Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Reader's Contribution: More on Meshkin

I've been treating the Board of Education race like the third rail of HoCo politics recently, but a reader sent me the following e-mail that I thought I should share.  I'm going to include it without commentary.

Is He Vested in HoCo?
Some have asked why hasn't Mr. Meshkin bought a home in HoCo if he is so vested in the area? 

45491 Sleepy Hollow Lane, Temecula, CA 92592

Orange Lake Country Club Villas Timeshare (search for Meshkin)

Terri Lynn Huntington vs. Salugen Inc.
In California, the case Terri Lynn Huntington vs. Salugen Inc., Ms. Huntington performed accounting services for Salugen, Inc.  According to the case file, on 1/9/08 Mr. Meshkin stopped giving her work and also did not pay her wages owed.  She stated that the business was a “virtual business” and that she did work from her home.  Mr. Meshkin would email her information or drop it off at her house. She was owed 142.25 hours at $25.00 an hour.  The Division of Labor Standards ruled in her favor and she was awarded damages, filing fees, interest and wages in the amount of $7962.14.  The judgment has not yet been satisfied.

Lawsuit: Cook County, IL
Mr. Meshkins's legal troubles are not only limited to California, he was sued in Cook County, Illinois by his trademark attorney who represented Salugen and Mr. Meshkin before the USPTO:

TEAS Withdrawl of Attorney:

Cook County Case Information:

(Note: Outstanding judgment for ~ $39,000)

What really happened with  Mr. Meshkin claims the company was merged with a public holding company (Linkedin);

His brother (Alex Meshkin) also does not reveal who they sold the company to:

In a Ruling on A Motion to Dismiss in the United States District Court District of Connecticut in Verture Incorporated v. Alex Meshkin the Plaintiff states that he was told that was sold to MyPoints another internet company.  MyPoints has no knowledge of

Missing From His Resume
Mr. Meshkin was a Director of Mezey Howarth Racing Stables, Inc., yet it does not show up on any of his resumes (the company has since been purchased by Forterus, Inc., and Mr. Meshkin is also Director of Forterus, Inc).  Why would he not list his affiliations with these organizations?

Forterus, Inc. purchased A Better Tomorrow treatment centers:


Salugen, Inc. and A Better Tomorrow treatment centers:

Another member of the Mezey Howarth Racing Stables Board of Directors, J. Wade Mezey, an attorney, has been disbarred in NY.  In addition, his company, Mezey & Associates, Inc. has had some legal troubles as well.  Perhaps that is why this company is missing from his resume?

Salugen, Inc.

Sunday Pre-Election Thoughts (and Links)

I read the two profiles the Sun put together on O'Malley and Ehrlich and was struck by the contrast in personalities that these pieces seem to draw.  Ehrlich is the emotional fiery leader looking to "charge up the hill."  O'Malley is the practical technocrat, seemingly devoid of emotion, who willingly acknowledges past tax raises and the possibility for more.  Interestingly, both pieces end on the black vote (where Sun polls show O'Malley up 88% to 4%) and O'Malley's zero-tolerance crime policy with a record of increase incarceration for young black men.  My own experience is that those that live in communities that are effected by high crime rates want zero-tolerance and long prison sentences.  Look at the Jessamy/Bernstein race!  However, Ehrlich is running on a platform of rehabilitation and clemency.  The advisers in the Ehrlich campaign are much smarter than me, but I wonder if he took the wrong approach on Crime.

Other than that, the picture used in the O'Malley piece shows him sitting in an RV across two seats without a seat belt.  Shame Shame.  It also reflects the methodical, calculated nature of his candidacy.  The article starts with him asking his aides whether they have "Hopes and Dreams"...only to later reveal that he was referring to his campaign song by The Boss.

I'm still holding out hope that Bob can pull this off.  I think he was a good Governor who made tough choices that earned him a single term boot.  Unfortunately, I think his campaign has been rough-shod and disorganized, as indicated by his last minute push on an immigration plank (after O'Malley used the term "New Americans"). But this is a guy who admits he is not campaign minded, and really only enjoys politics when he is executing policy.  I like that.

By the way, taxes are going up under either of these guys.  O'Malley has put our state "on the margin" by borrowing from Sam to pay Mary.  Some will say that he had to do it in order to keep the State afloat, others will say that he did it to mask debt and avoid tough decisions.  But anyone paying attention will acknowledge that it happened.  The biggest difference is whether you have a Governor that says "I have to raise taxes because of the mess the former 'Guv' left me" or a Governor that says "Hard choices require sacrifice" (or a hybrid as shown by O'Malley's opening remarks to the 2007 Special Session).


53 Beers attended the "Rally to Restore Sanity/Fear" and has some interesting thoughts about how it all went down.  I can't help but think, in light of the timing of the rally, that it was political.  I have the whole thing DVR'ed and plan to watch it sometime this week, but even if the candidates were never addressed, you don't hold a rally three days before a critical mid-term election without having some electoral agenda.  Whether it was to charge up the young vote (most attendees were under 40), or to remind some folks of how happy they were after President Obama's inauguration, this was a politically minded event aimed at the Dem voter.  Call me a foil hat, but that is the only conclusion I can reach.

WB suggests that good weather on Tuesday will lead to good results for the Dems...while a commenter suggests that nothing will save the Dems from their impending doom.

Does anyone else get a little freaked out when people chant our President's name?  Is that just me?

If you're interested in poll watching, check out the chart for the MD Gubernatorial (won't miss that word).

That's all for this fine Sunday morning.  I'm going for a long run then settling in for some stress-free football (and wearing my Boldin jersey without fear).  Any door-knocking volunteers that come to my door today are getting candy and/or beer (they just better be ready to answer some questions).

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bias in Blogging

I sometimes hear from people that they think I've been "unfair" or "biased" in my review of one candidate or a particular party.  Most of the time I tell them that they are right.  That is the very nature of blogging.  If you are expecting even-handed news, go to a newspaper (although I can't say that I could point you to an unbiased source).  The root of a blog is the blogger.  You get to know their personality.  If you don't like the blogger, you almost certainly will not like the blog.  If you don't like the blog, there is a pretty decent chance you won't like the blogger (although I've had different experiences in real life).  But if you are going to criticize a blog post, you should probably bring more to the table than "you're biased." 

Saturday Reporting on Sun Reporting: Election Edition

 What a week.  As much as I've enjoyed the banter, I will be very happy when the election season is over.  My heart goes out to all of the candidates and their volunteers for the hard work you put in to make sure that every citizen has an opportunity to make an informed choice on November 2nd.  I have met a number of candidates that are in this "thing" for ego sustenance, but I have been truly inspired by those that are running because they think they can help people.  The cynic in me presumed that such politicians did not exist.  I've since realized that while rare, there are some of you out there that promote the ideals of politics that existed when parents wanted their kids to grow up to be Senator.  So much of that has been spoiled.

The Howard Section starts out with a jarring headline: "Fox and Beams find little that separates them."  Hu-whaaaaaaaaaaat.  The article then goes on to say that both support deer hunting and believe that new development is better fit for Columbia than rural Howard County.  I believe they both also like jelly beans and think helicopters are really really cool.  I don't doubt that this forum did little to reveal the real differences between Dr. Beams and Greg, but the differences are there nonetheless.  The basic philosophy that Dr. Beams espoused at the Chamber forum of using government resources to "trail blaze" social programs is fundamentally at opposite to everything Greg Fox has represented on the Council.  Then again, I think the voters that read the Howard section are already quite aware of that, and will vote accordingly.

