Sunday, November 28, 2010

Are You Ready to Fly?

Flying used to be a fine way to travel.  Then as airlines started losing money and reducing services, flying became more of a hassle.  The tragedies that happened on September 11, 2001, brought more worry and more dismay for travelers.  We have endured more restrictions, stopped carrying shampoo, beverages and sharp objects, and seen more cumbersome regulations, such as shoe removal, impact our trips.  But until now, Americans have taken these obstacles mostly in stride; however recently the climate in airports has changed.  Have you noticed the lemmings marching toward the airports?  Can lemmings even march, you ask?  (Lemmings are small rodents living in the far north near the arctic -- they have demonstrated herd behavior in migration, but do not commit mass suicide as is sometimes claimed.)  Are Americans demonstrating this same behavior?  Are we taking leave of our senses?

What ever has happened to the credible dialogues we used to be able to have in this country?  When the so called underwear bomber tried to set him self ablaze last year, the hue and cry was to hurry up and implement full body scans.  This technology was said to be able to protect against an attack of this type.  Now that full body scanners have arrived at many airports, as the country approaches its busiest travel season, the right wing is raising a ruckus.  Former Republican candidate Governor Mike Huckabee blasted the Obama administration for this "invasion of personal rights," notwithstanding the fact that his own son was apprehended trying to board a plane with a handgun in his carry-on bag.  (I personally, have never carried a gun in my briefcase -- so I have not had the problem of forgetting that one was there, have you?  Didn't the staff of a certain Democratic Senator have a similar problem last year? )   Huckabee apparently indignantly demanded that profiling be used instead of these new TSA practices and also suggested that the First Family fly on a commercial flight and be subjected to these security measures.  If this weren't so arrogant, it might even be thought of as humorous.  

Recent polls showed that Americans overwhelmingly supported tougher security policies.  The body scanners were thought by most to be a moderate solution.  If the passenger cannot or will not walk through the scanner, a body pat down is used.  A pat down -- by its very nature -- is intrusive, so why go though it if it is not required?  Pilots are exempted -- but flight attendants were not -- does that make any sense?  It appears that the pilots have a stronger union.   As soon as the fear mongers got hold of this issue, they tried to sway public opinion; a group tried to organize a massive protest this week to slow down the system on the busiest flight times.  Polls started to show opinions shifting, as the drumbeats of negativity increased.  Could one assume that this was because the conservative talk hosts compared notes and talking points?  Guess what happened?  The protest was a flop; passengers wisely stopped taking the bait on this topic.  Cooler and calmer heads prevailed.  Americans wisely stated that they want to be able to fly safely and securely and if this is the next level for security -- they will go with it.   Faceless images viewed remotely do not appear to trouble passengers as much as the possibility of missing their flights from pointless delays.  One passenger looked at this and protested in a humorous vein -- she wore a bikini and was passed through in record time!  Now obviously this is not the solution for everyone.  Some people, such as myself, would not travel that way, but the point was made quite visibly made.

I ask that we return to a common sense approach.  Apart from the choruses of "isms" which the Obama administration is being accused of, aren’t these negative voices the same folks who also claimed that the Democrats are soft on protecting our freedoms?   When I grew up we were taught to respect the Office of the President, even if we did not always approve of what actions were chosen.  Somehow that lesson has been forgotten.  Somehow today others can find nothing that is worthy of praise, when we have a country which is beginning to be renewed.  Reports from terrorists recently have said that success in disrupting our country was achieved by use of the printer cartridge bombs.  They did not have to explode to cause fear, the threat was enough.  With obstacles such as this facing our travelers today, shouldn't we as a country speak with a single strong voice and be grateful that our Federal government has protected us and will continue to do so, through the efforts of many hard-working employees?  Shouldn't we support the decisions of experts who have set up measures which should help us travel more securely?  Shouldn't we turn our backs on those who would exploit our safety, if it gave them a chance to make the present administration look inept?   Look ashamed Bill, Glenn, Sarah and Rush -- even you can do better than this.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Reasons to be Thankful

