Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Sun Loves Blogs

The Baltimore Sun has had a love/hate relationship with blogs.  I remember about three to four months ago, I read a Howard County-centric piece and saw a link to a Wordbones post at the bottom.  I thought it was very cool, because similar to the egg and bacon analogy, The Sun cares what goes on around here, but the blogs are invested.  However, for unknown reasons, those links disappeared, and the Howard Section was again "Carson Island."

I was very happy to see that in an apparent effort to augment the Sun's local coverage, they've included an "Around The Town: Howard County" pane on the Howard page, which includes some local content.  So far it looks like they are just linking to WB and HoCo MoJo, but I appreciate the effort...especially since it is rumored that Larry Carson has a hate on for the blogosphere.  It is also interesting to note that we are the only County with its own "local content" pane.

Much love for the Sun (and glad that I still maintain my paper subscription).  Maybe sooner or later, I'll get a little love back.

HoCo Rising Reviews: Rumor Mill

My wife and I are aspiring foodies.  We watch all the right shows and read all the right magazines (and blogs).  Jane could probably even cite Anthony Bourdain's biography from memory.  However, I say "aspiring" because to be a true foodie, you need that cheddar.  We are comfortable, but certainly not eating out much more than once a week, normally at a place that ranges between $15-$20 per entree.

Our meal at Rumor Mill last night made us feel like real foodies.  In a change from previous years, the food for this year's Vintage will be provided by Rumor Mill chef Matt Milani, who has opened a number of Cindy Wolf's restaurants in Baltimore, including Pazo.  Doing our due diligence, Jane and I decided to visit the restaurant and see what we can expect.  I now expect awesomeness (and we even joked that they may have to rebrand the event as "Food & Wine" rather than just "Wine").

I'll start with the highlight of Jane's evening: Matt's anti-griddle...the only anti-griddle in Howard County.  Through magic, this device does exactly what you would expect an anti-griddle to do -- it anti-heats things (i.e., freezes them).  Matt made up these fantastic blue cheese, beet, and bacon "lollipops" (my words, not his) that immediately melted in your mouth.  It was a culinary experience that was completely new to me, and one that I will not soon forget.  This was accompanied by Tuna-tartar, guacamole, and tortilla chip push pops, goat cheese and steak tarts, scallop and sweet potato hash, and so many other amazing finger foods that made you think "I may not have seen those ingredients together, but what Matt has put together, let no man put asunder."

When Jane and I sat down for our regular meal, I was confronted by...that's nemesis: Small Plates.  Why don't I like small plates?  Big ole menu and too much work.  However, Matt pulls it off.  The menu is limited to about 30 things that Matt does really well.  For my first plate, I ordered shrimp tempura with curry batter (they have two different tempura batters).  Jane ordered wontons.  Both dishes were great.  The shrimp came with an amazing sauce (from talking with Matt, a lot of thought goes into the sauce pairings) and the curry batter brought out some neat flavorings in the shrimp.  After two years living in DC's Chinatown, Jane is becoming a wonton expert, and gave her dish two thumbs up.  Second dish was lamb chops for Jane and seared tuna over edamame for me.  Mine was light and refreshing, but heavy enough to sustain a meal.  Jane's dish was bursting with flavor, again with a perfect sauce pairing for the lamb.

While we didn't get to try it, Matt also has what he calls the "Market Menu."  This is for when he goes to the various Howard County (and Catonsville) Farmer's Markets, grabs an armful of seasonal "stuff", takes it back to the kitchen and says to his cooks "What can we do with this?"  That's just plain fun, and I am sure it makes for some amazing food.

We finished up with Matt's specialty: desserts.  Matt specializes in pastries and had told me earlier in the evening about a dark chocolate bread pudding with chocolate-chili ice cream.  The waitress initially told me that the bread pudding was no longer on the menu, but I pulled a Tommy Boy sales pitch and was able to get it anyway.  WOW.  Bread Pudding has been my all time favorite dessert ever since I was 8.  This one wins out.  The chocolate/coffee/chili combination with both the hot of the pudding and the cold of the ice cream made an amazing combination.  I will be raving about this dish for quite a while.

If you go, try to go on a down day (Tuesday or Wednesday) and ask if Matt is in.  If he is, see if he will make up some "off-menu" dishes.  He said that he likes to do this for his "foodie crowd" and that he can't do it on weekends when the place is packed.  This is a man that is truly passionate about food, and it comes through in his dishes.  When I eventually get around to my Top Ten, I'm putting Rumor Mill in the Top Three.

Oh, and as for all the finger dishes noted above, tickets will sell fast.  So e-mail me now.

It Gon Rain (Thursday Links)

In case you just came out of a coma: 1) Congratulations; 2) Expect a lot of rain.  If you're like me, you don't take rain all that seriously.  I am still trying to wrap my head around what it means to have 2-3 inches between 2 a.m and 2 p.m.  One thing is for certain, all homeowners are going to get a very good idea as to whether their basement is adequately sealed.

Last night, Jane and I ate at Rumor Mill in Ellicott City.  We had talked about eating there for the longest time, but just never got around to it.  I was seriously impressed (full review forthcoming).  After the meal, we were able to chat with the Head Chef Matt (and even toured his kitchen).  This is a guy who is passionate about what he does and deeply cares about the product that he puts on the table.  I even found out about a "secret chef menu" that may be available if you go there between Monday and Wednesday.

In other news, I've heard some rumblings in the Board of Education race that are really fascinating to me.  The HCEA block may be coming apart due to some behind-the-scenes maneuvering of one of the candidates.  I am certain I won't be able to get anyone to "go on the record" on this one, so bear with me as I try to get this sourced.  You may just have to deal with an anonymous source.


If Aunt Mertle has a ground rent in her attic, you better tell her to get it registered.

This article about a Northwest Baltimore Police Unit being disbanded sounds like an episode of The Shield.

The mother of Natasha Pettigrew will step in as the Green Party's candidate for U.S. Senate.  Very cool story.  Very weird political party.

Wait, wait, you're telling me that the reason the teacher's union agreed to merit pay in Baltimore City was because they could make more money?  Market forces introduced into a government system?  Next thing you know, they'll be supporting charters!  What is this world coming to?

The Columbia Flier (briefly) covers the Avery Candidacy.  As for why he is running for Council: There was a fork in the road, and he took it.

Cindy Vallaincourt is not too pleased with the HCEA's endorsement of Larry Walker.  Not only did she get a quote in the article, but she also commented on the ExploreHoward site within hours of the piece being posted.  Interestingly, Cindy has also sent out e-mails to a select number of candidates proposing that they run as a block separate from that proposed by the HCEA.  Others have even created the block for them.

HowChow posts about the Harper's Choice Scotch Tasting.  I think this is a great idea for re-introducing the community to their Homeowner's Association.  So what if you have to bribe them...

Sarah has a fantastic run down of the LWV Candidate Forum.  You can't help but read a piece like this and think "That's why we have blogs."

That's all for today.  This week has been surprisingly mellow (hence the frequent posts), so I can't help but think that Thursday has some mean stuff in store for me.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Death of Common Sense" Author Offers New Politics

When I was in college, "The Death of Common Sense" seemed to bring politics "down" to my level.  I "got it" and really enjoyed the simplicity of Mr. Howard's suggestions.  I stumbled across this piece today and wanted to share.  I would proffer that these proposals are apolitical, but I am sure many of you would disagree (i.e., I don't like it unless it calls for a "pound of flesh" from the other guy:

1. Clean out the stables of government. Democracy is not supposed to be a one-way valve, always piling new laws on top of old laws. In each area of government, appoint respected citizens and experts to make proposals to clean out unnecessary entitlements, mandates, and regulations. Going forward, laws and regulations should expire periodically under sunset laws. Government must make choices for the future, not stay mired in choices of the past.

2. Radically simplify law. Laws must be understandable to be effective. Write laws to set public goals and general principles. Leave implementation to designated officials, with clear lines of accountability. The Constitution is 16 pages long. No statute should be over 50 pages.

3. Push responsibility down to local organizations. Give back to Americans the freedom to make a difference—without unnecessary interference of centralized bureaucracy, especially in schools and other social services. Let public schools operate with the same freedoms as charter schools. Hold people accountable for results, not bureaucratic compliance.

