Sunday, November 27, 2011

Edgewood, December 10th, 2011

From the Harford County Dagger and the Edgewood Community Council:

The primary purpose of this event is to engage in a discussion with local elected/appointed officials about quality of life issues/concerns important to their constituents.

Invited Guests

County Executive – Mr. David Craig
Sheriff Jesse Bane
County Council President Mr. William (Billy) Boniface
County Councilman Mr. Dion Guthrie
School Superintendent Mr. Robert Tomback
School Board Representative Mr. Robert (Bob) Frisch
State Senator – Mrs. Nancy Jacobs
Delegate – Ms. Mary Dulany-James
Delegate – Mr. Glen Glass

Commitment from all of our local elected/appointed representatives to work collaboratively with each other; and with the Edgewood community to address our concerns and issues.

Fountain of Life Fellowship Church
1918 Pulaski Hwy Edgewood, MD 21040

(410) 538-7633

Saturday December 10th, 2011

11:00 AM-1:00 PM

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Andy Harris Speaks Out

from the Harford Couny Dagger
U.S. Congressman Andy Harris appeared on the WAMD Morning Show Tuesday morning to discuss the failure of Super Committee to agree on $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years.

Listen to the full audio from Harris’ interview here.

During his interview with Morning Show hosts Maynard Edwards and Cindy Mumby, Harris speculated that President Barack Obama always wanted the Super Committee to fail, allowing him to run against a “do nothing” Congress.

Harris also said the Republicans wanted to keep the Bush tax cuts in place, but offered to reduce $300 billion by closing “loopholes.” The Democrats wanted $1 trillion in tax increases or nothing. Tax reform proposed by Republicans was “beat down” by Democrats, Harris said, and the President “jumped in” with them.

Harris expressed worry about the automatic spending cuts now triggered, noting that President Obama has said he would veto any attempt to circumvent the automatic cuts.

In the defense budget, Harris said the cuts amount to $600 billion, or a 10% budget reduction, over and above the winding down of the war in Iraq.

Harris said that the defense cuts will have a “direct effect” on Aberdeen Proving Ground and other federal operations in Maryland. Nationally, he said that the defense cuts could mean layoffs of 200,000 federal employees, including soldiers, or else cuts to weapons development programs. He said that defense cuts of a few percentage points were doable, but not 10%.

As for non-defense spending cuts, Harris said that President Obama can “pick and choose” which areas to cut.

Finally, in the field of candidates seeking the Republican Presidential nomination, Harris said he is leaning very heavily toward Newt Gingrich and will likely be issuing an official statement in that regard.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

"We Only Enforce Laws When we Choose to," Implies Democratic Mayor

from the Baltimore Sun
As police in other cities, most notably New York, crack down on protesters involved with the Occupy Wall Street movement, officials in Baltimore still say they have no immediate plans to oust the Occupy Baltimore activists from McKeldin Square, near the Inner Habor, where they've been gathered since last month.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has said that the overnight camping at the square -- which is a city-designated protest area -- is illegal. But the mayor today, once again, refused to say when or if Baltimore police would act to remove the campers.

“We are going to deal with it at a time of our choosing,” Rawlings-Blake said at a morning press conference.

The mayor also said she was concerned with the homeless population, some of whom suffer from drug addictions or mental illness, who have joined the protesters' camp.

Here's video of the mayor's comments from our media partner WJZ:

Meanwhile, the protesters have been debating internally about the best use of their time and energy. With winter coming, some Occupy participants think they should abandon the camping at McKeldin Square to focus on other types of activism, while others stress the importance of having a symbol of the movement visible in the heart of downtown.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Will Baltimore Go Green Next Summer?

from the Baltimore Sun
Though it won’t be on the same scale as the huge political affairs expected in Tampa or Charlotte, Baltimore will nevertheless have a slice of the presidential convention scene next year. The city is the only candidate remaining to host the Green Party’s 2012 convention, a state party leader said Monday.