The Sun then offers candidate biographies compiled by Larry Carson.  A few notes:

County Executive
  • I don't think it is accurate to say Ken Ulman started his political career when he ran for County Council in 2002.  I think it began when he was "one of the first babies born at Howard County General Hospital."  If I hear that one more time, I'm filing a FOIA request.
  • Ken and Trent both dodge a question related to the teacher pension shift.  As someone who works in one of the campaigns noted, "If a candidate doesn't want to answer a question, you can ask it 20 times and you still won't get an answer."  In fairness, I think this question was probably only asked about 10 times during the course of the Election cycle, but it is probably the most important issue facing our County for the next four years.  It is much more important than OPEB, is something that actually has to be paid and not an accounting measure.
  • Some would be interested to know that Trent believes the county's waste water treatment plants are of sufficient capacity to service the "2,000 General Plan."  I can almost see an editor trying to pick that comma off the page with tweezers.
County Council
  • These questions are really good.  Nice job, Larry!
  • I didn't even know that this was on the table (and maybe it's not), but one of the questions proffered to the candidates is whether zoning regulation amendment applications should be suspended while the next General Plan is being developed.  
  • The most questionable question (in my mind) is a bit of a push poll.  "In 2009, there were 1,353 housing foreclosures and 17,000 eviction filings in the county.  What preventive services can the county offer to the families in these circumstances?"
  • Another question is how many Council Members should be added in response to the population growth.
  • Finally, the Council candidates are asked about redistricting and how those lines should be drawn.
  • Courtney Watson's answers were very technical.  I almost felt like a member of DPZ was responding.  She even cites Section 202(f) of the Howard County Charter for the redistricting question.
  • Bob Flanagan made sure that technical questions about Council business was not going to stand in the way of party rhetoric.  With regard to redistricting "The current process was heralded as a 'reform' when implemented but was abused by Democrats in power."  Because Republicans clearly would have passed on the opportunity to set the party up for a decade of dominance.  
  • Calvin Ball's answers focused primarily on constituent education and involvement.  You address foreclosures with financial literacy.  You resolve redistricting with citizen panels.  Rather than grow the Council, you increase the manner in which Council-members can be in touch with their constituents.
  • Reg Avery's answers reflect a "growing understanding" of Council business.  He says the Council should engage in financial literacy initiatives, which, ironically enough, were started by his opponent quite some time ago.  He also suggests the County should "apply pressure to lending sources" when helping citizens with foreclosures.  I believe his suggestion that redistricting follow major roads and highways in order to avoid the division of communities is a good one. 
  • Jen Terrasa gave good answers, but nothing for me to "grab on to."  I think she would be a strong voice on the Council with regard to redistricting due to her background in law...but am just as concerned that her deep blue nature will be the governing force in her advocacy for "legal" boundaries.
  • Dennis Schrader's answers look like he sent them from his Blackberry while waiting for a train.   He gave one sentence answers that barely respond to the question.  
  • Mary Kay Sigaty's response to the question relating to the suspension of zoning amendments was my favorite.  She basically says "lets not put procedure over people."  All of the current Council-members said this in a round-about way of "we will do what is necessary", but Mary Kay lays it out the best.  The people are what is most important and if a ZRA amendment rises to the level of helping the community, then it will be considered along with the General Plan.  The General Plan has the capability to do the most good for the most amount of people, so it will be the focus.  She also gave the most detailed answers, which is important to voters that are just doing their candidate research at the 11th hour.
  • Tom D'Asto gave short efficient answers that fit with his trade as an engineer.  He says that County funds should not be used to offset mortgage obligations, but I don't think anyone was suggesting that.  
  • Greg Fox presents the "trailblazing" idea that ZRA amendments during the General Plan process should be limited to those requests that are Council initiated.  I like it!  Maybe Mary Kay and Greg can create a hybrid solution.  He also reminds everyone that he "don't like 'doz Dem-o-crats" by stating there was gerrymandering in the 2000 redistricting.
  • Zaneb Beams continues to puzzle me.  She wants to prevent predatory lending through education...and financial reform.  I was not aware that the Council was involved in financial regulation related to mortgage lending.  Also, the reason the districts look like a "crazy quilt" is because of your party, Dr. Beams.  These aren't just wacky districting patterns that were placed by the Creator. 

Frank Hecker writes up a long post on Ed Priola.  Considering Ed is running against two Dem ideologues, it would have been interesting to see how Frank would have handled their positions and the practicality of the same.

Looks like Allen Dyer isn't the only one suing our school board

The Sun looks at little known GOP opponents to some Dem Goliaths in this year's election.  Two of them happen to cross Howard County borders.  I think this needs to be considered in any talk about big GOP wins in Howard County.  If we had multiple contested state-wide elections, with up-and-coming GOP challengers, I would say there would be a good chance that the GOP wave would hit Howard County shores.  Furthermore, in order to have this kind of "harvest" there needs to be some tending of the fields.  To what extend has the local GOP increased Republican voter registration?  Should I expect to walk out my back door and come back with a bushel of apples if I never got around to planting an apple tree?

That's all for today.  Great chilly weather out there today.  Enjoy it.

Friday, October 29, 2010

HoCo GOP Seeks "New American" Vote

Lissa Rossi of Ellicott City Patch writes that Republicans are targeting the "foreign-born" communities in Howard County:

In recent days, Republicans in Howard County have poured money into full-page newspaper advertising and have also advertised on the Hispanic radio station Viva 900 and in The Korean Times asking citizens to vote, said Joan Becker, chairwoman of the Howard County Republican Central Committee.

"Seventeen percent in Howard County are foreign-born," she said, explaining why Republicans are targeting ads towards minority groups. "That's a big voting bloc. Most are small business owners. The Republican message sells well with that community."

Non-Purple Friday (Links)

Seeing as there is no Ravens game this Sunday, I am saving my Purple shirt(s) for another Friday.  As one of the women at my work said, "Not many men can pull off purple" (and then just stopped).

Pretty sure I'm done with endorsements.  Regardless of what scorned readers may believe, I do put a lot of research into my votes and there really isn't much time to evaluate the other races.  I would encourage others to share where they think there votes are going and enjoy the great game of "Defend Your Vote."  It is so much easier to pick apart the choices of others (and hence the existence of this blog).

Still no idea where I'm going to spend Election Night. 

By the way, I hear the GOP Club meeting last night was very very interesting.  Since I was not there, I'm not going to relay what I heard, but I would welcome anyone that was present (ahem Trevor) to give us the low down.


Jessie gives a shout out to local political blogs in a letter to the Columbia Flier

Republican Scott Bailey takes a Kamikaze approach to the Baltimore County State's Attorney's Race:  "I am going to lose, but before I do so, I would like to make you take a pay cut and enroll in a 401(k)...come on dude, let me save some face."

I was certainly angered by the woman that faked cancer in order to defraud her "friends" out of over $100,000, but the 15 year sentence definitely surprised me.  That certainly makes the recent sentences dolled out for drunk driving deaths (i.e., 10 years, 11 months) all the more suspect.

The Baltimore County Public School System has a real problem.

Further evidence that direct democracy (i.e., referenda), without most of the rules and regulations regarding campaign finance that are applicable to elected representatives, should not be a preferred means of passing legislation.  I'll admit that I bought into the idea of bringing the vote to the people, but after seeing the mess that has gone on with Question A, I would hate to have seen what our election cycle would look like if we had amorphous interests lobbying our citizens with money and favors.

Any story involving a Mercedes pulling up to a food bank can only take place in Howard County.  Please give it a read...and please contribute and/or volunteer.

It appeared to have been "Return of the Jedi" in the letters section for the Flier/Times folks.  Dems flooded the paper with letters supporting Ken Ulman, Courtney Watson, and Jon Weinstein.  Good thing there will be depressed Democrat voter turnout...right?