4. Restore boundaries to lawsuits. Fear of lawsuits has poisoned human interaction in most areas of society, especially health care and schools. Law should set outer boundaries of required conduct, not interfere in everyday disagreements. This requires judges and legislatures to define reasonable social norms as a matter of law. Create special health courts to provide a foundation of reliability and trust, essential to making health care safe and affordable.

5. Revive accountability for public employees. Individual accountability is a critical component of a functioning democracy. Overhaul civil service and teacher tenure: Public servants should have more freedom to take responsibility, and they must be accountable for their choices. Make government transparent; sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Their practicality is a completely separate issue.

Governor Christie Eats Another Teacher

I have a few friends that are public school teachers in New Jersey.  They hate their Governor.  I keep telling them that if they ever find a way to trade, I will take him.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Why Direct Shipping Is Not "Insignificant"

I've been trying to keep up with the comments over at WB's place, since he has had two Delegates and one Candidate for Delegate post in the comment section (doesn't get much better than that, from my perspective).

My feathers were ruffled ever so slightly by the suggestion that the Direct Shipping Bill was "highly insignificant" (I don't even know the difference between "highly insignificant" and "insignificant" -- must be legal mumbo jumbo).  Let's skip over the fact that the commenter didn't care to notice that my comment was posted one hour before the follow up comment that he wanted answered, and get back to the issue of Direct Shipping.  Is it insignificant?  More important for constant readers, why the heck do you care so much about it?

From my perspective, it is a distilled (pun realized after it was typed, and subsequently intended) picture of lobby power placed superior to the will of the people.  This bill is overwhelmingly popular with the electorate.  A significant number of law-makers are ready and willing to pass it.  There is a clear consensus that this legislation will bring money into the state with licensing fees.  But last year, it died in committee, primarily due to the maneuvers of Senator Joan Conway and the powerful Maryland liquor lobby.

On first appearance, and without much in the way of critical thinking, I agree that this bill is insignificant.  However, when you consider that this is a bipartisan universally popular bill that has failed in the legislature on two different occasions, you have to realize that this little bill is the whole enchilada.  Democracy with a slight hint of asparagus.

Reginald Fills the Council Ballot

With the first Pro-Choice comment to come out of the Republican Party since Roe v. Wade, Reginald T. Avery says that he is running for County Council District 2 because he believes "residents should have a choice" on their ballot.  (BTW: The article says "Reginald G. Avery", but I don't think that is correct.)

As earlier noted, Reginald has no money.  However, GOP Central Committee Chairwoman Joan Becker says that the party will help him financially.  I would be interested to hear whether any of the other GOP candidates have anything to say about this (or are brave enough to say it).  I am quite certain that the Republican Party is not maxing out donations for the dozens of candidates on this year's ballot, so Avery money is definitely coming out of what would otherwise go to the candidates that have been campaiging for the last six months.  All for a self-defined "slim at best" candidate.

Predictably, Calvin Ball has ramped up his campaign in response.  As posted on his Facebook page:
It's official! Late yesterday afternoon the Republican Central Committee appointed someone to run against me and pledged that the Republican party would help him financially. I need your help. Please go to my website this week and consider making a donation of any amount that you are comfortable making. I need to send an early message that I have your support. Thank you and I will keep you posted as we ramp the campaign up these final weeks.
I don't think anyone should be surprised to see some of Calvin's money go to Jen Terrasa and Courtney Watson.  Now he has an excuse to raise it.

35 days to go.  What a joke.

UPDATE: Here is what would appear to be Mr. Avery's LinkedIn Profile.  According to this, Reginald spent his entire career in the Federal Government.  You can't help but say that it is an impressive career.  What we don't know is what he's been doing for the past year.

Feeling Kinda Tuesday (Links)

I am in a semi-permanent state of exhaustion.  Jane thinks it was the Triathlon.  The internet thinks it is a tapeworm.  I think it is the dark mornings that are getting to me.  I'm sure I will come out of it, but this is no fun.

Some things moved around and I may be able to make it to the League of Women Voter's Candidate forum tonight (4-9 p.m., Smith Theatre, Howard Community College).  As Sarah pointed out in the comments of a previous post, this forum seems onerously long.  Almost to the point that the League seems to be looking to "get it on tape" regardless of attendance.  I imagine that by showing up around 6ish, I will only get to see the Delegates speak, which is fine by me since I haven't had a chance to attend a Delegate forum as of yet.  But I also don't plan to stay until 9.


A boat load of stats came down from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with regard to the "success" of Healthy Howard.  At the time of this study, there were 515 participants.  At the time of the article, there were "nearly 1,000" participants.  The study showed that 8.5% of HHAP Participants visited an emergency room, and 2% were admitted.  This can be compared against the national average of 19.5% and 7.5% respectively.  18.5% of the participants had reported visiting an emergency room at least once in the previous year, but 100 applicants failed to answer this question.  This study essentially showed that HHAP is meeting one of its objectives (i.e., reduce unnecessary costs).  However, this study did not perform a systemic cost-benefit analysis that every critic in this County has been begging for since inception.  I think that is because you can't quantify Ken Ulman and Peter Beileson getting on the news and the political capital that results thereby.  (As with most Larry Carson pieces, the criticism of the study can be found in the second half of the article.)

Another interesting note is that the Horizon Foundation has dropped its cash support for the program from $500,000 to $150,000. 

Family sues for $500,000 related to bed bug attack.  If you, or someone you love, has ever been a midnight buffet for these suckers, I doubt you find that amount to be too exorbitant.

The prospect of being unable to record interactions with police officers is actually quite terrifying if you spend too much time thinking about it.  I'm glad Harford County Judge Plitt agreed.

If you live in Maryland and have never watched The Wire (or read The Corner), you officially have a homework assignment.  David Simon was just awarded the 2010 MacArthur genuis award.

HowChow uses a bad word in his post title and reviews Baltimore Beer Week (which I am obviously excited about).

WB posts a very funny video...apparently about his life...and how he rolls.  (And I'm happy to see that his post about Delegate District 9A appears to have raised almost as much consternation as my piece about Brian Meshkin.)

Sarah has another CSA drop and is designing more creative ways to eat her veggies.

Off to my Tuesday.  I can't say if I'll see you at the forum, but if I make it there...well...I hope to see you.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

And Then There's Chuck Ecker

When I was eight, I broke my femur.  Embarrassingly, I broke it falling out of the top bunk of a bunk bed I shared with my younger brother.  The ortho told me that I fell "just right" ("wrong" from my perspective) to apply the correct ("incorrect") acute pressure to the bone for it to break.  I spent the next month in the hospital, with another three months in a half body cast, and the following year in rehabilitation in order to re-learn how to walk.

Somewhere along the line, County Executive Chuck Ecker visited me in the hospital.  As corny as this sounds, it was a defining moment in my life.  I saw politicians as being small-scale super-heroes (remember, I was eight).  I can't help but think that this early experience is why I hold politicians to such a high standard.

Chuck was the guest on this week's And Then There's That.  I've always meant to contact Mr. Ecker and tell him about the effect he had on me as a kid, but also realize that my fourth-grade mind has inflated this encounter to parameters far outside of what really occurred.

Dennis and Paul also touched on my post about Brian Meshkin.  At the end of the show, Chuck Ecker noted that he remembered Brian as a child and that he was a "lovely young man."  I want to be clear about something: I don't think Brian Meshkin is a "bad person."  I don't think he is going to laugh an evil laugh upon election and then steal all of our souls.  I just don't like being "sold."  For instance, this week's GOP Connection describes Brian as follows: "The Baltimore Sun chose him as a Maryland 'Earthly Angel' for his community activism to improve education, reduce poverty and strengthen public health." The same is stated on Brian's website.  Check out the side-bar on (one of) Brian's blogs.  The Earthly Angel recognition occurred in 1992.  Please tell me what Brian did to "improve education" and "reduce poverty" when he was sixteen.

I think Brian has good enough ideas, but I wish he would stop pretending that after he was done saving the world, he decided to run for Howard County Board of Education.  Don't give me the horse-"stuff" that I am "out to get" Brian, unless you are willing to respond to the "factual taffy" that Brian is trying to sell.

Columbia. Is Not. Socialist.

This piece in the Columbia Flier about a woman's battle with her homeowner's association has caused some of the more cool-headed among us to suggest that Columbia is socialist.  Their apparent reasoning is A) Columbia tells us what we can do with our property; B) Socialists tell people what to do with their property; C) Columbia is socialist.

