Journalist @baltimoresun writer artist runner #amwriting Chaplain PIO #partylikeajournalist

Journalist @baltimoresun writer artist runner #amwriting Chaplain PIO #partylikeajournalist
Journalist @baltimoresun writer artist runner #amwriting Md Troopers Assoc #20 & Westminster Md Fire Dept Chaplain PIO #partylikeajournalist

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

House Vote Tomorrow on H.R. 800 that would eliminate the right to secret ballot elections for workers

House Vote Tomorrow on H.R. 800 that would eliminate the right to secret ballot elections for workers
February 28th, 2007

I received this in an e-mail just a moment ago and I felt strongly that it was worth passing along and it is definitely worth the time to read and then - be in touch with your representative...


More supporters of H.R. 800, the Employee Free Choice Act or Worker Intimidation Act who are being hypocritical about the right to secret ballot elections. H.R. 800 will come to a vote on the House floor on Thursday, March 1.

Congressman Bartlett opposes H.R. 800 and is an original co-sponsor of the Secret Ballot Protection Act, H.R. 866. Please note that this was one of the late Congressman Charlie Norwood's bills.

SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI - Pelosi owns a vineyard in Napa where workers have the right under California law to a private secret ballot. So the rights her workers have she wants to strip away from other workers. By the way, workers in Pelosi's vineyard have chosen not to organize a union. (Wine Spectator, 12/6/06)

REP. SANCHEZ, REP. SOLIS, REP. SANCHEZ AND REP. VELASQUEZ - All four of these members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus sent a joint letter to Caucus leader Rep. Napolitano asking for a fair and proper election within their committee. The four politicians requested that the leadership elections held last November be revisited so that everyone may participate, especially a member who had not been able to participate due to a run-off election (won and settled by, obviously, a secret ballot). They write, "We therefore believe that we need to follow proper rules of procedure and hold a vote by secret ballot." (Letter to CHC, Jan. 5, 2007)

My favorite two reasons of the top 10 in this Dear Colleague letter below to oppose H.R. 800.

1. Its sponsors in Congress are hypocritical. A 2001 letter sent by the lead sponsor and other current co-sponsors of "Employee Free Choice Act" to Mexican - yes, Mexican - officials, stated, "We understand that the secret ballot is allowed for, but not required by Mexican labor law. However, we feel that the secret ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they may otherwise not choose." This rare instance of Members weighing-in on election between two competing Mexican labor unions underscores the fact that card checks - in any scenario - are prone to intimidation.

2. Its supporters in organized labor are hypocritical. Organized labor leaders have expressed strong support for secret ballot elections when workers are presented the opportunity to decertify a union at their workplace. Unions have argued passionately to the National Labor Relations Board that private ballots "provide the surest means for avoiding decisions which are the result of group pressures and not individual decisions."


February 28, 2007

Top Ten Reasons How the So-Called "Employee Free Choice Act"
Undermines Democracy, Workers' Rights

Dear Colleague:

In a recent poll, nearly 80 percent of Americans opposed the deceptively-titled "Employee Free Choice Act" (H.R. 800), which would strip away workers' rights to private ballot voting and replace it with a highly-controversial public voting or "card check" system.

Tomorrow, the House will consider this flawed legislation that threatens the very democratic process that - ironically - allowed its very authors to be elected to public office. As we prepare for debate, below you will find merely ten of the countless reasons why the card check bill is a threat to democracy and the American workers the sponsors of the bill purportedly protect...reasons why nearly eight in ten Americans agree the card check bill should die in Congress:

1. It kills the secret ballot in the workplace. Members of Congress rely upon, treasure, and would fight to defend the secret ballot process to preserve when it comes to their own political careers...but apparently for some, not when it comes to the rights of workers. Under current law, unions may organize through either a federally-supervised private ballot election or a "card check" system. The so-called "Employee Free Choice Act," however, would kill private voting rights altogether and make workers' votes public through a mandatory card check, in which union bosses gather authorization cards purportedly signed by workers expressing their desire for a union to represent them.

2. It leaves workers vulnerable to coercion and intimidation. Mandatory card checks can strip workers of the right to choose - freely and anonymously - whether to unionize, and card checks notoriously leave workers open to coercion, pressure, and outright intimidation and threats. Such an instance of intimidation was highlighted in testimony provided earlier this month to a U.S. House labor subcommittee by Karen M., an employee who described tactics used in a card check campaign at her company in Oregon. During that card check drive, she told the subcommittee she and her colleagues were "subjected to badgering and immense peer pressure" and that she "exercised [her] free choice not to be in the union and [her] work life became miserable because of it."

3. It strips workers of their right to privacy in the workplace. Mandatory card checks make workers' union organization votes completely and utterly public. In other words, their co-workers, their employers, their union organizers, and union bosses themselves will know exactly how they voted. How is that free choice?

