Sunday, September 26, 2010

Check the Mothership

If you're looking for my political content, please tottle over to Red Maryland where I have begun exclusively posting (most) of my political material over there...

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

2010 NFL Predictions

Last year I predicted that Ravens would beat the Falcons in the Super Bowl......yeah, that didn't work out. So I present to you another set of football predictions that are bound to be wrong.

AFC East: NY Jets, New England, Miami,Buffalo,
AFC North: Baltimore, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Cleveland
AFC South: Indianapolis, Houston, Tennessee, Jacksonville
AFC West: San Diego, Denver, Oakland, Kansas City
NFC East: Dallas, Philadelphia, NY Giants, Washington
NFC North: Green Bay, Minnesota, Chicago, Detroit
NFC South: New Orleans, Atlanta, Carolina, Tampa Bay
NFC West: San Francisco, Arizona, Seattle, St. Louis

AFC 1st Round:
Cinncinati def. (4) San Diego
(3) Indianapolis def. (6) Houston

NFC 1st Round::
(5) Philadelphia def. (4) San Francisco
(3) Dallas def. (6) Minnesota

AFC Divisional:
(1) Baltimore def. (5) Cincinnati
(2) NY Jets def. (3) Indianapolis

NFC Divisional:
(1) New Orleans def. (5) Philadelphia
(2) Green Bay def. (3) Dallas

AFC Championship:
(1) Baltimore def. (2)
NY Jets

NFC Championship:
(2) Green Bay def. (1) New Orleans

Super Bowl XLV:
Baltimore def. Green Bay


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

My Personal Endorsements

We have been making a lot of endorsements over at Red Maryland. But I've got picks in other races too that I would like to share with you that may not necessarily have been up there for consideration by Red Maryland.

So that we go:

State Senate

  • District 2: Delegate Chris Shank
    This is bound to create a bit of stir with some people. But I like Chris Shank. I think he is a good voice for the conservative movement, and I believe that he will be an effective voice for the movement in the Senate. I'm not as agitated by Senator Munson as a lot of conservatives are. I just think, from my perspective, Chris Shank will be a more effective conservative voice.
  • District 5: Delegate Joe Getty
  • District 8: Dee HodgesHer opponent is Benjamin Lawless. 'Nuff said.
  • District 36: Senator EJ Pipkin
House of Delegates
  • District 4B: Kelly Schulz
  • District 27B: Mark Fisher
    Any guy who takes a punch at a Republican club meeting and doesn't make a production of it deserves respect.
  • District 29A: Matt Morgan
  • District 32: Stephanie Hodges and Wayne Smith (Do NOT vote for George Law; he is a former Green Party and Democratic Party candidate
  • District 34: Patrick McGrady
  • District 37A: Dustin Mills
  • District 38B: Mike McDermott
  • District 42: Delegate Susan Aumann, Delegate Bill Frank
Local Candidates
Anne Arundel County

Register of Wills
Register Lauren Parker

County Council, District 3
Carl "Dutch" Holland

County Council, District 5
Maureen Carr-York

Orphans Court
Judge Nancy Phelps, Judge Gordon Witherspoon, Judge Judith Duckett

Monday, August 30, 2010

Get Steinereized

I will be returning to The Marc Steiner Show tonight from 6-7 PM on WEAA 88.9 FM.

We'll be talking about the political, economic, and social divisions in the US and how it relates to this past weekend's anniversary of Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream Speech and the Restoring Honor rally.

And if you have listened before, you know that I will be the guy on the air that's making sense....but I hope you can catch the show.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Letters to the Beyond

Sometimes I get letters. Sometimes Derek Fink sends them to Republican voters in Council District 3. And this one is quite the doozy. Please read it for yourself.
Fink Letter

Bud hit a lot of the points on Friday, but a lot of them deserved continued discussion.

In the third paragraph, Fink declares that he likes to get right to the point. Except for the obvious fact that if you are two paragraphs in and haven't made a point yet, then you probably don't like to get right to the point.