Can I tell you that I am already excited for the Board of Ed race in 2012?  This BoE election, with all the nastiness that has gone on, is nothing compared to what we can expect when Allen Dyer is on the ballot

WB notes that Howard County may want to consider further steps to embrace the Cyber-Security field with initiatives at the high school level.  After spending my evening with a room full of people connected to the cyber-field, I will say one thing: this is a hard group to nail down from a marketing perspective.  Due to the innovative/entrepreneurship angle, many of these businesses are new and don't know what they need.  Those that have been around awhile have normally sold their previous businesses many times over, and don't know if their new efforts will exist long enough to need much of anything.  To the extent our County can create a catalyst of stability or an entry point for our graduates, we will all be better off for it.

Sarah is evaluating the recent home sales in her neighborhood.  My hyper-local housing market is still recovering from the bozo that was had for $50,000 less than market value.  As my neighbor said, "Unless they needed to get 'dead person smell' out of that house, I am pissed."

Trevor believes Shane Pendergrass may be bad for your health...ok, replace "may be" with "certainly is."

That's all I got.  I had originally planned on going up to PA this weekend for a Halloween party, but it looks like I will be working.  The good news is that I probably will get a chance to get over to the Day Center for a little while tomorrow morning.  The bad news is that I love Halloween parties.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

That's Mmmmm-O-N-E-Y

The Sun just put out this article about fundraising money and where it has gone amongst the HoCo Candidates.  It is so so good in so so many ways but I have so so little time to write up a full post.  However, I would hate to not link to it.

Top Secret Ehrlich Poll Shows Close Race

The Freestater Blog is reporting that the Ehrlich campaign is reporting...that this is a 3 point race.

Seeing how there is no "raw data", this poll could very well have been the population of a Towson McDonald's at lunch hour.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Lawyer, the Priest, and the Funeral Home

The Columbia Flier just put out another piece about the proposed funeral home on Route 108 next to St. Louis Church (and the fifth hearing by the Howard County Hearing Examiner).  Not to be overly harsh, but it reminded me why people hate lawyers.  St. Louis's argument seems to turn on whether the priests' rectory may be considered a "residential development":

“I would suggest to you that it is infinitely clear that it does,” Erskine said in his closing argument, citing the definition of a residence as “a structure ... containing dwelling units.”

However, in a technical staff report recommending the Donaldson proposal be approved, the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning wrote that because the priests’ residence is owned by the church, the rectory is an institutional development, not a residential development.

Due, in part, to the vows that priests are asked to make, rectories are a practical aspect of the Church.  To say that by living on Church property priests are deigned to have waived all protections for residential development appears ludicrous to me and borders on violating equal protection under the law.  Donaldson's lawyer appeared happy enough to buy into this argument:
“It’s because of that they do not and they are not entitled to the same protections as any other residential property.”

Parking is a huge issue, as this funeral home will have a 192 seat-chapel and five viewing rooms with only 66 parking spaces.  I'm no math guy, but that doesn't seem to fit capacity unless we are presuming a world of enlightened car-pooling funeral-goers. 
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I smell bias.  During one of the first hearings, the Hearing Examiner said that she wanted to hear from the parishioners last, after hearing from all (presumably secular) neighbors.  Since when are we separating witnesses according to what they do on Sundays?  As an attorney, and as a citizen, I don't like that.  Not one bit. 
Here's a very Halloween-ish line to leave you with: From his working in the business and living in Clarksville, Donaldson noted that Clarksville is a “very under-served area.”

Mwa ha ha ha.

Dems Rock the Early Vote: Absentee & Early Voting Numbers

The numbers speak for themselves:

Democrat 3,122 (58.1 of the absentee vote)
Republican 1,413 (26.3)
Unaffiliated 800 (14.9)
Other/Unknown 16
Green 12
Libertarian 15

Total 5,378

Early Voting
Democrat 3,934 (58.9 of the Early Vote Total)
Republican 1,904 (28.5)
Unaffiliated 788 (11.8)
Other/Unknown 22
Green 10
Libertarian 19

Total 6,677
12,055 Pre-Nov 2 Votes

7,056 Democrat (58.5)
3,316 Republican (27.5)
1,588 Unaffiliated (13.2)

(Thanks to "Anonymous Reader" for the Tip)

There are still a lot of votes to be cast, but if Democrat turnout stays consistent, the GOP is in trouble.

UPDATE: Here are some more numbers to chew on.

And Then There Were Seven (Tuesday LINKS)

One week until the big day.  Some of us politi-geeks are trying to find a good place to set up for the results.  All I want is a good beer (or two), good company to chat over the results, and possibly WiFi to live blog some returns.  Any ideas?

My post over the weekend about the recent Ehrlich polling numbers have indicated some very interesting (however anecdotal) considerations.  Maybe the conservative base is fed up with Ehrlich?  If you look at the comments, two voters who had previously voted for Ehrlich had decided to either "sit it out" or vote for O'Malley.  Republicans may want to ask an informal survey before they "get out the vote" on November 2nd.


I am very sad to note that Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge John Prevas has died at the age of 63.  I worked with Judge Prevas after my first year of law school.  He is known in legal circles as the judge that had a police officer do ten push-ups in his courtroom for forgetting to bring his police report to trial.  He was known to me as the first Judge I ever met.  When I was a Cub Scout, our Pack Leader took us to Judge Prevas's courtroom to see a trial.  I still remember that the case had something to do with a drug dealer running away from police and being pulled down from a fence as drugs came flying out of his pocket.  People always thought Judge Prevas would "memorize cases" before he made a ruling from the bench, but I can tell you from working with him that he really just had them all in his head to begin with.  I hate to ramble on for all of you non-lawyers, but Judge Prevas was a model jurist and he will be missed.

Kratovil and Harris are dead even, following in line with all of the other polls that originally showed the GOP candidate leading, but now have shifted in the days leading up to the election.  (This article also proves how effective attack ads can be.  A true shame.)

In the past year, Howard County Police have been sued for inappropriate use of force, caught parking in a handicap spot during a campaign to stop improper use of the same, and now have been cited for getting drunk and jumping into golf course water features.  I get the whole "don't let a few bad apples..." thing, but this pattern of behavior is beginning to show a culture of above-the-law attitude that will not sit well with the public.

Another story from the front lines of Howard County's homeless.

Even the Redskins/Ravens split had a spot on the recent polling numbers.  No surprise, Ravens dominated.

Frank Hecker projects likely voters for the 2010 election.  Anyone who wants to have a handle on where this election is headed should read Frank's statistical analyses of past election numbers and the manner in which those number can be projected into November.  What I would really love is a poll of just Independent voters...and or an extraction of the Independent votes from all of the previous polls.  Unless Frank picks this up, I may look into it myself.

Columbia 2.0 (or is it C2.0 now?) wants you to be a part of Columbia's Art Future!  (I hope Richard from EllicottStation is there).

Wordbones posts about the dissenting votes in the Republican party that are supporting Courtney Watson for re-election.  I alluded to this in my endorsement post, but couldn't remember if this was part of the HoCoPoLo stuff that was under wraps.  To the extent this can be termed "dissent" (as opposed to "I don't care what you think about who I support"), its roots reach all the way to the Tea Party.  I think you will find that a good number of the "Republicans for Watson" were disgusted by the local party's wide swing to the right and the manner in which Republican elected officials were pandering to this base.  Most moderate Republican business-people and professionals thought "This party does not care about me or what I believe."  So once it came time for election season, those same people thought to themselves "I don't care what this party thinks about me or what I believe."  There is a complete absence of leadership at the local level and if any Republican thinks he or she can step in and run for Executive in four years, they need to do some major house-cleaning to make sure there is a Republican base worth running on.  Otherwise, Republicans for Watson will be celebrating their four year reunion at exactly the wrong time.

