office is similarly empty, which is nice because it has been a crazy week.  Last night I was at a firm function until the late hours of the evening, so I am a little "firmed out."  I expect to have a work-free weekend and have some nice QT with friends and family.


This campaign video for HoCo Board of Ed is over-the-top disturbing.  I was going to dedicate an entire blog post to it, but allowed discretion to take hold.

Speaking of campaign videos, O'Malley messed himself with this little whoopsie-daisy.  I love it when negative deceptive campaigning blows up in the malfeasor's face.  In this case it is slightly more enjoyable because it is O'Malley The Special-Sessioner.

This article about the Arundel slots referendum court action just proves that when you take a referendum to court, you are never ever going to leave.

We had an earthquake

The Days End Farm story really had me stirred up yesterday.  In summary, a program for soon-to-be-released inmates from a local female correctional institute were allowed to work on the farm to help take care of rescued horses.  The parents of other volunteers and neighbors complained to their legislators, who then had the state shut it down, hanging their hat on the fact that the farm and the State failed to get permission from the locals prior to allowing inmates on the farm (which clearly would have been hokey dorey with these kind folks).  There is almost a high school English class theme to this whole conflict, whereby the abused and neglected horses are a subject of adoration and love, while the abused and neglected people are treated like human trash.  "Prisoners are bad" is a clear (easy) political slam dunk, and you can expect any politician to drive that shot home, but for me, it seems like the only thing that was accomplished here was a good program got shut down by a bunch of closed-minded NIMBY's.  Hopefully those that sought to have the program closed will be working for alternatives to reclaim the rehabilitative nature of programs such as those formerly maintained at Days End Farm.  (Freemarket seems to be on the same page.)

Wordbones has the most secure TP in the county.

HowChow suggests Turkish Cherry Nectar at Nazar Market.

Sarah had a very bad day.  (I say you read your friend the riot act and if she is still your friend after you give her what-for, then you'll be able to resolve your difficulties.)

Jessie posts about a very cool seed lending program.

Time to get back to work.  I'm running in the TrailFight 5K tomorrow and then heading to the State of the Orioles later in the afternoon.  Very exciting.  Have a great Friday.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Power of Doing What's Right (No Link Thursday)

Yesterday at work we had a server meltdown.  The IT people have sent us a bunch of gobbledeegook e-mails about how the server room overheated and a switch kept recalling back onto itself, which informed me that IT work is the most convenient place to explain "I spilled some coffee in a very inconvenient place, but now I'm going to cover it up with techy talk."

Anyway, the Great Coffee Spill caused my work schedule to get jacked up beyond recognition.  I had to bring my computer home and work from there, but then realized all the "stuff" I needed was at the office.  Bottom line: I have some catching up to do.

However, I did want to point out something cool from last night's ESPY's (a sports award show).  There is a coach out in Iowa that was killed by one of his former players.  This was soon after he had put the town on his shoulders after a tornado destroyed most of the town, including the football field that he would mow himself every week.  The coach's name was Ed Thomas and his family received the Courage award at the ESPY's.  His son accepted the award and noted that his father was an unknown high school football coach who gained attention for "just doing what's right."  He took care of people that needed help, and led them out of hard times.  He stepped up.  I found that to be a profound statement and worth commenting on.  It seems like doing "what's wrong" is normally an easy way to get ahead, and often is available without the danger of being caught.  However, it is the power of doing what's right that really makes things happen if you are dedicated to it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

RUNNERS!!! Read Me!

Living Social is a website that posts ridiculous one day deals for local businesses.  Supposedly there is some floor, where if not enough people buy into the deal, the deal evaporates and everyone gets their money back.

Many of you have heard about my love affair with Charm City Run.  They put on great events and have just opened a new store in Clarksville (which you "new to the party" folks may think of as "River Hill").  Today Living Social is offering a deal whereby you spend $40 for an $80 gift certificate (and not like those fake GC's where you have to buy $300 for a $30 discount).