4. Its sponsors in Congress are hypocritical. A 2001 letter sent by the lead sponsor and other current co-sponsors of "Employee Free Choice Act" to Mexican - yes, Mexican - officials, stated, "We understand that the secret ballot is allowed for, but not required by Mexican labor law. However, we feel that the secret ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they may otherwise not choose." This rare instance of Members weighing-in on election between two competing Mexican labor unions underscores the fact that card checks - in any scenario - are prone to intimidation.

5. Its supporters in organized labor are hypocritical. Organized labor leaders have expressed strong support for secret ballot elections when workers are presented the opportunity to decertify a union at their workplace. Unions have argued passionately to the National Labor Relations Board that private ballots "provide the surest means for avoiding decisions which are the result of group pressures and not individual decisions."

6. The bill simply amounts to Big Labor's Big Payback. Organized labor has seen its best days. It's hemorrhaging members at a steady pace - losing 325,000 members last year, down to 12 percent nationwide and 7.4 percent in the private sector. Faced with this reality, union bosses have reverted to full panic mode. And after they helped usher into Congress a new Majority - giving nearly $60 million in hard-dollar PAC contributions to them in the last election cycle, with tens of millions more for "get out the vote" efforts piled on top - they see a small window of opportunity; one final, desperate attempt to stop the bleeding.

7. When it comes to union coercion, its supporters look the other way. The bill would levy new civil penalties upon employers if they coerce an employee during a card check campaign. However, the bill remains silent on coercion from unions, choosing instead to stay silent and tacitly allow unions to participate in coercive tactics already well-documented in card check campaigns.

8. It strips away a worker's right to vote on contracts. The so-called "Employee Free Choice Act" is well-known for chipping away at a worker's right to vote in union organization elections, but it doesn't stop there. It also would strip a worker of his or her ability to vote on contracts as well. That means, by instituting mandatory arbitration, the bill would take away an employee's right to vote on a contract that controls work rules, pay, and benefits. Instead, by government fiat, that right would be given to a third-party mediator.

9. Americans support a federally-supervised private ballot election. According to a January 2007 McLaughlin & Associates poll, 87 percent of Americans agree that "every worker should continue to have the right to a federally supervised secret ballot election when deciding whether to organize a union." 89 percent believe a worker's ballot should remain private, rather than making it public through the card check. And 89 percent believe the secret ballot is the surest way to prevent intimidation from either employers or unions. As a result, 79 percent of those polled explicitly oppose the so-called "Employee Free Choice Act."

10. Union members support a federally-supervised private ballot election. In July 2004, Zogby International conducted a survey of more than 700 union members, in which 71 percent of union members agreed that the current secret-ballot process is fair. Zogby also found that 78 percent of union members said that Congress should keep the existing secret ballot election process in place and not replace it with another process.

Join us in voting YES for the democratic rights of workers by voting NO on the so-called "Employee Free Choice Act." For more information on the bill, please contact the Education and Labor Committee Republican staff at x5-7101.


/s/ /s/

Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-CA) John Kline (R-MN)
Senior Republican Member Ranking Republican Member
Education and Labor Committee Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee

20070228 Best Shoes of the Day

Best Shoes of the Day – The Daily Shoe Watch

February 28th, 2007

I found this wonderful pair of shoes at a local frame shop in WestminsterGizmos Art, Lyndi McNulty's. Aren’t they just divine?

If you ever been in Gizmos during the day the place is regular bee hive of activity and here at “Soundtrack” we were really appreciative that this nice young lady stopped for two seconds to let us capture an image of her shoes for everyone to admire.

For more on Shoes – go here.

For more on Gizmos Art, Lyndi McNulty's – go here.


20070228 February 2007 Maryland Governor O’Malley press releases

February 2007 Maryland Governor O’Malley press releases

Press Releases

February 28, 2007

February 28 Governor O'Malley Rededicates Historic Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaque and Tree

February 22 O'Malley / Brown Administration Releases Transition Report

February 16 Governor O'Malley Announces Nominees for Maryland's Public Service Commission

February 16 Governor Martin O'Malley Submits "Green Bag" Appointments to Maryland Senate

Februray 15 Statement on Walter Sondheim, Jr.

February 14 Governor O'Malley Announces Plans to Host 2007 Bay Bridge Walk

February 11 Governor O'Malley Visits Maryland Correctional Training Center in Hagerstown

February 8 Governor O'Malley Announces Appointment of Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown to the East Baltimore Development, Inc. Board of Directors

February 7 Governor O'Malley, State of Maryland, Urges FERC to Deny Sparrow's Point LNG Project

February 7 Governor O'Malley Announces Nominees for Department of Business and Economic Development, Juvenile Justice, Aging, and General Services

February 6 Governor O'Malley Announces Transportation Veteran To Lead The Maryland Transportation Authority

Maryland Governor O’Malley press releases on "Soundtrack"


20070228 Remember the Maine

Online Images of USS Maine

USS Maine (ACR-1), the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for the state of Maine, was a 6682-ton second-class pre-dreadnought battleship originally designated as Armored Cruiser #1.