HowChow posts an awesome Trolling recap of Baltimore Beer Week (via Brandon).  I wish I had been able to take advantage of more of these events, but between work, marathon training, and meeting with all of you, I just didn't have time.  Back to pedestrian non-Beer-Week drinking for me.

HoCo Politico wonders what effect the blogging endorsements may have on the General Election.  I was quick to say "none", until I read his analysis...which suggests that on the local level, the smallest butterfly can create a tornado.

That's all I have for today.  Have a great Tuesday and I hope to hear a recap of the Arts brain-storming session from some of you tomorrow.

Monday, October 25, 2010

My Council Votes

Since endorsements are falling like rain around here, I thought I would offer my thoughts on the County Council.  I normally only write about what my ballot is going to look like, but since this blog tends to focus (neurotically) on Council matters, I feel at liberty to talk about races outside of my District.

Council District 1

As someone who spent a lot of time studying Establishment Clause cases in law school, I have to say that District 1 reminds me of Sandra Day O'Connor.  She was the swing vote on almost all of these cases, and Appellate attorneys were instructed to cater their arguments towards Justice O'Connor's view of the Lemon Test.  Since O'Connor has left the bench, the future of the Establishment Clause is sort of up in the air.  She provided balance and fidelity to the case law that was not provided by the other Justices, who were predictable in their voting.

As if you didn't see this coming, I see Courtney Watson as this Council's O'Connor.  When Bob Flanagan called Courtney a "potted plant" and suggested that she votes however she needs to in order to keep her "Democrat membership card," I was offended.  Not because I'm friends with Courtney (we have shared probably 4 minutes worth of conversation total), but because it was embarrassingly wrong.  Courtney has challenged Healthy Howard.  She has bumped heads with Executive Ulman on numerous occasions, often proving to be Greg Fox's only support when he questions the steamrolling of Ulman initiatives.

Courtney is deliberative and considers the concerns of her constituents.  Contrary to whatever back-door dealings Bob Flanagan may have alluded to, Courtney worked to make sure that the Doughoregan approvals would not create a back-log of public works requirements.  You can disagree with the final outcome, but you can't fault the process.

I understand that due to some long-term strategic planning, Republicans that publicly support Courtney have become personas non grata with the GOP leadership...but I don't think I have much to lose in that department.  Courtney Watson for District 1.

Council District 2

Many of you know that I started out this election season working for my friend Anthony Jordan's campaign for County Council against Calvin Ball.  Since Anthony closed shop back in July, I've had a chance to get to know Calvin.  I even donated towards his campaign.  In the next year, the Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness will be presented to the Council.  I think Calvin will not only be receptive, but will be a champion for the most under-represented members of our community as the County sets out to find functional responses to a seemingly permanent curse.

I've had a chance to meet Reg Avery and I think he is a stand up guy.  He has been nothing short of impressive for most of the speaking engagements I've seen him at (although "groundswell of anger" may have been a bit of a flub).  I sincerely hope he stays involved in the party and sticks around for the next round of elections.  I just don't want him to win this one.  Calvin Ball for District 2.

Council District 3

If you ever get around to asking a Council-person what their "job" is, they will almost always say the same thing "constituent services."  Curbs, street signs, neighbors, bus stops -- this is Council business.  It is not glamorous.  No lives are being saved.  But it will make someone sleep a little easier.

Jen Terrasa is known for being very good at constituent services.  Unfortunately, as far as I am concerned, she is also known for being a pocket vote for Ken Ulman (who is featured very prominently on her website).  Nonetheless, I would probably be giving her the HCR stamp 'o approval if it weren't for her opponent.

Dennis Schrader is a political rock star.  I've been a little disappointed that he has bought into some of the shennanigans of his Republican brother-in-arms Bob Flanagan (i.e., TPI and "OPEB wants to eat your children"), but now that he has settled into the race, his positions are clear, well thought out, and paired with ideas on how to execute.  I not only think he would bring balance to the Council, but also think he would excel at the position.  Similar to Courtney, Dennis is deliberative.  I've spoken with him on two separate occasions about issues that concerned me and both times he has said "let me think about that" and then written me back.  I can't tell you how many candidates have said "let me think" as an excuse to NOT think about a position.  I think Jen is a great person and may very well ride her Dem base back into the Council Chamber, but if I were in District 3, I would certainly be voting Dennis Schrader for District 3.

Council District 4

Mary Kay Sigaty for District 4.  I disagree with Mary Kay on all the small stuff (i.e., mandatory sprinklers, Healthy Howard), but I think she is very good at what she does as a Council-person.  I would proffer that she may know more about Columbia Redevelopment than any other Council member (and I mean that as no insult to the other members).  Regardless of what her detractors may say, she cares more about her constituents than GGP or any other monied interest.  As one of her constituents, I have confidence that, to borrow a campaign slogan, "She's in it for us."

Council District 5

Greg Fox is captain of the football team.  Ken Ulman is the class president.  They don't like each other, but they respect what the other is doing. 

Greg is the only Council member that absolutely refuses to read the blogs, and I don't blame him.  If it were physically possible, I would give any and all extra hours in my day to Greg Fox.  He is the busiest man I know and still walks around with a smile on his face.  He's provided the "Republican conscience" for this Council, and while he may ramp the rhetoric up every once in a while, he is reasonable in making concessions and explaining why he may refuse to approve a budget over one or two line items that stick in his craw.

Dr. Beams, probably by her own admission, is left of left.  I mean, she was brought into politics via support for the Affordable Health Care law.  Through her statements at forums and throughout this campaign, I can't help but feel that she will be a rubber stamp for Ken's priorities.  On top of that, I just fundamentally disagree with her positions on private property owners and zoning laws (i.e., public interest overrules the interest of private landowners).  I like Dr. Beams, but I'm not going to vote for Dr. Beams.

Greg Fox for District 5.

So that's that.  I doubt there were any surprises in there, but I think my predictability may lend some credence to my positions (or at least I hope so).  Best of luck to everyone and regardless of the outcome, thank you for running.

Board of Education Coverage?

I was having lunch with my Dad this afternoon and he asked me "Have you done a run down of the Board of Education candidates and their positions?"  My response "Sort of."

His question made me realize that for a position that is devoid of party labels, we really should have more resources for voters to help them distinguish the candidates.  Despite trying to "get French and Proudfoot to quit," former candidate David Thalheimer has done an impressive job of compiling footage from the various candidate forums for voters to review.  Nonetheless, in light of his stated objectives, I think you need to be on the look out for some "creative editing" in the manner in which these candidates are presented.

For the most part, I still don't know how I'm going to vote.  I agree with most of WB's picks, but I have not met Aquino (nor will I before the election) and don't know Larry Walker's positions well enough to say "why" I support him (hopefully that will change after meeting with him on Thursday).  After lending all the due diligence a non-parent/non-teacher voter can give to a Board of Education race, I am far more comfortable saying who will not be receiving my vote than those who will be getting a check mark on Election Day.  I also feel that the position itself is being overblown by the candidates and their supporters.  At the end of the day, this Board is important, but the influence it has on our children's education, the budget that is approved, or school policy is limited.  The Howard County Public School System is primarily controlled by the Superintendent and his staff.  The Super serves at the direction of the Board, but I don't think the power structure is arranged so that the Board can micromanage our schools (which may be otherwise suggested by the campaign platforms of some of our candidates).  The Board supervises and approves.  Not necessarily implements.

