Wednesday, August 28, 2013

WE Shall Overcome...Hillary for the Nomination!

from the Baltimore Sun
Gov. Martin O'Malley will deliver brief remarks from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial Wednesday during the 50th anniversary celebration of the March on Washington, a spokeswoman said.

The governor will address the crowd for about two minutes around noon, taking the same stage that will later host civil rights leaders and three presidents as they commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

King led a crowd of more than 250,000 on Aug. 28, 1963 during the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which helped pressure Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

President Barack Obama will give the keynote address at Wednesday's event; former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter will also speak, along with several other elected leaders.

Bells will ring at 3 p.m. marking to the minute the half-century that passed since King delivered his most famous speech. The entire "Let Freedom Ring" celebration at the Lincoln Memorial will last from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

O'Malley frequently quotes King in other policy speeches. O'Malley spokeswoman Takirra Winfield said the governor was "sentimental" about the civil rights leader and was personally crafting his remarks for Wednesday.
- btw, can anyone spell p-a-n-d-e-r better than Martin O'Malley? Speaking on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington, O'Malley said there is "too much apathy" in America "when the lives of people of color are too often valued less than the lives of white people.". I can only assume that the Governor was speaking for himself and for his own personal and public relationship with African-Americans with that statement.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The New STATE of Maryland Business (well, since 1995 at least!)

from the Baltimore Sun
The state Board of Public Works approved Wednesday a controversial loan to the owners of the Greene Turtle franchise in Towson over the objections of Comptroller Peter Franchot.

Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp joined Gov. Martin O'Malley in voting in favor of the $240,000 loan after saying her concerns about the deal had been resolved. The issue was deferred at the board's meeting last month after Kopp raised questions about the loan.

Franchot restated his opposition, contending that Towson is not the type of blighted community that is intended to benefit from the Neighborhood Business Works program. In an earlier meeting he called the Greene Turtle a "sports bar in a college town" that should have been able to finance its expansion without a government loan.

However, Raymond A. Skinner, Maryland's secretary of housing and community development, said the Greene Turtle loan meets all of the criteria for eligibility under the program. He said that while other parts of Towson might be thriving, the 400 and 500 blocks of York Road, where the Greene Turtle is located, have many vacant storefronts and are in need of revitalization.

Skinner said the Greene Turtle deal was "no different from other loans approved over the years" under the program, which dates to 1995.

Franchot was not convinced, pointing to the example of successful Towson restaurants and asserting that the Baltimore County seat is not an "economically moribund community." He said the Greene Turtle loan is an example of "mission creep" in a program he generally supports.

"We're sending coals to Newcastle with these dollars," Franchot said.

Kopp, however, said she had visited Towson since the last meeting and believes the Greene Turtle meets the program's requirements.

"I now understand why your department proposed this loan," she told Skinner.

O'Malley, Kopp and Franchot, who make up the board, are Democrats.

The loan is intended to help finance the $893,000 expansion of the restaurant, a locally owned franchise of the popular Greene Turtle chain. The project also involves a loan from Baltimore County, as well as bank financing and an investment by the owners.

The housing department, backed by the administration of Democratic County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, contends that the loan will help revitalize downtown Towson while adding 26 jobs at the restaurant.

The owners of the Towson Greene Turtle franchise — Jeff Guidera and his sister Jill Packo — plan to build a second dining room on the rooftop of their building, adding 180 seats to the restaurant's current capacity of 120.

Packo said it was "quite a relief" to have the loan approved. She said construction had begun after the owners received preliminary approval of the loan and that they were "extremely shocked" when they learned it had been held up.

If the loan had been rejected by the board, the restaurant would have been in trouble, Packo said.

"We would have gone back to square one or possibly closed within the year," she said.
"It could have been another empty storefront."

With the loan's approval, Packo said, she expects the project to be finished about November.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Voter Fraud in Maryland

from the Baltimore Sun
A Republican lawmaker, supported by the House GOP leadership, is seeking an investigation into a report that an election fraud watchdog group found 173 cases in which people voted in the same election in Maryland and Florida.