Despite the air-tight nature of such logic, I would like to point out that there are innumerable rules and regulations about what we can and can't do with our property.  You can't drive your car without a seat belt.  Although you may own a gun, that has no bearing on where you may fire it.  And, most important for this context, the land upon which your house is situated may have a "restrictive covenant" that runs along with it, which governs what you may do with the property.

The great thing about restrictive covenants in Columbia is we allow some democracy into the process.  Village Boards, who are elected, appoint members to the Resident Architectural Committee (RAC) who then evaluate property modifications and recommend whether those modifications should be approved to the Board.  This process takes one to two weeks from application to approval.  Depending on the suggested modification, 75% of these applications are approved.  Fences are of particular concern to the RAC because normally the property owner makes presumptions about where their land ends and their neighbor or County land begins, which don't always line up with the plot (ex. One property owner in our village wanted to put her fence along the path behind her house, trapping in about 7 feet of County land.  Her rationale: "I mow it.  It is mine.")

You can't help but have a little compassion for a homeowner that is unaware of the RAC process (by steadfastly ignoring those stubborn rolled up newsletters that appear on her front stoop), but this is what you buy into when you live in Columbia.  It appears that the homeowner in the present case knew about the process, but chose to ignore their decision.  As a Columbia resident, you get to enjoy the parks, open space, and various amenities (with an additional surcharge), but you have a responsibility to follow the law (yes, it is a law) when seeking property modifications.  This covenant was disclosed at purchase, and if it wasn't, you may want to give your Real Estate Agent a ring.

But more importantly, it's not socialism.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I know, I know

The Candidate List needs to be updated.  Just give me some time.  I need some spirits for inspiration, and some dead time for motivation.

Speedy Recovery to Jen Terrasa

Council member Jen Terrasa has fractured her foot.  I have to presume that this is a stress fracture.  I hope Jen has a quick recovery and that this injury does not interfere (too much) with the objectives of her campaign.  My brother has had a stress fracture in his foot twice: once from marching band (Go Blue! [Coats]) and once from running.  It is a stubborn injury, and the article suggests that she will be out of walking commission for four to six weeks.

That is not the story.  The story is the fact that this appears to be the most "shared" article on the ExploreHoward site.  32 Facebook posts?!?  Seriously?

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Avery Era (Friday Morning Links)

Ok, so the links are a little late (even for Chicago time), but I'm putting in the effort. 

As the official page for information on Reginald T. Avery, I find it incumbent upon HoCo Rising's pages to cover his (final) emergence onto the campaign trail.  After a false start earlier this month, I think it is now official that Mr. Avery will be the Republican candidate for County Council District 2.  I discussed some of my concerns with a Central Committee member, and he made a good argument that "every slot on the ballot" should be filled by a Republican candidate, no matter their chances.  He suggested that other candidates on the Republican ticket may have an even harder time than Avery, yet no one would suggest that they not run.  I think this reasoning would hold if it was coming from the Dems about Dr. Beams (with every reason in the world to be confident about their other races).  Moreover, this laissez faire approach to the market-place of candidates makes sense if you have no targeted strategy.  I don't think the Republicans have one.  What about this: "I'm sorry Mr. Avery but we have a limited pool of resources and we have a few targeted races that we plan to dedicate ourselves to this Fall."  That sounds like a party that knows what the heck it's doing!  "Candidate X, you haven't raised money, and we're not going to bankroll your campaign.  You get a smaller portion of the pie.  Candidate Y, you have shown that there is a great deal of support for you in the community, so we want to help push you over the edge against the incumbent."  That sounds smart!

But instead, we hear "Come on, man.  He wants to run.  What's the harm."  As a blogger that likes to insert some humor into my posts, I welcome the Avery Era.  As a Republican, I shake my head.


Very smooth, State of Maryland.  I find a way to avoid the gridlock in Baltimore City caused by the Lombard Street construction by going across Route 40...AND THEN YOU DECIDE TO BUST UP ROUTE 40!  Two city artery constructions at the same time!  Genius!

HoCo police got their man.  I can only assume that once the police give you a name like "Preppy Burglar", sentencing will not go well. 

I wish Maryland Republicans had included in their "Prosperity Pledge" a pledge to "NOT fundraise during Special Sessions of the legislature."  That would have been a nice fifth pillar, if you ask me.

Colfax Corporation is moving its headquarters to Columbia, MD from Richmond, VA.  While not much in terms of sample size, this is a hit to the "corporate climate" complaints of the GOP.

Sarah covers beds at airports...which made me sleepy.

WB posts about the Preppy Burglar's best hits.

HowChow engages in some blog synergy and links over to HoCo 360's backyard recipe.  The only way I would eat a stink-bug is if it were on the Stink-Bug Public Square and it was used to discourage other stink-bugs from entering my abode.

Have a great Friday.  No chance for morning links tomorrow in light of the Triathlon, but I may try to post something in the afternoon.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Somewhat Authorized Biography of Bob Ballinger

After I posted "The Unauthorized Biography of Brian Meshkin", I received some e-mails from readers regarding other candidates for the Board.  One of those readers, who has asked to remain anonymous, even submitted a timeline for Candidate Robert Ballinger.  As you all may know, I genuinely like the guy and appreciate his dedication to students with special needs.  Per my shiny new set of journalistic ethics, I sent the post to him first to review, correct, and respond.  Below you will find the timeline, as submitted to me, with the insertion of Bob's corrections in parentheses.



1984: graduated Mount Saint Joseph High School

1988: graduated Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College) with a BA in Communications & Political Science major; member Phi Delta Theta; active on alumnus advisory boards

After college: on-air producer with WBFF TV

1990-1995: District Executive of the York Adams Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America

July 1999-April 2010: (BB: Started with Department of Corrections in July 1999) Director of Communications, State of Maryland (appointed by Gov. Ehrlich as the Director of Communication for the Maryland Department of the Environment)

* July 2007 publication from MD Department of the Environment names him as the deputy director of MDE's Office of Communications ( )

* July 2010 article in Columbia Flier states that in April 2009 he left MDE to take care of his sons ( (BB: States that his son had behavioral issues that allowed him to take leave under the Family Leave Act.  With accumulated over-time and comp-time, Bob was technically still an employee until 2010).

2003-Present: Howard County Disability Council * I can't find a website for this council. What is this? (BB: The Howard County Disability Council was a committee that was formed under the Governor's Office for Children)

2004: unsuccessful candidacy for Howard County Board of Education

2004-2005: Howard County School Board Budget Review Committee

2005-Present: Board Member of Howard County Autism Society
* He is not listed as a current Board member of this group; He is listed as an at-large member in 2008 but not in 2009. Newsletter archives on the HCAS site go only to 2008. (BB: I am an active dues paying member of the Howard County Autism society of America and the National Organization. I served on the Board until 2009 because of possible ethic issues that as a political appointee didn't want to be on the Board when the group lobbies on  state issues and services)

April 2010-Present: Director Opposition Research and Communication, Maryland Republican Party (BB: I no longer work for the state party when I declared myself as a candidate)

Public Information Officer with Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services

Volunteer Activities Coordinator & Regional Public Information Officer with Division of Corrections

He is an active member of the Howard County Autism Society of America, Cure Autism Now, Howard County Youth Programs Baseball and Basketball (HCYP), Ellicott City Patriot Football (Assistant Coach) And the Columbia Ravens Travel Basketball Program (Assistant Coach). Every year, with his family, Robert serves as co-team leader for the Multiple Sclerosis Walk A Thon. The Ballinger Family also takes a leadership role with the St. Louis Catholic Church Clarksville Picnic.

Civic Activities
  • Vice President - Northfield Elementary School PTA - Member of the Dunloggin Middle School PTA
  • Howard County School Board Operating Budget Review Committee Member
  • Former Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run Chairman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services
  • Saint Louis Catholic Church Picnic Committee
  • Cure Autism Now Maryland Chapter Fundraising Committee
  • Former Maryland Charity Campaign Chairman with the Maryland Department of the Environment
  • Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Employee of the Year 2000
  • Governor of Maryland Award for Excellence in State Government
  • Mount Saint Joseph Alumni Seal Award
  • American Correctional Association Professional Certification
  • York Adams Area Council Outstanding Citizen Award for Service
  • United Way Outstanding Community Service Award in Education

Sub Links of the Day

HCR is away on business, and there was some interesting news today, so I'll do some links for him.