Fink says: "We must begin, at the local level, to take back our government from those out-of-touch liberal politicians and bureaucrats." Which of course is a very interesting statement. For you see, incumbent County Councilman Ron Dillon is a Republican. Our three Delegates are Republicans. Our State Senator is a Republican. Our County Executive is a Republican. Our Register of Wills, Clerk of the Court, Orphans Court judges are Republicans.... has Derek Fink called out his own party as being full of liberals. As Bud notes, "if there's a problem at the local level, then it's only fair to blame the party in power," which in this case is our party. Which if there is a problem at the local level, does that mean he is declaring Delegates Nic Kipke and Steve Schuh, two guys who stuck their necks our early to endorse Fink, as liberals? I tend to believe that both of those gentlemen would dispute that notion, but apparently their guy might think otherwise.

Fink goes on in the letter to do the really classy thing of attacking his opponents personally, just not by name:
My opponents in the Republican Primary have records of supporting "Big Government" along with checkered pasts and both political and legal baggage. They have been members of the Democrat Party, one has a criminal record, and there are countless bankruptcy filings, financial problems, and foreclosures in their pasts.
Well, there is a rich irony in Fink's campaign putting out a statement like this, especially given the controversy surrounding Fink's campaign and his separation in his business dealings with Cookie Kiser. But of course, the implication that all of his opponents have legal baggage is also easily debunked by searching the Court Records; former County Councilman Dutch Holland, for example, is only listed in court cases related to his duties as a County Councilman. Why would Fink insinuate that Holland had legal problems without naming names OR providing any evidence?

There are other less interesting parts of the letter. Fink lays out an alleged "Six Point Plan" for success that goes into no more detail than the unoriginal, not at all detailed bullet points that have been on his website for a year.He does talk about one of my pet issues, direct election of the Anne Arundel County School Board, without actually acknowledging that he has zero power as a County Councilman to make a change to our current process.

What does this letter ultimately tell us about Derek Fink. It tells of of a campaign that remains in a continued panic. A campaign that does not connect with voters in District 3. A candidate that is desperate to win and remove roadblocks from his campaign, regardless of the methods. It also talks a little bit about the character of Derek Fink, which given the things that we have already discussed and some of the unsubstantiated rumors that surround Fink continues to be in question. If the guy who throw Nic Kipke and Steve Schuh under the bus for political gain, what will this guy do if he gets elected to the County Council?

I for one will not be voting for Derek Fink on September 14th.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Judd Legum Smacked Down

Judd Legum has been running around spinning a yarn implying that Delegate Ron George bought his seat in the House of Delegates in 2006.
"Four years ago, the Republican incumbent in our district reached into his own deep pocket and dumped $80,000 into the race to win by 53 votes."
Kudos to Paul Foer for picking up on this, and for giving Leugm repeated opportunities to back up his claims, as well as giving Delegate George the opportunity to respond.

Well if you know about Judd Legum, you already know that he didn't respond. But Ron George did:
There is a fundraising note going out from the Legum campaign that makes claims and I want to set the record straight. I do not have "deep pockets", nor did I spend $80,000 of my own money. I started my campaign in 2006 by paying for some mailings and start-up costs myself instead of doing a start-up "loan" like other candidates do. Then as the campaign went on, my wife Becky and I made loans from our IRA and savings but never paid it back to ourselves. By the end of the 2 year campaign, we spent $40,000 of our own money which we had saved up for over a number of years. In addition, we raised another $122,000 almost entirely from people within the district. We were supposed to pay ourselves back what we loaned, but were so committed to the race that we did not. It left us broke but we were determined to invest in Maryland as our children wished to stay here and we were concerned for the environment, economic opportunity, and safety. Our deep love for Maryland drove us to be involved in a greater way.