You may be asking yourself "This isn't empty criticism or mean-spiriting teasing of politicians.  Why would HCR post such a thing?"  Because I want free money.  You see the other way Living Social works is once you buy a deal, if you get three other people to buy it, you get your deal for free.  I honestly believe it is a great deal (especially for those looking to buy new running shoes) and wanted to share it with my peeps.  The side effect of potentially free money is something I will begrudgingly take as a reward for promoting fitness.

Peak Day (Wednesday Links)

We are at the peak of the work week and everything rolls towards the weekend from here.  Jane finally comes home today, which will be a welcome change for my dogs, who have probably spent the past two mornings thinking "I wonder if big guy is going to remember to feed us today."  (I remembered every day but one, and they still had food in the bowl that there.)  Being without one's spouse for a significant period of time is a lot like the Simpson's episode where Bart sold his soul, which he needed to help paddle to utopia.  When Jane and I are both home, I feel like we are a smooth operating system, with two people taking care of their respective "stuff."  When she's gone, I feel like a boat with one oar, paddling in circles.  I forget to do all sorts of small stuff that she normally takes care of.  I just feel "off" when she's not around.  But today I get her back.


O'Malley is engaging a tried and true method for obtaining votes: Offer them free stuff.

The Sun has again picked a headline that could have been plucked from The Onion:  Nicknames Among Gang Members Become More Sinister.  As long as they stop killing people, they can call each other the Bloody Justice League for all I care.

In case you didn't know, there is an Extreme Makeover Home Edition going on in Baltimore City.

Four arrested in a string of Columbia burglaries that swiped over $50,000 worth of property.  Nice job, HoCo Po Po.

Sadly, Jessie X will not be Alicia Keys new head blogger.

Wordbones notices that some summer festivals have dropped their numbers recently and wonders why.  (It's those anti-social govies, WB.  I'm tellin' ya.) 

Sarah plans to be rocking out with a violin in the very near future.

HowChow gives Red Pearl on the Columbia Lakefront a great review.  If Red Pearl ever lives up to the standard set by its neighbor, Sushi Sono, we could end up having ourselves a little boro of good Asian food...ok two restaurants, but still, that would be cool.

That's all for today.  Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

About An Umbrella

Those that visited the site this morning know that last night's storm transferred some property from my yard to my neighbor's deck.

I had a chance to talk to Jane from afar today.  I said "Hey remember that umbrella I asked you to close when you weren't using?"  She said, "Yeah."  I said, "Well, I think you left it open."  She said "Why?"  I said, "The laws of nature decided that it was better suited on the neighbor's deck, or at least the top half."

Thanks to the house next door being empty for the past four months, I was able to leisurely approach the half umbrella looming ominously over our vegetable garden.  Nonetheless, my slow approach to the problem did not stop the umbrella from hanging in my thoughts all day.  As in "How the heck am I going to get that thing down?

After a night out for some beers with a friend, I figured out my answer.  I would use a rake and a shovel like two long salad tongs and grab the thing.  This would have worked, if Jane had not lent out my rake to a neighbor (at this point I wondered whether Jane may have set me up for this misadventure, but then realized that while powerful, Jane did not yet control the weather).  I then looked for a spot to plant a ladder, but this would destroy Jane's flowers that she had spent countless hours planting and grooming (plus, when lightning roars, you don't have to go indoors, but you certainly should not wield a metal ladder [wouldn't that be something if I was struck by lightning?  I would like to think at least one person would point out the irony]).  As a last ditch effort, I grabbed a paint roller, hooked it through one of the arms...and it CAME DOWN!! 

So here I sit victorious.  The End.