First, a student's family is suing several members of the HoCo School system saying that the student was not afforded due process and protection while he was bullied in school. I am not sure if this lawsuit will succeed, but I for one, am glad to see a family standing up against bullying. Some would have you believe that bullying is a "fact-of-life." I strongly disagree. We would not stand for bullying between adults, so why is it acceptable for kids to be victimized by bullies? Children have a right to go to school feeling safe and free from bullying. The school has the responsibility to provide a safe environment for the children. If a child feels unsafe, there should be a nurturing, understanding system in place to report the bullying. No matter the result of the lawsuit, I hope this serves as a wake-up-call to the school system to take bullying more seriously in the future.

Next, a Hickory Ridge resident is upset because the Village's architectural committee is enforcing the rules on her. Apparently, she built a fence that did not comply with the architectural covenants for her Village. Further, she never sought approval from the village before building the fence. She has a nice sob story about her mother having dementia and some other issues that show that she needs the fence. IMHO, this is an open and shut case. When you purchase a house in Columbia they give you the books with the covenants and architectural guidelines in them. I don't know about Hickory Ridge, but River Hill's guidelines about fences are very specific. I assume Hickory Ridge's are just as specific. She could have avoided this whole fiasco by simply following the rules all Columbia property owners have to follow, and submitted a request for an exemption before building the fence. She claims the committee needs to be more "humanistic." The board and architectrual committee have a duty to enforce the rules as written, and should not modify the rules for each and every situation. Certainly, they can be open to making compromises if there are extenuating circumstances, but in this case, the Hickory Ridge Board and architectural committee handled the situation correctly.

Sarah has her own analysis of Bob Ehrlich's Road Map for 2020 that differs greatly from my own. Read her analysis, read my analysis, read the Road Map for yourself, and come to your own conclusions. One thing you can say at this point, is that Ehrlich has definite ideas, and is putting them out there for the voters to see and debate. Can you say the same thing about his opponent?

HowChow is aiming for Wegman's to open by Memorial Day, 2012. Wegman's needs to start paying HowChow. He is hyping Wegman's so much, they will not have to do any marketing once they open. BTW, I 100% endorse Wegman's muffins. Best Muffins Evaaaaar!

As usual, Frank Hecker took an issue I didn't understand too well, and dissected it in grand detail. While Frank is clearly far left from where I stand, I respect the work and specificity he puts into his blog posts. My personal feeling is that our federal, state, and county government spend waaaaaay more of your and my money than they should. I do not have to the time, energy, or brain power to look at each and every thing they spend money on, but my experience has taught me to be very wary anytime the government says they are spending more than a million on something that almost no one requested or wanted. Here's two questions I would like Frank (and Freemarket, if he's still around) to analyze: Can the government (federal, state or local) spend money more efficiently and better than private citizens or businesses? Can the government improve the economy nationally or locally by spending tax payer's money on national or local projects?

Stop the presses! Well, stop the virtual presses. Ok, I'll just edit my post. This just in! Wordbones enthusiastically endorses Bob Wheatley for House of Delegates in District 12b. I could not agree more with his endorsement. Let me make it reaaaally simple for you District 12b voters. Liz Bobo = anger, bad economics, division, failed governing. Bob Wheatley = positive attitude, hard work, chance at economic and environmental redemption. The choice is clear. It will be interesting to see how the democratic establishment feels about it.

Ok, that's all I've got for now. Hopefully that'll tide ya'll over 'till HCR gets back to his regularly scheduled links.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

No Link Wednesday from Chi-Town

Unfortunately, I can't fit links in today.  I am at a conference in Chicago, and have my hands full with work, which led to a late night Tuesday and an early start Wednesday.  I hear the Board of Ed forum last night went well and hopefully some of your that watched or attended can post your thoughts in the comments below.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Home Is Where the Zoning Legislation Is

After two years of meeting at the School Board Headquarters, the Council was able to return home to the George Howard building.  We'll see how long they get to enjoy it in the coming months.

Anyone else find it ironic that the only quoted complaint was from the Howard County Citizen Association president? 

Trevor's General Election Endorsement 1

After writing some comments on HCR's post here, I was challenged by poster "Rambo30319." He started his comment by saying, "Nicely done, indeed. It takes real skill to write so much without really saying anything. I'd advise you to read through it again and ask yourself, "who sounds angry?". You might be surprised with the answer." He went on to attack me and the points I made by saying, "Next, you share some hypothetical examples to prove a point. You were clearly never forced to substantiate an argument with anything more than vague ideas, because these do nothing to support your overarching point. Instead, they reflect the age-old reality of political rhetoric."

I will say that I never took any political science, rhetoric, or debate classes. I did receive a College Park Scholars certificate in American Cultures, which I guess is somewhat pertinent. I am new at blogging, having just started a month ago on this site. I clearly have much to learn. I believe the best way to learn is by practice, so I will continue to post on this site, and hopefully, I can stimulate some conversations on local issues. Rambo30319 wants me to make specific points and not just broad hypothesis, so I'll try and do that.

Over the next couple months, I will highlight some candidates for state and local elections that I believe will help our nation, state, and county in a positive manner. I would like to start by endorsing Bob Erhlich, candidate for Governor of Maryland.

The Maryland House of Delegates has 104 Democrats and 36 Republicans. The Maryland State Senate has 33 Democrats and 14 Republicans. We have a Democrat governor. Due to these numbers, our state lacks a system of checks and balances. As we all know from our middle school government classes, a system of checks and balances is crucial to a functioning democracy. How do we fix this? Either we elect more Republicans to the House and Senate or we elect a Republican governor. I think it will be alot easier to elect a Republican governor.

Bob Ehrlich is the perfect person to lead our state. He is socially and fiscally moderate. He has the experience and attitude to lead our state during this difficult economic time. He has real solid proposals. I urge everyone (especially you Rambo30319) to read Bob Ehrlich's Road Map to 2020, his ten-year vision for Maryland. In this document, Ehrlich highlights many real, concrete examples of how he will improve our state.

One of my favorite proposals from the Road Map to 2020 states, "Bob Ehrlich will lead a fundamental shift in attitude within state government. That includes proposing a “Small Business Bill of Rights” requiring regulatory agencies to be fair, timely, and predictable in their disposition of small business matters. He will also appoint regulators who work with small businesses to solve problems before they emerge rather than waiting to punish them to generate income from fines."

As a small business owner, I can speak from experience that the regulatory agencies in Maryland have become punitive during O'Malley's administration. I feel that the regulatory agencies look at small businesses as a revenue source rather than job creators. For a concrete example, I'll talk about dental x-rays. During Ehrlich's prior term the Maryland Department of the Environment would come in to a dental office, and finding a situation of non-compliance, issue a document that says a practitioner has 30-60 days to make a change before getting a fine. This is perfectly reasonable and fair. During O'Malley's administration the MDE comes into an office, finds fault, and fines you immediately. You have no chance to appeal. For example, I had a friend that switched over to digital x-rays. He got rid of his darkroom and any antiquated equipment. The MDE came into his office for a routine compliance visit, and found a pile of expired x-ray film on the top of a shelf, under a pile of papers. They fined the dentist $2000 for having expired film. His statement that he could not use the film even if he wanted to due to the lack of a darkroom fell of deaf ears. I know many other business owners, in a variety of professions have similar stories. This needs to change.

Another proposal from the plan states, "Repeal Governor O’Malley’s 20% sales tax increase that hurts retailers, stifles economic activity, and disproportionately hurts low and middle-income families. Governor O’Malley’s sales tax increase was part of a nearly $1.4 billion tax package in 2007, the largest in Maryland history."

Watch this video to see about this proposal. Enough said about that.

A third proposal that I strongly support is this , "the cost of medical malpractice insurance has been driving up the cost of health care for decades and legitimately putting our entire health care system at risk. Higher rates are forcing scores of doctors out of Maryland to nearby states or simply out of business all together. As more doctors close their doors, Maryland patients have fewer options when choosing the medical care that’s right for themselves and their families. If elected, Bob Ehrlich will renew his fight to reform this broken system."

As a health care practitioner, I know that malpractice insurance is a major financial burden on my family. I have no choice but to pass the cost of this insurance on to my patients. This makes health care less affordable for everyone. The Trial Lawyer Lobby is one of the major political donors to the Democrats in Maryland. Correct me if I'm wrong, but "Trial Lawyer" is just a nice way to say, "Ambulance Chaser." We need to elect leaders that are not beholden to the trial lawyers for their positions. This would include leaders like Bob Ehrlich.