Tonight a friend sent out a quote from John Kennedy about his reasons for being glad to be a liberal. It mostly concerned thoughts about caring for others, their civil rights, their well being, looking ahead and not behind and not being rigid in thoughts or actions. I found much to agree with here and have always worn my liberal hat proudly. This is a county of volunteers, of people helping others, whether it is in being a volunteer coach, a tutor to someone who has poor English skills, or someone who makes sandwiches for the homeless. Many here do see themselves as their brothers' or sisters' keeper. Moving forward, looking toward Thanksgiving, I find that we, as a community, have much to be thankful for, even in the midst of a still troubled economy. When there is an announcement that our community has a need -- for food, for warm clothes, for assistance for a family after a fire -- people step up and speak out.

Food Banks throughout the area are reporting increased demand and more difficulty in meeting the needs of their clients. Manna Food Bank in Rockville is now open on some Saturdays, so additional people can get provisions. Olney HELP mentioned that its shelves were almost bare and the community came together. Tonight in a town gathering at an ecumenical Thanksgiving service, canned goods were collected and financial contributions were made to provide for this need. $1,400.00 in cash donations was collected and will be used to assist those who need help now. The OIney Farmers Market regularly joins with other local markets in donations of fresh fruits and vegetables from their growers to assist Manna.

I am also thankful for the service mentioned above as it brought out the best intentions of brotherhood, and the promise of America. There has been so much negativity in the media lately and news of intolerance so widely promoted, that this event stood out in a strong counterpoint. Very often intolerance is so based in the fear of the "other" -- the unknown person or unfamiliar practices. Protestant and Catholic religious members, Quakers, Jewish congregations, Muslims residents and African Americans, from the faith communities and others from the area, came together to celebrate their common interests and share their different ways of being thankful. A local synagogue was the host for the event. It was filled by hundreds of people. A procession of clergy from across the community shared messages and religious passages throughout the service. The evening began with the sound of the shofar -- symbol of a new start, and the Muslim call to prayer and ended as the female cantors joined with an African American choir in singing "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me," followed by the Hava Negila.

Afterwards congregants shared desserts and drinks and actual conversations with each other. Some spoke of their wonder that this communal event happened and mentioned that this gave them faith for the future. Some people were overheard mentioning that this was their first time in a synagogue as they remarked about the architecture and simplicity of the building. Others said they hoped that this would become an annual event. Most times these quiet good moments receive little notice, so this is a season and a time when one can get away with a bit of good news, so I am running with it!

Do you have a good story to tell or a special reason to be thankful? Please share it here, as I put politics aside for a few brief moments, to celebrate some of those good people who make up our special county. Best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving to all those who read this blog.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Legislators Listened

Every autumn there is a tradition in Montgomery County and elsewhere for elected officials to hear about some of the issues on the minds of their constituents.  Recently, one of these sessions was held in Rockville and many of the Senators and Delegates elected in Montgomery County came to hear what county residents had on their minds.  The event was held in the County Council third floor Chamber and televised on the County Cable Channel as a live event.  Approximately 100 people were in the audience and about 40 additional people had signed up in advance to speak on a variety of topics.

In attendance were: Senator Rich Madaleno and Delegate Brian Feldman, both leaders of the County delegation and the following members in Alphabetical order: Senators:  Jennie Forehand, Rob Garagiola, Nancy King and Jamie Raskin.  Two newly elected senators also attended:  Roger Manno and Karen Montgomery, both are currently Delegates.  Delegates attending were: Kumar Barve, Al Carr, Jim Gilchrist, Ana Sol Gutierrez, Tom Hucker, Anne Kaiser, Ben Kramer, Susan Lee, Kirill Reznik and all the newly elected, but not yet sworn in, Delegates:  Sam Aora, Bonnie Cullison, Ariana Kelly, Eric Ludetke, Aruna Miller, Shane Robinson, and Craig Zucker.

The first speakers were members of the official Montgomery County community, the County Council President, the legislative liaison, and localities, as mayors from Gaithersburg, Takoma Park and Rockville addressed the legislators.  Representatives form Montgomery College and The Universities of Shady Grove also spoke.  The County Chambers sent representatives to speak to their priorities as did the League of Women Voters and others from workforce development and small business.

