Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Specialist of Sessions (Wednesday LINKS)

Latest word out of Annapolis is that we will have not one but TWO Special Sessions over the next calendar year: one in May to pass increased revenue, the other in August to consider expansion of gambling in Maryland.

If you're against higher taxes and expanded gambling like this guy, you're out of luck.  The presumption with having two sessions dedicated to the topics of revenue and gambling is that something will be passed.  Sure, the heroic actions of some may stop or slow this train, but lawmakers seem to be indicating that grinding the political process to a halt is a way to get what you want.

But Tom, you said that the "Doomsday Budget" was bad legislation?  Don't you want a Special Session?

I do.  But the parameters of the debate have been set around increased taxes.  I assure you that we will all be told that there are equal parts cuts and revenue increases, but anyone who has so much as attempted to evaluate government "cuts" will acknowledge that there is a significant amount of smoke and mirrors related to "projected spending", "budgeted spending", and "actual spending."  You may even recall hearing not more than six months ago that Maryland had $1 billion in unspent funds (i.e., surplus) from 2011

The same ambiguity does not exist for increased taxes.  If they say you are going to pay 1% more, you will have 1% less of your income in 2012.  Even more concerning is that these taxes will most likely be retroactive for the entire calendar year, meaning you're not withholding enough.

And gambling?  I recently heard a lobbyist speak about the 2012 fiasco.  He said "Either do gambling, or don't do gambling, but if you're going to do it, do it right."  His point was that Maryland has so sincerely and near irrevocably screwed the pooch on casinos that we are actually losing money.  The Washington Post projects that Maryland tax-payers are paying $10,000 per slot machine annually in an effort to "protect the integrity of gaming."  Slow clap for Maryland law-makers!  And I have not even mentioned the morality of a tax on those that are "bad at math", which will certainly undercut any efforts by Howard County or any other jurisdiction to curb homelessness.

But we need more of that good stuff.  It's like Pet Sematary of bad ideas over there.

If you're not mad, you're not paying attention.  Here in Howard County, we have some very senior, very powerful legislators.  As much as I like them personally, I don't find them blameless.  Where was the leadership here?  How did things get this way?  What are you doing to make sure it never happens again? 


The Orioles began their home-stand with a W.  I was at the game which brings my attendance record to 3-1.

The Maryland Court of Appeals has held that the collection of DNA from suspects of violent crime and burglaries constitutes an unreasonable search and seizure.  That seems just about right.  It should be noted that this effectively reversed a rape conviction, which is a sad footnote.  The crime fighting abilities of the state will always be countered by the liberties of the individual.  To the extent this measure had been upheld, it would be a dangerous high water mark for future intrusions into the lives of the innocent and guilty alike.

Zillow predicts an "L" shaped recovery of the housing market.  Um, an "L"?  If you have an "L" shaped recovery in the emergency room, you are dead.

In 2007, Baltimore County lost $21 million that effectively "went up in smoke" after their investment was downgraded to junk status "less than a month" after purchasing, according to documents released by the County, which is considering a lawsuit against Merrill Lynch.  I bet the following words were uttered at least once: "I'm sorry, what?"  (Followed by words that don't meet the editorial standards of this blog)

Featured Blog Post of the Day: Julia has some great reflections on her time as a Village Board member as she steps down from her seat (temporarily) and attends to family matters.  It reminded me that the rewards of Village Board service are not so easily described in an answer to the question "What do Village Boards do?"  I spent twenty minutes last Saturday discussing the applicability of RAC and County guidelines to a backyard apiary and could not think of much else I would have rather been doing.  It wasn't because of the subject matter.  I just really like the people and the opportunity to problem solve with folks I like working with.  That is the fun part.  The motto for Board service should be "We do stuff...together."  In a world where we spend so much time alone with our screens, Village Boards provide authenticity and interpersonal cooperation (and strife) in a way that cannot be replicated.  So laugh and discount its value.  But when you need a stop sign, we're the one's that will figure out the way to get it done.  And we'll have a good time doing it.

That's all for today.  A few community notes:

TONIGHT is The Path Forward event regarding Cycling Innovations across the United States.  I have seen Jennifer Toole speak regarding CA's own connectivity Master Plan and highly recommend this event...especially if you felt left out after missing the Leinberger talk.

The Blackbird Poetry Festival begins tomorrow!  I saw poet Martin Espada speak last year and it was probably a 2011 community highlight for me.  Please don't miss out on this year's Festival. 

That's all for today.  Have a great Wednesday doing what you love!