Sunday, February 27, 2011

Gay Marriage Moving into Your House

from the Baltimore Sun
The House committee hearing on whether to allow same-sex couples to marry opened this afternoon with testimony from bill sponsors, openly gay legislators and other supporters.

"This is not about abstractions," said Del. Heather Mizeur, as she introduced her wife, Deborah. "This is not about definitions."

The two married in 2008 in California, yet, the Montgomery County Democrat said, "right now we are legal strangers to each other."

After an hour, the committee switched to opponents and will continue to alternate as it makes its way through dozens of scheduled witnesses today. The audience has spilled over into a second viewing room.

Pastors, lawyers and the chairwoman of the National Organization for Marriage were among the opponents to testify this afternoon. "Most of my adult relationships are untouched by the law," said Maggie Gallagher, chairwoman of the National Organization for Marriage. Of heterosexual marriage, she said, "these are the only unions that create new life."

Chairman Joseph Vallario, a Prince George's County Democrat, kicked off the hearing by saying his House Judiciary Committee would likely vote on the measure early next week. It is expected to clear the committee; a majority of members are co-sponsors.

The House testimony comes a day after the Senate voted 25-21 to approve legislation that would end Maryland's 38-year-old definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. The measure's fate on the House floor remains a mystery, as the larger chamber appears about evenly split.

Del. Luiz Simmons, a Montgomery County Democrat supportive of same-sex marriage, delivered spicy testimony, poking fun at Eastern Shore Republicans and saying he'd reviewed the witness list and found that "God has not signed up either for or against" the legislation. Same-sex marriage opponents in the audience booed.

Del. Keiffer Mitchell said the state should continue its 400-year tradition of tolerance. He urged lawmakers to focus on the separation of church and state. "We don't make laws solely based on religious doctrine," said the Baltimore Democrat.

Del. Don Dwyer Jr., an Anne Arundel County Republican who has called himself "the face of the opposition" began his testimony with a prayer. He implored legislators to look to their faith.

"Look deep into your soul for the answer," he said.

Testimony is expected to continue for hours.


Update 3/1 - Some unanticipated dissent in the bills supporter's ranks...

Monday, February 21, 2011

GOP to Go Solo in Redistricting County

from the Harford County Dagger

After rejecting a peace offering that would have secured them some measure of representation on the redistricting commission, Democrats could only watch as the Harford County Council appointed an all-Republican membership to the group, which will help shape the political boundaries of Harford County for the next decade.

Harford County Council President Billy Boniface, a Republican, extended an offer to the Democratic Central Committee last week whereby the county council would appoint a single Democrat to the redistricting commission, if the Democrats backed off their threats of filing suit and allowed the redistricting process to proceed unimpeded.

When Democrats turned down that offer, the largely Republican county council forged ahead with its nominations as planned and, during its Tuesday night meeting, appointed 3 Republicans – Chris Pate, Jason Gallion, and Ben Lloyd – and no Democrats to the redistricting commission.

Pate and Gallion, both former political candidates, were among the names submitted by the Republican Central Committee. Ben Lloyd, a county employee working in the Division of Agriculture, was the county council pick – nominated by Councilman Chad Shrodes, also a Republican.

Earlier in the day Tuesday, Boniface said that the Democrats were arguing that the office of council president is separate from the county council, because, by eliminating that race from the vote calculation, the numbers are there to require Democratic representation on the commission. But Boniface pointed out there are many references to the seven-member council in the county Charter, and that the president is considered a member of the council.

Boniface told The Dagger that the advice of the law department is that the county council must uphold the county Charter and therefore could not allow Democrats on the redistricting commission based on the election results. However, the Charter also allows one additional appointed member and the offer was made to the Democrats that the council would appoint a Democrat to that position, meaning the composition of the 3-member commission would include 1 Democrat and 2 Republicans and the redistricting process could move forward.

Boniface said that would have resolved the issue without involving the courts, which he said both sides have said they would do depending on how the council made the vote-driven appointments.

The deal was offered last week through Councilman Dion Guthrie, one of two Democrats on the seven-member county council, but Wendy Sawyer, chair of the Democratic Central Committee, rejected it on behalf of the committee as of Thursday or Friday. Boniface then sent a letter to Sawyer, confirming the Democratic Central Committee’s rejection of the deal:

Asked why he thought they would reject such an offer, Boniface speculated, “I think taking the deal meant they [the Democratic Central Committee] were in the wrong”, for failing to run candidates in several races in the November election. Boniface said that the Democrats were looking to boost registration and using the issue to energize their base and “build animosity” toward Republicans.

