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.”

Friday, October 19, 2012

Gay Hubris?

Evidently, being against a Progressive cause can get you fired, if the case of Angela McCaskill is any example. Yet in their Pro Question 6 commercial's, Gay Marriage advocates claim that this whole issue is one of "respecting" and "protecting" the religious beliefs of others... does anyone else smell the hypocrisy?


1. Excessive pride or self-confidence.
2. (in Greek tragedy) Excessive pride toward or defiance of the gods, leading to Nemesis.

from the AP
WASHINGTON (AP) — Gallaudet University is under fire from both proponents and opponents of gay marriage after placing an administrator on leave for signing a petition to put Maryland's gay-marriage law on the ballot.

They say that regardless of Angela McCaskill's personal opinion on the matter, the chief diversity officer at the nation's leading university for deaf and hard-of-hearing students shouldn't be punished for exercising her First Amendment rights.

And yet, at a university that is home to a prominent contingent of gay and lesbian students who feel embraced by their peers, professors and administrators, there's genuine concern that McCaskill has alienated a large portion of the student body and may not be the best person for the job.

On Thursday, the mere mention of her name on the school's stately Northeast Washington campus was enough to set off a spirited debate between two fraternity brothers, who signed passionately as their friends cast glances back and forth.

"What she did is unacceptable. It hurts the gay community," 18-year-old sophomore Andrew Duncan, who is straight, said through an American Sign Language interpreter. "It's a very open-minded college, and we need to welcome everybody."

Duncan said Gallaudet is a haven for all deaf people, regardless of their sexual orientation.

"It's a small community. We welcome those who are part of us. If we're already small and we reject somebody, then we're just going to get smaller," he said. "We experience oppression already. Coming to Gallaudet is like an escape from that oppression."

Although Gallaudet does not track how many of its 1,600 students identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, students said Gallaudet is a friendly place for LGBT people. Many of the gay students come out while at Gallaudet, said Amanda Biskupiak, 24, a theater major who is a lesbian.

"I feel very accepted. I feel very open, confident on the campus," Biskupiak said through an interpreter. "Here, holding hands with a girl is perfectly OK."

Some believe that because their deafness already sets them apart, it's easier for gay deaf people to be open about their sexuality.

"I have several gay professors that are out, that have been out. I know tons of students who are out, and it's no big deal," said Joel Colon, a hearing Gallaudet student who is gay. "Because the deaf community is just a naturally open community, because they are a minority themselves ... they don't have as many barriers to expressing their sexuality as the majority of hearing people, I would say."

McCaskill has said she is not anti-gay, although she declined to reveal how she would vote when Maryland's gay-marriage law goes before voters next month. McCaskill, who is black, signed the petition at her church after listening to a sermon about marriage. African-American churches have been a focal point of the effort to repeal gay marriage in Maryland, although there are also black ministers who support the law.

Gov. Martin O'Malley signed gay marriage into law in March, but it was put on hold in part because a referendum was anticipated. The vote is expected to be close, and Maryland is one of four Democratic-leaning states where voters will decide on Nov. 6 whether same-sex marriage should be legal.

O'Malley, a Democrat, has said McCaskill should be reinstated, as has the pro-gay-marriage group Marylanders for Marriage Equality. They say that whatever McCaskill's personal opinion is on the issue, she should be allowed to exercise her rights as a citizen and sign a petition.

The conservative Family Research Council has been highly critical of Gallaudet, saying the university has a narrow definition of diversity because it apparently does not tolerate diverse views on the gay-marriage issue.

Established in 1864 by an act of Congress, Gallaudet remains the nation's only liberal-arts university with programs designed specifically for the deaf.

Gallaudet students are known for their activism to protect deaf culture. In 1988, landmark protests led to the installation of the university's first deaf president, I. King Jordan. But in 2006, Jordan himself was the subject of protests after he appointed unpopular university provost Jane K. Fernandes as his successor. One of the complaints about Fernandes was that because she didn't learn American Sign Language until graduate school, she wasn't "deaf enough" to lead the school. Her appointment was ultimately rescinded.

"History speaks for itself; the Gallaudet community has a penchant for stirring the pot whenever we catch a whiff of controversy," columnist Colin Whited wrote in the student newspaper, the Buff and Blue. He compared the McCaskill situation to the Fernandes protests and criticized the administration for not being more forthcoming about its plans.

President T. Alan Hurwitz, who was traveling Thursday and unavailable for comment, said in a statement Tuesday that university leaders want to work with McCaskill to enable her to return. But McCaskill said at a news conference Tuesday that she considered herself fired.

"I'm dismayed that Gallaudet University is still a university of intolerance, a university that manages by intimidation, a university that allows bullying among faculty, staff and students," she said.

As chief diversity officer, McCaskill's role is to foster a supportive learning environment for all students, regardless of race, sexual orientation or other differences. Before the petition controversy, McCaskill was well-liked in the LGBT community and was instrumental in setting up an LGBT resource center, students said.

Alumni are tracking the news closely, alumni association president Alyce Slator Reynolds said.

"A large number of people from both sides are upset," Reynolds wrote in an email.