The note from Legum attempts to play class warfare by claiming I have "deep pockets" and that I "dumped $80,000 into the race to win by 53 votes." Not true. The amount he claims rises each time he tells this story. He has used such language in the past saying his opponent is "independently wealthy", "entrenched", "sells diamonds" (that one is true but what is his point?). Becky and I work hard and scrimp and save just like everyone else. Michael Busch had $750,000 in his campaign account in the Spring of 2006. I had $50,000. Mr Legum has raised most of his money this cycle from interests outside the state and is doing very well. My donations are almost entirely from the hard working citizens of Anne Arundel County, mostly District 30.

What does Foer think of this entire mess:
So I repeatedly asked Legum to substantiate such charges. He did not. I would have thought that Legum, a lawyer and master in online and opposition research who ran Hillary Clinton's research department when she ran against Obama, would have easily been able to prove these claims to me....

...The big difference, among many differences between Legum and George is that George has both a voting record and one as a business owner in the area. Legum's record and background, although he is a local native, is less clear and less readily available. While he has been campaigning vigorously and knocking on doors, I'd much rather see him explaining who he is and what he intends to do as a delegate rather than attacking his likely Republican general opponent. Another big difference is that George came forward to explain his side of the story while we are still waiting for legum to provide some real data instead of telling me to dig it up.
So what lessons have been reinforced from this little exchange?
  1. Judd Legum wants to be a Delegate in a bad, bad way;
  2. Judd Legum will spin any yarn and tell any lie in order to become a member of the House of Delegate;
  3. Judd Legum is more concerned with advancing his political career and obtaining power than either being honest with or representing the interest of the people of District 30.
Delegate Ron George is not basing his entire campaign on telling tales and is not relying on Washington insiders to buy his seat. Contact the Ron George campaign to see how you can help keep a responsible conservative in the House of Delegates.

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Legum's Well Runs Dry

Judd Legum raised tens of thousands of dollars from out of state interests....but apparently he is having trouble raising $5,000 over two weeks these days:


So close!

We need to raise $425.53 in the next 14 hours to reach our $5,000 goal before the campaign finance deadline. If you haven't had a chance yet, can you pitch in $20 right now to help us over the finish line?

As I campaign relentlessly around the district for Maryland State Delegate, a common question from political activists is: are you viable? In other words, before they support me and risk angering an incumbent, they want to know whether I have the resources to win.

With your help, we can send a strong signal across the district that this campaign should not be underestimated.



On Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 10:35 AM, Judd Legum <> wrote


I'm extremely pleased to report that in five days, we've raised $4,005.47. That means with less than 48 hours to go before the campaign finance deadline we are just $994.53 from our $5,000 goal. If you haven't contributed to this effort yet, can you pitch in $20 right now?

I'm the only candidate in this race that's turning down money from state lobbyists and PACs. That's because I'm running to represent the people of this district and not any special interest seeking to exert influence over the State House.

But that also means I'm counting on you for the resources we need to win.



Judd Legum for Maryland
275 West St, Suite 305
Annapolis, MD 21401

Follow on Facebook + Twitter

By Authority: Judd Legum for Maryland, Shane Nikolao, Treasurer

Apparently raising nearly $50,000 from out of state interests isn't enough for Legum. Of course, that may have something to do with the tall tales that he is telling about Ron George, but we will save that for a little bit later...

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Sunday, August 08, 2010

Hype, Reality, Gimmicks

If you listen to Martin O'Malley, you would think that Maryland is the land of milk and honey when it comes to job retention and job creation.

Of course, the reality of the situation could not be any different for the working men and women of our state:
Two well-paying blue-collar employers in Washington County are shuttering their businesses, adding to the woes of this Western Maryland county that already has a jobless rate among the highest in the state.
Read the whole story to learn about the bleak economic picture out in this region of our state. The recession impacts Western Maryland worse than many other areas of the state because the businesses in this region are competing against two states for businesses and job creation. Both Pennsylvania and West Virginia have a climate that is more conducive for economic growth given the fact that businesses face fewer unnecessary regulations and are no subjected to such a high cost of business through overtaxation.

Martin O'Malley has not been inclined to deal with the issue of economic growth and job creation throughout his term, as you know, since he insists on expanding the scope of government and raising taxes on businesses and individuals alike.