I am quite certain there will be a great deal of disagreement on this one, but that's my opinion.  I don't have a child in the school system and maybe that colors my view.  However, I can "one-up" most of you by being a product of the Howard County school system (up to middle school) and therefore...I win or something like that.

Mundie Mundie (Links)

Well that game was nothing to write home about.  I earned a Jane head shake when I changed jerseys from my new 81 Anquan Boldin to my old 5 Joe Flacco mid-way through the second quarter (leading to 14 Raven points before the half).  I don't know how I thought I could get away with switching jerseys mid-season, but I learned my lesson (I am very superstitious).

Despite piling up some billables, I had a good weekend.  Yesterday I went for my "long run" in marathon training and did not sustain any injuries, which is a first for me.  I feel like contacting my old Poli Sci professor and asking him if there are any studies with regard to yard signs and votes, and if so, is there a point of diminished returns when each new sign really isn't helping the candidate.  I'm sure it depends on how the signs are spread out, but if yard signs play a large role in our democracy, it would be a shame.

Eight days.


A Washington Post poll indicates that about four in ten Ehrlich supporters expect him to win.  That seems about right.  (Oh yeah, and this is the second poll in two days that shows O'Malley with a 14 point lead).

Allen Dyer plans to sue the school board...again.  I am almost at a loss for words...almost.  Allen sued the school board before he joined.  Allen sued the school board as a member.  What level of self-righteousness is necessary to burden our education system, County, and Court system with this nonsense?  Let's not forget that the previous actions were the result of bad lawyering (with a fool for a client) based on frivolous claims.  Allen likes to paint himself, simultaneously, as the martyr and the champion of the parents.  My question is, once suit is brought once, how can that member expect to deliberate with the Board in the future?  How can they expect to be effective on the Board?  A few parents were incensed over the way Allen was treated at a recent Board meeting, but...can you blame the other Board members?  I can't.

Anne Arundel Slots is polled to be split 47% for, 45% against with 8% undecided.  This issue proves that you can not take corporate interests out of development questions.  Period.

I wonder how many more ideas Alonso has in his hat.  Seems like every two years the citizens of Baltimore City are told that there kids are going to have (Insert Smart-sounding Word Here) Schools.  The real changes in lower income education occur when you teach the parents.

HowChow loves foreign sodas.

WB's post about his bike trip through Frederick reminded me of Mama Wordbones pointing to Dennis's camera at the HoCo Bloggers Happy Hour and saying "You take that thing everywhere."

HCP posts that China Chef has received their eviction notice and also makes some endorsements (the comments proving again that the only people who notice are those that aren't endorsed).

Sarah is done with Election 2010, and so am I.  At the end of my long run, I was tired and waiting for the post-run happy feeling (i.e., I was not yet happy).  I saw the back of a sign and thought to myself "I hate yard signs.  Whomever's sign this is, it is improperly placed..."  As I walk up to it, I realized it was a realtor sign.  Those people have been in the yard sign business year round, and probably don't appreciate the politi-signs taking up their...real estate.

That's all for today.  I'm working from the casa.  If anyone feels like meeting up for a sandwich, drop me a line.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

"Our Birds' Heads Are Falling Off"

In the wake of a doomsday poll indicating that O'Malley is leading Ehrlich 52% to 38%, Republicans have to be looking around going "What the heck is going on around here?!?!?"  Even Red Maryland has gone into a 24/7 state of denial ("We want the RAW DATA!").

Let's operate under the assumption that the Baltimore Sun is not engaging in a large scale political conspiracy (along with the Washington Post) that would forever discredit the paper with readers as a source for political prognosticating.  Just pretend for a second.

What went wrong?

The Sun begrudgingly acknowledges, and I think that most Dems will agree, that O'Malley is winning the game of attack ads.  Ehrlich is a lobbyist that caused the Gulf Oil Spill and wants to destroy our public university system.  O'Malley is a guy that fibbed on a jobs report.  I hate negative ads more than anything in politics, but to the extent they are effective, O'Malley has knocked this one out of the park.

The next thought is that the GOP picked the wrong candidate for 2010.  Anti-incumbent fervor does not work for...former incumbents.  Brian Murphy is NOT winning this election, but it never seemed like Ehrlich tapped into that base.  In fact, when traveling through the D.C. suburbs (really!) and Northern Maryland, I still see huge Brian Murphy signs.  Either he has not gotten around to picking those up, or people are in protest.

Finally, the polls are clear that Ehrlich never made inroads with the DC suburbs.  This is why Mary Kane was brought on, who has effectively been a ghost in this election in terms of stirring up the electorate.  She is no Michael Steele.  She is no Anthony Brown.  No one is lining up to see her.  (I hope Charles Lollar at least got a phone call.)

Is it too late to fix? 

I don't think so.  There is a huge gap, but it came out of no where.  Two months ago, we had an election within the margin of error.  Now we have a 14 point gap.  In the next nine days, Ehrlich needs to do what the Dems have so effectively done.  "They say that there is going to be a (insert party here) Tsunami!  Do you feel like another four years under (insert party here) government?"  Dems turned themselves into the underdogs while still in office.  Republicans were more than happy to cooperate, predicting a state-wide round of whup ass that was predicated on low Dem turnout.  That's like predicting you won't get stung by a hornet while kicking the nest.

I think Dems will come out.  Watch this video from Savage-Guilford Patch for the guy that said he made sure he came out to vote "to support my President."  Those Dems that weren't paying attention started to pay attention once Nationwide polls predicted overwhelming GOP wins.  Again, from the video, "Who are they pollin'?  I never seen a poll."

I think that in counties like Howard, Ehrlich can get a lot of Dem votes.  If they were relying on a strategy of overcoming O'Malley votes with Republican turnout, throw that playbook away.  Ehrlich has Dem appeal, which is why he won this blue state to begin with.  For some reason, he ran away from that this election.

My Vote
I'm sorry, but I just can't stand O'Malley.  He fits the model of those electeds that govern via poll.  If the poll says vote yes, he votes yes.  If it says vote no, the same.  That's no way to run a state.  Certainly the civic equality issue needs to be considered, but I've come to the conclusion that Dem politicians use social issues as carrots to "trick" their electorate.  Make your voters feel like freedom fighters and they will rush the polls.  However, once these people make it to office, they sit...and sit...and sit.  Obama ran on civic equality, yet his DoJ is opposing the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  GITMO is still in operation.  I hate to be so cynical, but I don't know how you can see it any other way (especially for a "Poll Governor").

Ehrlich made hard choices about the University of Maryland that probably helped keep it as a state jewel rather than a second class institution.  Tuition freezes are bad policy and don't have the effect that everyone thinks they do.  We had balance in Annapolis, which admittedly led to some ineffectiveness, but at the very least made sure that every piece of legislation received due scrutiny.  Criminal Justice encompassed "justice" and not just sound bites.

Ehrlich for Guv.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Work For Each Other

I spent about an hour at the Route One Day Center this morning.  Most of this time was spent talking with Joe about the Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness (which Joe often notes is not the "Ten Year Plan to Talk About Ending Homelessness").  I have not been able to go to the Center as much as I would like recently, mostly due to some work projects that require attention over the weekend, as well as trips up and down the East Coast to visit friends and family.