For all of these reasons and more, I support Bob Ehrlich for Governor. I welcome any and all debate about this endorsement.

Again, this is my endorsement alone, and does not represent the endorsement of HoCoRising or any groups with which I am affiliated.

(correction: I spelled "Endorsement" wrong in the Title. I just fixed it. Thanks City-Paper for twittering about my poor spelling! BTW, I love the Best of Baltimore Issue... how does one get nominated for best dentist? Correction of the correction: Apparently it wasn't the city paper that is correcting me, but Ellicott_City. Thanks E-City.)


The Evolution of a Blogger (Tuesday Links)

I feel bad.  When I set out to write my post on Brian Meshkin, I had intended to limit it entirely to what could be sourced.  For the most part I succeeded, but I left out one very important source: Brian Meshkin.  Not to make excuses, but in my profession we are literally prohibited from consulting the other side.  It is third party sources, limited admissions and disclosures, and the law.  That's it.  However, when you are "pretending to be media", as the Tea Party suggested I was trying to do, you have an obligation to pretend all the way, and contact the source.

My largest goal with this site is starting conversation.  I will not post anything with "reckless indifference to the truth" nor will I post a half-truth in order to stir the pot.  However, I have an obligation to you all, which I will follow from this point forward, to check with the people I post about.  I am not going to check with Dr. Beams to see if she knows there was a District 5 candidate in 2006.  I am not going to call the Howard County Public Information office every time I want to comment on a government program.  But when it has to do with serious information that may hurt a candidate, I will at the very least send my post to the candidate first to give them the opportunity to respond.

As for the post about Mr. Meshkin, I do not plan to take it down.  The basis of the statements made therein are properly sourced and I will leave it to all of you to evaluate those sources.  Should Brian wish, I will post any response he has in full without any edit on my part.  Should there be statements in that response that I would like to address, I will discuss my concerns with Brian first.

I stand by my posts, but this should make them better.


Well this is nice: "Maryland is one of only two states where personal income — not including government payments such as unemployment benefits and Social Security — is higher than when the economy faltered, according to a Commerce Department analysis released Monday."  So why do I have more unemployed friends now than I did before the recession?  Dey Took Arr Jabs.

O'Malley uses MPT footage in campaign ad.  MPT not pleased.

Baltimore County's largest center for domestic violence victims is in dire financial straits.  Please donate here.

The Republican Governor's Association has dumped $61,000 into WBAL campaign ads for Gov. Bob.  There's a nice little stimulus for ya.

Oooh ooh, I get it.  You cut the MTA budget for two years in a row so you can give MORE money in an election year.  Brilliant!

Frank Hecker sets the record straight on the HoCo outlay for the broadband stimulus.  I was actually waiting on a inquiry I had made with some HoCoGov peeps as to how much this would actually cost the County, but have not yet heard back.  If, as Frank suggests, the County will only have to pay $2 million for a program that will, at the very least, save the County $3 million in phone costs, we may have received a free lunch after least on the County level.  Unfortunately, your federal taxes were still used...and you grand-kids may be burning money to stay warm 50 years from now.  (That was a joke, Frank.  Put your calculator away!  Ha ha)

Wordbones is excited about a big HoCo LoCo weekend.  I have a Triathlon up at Gunpowder State Park on Saturday, but hope to make it out to a least a few of these events.

Dennis (not WB) goes Trolling in Southern Columbia (SoCo?) on HowChow's site.

Sarah suggests we repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."  I think this would be a much less politically charged issue if they phrased it differently.  "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was a product of political semantics to soften the reality of "Homosexuality is a crime in the United States Military."  Instead of all this "repeal" crap, why don't we just use the term "Decriminalization of Homosexuality"?  For all you budding politicians, you will be smart to create a department of semantics in whatever position you hold.

That's all for today.  I hope you all have a great Tuesday.  I doubt I will get much posting in today, but I will see if I can work something in during my lunch break.  As we get closer to the election, posting material is legion, however my time is not.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Extreme Makeover: Campaign Website Edition

Dr. Zaneb Beams enters the "best campaign website" sweepstakes with her made-over web presence (and, apparently, made-over campaign).  Let's ignore the fact that there is no authority treasurer line for one second (aw shoot, did I forget to ignore it?), to say that this is a darn good website.

However, I don't know why Dr. Beams says "For several years, in District 5, we've gone to the polls and seen only one name in the spot for County Council.   2010 marks the first year in a long time that we actually have a choice."  I presume Dr. Beams means no disrespect to Don Dunn, candidate for County Council for District 5 in 2006?  Maybe she just doesn't remember that far back.  I know it was a very long time ago...even before Obama! 

Under the Issues tab, it appears that Dr. Beams has dropped the school lunches plank.  Hopefully she didn't throw it away, and instead passed it on to a Board of Education candidate.

All that said, this is a sharp looking website and should help her regain some credibility (with everyone that doesn't remember that Greg Fox faced Don Dunn in 2006).

Monday Monday (Links)

Well that certainly was an interesting weekend.  Who knew that the Board of Education race was the most controversial?  I'll probably be leaving that alone for the next couple weeks, but I do have a couple of pots brewing with some additional information that I need to confirm (yes, I am actually doing some independent investigation, which is entirely against my brand of lazy/observational journalism).

I do wonder how the removal of party labels plays a part in the vociferous nature of yesterday's debate.  Everyone feels like they have a horse.  Republicans and Democrats think they have "Republican or Democrat candidates."  Independents feel like this race is what politics should be all about.  Loyalty to a particular candidate heightens and any criticism is seen as an attack.  Whereas with the County Council races, people, for the most part, just vote along with their team colors.  Then again, it could just be the fact that Board of Education has to do with our kids...any nobody gets to make decisions for our children without a thorough vetting process.


The Columbia MVA Express is referring patrons to the Deli next door...for bathroom breaks.  According to this piece by Larry Carson, an 80 year old woman was forced to go next door to use the bathroom in "Columbia's Best Deli" while waiting to replace a lost license.  As someone who has spent a number of hours in this "Express" location, it seems a little ridiculous that there is not a bathroom inside for customers to use.  There probably will be soon.  Nicely done, Mr. Carson

I didn't see Kratovil being the one to fire the first shot in the District 1 Congressional Race.  Andy Harris is one mean son-of-a-gun...and I bet he gets something out soon.

Sadly, WB was a little more "unplugged" than usual this weekend.  Those that know Dennis also know that it will take more than a downed router to disconnect this guy.

Sarah finished her Couch-to-5K program!  Woot!  Careful, those races are addicting.  Next thing you know you will be slapping on a Tri-suit and jumping into the Potomac.

HowChow suggests some frozen samosas that you can make at home.  Any idea where I can find some good make-at-home empanadas?  Trader Joes made some awesome ones, but then inexplicably discontinued them.  For the first time ever, I wrote to corporate headquarters...partly to request directions to the last known supply point for TJ Empanadas (sadly, I am not kidding).  No such luck.

That's all for today.  I am a little mopey that the Ravens lost, but I also think it is hard to expect a team on short rest to win two road games in a row.  Joe Flacco looked horrific...nightmare inducing horrific.  "Oh hi Joe.  I am a huge're not Joe.  You're KYLE BOLLER!  AHHHHHH!"

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tea Party Targets Proudfoot

It seems that my inquiries into Brian Meshkin's past have been interpreted as being "on behalf of" David Proudfoot.  While I can't prove a negative, I can tell those of you that frequently visit this blog, and find me credible, that David has nothing to do with this.  (Nor does Sandra French, Robert Ballinger, or Larry Walker -- my other favorite candidates in the Board of Education race).  Looking into Brian was like pulling a string on a sweater...the more I pulled, the more I found.  I received unsolicited messages from those who wished not to be cited, so I had to find independent web confirmation.  I was off the mark on a few things I found, but overall I think the post stands true.

What you will also note from the comments is that the "Tea Party of Maryland" is a "strong supporter" of Brian's campaign (that's certainly one way to put it).  They/it appear to have determined that "revenge" is necessary, by way of soliciting negative information about David Proudfoot.  I tend to believe that you can learn more about a person by knowing who their enemies are than who their friends are.  Predictably, the "Tea Party of Maryland" Facebook page is filled with hate mongering rhetoric such as "Ironic that Obama is building a nation of slaves" and "73% of Americans say that illegal immigration is a problem.  The other 27% say 'No habla ingles.'" (It is "No hablo," you student of the world, you).  In sum, I congratulate David for his new foe (to the extent he is willing to acknowledge them).