Regarding the Democrats’ charge that the county Charter should have been changed when council elections were switched from at large to in-district elections, Boniface said, “It was the Democratic Party that drove in-district elections”, noting that the change was petition-driven. “They’re saying the council didn’t do it’s job, but they were the ones driving the process.”

Councilman Dick Slutzky, also a Republican, said during the council meeting that he would be upset if he were a Democrat, because it was due to inept party leadership that they had no representation on the legislative redistricting commission. He said Sawyer could have put her own name on the ballot for $50, and laid the blame squarely at the feet of her and the leadership of Harford County Democrats.

“They’re the ones who dropped the ball,” Slutzky said.

Sawyer was not available for comment after Tuesday night’s meeting. [But here are her comments on why Democrats rejected the offer]

Here is the Charter language in regard to commission membership:
County Code Section 205 – Redistricting procedure – also of interest, section 204

(a) The boundaries of Councilmanic districts shall be established in 1974 and re-established in 1982 and every tenth year thereafter. Whenever district boundaries are to be established or re-established, the Council shall appoint, not later than February 15 of the year prior to the year in which redistricting is to be effective, a commission on redistricting, composed of two members from each political party chosen from a list of five names submitted by the Central Committee of each political party which polled at least fifteen percent of the total vote cast for all candidates for the Council in the immediately preceding regular election. The Council shall appoint one additional member of the Commission. The Commission shall, at its first meeting, select one of its members to serve as chairperson. No person shall be eligible for appointment to the Commission if he/she holds any elected office.

(b) By October 1 of the year prior to the year in which redistricting is to be effective, the Commission shall prepare, publish, and make available a plan of Councilmanic districts and shall present that plan, together with a report explaining it, to the Council. The plan shall provide for Councilmanic districts that are compact, contiguous, and substantially equal in population. No less than fifteen calendar days and no more than thirty calendar days after receiving the plan of the Commission, the Council shall hold a public hearing on the plan. If within seventy calendar days following presentation of the Commission’s plan no other law establishing or re-establishing the boundaries of the Councilmanic districts has been enacted, then the plan, as submitted, shall become law.

Section 204 Election of Council Members

[Amended by Bill No. 80-40; by petition, November 2000]
Six Council Members, at the time of their election, shall each reside in a different one of six Council districts of the County. The seventh member of the Council shall be the President of the Council and may reside anywhere in the County. Each member of the Council required to reside in a Council district shall be nominated and elected by the qualified voters of the Council district in which the member resides; the President shall be nominated and elected by the qualified voters of the entire county. All Council Members shall be nominated and elected at the same time as state officers and in the manner provided by law.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

O'Malley: GOP governors "live in a different world"

Indeed they do. Unfortunately for O'Malley, the citizens realize that theirs is the real one, and all O'Malley and his Democrat colleagues ever do when in office is to kick unavoidable economics problems down the road for Republicans to solve.
from the Baltimore Sun

Richmond, VA — Gov. Martin O’Malley stepped into the national spotlight as the head of Democratic Governors Association for first time Saturday night, delivering a twenty minute address to Virginia Democrats that urged government investments in education and infrastructure.

The themes he struck echoed his inaugural address and campaign stump speeches: Democrats should not run away from traditional priorities even in difficult economic times. Keeping schools and transportation projects funded will help states “move forward, not backward,” he said.

Political observers have been keeping close tabs on O’Malley since he became the head of the DGA late last year. Others, including former President Bill Clinton, used the job to build a national profile. O’Malley is term limited.

The governor has made frequent trips Washington, DC in the past two months and he’s sharpened his partisan rhetoric, tangling in the media with the Republican governors of Florida and New Jersey.

O’Malley’s address, delivered to about 1,400 at Virginia Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner, was laced with partisan remarks. The governor derided the “current crop of tea partying Republican governors” saying they “live in a different world.”