The mayors mentioned very many transportation concerns, increased traffic, failed intersections and the need to fund highway ramps, improve intersections and fund the Purple Line.  The Mayor of Rockville several times mentioned the impact of the approved Seneca Science Center and the White Flint development on local communities.   Concerns were voiced about the need for state transportation funding.

The academics addressed concerns about the need for continued stable support of education at the college level, and the chambers stressed as their focus for businesses to not be subjected to additional taxes, the necessity for a positive business climate and opposed combined reporting.   Many representatives from groups around the county spoke, some to opposite sides of the same issues.  Some supported the suggested alcohol tax, industry spokespersons opposed it.  The Committee for Montgomery pushed construction of the Purple Line, implementation of a gasoline tax, and opposed any return of teacher pension liability to the county.  They also asked for the county to do more outreach to broaden the tax base by attracting more businesses.

Two people spoke passionately about the need to retain necessary green space, keeping the Capital Crescent Trail intact and not building the Purple Line in its right of way, while others supported the need for the Purple Line, especially in light of BRAC.  The President of GOCA (Greater Olney Civic Association) requested that the state release funding for necessary grade separated intersection improvements at State Routes 97 and 28, soon to be impacted by the opening of the ICC.  He also asked for support of the HOA unpaid dues bill in foreclosure situations and opposed any fees for school bus transports.  Another speaker mentioned inadequate oversight of the banking industry in foreclosure proceedings. 

Several progressive groups spoke about the need to fully fund healthcare, perhaps with the alcohol tax, pass combined corporate reporting regulations, and increase transparency with legislative committee votes made public.  Others spoke about health care being a human right and needing to be considered as a civil right. They urged full funding of the Maryland Health Care initiatives.  Peace groups and Veterans against the War also spoke out of the need for military spending to be brought home to meet the cares of the American people in many areas of social concern.  Others spoke about the social costs of homeless and injured veterans.

The evening ended with the voices of social conservatives speaking out for fiscal responsibility and against support for immigrants or undocumented individuals. They further decried budget items spent on ESOL, in-state tuition at Montgomery College and voiced their perception that immigrant gangs have caused increased crime and an upsurge in gang violence.

So what should one conclude about this exercise in democracy?  First, the evening was one of civil discourse, even among disparate groups and among legislators from different perspectives.  All speakers were treated with respect; the few questions asked by the elected officials were relevant without any grandstanding.  Will this solve our dilemma of funding in a very tough budget year?  Probably not.  But for the people in attendance or watching from home, the evening allowed reasonable people to make their case, whatever their issue.  For a short while, reasonable people disagreed without being disagreeable.  This was ever so much better than the town hall meetings held on health care last year when people were trucked in with the sole purpose of being rabble-rousers.  This is the way our country should work.  Will the elected official return to Annapolis in January and enact each of these measures? -- nope.  But they and the petitioners who came before them have connected in a way that is uniquely American and a way that makes our country, state and county function in a more democratic manner.  I hope we can all support this.  I know, as do you, that one encounter does not pass a bill and that citizens who support issues must tell their elected officials, sometimes more than once, how they feel.  Nights such as this are a good beginning.  There were many issues such as local education funding, the death penalty, the environment, clean air and water which were not discussed.  There will be other meetings and those issues may arise then.

Do you disagree?  Do you believe that this exercise is pro-forma and that the lobbyists who function in Annapolis have much more influence than the voters? Was your issue not mentioned above?   What is your suggestion to make the system function better?  Let's hear what you have to say.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The President Should Stand His Ground

The pundits are emoting, the editorials are advising and the populace is confused.  What did the mid-term elections mean in a general sense?

Did they mean that the country has rejected the Democratic agenda?  Did they really mean that the Republicans have a better plan?  Or did the voters send a different message to the politicians?  Did the Independents sway the election to the right this time, when they had gone to the left in 2008?  It has been said that this was a wave election, one which rejects the status quo and instead sends a tsunami crashing ashore, washing away those pols who did not listen to their constituents.  Was it really?