Obviously, I take no issue with critiquing the candidates.  Candidate-turned-blogger David Thalheimer posted yesterday about some research he did into David's work as a teacher and administrator (and creepily notes that David has two nieces, apparently taking issue that they don't attend Howard County schools).  While questioning his qualifications, Mr. Thalheimer fails to note that David has masters and doctoral degrees in education leadership.  He also does not include that when David was assistant principal at Joan Walker Elementary in Florida, his school received a 5 Star School Award for Community Involvement and is noted as a "Great School" on 

 I am biased, and do not profess otherwise.  I am proud to call David Proudfoot my friend.  However, if you read my blog, or follow the posts I've made about David, you know that this friendship came out of my interest in his candidacy.  I would never deliberately "attack" a candidate in order to promote a friend.  Anthony Jordan is one of my closest friends, but you never saw me "go after" Calvin in order to affect the race.  That's bad politics.  I have, what I believe to be, legitimate concerns with Brian Meshkin, which were heightened even further by the manner in which the Tea Party came out of the woods to comment.  If the Tea Party doesn't like it, they can take it up with me.

Brian Meshkin: The Unauthorized Biography

Whenever you start working on a case, you need to create a timeline.  The timeline will help you know what you know, and what you don't know.  It will help where the facts are fuzzy.  The below is a timeline I have created based on information offered by Brian Meshkin's campaign and facts I was able to gather from the internet.  It presents an incredibly disturbing picture of failed businesses and blatant misrepresentations.  This is nothing to ignore.

1990 - "led a student effort to pass the nation's first bicycle helmet law for children in 1990 in Howard County, Maryland"

1992 - Maryland "Earthly Angel" with Baltimore Sun

1990-1995 - "Went onto to help pass over 300 similar laws nationwide"  300?  Brian Meshkin helped pass "over 300" laws nationwide?  During this period of time, Brian was attending middle and high school.

1995 - 1997 -- Attends University of Maryland; graduates with degree in Government & Politics and General Business

March 1998 - June 1999 -- Worked at Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical 

November 1999 - Co-founded with his brother

March 2000 - May 2000 -- Founds Privotry Corporation/Incubank (in Georgia?)

May 2000 -- Brian Meshkin begins working with Eli Lilly (Pivotry disappears)

June 2000 - Surfbuzz goes under. (Brian claims it was sold in his Linked In Profile)

June 2002 -- Brian Meshkin leaves Eli Lilly

June 2002 - January 2003 -- Brian Meshkin works at Ortho Biotech
February 2003 - February 2005 -- Brian Meshkin works at Prometheus Laboratories, Inc.

April 2005 - Salugen, Inc. founded by Brian Meshkin.

May 2007 -- Responcis Call Center files a Breach of Contract action agaisnt Salugen Inc. in California.

January 2008 -- Meshkin Ventures founded by Brian Meshkin.

June 2008 -- FedEx files a Collections action against Salugen Inc. in California.

September 2008 -- All executives but Brian resign from Salugen, Inc. ("[U]nder Mr. Meshkin's direction, Salugen was unable to raise capital, adequately perform operational activities or compensate employees and vendors")

September 2008 -- Bank of America files a Collections action against Brian in California.

November 2008 -- Terri Lynn Huntington files an Enforcement action against Salugen, Inc. in California.

Fall 2008 -- Brian returns from San Diego, CA to Fulton, MD

December 2008 -- Brian Meshkin receives "Honorable Mention" as a Biotech "Power to Be" (Gives himself the award on his website)

August 2009 -- Brian Meshkin becomes adjunct professor at Howard Community College

2008-2009 -- Delegate, PTA Council of Howard County for Fulton Elementary

Fall 2009 - Brian Meshkin elected President of the Fulton Elementary PTA

April 16, 2010 -- Brian Meshkin announces candidacy for Board of Education

Brian claims to be a member of Board of Trustees for Columbia Festival of the Arts.  Someone should tell the Board for Columbia Festival of the Arts about this. (UPDATE: Brian was briefly on the Board, but is no longer listed as a member.  What happened?)

Brian claims that Salugen has offices in Maryland.  The Maryland office is listed as 9520 Berger Road Suite 212. Columbia, Maryland 21046.  However, this is the same address noted for "Business Suites of Columbia."
Salugen Biography of Brian Meshkin, CEO
Brian Meshkin Blog
Brian Meshkin's Linked In Profile
Brian Meshkin's Campaign Website

Friday, September 17, 2010

Is He Having a Laugh?

Lest we be left out of the Twitter Political Parody game, Howard County now has a "FakeKenUlman."  Even Ken's politi-friends enjoy an occasional laugh at the Top Dog's expense (it's how people deal with the insecurities of power, or lack thereof), so this should be fun to follow.

And before you Dems get indignant, I want a solemn oath that you did not laugh ONCE at Tina Fey's impression of Sarah Palin or Will Ferrell doing G-Dubya ("I'm President.  That rocks.")

That's what I thought.

Flanagan Endorsed by Feaga, Merdon, and Drown

Now that the primaries have rolled through town, the presumptive endorsements are coming through (you know, many of these would be much more relevant prior to the primary).

Bob Flanagan had a fundraiser last night, and topped it off with some endorsements from a pair of GOP District 1 Alumni: Chris Merdon (1998 – 2006) and Darrel Drown (1990 - 1998).  He also received a nod from Charles Feaga who represented District 5 from 1986-1998 and 2004-2006.

This is particularly interesting in light of the ballyhoo over Merdon's faux-endorsement of Courtney Watson for the District 1 seat in 2006.  No "if, ands, or buts" about this one.  He's for Bob.

Speaking of people "for Bob," Courtney is still listed on Martin O'Malley's Endorsement Page.  Hmm.

The Broadband "Coup" (& Proof That Nothing is "Free")

If you haven't heard, the richest county in the state just got $72 million richer.  Our county has received a huge chunk of the $115.3 Million Federal Stimulus grant for a statewide broadband initiative. (Who needs Google?).  I think the particulars of "Why us?" will play out later, but for those County Budget worry warts, such as myself, put your mind at ease (at least a little bit).

For starters, Ken Ulman says the grant will save the County $3 million in phone expenses.  He also appears to have unilaterally decided that "The school system wanted to build a data center, which will no longer be needed.” (Oh, but I doubt Dr. Cousins is going to just give that budget allowance back, do you?)

Not to be a Debbie Downer, but no one is "saving" money.  The U.S. Debt clock just started clicking a little faster.  I'm sure this will be attributed to any number of politicians over the next two and a half months, but this is your money, your children's money, and money that will be paid back.

I'm just glad that we'll get to enjoy some of that money, while the other 21 Counties squabble over the remaining $43 Million.  For that, I salute you Ulman Administration...or Barbara Mikulski...or Martin O'Malley...or...

UPDATE: There's always a catch.  As noted in Larry Carson's article "The state and counties will have to match a portion of the federal aid with a total of about $40 million."  Seeing as HoCo is receiving 63% of that money, and 63% of $40 million is $25.2 may have been premature to talk about how much money the County is "saving."

Less Than Purple Friday (Links)

(Been a while since I got back to my roots with some links...)

Last Tuesday, I decided to wear a purple shirt.  I was pumped about the Ravens win and was in a "It's-my-birthday-so-I-can-wear-a-spiderman-shirt-if-I-want-to" mood.  The only bad thing is that I wore a purple shirt on Friday.  I have two purple shirts...that are now at the cleaners.  Today, I have no purple shirts.  It breaks my heart to have a "Less Than Purple" Friday, but I will think Purple Thoughts (which is also something my purple-loving "When-I-am-old-I-shall-wear-purple" Grandmother says).

The Brian Meshkin post seemed to have stirred the pot a little yesterday.  I would say that he is a controversial character, but it looked like the feedback was overwhelmingly negative.  Brian does have some real ideas (and smart ideas), but you don't get elected based on saying smart things (alone).  Whether it is fair or not, a candidate's character is evaluated.  My favorite quip when talking about candidates is "No one elected George Bush to deal with 9/11."  Basically, the issues the candidate will face are going to be completely different from the issues that are presently on the table.  That's why, as large as the Columbia Downtown bills are, I'm not interested in a candidate that makes that issue the centerpiece of their campaign.  As Tom D'Asto said yesterday, it's done.