But that does not mean that the administration is doing nothing in an effort to pretend like they are creating a conducive economic climate. The Democrats in Annapolis still insisted on bringing back the sales tax holiday each August as part of the Saturday Night Massacre back in 2007. As part of their effort to raise taxes to historic and immoral levels, Democrats decided that the least they could do is to give citizens the facade that their care by overhyping a sales tax holiday on small purchases that does little more than prove to citizens how much they actually pay in taxes on even the most basic of items. The sales tax holiday is little more than a gimmick designed to make people think that the Democrats in Annapolis care about them.

There are fewer than 90 days until the election. And on November 2nd we will have the opportunity to elect a Governor and members of the General Assembly who will take steps to improve instead of destroy our economy.

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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Judd Legum Hugs Thugs

Our favorite bought and paid for Washington insider "Progressive Democrat" Judd Legum was as proud as a peacock today:
Proud to be endorsed by the working men and women of @SEIU
That's kinda funny that Judd Legum is tripping all over himself to talk about his proud endorsement by the Service Employees International Union.

But....does anybody remember the last time we mentioned the SEIU? Let us take you back to May when members of the SEIU decided that instead of participating in reasoned discourse that they would instead decided to intimidate a 14-year old boy. Just in case you forgot, here's the video of that:

I suppose then through his acceptance of the endorsement and his complete lack of silence on this heinous act that Judd Legum supports political violence and intimidation of his political opponents.

Of course that's not the only issue that we have seen in recent months with the SEIU. Let us take you back to April when the SEIU was involved in an attack add falsely accusing Governor Ehrlich of being a lobbyist, notwithstanding the fact that the SEIU's own President was an unregistered lobbyist working with the White House.

Then again, maybe the SEIU endorsement has nothing to do with Legum's non-response on union thuggery and has everything to do with the involvement of both the SEIU and Legum's Center for American Progress in the secretive Democracy Alliance project that funneled money between liberal interest groups without the needless hassle of disclosure of their donor lists.

Regardless of this, one thing has remained perfectly clear throughout the entire length of this campaign in District 30. Judd Legum has no principles. He will take any endorsement, no matter what the organization is. He will spare no expense to raise tens of thousands of dollars from out of state if it means that he can advance his political career at the expense of the residents of Maryland and the residents of District 30. He continues to refer to his mentor John Podesta, a guy who is so out there that he is a UFO-truther. And it is perfectly clear that by getting in bed with the SEIU leadership that Judd Legum has no problem with intimidation of those people who disagree with him.

Judd Legum may have gotten into bed with thugs....and maybe that has something to do with the fact that Judd Legum has no balls and is too yellow to actually defend himself....but it is unmistakable that Judd Legum has willingly taken the endorsement of those that condone political violence. And I do not find such an endorsement acceptable of somebody who wants to serve in the House of Delegates.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Vitale Plays Fast and Loose with the Facts

Cathy Vitale's first mailer has hit the street, which you can see here. Red Maryland, as you know, has already endorsed Delegate Tony McConkey and Vic Bernson for Delegate in this district, but that does not change the factual inaccuracies with Cathy Vitale's first mailer.

There are two key points that need to be refuted here:

1. Slots:
Vitale claims to have fought to "Give citizens the right to vote on slot machines at Arundel Mills."

Well, that statement clearly does not past the smell test for two reasons:

- The Statement is just factually wrong; there was never a provision in the slots ordinance that would have allowed the ordinance to go to a vote. The only reason that there will be a referendum on slots is because of the work of people like the Stop Slots Arundel Mills whose volunteers signed petitions and then fought the case all the way to the Court of Appeals in order to give citizens the right to vote.

- Vitale voted no on the ordinance that changed the zoning for the Arundel Mills slots project. But she only voted not after delaying the voter for weeks. This delay actually created the environment that allowed a coalition of four votes to be cobbled together in order to actually pass the slots resolution over Vitale's alleged objections. The fact of the matter is that they delay is what ultimately led to the passage of the zoning ordinance.