Del. Kelly Schulz, a Frederick County Republican, wrote to State Board of Elections to request an investigation into the report by the national group True the Vote. While officially nonpartisan, the group is largely supported by Republicans.

Schulz's request received the backing Thursday of the House GOP causus, which extended the investigation request to Gov. Martin O'Malley and Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler.

House Minority Leader Nicholaus R. Kipke of Anne Arundel County and Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga of Harford County said election fraud allegations "cast a shadow on the legitimacy of our election process."

The 173 cases True the Vote identified date back to 2006, a congressional election year in which the group said it found 137 cases of Maryland-Florida dual voting. The group found far fewer cases in more recent elections, with only 10 identified in the presidential election year of 2012.

The national group urged the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as Maryland and Florida election officials, to launch investigations based on its findings.
You want DOJ to "voluntarily" investigate Democrats? You've GOT to be kidding!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

If I Were Andy Harris, I Would Accept this Award with Pride!

From the Harford County Dagger and Maryland League for Conservation Voters:
Maryland League of Conservation Voters and Organizing for Action to Deliver Climate Change Denier Award to Rep.Harris Will discuss his extreme, anti-science views

Maryland League of Conservation Voters and Organizing for Action will deliver a Climate Change Deniers award to Representative Harris on Tuesdav. August 13 at noon in recognition of his extreme anti-science views, which put him at odds with 97 percent of scientists and a majority of the American people. The event is part of a “Day of Action” to hold climate change deniers accountable nationwide.
Eppur si Muove! There nothing anti-Science is disproving Astro-turfed false-consensus opinions. Keep on trucking, Andy!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Health Care Just Got 83% More Expensive in Maryland....

from the Harford County Dagger and Friends of David R. Craig:
Harford County Executive and candidate for Governor David R. Craig announced today that Marylanders can expect a dramatic increase in health care insurance premiums under Obamacare, calling it a “massive new tax.” Maryland’s least expensive Obamacare plan will be 83% higher than the lowest-cost plan sold in the state this year. The analysis comes from a Government Accountability Office report that compares rates this year to what the Maryland Insurance Administration announced they will be under the new state exchange scheduled to launch October 1.

The state’s insurance agency locked down rates with private carriers last month and the new exchange for individuals is marketed as the “Maryland Health Connection.”

“What we have here is Maryland’s health disconnection,” said Craig. “This entire contraption will fall apart unless untold thousands of healthy people inexplicably decide to go online and buy expensive insurance instead of making a car payment. Private insurance carriers are not participating and not enough healthy, working people will either, and this is not going to work.”

The Maryland Insurance Administration and the GAO analyze similar policies available to similar age groups. A young person buying exchange insurance under the so-called “bronze plan” will pay $1368 in annual premiums, according to the state agency. Yet this year, according to the federal GAO, that person pays just $744 in annual premiums, an 83% difference.

“People are struggling with the worst economic recovery in our lifetimes, have faced down record tax, fee and toll increases, and now they are forced to pay 83% higher insurance costs,” said Craig. “This is a massive health care tax politicians are attempting to brand as something else, and they are forcing people to buy it.”

The dramatic premium spike comes on the heels of the announcement that Aetna canceled plans to sell insurance on the exchange after state regulators drastically cut the rates it could charge consumers for its plans. Aetna, the nation’s third largest health care insurance company as measured in terms of membership, acquired Bethesda-based Coventry Health Care this year.

“It is deeply troubling that Maryland has yet again soured relations with major employers and job creators. Another company acquires one of Maryland’s last remaining Fortune 500 companies and takes their business elsewhere because regulators tell them what to charge. This irony is lost only on the one-party political machine in Annapolis.”

Craig said this is only the beginning of the unraveling of Obamacare.

“These are only the initial, visible cracks in the foundation of the health care law, which like other federal public policy experiments, Maryland rushes into without conducting due diligence,” said Craig. “I’m concerned about the cracks we don’t see yet.”