The party’s national committee is voting this week to select a city to host its presidential nominating convention, but Baltimore is the only option still in the running after Sacramento dropped its bid Friday. The event, which the party expects to draw hundreds of delegates, will take place at the University of Baltimore from July 12-15.

“We think that 2012 is going to be a big year when the Green Party can really break through,” said Brian Bittner, co-chair of the state party. “In Baltimore, we want to be the place where everyone can come from around the country.”

News of the convention comes as third party candidates, including Greens, have struggled to get on the ballot in Maryland. The state Green and Libertarian parties sued the Maryland State Board of Elections this year after officials ruled the parties failed to win enough votes in 2010 to qualify for ballot positions. The lawsuit is pending on appeal.

Asked about holding a national convention in a state where the party has had difficulty getting on the ballot, Bittner noted that third parties have faced similar problems in many states. “That’s an issue we hope to bring attention to," he said. "What we've been going through in Maryland [is] sort of emblematic” of what the party has faced elsewhere.

Republicans will host their party’s convention in Tampa Aug. 27-30 and the Democrats will head to Charlotte the following week.

The 2008 Green Party convention was held in Chicago.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Maryland Dims the Lights on Their Already Labyrinthian Legislative Process

What More do the Democrats Have to Hide?
from the Maryland Daily Record
Instead of a service that was once free, Maryland citizens and businesses will now have to pay a $190 annual subscription fee to the Secretary of State’s office if they wish to access the most timely government information published by the Maryland Register.

Updates to current and proposed state regulations, hearing notices, executive and legal opinions, and more, were available online to the public every other Friday for free, and had been for years.

Now, due to procedure changes at the Register — a bi-weekly, state-run regulations publication — those who can’t or won’t subscribe will have to wait about five extra days to view information that had been available in real-time for years.

The Register also eliminated an easy-to-use HTML viewing option that free users easily accessed. Users will now have to scroll through a roughly 60-page document to find an individual piece of information by using the remaining PDF option.

“Because of the labor intensive work with the HTML version, personnel losses and budget cuts, we took the HTML [option] off the site,” said Frederick Smalls, a State Office spokesman. “Out of the 60 or 70 calls a day received, there have been no complaints about taking [it] down.”

Center Maryland columnist Josh Kurtz did complain in his column last week, but officials initially insisted that the Kurtz column was mistaken. Kurtz wrote:

“It means our government is a little less open than it was a couple of weeks ago. It means that people — or more likely, special interests — with 190 bucks to spare get a leg up on ordinary citizens when it comes to find out what‘s going on, or commenting on, or mobilizing against, proposed new regulations. And you can’t help but worry and wonder where this little diminishment of sunshine will lead.”

Maybe the Register Office hadn’t received any complaints, but one organization that relies heavily upon the information in the Maryland regulations supplement isn’t happy. Last week the Maryland Chamber of Commerce sent an e-mail to members of the General Assembly’s new Joint Committee on Transparency and Open Government to complain about the new website changes.

“Delays in posting the online version are a concern, as it shortens the time period in which we [and others in the public] have to comment on proposed regulations, or else forces them to pay for a subscription,” wrote Ronald Wineholt, the Chamber’s vice president of government affairs in a Nov. 3 e-mail following up on the issue he raised with Sen. Bill Ferguson, D-Baltimore City, and Del. Heather Mizeur, D-Montgomery, at a conference earlier in the day. “At a time when the administration is conducting a 60-day review of all state regulations, the last thing you want to do is make it harder for the public to see state regulations in the Maryland Register.”

The Secretary of State’s office offered no apologies for the change. It took several attempts by Maryland Reporter to get the office to confirm that changes to the publication schedule, the online format and the fee even took place.

“We did not implement a new policy,” said Smalls during a Nov. 3 morning conference call with Maryland Register communication’s staff. “The Maryland Register is available free online the way it has been for a number of years. … Nothing has changed.”