However, today I saw a woman that I had worked with about two months previous.  When I had met with her, she was fighting to rebuild a relationship with her children who she had not seen for three years.  She was in recovery and had stable housing.  This woman knew she was not in a position to have full custody, but wanted her children back in her life.  About four years previous, her brother had taken custody.  After about a year of weekly visits, the brother refused to let her see the children (for non-abuse related reasons that I will omit) and would not answer her phone calls.  When we spoke, she spent about an hour crying.  I couldn't understand her and had to ask her to calm down so that I could figure out the facts.  However, at about the hour fifteen mark, I realized that she hadn't been able to tell anyone else her story.  The "facts" didn't matter.  She needed empathy.

Our final solution had very little to do with the law.  We decided that the best way to help her see her kids was by writing a letter to her brother, letting him know that she was trying, and that she loved her children.  When I saw her this morning, she was holding the hands of her daughter and son.  It was one of the most emotionally powerful experiences of my life.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Comment Moderation

After chatting with Jessie X last night, the issue of Anonymous Commenters came up again.  Jessie is a strong advocate for "owning your identity" and quashing what remains of the Anonymi.

Earlier in the evening, I had spoken with a friend who works in the non-profit sector.  She said that she wants to comment on the blogs, but doesn't want to deal with the anonymous snipers that may take any opportunity to knock someone else down, regardless of the topic.  Said otherwise, an open comment policy is dampening free speech, rather than...well...opening it.

I wanted to bring this up to the community at large.  I don't want to moderate comments.  Takes time and, more importantly, it ruins the fun of making fun of anonymous comments.  However, if I am preventing good people, like my friend noted above, from engaging in the conversation because I am letting nasty people ruin it, then I would rather thin the herd.  Call it anti-free speech, but this ain't the public square.  It is a private blog.

Patch Flexes Regional Muscle

I've found the Patch folks to be some of the most friendly, out-going local journalists in town...and that was before David Greisman wrote this glowing op/ed about the local blogosphere and where local news is heading.  (Brandie Jefferson, from Ellicott City Patch, also posted about the blogs.)

It appears that local news may be heading to Patch.  Investigative Voice is reporting that Bryan Sears, a nine year vet of Towson Times, a Patuxent Publishing newspaper, has been hired by Patch as an assistant regional editor for Baltimore County.  An online publication that literally was not here a few months ago is now picking up journalists from the established papers...nine year vets from the established papers.

Very interesting stuff.

Put the Foil Hat Away

Looks like my conspiracy theories were a little overblown.  While I still don't get the Mobbies thing, HoCo Rising just made the cut on the "Around the Web" panel.

Purple Fricka Fricka Friday (Links)

I had a grea time at last night's Happy Hour at Kloby's.  Jessie did a wonderful job pulling the event together and HowChow knows how to work a room.  (Check out this this Storify post that Jessie collected after the event).

I have to confess that I was not a very good co-host.  About two hours in, Jane wanted to go to Facci down the street for pizza.  To clarify, I love Kloby's.  I love Kloby's so much that it is one of the few places that I will go by myself to eat (which, no offense, I think is very depressing to see and even more so to experience).  This love was heightened when I found out last night that they are one of the few "beer places" to still have Southern Tier Pump King on tap (very rare find).  However, on June 6, 2009, I got married.  And from that day forward, my food choices were no longer left to me alone.  Jane wanted Facci.  She made a valid point that the HoCo Blogs Party had become TOO successful and that there was nowhere else to sit.  So...we went to Facci.

Another interesting point from last night was that three different people told me they had nominated my blog for the Mobbies, but that The Sun had not posted my name.  I found this a bit odd, since when I nominated HowChow, it was posted within the hour.  I'm not sure exactly what is going on, but this may be the last straw with me and our regional paper.  I am one of a handful of my friends (and I think a handful may be an overstatement) that still order the paper edition.  I even ordered a second paper edition to be donated to my local school to help a kid earn scholarship money.  This is not charity, but I do see it as my obligation to support local coverage if I read it.  However, if there is some animosity towards this little website, I can stop my little subscription.  (Especially now that Patch is in town...[see Patch people, which one do I link to?!?!])


Police say that the 7-year-old girl that claimed she was sexually assaulted in Oakland Mills has recanted.  Thankfully, there was never a suspect or this could have been a real tragedy.

Interesting piece profiling a Laurel HoCo Police Officer.

The And Then There's That crew must be happy that their monkeys are back in the news.

A member of the Board of Education for Anne Arundel County comments on concerns that David Proudfoot would have a "conflict of interest" due to his position as an assistant principal in Baltimore County. 

Ehrlich and O'Malley debated again...doesn't look like "New Americans" was allowed out of the shed this time.

Frank Hecker gives his run-down of the Kloby's Happy Hour.  Frank was also kind enough to share a piece of the bread pudding he ordered.  Very good.  So good, that it may be destination dessert dining for Jane and I.  Great response to Mona as well.  Posting nasty anonymous comments while failing to start a blog of your own is like criticizing someone's dining room paint color while living in a tent.  I think it easy to criticize the blogs and/or bloggers when one has not endeavored to be a blogger.  I'm not saying we "deserve" any better, but I will say that I can make quick assumptions about those who judge from the sideline and one of the first one's is: they're mad that no one is paying attention to them.

Speaking of blogs, dining rooms, and other non sequitors...Trevor's all moved out of the HoCo Rising motel.  His new blog, HoCo Politico, looks sharp.  I will be adding him to the blogroll today, and probably taking off one of the more latent bloggers.

I finally met Marshmallow Man last night at the Happy Hour.  He has always been my response to the "we need a lefty blogger" complaint, which is always a little tongue-in-cheek since I don't think anyone is so easily categorized (just ask Frank).  I feel a bit trite saying this, since it has been repeated often in reference to the Happy Hour, but it was nice to put a face to a blog.

Whew, an entire link post without linking to The Sun.  That was tough.  Ha ha.

Fridays are normally a good day for me to post, so I will hope to get something else up here today.  The letters over at Explore Howard are plentiful and varied with comments full of piss and vinegar.  Have a great day and go RAVENS!!!  31-10

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Enter The Dragon

Blogger tells me I've already used this title, but I don't it didn't happen.

Welcome TREVOR to the HoCo blogosphere with the new blog HoCo Politico.

It was a lot of fun having Trevor post here, and I truly appreciated him stepping in during my vacation, but I am very happy to see him step out on his own.  Trevor has a unique voice that is different from anything we have in this County and will certainly set the tone for conservative positions.

Please bookmark, link, and comment on this new site.  He deserves it.

Score One for Wheatley

It had earlier been suggested that I was "gushing like a school girl" when I said that Bob Wheatley ran away with the debate at the Chamber forum earlier this week.  Although the embed function still does not work for Patch clips, I wanted to share this link to their footage.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wet Wednesday Links

Rain combined with less sunlight is dampening my otherwise sunny disposition.  I love Fall, but I feel like we are missing out on those days when you walk outside and go "Ahh, Fall."  Instead it is more "wow, pretty warm outside for Fall" or "wow, rain again?  How pleasant."

I appreciate all of you that have been in touch with me for Vintage tickets.  I look forward to this event every year and having more of you there will make it all the better.

Final reminder that tomorrow, Thursday, HowChow and I will be hosting a HoCo Bloggers Happy Hour at Kloby's.  In case this wasn't clear before, you don't have to be a blogger.  It is simply a way for those of us who spend our time on hyper-local issues to enjoy each other's company and talk about what's on our mind.  There may also be a big announcement about a "New Kid on the Block" on the HoCo Blogging Scene...


Jessie supports your right to have a free Wikipedia at your fingertips...but suggests you throw some coin in the bucket as well.

I am loving HowChow's "best of" series for 2010.  He continues today with best "Grab and Go" items.  This is one blog that could be paired with a slew of advertisements, put on glossy paper, and sold for $6 a pop.  But you get it for free.  At the very least, leave a comment letting HowChow know that you appreciate the post!