Tuesday Morning Aftermath (Links)

Holy Moley!  My dog is afraid of storms, but I was almost with him under the bed last night.  I woke up at about 3 am thinking to myself, "Crap, Jane probably left that patio umbrella open that I asked her to close 500 times, but she said was necessary to keep her [insert plant name] from drying up in the heat."  I look outside, and thank my lucky stars that the umbrella base held...because if it had flown off with the umbrella that is now lodged in my neighbor's deck, I would be in trouble.  The thing pulled apart like someone with giant scissors cut the top off.  Thankfully my neighbor's house is vacant and no damage was caused to their deck.

Links?  Yessir.

One of Ellicott City's own was injured in the Ugandan terrorist attacks.  The sad thing is that there are varying degrees of interest/concern with respect to terrorist attacks in other countries.  It goes something like this: 1) Is it a Western country? 2) Do we share common socio-political roots?  3) Were any Americans hurt? 

Labor leaders say Ehrlich has "no right" to be Governor.

Evidently City Councilman Jack Young thinks the City Council is a review board for the Baltimore City police, and would like them to be taken to task for the high rape dismissals, which were all the news about two weeks ago.  While we're at it, Councilman Young, I would like a hearing to review your housing status in your district.  I do not believe ice cream in the refrigerator is sufficient to establish residency.

Union Jacks gets a review in the Sun Paper.  I still think it is a little too expensive for what it offers...and Jane thought the pizza stunk.

Baseball celebrating the Home Run Derby is like OJ celebrating the Bronco chase.  The first winner in 1980 hit six home runs.  Cory Hart hit 13 in the first round (and then had an embarrassing goose egg in the second round).

HowChow goes trolling (and is probably about three posts away from retiring "Victoria's" number).

Wordbones does some great investigative blogging of the Eden Prairie blogosphere and it sounds like the setting of a David Lynch movie.  I wonder how much they would drop in the rankings if someone were to find an ear in an empty field out there.

Sarah posts about keeping her last name after getting married.  I am so glad she posted about this because Jane and I have the same thing going.  This is mostly due to an impossible first name last name matching that would have made my wife sound like a Dr. Seuss character, but also because, like Sarah said, she had her last name her entire life, was proud of it, and didn't want to give it up.  I am a staunch traditionalist, and got a little squirmy at the idea at first, but once I got over "what other people think" (which is the dumbest thing in the world to care about when it comes to relationship dynamics), it was water under the bridge.

That's all for today.  I was able to get in a surprising number of posts yesterday, despite feeling like I was a little frog trying to hop across a highway of work.  I don't have the same hope for today, but we'll see.  Have a great one.

Monday, July 12, 2010

How Serious Is Our Silver?

I watched this video of our Community Leaders comment on (and blatantly brag about) the Columbia/Ellicott City ranking as the second best place to live in the United States, and thought I would share:

(Great Job HoCo MoJo!)

At first I thought this ranking was a cool thing to put on my Facebook page, and even got in a little smack talk war with a friend from Minny (although notably not from Eden Prairie), but I really didn't take it very seriously.  What I now understand is that this is a feather that will be put in campaign caps as if it is a scientific study that proves everything is awesome in Howard County.  If that is to be the case, I have a few questions:

1) What about suburban malaise?  I thought Columbia was dying and we had one last chance to make a "there there."

2) What happens when we go down in the rankings?  If our electeds can take credit for going up, shouldn't we chastise them for a drop in the all important CNN/Money rankings when we go down?

3) What do I think if I live in Laurel, Glenwood, Highland, Elkridge, Savage, or any of the other places in HoCo that get sick and tired of hearing about how great Columbia and Ellicott City are?  Wouldn't you feel like the eldest son that saved all of his money for a car only to see his younger brother get a Mercedes?

In no way am I saying that this ranking is bad.  I also think Exec Ulman can take some credit for (at the very least) maintaining a great place to live (if not improving it).  However, I think that if we are going to take the rankings seriously, which I would suggest we not do, there are other serious implications to consider.  Especially since we are about to change the whole thing.

We Live In a Beautiful World

Columbia/Ellicott City ranks Number 2 in Money Magazine's Top 100 Places to Live.  We're coming for you Eden Praire, Minnesota!