Minority Leader Boehner has indicated that the new agenda of the Right will be to undo the gains the Democrats have made over the last 22 months.  He has said he expects adherence to his agenda by the President, and indicated his belief that the people have spoken and rejected the so-called excesses of the current Congress.  This group of negative thinkers, whose main contribution to significant outreach by the President was to refuse to negotiate, decline to produce constructive alternatives and in short, not earn their pay, now claim they are in charge.  Senator McConnell is now calling for Republicans to pledge not to support earmarks.  Do you believe him, or is it another ploy for publicity?  Did earmarks or years of war spending put our country in this financial mess?  Is that actually what this election meant?  Do any of these negative folks remember that this was a mid term-election and that President Obama's term is for four full years?

This election seemed to show that the country is still divided, between polar opposites.  Large numbers of unemployed people need jobs and they do not particularly care who they blame.  Unlike the Great Depression, which lasted for several years, the current generations know only brief recessions, mild downturns, which like pendulums swing back again quickly.  Workers today face a rust belt crossing our great industrial core states as jobs have moved overseas to far off lands with cheap labor.  Unemployment at 9.6% is far too high; too many also are working at low wage interim positions.  Outsourcing has been a real issue.  American workers have a right to expect better of their country.  Why have we given tax breaks to companies whose workers are based offshore?  American companies moved factories from the New England and Midwestern industrial centers, first to the South and then to Mexico and the Caribbean, and finally on to the Far East, always in search of the cheapest prices for labor, goods and services.  When the Chamber of Commerce boasts of American industry and small businesses, they neglect to mention how many large companies outsource.  Who thought that when Americans played ping pong in China and President Nixon visited, that a generation later, the Chinese would hold many of our financial  fortunes, from the dollars they own, and the bonds they could call due, to the goods they produce so inexpensively?  Where can an American worker go to count on a good paying job?  Certainly one could now begin to head to the centers of the auto industry which is starting to rebound --  in part from their bailout and partially from previous concessions from the workers.  They should thank the Democrats for this. General Motors will soon again sell stock through an IPO -- Ford is showing profitability now.  The TARP has made a profit and the financial sectors are bouncing back; but this has not been well promoted.  The stimulus money is planned out over a couple of years and its marks are seen as communities have added roads and fixed water mains and bridges.  Schools are beneficiaries as well. Teachers have been returned to work in many communities due to supplemental funds received for education.

Banks are again making money for the most part, but they are still not loaning to the small business owner.  Banks are continuing to foreclose, even when homeowners are negotiating in good faith.  Many have been found to not allow required due process.  With all of these problems, none of which can be solved by the click of a pen, or the snap of a finger, no wonder that the Democrats were turned down at the ballot box.  After all, it was they who were in charge, right?  Some might say "wrong"; the first year of President Obama's term was spent trying to right wrongs, reign in financial markets, and create some guidelines for a run-away Wall Street culture.  He took office with the country already deep into the recession and the confusion over the stability of the American model of unregulated finance promoted by the previous administration.  The United States is slowly climbing out of this hole. President Obama's analogy of finding the car in the ditch was quite apt; he tried to drive it out with no tires, is it any wonder the ride was a rocky one? 

Have the Democrats tried adequately to market their record of achievements? No.  Has the incessant drum beat of negativity on conservative talk shows been misleading and deliberately so? Yes.  Should the President change his communication style?  Maybe.  Should he capitulate to the acclaimed but artificial "will of the people" –NO.  The President was elected to serve a four-year term.  It is not over.  Should he talk to the Republican leaders?  Certainly -- part of their job is to also find a way to work together with the Democrats and to compromise when reasonable for both sides.  The President should stand his ground: talk and listen but absolutely remain in charge.  Those of us who agree with him should also let him know of our support. 

What do you think Democrats should do to change the dialogue? 

Send a comment here; if you would, please let me know who you are and tell me if you wish to use a pen name.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A week of contradictory images

Sunday was the annual Royce Hanson Awards given out by the Countryside Alliance in upper Montgomery County.  Peter Eeg introduced the 2010 honoree, Anthony (Tony) Cohen, who traced the path of the Underground Railroad by walking across Maryland and elsewhere, highlighting many areas in Montgomery County.  His book won national renown and he has been acclaimed for his scholarship in this area.  Tony who began his first journey in the historic community of Sandy Spring, now lives in Olney, Maryland.