Sarah reports back from the HoCo Bicycling Forum.

WB posts about improvements in the rental market (with a sentence reference to his baby: Emerson One). 

Baltimore City Councilwoman Helen Holton, fresh off her no contest plea, speaks to students about ethics...and has clearly learning nothing.  (The "Public Integrity" Plank is still out there for the taking, Candidates.  No finders fee required.)

Compared to Anne Arundel County, our candidates are boooooring.  In a most recent forum, candidates were permitted to ask questions of one another.  One of them "went there" with Executive Leopold regarding allegations of sexual harassment.  Un-comf-ter-bul.

Not much in the news that is of interest today.  I hope you all are having a good week (and staying dry).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ehrlich Gets Cut

According to a recent piece by Politico, the Republican Governors Association just cut planned advertising for the "former Guv" in half:

[T]he RGA has reduced its spending over the final two weeks to less than $200,000. The move amounts to a nearly 50 percent cut — a telling sign for a committee that raised $31 million dollars during the most recent fundraising quarter.

The piece goes on to note that Ehrlich is already at a disadvantage in funding, with $1.7 million left in the bank, compared to O'Malley's last reported numbers of $6.5 million.  This announcement is right on the heels of an unfavorable Gonzales poll, although I don't find the same correlation suggested by the Politico article.

I think most Maryland Republicans must feel like they are about to be left out of the Great Awakening.  When Jim Rutledge was running for Senate, he would often tell his audience that his biggest task was convincing his own party that he could win and deserved their financial support.  Earlier this year, the Baltimore Sun noted that the National Democratic Party dropped $100,000 into Maryland, while the National GOP gave zilch.  Locally, the best news any Howard County Republicans have received is that the County Executive race will be within ten percentage points.

I don't think any conscientious Republican thought Maryland was going to be easy; however, I think I speak for most of the Red Team when I say that this news is disappointing.  Even the most party blind Dem will acknowledge that single party rule in Annapolis has led to a lack of oversight, rampant favor-mongering amongst the party leadership, and irresponsible fiscal policy characterized by can-kicking in matters such as state pensions and education.  If we had single party Republican rule, it would be no different.  Right now, the balance is off and we lack the basic tension that makes our party system worthwhile.

Speaking of worthwhile, what exactly has the Democratic party done over the past four years that has earned itself any measure of permanence?  The Death Penalty is still in place, despite a brief moratorium.  There is no civic equality, despite plenty of placating.  Delegate Jaime Raskin promised direct shipping, but was opposed by a powerful member of his own party who was rolling in liquor lobby funds.  I would like to think that Transportation has improved, but the biggest Transportation measure we've seen over the past four years (the ICC) was pushed by Ehrlich, not O'Malley.  Everything that "Moderate Maryland" wants is being ignored on the State level...but yet it will most likely stay the same.

I'm not talking about the County, so please put your Kiplinger and Forbes issues away.  I'm talking about the State.  I know that most of the Dems that read here love me so long as I am a "self-hating Republican," but I'm not.  I'm just a party-hating Republican...and I hate your party too.

Vintage: November 5, 2010

I just sent this letter out to my friends and family inviting them to Vintage.  I really hope you all can make it and have even included a link to buy tickets online:

Dear Howard County Neighbors,

For the past three years, I have served on the Board for the local non-profit Voices for Children.  Voices works on a very small budget to perform an incredibly large task. Our staff recruits and trains volunteers to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA's) for children from troubled homes. This organization provides a shining example of how private individuals can have a tremendous effect on their community and help the most vulnerable among us.

Our annual fundraiser, Vintage, is next month (November 5th). This event is held at the GGP Building on the Columbia Lakefront and has been referred to by some as the "Classiest Event in Howard County." For the first time ever, it will be catered by Rumor Mill Chef Matt Milani, who has previously opened a number of Cindy Wolfe's restaurants in Baltimore City. We had a sampling of his food about three weeks ago and were so taken aback by what he put out that we decided that this year's event will feature "FOOD and wine" rather than just "WINE." (In fact, my wife, who does not drink wine, "strongly suggested" that we get VIP tickets this year just so we could try all the food).

Tickets are $75 per person and the event will go from 8-11 pm. There is also a VIP Reception from 7-8 pm, which will feature exclusive dishes and wines that will not be available at the regular event. VIP tickets are $125 per person.

Please let me know if you would like tickets. I guarantee that after attending this year, you will be marking your calendars for next November.

Purchase your tickets here!

(Fewer) Link Tuesday (Chamber Forum)

Due to some last minute cancellations, I ended up being able to attend the Chamber Forum for the Legislative Candidates.  This will be my first forum for the Annapolis crowd and I hear they are fiery.

A few links:

Make sure to check in on the can't miss HowChow post of the year: Best of Howard County 2010.  I was very disappointed in the PatuxPub run down (Outback Steakhouse for best steak?!?  Seriously?), and HowChow eased the scales of justice, putting our locally owned businesses back in the spotlight.  Also, make sure to check out the Best Food Experiences post as well, which is new!

In a recent poll from Patrick Gonzales, Martin O'Malley leads Bob Ehrlich by five points (3.5% margin of error).  This was the same guy that brought us the "Republican Tsunami."  Should be interesting to see how the Red Maryland crowd explains this one away.

I stumbled across this blog post yesterday, which includes a clip from a documentary expose on the Howard County Board of Education from 2008.  After reading innumerable listserv postings, comments at the silly place, blogs, and campaign websites, I can't help but wonder: While these parents are railing against the machine, who is helping Johnny with his homework?  That isn't to say that one cannot be both a concerned parent and help their child, but many of these folks seem "concerned" almost to the point of obsession...and at the end of the day, it seems to have very little to do with their child, and a lot more to do with them.

Food post?  Check.  Republican Tsunami?  Check.  Board of Ed race?  Check.  I appear to have addressed all of the topics that get people fired up.  Time to head off to the forum.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Ed Priola Hits The Tube

Ed Priola has issued his first television ad, and I think it is pretty darn good.  In an election where most of the ads spend more time talking about opponents than promoting a candidate, Ed stands out.

Ehrlich v. O'Malley Debate 2010 Part Duex

Here is a link to last nights gubernatorial debate between Ehrlich and O'Malley. If you are undecided about who to vote for, I urge you watch the debate. I think you'll agree this debate is quite entertaining and informative and is absolutely worth spending the hour to watch.

There has been some talk on the Internets about O'Malley's use of the term "New Americans" in place of the term "Illegal Immigrants." I was going to write a big long post about how offensive that term is to law abiding citizens and immigrants that came here legally, but then I found this post that said it 100 times better than I ever could.

Happy Friday!!!!


IT'S FRIIIIIIDAY!!!!! (Morning Links)

Happy Friday everyone.  It is a chilly one.

I am (not so) embarrassed to say that I did not watch the debate last night.  Jane had barely seen me this week and, more importantly for her, our toilet needed to be fixed.  From what I understand, the debate was a good one and hopefully someone who did get a chance to check in will post about it.  Most commentators are saying that Ehrlich performed much better and dropped the whole "Guv" thing.  O'Malley continued to look like a robot with too much make-up.

I would also be interested in hearing from some of our Dem friends about what the scuttlebutt is in your circles about the 2010 election.  Is your electorate depressed?  Will your leadership GOTV?  As one person noted to me, if Dems aren't concerned, why did Barack Obama make true-blue Maryland one of his campaign stops?  (My guess is that it is right outside his door.)

We've already heard from the GOP...and they're feelin' good.