El USS Maine (ACR-1) fue un acorazado de la marina de los Estados Unidos que zozobró en el puerto de La Habana en febrero de 1898 a causa de una explosión.

"Remember the Maine"

February 28th, 2007

My latest Tentacle column is up on the web: "Remember the Maine."
It’s a piece that has been in my head for quite sometime. Many folks are eager to compare the war in Iraq with the Vietnam War. To be certain, there are parallels available; however for the student of history, comparisons abound with the Spanish-American War. Read on – see what you think…

February 28, 2007

"Remember the Maine"

Kevin E. Dayhoff

Essentially unnoticed a couple of weeks ago was the anniversary of a dark day in American history that in its day was considered by our great grandparents as horrific as Pearl Harbor or 9/11.

It was on February 15, 1898, that a mysterious explosion sunk the USS Maine in the harbor of Havana, Cuba. Of its approximately 400 American seamen, 260 died.

The events of 1898 provide many instructive parallels to the events of the past several years and - at a minimum - to "Remember the Maine" gives us great insight from where we have come and why we are where we are today.

Go here to read the rest of the column.

The Sampson Board meets aboard the Lighthouse Tender MANGROVE. At the table from left to right, the men are Capt. French Chadwick, Capt. William Sampson, Lt. Cmdr. William Potter, Ens. Powelson, and Lt. Cmdr. Adolph Marix (judge advocate). Powelson was present to provide testimony based on the findings of the divers working aboard the wreckage of the MAINE

To read the “Sampson Board Report” (U.S.S. IOWA, First Rate, Key West, Fla., Monday, March 21, 1898. After full and mature consideration of all the testimony before it, the court finds as follows:…) go here.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

20070226 The Happy Shoveler

The Happy Shoveler

(Too) early Monday February 26th, 2007

20070226 Monday morning it snowed

Monday morning it snowed

Monday morning it snowed – the “Wonder Of It All.”

February 26th, 2007

For a Lauren” January 2006 interview with the band – go here. She quizzed “the band's vocalist Derek Stipe on their name, their origin, and where they're headed…”

The band’s web site is here: Good for some tunes while working away at the keyboard.


20070226 Monday Morning Squirrel

Monday Morning Squirrel
February 26th, 2007

Monday, February 26, 2007

20070226 A twelve-year old sets the Washington Post straight

A twelve-year old sets the Washington Post straight.

February 26th, 2007

Fishbowl DC had an interesting post today in which it called to our attention a letter from a 12 year old who says that she does too read the newspaper.

Not only can she read – but she can write also.

Well, I gotta tell ya. I teach an after school class at a middle school. This semester we are using the “Newspapers in Education” curriculum because I also worried that young adults are not reading the newspaper.

Oh how wrong was I.

I have been pleasantly surprised at how much that age group is reading the newspaper… Of course much of it is determined by what they observe at home.

When asked why such-and-such was their favorite section, often the response was because a parent liked that section…

Find the Fishbowl post here: Monday, Feb 26 Little Kids With Big News Appetites


20070225 Timothy Noah of Slate is being Wiki-Whacked

Timothy Noah of Slate is being Wiki-Whacked

I'm Being Wiki-Whacked -

February 25th, 2007

H/t: “”

OMG – Way too funny. This is the winner of this week’s Dayhoff Dr. Pepper Award.

Apparently, Timothy Noah, who writes the "Chatterbox" column for Slate, the online magazine at, “is facing wiki-deletion on the basis of lack of notability.”

But ya can be sure that Anna Nicole Smith is in Wikipedia. Yep, sure thing – find her here. On second thought, why bother. (By the way, Tom McLaughlin is the real father of her baby…)

I now feel so much better that I am not listed. At least I don’t think that I am in Wikipedia? Phew: “No results found (for “Kevin Dayhoff”.) For help on searching within…”

Recently one of my editors issued an edict that he will not accept any cite or reference to Wikipedia in any of our columns. Well, this broke my heart… Okay, I’m over it, moving on here…

In the case of Mr. Noah, “” called to our attention, Timothy Noah of Slate pokes fun at Wikipedia's "notability" requirement by, among other things, calling it rococo (ridiculously elaborate). Note: The writer is facing wiki-deletion on the basis of lack of notability...

“Wikipedia already maintains rules concerning verifiability and privacy. Why does it need separate rules governing 'notability'? Wikipedia's attempt to define who or what is notable is so rococo that it even has elaborate notability criteria for porn stars. A former Playboy Playmate of the Month is notable; a hot girlfriend to a famous rock star is not. Wikipedia's stubborn enforcement of its notability standard suggests that... we limit entry to the club not because we need to, but because we want to.”