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Maryland's Do Nothing Governor Wants to Go National at State Taxpayer Expense

from the Baltimore Sun
Gov. Martin O'Malley told a group of reporters Saturday he was laying the "framework" for his 2016 presidential bid, suggesting the governor has shifted from considering whether he'd like to run to how he would run for the Democratic nomination.

While in Milwaukee, Wis. for the National Governors Association, O'Malley told several political journalists over beers at a hotel bar that by this end of this year, he will have mapped out "a body of work that lays the framework of a candidacy for 2016," according to several reports.

O'Malley first told The Baltimore Sun in April he would take the next year to consider a campaign for the White House. The governor did not commit to presidential campaign Saturday, but rather said he has been working through a process to do so.

“I have been taking more time to let my soul catch up with where my body’s been, you know? To slow down a little bit, and to spend a little more time thinking, and writing, and reading and spending some time with my kids,” O’Malley said Saturday night. “Just doing that important work that a human being has to do to be centered and present and make a rational decision on something this big and to do it for the right reason and in the right way. So I’m doing all of those things.” (Apparently running the State has not even crossed his mind....)

Politico reported that, during the 35-minute conversation, O'Malley said several recent speeches covered the big issues he would build his platform around, including a commencement at St. Mary’s College, last month's speech on climate change, a Center for American Progress address about growing the middle class and a speech in Ireland.

The governor said the country is having a "crisis of confidence" that would not be resolved any time soon.

The Washington Post relayed this transcript of O'Malley's remarks on the collective psyche f the nation:

"As a country, we’re going through this crisis of confidence. And great republics sometimes go through these periods. Individuals call them, what, the dark night of the soul. We’re going through a time of confusion and a time of polarization and a real crisis about whether or not we are still capable as a people of accomplishing big and important things, none more important than restoring the balance to our economy so that our middle class can continue to grow and give more opportunities to each successive generation. We will get through that period — of that, I have no doubt. I don’t think we are going to get through that period by 2014.”

O'Malley said part of his potential presidential plan involved his work through his political action committee, which raised $500,000 in the first half of the year and gave some to what he called "like-minded" candidates in early primary states.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Another Abortion Mill in Delaware

Three former employees of a Wilmington, Delaware, Planned Parenthood clinic testified before the state legislature that the organization repeatedly put women's lives at risk, performing after-hours abortions without additional staff and maintaining unsanitary conditions.

According to nurses Joyce Vasikonis and Jayne Mitchell-Werbrich, Planned Parenthood created a “meat-market style assembly line” of abortions, which ultimately led them to quit their jobs. Similarly, former Planned Parenthood manager Melody Meanor indicates that the organization’s negligence extended beyond abortions.

Life News reports:

The three former Planned Parenthood of Delaware employees testified before a bipartisan panel of the Delaware state legislature. The two nurses and one former manager said Planned Parenthood officials knew about improper, dangerous “after hours” abortions being performed by abortionist Eric Schaff without any support medical staff.

The former employees testified that Planned Parenthood constantly placed patients in danger through poor medical care and by assigning significant medical responsibilities to employees who did not have proper medical credentials. The clinic is also being accused of expediting abortions at the expense of patient safety by allowing operations to be performed on unclean tables.

Both of the nurses stated that they quit to protect their own medical licenses.

Vasikonis said, "I felt I could be held liable if a patient was harmed."

"Planned Parenthood needs to close its doors; it needs to be cleaned up; the staff needs to be trained," insisted Werbrich.

They accused Planned Parenthood of denying the drug Rhogam to low-income, Rh-negative women who need it within the first 72 hours after an abortion to protect future pregnancies from increased risk of stillbirth. They also accused the organization of failing to inform approximately 200 women of their positive tests for the sexually-transmitted diseases gonorrhea and chlamydia and failing to inform nearly 100 women of the results of their cervical biopsies.