The event was held along rustic Black Rock Road at the Historic Button Farm, which is operated as a park and owned by the MNPPC with the aid of the Menare Foundation which was founded to tell the slave story by Tony and others.   The site is being restored to reflect a look at the farming world known to slaves and others in the 19th Century in this area and will eventually have a resource center and living history museum.  A farmhouse dating from the early days of the 20th Century and an even older barn will be centerpieces of the planned historical center.  Today the Farm grows heirloom vegetables using techniques from the past, operates a CSA and donates vegetables to the Manna Food Center. 

The Countryside Alliance is a group which advocates for the Upper Montgomery County area; the Executive Director is Caroline Taylor; information can be found at:

Thursday was a Day for remembering our Veterans, both past and present.  The new Veterans Plaza in Silver Spring and the splendid Silver Spring Civic Center were the sites for a series of day long tributes.  Many veterans organizations held fitting tributes to the fallen, but not forgotten, and to those who still serve.

Veterans bands played, Jazz tributes were offered and public officials paid homage to the troops. Many Native Americans were present to reflect their service in the military units here also.   In an evening ceremony, young dancers gave rousing and talented performances with contemporary, traditional and exploratory dance exhibitions.  The Maryland Youth Ballet and The Round House Theatre both had troupes whose performers showed great professionalism.  Congressman Chris Van Hollen spoke and urged public members to visit the injured at Walter Reed or Bethesda Naval to display our gratitude and concern for their well being.  Events such as PTSD, or amputated limbs do not end with a war, they stay with the service member and their families for the remainder of their lives.  Military suicides are increasing. Many of our current homeless are veterans of the current or previous wars and have never found their way back to being who they once used to be.  It is right that we as a society should pause to say thanks.

The evening ended with a talented blues band playing very spirited music to a then sparse crowd, unfortunately. 

In the days of a volunteer military, fewer families have members in the military forces, unlike the days of World War ll when nearly every family was touched by war.  There can sometimes be a disconnect between the civilian and the military populations.  Some espouse peace, others advocate for war.   Either way, when our country calls, the military answers the call and whether we personally agree with the mission or not, we need to be grateful for their service.

The week ended on a decidedly strange note as news reports told of the FBI's arrest of Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson and his wife, Leslie, a newly elected -- but not yet installed -- County Council  member, on charges of corruption, witness and evidence tampering as well as destruction and alteration of records in a federal investigation.  Apparently wiretaps were made of incriminating conversations and videos were taken of illegal actions.   Of course, all are innocent until proven guilty, but initial reports do not look good for many in our neighboring county.  Newly elected County Executive, Rushern Baker, will soon take office in an atmosphere much more difficult than he earlier anticipated. 
As one who has run for office, valued the trust of others and cheered public integrity, I can only ask: what were they thinking?  And, as someone asked me this morning, how could $79,000 supposedly fit into a bra?  As is said -- stay tuned.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Speed Camera Issue

Recently statistics were announced about revenues from speed cameras in Montgomery County.  To date millions of dollars of revenue have been realized from these seemingly innocuous metal poles with cameras.  A camera in Olney along Georgia Avenue northbound was noted to the one with the highest revenue, much to the chagrin of many motorists.  Some have bemoaned what they see as a sweetheart contract with the company which maintains the cameras and keeps about $16.00 of the $40.00 ticket assessed.  County officials say this frees up manpower for other more important tasks, as the vendor company monitors and calibrates the lights, resets the cameras and downloads the images.  They then process the digital picture of the license plate and car, have the police review it, and send the notices to motorists for payment of this fee.  

A more recent development has been the mobile cameras chained to trees or posts along a roadside somewhere near you.  These squat metal boxes are not as easy to spot as the triad of silver poles for the fixed spots, so they are likely to be money makers.  Check Crabbs Branch Way near Iroquois, and Route 108 near the Laytonsville Fire Station, if you like to see one….if they have not been moved already!  County government is not the only department using these resources; municipalities such as Chevy Chase, Gaithersburg and the City of Rockville have all been successful with speed camera placement.