“The Republican governors’ tea party is more Mad Hatter than James Madison,” O’Malley said. He took another jab at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, calling the Republican darling a “colorful character.” For the Republicans, he said, “There is no need to pay bills, no need to protect bond ratings, no need to invest in the future. Down is up, up is down; candy is a vegetable, and vegetables are candy.”
What vegetables has the governor offered Maryland's citizens? None, other than drippings from Obama's ever-slowing and unreliable federal gravy train (high speed rail). All the current Maryland governor knows how to do is produce more expensive candy for government public union members from the private economies' overtaxed and henceforth wilting vegetable garden.

After all...
"Whose state pension plan is the lowest rated in the country? Whose state pension plan is $19 billion in the red and only 64 percent funded? Who, rather than address the long-term solvency of the Maryland state pension plan, is tinkering at the margins to eke out some savings to offset this year's budget deficit?

Who's going to be long gone from the Governor's House when the pension system blows a hole in the state budget like an iceberg against the Titanic, taking every public sector employee's pension and the entire state down to the bottom?

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Looming BIG Government Shutdown

On March 4, 2011, the current Continuing Resolution funding operations of the US Government will expire. Indications are that the President will not sign any funding extensions that attempt to scale back a continuation of the 111th Congress' union/ labor/ big government spending spree. This will free up unionized federal employees to assist (at the public's expense) striking/ picketting unionized State workers in the Midwest currently protesting Republican State Governor's attempts at rolling back pension and health care benefits to balance State budgets. In so doing, these same unionized government workers will thereby likely exempt themselves from the coming painful entitlement program rollbacks needed to prevent an economic catastrophe. In essence, the Democratic Party is telling the people of America that we only have one choice... it's either their "big government" way or the highway (the way of Wisconsin's Democratic State Senate members). This will be a winner-take all battle for the soul of America, one lover's of Constitutional order and individual liberty cannot afford to lose. "If anybody didn't know this was coming," Gov. Walker said of his bill being boycotted by Democrats in Wisconsin on Thursday, "they've been asleep for two years."

The main stream media will blame Republicans for destroying the promised, but increasingly distant economic recovery, but we'll all know better. Preparations for this pre-planned disaster included the filling Union coffers and has been underway since the President took his oath of office in January of 2009... all paid for courtesy of the oblivious American taxpayer.

Welcome to Hamelin, America. It's come time to either pay the piper, or run him out of town for good.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Should MD's Republicans Follow WI's Democrats Lead?

...and just "get on the bus?"

from the Baltimore Sun

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee is set to vote a few hours from now on the controversial same-sex marriage bill, but Senate leaders are already assuming the measure will clear the panel and are planning for a week of debate on the divisive issue.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller warned senators to be "flexible" with their evening schedules and said the body might even have to work on the weekend. In addition the same-sex marriage, other issues that evoke passions -- including oyster poaching -- are set to be on the floor.

Miller predicted that debate on same-sex marriage would start in earnest on Tuesday. "I want everyone to have their say," he said. "When it appears people are repeating themselves, then we will take a cloture vote." The senate president guessed the final passage vote would come Monday Feb. 28.

Advocates believe they have the votes to cut off debate. Whether they have the votes for final passage is much less clear. Twenty-three senators have said they'd vote for the bill, but 24 are needed.

Three senators have not publicly declared their intentions -- though one, Baltimore's Joan Carter Conway, has hinted that she'll support the bill.

The other two undecided senators faced a scrum of reporters this morning after session. Sen. Jim Rosapepe, who represents College Park, rebuffed questions from WBAL's Dave Collins. Holding his hand up to his face, Rosapepe said: "No, comment." And then quickly walked down the statehouse stairs.

Rosapepe has said he will announce his position before the week is out.

Anne Arundel County's Sen. John Astle also wouldn't declare his intentions until the vote is called. "You'll see it on the board," he said. "Watch it on the board when I cast my vote."

Meanwhile, House leaders have already scheduled a committee hearing for their version of the bill on Friday Feb. 25.
Let's face it, the real reason why democracy doesn't work is because Democrats don't want it to work. If they can't win democratically, they simply prevent the democratic process from occurring. These are NOT serious political partners who would bind themselves to ANY social contract. So why should we treat them as if they were?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Plea for Support from the Harford County Campaign for Liberty

From the Dagger and the Harford County Campaign for Liberty:

Dear Friends of Liberty,

I know the freedom fighters of Harford County are not asleep. I also happen to know that you are not a group of passive sheep. How, might you wonder? Since, April 15, 2009, you have come out in the freezing cold, pouring rain to attend massive tea parties and rallies on a variety of issues that threaten your liberty and wallet from the Tax Day TEA Parties to the 9-12 March on Washington to the many protest against Obama Care and on the County Council to reduce the property tax rate and homestead tax cap. You are by no means “Sunshine Patriots.” You are an educated group of people. This, I know because of your regular attendance at the monthly Campaign for Liberty meetings. You understand complex issues of the nation, state, and county.

