Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Why Does Maryland Want to Invest in the Wind?

from the Wall Street Journal
Federal subsidies for new wind-power generation will end on Dec. 31 unless they are renewed by Congress. For the sake of our economy and the smooth operation of the energy market, Congress should let the subsidies lapse. They waste taxpayer money, subvert the allocation of capital, and generate a social cost many times the price tag of the subsides themselves.

Since 1992, the federal government has expended almost $24 billion to encourage investment in wind power through direct spending, tax breaks, R&D, loan guarantees and other federal support of electric power. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that a one-year extension of existing federal subsidies for wind power would cost taxpayers almost $12 billion.

The costs of wind subsidies are extraordinarily high—$52.48 per one million watt hours generated, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. By contrast, the subsidies for generating the same amount of electricity from nuclear power are $3.10, from hydropower 84 cents, from coal 64 cents, and from natural gas 63 cents.

In addition, wind power benefits from federal mandates requiring the use of renewable energy by federal agencies along with preferential treatment by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. Many states provide additional tax breaks, subsidies and mandates for wind power. The total value of these additional subsidies has never been calculated.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Calling All Patriots

from the Harford County Dagger
From Patrick L. McGrady:

November 4th, 2014.
Mark that on your calendar.
Write it down on a sticky note and stick it somewhere on your desk at work.
November 4th, 2014 is our day in Maryland.

On that day we will elect our first wave of local liberty fighters. We will elect patriots to be town council members, Mayors, County Commissioners, local Central Committee members, and state legislators.

Right now we are 18 months away from the 2014 primary election and we need candidates. We need you to step up today to serve the Maryland Liberty Movement.

You and I can’t introduce bills in the Maryland General Assembly. You and I can’t vote on adoption of a county budget. We need issue champions who will push the cause for liberty no matter what the left throws at them.

Will you be that champion? Click Here to Fill out the form to run for office!

For Liberty,

Patrick L. McGrady
Maryland Liberty PAC

Friday, December 21, 2012

Governor to Push Gun Control in the Next Legislative Session... Surprised?

from the Baltimore Sun
Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, said this morning that he considering introducing a gun control package in the upcoming legislation session and reiterated his opposition to assault weapons like the one used in the Newtown massacre.

"I think you can count on there being several bills, the likelihood is that there will be a bill from this administration, the details of which we are still working on," O'Malley said at a briefing with reporters this morning.

The governor said that this morning he directed members of his cabinet to examine three areas for possible legislation: Gun control, access to guns by the mentally ill and school safety.

O'Malley said he's particularly interested in looking at the state's laws on assault weapons and limiting the number of rounds in a magazine. "It is hard to conclude that these guns should be in the hands of anyone who isn't a soldier on the battle field or a law enforcement who was being sent into a tactical situation," O'Malley said.

Currently, Marylanders can own or purchase 45 different types of semi-automatic assault weapons. Magazines are 20 bullets. As mayor of Baltimore, O'Malley testified in Annapolis in support of a state-wide assault weapons ban.

O’Malley said mental health laws will also be reviewed “to make sure that we properly limit the access to assault rifles and guns for people who are suffering from an illness.”

The Sun reported this morning that a group of senators -- led by Judicial Proceedings Chairman Brian Frosh -- plan to introduce gun legislation as that would include a full ban on assault weapons.

O'Malley disagreed with a proposal floated this morning by Va Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, who said the state should consider arming school principals, teachers and school staff should be armed.

“It's hard to imagine a level of weaponry that a security guard, if there even is one in an elementary school, could be carrying on their belt that would have resisted the sort of attack that the individual perpetrated in Newtown,” O'Malley said.
Yeah. It's hard to imagine a Security guard's Taser or pistol could have stopped anyone.... oooops.

Monday, December 17, 2012

How Do YOU Spell Crony Capitalism?

from the Harford County Dagger
From Harford Campaign for Liberty:

Why should you care what a TIF is?

Tax Increment Financing is being used by Harford County government to give developers big loans backed by the taxpayers. The Harford County Government plans to borrow more than $20,000,000 to fund the projects of huge developers and you’re underwriting it. Then, over time, the property taxes from the now-improved property will go to pay back the loan first, rather than put the tax money into the general fund. A TIF is a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) between the County and the private developers.

James Run is located southwest of I-95 and Rte. 543. The 110 acre piece of land is slated for lodging, retail, and office uses. This is a high-density, mixed-use project. Harford Council members Boniface, Lisanti, Slutzky, and Guthrie, at the urging of County Executive David Craig, voted on November 20th 2012 to give the James Run developers: $23 million dollars in financing through unrated ‘municipal junk bonds’ at 9% interest.

Two years ago, Harford County’s first TIF was approved. In 2010, Beechtree Estates received a $14 million TIF from the County to build a new residential development. To date, this project has been a failure for sales of homes– but a huge success for the crony business contacts. In 2013 it is estimated that they will owe the county $1.1 million in tax revenue and will only pay $300,000. The developer’s company will get the bill for the difference of $779,000.

If they cannot or do not want to pay this amount, guess who is on the hook to pay back the bond? Your grandmother, my parents, and my family will be on the hook for it. The county will be be forced to make good on the loan. They’ll spend our hard-earned money on maintaining, advertising, and selling the property at a foreclosure auction just to break even. No wonder why these TIF junk bonds have such a high rate, up to 9% interest. Investors consider ‘mixed-use’ developments a high risk.

The County has set a precedent by underwriting James Run and Beechtree. Every developer will want preferential treatment like this from now on. Those who don’t get help building will view it as unfair.

But wait, there’s more to this story.

The companies and developers who have been planning the James Run project for the last five years have been quietly making campaign contributions. Where did these contributions go? To the same people who would be deciding if they received help from the county.

Am I saying that this is collusion between parties involved and our elected officials? Maybe so, maybe not – but at best, sends the wrong message. It creates an environment in which other developers will say, “this is how you have to operate in Harford County.”

The contributions were from:

* the owners of the land

* the builders, JR Lodging and James Run Development Company

* the engineering company, Morris Ritchie Associates

* the lawyers representing the interested parties, Gessner, Snee, Mahoney and Lutche

* and the construction company who would benefit from site jobs, Dixie Construction.

The elected officials who backed the junk bonds:

* Dion Guthrie – received $321 (Mr. Guthrie has dissolved his campaign fund.)

* Richard Slutzky – received $1100 in campaign funds

* Mary Ann Lisanti – received $5435 in funds(she’s co-author of the bill)

* Billy Boniface – Over $10,000 toward his campaign fund(he’s co-author and Council President)

* David Craig – has received a whopping $23,790 in contributions to his campaign, all from the parties who will benefit from the James Run TIF.

TIFs should not be used in development projects in this county. Just like the giveaway grants and forgivable loans this county uses, TIFs are another private-public partnership gone awry.

Too much room is given for corruption and preferential treatment. If you’re tired of seeing your local government give taxpayer money to companies and developers, we need your help in sending a message. Call and email the County Executive and Council members who supported this Crony TIF funding, and tell them NO MORE. NO MORE ‘opportunity loans’, NO MORE ‘training grants’, and NO MORE millions of dollars spent in ‘tax increment financing’. Tell these TIF Supporters to Stop Voting for Crony Capitalism:

David Craig: (410)638-3350

Billy Boniface: (410) 734-6906

Mary Ann Lisanti: (410)638-3526

Richard Slutzky: (410)272-6033

PLEASE GO TO WWW.HARFORDLIBERTY.ORG to sign the petition against Bill 12-35. Together, we can turn this county toward fiscal responsibility.

For Liberty,

Christina Trotta
Steering Committee Member

Harford County Campaign for Liberty

P.S. Remember, the only way to stop bad government is to actually stop bad government.

The Harford County Campaign for Liberty needs your help to stop TIF and many other loony policies being enacted by Harford County government. Please sign our petition today to get involved with Harford C4L and make Harford government work for us!

For more information visit:

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Who Let the DemaGOG's Out?