So while my post about Brian Meshkin and the comments below have supposedly been taken by Brian to be "negative campaigning" (who am I campaigning for?), I honestly believe such issues are open for discussion.  If you are a chameleon, come back to me and say you are a "Coalition-builder."  Either way, the concern is legitimate.  If I made an attack based on the way you look or your field goal percentage (we all know Brian was captain of his high school basketball team), that's irrelevant and nasty.  We are talking about how you will govern.  And that's all fair.


Speaking of candidates, this post by David Gertler just made me all the more sad that he is out of the race.  I was also appreciative that our system of "politics" (not government), is not so "messed up" as to deter a great person like David from running.  "Learn learn learn," brother.

As Bernstein begins to lock it down, Pat Jessamy checks her legal fund.  This was one of those races that was dictated by a low turnout.  I like Bernstein and, despite a very unusual personal life, I think he will do a great job in office.  However, if there had been a larger turnout of your average Baltimore voter, I don't think he would have won.  This race was a poli sci professor's dream study, so I imagine we will get a lot of statistics out of it.

It looks like things were a little hitchy on Tuesday.  There was an article over at ExploreHoward that recounted an episode where a woman who was registered Republican was confused with her mother-in-law, who is unaffiliated, and when she asked why she was only able to voter for Board of Ed candidates, they told her of the mix up and that since her vote had been counted, she couldn't go back and vote again.  I am only surprised that a certain segment of our community isn't presuming that these errors constituted 40% of the electorate that wished to vote for a certain candidate, but were unable to due to the strategic planting of developer lackeys at the polling places.

Call me a skeptic, but wouldn't it behoove incumbents to make artificially low projected revenues so that they could say revenues were coming in "much higher"  in mid September?  Also, despite being buried, let's not ignore this "The state is collecting less money then expected from wealthy taxpayers, who saw a hike in their rates after the 2007 special session."  You mean, you can't just tax 'em and then have more money?  Darn.  Also buried -- the State still has a projected deficit next year.  But don't worry, the headline is chipper.

Greg Fox has proposed legislation to start a commission for military veterans.  When I saw this yesterday, I sent Greg a message asking whether this commission (and attendant programs) will cost the County money.  I hope to talk to him about it sometime today.

HowChow inquires whether anyone has heard the rumor of a Sonic opening in Elkridge? By the way, if you ever wonder why you see so many Sonic commercials, despite the fact that (to my knowledge) there is only one in Maryland, it is because their marketing plan is to flood the market with advertising at least two years prior to setting up shop.  Take your tater tots and shove...ok, yes, I would like some tater tots.  I'm sorry I was stern with you.

Tell Your Neighbors reports that Conexiones is having a meet and greet fundraiser.

WB posts about Obladi, with some great pictures.  This is a Beatles themed B&B...because when people think Ellicott City, they think "Beatles."  Either way, next time I have family coming into town, I will definitely be referring them to the coolest rented bed in town.

Sarah gets all "Public-transportation-geeky" with a cool website to play around with.

Frank Hecker reviews the Democrat Central Committee numbers.  Bottom line: If you don't have a website and/or Facebook page, you aren't trying.  A further comment on Frank's post: I don't think any of the GOP Central Committee candidates had a website, although many had Facebook pages. (Correction: One of the slates did have a website, as noted below.)

That's all for now.  My week has come down to a simmer to send me into the weekend.  I would like to close by wishing my brother a very happy birthday!  G was my first reader and one of the reasons there is still a HoCo Rising blog today.  Before the days of daily posts, I was a reticent blogger.  When we would meet up he would say something like "I noticed you haven't posted in a while" and we would talk about things he was interested in hearing about.  He knew I liked writing, and was a great encouragement for me when I was getting ready to close shop.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

All But One

Larry Carson put out a piece today about the Bobo & Sigaty primary wins.  An interesting center-piece was Ken Ulman's support for Mary Kay, and his hard work down the stretch to get her re-elected.  I found this quote to be particularly striking:

"This was a race I felt strongly about. I feel very strongly about the work we've been doing for this county and Mary Kay was right in the middle of that. I wanted to send a message to folks that have been with us that I'm going to work hard for them. I'm not going to leave them hanging."

You mean like...Greg Fox?  Greg's hands were in the muck as much as anyone else, despite the fact that his District is relatively untouched by the Downtown Plan (geographically speaking).  Greg has received criticism for his support of the Downtown Plan.  Bottom line: Greg "has been with you" on "the work you've been doing" with regard to the Downtown Plan.  Don't leave him hanging...bro.

Larry also has an interesting juxtaposition of the Bobo/Sigaty numbers.  I've seen some people over at the silly place note that Bobo's win over Bailey was much more significant than Sigaty's win over Klein.  However, a look at the numbers tells a different story:

Sigaty, a proponent of the redevelopment plan, won with 3,741 votes, or 62.46 percent of the vote in the unofficial count, while Bobo, who opposed the project, got 3,729 votes for 81.9 percent of the total in her fight against challenger John Bailey.

Sigaty beat Bobo by 12 votes.

In addressing those who finished Tuesday with sad faces, Tom D'Asto masterfully avoids a political misstep.  While acknowledging that he would welcome the disaffected Dems (i.e., Klobo's), he also says that he does not oppose the Downtown Plan:

"The bottom line is the council voted on it. The vote is done. It's law," he said, the issue now is electing "a leader strong enough to enforce it." He is that leader, he believes.
Tom D'Asto certainly has the strongest campaign theme out of any of the HoCo candidates.  When I think D'Asto, I think "strong leader."  He's driven his point home, despite getting very little media coverage.

Finally, lest I suggest that the HoCo Republican party is the only one with yahoos, check out this jack@ss statement: "We need to be unified coming out and taking on our enemy, the Republican party," said Democratic party chairman Michael C.A. McPherson.
Getcha fatigues on, we huntin' elephants!  Yeeee Haw.

The Trojan Horse Candidacy of Brian Meshkin

"Bill" posts a very interesting comment below that I wanted to share:

I first met Brian M. at a Organizing for America meeting at the HoCo Library by the Mall where he presented himself as a bold Progressive and strong Obama supporter. He seemed thoughtful and passionate and I made note of him. The next time I saw him he was working the Republican crowd at their booth at the HoCo Fair and expounding just as passionately on his solid Republican credentials. The next time I saw him was speaking to the Columbia Democratic Club, making a passionately Progressive speech laced with quotes from Obama. What's up with this guy? I am an independent leaning D; and it seems like most of you are Rs. What's BM? I feel like he is some sort of Trojan Horse. But is he yours or ours? I honestly don't know.

I've raised this because many other people have told me the same thing, especially about Mr. Meshkin quoting Obama at the Dem Club meeting. 

There is clearly nothing wrong with a Republican supporting President Obama.  I think where people are getting a little bit "itchy" is with the clear pandering.  I don't know Brian Meshkin, and a lot of people that I know (and respect) like him, but videos like this one give me the heeby jeebies ("Brian makes me believe anything is possible"?).  The funniest thing about his candidacy is that for those that don't like him (which is getting larger by the day), they have a hard time putting their finger on what exactly it is about Brian Meshkin that they "don't like."  They just don't.

The whole "Trojan Horse" idea plays a little too much into the "team sport" politics stuff that I like to stay away from, but I think the underlying question is an interesting one: Who is this guy?  And no, I don't need to watch the Bio movie again.  Said otherwise, is there anything to Brian Meshkin other than "being" whatever it takes to win my vote?  I'm not so sure there is, and that scares me.

Off to Georgetown

I have an engagement in D.C. this morning, so I won't have time to post.  In the meantime, I would love an update on whether Avery got the GOP nod last night and whether the issue of him embarrassing the party was raised.

While the idea of Russ Swatek running against Calvin was certainly interesting, I think the Klobo clan steers clear of Republicans.  However, I would love to see Russ sell the party line while railing about downtown.  It would be like on the Johnny Carson show when that guy would spin all those plates on sticks.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Final Plea to the GOP Central Committee

There is a Howard County Republican Central Committee Meeting tonight NEXT WEDNESDAY (9/22).  I have a previous obligation scheduled (ok, it's golf with my Mom, however, you do not cancel on my Mom), but otherwise I would be beg the Central Committee not to appoint Reginald Avery as the Republican County Council Candidate in District 2.