Writing in the Washington Post, Sunday, February 25, 2007, on page B02, Mr. Noah remarks, “Pardon me if I seem a little blue. My Wikipedia bio is about to disappear because I fail to satisfy the ‘notability guideline.’ ”

What follows is a fun read, find it here: “I'm Being Wiki-Whacked

Mr. Noah, we feel your pain.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

20070224 Benjamin’s Krider’s United Church of Christ

Benjamin’s Krider’s United Church of Christ and Cemetery

Krider’s Church Road in Westminster, MD

Established 1761

I looked for a web site for the church and I was not able to find one. I did however find a list of the folks buried in the cemetery as of October 25th, 1889 here: Krider's Cemetery, Carroll Co., MD List of interments” or

“Krider's (St Benjamin's) Lutheran & Reformed Cemetery is located on

Krider's Church Road near Westminster, Carroll County, Maryland. This

list of interments taken October 25, 1889, was found in The Democratic

Advocate, a local newspaper, and was published the first of February 1890.”

I also found a list of cemeteries in Carroll County that appear to have had an inventory completed of the names of the folks interred:

Maryland Cemeteries -


Bachman's Cemetery

Harney - Piney Creek Presbyterian Cemetery

New Windsor - Winter / St. Luke's Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery

Silver Run - St. Mary's Lutheran / Reformed Cemetery

Taneytown - Trinity Lutheran Cemetery

Tyrone - Baust's Lutheran / Reformed Cemetery

Union Bridge - Wolf Cemetery

Uniontown - Runnymeade Cemetery

Westminster - Krider's Lutheran & Reformed / St. Benjamin's Cemetery

Westminster - Leister / St. John's Cemetery

Westminster - Old Leister's Church Cemetery

Westminster - St. John's Catholic Cemetery

Westminster - Westminster Cemetery

That’s as far as I took it…

Daily Photoblog, Genealogy, Carroll County Churches


20070224 The Cornfields of Winter

The Carroll County Cornfields of Winter
February 24th, 2007

20070225 Weather Carroll County

Winter Storm Warning Remains In Effect Until 4 AM EST Monday.

Significant Ice Accumulation Is Likely.

-----Original Message-----

From: EmergencyEmail.ORG

Sent: Sunday, February 25, 2007 4:21 AM

Subject: WeatherMD - Carroll County

Severe Weather Map Link

Business Continuity Resources Sponsors

Salmonella - peanut butter update:

Wa-Frederick Md-Carroll-Northern Baltimore-Harford-Montgomery-Howard-Southern Baltimore-Extreme Western Allegany-Cntl & Eastern Allegany-Highland-Augusta-Rockingham-Shenandoah-Frederick Va-Page-Warren-Clarke-Loudoun-Hampshire-Morgan-Berkeley-Jefferson-Pendleton-Hardy-Western Grant-Eastern Grant-Western Mineral-Eastern Mineral-Including The Cities Of Hagerstown, Frederick, Westminster, Gaithersburg, Columbia, Baltimore, Frostburg, Cumberland, Staunton, Waynesboro, Harrisonburg, Winchester, Front Royal, Leesburg, Martinsburg, Charles Town, Bayard, Petersburg, Emoryville, Hartmansville, Keyser, Fort Ashby

A Strong Storm System Located Over The Cntl Plains Will Move East & Spread Moisture Across The Mid Atlantic Region Today Into Tonight.

Precipitation Will Initially Begin As A Mix Of Snow & Sleet Early This Morning. But A Transition To Freezing Rain Is Expected By Afternoon. An Inch Or Two Of Snow Accumulation Is Possible Before The Change To Freezing Rain.

Once The Change Over Occurs, Freezing Rain Is Expected To Continue Into The Early Afternoon Hrs. A Change To Rain Is Possible Over Cntl Md. The Wa Metro Area. & N. And Cntl Va During The Afternoon. Ice Accumulations Between One-Quarter To One-Half Inch Are Expected In The Warning Area. The Areas Most Susceptible For Higher Amounts & Widespread Icing Problems Will Be The N. Shenandoah Valley Of Va. Northeastern West Va.& N. & Western Md.

The Bulk Of The Freezing Precipitation Is Expected To Taper Off Later Tonight.

A Winter Storm Warning Means Significant Amounts Of Snow. Sleet.& Ice Are Expected Or Occurring. This Amount Of Glaze Could Cause Widespread Downed Trees & Power Lines Resulting In Power Outages & Hazardous Travel.


20070224 Old Hoff Barn off Old Westminster Pike

Old Hoff Barn off Old Westminster Pike
February 24th, 2007 Daily Photoblog

Looking at the old Hoff Barn[1] from Locust Avenue in the Buckingham View - “Tree Street” Development off Old Westminster Pike.