I don't think that the folks who actually are fighting the war on slots at Arundel Mills are going to appreciate Cathy Vitale taking credit for their work. I asked the folks at Stop Slots at Arundel Mills for their thoughts, and the note I received indicated that "Cathy did in fact help us, and has been helping us all along." But of course that does not the change the fact that the referendum effort could have been avoided had it not been for Vitale's delaying tactics.

2. Help for Families:
Vitale also claims that as a Delegate she would "Help Working Families" and "Reduce Taxes."

Well, let us take you back to 2007 when Cathy Vitale (along with her compadre, now State Senator Ed Reilly)fought tooth and nail to require that new single-family homes constructed in Anne Arundel County be outfitted with sprinkler systems. This is a requirement that increased the cost of home construction in Anne Arundel County by $1 per square foot. Cathy Vitale's actions directly increased the cost of new homes for working families in Anne Arundel County, and are typical of the nannystate liberalism that we would expect from Montgomery County, not the most conservative legislative district in Maryland.

As Greg said, there is a reason that we endorse the folks we endorse. We endorse good conservative candidates who will fight for lower taxes and smaller government. Cathy Vitale is a big government "conservative"and she is not giving voters the facts in her campaign pieces.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

From the Fink Files

We find ourselves talking about Derek Fink once more, who you may remember got himself tied up in a business imbroglio with one of his diehard supporters back in January. Well, it sounds like Fink has never recovered from this snafu as his campaign is now asking surrogates to try to clear the field from him.

Fink had Delegate Steve Schuh, one of Fink's longtime supporters and the man who allowed Fink to manage his 2006 Delegate campaign, approach County Council candidate Carl "Dutch" Holland about withdrawing from the Republican Primary here in District 3. Schuh allegedly told Holland that he "had no chance at winning" and that Holland should withdraw because of it.

While it it true Holland did not file until late in the filing period, this is not Dutch Holland's first rodeo; he has long been involved in county politics. Holland served on the County Council from 1990-1994. Holland was the first Republican to win in the 3rd District, ending the stranglehold of four-term Democrat Bud Ahern. Holland would win the Republican nomination in three straight elections, losing the general election to then Democrat Tom Redmond in 1994, and then defeating the newly minted Republican Redmond in 1998. Holland also finished second in a hotly contested Republican Senate Primary in 2006 despite little campaigning, achieving nearly a quarter of the vote on name recognition alone.

That means that Holland has to be considered one of the three frontrunners in this Republican Primary right there along with Fink and the aforementioned Redmond.

What is interesting about this development is the fact that it makes crystal clear that Fink has never recovered from the severe damage he inflicted on his ties with the Pasadena area business community over the Cookie Kiser fiasco. The fact that Fink feels it necessary to approach a candidate who just entered the race last week shows that the Fink campaign is in a panic over their chances of winning on September 14th.

This is a sign of tremendous weakness on the part of a candidate whose operation thinks he is an unstoppable juggernaut.

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Baltimore Sun should tread carefully on issue of race and the tea parties

So The Baltimore Sun today had a very perplexing editorial this morning supporting the NAACP for it's declaration that the Tea Party movement is a racist movement. Not perplexing because they should support racist activity; obviously every well-thinking person should find racial discrimination appalling and disgusting.

But the editorial comes out supporting an NAACP position that the NAACP is already backtracking from given the hullabaloo over the disparaging nature of their statement. And of course its lack of facts. As I noted on The Marc Steinter Show yesterday the tea party movement, particularly here in Maryland, is representative of the entire Maryland population, made up of a cross-section of parties, races, and creeds. The keynote speaker at these Annapolis rallies multiple times has been Republican Congressional Candidate Charles Lollar, an African-American from Charles County.

Timothy Dalrymple has a well-written piece regarding racism in the tea party and why the entire movement cannot be painted with a racist brush, and why the liberal intelligentsia is quick to pain it in that light. Here's a sample:
The charge that the Tea Party is racist is a perfect object lesson in liberal misinterpretation of conservatives. It is, of all the charges leveled against the Tea Party movement, the most inflammatory and the most politically damaging. Yet the accusation says more about the accusers than the accused.