Political Parties, like people, have credibility.  When you diminish that credibility with the electorate, it is very hard to gain it back.  I do not know what interviews the Committee has had with Mr. Avery (although I imagine them to be quite short due to his refusal to talk about the election), but unless he has a secret plan to fix the CA or solve the rest of HoCo's ills, he is better off not being on the Republican ticket. 

I've picked up a "What's the harm" sentiment among Republicans, and I think the harm to the party is quite clear.  You will drive up the Dem numbers in District 2, which already is very blue.  That means O'Malley, Ulman, and all the other incumbents get more votes across the County.  It also diminishes the credibility of the other candidates who are now part of the "Party of Avery."

Others have said, "Well we don't want Calvin to be able to spend all of his money on the other races."  Newsflash: HE'S GOING TO ANYWAY.  If I may...Calvin Ball ain't scared of no Reginald T. Avery.  If anything, this will help Calvin raise more money (that he doesn't need).  Furthermore, Reggie is going to need some cash for his own campaign and, if I may be so bold, he doesn't come across as the biggest rain-maker.  There is no District 2 money in the bank, after all of Anthony Jordan's money was donated to charity (which I think is pretty awesome).  Are you giving him $2,000, Republican Central Committee?  Are you going to give him an equal share with all the other candidates?  Get ready for a pissed off Ed Priola.

I have a feeling that this is already a done deal, but I hope that at least one person at tonight's meeting raises the question of whether putting an "eccentric" candidate on the ballot two months before the election for a Dem stronghold seat (with an incredibly popular incumbent) is really that great of an idea.

Then again, if Avery is appointed, I will begrudgedly enjoy candidate panels with both Dr. Beams and Mr. Avery come October.

John Bailey's Five-Year Campaign

John commented in response to my post below, addressing his party switch earlier this year.  Interestingly, he noted that this has "always been a 5 year campaign" and plans to put his hat in the ring again next year:

I can tell you that I do not regret my switch for a single moment, I am extremely happy to be a Democrat and feel very welcomed in the party. I feel no different today than I did yesterday or a year ago; this has always been a 5 year campaign. Year one is over, there are four more to go. I have been a Democrat for 7 months and received close to 20% of the vote; imagine what is possible over the next 4 years. Thank you to all those that supported me, I will not be going anywhere.

First, John -- wherever you are getting your Election Hangover pills, please send me some.

Second, I think a lot of people would like to see John stay on the political scene.  Many have suggested that he run for a "smaller office", but he has served on his Village Board, and I don't think the Board of Education should be viewed as the minor leagues for other offices (*cough* Walker *cough* Meshkin).  John is going to have to hustle to find himself on par with Liz Bobo in the Dem stratosphere, especially while openly acknowledging that he plans to run against her, should she go for another term.  Liz went to Ulman HQ last night to "rejoin the fam."  Due to her influence, local Dems are going to welcome her to the race to November.  Where does that leave John?

Either way, I look forward to having him around for the next five years.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

hoco gop live blog post 6

Ok, I vanished for a while. Turns out I was having a great conversation with Greg Fox about his leadership on fiscal responsibility in our county, when the battery on my laptop kicked it. I just got home and plugged that bad-boy in.

This event tonight was the first Howard County GOP event I attended. To all those that think Republicans are a bunch of racist, rich, snotty, non-caring people, I say "hogwash!" I met so many great, funny, caring, outgoing, enthusiastic, altruistic, and generally nice people tonight. I will definitely be going to more GOP events in the future.

I met some readers and frequent posters of this blog, and it was so great to put some faces with the names (or real names with the fake names... or faces with the fake names, or whatever). I look forward to seeing you again soon.

I FINALLY met Wordbones! He is a blogging role-model for me. In our short time talking I quickly realized that he is an incredibly warm and sincere person. If it wasn't already clear, he is without-a-doubt one of the experts on HoCo politics. I am one step closer to my dream blogging gathering of HoCoRising, Wordbones, HowChow and myself. I just need to meet HowChow and get that organized.

How about some it's-time-for-me-to-go-to-bed-analysis?

A vast majority of HoCo GOP politicos and several people running for statewide office were in attendance. The only people not attending were those in very close races (Lorton, Venkatesan, Gaffney, Theus, etc.)

With 93% of precincts reporting, it appears that Kyle Lorton will beat Jody Venkatesan for the district 13 senate candidate spot. You all know I was supporting Jody-V, so I am somewhat upset about this. I will say that Kyle Lorton is a great candidate, and I will be supporting him over the incument.

With 80% of precincts reporting it appears that Ed Priola and Jeff Robinson have clinched spots and Loretta Gaffney is not far behind. I asked Ed if he wanted to form a slate with the other candidates. He stated he wants to, but only if the other candidates are willing to work as hard as he is. I, for one, hope they all volunteer to work their butts off and form a slate.

And now the race you have all been waiting for... drumroll please...

With 46.4% of the precincts reporting Mary Kay Sigaty is far ahead of Alan Klein. Word on the blogosphere is that Alan called Mary Kay to concede. So, the Klobos failed at holding up the vote on the downtown Columbia plan, they failed at the TAG effort, they failed at electing their one-issue anti-downtown Columbia candidate. Will they give up their anti-development efforts once and for all? Will they admit defeat? Will they realize that a vast majority of Howard Countians and Columbians want development and see it as a positive? Time will tell.

With 47% of precincts reporting Bobo is beating Bailey by a huge margin. Apparently a lot of people voted for Bobo and Sigaty. Interesting. Is this a chink in Bobo's armor? Did she finally overstep her bounds by agreeing to support Klein? I guarantee she pissed off a ton of democrat politicos with her statements and actions against Sigaty. What does this mean for the future? Again, time will tell.

Ok, I have a ton more to write about other races across the state (we'll get to Wargotz and why I think his Mikulskisaurus commercial was quite smart), but it is waaaaay past my bedtime.


It's Done

I should be in bed.

Before the Klein/Sigaty race is completely put to bed, I do want to give a quick nod to Alan.  Whether or not you agree with him, Alan is a man that cares about his community.  I can not say the same about Liz Bobo.  Alan was put in a position where he was repeatedly told that he was the savior.  He clearly did everything he could to represent those interests. That said, those interests were not the will of the people. 

Board of Education provides little surprises.  I wish David Gertler was still in the fold (and maybe he will be tomorrow morning), but I've said repeatedly that we have a lot of great candidates.  We have to narrow a "great group of eight" down to four.  That almost seems ridiculous to me right now.

The Central Commitee race gave me some kind of confidence.  You Republicans, wherever you are, have sent a message.  The GOP will have balance.  Thank you to everyone who ran.  It was a messy race and you all deserve our appreciation.  More importantly, thank you to everyone that voted.  You made a difference.

I'm going to bed.

Live Blogging Primary Results; Part Deux

Trevor is doing such a great job with the live posts that I thought I would refresh the dorky talk live blog:

hoco gop live log post 5

I am here with Dennis Schrader, Candidate for County Council for district 3

Q: Why are you running for County Council?

A: Two reason, 1. the county is faced with challenges it hasn't faced inthe past. 2. I have a record of accomplishment that I feel can help the county.

Q: What do you see as the biggest issue?

A: Jobs. People need jobs. We need an environment that is conducive to job creation.

Q: How do you feel about the downtown Columbia plan

A: I think it is a good plan. My major concern is that we plan for the traffic. We need more space to develop business, but we also need places to live.

Q: How has your experience prepared you for this position?

A: I was on the council from 1994-1998 I have worked at the state level and nationally in public safety issues. I have been involved in major development in Baltimore. I was in charge of the redevelopment of the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Hoco GOP live blog post 4

I am here with District 13 House of Delegate candidate Ed Priola

Q: Why are you running?

A: Because when I first started, there was a lack of people willing to step forward, and I felt an obligation to do it.

Q: What do you see as the biggest issue for Howard County voters?

A: Ensuring that we keep the community affordable for all people, with low taxes and higher employment.

Q: What do you offer Howard Countians that your Democratic opponents do not?

A: A track record of working towards the goals of lower taxes, higher employment, and term limmits. I was national field director for the National Taxpayers Union and US Term Limits. Both organizations for which I fought across the country for tax payer rights and term limits.