As Martin O'Malley shores up the Democratic base for his run for President in 2016, look for a LOT more pandering and demagoguery of issues. You can BET that this one makes it onto the legislative calendar in Annapolis next session.

from the Baltimore Sun
After a 45-minute meeting Thursday morning with Gov. Martin O'Malley, NAACP national President Ben Jealous said the governor “supports repeal of the death penalty but wants the civil rights organization to line up support before he decides whether to make the effort an administration priority.

Jealous also told reporters after the State House meeting that he plans to meet next week with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, who could be the pivotal figure in deciding whether a repeal bill gets a floor vote during the General Assembly session that starts next month.

The NAACP leader said the meeting with O'Malley, a longtime opponent of capital punishment, went very well.

“This governor gets it,” Jealous said. “He is clearly more eager to get the job done than he has ever been before.”

Jealous stopped short of claiming a commitment from O'Malley to make repeal a part of his own legislative agenda and to make an all-out effort for repeal. The NAACP chief expressed confidence that by the time the legislature convenes Jan. 9, the organization will have lined up enough votes to show O'Malley the effort can succeed.

“He is asking us to show we still have the support,” Jealous said.

Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for O'Malley, agreed that the meeting went well and confirmed Jealous' account.

“The governor would like to gauge the support for a potential ban and would like to take this information into account as to whether to move forward,” she said. Guillory said the question of whether to incorporate repeal into his 2013 agenda is “still under discussion.”

O'Malley previously made a strong push for repeal in 2009, but the effort fell short when senators substituted a compromise measure that kept the death penalty but narrowed the circumstances under which it can be used. Since then repeal bills have been bottled up in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, where there has been a 6-5 majority in favor of keeping the death penalty on the books.

Jealous acknowledged that there is no sign that count has changed, but he said that with Miller's support, a bill could be brought to the floor without winning a committee vote.

Miller, a Calvert County Democrat, has in the past expressed personal support for retaining capital punishment. But in some cases, as in last year's vote in favor of same-sex marriage, he has given the governor an opportunity for a floor vote on legislation he has voted against.

Jealous expressed hope that Miller may be reconsidering his past support for the death penalty.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Democrats Want Another Opportunity to Triple Maryland's Utility Bills

Offshore Wind costs 3x what regular wind costs. Source.

from the Baltimore Sun
Legislation to encourage development of wind turbines off Ocean City got a boost Tuesday, as the Associated Press reported that Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said he wants to see the twice-defeated bill get a full debate in his chamber this year.

Miller told the AP's Brian Witte that he would consider changing the makeup of the Senate Finance Committee if a majority of its members continue to oppose subsidies for developing offshore wind projects.

Offshore wind is a priority of Gov. Martin O'Malley and of many environmentalists in Maryland, and administration officials have said they're planning to pursue it again in the next General Assembly session that starts in January..

A modified version of O'Malley's offshore wind bill passed the House last year, but it has never cleared the Finance Committee. Miller told the AP that he supports granting ratepayer-financed incentives for wind projects, with qualifications.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Spending Beyond Ridiculous

Scam ALERT!...okay, maybe not.
from the Washington Times
The federal government borrowed 46 cents of every dollar it has spent so far in fiscal year 2013, which began Oct. 1, according to the latest data the Congressional Budget Office released Friday.

The government notched a $172 billion deficit in November, and is already nearly $300 billion in the hole through the first two months of fiscal year 2013, underscoring just how deep the government’s budget problems are as lawmakers try to negotiate a year-end deal to avoid a budgetary “fiscal cliff.”

Higher spending on mandatory items such as Social Security, Medicare and interest on the debt led the way in boosting spending compared with the previous year, which also highlights the trouble spots Congress and President Obama are struggling to grapple with.

All sides agreed to discretionary spending cuts and automatic spending cuts last year, but have been unable to agree on ways to control entitlement costs, which are the long-term drivers of deficits and debt.

Fiscal year 2013 began on Oct. 1 and so far the government has spent $638 billion and taken in just $346 billion in revenue.

That tax revenue is up by $30 billion compared with last year, or about 10 percent.

But spending is up even more — a staggering $87 billion, or 14 percent.
The CBO said much of that higher spending total is due to timing of payments month-to-month. Without those shifts, spending would be up $22 billion, or 4 percent.

Overall, CBO analysts said that, accounting for shifts in both revenue and spending, the deficit would be $8 billion lower this year than it was last year at this time.

The agency, Congress’s nonpartisan budget scorekeeper, releases preliminary estimates of the government’s fiscal position each month. Final figures will come later this month from the Treasury Department.

The government is poised to post another $1 trillion deficit in fiscal year 2013, which would mark the fifth straight year. Before that, the record was $438 billion, which came in 2008, President George W. Bush’s last full year in office.

Congress and the White House are trying to hash out a long-term fiscal framework that could lead to higher taxes and limits on future spending.
America, Land of Privatizing Gains and Socializing Losses, Courtesy of Uncle Sam

Friday, December 7, 2012

Maryland Progressives Once Again Seek to Punish Political Opponents

"Vengeance is mine," sayeth the political "progressive" at HRC. It would be one thing if the HRC made a stupid demand in the vacuum of their own ineptitude, but of course other "Progressives" at the Baltimore Sun newspaper feel the need to disseminate their vindictive charges to the largest audience possible... and for the record, what does "racism" have to do with "gay marriage"?

from the Baltimore Sun
The Human Rights Campaign, a group that backed the effort to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland, is requesting that a rival organization return a $10,000 check from a donor they describe an "active white supremacist and secessionist sympathizer."

In a news release, HRC requested that the National Organization for Marriage to return money from Michael Peroutka, an Anne Arundel County lawyer who ran for president in 2008 as a member of the Constitution Party and is active in a group called the League of South.

Michael Hill, the president of the League of the South, espouses controversial views on race including recently writing: "The cold facts of history tell us that blacks have never created anything approximating a civilization in the Western sense of the term."

Peroutka said in an interview that he "continues to be a proud member of the League of the South." However, he said the white supremacist label is "absurd" and "not at all true."

"The League of the South has a belief that the central government is too large, too spend-thrift and too out-of-control," Peroutka said.

The $10,000 check from Peroutka was given to the Maryland Marriage Alliance, the local group that wanted to overturn Maryland's gay marriage law.

The Maryland Marriage Alliance raised only a fraction of the amount brought in by HRC and supporters of same-sex marriage. Derek McCoy, the executive director of the Maryland Marriage Alliance said he has "no intention" of giving the money back.
Hmmm, perhaps MMA should demand that HRC give back the $100,000 donated by Brad Pitt to supporting their referendum projects... after all, Pitt is a known serial adulterer who likely couldn't keep a marriage vow if his life depended upon it and who donates to "gay" causes because he likes to watch his former/current wife get it on with other women. Of course if they did demand a return of the money, not a single responsible newspaper on earth would likely print the fact that they had made such a nonsensical demand.

And yet they call themselves, "progressive"...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Politics of the People's Republic of Maryland Explained

from the Dagger
From Del. Pat McDonough:

Most people would characterize Maryland as a Democrat-controlled state. They would be wrong. There is much more to the real political complexion of Maryland politics. The Democrats who reside in Dundalk, Middle River, and many counties have no connection to the type of Democrats who reside in Montgomery County. The Montgomery Democrats are philosophically “radical liberals.” They support big government, big spending, increased taxes, benefits for illegal aliens, gay marriage, and every other agenda on the left wing shopping list. Unfortunately, they control the balance of power in Maryland.

Maryland is now the “bluest” state in the nation, along with California. The Montgomery and Prince Georges County delegations to the Maryland General Assembly are running the show in Annapolis. The rapidly growing voter registration numbers in those two Washington, D.C. suburban counties create a tsunami of radical Democrat votes on Election Day. That huge wave washes away votes from the rest of the state.

The tyranny of the “super majority” rules the Maryland General Assembly. Although the GOP minority punches way above their weight with aggressive floor strategies, intelligent speeches and common sense amendments, all of their efforts are in vain. The “super majority” never seriously considered compromise or cooperation. It is the “radical blue” way or the highway.