Some Gallaudet students are uncomfortable with homosexuality, although they appear to be in the minority. Michai Hanley, a 20-year-old psychology major who wore a T-shirt reading "Jesus (heart) Me," said through an interpreter that many of her fellow students may not understand McCaskill's religious beliefs.

Some students said that while Gallaudet is progressive about sexuality, it still has unresolved issues relating to race. McCaskill was the first deaf black woman to earn a Ph.D. from the university, which is 11 percent black.

"Gallaudet needs to accept the accountability that they did not provide a safe place for Angela, especially as a deaf woman of color," Derrick Behm, 21, chief of staff to the student body government, wrote in an email.

Others just hope the situation will blow over.

"My belief is that she's not against homosexuality," Robert Ballengee, 36, a senior social work major, said through an interpreter. "She's a very sweet woman; she's an awesome woman. I don't know why it's becoming such a big deal."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Come Hear Local Candidates Debate on October 23!

From the Dagger and the Harford Campaign for Liberty:
Harford Campaign for Liberty
Forest Hill Knights of Columbus
October 23rd, 7pm

Dr. John LaFerla, Democrat, and Mr. Muir Boda, Libertarian, will square off October 23rd at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Forest Hill. The gentlemen seek to unseat Republican congressional incumbent, Dr. Andy Harris of Maryland’s 1st district. Dr. Harris has declined an invitation to this public debate but has also been offered an opportunity to respond in writing on a variety of issues. The format will include several preselected questions on a broad range of topics followed by an opportunity for the audience to address the candidates.

Marta Mossburg, Baltimore Sun columnist and senior fellow with the Maryland Public Policy Institute, will kick off the evening with a discussion on the economic impact of the pending gambling referendum.

Harford Campaign for Liberty invites all concerned citizens to attend this important event. The organization meets at 7 pm the fourth Tuesday of every month at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 23 Newport Drive, Forest Hill. More information can be found at

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Acting Globally to Control Locally - Get the 411 on Agenda 21 on Wednesday, October 17

From Patrick McGrady via the Dagger:
There is an important event that is taking place on Wednesday, October 17, 2012 that has ramifications for the future of Harford County, Maryland, and our Republic.

The Republican Central Committee of Harford County has invited Republican officials who disagree about the role and scope of local government to our meeting this Wednesday (at 220 S. Main Street Bel Air, MD, in the Second floor meeting room) to debate where and how we should live as free Americans.

Here in Harford County, our Republican County Executive has entered our County into a contract of membership with an organization called the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives. This organization, ICLEI for short, has a mission of “promoting local action for global sustainability.” This membership costs a few thousand dollars per year, and allows Harford County’s planners to receive training and materials from the organization. You can see their website here.

And here’s a press release from County Executive Craig’s office about joining ICLEI back in 2010.

Now, here’s where the debate starts: In Carroll County, back in 2010, a team of 5 new Republican County Commissioners were elected and immediately acted to eliminate Carroll County’s membership in ICLEI. The Carroll Commissioners argue that ICLEI is a means for international interests to control populations via restrictions on property rights, limited development of private property, and yielding local control to international organizations. They contend that ICLEI is nothing but a program called Agenda 21 that is implemented at a local level– here’s a quick video about Agenda 21.

And here’s Agenda 21, straight from the UN. There is some pretty scary language in there.

Commissioner Rothschild argues that Liberal Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley’s aggressive Plan Maryland agenda is Agenda 21 implemented at the State level– destroying the property rights of all rural Marylanders through regulations that limit the sewer and water systems that can be used on land all over the state.

Where do you stand on this? Want to learn more?

Commissioner Richard Rothschild will be at the Harford County Republican Central Committee meeting on Wednesday, October 17, 2012 at 6:30PM to explain his position on ICLEI and the role of property rights in America.

Our Republican County Executive, David Craig, has agreed to send a representative to argue the case for ICLEI, and I encourage you to attend.

This debate is furious in the Republican Party today– the Republican Party platform adopted at the GOP convention added this language to the platform: “We strongly reject the U.N. Agenda 21 as erosive of American sovereignty, and we oppose any form of U.N. Global Tax.” See the entire platform here.

This is a great opportunity to learn about the issues and make up your own mind about the direction of the County in terms of property rights.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend this momentous meeting (because I will be on my honeymoon in the Carribbean) but I encourage you to attend and GET INVOLVED IN THE PARTY!

Come out, meet the Republican Central Committee members, hear two sides within the Republican Party, and PICK UP YOUR SIGNS FOR THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES!

I hope you can make it.
For the Republic,

Patrick McGrady

Did Gay Group Seek to Suppress Maryland African-American Vote?

from the Baltimore Sun
Ballot committee reports due today will show that the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force received "support" from Penn National Gaming to send out a mailing over the summer opposing the special session.

"I still think it was worth a try," said Darlene Nipper, the Deputy Executive Director of the task force. who confirmed the Penn donation. "We are trying to get marriage across the finish line in Maryland."

Nipper said the reports filed today with Maryland State Board of Elections will show that her group spent about $350,000 on the mailing. She did not say how much came from the gambling company.