Later in the day during a follow-up media call, Small reiterated that changes had not taken place and said Kurtz’s column was wrong.

The group did, however, acknowledge a “policy change” they said they considered and even mistakenly posted online, but took down a few days later. In that proposed change, the free, online PDF link would only have been accessible once a quarter and would have been replaced by a one-line search tool.

“We considered a new policy,” Smalls said. “It was announced inadvertently. Once we realized that announcement had gone out, we immediately pulled it.”

But since the “inadvertent” posting of that announcement, the HTML version and the Friday viewing option have disappeared.

It wasn’t until Maryland Reporter provided the Register with the Chamber of Commerce Nov. 3 e-mail that the Register retracted its earlier statements and confirmed the free online viewing day had changed, format changes had occurred and real-time viewing for online users required a paid subscription.

“Mr. Wineholt is correct,” Smalls said referring to the Chamber e-mail. Smalls also said the changes took place “about a month ago.”

The free online edition of the Maryland Register is available to the public every other Wednesday, according to Register Senior Editor Gail Khakring.

In making the change to real-time access only for subscribers, the Maryland Register is going in the opposite direction from the General Assembly. This year, the legislature dropped an annual $800 subscription fee for “up to the minute” access to legislative action that was only posted to the general public after midnight the next day.

Mike Gaudiello, the director of information services at the Department of Legislative Services, said the change was made to “provide better access to constituents."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Get Ready to Pay More for the Things You Love Indirectly

from the Baltimore Sun
Addressing a room packed with Maryland’s business and education leaders, the presiding officers of Maryland’s House and Senate both made a pitch for more spending on capital projects in the upcoming legislative session.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller was the most blunt about how such a plan would be funded, saying at a breakfast meeting of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce: “There’s going to be a gas tax.”

“Is it popular?” Miller asked. “No.” But, he said, “It is going to have to get done now.”

House Speaker Michael E. Busch took a slightly different approach, saying that lawmakers in Annapolis are looking at ways to fund a large scale public works program, without specifying any particular taxes that he wants raised.

“How do we come up with an aggressive funding source to improve our capital infrastructure and put the labor force to work?” Busch said. “That is what we have to go back to Annapolis and do.”

The remarks given at the Maryland Chamber of Commerce Business Policy Conference in Cambridge were largely in step with a theme set by Gov. Martin O’Malley in October, when he asked the legislature to support more taxes as a way of funding state construction jobs. The governor and both presiding officers are Democrats, though they don't always agree on policy. Busch's comments suggest that as proposals to raise the gas tax go forward in the upcoming legislative session, the bigger fight is likely to be in the House of Delegates.

“I don’t see anyone here standing in line to vote for a gas tax,” Busch said. “They are not.”

A state task force has proposed raising the gas tax by 15 cents a gallon as a means of bolstering the Transportation Trust Fund and paying for a backlog of state road repair and construction projects. Miller has previously suggested that he is likely to support an increase of less than 15 cents.

Miller said the legislature will also have to pass a constitutional amendment to protect the new funds, even though he said he thinks the move would be “bad budgeting” because “people in government need some flexibility.”

Such an amendment would have to be approved by voters on the 2012 ballot, which is also likely to contain a question about allowing illegal immigrants to have in-state tuition.

Maryland business advocacy organizations have been supportive of raising the gas tax, as long as the revenue is walled off from the rest of the state’s budget and can only be used for transportation projects. Since fiscal year 2009, the Maryland General Assembly has raided the so-called Transportation Trust Fund four times, moving roughly $218 million to other parts of the budget.

Del. Anthony O’Donnell, the House Republican leader, made clear that his caucus would not support a gas tax increase. “When people are banging on the door for a tax increase, think about the little guy,” he said, telling business leaders that consumers already are strapped and can ill afford more taxes and fees.

And Sen. Nancy Jacobs, who recently stepped down as Senate GOP leader, said: “There is something illogical about raising taxes to create jobs.”