The dynamic of the voting power in Maryland probably ensures there may never be another statewide Democrat office holder from Baltimore after O’Malley, Cardin, and Mikulski have moved on. The Baltimore area voters have become captive step-children to the massive voting power of the Washington, D.C. suburbs. Baltimore’s “radical blue” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake presides over an urban landscape beset by murder, muggings, economic stagnation and a dim future. She suffers no real opposition, except possibly from another “radical blue” political challenger. The diversity of electoral politics or public policy is non-existent in Charm City.

All doubt about this growing power was removed when the 7 questions on the ballot achieved a solid victory created by a deluge of votes from the D.C. suburbs. The problem is compounded by the fact that the two major press organs dominating Maryland, the Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post, both reflect the “radical blue” philosophy in their editorial and reporting practices. They are enablers, not objective journalists.

The consequences of this “radical blue” monopoly ensures that the people of Maryland will continuously be subjected to government debt, increased regulations and taxes, assault against business, uncontrolled spending, and a march toward the cliff. Maryland’s Triple A bond rating is already on the “watch list” and our state is considered at the top of the most business unfriendly places in the nation.

How do we overcome this growing disaster? It will not be easy since many of our most productive citizens are voting with their feet.

Good-bye millionaires, hundred thousandaires, small business owners, retirees, and other productive citizens who are becoming reluctant refugees from their beloved state. They still love Maryland, but the “radical blue” politicians find them to be only useful as ATM machines. Unless Washington, D.C., Montgomery, and Prince Georges Counties are thrown together to become the 51st state, there are few solutions available.

In the wonderful movie, “The Wind and the Lion,” the character, “Raisuli, the Magnificent,” played by Sean Connery, in despair uttered these words, “All is lost, things are spinning out of control, and nothing is as it should be.” Marylanders understand your pain, Mr. Raisuli.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

"Party" Loyalty, What is it "Good" For? The People?

from the Baltimore Sun
The incoming Cecil County executive's decision to switch her party registration from Republican to independent Thursday has become a major flashpoint at the state GOP convention in Howard County this weekend, exposing a gaping split in party ranks.

Tari Moore, who was elected Nov. 6 as Cecil's first executive under charter government, confirmed Friday that she had changed her registration -- less than four weeks after winning election under the Republican banner and with financial support from the state GOP.

Moore said she would give a full explanation of her reasons when she is worn in Monday.

"This is a decision that's been very difficult and has been done with a great deal of thought and prayer," she said.

Moore's thoughts and prayers were hardly comforting to her Republican senator, Minority Leader E. J. Pipkin.

"It's deceitful. It's dishonest. She needs to step aside," Pipkin said. "She needs to pay back the money the party put out on her behalf and she should apologize."

However, GOP sources said the issue is more complicated than a simple case of party-bolting over ideological issues. To some degree, Moore's switch appears to be a stategic move made for strictly local reasons. But with the GOP gathering Saturday at Turf Valley for its post-election convention, the Cecil controversy has become a proxy battle between Pipkin and his longtime party rival, U.S. Rep. Andrew Harris (R, 1st).

The controversy could come to a head at the convention Saturday afternoon, when Moore's critics hope to offer a resolution backing Pipkin's call for her resignation.

Cecil Republicans say the root of Moore's switch is the question of who will fill the Cecil council seat Moore is leaving to take the executive post. Her election, they said, will leave a 2-2 split between her supporters and critics. By becoming an independent before her swearing-in, she said, she will take the decision of who will replace her out of the hands of the county Republican Central Committee and switch that power to the county council.

If the council were to deadlock at 2-2 over her successor, Moore would be able to cast the tie-breaking vote, party sources said. That would give her a working majority to govern the county, county sources said.

Cecil Republicans said the couny central committee is dominated by supporters of Pipkin and Del. Michael Smigiel Sr., a Cecil Republican.

Harris, who supported Moore in a contested primary, said he had no problem with Moore's decision to change affiliation. He said he was confident she would soon return to the party fold.

"Tari Moore is a good Republican and I think at some time she will," Harris said.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Clearly Outspent

from the Baltimore Sun
Hefty checks from Baltimore super-lawyer Peter Angelos and casino giant MGM Entertainment helped fund the critical final days of Maryland's campaign to legalize same-sex marriage, a new report filed with the state board of elections showed.

The ballot measure -- Question 6 -- passed in Maryland by four percentage points. The first Maryland marriage certificates to gay and lesbian couples will be issued in early January.

Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the main group supporting Question 6, raised about $5.2 million, according to the report. They outraised - and outspent - the opponents by more than 2 to 1.

However, going into the final two weeks of the heated campaign, Marylanders for Marriage Equality had a mere $22,000 in their bank account. Angelos, who emerged this year a one of the country's most generous Democratic donors, wrote a $50,000 check four days before the Nov. 6 election.

MGM Entertainment donated $75,000 about two weeks before Election Day. The Las Vegas casino company also poured $46.7 million into a successful effort to expand gambling in Maryland. It hopes to build a resort casino in Prince George's County.

Another interesting corporate donor: E-Bay. The online auction site gave $2,000 to support same-sex marriage.

Gov. Martin O'Malley's super PAC, the O' Say Can You See PAC, contributed $1,000 -- one of the first donations from the governor's new fundraising arm.

The Maryland Marriage Alliance, the primary organization trying to defeat the ballot measure, filed papers just before midnight Tuesday showing they raised $2.3 million -- and spent nearly all of it.

They received a $100,000 check from the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization that has increasingly been funding measures to defeat same-sex marriage. Another notable giver: William Lori, Baltimore's archbishop, gave $2,000.

The National Organization for Marriage gave $400,000, bringing their total to about $1.2 million.

An effort to uphold an education measure for illegal immigrants also garnered big checks in the final days of the campaign. Domino Foods gave $100,000 -- bringing the fundraising total for "Educating Maryland's Kids" to about $1.7 million.

The measure passed overwhelmingly and had no organized opposition.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

RNC in Maryland Overlooks Values Voters?

An interesting article from Blue Ridge Forum:
Chart: Values and Immigration-Control Votes Exceed Romney Votes in Maryland

Take a look at our chart (click here) showing that Governor Mitt Romney’s statewide total of votes for president fell behind the statewide total of either those opposing the Maryland version of the Dream Act (Ballot Question 4) or those opposing the same-sex marriage law (Ballot Question 6) . The data comes from the Maryland Board of Elections.

The opposition to same-sex marriage vote statewide exceeded the Romney vote statewide by 28 per cent.

See how the voting fell out in your locality on the chart’s county-by-county breakdown. Note also the votes against the two questions in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Prince Georges County.

What these numbers show is the strength of Maryland grass-roots conservative constituencies.

But the data also suggest that the GOP Establishment tone of governor’s Romney’s campaign may have limited his appeal to these constituencies.

Does it also show that the Reagan model of a market-friendly and values and national or homeland-security coalition never took root in Maryland?

Opportunities lost: successfully defeating these two measures — with the Maryland GOP visibly playing a strong role – would have opened doors to two strong grass-roots constituencies, the faith community, and working class and small-business voters. Click here for more on the last.

But the the ballot ratifications of same-sex marriage and (in effect) sanctuary-state Maryland are galling defeats for many conservatives who already have their own list of grievances over what they see as the state GOP’s fecklessness.

An opportunity remaining: The Maryland GOP should weigh in against so called ‘sustainability’ or ‘smart growth’ programs – not just through symbolic General Assembly bills — but through constant public jawboning, challenging state regulations, and lobbying Congress to cut off Federal appropriations to state planners for such mischief. Carroll County commissioner Richard Rothschild has been a national voice against these schemes, putting together a world-class conference to expose them.

The GOP Fall Meeting

The Maryland GOP will have their fall meeting in Howard County on November 30-December 1, according to that County’s website (click here).

Other groups on the right-center plan to attend – Patrick McGrady’s Maryland Liberty Caucus in a November 12 email entitled “Rockin’ the MDGOP Back to Its Roots” declares –

“You and I both know that the Maryland Republican Party is run from the top-down. The Republican Establishment doesn’t stand for conservative principles. They don’t appreciate the diverse, energetic, and conservative arm of the Party.