At times, all of this may seem overwhelming, but your momentum is definitely making a difference. My position is that, collectively, we are still too small a movement in Harford County to effect real change in Washington. With the conservatives outnumbered in Annapolis, that situation doesn’t lend itself in our favor either. Where I do believe with all my heart that we can make a difference is right here at home in Harford County.

For the next two to three months, it is time to prioritize – Harford County front burner; state and country back burner. In fact, I ask that you take ownership and pledge to become experts and activists in the County Budget Process. I know you can do this because you understand complex issues like QE2, debt ceiling, Federal Reserve, and monetizing the debt. If you can understand that, then you can easily understand and grasp the Harford County Budget. Furthermore, many of you have had months of priming on this through your attendance at the Campaign for Liberty meetings.

So, let me present to you the current situation.

Folks, believe it or not, in these tough economic times, agencies in Harford County are proposing more spending even as revenues are shrinking. The Board of Education budget is $24 million more this year than last year. The Harford Community College is $3 million more this year than last year. The Sheriff could identify an increase to staff the new County Detention facility. The County Executive will release his Fiscal Year 2012 budget in April of 2011. From all indications, he will identify additional capital projects that will be paid for with debt.

The Income Tax and Property Tax revenues, the primary sources of funds to support the budget are expected to be at or slightly above last years levels. This is the first year where property assessments will not increase and automatically provide additional revenue. In fact, as a result of declining market conditions, property assessments will decrease, and thus provide less revenue. Income Tax revenue is not expected to rise much, if at all, above last year’s levels in spite of BRAC and the jobs supposedly added. The current structure of taxes and fees will provide only a small increase over last year’s, but not nearly enough to fund the above-requested increases in the budget. Simply stated, the County is taking in the same or slightly more money than it did last year, while requested expenditures are significantly higher.

Furthermore, State and Federal contributions will be less than last year. The State has no money. It will not provide the typical $16 million in highway revenues for the second year, and school funding has also been decreased. Even if the State had money, its formula for distributing funds is inversely proportional to the wealth of the County. That is as the wealth in the County increases, the State contribution decreases. Harford County wealth ranks in the middle and is rising slightly, in order to get more money the County wealth would have to be decreasing. It is unlikely that Harford County will get poorer, or that poorer Counties will get richer. In other words, the spigot has been turned off. The well is running dry.

What is Harford County to do to resolve this situation?

1. Maintain current tax and fee structure. No increase to the property tax rate. Increasing taxes will drive business away. You may hear that because of declining property valued, the Constant yield Rate requires that the County raise the Property Tax Rate to reach funding levels from last year. Remember this, the Constant Yield Rate was never observed when property values were increasing and revenues from the previous year could have been obtained with a lower property tax rate.

2. Reduce expenditures at all levels. Capital projects should be deferred, to reduce new debt. Review and reduce all operational costs, even if it is painful.

3. Step aside and let the private sector take over. Harford County should get out of functions that are not government in nature. Privatize solid waste disposal. Privatize Water and Sewer. Privatize Parks and Recreation. This action will not eliminate the functions, it will transfer them to a private entity, which can operate for a fee, with less funding. Obviously, there are some functions that cannot be performed by private sector employees, and these should be identified. A careful review of functions and positions should be undertaken to determine how much can be privatized to accrue maximum saved.

4. Consolidate like functions across all agencies and form hybrid government/private functions. Candidates for consolidation are equipment maintenance, human resources, information technology, purchasing, and planning.

How can you make a difference? Well, remember all those rallies you attended? I need you to answer the call and go beyond making posters and listening to good speeches. It is time for you to revolutionize Harford County to fiscal responsibility. I realize this is a lot of information to remember, please print it out for your reference and use.