Although some say no one likes the cameras, apparently they are appreciated by the police officials who market them as an important tool in pedestrian and driver safety.  Originally touted as a safety measure in school zones, their placement has now been seen in areas far from schools.  Recently changes in state law have mandated that those near schools not be in play outside of school hours.  Police statistics do indicate a definite decrease in average speeds in the county.  The funds were supposed to be targeted for pedestrian safety, but the increase in cameras and collections have brought many to question those limited targeted uses.  After all, just how many count down walk lights can a county install?   Cross walks have been expanded, pedestrian safety education has been increased and fewer people have died in pedestrian accidents recently, so some changes have been made.  Still, some of the busier neighborhoods for street traffic still have issues with people crossing in the middle of the block to get to a store, catch up with friends or catch an arriving bus.  These spur of the moment crossings are the ones least considered and most hazardous.

There are a couple of groups trying to ban the cameras, claiming they are an infringement on individual rights and adding to the "Big Brother" aspect which is increasing in today's world.  Others say "just shut up and drive the speed limit!"   The county is dependent on the revenues, so there may be more cameras to join the approximately 120 cameras currently in place.  It is doubtful that they will be shut down and numbers may even increase.  Others would wish that other wider span cameras be used to track crime, not drivers.

What do you think?  Is this fee a hidden "drivers tax" as is claimed by some?  Have you been caught by the cameras?  Do you think they slow down traffic as one drives ten miles under the speed limit when approaching a known camera site -- all those in the know, that is!   What would you suggest as a solution to drivers driving too fast, the need to cross the county in a reasonable amount of time and pedestrian safety? 
While there is a list of camera sites on-line, are they really accurately described as governmental spying?   Let’s hear your thoughts on this issue.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Montgomery County Votes Democratic again!

It may be no surprise to a lot of county residents that the County Council remains in Democratic hands as do all of our county elected offices from Sheriff on up through the Court House to the entire State House delegation.  County Executive Ike Leggett easily won another 4 years in office, but given the budget problems he faces, this may be a pyrrhic victory.  For the first time in quite a while, the Republicans actively contested many of the offices across the county; none of the races were closely contested, even though the Party was more visible this season.  The top vote getter from the County Council race was apparently at-large Councilmember Marc Elrich, who was also the top winner in the Democratic Primary.  Hans Reimer, the newcomer, who came in second in the Primary, won the fourth spot as Floreen and Leventhal took the second and third spots, respectively.  Governor O'Malley won another four years in the Governor's seat defeating former Governor Ehrlich by about fourteen percentage points, a much wider margin than had been predicted.  Our Congressional delegation stayed the same with Congressman Chris Van Hollen and Congresswoman Donna Edwards both winning easily.  Senator Barbara Mikulski returns again with another big win as Maryland's senior Senator.

Elsewhere in Maryland, Democratic first-term Congressman Frank Kratovil, who won a squeaker in 2008, was not as lucky this year and lost in a rematch with seriously conservative physician, Andy Harris.   Harris will now represent the Eastern Shore and northern reaches of Maryland.  The state will be bookended by conservatives as octogenarian Roscoe Bartlett, who represents the sixth congressional district in the western part of the state, is also a Republican.  Bartlett defeated veteran Andrew Duck in a rematch from 2006.

Looking at the state as a whole, this division between east and west is borne out in the way the counties broke in the Governor's race.

Montgomery, Prince George's, Charles, Howard, Baltimore City and Baltimore County all voted for O'Malley.  Every other county went for Ehrlich, so we have a blue center and red peripheral areas.  Of course the counties that went for O'Malley are the most populous in the state, even though they are fewer in number.  Does this preface Maryland becoming a true purple state in the future?  Or is the state actually two separate entities with little exchange of ideas between the center and the edges?  One surprise comes from Frederick County as the nemesis of progressive thought; Senator Francis X. Mooney apparently went down in defeat to his Democratic opponent, Ron Young.  (Absentee ballots have yet to be counted and the spread is currently only about 600 votes, so stay tuned, folks!)  But Democrats had little room for jubilation in Frederick County, as the entire County Commissioners slate went to the Republican candidates.