Buckingham View is a pre-World War Two development just outside the Westminster, MD city limits that was developed 1938. The date of the plan is October 1st, 1938.

I spent most of my childhood – from 1961 – 1971 working and playing on the old Hoff Farm. The farm is slated for development.[2] The barn, no doubt, will be torn down. I did not take a picture of the old farmhouse, although I wish I had.

The farmhouse is in a state of disrepair and is undoubtedly also slated for demolition – although it very well may be one of the oldest in Carroll County. The barn and the farmhouse are located right off Old Westminster Pike.

What we now know as the Old Westminster Pike – just east of Westminster, was built between 1804 and 1807. Growing up we called it “Old Baltimore Boulevard. That name (Baltimore Boulevard) seems to have been assigned to Rte 140 in Westminster now.

In 1804 the Maryland legislature chartered the “Baltimore and Reisterstown Turnpike Company” to build a “macadam road” to the Mason-Dixon Line. The road was completed in 1807 at a cost of $1.5 million dollars. It was built to replace an old wagon trail that pre-dated the French and Indian War.

The main reason was to facilitate the better transportation of agricultural goods and commodities to markets outside the county. In those days, Baltimore was the third largest city in the United States and the terminus of seven turnpikes. The turnpike to the Mason Dixon line was built to bring goods and products from southern Pennsylvania to Baltimore instead of Philadelphia.

There have been many farms developed in Carroll County that have made me very sad. The day this barn and farmhouse are torn down will be a life-event sad day for me.


[1] Not to confused with “this” Hoff Barn: “20060926 Kelsey Volkmann on the Hoff Barn or “20060830 Marlin K. Hoff Memorial Barn” located here or here.

[2] For more information about the story of this development see – “20050121 The Hoff Naganna Annexation – the rest of the story.” or find it here:

20070224 Saturday Dinner this evening at Salsarita’s in Westminster

The address in Westminster, MD is:

Dinner this evening was at Salsarita’s in Westminster, MD
Saturday, February 24th, 2007


Saturday, February 24, 2007

20070224 The Happy Burrito Maker

(c) The Happy Burrito Maker

February 24th, 2007

Kevin Dayhoff

20070224 My Daddy the Danser

My Daddy the Dancer

February 24th, 2007

H/t: E-mailed to me by Analog

One day a fourth-grade teacher asked the children what their fathers did for a living.

All the typical answers came up -- fireman, mechanic, businessman, salesman, doctor, lawyer, and so forth.

However, little Justin was being uncharacteristically quiet, so when the teacher prodded him about his father, he replied, "My father's an exotic dancer in a gay cabaret and takes off all his clothes in front of other men and they put money in his underwear. Sometimes, if the offer is really good, he will go home with some guy and stay with him all night for money."

The teacher, obviously shaken by this statement, hurriedly set the other children to work on some exercises and then took little Justin aside to ask him, "Is that really true about your father?"

"No," the boy said, “He works for the Democratic National Committee and is helping to get Hillary Clinton to be our next President, but I was too embarrassed to say that in front of the rest of the class.


20070224 The Old Man

20070223 Daily Photoblog All The Leaves Are Brown

All The Leaves Are Brown

Daily Photoblog

February 23rd, 2007

All The Leaves Are Brown

California Dreamin'

Written by John and Michelle Phillips, © 1966

All the leaves are brown

And the sky is grey

I went for a walk

On a winter's day

I'd be safe and warm

If I was in L.A.

California dreamin'

On such a winter's day

I stopped into a church (stopped into a church)

I passed along the way (passed along the way)

You know, I got down on my knees (got down on my knees)

And I pretend to pray (I pretend to pray)

Oh, the preacher likes the cold (preacher likes the cold)

He knows I'm gonna stay (knows I'm gonna stay)

Oh, California dreamin' (California dreamin')

On such a winter's day

All the leaves are brown (the leaves are brown)

And the sky is grey (and the sky is grey)

I went for a walk (I went for a walk)

On a winter's day (on a winter's day)

If I didn't tell her (if I didn't tell her)

I could leave today (I could leave today)

Oh, California dreamin' (California dreamin')

On such a winter's day (California dreamin')

On such a winter's day (California dreamin')

On such a winter's day (California dreamin')

On such a winter's day


Friday, February 23, 2007

20070223 News Clips

News clips 2.23.07

H/t: GOPCharlie and AM

Opponents say Bay fee would drive up costs

Measure targets rural Maryland, hurts affordable housing, they argue

Rural lawmakers, particularly Republicans, are bristling at a proposal to levy a surcharge on new development that they believe will lead to increased housing costs in areas that already have too few affordable homes.

The bill would force developers who build outside high-growth areas to pay a $2-per-square-foot fee on impervious surfaces that carry pollutants into the waterways. The charge within Smart Growth zones would be only 25 cents per square foot.