Here is how you can make a difference:

1. Share this e-mail with everyone in your directory who lives or works in Harford County and beyond.

2. Start looking at the budget. Arm yourself with knowledge. Go to this website:
Research the 2011 budget, and then compare it to the 2012 budget when it is released.

3. Communicate with County Executive. Politely provide your ideas for improving government and its cost directly to the County Executives web site at:

Write to David R. Craig, County Executive
Harford County Government
220 South Main Street
Bel Air, MD 21014
Phone call: 410.638.3350
Fax: 410.638.1387

Communicate with your councilman or woman:

County Council President Boniface, 410-638-3525

District A, Councilman Guthrie 410-638-3521

District B, Councilman Woods 410-638-3520

District C, Council McMahan 410-638-3523

District D, Councilman Shrodes 410-638-3524

District E, Councilman Slutzky 410-638-3522

District F, Councilwoman Lisanti 410-638-3526

Request in-person meetings with council members and the County Executive.

Attend Sessions of the County Council and other public meetings. County Council meetings are held on Tuesdays, at the A.A. Roberty building. The next County Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, 15 February 2011. Check for other meetings at the following web site:

And finally, encourage your friends, neighbors, relatives and coworkers to get involved.

A rally and protest signs will not produce the outcomes we are seeking, especially when you and I know of the crisis our country faces and agree on what has to be done. We know the worst is yet to come with the implementation of Obama Care when that starts hitting our pocketbooks on top of the debt, bloated spending, and deficit.

What happens when you chose to do nothing? Status quo rules the day. You lose the opportunity to direct the government along the path that you choose. Government goes its own way and you are left hoping they know what is best. So, it is time to promote yourself from rally to start doing what it takes to defend liberty in your backyard. This is how America was born in tiny little segments known as colonies coming together to fight and survive. We can achieve the same greatness in Harford County. With your vision and efforts. we will succeed.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Peter the Cripple Demands that the State Legislature Assist Him in Slipping his Hand into Paul the Drunk's Pocket

from the Baltimore Sun
More than 100 advocates for Marylanders with developmental disabilities rallied today in front of the State House, imploring passing lawmakers to increase the alcohol tax and send more aid their way.

The General Assembly is considering the so-called "dime-a-drink" proposal, but many lawmakers have said that if alcohol taxes are raised, they want any increased revenues to flow to the strapped general fund, not to specific causes.

Chanting "DD link, dime a drink" and "Ten cents makes sense," the supporters thrust cardboard dimes into the air and distributed information about disabilities funding. From his wheelchair, Aaron Kaufman (pictured), who has cerebral palsy, said he sees the issue as "about whether the legislature choose the people or the powerful." The alcoholic beverages lobby has campaigned against the bill.

Kaufman, a member of the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council, said he knows lawmakers would prefer to push any increased revenue into the general fund but urged them to slice off a piece to help pay for services for the developmentally disabled.

"We will not tire until at least some of the money is devoted to us," he said.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Baltimore Sun Continues Ginning Up Faux Momentum FOR Gay Marriage...

from the Baltimore Sun
Baltimore County Sen. James Brochin will support legalizing gay marriage if, as expected, his attempt to change the contentious legislation into a civil unions bill fails.

Brochin, a Democrat, said his position changed after listened to a seven hour hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. He said he felt "appalled and disgusted" by the "hate and venom" offered by opponents of the same-sex marriage bill.

"I'm not going to be a part of the vilification of gays on the senate floor," Brochin said. The switch gives supporters 21 votes; the bill needs 24 to pass on the floor. Six senators are either undecided or have not publicly announced their intentions. (See list after the jump.)

Brochin would prefer creating a civil unions statute, but acknowledged he does not have the votes in committee to support that. "I've always thought that everyone should have the same rights," Brochin said.

Mary Ellen Russell, of the Maryland Catholic Conference, said it is "unfortunate" that some opponents make disrespectful comments about gays and lesbians. "They do not speak for the majority of us," Russell said.

The senate committee is expected to vote on the same-sex marriage bill next Thursday, said Chairman Brian Frosh. At that time senators can offer amendments to the legislation.
Question: Do you intend to vote for or against the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act?