Frank Hecker breaks down the turnout between Dems, Republicans, and Indys for the past 11 elections.  These numbers are incredibly useful when making reliable assumptions about the 2010 race.  Number one off the top is that for the GOP to make significant inroads in this election, Dems are going to have to vote red in a number of elections.  (Great job, Frank.  Very impressive.)

Assimilation, integration, and immigration -- From Sarah Says.

Columbia 2.0 takes on the "new transit" issue with regard to Columbia and Howard County.

WB drops his County Executive endorsement...I'll let you click over to find out who and why.

The Sun reports that Mary Kay beat Alan Klein in all but one precinct.  I don't really buy the "name recognition" argument.  HoCoLoCoPolitico hat aside, Alan's signs were everywhere.  I literally had to walk around a man in a "He's In It For Us" t-shirt that was standing in my way when I went to vote at my polling station in District 4.  I agree that the majority of people voting never knew one thing about what this Columbia Downtown issue was, and just voted for the incumbent, but a significant number of people (at least one third of those voting), were rejecting his platform and/or the manner in which it was advertised (i.e., nasty letters to the editor in the Flier; misleading literature featuring California-esque traffic back-ups).  Primary voters are a different breed than General Election voters.  For the most part, they do their homework.

The Transit-Oriented-Development near the Dorsey MARC has been appealed...although the appellant is not quite sure how to pay the costs associated with an appeal.  This is another one of those "potted plant" votes where Courtney voted along with Greg Fox just so she could keep her Republica...wait.  Also noted in this story is that zoning that would permit a Western Howard County cell tower has been rejected by the Appeal Board.  (Congrats to attorney Joan Becker on the W).

Teachers reject the Baltimore City contract.  You have to love the reasoning:
Baltimore teachers rejected a contract Thursday that would have provided six-figure salaries for an elite corps but would have tied the pay of all educators to how they perform in the classroom, a vague provision that caused discomfort for many union members.
"Whoa whoa whoa, we just want more money.  This evaluation stuff spooks me out.  You mean someone is going to tell me whether I'm doing a good job?  Aw hell no."

Gubernatorial Debate fact check.

Ken Ulman has set up a cyber security commission to assist the County in comprehensive rezoning with regard to the cyber economy.  Very impressive group.

I will be out of town this weekend for Homecoming.  Should be a blast.  As for the Ravens score, I'm not feeling good about this one.  Belichick was embarrassed last winter, and I imagine the Ravens have been on his television screen for the past ten months (and non-stop for the past 12 days).  If the Ravens are going to win, they will have to completely over-match the other players on the field, and I don't see that happening when the Patriot's offense is setting up to score (with or without Randy Moss).

Patriots 31 Ravens 27.  (I hope I'm wrong)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Running to the Middle

I've been very skeptical of the Republican Tsunami that was predicted by Patrick Gonzales.  Maybe I'm blind.  Maybe I'm stupid.  The righty crowd would say that my lefty heart is showing, and that I am in denial of Republican success.  To be straight up honest with you, I hope the Republicans do well and bring some balance back to this deep blue state.  And I do think they will do "well"...but not Tsunami well...not even end of Point-Break-Swayze-Wants-To-Die-On-A-Big-Wave well.

I think the Country, and Maryland in particular, will be running to the middle.  After the 2008 boom in Dem voter registration, Maryland registration showed a trend toward unaffiliated, not Republican, voters.  Unaffiliated voters went up 7.7%; Dems went up 0.7%; and Republicans went down 0.8%.  When people are "angry", might it be worthwhile to take a second and think "why"?  It is not because of "those dang liberals."  It is because the Democrats have prosecuted on their agenda, which is perceived by your average American as heavily partisan.  While they may want to distance themselves from the Democrats, that does not mean that they will instinctively embrace heavy right Republicans. 

I was inspired to look into this after reading John Avlon's piece in the Daily Beast about how the Republicans are screwing up their chance at a gimme majority.  I am more of the mind that there will be a significant shift to the right on the national level.  However, locally, and as indicated by the numbers cited above, I think our shift will be towards the center.  Republicans will Get Out The Vote, but I'm not sure it will be enough.  Unaffiliated voters are not voting "R" down the ballot.  Dems are not voting "R" down the ballot.  Republicans will do "well", but no one needs to get their surfboard just yet.

State Taxes and You - Part 1

I would like to spend my next few posts discussing state taxes. This first post will deal with the candidates for House of Delegates in District 13.

For those not attuned to local politics, District 13 is a huge district, going all the way from Dayton and Glenelg, through Clarksville, Highland, and Fulton in the west, to Laurel in the south, to parts of Elkridge and Jessup in the east, and comprises the Columbia villages of River Hill, Kings Contrivance, Oakland Mills, Owen Brown, and Long Reach.

This article was recently posted on Explore Howard, and will probably be in your Fliers and Times this week. The article is your standard brief synopsis of the candidates and the issues in district 13 with some statements from the candidates.

District 13 is represented by 3 delegates. All 3 incumbents are democrats. Interestingly, all three incumbents live in Kings Contrivance. 2 of the 3 incumbents have been a delegate for 16 years each!

The challengers are a diverse group, one from North Laurel, one from Glenelg, and one from Owen Brown.

(Bonus HoCo factoid: glenelg is the only postal address in the United States that is a palindrome. I've been wanting to put that on the blog for so long.)

What I wanted to focus on in this post is taxes. Two years ago the Maryland Legislature passed the largest tax increase in Maryland history, which was signed into law by Governor O'Malley. All of the district 13 democrat incumbents voted in favor of the tax increase.

The 2008 tax increase was done right as the recession started to kick into gear. We are currently in year 2 or 3 (depending on who you believe) of the worse economy since the Great Depression. There are few signs that the economy is improving.

I hear stories every day of people having trouble getting work, or getting paid less for the work they do have. Fortunately, we have major federal government installations in the area that keep our unemployment rate relatively low. But, the unemployment rate in Howard County in July 2007 was 2.9%, and by August 2010, grew to 5.6%. That is a massive loss of jobs in just two years. And that doesn't take into account people that are no longer looking for work or people who are working for less money or less hours.

Increasing taxes during a recession is a terrible idea, and will only make the recession worse.

For a family of limited means, with many financial obligations, a small increase in taxes has a major affect on spending habits. The free market is the driver of our economy. Small businesses are the heart of our economy. Without families spending money, the market does not have as much money in it, and small businesses cannot afford to hire more employees. As people work and spend less, the tax revenue of the state decreases. Increasing taxes causes a self perpetuating spiral into economic oblivion. Increasing taxes in 2008 was a bad idea. Increasing taxes next year would be an even worse idea.

This quote is from the Explore Howard article about District 13. "The three Republican candidates all said they would not support raising any taxes. The three Democrats said they would like to avoid raising taxes, but it might be necessary."

Let me translate for you from the Language of Politicians into Language of Normal Humans.

Politician: "I will not support raising any taxes."
Human: "I will not vote to raise taxes. I am running for elected office, and I want you to know that if elected, I will do everything I can to keep your taxes from increasing."

Politician: "I would like to avoid raising taxes, but it might be necessary."
Human: "I am pretending that I do not want to raise taxes because this is an election year. I voted to raise taxes in the past, and I'll do it again. I believe in redistributing the wealth from job creators that don't vote for me to people who will vote for me for 16 years in a row. I want to increase the size of government in order to increase my own power."

What is the biggest issue in the election this year on all levels from local to national? As James Carville once said, "It's the economy, stupid." Raising taxes will cost jobs, and hurt the economy. If you want to improve the economy, it is time to vote for candidates with little R's next to their name instead of little D's.

Next- Part II - The Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation and taxes