Over the summer her group -- along with several others -- were concerned that adding a gambling expansion measure to the November ballot would fire up African-American churches, who also oppose same-sex marriage. They sent out a controversial mailing saying supporters of same-sex marriage should oppose a special session to expand gambling.

The dynamic caused angst for Gov. Martin O'Malley -- who was pushing gambling expansion and same-sex marriage. He did not want to be accused by gay advocates that his gambling bill could jeopardize the marriage law. Also, the it threatened a fragile coalition that Democratic leaders in the House were trying to build to support the gambling bill.

Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the main group supporting the same-sex marriage law, said they were not concerned about the gambling measure. They said they believed African-American turnout would be high this year regardless of the ballot questions because blacks are expected to turn out to support President Barack Obama.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Maryland University Officials Punish Deaf African-AmericanWoman for Supporting 'Traditional' Marriage Definitions

from the Baltimore Sun
Gallaudet University's diversity officer has been placed on leave for signing a petition to put Maryland's same-sex marriage law on the ballot, The Washington Blade has reported.

The official, Angela McCaskill, could not be immediately reached for comment.

In a statement to The Blade, Galleudet president T. Alan Hurwitz said: “It recently came to my attention that Dr. McCaskill has participated in a legislative initiative that some feel is inappropriate for an individual serving as Chief Diversity Officer; however, other individuals feel differently.

“I will use the extended time while she is on administrative leave to determine the appropriate next steps taking into consideration the duties of this position at the university," he said. "In the meantime an interim Chief Diversity Officer will be announced in the near future.”

McCaskill has worked at Gallaudet for 23 years and was the first deaf African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. from the university, according to her bio on the university's website. She is also on the Board of Trustees of the Maryland School for the Deaf, according to her bio on Gallaudet's website.

Her suspension fits neatly into a narrative that opponents of same-sex marriage are pushing: Approving gay marriage in Maryland will have unintended consequences, and opposition to it in the public square will not be tolerated.

"This is only the latest in a long list of attacks on individuals who express support for marriage as a union between one man and one woman," said Derek McCoy, executive director of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, which is opposing the same-sex marriage law. "If such attacks can be made before same-sex marriage is law, how can homosexual activists in good faith say that religious liberties will not be attacked if Question 6 passes?"

Kevin Nix, a spokesman for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, which supports same-sex marriage, said the campaign "strongly disagrees" with the university's decision and wants her to be "reinstated immediately."

"Everyone is entitled to free speech and to their own opinion about Question 6," Nix said.

Friday, October 5, 2012

More on Question 5...

from the Baltimore Sun
The shape of Maryland's 3rd Congressional Distric has been compared to everything from a Rorschach Test inkblot to a crime-scene blood spatter to a broken-winged pterodactyl, but according to one theory its odd dimensions could have a basis in religion as well as politics.

Howard L. Gorrell, a Republican activist who challenged the recently redrawn redistricting map in court, said his analysis supports a theory that the 3rd district's lines were drawn in part to pack as many Jews as possible into the turf of U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, a Democrat.

Gorrell noted a 2011 article in the Jewish Times in which Sarbanes expressed relief at keeping much of the Jewish community in his district. Sarbanes is Greek Orthodox but his wife, Dina, is Jewish. The congressman's father, Paul Sarbanes, represented the 3rd District before his election to the U.S. Senate in 1976, and always enjoyed strong support in the Jewish community.

Gorrell notes that the 3rd District, which snakes from heavily Jewish Pikesville around Baltimore to Dundalk before branching out to Montgomery County and Annapolis, has been identified as one of the least compact congressional districts in the nation.

One reason the map is that way is that Sarbanes, a Democrat who lives in Baltimore County, wanted to keep Annapolis in his already somewhat convoluted district. Meanwhile Gov. Martin O'Malley and General Assembly leaders were trying to distribute the state's Democrats in a way that would help them pick up a Republican-held congressional seat.

The weird-looking map that resulted has survived lawsuits but faces a challenge at the polls after Republican activists gathered enough signatures to put the redistricting plan on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Gorrell said that because the U.S. Census doesn't count people on the basis of religion, he compiled a list of 126 active synagogues in Maryland and determined which districts they fell into. He found that 48, or 42 percent of the total, are in the 3rd. That's five more than under the previous district map, Gorrell found.

Only the Montgomery County-dominated 8th District, with 37 temples, comes close.

Gorrell's conclusion is that the 3rd is gerrymandered on the basis of religion. Taking an academic rather than a partisan view, he notes that one could consider the map as one that preserves "communities of interest" for Jews.

"Community of interest" is a legal term for keeping like-minded people together in a single district -- a consideration recognized by the courts as permissible in redistricting.

Nevertheless, Gorrell complained that the map disadvantages two other communities of interest -- farmers and residents of eastern Montgomery County.

According to Gorrell, the question of whether it's allowable to draw lines to keep members of one religion in one district has never been tested before the Supreme Court.

A reasonable conclusion is that if that question ever comes before the high court, there's a good chance it will be a Maryland case.