It was so bad at the Republican Party Convention in Tampa that after the rules were changed to silence the conservative grassroots activists like you and me, Romney adviser Sununu even thanked the Maryland Republican National Committeeman, Louis Pope (who served as the Vice Chairman of the Rules Committee) for whipping the votes on the rules change. Here’s the video of that: Go to 02:27:54 in the video to see Sununu thanking Pope for helping ram through the bad rules changes.

But now that the standard-bearer has been defeated, it is time to help build a home for the Liberty voters in the Republican Party here in Maryland and nationwide. And so, the restructuring begins with us.”

At the time of the Tampa convention, we also deplored these dark dealings. (Click here and here.)

Now we learn that there is even a Facebook page entitled “NO confidence vote on all executive members of the MD GOP here!

One hopes there is wiser counsel in the state GOP, urging serious reform and policy coordination with — not just deference to and incumbency protection of — the Republican state lawmakers.

Who Wants To Join The Old Line State’s GOP?

Maryland conservatives ask us how can they recruit without some specific menu of Maryland GOP positions on exigent issues.

Many conservative voters do have somewhere else to go, as last Tuesday showed. And recall the number of votes Brian Murphy received in his 2010 primary contest with former governor Bob Ehrlich.

The Maryland GOP Establishment (party and significant law-makers) need to declare what specific policies they will (or will not) support: what will they propose about public pensions (click here), and how will they guard against public-school malpractice (click here), to name just two of many current concerns.

The right-center dissenters from the GOP Establishment come in several flavors . . . from values voices, to Tea Partiers, to homeland-security conservatives, to libertarians.

They have some differences but share many convictions, and right now the foremost may be that an unproductive state GOP leadership — whether in the Party or in the General Assembly — is toxic for the Maryland Republican Party’s future.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Delgate Glen Glass on New Super Wal-Mart

from the Harford County Dagger

Delegate Glen Glass Continues to Urge a Reconsideration of the Wal-Mart Relocation.

From the office of Del. Glen Glass:

Maryland State Delegate Glen Glass (R – Harford, District 34A), announced that he continues to oppose the proposed Wal-Mart relocation at the Plumtree Road and Route 924 intersection. Delegate Glass publicly applauded County Executive, David Craig’s assertion that Wal-Mart could expand at its current location. “I think they should consider turning the current location into a Super Wal-Mart without shutting it down, just like they were able to do in Aberdeen and a myriad of other locations. This would allow the employees in Abingdon to keep their jobs,” said Glass. “I believe the current location is convenient to residents in Joppa, Edgewood, and Abingdon. The current location is also preferred by residents in Bel Air who can stop there on their way home from work. The traffic at the Abingdon location can be improved by putting an exit onto Interstate 95, and allowing drivers to make a right turn on red at the light. The citizens in my district do not want to drive all the way to Bel Air to shop at Wal-Mart” added Glass.

Delegate Glass also believes that the heavy traffic patterns in the proposed location will represent a major health and safety risk. “If the new location is approved the heavy traffic would represent a risk to those most vulnerable among us,” Glass continued. Given that the proposed location is across from a new fire station, near Patterson Mill Middle and High School, as well as approximately a half mile from Ring Factory Elementary School, Delegate Glass fears that the increased traffic is potentially life-threatening.

“A Super Wal-Mart right in the middle of a fire station and three major schools could potentially wreak havoc” said Delegate Glass. Because of these concerns, and others, Delegate Glass continues to oppose this new location. “As the Development Advisory Board (DAC) aptly notes the increased heavy traffic could represent a real problem. The increased traffic could also hinder the abilities of emergency services to get to and from the new firehouse. As we know, every second counts when it comes to saving people’s lives,” Glass concluded.

GOP Needs a Shakeup?

from the Baltimore Sun
The top leaders of the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee are seeking a resolution from the state party directing its representatives to oppose a new term for national party Chairman Reince Priebus in the aftermath of the GOP's dismal showing in the Nov. 6 election.

John Fiastro Jr., the newly elected county chairman, said the party executive committee decided Monday night to seek such a resolution at the party's state convention at Turf Valley in Howard County on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

Fiastro said there was a sentiment among county party leaders that the national GOP needs new leadership in the wake of its election setbacks, which included President Barack Obama's win over Mitt Romney and the loss of seats in the U.S. Senate. Despite the reverses, Priebus has said he will seek to stay as head of the Republican National Committee.

The proposed resolution also reflects concerns over the national party's paltry investment in Maryland's Republican Party, Fiastro said. He said that while the party recognizes that Maryland is not a battleground state, it should receive enough support to mount a "credible ground game" in presidential election years to help maintain volunteer enthusiasm and help it compete better in gubernatorial elections.

"There should be a base amount of support that we get," he said.

Fiastro said the executive panel will contact members of the full central committee before the convention to seek their approval. He said he also expects to contact other county central committees to seek their support before the gathering.

Priebus ousted a Marylander, former Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, in a contested election in January 2011, just two months after the GOP achieved a landslide victory in the U.S. House and in statehouses across the country.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Maryland Delegation Cuts in Line for Another Federal Handout

from the Harford County Dagger
Delegation asks President Obama to support Governor O’Malley’s request for a major disaster declaration as communities across Maryland struggle to recover from Super-Storm Sandy

U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) were joined by members of Maryland’s Congressional Delegation today in sending a letter to President Barack Obama supporting Governor O’Malley’s request for a declaration of a major disaster for the State of Maryland as a result of Super-Storm Sandy. If awarded, Maryland will become eligible for federal disaster recovery dollars through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), ensuring the state’s already strained budget is not stretched any thinner. The letter was signed by Senators Mikulski and Cardin, as well as U.S. Representatives Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), Roscoe E. Barlett (R-Md.), Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), John P. Sarbanes (D-Md.), Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.) and Andy Harris (R-Md.).

“Super-Storm Sandy delivered severe storms, flooding, winds, unprecedented levels of precipitation, and heavy snowfall to the State,” Team Maryland wrote. “[T]his determination is necessary to address sheltering needs, resource transportation, debris removal, and evacuation assistance in advance of this storm. This situation has the potential to negatively impact services in other areas, given an already strained state budget environment.”

The major disaster declaration would provide Individual Assistance for the counties of Dorchester, Somerset, and Worcester including Ocean City; Public Assistance for all counties within the state and the Independent City of Baltimore; and Hazard Mitigation for all counties and the Independent City of Baltimore.

Prior to the storm, Team Maryland urged President Obama to support Governor O’Malley’s request for a Pre-Disaster Declaration, which the Administration approved. That declaration ensured that Maryland became eligible for federal disaster funding from FEMA as the state prepared for potential damage. That request is available here.

Super-Storm Sandy and preparations preceding it lasted from October 25 to November 4. The storm included maximum wind speeds of 90 mph and deposited up to two inches of rain per hour from the Delmarva to the I-95 corridor. The damages experienced from this storm have ranged from severe flooding from heavy rains, high winds and significant coastal flooding in the eastern region of the State; heavy rains, high winds and significant coastal flooding along the Chesapeake Bay in the densely populated central region; and significant heavy wet snowfall and rain in the western portion of the state.

The full text of the delegation’s letter of support is as follows:
November 14, 2012
The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to express our very strong support for Governor O’Malley’s November 8, 2012 request for a declaration of a major disaster for the State of Maryland as a result of Super-Storm Sandy which initially affected Maryland beginning October 25, 2012 through November 4, 2012. Given the significant impact that this storm had on Maryland’s already thin resources, we respectfully request that you urgently approve Federal assistance.

Super-Storm Sandy delivered severe storms, flooding, winds, unprecedented levels of precipitation, and heavy snowfall to the State. Governor O’Malley took appropriate action under Maryland law, directing the execution of the State CORE Emergency Operations Plan. The Governor further declared that a State of Emergency existed within the entire state beginning October 27, 2012 and the Maryland National Guard was called into service. However, this determination is necessary to address sheltering needs, resource transportation, debris removal, and evacuation assistance in advance of this storm. This situation has the potential to negatively impact services in other areas, given an already strained state budget environment.