The women testified during a hearing organized by pro-life groups Susan B. Anthony List and A Rose and a Prayer, headed by national GOP committeewoman Ellen Barrosse.

“As these hearings have progressed, we have learned that Planned Parenthood of Delaware has often operated with a startling disregard of cleanliness and patient safety,” said Barrosse. “The reason we’re continuing the hearings is a: because the legislators are willing to let us, and b: the whole story has not yet been told. It is my hope that by continuing to publicize these hearings is that women who have been harmed will come forward.”

Delaware State Senator Greg Lavelle, one of the lawmakers hosting the hearing, stated that he believed further testimony would “highlight that what occurred was not an isolated incident.”

A series of emergency phone calls made from the Planned Parenthood of Delaware this year drew attention to the clinic. April inspections of the Wilmington clinic revealed several instances of unsanitary conditions. Delaware Online reports, “A series of problems at the clinic led to citations from the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services and the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, including violations related to blood-borne pathogens and employee exposure to contaminated needles.”

In addition to concerns over the unsanitary conditions, the state attorney general’s office also filed a complaint against Dr. Timothy Liveright, an abortion doctor at the Wilmington clinic, accusing him of unprofessional and negligent conduct and asserting that he presents “a clear and immediate danger to the public.”

Liveright has surrendered his license to practice medicine in the state of Delaware, though he insists that the state’s claims are false and that he has been made a scapegoat.

Inspectors cleared the clinic last month after revisiting it and ensuring that the necessary changes were made.

In 2011, legislators passed new regulations for all medical facilities that utilize any level of anesthesia, which include Planned Parenthood. One of those regulations includes a new requirement for certification by a national agency. The Planned Parenthood of Delaware was certified by the Planned Parenthood Foundation of America, prompting some to cry foul.

Barrosse and other conservatives contend that the regulations should be even stiffer, including routine inspections by state officials of all abortion providers.

Mary Peterson of the Delaware Department of Health and Human Services admits, however, “We don’t have the manpower to do routine inspections.”

Last month, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America issued a statement in an effort to distance itself from Planned Parenthood of Delaware.

“Planned Parenthood of Delaware was aware that some staff and contractors did not meet our high standards of care and should have taken action sooner to remove them,” the statement said. “We are adding an enhanced follow-up protocol to our accreditation process to make sure that issues are addressed quickly when they are identified.”

But Barrosse highlighted the underlying flaw of an organization such as the Planned Parenthood Foundation of America certifying the Planned Parenthood of Delaware:

Now we know that many of the shortcomings that endangered patients outlined in General Assembly testimony had also been uncovered by national Planned Parenthood Federation audits. The national Planned Parenthood found serious issues related to patient safety — even allegations of improper, dangerous "after hours" abortions — yet never closed the Delaware affiliate down or reported its findings to public health officials. Instead, it continued Planned Parenthood of Delaware’s accreditation.

While the abortion industry has been busy protesting that the filthy conditions in Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s abortion clinic are unknown in the rest of the industry, evidence presented in these hearings by professionals who resigned in protest show that inadequate and unsterile conditions did occur elsewhere, and suggest that they might be the norm.

But Planned Parenthood president and CEO Ruth Lytle-Barnaby contended that the accusations leveled against the organization are unfounded.

“While we cannot speculate about the contents of this meeting in advance, information circulated by anti-women’s health organizations so far either references concerns that have been thoroughly addressed by oversight agencies including the Delaware Department of Health, or are incorrect,” she claimed.

Lytle-Barnaby argued that the nurses who complained about the clinic's conditions are working on behalf of anti-abortion groups, even though Nurse Vasikonis had described herself during an earlier hearing as being “radically pro-abortion.”

Friday, August 2, 2013

Forgive Me if I Don't Cry for the Bureacrats!

from the Baltimore Sun
Maryland gun dealers released more than two dozen firearms to people barred from owning guns because of their criminal records — a consequence of the state's inability to keep up with background checks, officials said Thursday.