Sen. James Brochin, Baltimore County Democrat
Sen. Bill Ferguson, Baltimore Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Jennie Forehand, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Brian Frosh, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Rob Garagiola, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Lisa Gladden, Baltimore Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Verna Jones, Baltimore Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Delores Kelley, Baltimore County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Nancy King, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Allan H. Kittleman, Howard County Republican
Sen. Richard Madaleno, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Roger Manno, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Nathaniel McFadden, Baltimore Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Karen Montgomery, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Paul Pinsky, Prince George's County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Catherine E. Pugh, Baltimore Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Victor Ramirez, Prince George's County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Jamie Raskin, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. James Robey, Howard County Democrat
Sen. Ronald Young, Frederick County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Bobby Zirkin, Baltimore County Democrat (sponsor)

Sen. Joanne Benson, Prince George's County Democrat
Sen. David Brinkley, Carroll and Frederick counties Republican
Sen. James Brochin, Baltimore County Democrat
Sen. Richard Colburn, Eastern Shore Republican
Sen. James DeGrange, Anne Arundel County Democrat
Sen. Roy Dyson, Southern Maryland Democrat
Sen. George Edwards, Western Maryland Republican
Sen. Joseph Getty, Baltimore and Carroll counties Republican
Sen. Barry Glassman, Harford County Republican
Sen. Nancy Jacobs, Harford and Cecil counties Republican
Sen. J.B. Jennings, Baltimore and Harford counties Republican
Sen. James Mathias, Eastern Shore Democrat
Sen. Thomas Middleton, Charles County Democrat
Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller, Prince George's and Calvert counties Democrat
Sen. C. Anthony Muse, Prince George's County Democrat
Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters, Prince George's County Democrat
Sen. E.J. Pipkin, Eastern Shore Republican
Sen. Edward Reilly, Anne Arundel County Republican
Sen. Christopher Shank, Washington County Republican
Sen. Bryan Simonaire, Anne Arundel County Republican
Sen. Norman Stone, Baltimore County Democrat

No public position/Undecided
Sen. John Astle, Anne Arundel County Democrat
Sen. James Brochin, Baltimore County Democrat
Sen. Joan Carter Conway, Baltimore Democrat
Sen. Ulysses Currie, Prince George's County Democrat
Sen. Edward Kasemeyer, Baltimore and Howard counties Democrat (*voting FOR as of 2/14)
Sen. Katherine Klausmeier, Baltimore County Democrat (*voting FOR as of 2/14)
Sen. James Rosapepe, Prince George's County Democrat

Update 2/15. More faux 'mo from the Sun...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Democrat Succumbs to Political Correctness and Resigns from Tea Party

from the Baltimore Sun
Del. Curt Anderson, leader of the all-Democrat Baltimore delegation, abruptly resigned from the new House tea party caucus this morning, a day after he made news by becoming the vice chairman of the otherwise Republican group.

Fellow city delegates lashed out at Anderson in an emergency delegation meeting this morning, telling him he had "embarrassed" and "hurt" them. Anderson will remain chairman of the delegation, though several colleagues warned they wanted him out in the long run.

Anderson said he was stunned by the reaction -- from constituents and fellow lawmakers alike -- to his short-lived time in the tea party, a caucus he said he joined because of a shared interest with its conservative members in reducing the size of government and avoiding taxes.

"It's almost like I joined the Ku Klux Klan," he said. He said he told tea party chairman Del. Mike Smigiel, an Eastern Shore Republican, this morning that he was resigning.

Senior members of the delegation said they felt that Anderson was "being naive" about the motives of the tea party caucus. The caucus, they said, cannot be disentangled from the well-funded national tea party movement.

"It is a subset of the Republican party," said Del. Maggie McIntosh. "It's highly organized. We should take them seriously."

Del. Cheryl Glenn called the tea party "the anti-Christ to the Democratic party." She said she could not believe Anderson had wanted to be affiliated with them because, in her view, they are targeting President Barack Obama for defeat in 2012; Anderson campaigned hard for the president's first election.

"You have to be more careful," she told Anderson. "You can't violate the philosophy of the Democratic party."

After about half a dozen delegates had taken a turn chastising Anderson, the delegation meeting adjourned. Anderson said he felt appropriately admonished.

"The president wants us to reach across party lines," he said. "Maybe I reached too far."

Democratic Politician Joins the Maryland Tea Party

from the Baltimore Sun
Del. Curt Anderson has joined the Maryland tea party. The Baltimore Democrat, who told The Sun last night that he might run for city council president, said he agrees "100 percent" with the group's approach to holding the line on taxes and reducing the size of government.