Maryland and its local jurisdictions have contributed a vast amount of resources in a very short period. The state continues to assess the full amount of damages and losses for this disaster, although preliminary assessments show severe damage to infrastructure and public safety needs. The assistance requested will provide vital resources to save lives and protect property. We appreciate your consideration of Maryland’s request, and look forward to continue working with you in this recovery.


Barbara A. Mikulski
United States Senator

Ben Cardin
United States Senator

Steny H. Hoyer
Member of Congress

Roscoe E. Bartlett
Member of Congress

Elijah E. Cummings
Member of Congress

Chris Van Hollen
Member of Congress

C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger
Member of Congress

John P. Sarbanes
Member of Congress

Donna F. Edwards
Member of Congress

Andy Harris
Member of Congress

Cc: MaryAnn Tierney, Regional Administrator
615 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106-4404

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Maryland's Health Police Are After Us, Again

from the Baltimore Sun
The same group that successfully pushed to double the state's cigarette tax in 2007 wants the General Assembly to add another dollar per pack next session.

Health Care For All, led by Annapolis stalwart Vinnie DeMarco, kicked off his push at a news conference in Annapolis today. "It works. It is good politics and good policy," DeMarco said. "We need the money for health care"

The change would increase the state's cigarette tax from $2 per pack to $3, and bring the average price to $7.29. The change would mean Maryland would have the 6th highest cigarette tax in the country, according to DeMarco. Now Maryland has the 11th highest cigarette tax.

DeMarco said the 2007 tax increase has raised $120 million a year while also contributing to reducing smoking in the state. Roughly 276 million packs were sold in Maryland in 2007. The following year, purchases dropped to 202 million, according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

The increased tax revenue, he said, should be used for health care related costs like paying for Maryland's new health care exchanges, market places for health insurance required by President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.

Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for Gov. Martin O'Malley, said the governor is awaiting recommendations from a committee formed earlier this year to determine funding sources for the health exchanges. The governor, she said, "will evaluate the possibilities once those recommendations are made."

The proposal will encounter resistance from some corners of the state house. House GOP leader Del. Anthony O’Donnell predicted there would be “zero” support for the tax in his 43 member caucus. “If we keep raising taxes we’ll never institute the fiscal restraint we need,” he said. “There will be another tax after this one, and another tax after that one.”
Why don't we have an abortion tax? Or make "gamblers" buy a "casino seat license? How about a "Lotto purchase permit"?

There are LOTS of things that are bad for my health, but few as "profitable" to the Nanny State Legislature as cigarette taxes.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

HA, ha Maryland Voters... Fooled You with Weasle Words AGAIN!

from the Baltimore Sun
Those in Howard County who want to channel the power of the ballot box to challenge local government decisions are going to have to work a bit harder to do it in elections to come, thanks to the vote Tuesday on one of five county charter changes. Whether this was the change voters wanted to make when they endorsed the change in overwhelming numbers seems to be a matter of debate.

By a margin of 73.2 percent to 26.8 percent, voters agreed to change the rules on how many signatures petitioners have to gather for a referendum to challenge local legislation, doing away with a 5,000-signature cap. Instead, petitioners will need a number of valid signatures equal to 5 percent of the vote in the previous gubernatorial election, which this year would have raised the number from 5,000 to 5,390.

It's a small change, about 8 percent, but given the difficulties petitioners have had in recent years getting enough valid signatures, some feel any shift in that direction is too much. The Charter Review Commission voted 14-1 to recommend the change, agreeing that the revision would allow the number of required signatures to reflect rising population, and put the Howard County requirements more in step with other jurisdictions.

Tom Coale was the lone vote against the change, but now that the matter is settled, he says he's satisfied at least that it was a considered decision. He has faith in local voters, he says.

"For Howard County, the presumption has to be at the beginning that the voters knew what they were doing," says Coale. He says he considers the lopsided outcome a statement "supporting certainty in the legislative process in county government. … They were looking to make sure when the County Council passes something, it has to be a high threshold" to reverse it.

Michael Davis, who served as the commission's vice chairman, says he was pleased but not surprised that the changes were adopted by such large margins. While there were some people who spoke against the petition signature change during the commission's three public hearings, it was "not a groundswell" of opposition, he says.

"The logic used to make the change was found acceptable," says Davis, adding that he thought the commission's three hearings and a meeting held before Election Day by the League of Women Voters gave people enough opportunity to understand the questions.

Russ Swatek, a Columbia resident who spoke against the change at a commission hearing, is not so sure.

"I feel a ballot doesn't really give enough information" to understand the issue, says Swatek. He thought even a 200-word description or material giving arguments for and against the measure would be helpful.

As it was, voters got 84 words summarizing the charter change, but not explaining that it would mean petitioners would have to gather more signatures.

Swatek helped lead an unsuccessful effort in 2010 to challenge by referendum a portion of the downtown Columbia redevelopment plan that called for 5,500 new homes and apartments. The petition drive ultimately failed, as the county Board of Elections ruled more than 1,000 signatures invalid because they did not match voter lists. Petitioners tried to challenge the ruling in Circuit Court, but a judge ruled that a legal memorandum was not filed on time.

That was one of four petition efforts in the past nine years to challenge local government decisions on land use and taxes that failed for a number of reasons.

Susan Gray, who helped lead a successful petition drive in 1994, says she was not happy with the charter change and does not believe that the wording of the ballot question made its effect clear.

"You would have no idea that the charter change would raise the number of signatures," says Gray, a land-use lawyer. Asked why she thought the measure was adopted in a landslide, she said, "The only thing I can think of is people had no clue as to the meaning of what the charter change was."

As lopsided as the vote on this question was, it was the closest vote of the five charter changes. All the rest were adopted by margins of 8-2 or 9-1.

The charter was also revised to bring county law in line with the Maryland Public Information Act, making clear that "any person" has the right to see government agency records, and allowing departments to charge a fee for copies.

The other three questions were technical "housekeeping" items: allowing unspent grant money in the budget to be carried over to the next year; requiring notices of pending bills and information on public hearings to be posted electronically; and correcting typographical errors, removing outdated references and making organizational changes in some passages.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Maryland's Vote

from the Baltimore Sun
Voter turnout in Maryland in 2012's general election dropped by more than 8 percentage points from 2008 but President Obama's vote percentage slipped much less than in other states, according to the State Board of Elections.

Unofficial figures show a turnout of 69.04 percent compared with the spectacular 77.63 percent registered in Obama's first election. But voting appeared to be off roughly equally among both Democrats and Republicans.

Obama's support dropped a half point from 2008 -- 61.4 percent compared with the 61.9 percent he garnered against John McCain. That's much less than his decline nationally of about 2.5 percentage points.

Obama's total vote dropped by about 95,000 from 2008 levels. Mitt Romney got about 49,000 fewer votes than McCain.

The county-by-county breakdown remained remarkably stable. Only one county flipped: Kent, from Democratic to Republican. Obama won that county by 48 votes in 2008 but lost it by 71 this year.

Obama improved on his 2008 total in only one county: Charles, where he tallied more than 3,000 additional votes in an increasingly Democratic stronghold.

Among Maryland's large counties, Anne Arundel was the closest. Romney won 49.2 percent of votes there to Obama's 48.3 percent. Ominously for Republicans in the county, the president came closer to parity with the Republican nominee there than he did in 2008, losing by only 2,254 votes. Four years earlier he trailed McCain by 4,667 votes. Demographic trends could soon turn Arundel from light red to pale blue -- at least in presidential years.

The president saw more slippage in another traditionally Republican county where Democrats have been gaining; Frederick. His 2008 deficit of 1,057 widened to 4,302.

Garrett hung onto its title as Maryland's most Republican County, giving Romney 74.7 percent of the vote to Obama's 23.4 percent. But Prince George's delivered almost 90 percent of its votes for the president -- making it one of his best counties in the nation.

The award for most improved party performance in Maryland goes to the Libertarians. Their nominee this year, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, nearly tripled the vote of his 2008 counterpart, Bob Barr. Johnson gained 27, 849 votes, or 1.1 percent, compared with Barr's 9,842, or 0.4 percent.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Where Did Harford County Stand on the Election Questions?