Critics of the Tea Party point to a smattering of racist signs at rallies around the country, to the low percentage of minorities involved in the movement, and to a study that purports to show high levels of "racial resentment" among tea party supporters. These arguments are, however, mere justifications for a position already taken. Liberals were inclined to believe Tea Partiers racist even before such "evidence" was available. That is, the belief that Tea Partiers are racist is not an evidence-based belief. It is a belief in search of evidence.

What I propose, then, is the Theory of the Missing Motive. Since the education establishment has failed to convey a thorough and unprejudiced perspective on differing political points of view, even highly educated liberals possess a cartoonish, easily-dismissed image of American conservative thought. Liberals cannot believe that Tea Partiers are actually motivated by the passions and the reasons that Tea Partiers claim motivate them, because liberals in general are alienated from those passions and insufficiently educated in those reasons.

It is essentially a failure of imagination. Liberals cannot imagine themselves into a way of thinking in which conservatives do what they do and believe what they believe for good reasons. And since they cannot believe that conservatives are motivated by rational beliefs and admirable motives, they must appeal to darker, more primitive impulses to explain their behavior. The racist motive presents itself as a natural and convenient explanation.

Liberals, in other words, were always going to believe that a movement dominated by white conservatives is racist.

Of course, there are other more complicated issues at work here too, also with a Maryland Connection. One of the cites that we have seen from several sources is that the leftist organization Think Progress has been knowingly using signs brought to Tea Party rallies by liberal plants as evidence to show that the Tea Party movement is racist. Not that this is a surprise since Think Progress is well known for its deceitful nature. As for the Maryland connection, remember that District 30 Delegate candidate Judd Legum is the founder of Think Progress, and I cannot imagine that the residents of District 30 want to be represented by somebody like Legum is associated with such bigotry and such lies.

Both sides of the aisle should condemn racial bigotry when it is present and when it is seen. However, little evidence has been presented that the Tea Party movement is in an of itself racist. It looks like, however, the left is creating racial fronts in an effort to discredit the Tea Party movement. I eagerly await the condemnation of these groups from the Sun and the NAACP.

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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Taking Action

Since Martin O'Malley seems to be hellbent on brushing aside the continued MARC train issues to the point that one of these days #MARCfail is going to actually become a trending topic on Twitter, Governor Ehrlich is actually trying to do something constructive; listen to MARC's customers through the creation of a "Commuters for Ehrlich" caucus of transit riders who are fed up with the continued failure of Martin O'Malley's MTA.

The group will be led by Craig Borne, who is featured in this video:

I have long been critical of the failures of Martin O'Malley's transit administration; and it is heartening that Governor Ehrlich is taking positive action to solve problems for Maryland.

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Sunday, July 04, 2010

A False Flag

Now I speak of something that several Republicans have talked about privately, but nobody has spoken about publicly until now... Daniel Vovak a Democrat in disguise?

Sure Daniel Vovak has ostensibly "run" for several offices as a Republican, included a "campaign" for President in 2004 when he wasn't eligible, seeking the Republican nomination for Senate in 2004 when the Republican nominee was disqualified (ironically, that selection went to former Marylander Alan Keyes, who got the right to get trounced by Barack Obama that November). Vovak then sought the Republican nomination for Senate here in Maryland in 2006, running a relatively Seinfeld-esque campaign while wearing a wig, followed up by his quixotic campaign for State Party Chair last year. In between, he managed to come up with a hairbrained movie concept about the Monica Lewinsky that starred Paula Jones and wrote a novel with himself as the main character.