The newly formed House of Delegates' tea party caucus, a group led by conservative Del. Mike Smigiel of the Eastern Shore, announced today that it elected Anderson vice chairman. Smigiel said he is "very pleased" to have a Democrat involved in leadership.

Other caucus officials include Del. Justin Ready and Del. Michael McDermott, new Republican House members. Del. Neil Parrott, another Republican newcomer, is drafting the mission statement for the group. Smigiel said other Democrats also have expressed interest in the caucus.

Anderson, a delegate from 1983 to 1995 and since 2003, said in an interview this afternoon that the group's "purely fiscal" focus was what attracted his interest. Smigiel and other House tea partiers said they plan to stay away from potentially divisive social issues altogether.

"Their constituency may be conservative," Anderson said, "but just as mine in Northeast Baltimore, they feel that taxes are already too high."

Anderson said he thinks Baltimore residents agree with the tea party philosophy of reducing the size of government instead of raising taxes. He said he hopes his membership in the tea party caucus will send a signal to his fellow Democrats.

"Those who are in leadership need to know that Marylanders can't afford to pay more taxes," he said. "Maybe if they hear it from the rank and file, that might color the way they consider the budget."

Anderson said he plans to vote against any hike in the gasoline tax. A proposal recently introduced by the Senate majority leader calls for a 10-cent increase. But Anderson said he "probably" would vote for higher alcohol taxes, saying they haven't been raised in decades and "don't affect the scope of people" that the gas tax does.

As for how tea partying could affect a bid for city council president in heavily Democratic Baltimore, Anderson said all candidates for citywide office run on a platform of reducing property taxes.

"The government should be a helpful entity," he said, "not just something that is constantly trying to find new ways to tax citizens."

Friday, February 4, 2011

O'Malley's Union Label is Still PROUDLY Showing...

from Ron Miller @ Southern Maryland Online

What part of "We are out of money!" does the governor of Maryland not understand?

Governor Martin O'Malley released his proposed 2012 Maryland budget, fully aware that the state has a $1.6 billion shortfall, and no hope of rescue on the horizon from a federal government that for two years spent bailout funds it really didn't have in the first place, and is now telling the states, "You're on your own."

Families, who have to deal with their own personal budget shortfalls, know that means belt-tightening, setting priorities, and denying luxuries until things get better.

County governments across Maryland are telling their constituents to brace themselves for significant cuts in local budgets, with layoffs a possibility. Calvert and St. Mary's counties are slated to lose millions of dollars in state funding for local schools.

The Daily Beast, an online news and opinion site, examined the budget challenges of all fifty states and ranked Maryland 19th on the list of states most likely to go bankrupt.

Maryland's Department of Legislative Services released a report last week that said the state would either have to raise property taxes by 56 percent over the next five years or cut $1.1 billion in services to cover the long-term debt

So what does O'Malley do?

He takes last year's budget figure, $32.4 billion, the largest in state history, and increases it by almost 5 percent!

State House columnist Barry Rascovar was none too complimentary of the governor's efforts:

This is O'Malley's most contradictory and hypocritical budget. It pretends to be a tough, belt-tightening blueprint, but it's not.

Instead, it amounts to another cut-and-paste effort that papers over most of Maryland's long-term fiscal deficiencies while waiting for tax revenues to rebound.
What in the world is going on here?

That's not the half of it. O'Malley is sharply critical of his counterpart in New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie, for proposing a shift in public sector pensions to a 401(k)-style plan and longer service before retiring with full benefits. O'Malley haughtily declares that Governor Christie "delights in being abusive towards public employees."

Bad form, Governor O'Malley.

Whose state pension plan is the lowest rated in the country? Whose state pension plan is $19 billion in the red and only 64 percent funded? Who, rather than address the long-term solvency of the state pension plan, is tinkering at the margins to eke out some savings to offset this year's budget deficit?

Who's going to be long gone from the Governor's House when the pension system blows a hole in the state budget like an iceberg against the Titanic, taking every public sector employee's pension and the entire state down to the bottom?