Number of Precincts 79
Precincts Reporting 76 96.2 %
Against the Referred 68447 58.98%
For the Referred Law 47595 41.02%

Number of Precincts 79
Precincts Reporting 76 96.2 %
For the Referred Law 63180 58.07%
Against the Referred 45620 41.93%

Number of Precincts 79
Precincts Reporting 76 96.2 %
Against the Referred 65485 55.88%
For the Referred Law 51696 44.12%

Number of Precincts 79
Precincts Reporting 76 96.2 %
Against the Addition 62578 53.04%
For the Additional F 55397 46.96%

for more complete Election night returns, please go here.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

What About Question 6?

I know where I stand...
Do you?

One Eighth Cast Early Votes in Maryland

from the Baltimore Sun
Turnout remained strong Friday during the final day of early voting, with more long lines and waits at several centers.

By 10 p.m., 425,565 Marylanders – more than 12 percent of eligible voters – had cast their ballots during early voting.

That far exceeded the six-day standard of 219,601 set during the gubernatorial election of 2010, the state’s first experience with early voting.

Turnout Thursday was the strongest yet, with 97,750 casting their ballots. Eying the lines, at least one state lawmaker said he would file legislation to expand the number of early voting centers for future elections.

“Democracy delayed is democracy denied,” Sen. James Rosapepe, a College Park Democrat, said in a statement. “I've heard repeated complaints from my constituents about the long lines and waiting times of over two hours to vote at the small number of early voting locations available across the state.”

The state opened 46 early voting centers, including at least one in every county. Rosapepe, a member of the Senate’s election law subcommittee, said his bill would authorize local boards of elections to open as many early voting locations as they believed necessary to keep estimated maximum waiting times under 15 minutes.

“Voters, Democrats as well as Republicans and Independents, want the opportunity to exercise their right to vote without unjustified delays,” he said. “Clearly some of the delays were caused by the hurricane, but not all of them.”

Early voting had been scheduled to run from Saturday through Thursday. As Hurricane Sandy approached, Gov. Martin O’Malley ordered voting centers to close on Monday and Tuesday. But he later added another voting day on Friday, and extended the hours the polls have stayed open.

Elections officials say adding more days would not be possible because poll workers need time to transition to the regular Election Day vote next Tuesday.

Turnout has been steady throughout the early vote. The weakest day – 55,947 on Sunday, with the storm bearing down on the Eastern Seaboard – was stronger than the strongest day in 2010.

Update 11/4

More Arguments Against Question 4

from Del Pat McDonough and the Harford County Dagger
From Del. Pat McDonough:

The burden on the citizen taxpayer will never stop if the so-called Dream Act is allowed to become law. Let us put aside emotional misinformation and whip out our calculators. One illegal alien student completing a four year college program will cost the taxpayers $42,000. It breaks down to an $8,000 tuition discount for 2 years of community college and a $32,000 discount for 2 years at the University of Maryland. The advocates for the Dream Act claim that only 1% of the student body statewide will be illegal aliens. That translates into 1,500 Dream Act students per year, costing the taxpayers $63,000 annually. When all 4 classes are established and in place, taxpayers will be compelled to pay $228 million a year.

All 16 community colleges in Maryland, including Harford Community College, are currently underfunded. Most of them have increased their tuition rates at least twice during the past four years. Every time an illegal alien student assumes a slot, a reduced amount of funding is suffered by the community college. As the revenue in college decreases and the student burdens increase, the number of slots available is reduced. “Open enrollment” is based only on revenue availability. The Dream Act will create “displacement” of Maryland citizen students. Last year, about 27,000 people applied for entrance into the University of Maryland. Only 7,000 were accepted.

Presently tens of thousands of American out of state students and foreign nationals pay hundreds of millions of dollars into our education system. They must pay out-of-state tuition fees. Their contributions pay for about 25% of the operating costs of colleges, bringing relief to Maryland taxpayers. The Dream Act student, not having to pay out-of-state tuition costs if the Dream Act is enacted, will displace these out-of-state tuition students, causing a loss in revenue. This loss must be replaced by the taxpayers, tuition increases, or reduced spending.

The amazing fact is that taxpayers, at some point in time, will be paying more than $200 million a year to educate people who cannot legally work in this state or country. It is a federal felony for an employer to hire anyone who is an illegal alien. Even President Obama’s temporary deferment does not provide them with lawful presence or permanent residence. “The Obama memo” of temporary deferment for work permits probably will not survive judicial review.

The Dream Act does not require the payment of taxes. It simply mandates the filing of tax returns. In many cases, illegal aliens send part of their income back to their homelands depriving America of the cash stimulus the American economy needs. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that $32 billion dollars is funneled to Mexico alone, establishing that country’s largest revenue source.

The Dream Act claims that students will sign an affidavit promising to seek out a pathway to citizenship. Under current federal law, as illegal aliens they have no pathway to citizenship available. Therefore, the affidavit which is supposed to be a legal document is, in reality, a useless deception.

The “People’s Petition” collected more than 130,000 signatures in less than 60 days. Many of them came from Harford County. That effort was an historic achievement propelled by the people’s passion regarding the unfairness of the Dream Act. That passion will continue on November 6th Election Day when the voters will support the rule of law, citizenship, fairness, and economic justice for taxpayers and vote “No” to Question 4.

Serving the People,

Delegate Pat McDonough

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The "Other Party" Presidential Debate

Pre-Hurricane Early Voting in Harford "Brisk"

from the Harford County Dagger
Early voting in Harford County got off to a rousing start on Saturday as an overflow crowd lined the parking lot at the McFaul Activity Center in Bel Air, the county’s only site for voting prior to Election Day. By midafternoon, Harford Countians had cast nearly 1,500 votes in the 2012 presidential election, according to county election officials who said the polling place had been busy since morning. “It’s awesome,” Deputy Election Director Dale Livingston said of the voter turnout.

Election judge trainer Maggie Mundle speculated that voters were motivated by a close presidential race and pending bad weather from Hurricane Sandy, which is expected to hit the area starting Sunday.
Should the storm cause power outages as early voting continues into next week, Election Director Kevin Keene said the election would continue using paper ballots.

Early voting, which started on Saturday, will continue on Sunday, October 28th from noon – 6:00 p.m., and from 10: 00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. on Monday, October 29th through Thursday, November 1st at the McFaul Activity Center located at 525 West McPhail Road in Bel Air.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 6th.
***Update 10/30 - Due to Hurricane Sandy, Governor Martin O'Malley has declared that Early Voting will be closed on Tuesday, 30 October, but also that early voting will be extended a day to include Friday, November 2. Voting hours have also been extended for the remaining Early Voting days (W, Th, F) from 8 am to 9 pm. For the most up to date Early Voting data, please go here.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sobhani Doesn't Want to Confuse Democrats...?

from the Baltimore Sun
Independent U.S. Senate candidate Rob Sobhani agreed to pull down an advertisement he began airing on black radio stations this week that attacked incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin after state Democrats complained Friday the spot was riddled with inaccuracies.

The ad plays a passage from a 2006 debate in which Cardin's one-time opponent, Kweisi Mfume, criticizes him for his time in office. "You get in Washington, you get this Potomac Fever -- you just think that God put you there," the ad quotes Mfume saying at the debate.

Mfume, a former congressman and NAACP leader who has endorsed Cardin's bid for reelection this year, immediately renounced the ad Friday, arguing it is intended to confuse voters.

"Senator Ben Cardin has held office for 46 years," the ad's narrator says. "So long, he seems to think God put him there. Even worse, he ignores our community all year then comes to us election time and says, 'My friends, I need your votes.'"

The spot goes on to criticize Cardin for receiving "free health care for life" while "we're struggling without health care." In fact, members of Congress are provided the same health benefits as all federal employees. The various plans offered are similar to those provided by large private companies and they require enrollees to contribute toward the cost of premiums.

Noting that the unemployment rate among African Americans is at 14 percent, the ad's narrator then says Cardin will get "paid nearly $200,000 every year, even after he retires." That is also an exaggeration. Lawmakers receive $174,000 a year and a back-of-the-envelope calculation shows Cardin would receive roughly $68,000 in annual federal retirement benefits if he left Congress next year.