The state police expect more guns to get into the wrong hands if dealers refuse to wait for what has become a nearly 100-day delay in completing the checks, which are intended to be done before individuals buy handguns and assault rifles. Under state law, dealers can release the guns after waiting seven days.

"Is this something that could continue through this backlog? Absolutely," Maryland State Police spokesman Gregory M. Shipley said Thursday.

A team of troopers working undercover has recovered all 30 of the guns, which dealers legally released after the seven-day period. More than 33,000 gun purchase applications, some filed as far back as April 14, have not been processed and the backlog swells by thousands each week.

The state police have asked gun sellers to continue to wait, and most have, carrying the costs of keeping months' worth of inventory in their stores and dealing with frustrated customers.

The unprecedented surge in gun sales followed passage this year of the sweeping gun control law proposed by Gov. Martin O'Malley and approved by the Maryland General Assembly.

After the December shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, Maryland lawmakers banned the sale of assault-style weapons, further limited the size of magazines, prohibited more people from owning guns, and created a fingerprinting and licensing system for handgun purchasers. The law takes effect in October, and gun sales are expected to remain brisk until then.

A leading proponent of gun control said Thursday that dealers should be waiting as long as it takes for the background checks before releasing a gun.

"Public safety is at stake here," state Sen. Brian Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat and chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee. "It's not responsible for them to say, 'OK, they didn't get back to me in time, so here's your gun.'"

But Carl Roy, president of the Maryland Association of Firearms Retailers, said it's the state's responsibility to alleviate the backlog. He said he thinks the state is using bureaucratic delays as a way to curb the sale of firearms, knowing that most dealers will be reluctant to release a gun without a background check.

The problem, Roy said, is that some clearly haven't waited.

"The bottom line is the governor doesn't care," Roy said. "It's not that the state police don't care, it's the people who fund the state police — from the governor all the way down."

A spokeswoman for Gov. Martin O'Malley said the state is hiring more people to address the backlog and is working to automate the system. O'Malley press secretary Takirra Winfield said there's little more the state can do but rely on the dealers to use good judgment. "Clearly, public safety is the governor's priority, and the dealers should keep that in mind when they choose to release guns without background checks," Winfield said.

Del. Kevin Kelly, a Western Maryland Democrat, has twice appealed to Maryland State Police Col. Marcus L. Brown to expedite the process by allowing dealers to check directly with the FBI — which keeps a national database of people barred from gun ownership under federal law — and bypass the state's more stringent check.

The FBI's service determines in minutes whether a buyer is a felon. Thirty-six states allow dealers to directly access the information.

"It would assure that every gun that was put on the street and sold would be scrutinized," Kelly said.

Brown wrote to Kelly that the idea "is not a sole solution to background investigations."

In Maryland, other factors — including multiple drunken-driving convictions, certain violent juvenile offenses and domestic-violence charges — can disqualify people from owning guns. State police consult 16 different databases to decide whether a gun purchaser should be disqualified, a process that takes roughly 15 minutes per application.

Of the more than 70,000 applications filed this year, about 500 were rejected.

The demand for guns has overwhelmed the state's background check system as far back as January.

State police have received an average of more than 2,000 applications each week this year, nearly twice last year's rate and more than three times the pace in 2010. Despite tripling the workforce and processing applications 21 hours a day, the agency keeps falling further behind.

Dealers are required to notify state police when they plan to release a weapon after the seven-day waiting period, but the state's paper-based system for gun applications makes it impossible to track how many dealers made that choice.

All 30 of the guns recovered were released to buyers whose criminal history barred them from owning them. Most were banned because of violent crimes and drug offenses; none was a convicted murderer, Shipley said.

As of Thursday, no one had been charged with illegally attempting to buy a firearm. The guns were released by multiple dealers across the state.

Del. Michael Smigiel, an Eastern Shore Republican and a leading opponent of the new gun law, said the state's failure to check out gun buyers in a timely fashion leaves government officials — not dealers — with the responsibility for any tragedy that might result.

"The blood of our children are on their hands," he said. "There's no excuse for this."