Rural lawmakers applaud the effort to clean the Bay but say their constituents would be forced to bear the brunt of restoration programs because developers would likely pass the costs on to prospective homebuyers.

I’m all for cleaning up the Bay, but this may be a bit premature right now, said Del. Paul S. Stull (R-Dist. 4A) of Walkersville. This will be a new tax and another fee that will drive up the cost of housing.

Existing fees on new development already makes it difficult for Stulls constituents to purchase or build new homes, he said, and the new proposal will only worsen the problem.

This bill is nothing more than a shameless environmental money grab, Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-Dist. 36) of Stevensville said in a statement. Make no mistake about it, the bill imposes a statewide impact fee on the few to pay for the many.

Enactment of this misguided bill will be tantamount to declaring war on the rural counties, Pipkin added. ... Crazy as it may be, what this proposal attempts to do is tax our way into more affordable housing. Its like Alice in Wonderland: Whats up is down and whats down is up.


O'Malley gets transition report

1,000-plus pages contain hints of tax-rise pressure, detail problems,0,7530063.story?coll=bal-local-headlines

Gov. Martin O'Malley released more than 1,000 pages of documents from his transition team yesterday, reports that paint a stark picture of some troubled agencies and foreshadow pressure for tax increases to pay for schools, transportation and other priorities.

Others cut straight to contentious issues. The transportation work group, for example, said O'Malley will need to find a major new revenue source as early as next year to pay for roads, mass transit and other projects. The group suggested that the governor consider raising the gasoline tax - which has been unchanged since 1994 - by as much as a nickel a gallon.

The elections committee recommended against adopting new voting machines until 2010. That would disappoint reform advocates who worry that Maryland's touch-screen voting machines are vulnerable to errors and manipulation.

Given that the state is facing a gap between projected spending and revenues - a $1.3 billion "structural deficit" starting with the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2008 - that's not possible in the short run, O'Malley said. He didn't prescribe a solution but suggested that it will probably involve increasing taxes or other revenue sources.

"We are faced with a situation where the state is spending at a faster rate than it is taking in, and to face that we have to do two different things," O'Malley said. "We have to make government more effective and efficient so we can reduce the rate of spending, and we have to look at the diversity and sustainability of different revenue streams."


So Little Time in Office, So Much Advice: O'Malley Counseled to Push for Gas Tax Increase

A group that reviewed the state's transportation needs suggested that O'Malley (D) consider proposing a gas tax increase and other measures to boost funding for road and mass transit projects.

Other options include raising the state sales tax and dedicating the proceeds to transportation and allocating a larger share of the state's corporate income tax revenue to transportation.

O'Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzese said the governor is aware of the state's looming transportation needs but has taken no position on the revenue ideas. "Right now, these are simply recommendations that will be reviewed by the administration," Abbruzzese said.


Flack farewell

Another familiar Republican face and voice is leaving Annapolis.

State GOP spokeswoman Audra Miller is ditching the state capital for the nations capital, where shell work as communications director for Jeff Fortenberry, a second-term Republican congressman from Nebraska.

Miller, a Penn State alum, came to the GOP in March 2005 from the Diocese of Trenton and served as the partys mouthpiece since then.

It has been one of the greatest experiences of my life to work at the Maryland Republican Party and with Gov. Ehrlich and Lt. Gov. Steele, she said. It has been a rewarding experience and Im so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had here.

Her last day at the state GOP is March 2. No successor has been hired.

Even Millers adversary at the state Democratic Party, who has sparred with her through the media, offered kind parting words

I really like her. Weve had spirited and fun debates in the past and Im going to miss her, said Democratic talking head David Paulson. The Maryland Republican Party is losing a lot by her departure.

Who says there cant be peace and harmony between the two political parties?

Alan Brody


O’Malley’s reality check: Power has limits

Remember all that fiery invective hurled by candidate Martin OMalley at the Public Service Commission in his campaign for governor? It was a major theme in his drive to oust incumbent Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich.

He said hed fire the five commissioners for allowing giant electric rate increases. He sued to block PSC actions. He vowed to appoint gung-ho consumer activists.

What a difference an election victory makes. Now OMalley is singing a slightly modified tune. Hes still inveighing against powerful, wealthy, special interests and standing up to protect the interests of consumers. But hes not exactly holding to his campaign promises.

He didnt fire anyone on the PSC. In fact, he doesnt have the power. Instead, he named two commissioners (to fill vacant slots) who lack a history of zealous consumer activism.

OMalleys choice for PSC chairman, Steve Larsen, has no background in utility regulation, which mocks the governors pledge to select commissioners with expertise in this arcane and complex field.

His other new commissioner, Suzanne Brogan, is actually a retread and was one of the members who approved electric rate deregulation in 1999 a move OMalley and other Democrats loudly denounced as anti-consumer.