Can we draw any conclusions from these results?  Maryland has always been reliably blue, but has rural pockets of conservatism.  As a state we have been somewhat shielded by our strong economy from many of the ravages of the downturn, although there has been a strong dip in expected resources among the income tax base, real estate revenues and sales taxes.  Foreclosures have been a significant problem in many areas locally and the housing market has not yet bounced back.  If Democrats cannot bring in more business income to the state, then local and state elected officials will have a very hard time balancing the budget. Subsequently, many financial expectations will not be met.  This could cause more dissatisfaction among voters in 2012.  The upcoming legislative session in Annapolis may well be a very difficult one with significant regional divisions.  Many in Montgomery County believe the County is seriously short-changed with state dollars -- perhaps the margin of victory given the Governor here may have some impact in the future.  We may see rises in the gasoline tax and the additional of a modest alcohol tax to supplement future transportation and health care changes, although funding for the both the Purple Line and the Corridor Cities Transit way are not likely.  The looming teacher pension transfer, the loss of the ambulance reimbursement fees, and the Maintenance of Effort concerns in the county means that a lot will be asked of our state delegation. 

What do you think the County delegation should address as the top three priorities in the next legislative session?

What are your conclusions about state politics this week?

What would your advice be for the County Council?  Let's hear from you!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Time to stand up and VOTE

Tuesday November 2nd has arrived -- it is now time for Americans to stand tall and let their votes be counted.  The TV ads will cease their incessant accusations, the mailbox will soon appear to just contain bills and junk mail; the messages on phone voice mails will probably decrease by 90%.  Dirty tricks are starting with fake magazines; false directions are being given about polling places and dates. In Georgia, tea party intimidators are announcing plans to challenge voters and decrease turnout, especially in minority districts.  When informed voters stay home, others with ill intent can make their votes seem larger. 

Much of this is not unique in the annals of American elections.  However the scope of it all this year certainly has escalated.  There has been more money spent in this mid term election than in previous Presidential year Elections.  It will soon be seen what the effect this entire advertising barrage has had.  Hopefully all of this negativity will not convince voters to stay home.  Voters must believe they have a stake in the outcome for them to make the effort to vote.  What kind of America is desired?  Is it the America that supports the lowest common denominators among candidates -- those who stand for nothing and want to tear down everything?  Or could it be the America that does believe that problems can be resolved if all work together with a common mission to make this the best country possible. It is predicted that the Democrats will hold precariously onto a Senate Majority but lose the House. It would be terrific if the pollsters and pundits could be proven wrong.

In Maryland the only sensible choice is to vote for the O'Malley/Brown team for Governor.  Two articles in the Washington Post described the personal styles of the two candidates for Governor.  O'Malley was described as putting in 18 hour days and asking for accountability across the state.  Ehrlich was portrayed as one who worked hard on his golf game while in office and hard as a lobbyist when out of office. He claims working class roots from the suburban Baltimore area. His running mate -- Mary Kane, who was the Secretary of State in his former administration -- is from this county.   Montgomery County was courted by O'Malley who was born here, while Ehrlich seemed to flirt with the County, then turned his attentions to Baltimore County where he is not favored to win either.   Current Lt. Governor, Anthony Brown -- a Reserve Army Officer who hails from Prince George's County, is expected to bring many of that county's significant African American voters to the ticket.  This will be in contrast to the race won by Ehrlich in 2002 against Kathleen Townsend when her pick for a running mate alienated many in this general area who had expected Ike Leggett to be on her ticket.   Voters sat on their hands in that race.  We cannot have that happen again as this state needs all good Democrats to step up and VOTE. The <i>Gazette</i> editorial which endorsed Ehrlich gave many spurious reasons to support him; the greatest seemed to be that one-party rule was somehow unhealthy. That argument does not hold water at the state or federal levels. So the best advice one can give is to vote for the person who has done a good job and stick with the known qualities of candidates who have served well.

Lastly -- support the Ambulance reimbursement -- Vote YES on Question A.