His latest publicity stunts haven't really done much better as far as establishing credibility. He's running for Montgomery County Executive, ostensibly as a Republican but taking wildly odd political positions many of which run contrary to basic Republican principles. In the meantime, he's also trying to hire a Democratic County Councilman to run his administration, attended Martin O'Malley's campaign kickoff. His latest stunt is publicly pointing out that the Maryland Democratic Party thanked the Republican Vovak for his donation. And Vovak even manages to throw this quote in there:
I'm probably the only Republican since Connie Morella whom Democrats can trust.
I think it is safe to say that Daniel Vovak is not a Republican, at least by any ostensibly reasonable definition of what it is to be a Republican. Not only does Vovak not take any reasonably Republican issue positions in his campaign, but it also is clear that any time that Vovak obtains even a modicum of publicity for his schemes, it is always in a light to brings disdain and embarrassment to the Maryland Republican Party.

Daniel Vovak may be a registered Republican. He may be a candidate in a Republican Primary. But it is clear that Vovak is not a Republican, merely a liberal operating under a false flag in order to bring shame to our side. And I don't think that we should pretend that he is anything else any longer...

Friday, July 02, 2010

Pictures are worth more than a thousand words...

Just a quick note to the fine folks who are in charge of the newly re-designed website.

Those pictures that you guys have put up on the website sure are pretty....

....they are also pictures that have been taken under the auspices of the Maryland State Government. Which means those pictures are owned by the taxpayers of Maryland, not the O'Malley Campaign.

So, folks at the O'Malley campaign....did you pay to use those photos, or are you blatantly violating state law regarding the use of state-owned photography?

Inquiring minds want to know.....


Monday, June 28, 2010

It's Time to Clean House

The MTA just cannot get out of its own way these days. Because we get point after point after point about the culture of failure that has seeped into every pore of that agency.

Even I, as much of a critic as I am, understand that mistakes happen and that sometimes things break. But when you skip major MARC stations without a reasonable explanation, forcing riders to doubleback, it makes you wonder what kind of circus Ralign Wells is running over there.

It is time (still) for Martin O'Malley to clean house over at the MTA and send a message to transit users that the continued failure of the Agency is no longer acceptable.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

O'Malley in Microcosm

The MARC Train Ride from Hell is starting to become a perfect microcosm of the failures of the O'Malley Administration.

MARC train service has been a problem throughout the O'Malley Administration. The entire Maryland Transit Administration has been a mess throughout the O'Malley Administration. Then earlier this week, we had the
complete breakdown of common sense and order on MARC Train 538. Thousands of suburban, middle-class voters commuting between D.C. and the Washington area get stuck in sweltering, inhuman heat on a train for two hours.

Then and only then does Martin O'Malley wake up from his rock star dreams to deal with the harsh reality of the situation by....
appearing for a campaign spectacle photo op to try and cover his indifference on the issue. And even then, his presence didn't exactly stop more grisly conditions on today's trains.

The fact that Secretary of Transportation Beverly Swaim-Staley or embattled Transit Administrator Ralign Wells
never bothered to show up to MARC riders advisory committee meetings probably explains a heck of a lot about the continued failures of the MTA to deal with this.....though it does explain why Ralign Wells thinks that all of MTA's problems are with their perception.

And don't forget that beyond the MARC train debacle, the
MTA remains the gang that couldn't shoot straight on other issues, too.

Martin O'Malley's dealing with the "hell train" fiasco from early in the week has been eerily similar to the way he has run his entire administration:
  • Identify the problem;
  • Ignore the problem;
  • Notice that the problem has begat some sort of calamity, particularly one that impacts white, suruban, middle class voters from Baltimore or Howard Counties;
  • See if the problem is your fault;
  • Create a photo op to address the problem;
  • Blame Bob Ehrlich;
  • Go back to ignoring the problem.

While Martin O'Malley has been ignoring transit issues for his entire administration, many critics (of which I include myself) have been documenting problems with the Transit Administration for several years. He is little more than a Johnny Come-lately on this issue, particularly as it relates to MARC trains. Only now that his failure to lead on reforming the MTA has led to such a public relations nightmare has O'Malley finally decided to give the appearance that he is doing something about it.

We're wathcing Governor...prove us wrong.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

But I thought it was a perception problem

Remember last week when MTA Chief Ralign Wells said that the problem with the MTA and its services was perception and not service.