To top off his PSC moves, the governor reappointed Harold Williams to another five-year term, even though he worked nearly 20 years for the Evil Empire of state utilities, Constellation Energy.

The other two commissioners, Chuck Boutin, an ex-Republican delegate and lawyer from Harford County, and Phillip Freifeld, a 24-year veteran of the PSC staff who put in time for another of those powerful, wealthy special interests (MCI), remain in place, untouched by OMalley saber-rattling.


Three mass transit projects delayed,0,2321477.story?coll=bal-local-headlines

Maryland's acting transportation secretary, John D. Porcari, told lawmakers yesterday that three big mass transit projects - including an east-west Red Line through Baltimore - will not go forward to public hearings this year as previously planned.

Porcari said the projects, including two in suburban Washington, will be delayed about a year so that officials can develop more accurate and specific projections of ridership when the state seeks federal funding for the transit lines.

The three projects are:

 The Red Line from Woodlawn to the Fells Point-Canton area. The state has been studying rapid bus and light rail alternatives, but transit activists are urging the O'Malley administration to include heavy rail in the study.

 The 14-mile Purple Line connecting New Carrollton with Bethesda. Light rail and rapid bus alternatives are being studied.

 The Corridor Cities Transitway in Montgomery County's Interstate 270 corridor. It would extend transit service past the Shady Grove Metro station into northern Montgomery, near the Frederick County line. Light rail and rapid bus service are under study.


Living wage supporters pack House economic hearing

Family advocates, economists, union representatives and state Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez called for the General Assembly to pass a living wage bill during a hearing Tuesday in the House Economic Matters Committee.

We have a governor who’s for it, who campaigned on it and put it in his State of the State speech, Del. Tom Hucker (D-Dist. 20) of Silver Spring said after the hearing. Hucker has testified on the bill since 1998 in his role as executive director of Progressive Maryland.

The bill would require businesses holding state contracts of more than $100,000 to pay employees at least $11.95 per hour beginning in fiscal 2008, which begins July 1.

The basic premise of this is the state government is not subsidizing poverty, said Del. Herman L. Taylor Jr. (D-Dist. 14) of Ashton, the bills lead sponsor.

We know that people making a substandard wage cannot make it in the state of Maryland.

Bill opponents cite its unknown costs to the state.

Eleven-ninety-five an hour for any business owner is not a low benchmark, said Ellen Valentino, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business.

What I heard, even from the Secretary of Labor ... is I dont think we know what are the $100,000 contracts. Who holds them? Where are the geographic areas? And what are the wages being paid in those areas? Valentino said.

Dennis C. McCoy, a lobbyist who represents the Association of Builders and Contractors, said the increased labor costs won’t come out of my client’s pocket. It comes right out of state taxpayers pockets if you decide to do it.

The organization’s 600 members, some of whom built recent additions to the House and Senate office buildings in Annapolis, also oppose a provision of the bill that would increase the wage annually according to the consumer price index for all urban customers in the Baltimore-Washington region.

This simply means that for construction of this building, there would be an increase in what was bid by every constructor, McCoy said.


Hogan cool to Montgomery gun control bill

House delegation wants tighter rules for county, but opponents fear a legal patchwork

bill that would allow Montgomery County to enact gun control laws that are stricter than state gun laws received support from the countys House delegation last week, but its future in the Senate is murky.

The measure has been pushed as a local bill to improve its chances: Montgomery County is seen as more receptive to gun control than other parts of Maryland. This week, however, it appeared that the strategy might backfire.

Sen. Patrick J. Hogan, who chairs the Montgomery County Senate delegation, does not support the legislation.

If were going to do something on gun control legislation, personally I think we need to do it statewide, not county by county, said Hogan (D-Dist. 39) of Montgomery Village. Next thing you know, were going to be doing it municipality by municipality.

Del. Roger P. Manno introduced the bill Feb. 8. Manno (D-Dist. 19), a freshman lawmaker from Silver Spring, said he drafted two versions of the bill one for Montgomery County only, another for the state but prefers to keep the focus on Montgomery.

At the end of the day, this is a gun control bill and Montgomery County has spoken on innumerable occasions and instances in their support for gun control, he said.

Manno said he would not want to draft legislation that would apply to others, such as Charles County sportsmen who are more concerned about Second Amendment rights.

Opponents say giving Montgomery County the authority to enact its own gun laws would create a patchwork of laws across Maryland.

It could create a situation where a hunter is arrested because he is pulled over for a broken taillight and has in his vehicle a firearm that is not legal in that particular jurisdiction, said Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association.


Officials consider ban on political automated calls

Regional Digest,0,4795937.story?coll=bal-local-headlines

Maryland lawmakers are considering getting rid of political candidates' exemption from the do-not-call registry.