Asked about the inaccuracies, Sobhani campaign spokesman Sam Patten could not provide independent research to back up the ad's claims. He said the campaign stands by the ad "in principle" but said the campaign would pull it off the air "because it's not technically correct."

"We're pulling it because, yes, there were some technical aspects that may not have been 100 percent correct," Patten said, adding that the campaign would replace it with a similar ad soon. "However, the thrust of the argument is valid."

Cardin's campaign was not immediately available for comment.

"It is insulting that he would try to confuse voters with a subtle suggestion that he and I are of like minds," Mfume said in an interview, adding that he is contemplating airing an ad of his own next week to counter the Sobhani spot. "To say the ad is misleading would be an understatement at best."

Sobhani entered the race in September after presenting some 77,000 signatures to the state Board of Elections to get on the ballot. He has poured millions of dollars of his own money into a television ad campaign that has run in the Washington and Baltimore media markets. A recent poll by the Washington Post showed Sobhani had 14 percent of the vote, compared with 53 percent for Cardin and 22 percent for Republican candidate Daniel Bongino.

Attacking Cardin over the nation's uninsured is a surprising move given that the Maryland lawmaker was among the most ardent supporters in Washington of President Barack Obama's health care law. To be sure, the law is hugely controversial, but even its critics acknowledge it would expand access to millions of uninsured people. The controversy has centered over how that expansion will be paid for.

The state Democratic Party sent a letter to the Sobhani campaign on Friday complaining about the ad.

"Political campaigns should be honest debates where voters can make decisions based on the facts," party chairwoman Yvette Lewis said in the letter. "You assert that you're charting a new political path, yet this ad demonstrates negative campaigning at its worst."

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Early Voting Has Begun in Harford County

McFaul Community Center

***Update 10/28 - Due to Hurricane Sandy, Governor Martin O'Malley has CANCELLED Early Voting for Monday, 29 October - Info HERE***
***Update 10/30 - Due to Hurricane Sandy, Governor Martin O'Malley has declared that Early Voting will be closed on Tuesday, 30 October, but also that early voting will be extended a day to include Friday, November 2. Voting hours have also been extended for the remaining Early Voting days (W, Th, F) from 8 am to 9 pm. For the most up to date Early Voting data, please go here.

Early Voting in Harford County for the General Election runs from Saturday, October 27, 2012 through Thursday, November 1, 2012.

Here is a site for more info on early voting.

Here is a Sample Ballot

Early voting centers will be open from 10 am until 8 pm each day of early voting except on Sundays, early voting centers will be open 12pm to 6pm.

Early voting in Harford County must be performed at the following location:

McFaul Activity Center
525 W MacPhail Road
Bel Air, MD 21014

Following the Referendum Money....

from the Baltimore Sun
The campaigns to support and oppose same-sex marriage in Maryland have this in common: Both have nearly emptied their coffers.

The Maryland Marriage Alliance, which opposes same-sex marriage, had $95,000 left in its bank account for the final stretch of the campaign, and $48,000 in outstanding bills.

Marylanders for Marriage Equality, which supports the marriage ballot question, reported only $22,000 in the bank -- with $70,000 of unpaid bills, according to reports filed Friday night with the Maryland State Board of Elections.

All of the ballot issue committees were required to file papers with the state board of elections last week showing donations and expenditures from Oct. 8 through Oct. 21. The ballot committees will have to report once more, after the election is over.

The Maryland Marriage Alliance reported raising $846,000 in the two week period -- roughly equal to what they took in during the first four months of the campaign. Nearly half of the funds -- $400,000 -- came from the National Organization for Marriage, a national group that opposes same-sex marriage iniatitives.

Another chunk, $360,000, came from an transfer of funds within the orgnaziation, a legal manouver that makes it impossible to learn where the cash originated.

Marylanders for Marriage Equality raised $1.1 million in the same time period, brining their total raised to about $4.3 million. The largest checks were $300,000 from the National Education Assocation and $250,000 from GOP mega-donar Paul Singer, who has supported gay rights causes around the country.

Supporters showed hefty donations from a broad spectrum, including Delta Air Lines ($1,000); The 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. ($25,000); the Baltimore city police union ($1,000).

Other notable names include Broadway producer Paul Boskind (who attended a star-studded NYC fundraiser and gave $50,000 to the Human Rights Campaign for use in all four states) and Jack Luetkemeyer, a local real estate developer who is father of Modern Family star Julie Bowen ($10,000)

Educating Maryland Kids, the main group supporting the ballot question to allow some illegal immigrants greater access to higher education, reported raising $70,000 in the time period and spending $130,000.

The money is mostly from a $50,000 check from the National Education Assocation and a $10,000 donation from Norman Augustine, the former chairman of Lockheed-Martin.

Groups opposing the Dream Act had not filed with the board of elections by Friday's deadline.

Groups on either side of the state's gambling expansion measure also filed -- though the information is out of date since those groups are also subject to a more stringent 48 hour reporting requirment.

The latest 48 hour reports show that the main group supporting gambling expansion, backed by MGM Resorts International, has put $29.5 million toward the campaign. The group opposing, backed by Penn National Gaming, allocated $29.1 million.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Obama Weighs in AGAIN on Maryland State Referendum

Apparently, the President doesn't believe that this should be left to the states to decide?

from the Harford County Dagger
From Marylanders for Marriage Equality:

Obama for America spokesman Frank Benenati issued a statement today on Maryland’s Question 6, the Civil Marriage Protection Act.

“While the president does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the president believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect. Maryland’s same-sex marriage law would treat all Maryland couples equally, and that is why the president supports Question 6.”

Marylanders for Marriage Equality issued this statement from campaign manager Josh Levin.

“We’re very grateful for President Obama’s support of Question 6. Like a majority of Marylanders, he believes in treating everyone fairly and equally under the law. Many voters identify with his journey on the issue and his leadership has been instrumental in jumpstarting the conversation on marriage equality around dinner table – and in changing attitudes on the issue.”

The endorsement comes as the campaign begins running a radio ad featuring the President:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Best of Libertarianism

Common Cause to Oppose Question 5

from the Baltimore Sun
Common Cause Maryland, the bipartisan watchdog group that usually remains above the political fray, is wading into one of the most bitterly partisan fights of this election year by registering as an independent expenditure committee to fight to overturn the congressional redistricting map crafted by Gov. Martin O'Malley.

James Browning, mid-Atlantic regional director for Common Cause, confirmed that the group plans to raise and spend money to oppose Question 5 on the Nov. 6, which would put the new map into effect.

Critics of the O'Malley plan charge that it is one of the most gerrymandered maps in the United States, with convoluted lines creating sprawling districts designed to protect incumbent Democrats.

"It's really the worst in the country. It needs to go, and we need a better process," Browning said.

Common Cause has been critical of the redistricting map since the map was in its development state last year. Since the measure was put on the ballot, the group has stepped up its criticism.

Browning said Common Cause's registration with the State Board of Elections as an election advocate is the first time the Maryland organization has taken that step since at least as far back as 2001, when he started working there. He added, however, that Common Cause has taken similar steps in other states.

Rather than involving itself directly in election fights, Common Cause's usual role is to advocate for stricter laws governing disclosure by campaign and ballot committees.

Common Cause's move puts it on the same side as the Maryland Republicans who petitioned the map to referendum after the legislature approved it early this year. But Browning said the group's decision has nothing to do with taking sides in a partisan brawl.

"If a Republican governor had put together a map like this, we would be just as opposed," he said.

The opposition to the redistricting plan was slow to get off the mark in the fall campaign, but in the last week has shown signs of life with various mail campaigns.

Browning said Common Cause has raised about $28,000 for its anti-Question 5 effort and hopes to take in another $10,000. He said the organization plans to concentrate its campaign on the print media and will run an ad in the Washington Jewish Weekly and might have enough money to run radio ads. Browning said the group can't afford television.

Common Cause will concentrate its fund-raising efforts on appeals to its own members, Browning said. He said there are no plans for traditional Maryland fund-raisers such as bull roasts.

Beyond throwing out the map, Common Cause wants to replace the current process for redrawing district lines -- as the state must do after every census -- with a system removed from politics.