Yeah....about that.

I have a high suspicion that the 1,000 commuters that the MTA left stranded for two-hours in hot, inhuman conditions without being provided any relief in the form of a simple drink of water on a MARC train probably think that the perception of the MTA is not exactly a high priority. Maybe a MARC train system that works is. Because this does not sound like the words of satisfied customers:

They absolutely lost control of the situation," said Tim Kelly of Arbutus, a
10-year MARC rider who called the experience "the worst I've ever seen" on the
commuter railroad.

Passenger Bill Rowe of Towson said he estimated the
temperature in the car "conservatively" at 110 degrees. "Frankly, if someone
left their dog locked up in a car for 11/2 hours like this, they would be
arrested," he said.

Way to go MTA! Clearly the perception of your agency is in the dumps because you don't market well enough, not because you can't keep the system running or, when the system fails, treat your customers like human beings. And as more details come out, the worse the whole incident it sounds.

Heads should roll over this.....and maybe it's time for me to call (again) for a purge of senior leadership over at the MTA.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Murphy Campaign loses its own argument

So the Brian Murphy campaign has been telling anybody who will listen that their guy can beat Martin O'Malley, whereas Governor Ehrlich can't. Somebody apparently did not tell their press shop, because I got this press release today straight from the Murphy campaign:

In the latest poll, O’Malley and Ehrlich were in a statistical dead-heat: 44% to 43%. However, only 28% definitely will vote for incumbent Governor O’Malley and 31% were firmly committed to former Governor, an “incumbent” once removed, Ehrlich.

In a match-up against Martin O’Malley, Brian Murphy trailed 44% to 25%, with 31% of voters undecided.

Kinda takes a hit to the electability argument, does it not? Probably something to do with the fact that, over the six-month course of this campaign, Murphy's name ID is hovering at 27%. Hard to imagine that if Murphy's name ID hasn't broken a third of the electorate in the last six months that the rate will continue to improve between now and the end of his campaign in September.

Makes you wonder how long before those few Murphy supporters out there realize that tilting at windmills with the potential spector of a second term for O'Malley is really worth it...

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

MTA Head Has Misplaced Priorities

Michael Dresser reports on a roundtable with Transit Administrator Ralign Wells. And if you think the head of the MTA has his priorities straight well.....not necessarily:

"I'm very frustrated that there's a poor perception of transit," said MTA
Administrator Ralign Wells. "What I'm trying to do is change the perception of
Well....people the public has a poor perception for a pretty good reason, and it says a lot that the priority for Wells is to improve the pereception of transit, not actually improve transit itself.

Some of the other things that Wells notes goes from basic common sense budgeting stuff to the more....well, shall we say off the wall concepts of what's important.

Every other major transit system in America has a SmartCard system. WMATA introduced theirs in 2004....however MTA's is "still in development."

A 30-percent farebox recovery rate for Wells is "decent." Thiry-percent. We've talked about farebox recovery rates before, but what is even worse is what Wells delineates as the actual farebox recovery rates:

  • MTA Buses: 30 percent
  • Metro Subway: 28 percent
  • Light Rail: 18 percent
  • MARC: "Mid-30's percent"

Those recovery rates are absolutely unacceptable.

Then we get to safety issues:

"But he said suburbanites who do use the system can attest that it is safe.

That might be news to more than a few people just with the number of horror stories that just I have discussed over the years (though it isn't like the MTA got any help from Annapolis on this one). So the problem, Mr. Wells is not the pereception that the MTA system isn't safe; it's the fact that the MTA system in sections seems to not actually be safe.

But uniforms for MTA operators will fix everything!

So how does Ralign Wells defer from his predecessor at MTA? Seemingly, he doesn't. There seems to continue to be this culture within MTA that the status quo is fine, that the system is safe, that low farebox recovery rates are acceptable to taxpayers, and that the problem is with the perception of the public and not the reality of the situation.

I hope that we will get the opportunity to deal with this change in culture with the change in Administration in the Governor's Mansion that will be coming this January...


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