Governor Christie is tackling the problems with New Jersey's budget on his watch, and is taking full responsibility for his tough decisions. Regarding his pension proposal which, incidentally, was also recommended to our General Assembly by an economic consultant and rejected by O'Malley, Christie said:

"I am not proposing pension and benefit reforms just to be tight-fisted…I am proposing pension reform for the police officers who have served -- and contributed -- for years but who may find nothing when they retire a decade from now."

GOP gubernatorial candidate Brian Murphy recently offered a list of proposed solutions to Maryland's budget crisis, and the 33-year old businessman demonstrated more leadership and courage than I've seen displayed by our current leadership in Annapolis.

Rarely have I witnessed a more cynical and self-serving attitude toward one's public duties than I've seen in Martin O'Malley. Democrats are far too easily seduced by young, attractive, smooth talking candidates, as if they're searching for the next John F. Kennedy, and this attraction blinds them to the evidence.

O'Malley rose to fame as the mayor of Baltimore in part because of his public safety record, but as David Simon, the creator of the HBO series The Wire, set in Baltimore, points out in response to recent criticism of his show, all was not as it appeared:

After a new election cycle, however, those arguments [quality over quantity of arrest] were ignored in favor of years of "zero tolerance" of minor street crimes and an obsession with street-level drug enforcement that actually de-emphasized quality police work and led to marked declines in arrest rates for major felonies.

Later, when a mayor sought to become governor using public safety as an issue, the same police department went further down the path, emphasizing widespread street arrests of dubious quality and legality. This did not reduce crime so much as it violated the civil rights of many city residents and led to the widespread alienation of our jury pool, with many city jurors no longer willing to trust the integrity of testifying officers - a problem that will plague Baltimore law enforcement for years.

Furthermore, on behalf of Mr. O'Malley's political aspirations, many supervisors in many police districts were engaged in a prolonged campaign to improperly downgrade U.C.R. felonies to misdemeanors so as to further the political claim that crime was under control. This was common knowledge throughout the department and was much remarked upon privately by respected veteran supervisors and investigators, themselves frustrated at the practice. Nonetheless, aggravated assaults became common assaults. Armed robberies became larcenies. Rapes were unfounded. But what does any of that matter when Esquire magazine is declaring you "The Best Young Mayor in the Country", and Time magazine lists you as one of America's "Top 5 Big City Mayors"? You're a big deal! You should be governor, and then - who knows?

His ambition is exposed for everyone to see - even a University of Maryland student journalist can see right through him.

It happened in Baltimore, and it's happening in Maryland. He'll do just enough to look good on the surface, but the long-term and systemic problems will be left for his successors to fix. Meanwhile, the recently elected head of the Democratic Governors Association is soaking up the adulation like the rock star he pretends to be.

All you folks out there who recently gave him his highest job performance ratings since he's been in office are being played like an electric guitar. Guess who'll have to break down the stage and clean up the mess after he's moved on to the next big tour?
Ron Miller is a conservative writer and commentator, author of the book, SELLOUT: Musings from Uncle Tom’s Porch, and the president of Regular Folks United, a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of individual liberty, free markets and our nation's founding principles. The nine-year plus veteran of the U.S. Air Force and married father of three writes columns for several online sites and print publications, and his own website, Join him on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tea Party Makes Headway in Annapolis

from the Baltimore Sun
About a dozen Maryland Republican delegates met briefly this morning to discuss the logistics of forming a tea party caucus.

Led by Del. Mike Smigiel of the Eastern Shore, the group decided to meet again Monday to select officers and discuss policy.

Del. Michael McDermott, a newly elected member from the Eastern Shore, said tea partiers traditionally focus on fiscal issues, and that's what he'd like the Maryland caucus to do.

Smigiel, in his third term, agreed. He said the caucus would "stay away from hot-button issues" and concentrate on spending and the size of government.

Although it appeared everyone at the meeting was Republican, Smigiel said he'd like to see Democrats get involved.

It's unclear if that will happen. When Smigiel announced the tea party meeting at the end of the morning legislative session, Del. Keith Haynes, a Baltimore Democrat, stood to jokingly announce that the "coffee caucus" will not be meeting.

There are three official caucuses in the General Assembly: women legislators, black legislators and veterans. But there are dozens of less formal "caucuses," and the term has come to be used to describe any group of legislators with a common interest -- be it bicycling or the Ravens. Today, Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez, a Montgomery County Democrat, announced a meeting of the "new Americans caucus."