"We are still talking about the process here and this map is a result of a bad process," Browning said.

Defeat of Question 5 would require the legislature to adopt a new map but would not force any change to the current process.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bel Air Gets a Temporary Reprieve...

from the Harford County Dagger
Hundreds of protesters flooded a meeting Wednesday, during which Wal-Mart’s plans to build a new Supercenter in Bel Air were met with concerns from the committee charged with recommending projects for county approval.

Wal-Mart said after the meeting that it would address comments made by the Developement Advisory Committee and work to meet state and local requirements for the new store proposed along Route 924 near Plumtree Road.

DAC Chairman Moe Davenport said that the plans for a 186,000 square foot Supercenter raised issues that he characterized after the meeting as “significant.” They include design, parking, environmental concerns and a traffic study conducted to address the impact on nearby intersections. As such, DAC denied the plans as submitted, Davenport said.

For a project of this size and scope, an initial denial followed by resubmissions is not unusual. However, Davenport said that it was up to Wal-Mart to determine whether it would address the committee’s concerns and submit revised plans for consideration. There was a lot of work to be done, he said, but the timeframe was up to Wal-Mart. “The ball is in Wal-Mart’s court,” Davenport said.

Wal-Mart issued a statement after the meeting indicating it intended to proceed with the new store. The statement also cited community support for the project, despite the protests from citizens at the meeting:

“We were pleased to receive comments on our plans from the Development Advisory Committee today.

We heard from a number of county agencies and state agencies about their requirements for our proposed new store, and we will work to meet those requirements.

The State Highway Administration requested some clarification of specific features included in our traffic plan, and we will provide that information.

Walmart has submitted to the county the signatures of more than 1,400 county residents who support our project. Many others in the community support our plans and their voices will be heard in the days ahead.”

If Wal-Mart resubmits plans as promised, they will be posted on the county Web site. Pete Gutwald, Harford County director of planning and zoning, said that, consistent with normal practice, there would be no further DAC meetings on the Bel Air Wal-Mart.

The Plans

At the meeting Wednesday, DAC members representing county and state agencies took turns outlining concerns and requirements to be addressed before the company’s plans could be recommended for final approval by the Harford County Department of Planning and Zoning.

Representatives from the State Highway Administration (SHA) listed a number of concerns in the existing traffic study and also requested that Wal-Mart provide a revised traffic impact analysis without a planned access to the site from Route 924. The revised study would be used to review the Harford County Council’s request that SHA deny store access from the state road, leaving two other planned entrances – one from Plumtree Road and another from Bel Air South Parkway.

Overall, the Wal-Mart traffic study contained deficiencies that were “significant enough to prevent an adequate review or to draw conclusions from the data,” according to Shane Grimm, Harford County chief of board of appeals and site plan review. He said after the meeting that technical errors and resubmittals were not unusual for such a project, but that, technical issues aside, the current traffic study ”would still fail to adequately address mitigation at the failing intersections identified in the study in accordance with our Adequate Public Facilities (APF) regulations.”

In addition to the traffic study, other parts of the Wal-Mart plan could not be approved as presented, Grimm said. Plans involving forest conservation, outdoor lighting, adequate parking, landscaping and mitigation of impacted wetlands all needed revision or additional details, according to Grimm’s meeting report, which appears below. P&Z Walmart Comments

The Public

The DAC meeting was moved from its regular location in the county administration building to the county council chambers in expectation of a large public turnout, and the community did not disappoint. DAC committee members and Wal-Mart representatives were joined by approximately 200 citizens in the council chambers and some 100 more waiting to be let in.

Citizens’ comments extended the meeting to nearly four hours, and all were united in opposing the Bel Air store. Many cited the location near busy roads, residential neighborhoods and students walking to school. The Bel Air store would compound traffic backlogs, cause increased accidents, draw crime, and otherwise diminish the quality of life, speakers said. Others urged the company to expand the Abingdon Wal-Mart, citing millions spent on state road improvements near that store’s access road.

A presentation by the Bel Air South Community Foundation, a citizens’ group opposing the Bel Air store, included information about Wal-Mart stores around the country that were abandoned and for sale, with Supercenters built nearby.

Del. Glen Glass spoke against the Bel Air store, indicating he believed the scheduling of the DAC meeting during the day rather than in the evening was a violation of the public’s right to be present.

A list of recommended conditions to be imposed on the project was presented to DAC by a representative from the office of Harford County Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti.

Other speakers quoted Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, who said the company would not go where it was not wanted, while several others called the high density business zoning of the Bel Air site a “mistake.”

That last assertion prompted the attorney for the land-owner to jump into the fray. “There is no mistake in the zoning of this property,” said Robert Lynch, who represents Evergreen Business Trust, which he said was controlled by Haron Dahan. The property is located in the development envelope, Lynch said, and as such was slated for high density development. He said a zoning change from residential to business use was approved by the county council because it would expand the tax base and avoid pressure on schools. Lynch said the council knew a big box store could be developed there under the B3 zoning that was last affirmed in 2009.

A Word From Wal-Mart…Part II

On Tuesday, one day before the DAC meeting, Wal-Mart met with The Dagger to discuss the project. Bill Wertz, Wal-Mart’s community and media relations director for the eastern division, outlined the benefits of the proposed Bel Air store. He also responded to some of the questions posed by The Dagger and our readers, and said that answers to the remaining questions noted below would be forthcoming; no responses were received as of Thursday afternoon.

Regarding the Abingdon site, Wertz said there were no plans to build a Sam’s Club once the store was vacated. He addressed several questions about an Abingdon store expansion as an alternative to the Bel Air store, by saying the company appreciated community input on ways it could be done, but store plans would not fit due to constraints at the site. When asked if the move to Bel Air was motivated by other factors, Wertz didn’t provide a direct response. He said that the Bel Air property with the proper zoning was located once the company decided they needed to move. When asked, how long Wal-Mart had been looking at the Bel Air site and if it was involved when the zoning change was made to high density business, Wertz said he did not know, but would find out.

Clarifying remarks made earlier by Wal-Mart representative Nina Albert at a closed door meeting with the Abingdon Community Council, Wertz said that the company gives back to communities at the state, national and local level. He said that $1 million was available through a Maryland grant program and that store managers also controlled a budget for local giving. Wertz did not know the amount of the local budget, but would find out. He also said that notes made public from Albert’s meeting with the Abingdon Community Council were not entirely accurate regarding the way local funds are allocated, and that he would check for details and respond at a later date. The notes in question were released by the Craig administration, which arranged the meeting.

Wertz said the Bel Air Supercenter would bring consumers a beautiful new store with a greater assortment of merchandise at low prices, including fresh produce and a garden center. Increased tax revenue and 100 new jobs would also come to the county as a result. When asked about the number of full time vs. part time jobs, Wertz was unable to provide a number, but said the majority would be full time. “This is a great project for the community”, he added.

Once approved, the store would take one year to build, Wertz said. Addressing a question about aesthetics, he said that the exterior would not be like the Abingdon store. Wertz said community input was welcome in that regard and the new store would reflect the company’s new branding. Regarding the other lots on the Bel Air site, Wertz said Wal-Mart has no plans to develop them, although the effect of potential development on those lots was included in the company’s traffic study.

Asked about opposition to the Bel Air store from the Harford County Council, Wertz that said the company was aware of their concerns about traffic. Whether or not access denied to the site from Route 924 would stop plans for the store, Wertz could not say if such access was essential. “We have an interest, just as the community does, in having a store accessible in a convenient and safe manner,” Wertz said, adding that the company was prepared to spend money to make that happen.

Regarding the public firestorm over the company’s plans, Wertz said that the company does its best to identify and resolve community concerns. Vocal opposition, he said, may not represent the community as a whole or the people who will shop in the store. Asked for the results of phone and mail surveys sent out by Wal-Mart to gauge support for the Bel Air store, Wertz said he did not have that information. Despite opposition in some cases, new company stores have typically proven to be immediately popular with customers and, a year later, many anticipated concerns have never materialized, Wertz said. “We want to be a welcome neighbor and part of the community that people are appreciative of.”