Politicians are exempt from the rules that govern businesses when it comes to automated calls. Such calls have increased in recent campaign seasons because they cost less than placing phone calls in person.
Some voters felt bombarded by the calls last fall or wondered why they were getting them when they had put their home numbers on a do-not-call list. Bills being considered in both chambers of the Maryland legislature this term would end the exemption for political calls.



Restoring rights,0,2168463.story?coll=bal-opinion-headlines

It comes down to this: Anyone who has served his or her time for a criminal conviction ought to then be allowed to be a full participant in society. Isn't that how the criminal justice system is supposed to work? It's a safe bet that there never has been a crime deterred by the threat of losing one's voting rights. ("Halt or you won't be able to vote in 2008" won't stop many criminals in their tracks.) Disenfranchising a well-meaning ex-offender who is trying to return to a normal and productive life, however, sends exactly the wrong message.

No politician likes to be seen as soft on crime or criminals, but many states are beginning to reconsider this issue. Voters in Rhode Island chose to restore the voting rights of convicted felons on parole and probation through a ballot initiative last November. Denying voting rights only to those in prison is the approach also taken in the District of Columbia and 12 states, including Ohio, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

Fundamentally, it's a matter of fairness. Nationwide, an estimated 5.3 million Americans have currently or permanently lost their voting rights, including 1.4 million African-American men. It's gotten to be far too large a portion of the electorate to be ignored any longer.


Reporters Notebook: In case you were worried, ex-guv has a job now

But Keith W. Vaughan, chairman of the firm’s management committee, said the company did not recruit Ehrlich simply to boost its name recognition.

In our situation, we don’t view it as how many governors can you add to your team, he said. We want the skill sets that come with [having served in public office].

Ehrlich declined to say whether the new job will impact his decision to seek public office again. Today is about Womble and a very exciting chapter for the firms history, he said.


Scholarship scud

One bill proposes to eliminate nepotism in the awarding of scholarships; another would get rid of the program completely.

Its a concern over the perception that the scholarships are some sort of incumbent protection, said Sen. Allan Kittleman, who is the lead sponsor of the Robert Kittleman Scholarship Reform Act that seeks to terminate the subsidies. He is planning to offer an amendment that would transfer the $11.5 million used for legislative scholarships to the Maryland Higher Education Commission for it to distribute.

The legislature shouldn’t be giving it out. It should be in the hands of the professional educators who are best equipped to determine the needs of students, he said. A similar proposal to ax the scholarship program in 2005 failed.

Named after his late father, a former state legislator who championed the issue for two decades, Allan Kittleman said his bill would prevent lawmakers from using the scholarships to buy votes.

Currently, state senators can award $138,000 in scholarship money each year. Delegates may give the equivalent of four, four-year full-time scholarships per term. The proposed fiscal 2008 budget includes $6.5 million for senatorial and $4.9 million for delegate scholarships.

The other, less-dramatic measure would keep the scholarships intact, but prohibit lawmakers from awarding them to their relatives or family members of other legislators within the same district.

Such a restriction would preserve the ethical integrity of the General Assembly and put the scholarship guidelines in step with staff hiring protocols, said Sen. Bryan Simonaire, the bills lead sponsor. It is clear to me that the people of Maryland want to have a government that is open, honest and transparent.

A majority of senators have signed onto the bill, while Kittlemans proposal has only one co-sponsor.


Greater stadium scrutiny is urged

Audit will be basis for agency change, O'Malley says,0,7964611.story?coll=bal-local-headlines

Gov. Martin O'Malley and legislators said yesterday that stronger oversight and new management are needed at the Maryland Stadium Authority, but officials at the agency said reports of hundreds of thousands of dollars in severance packages paid to former employees without proper oversight were "salacious" and overblown.

General Assembly auditors presented a report to legislators yesterday showing the authority had paid $42,000 to a former executive director for less than an hour of work and $282,000 in severance packages without any guidelines for how they would be awarded or any oversight by the agency's board.

Although authority Chairman Robert L. McKinney defended the arrangements as "the cost of doing business," legislative leaders said they will likely take a much stronger hand in managing the state agency.

McKinney, appearing before an Appropriations subcommittee hearing, said that the problems identified by the audit largely occurred under a previous chairman and executive director and that the severance packages were necessary in some cases to guard against lawsuits.

"The Maryland Stadium Authority, despite the press reports, is being very well managed, very well run," McKinney said. "The auditors' report, unfortunately, has been made salacious in the press reports."


Senate panel airs public campaign finance proposal

In effort to curb sway of special interests, measure would cover legislative contests,0,6066454.story?coll=bal-local-headlines

A proposal aimed at reducing the influence of special interests in legislative campaigns by having Maryland taxpayers pay for them was debated in a state Senate committee yesterday.

The bill's primary Senate sponsor, Prince George's County Democrat Paul G. Pinsky, said the bill would reduce the appearance of favoritism among legislators and enable candidates to focus on issues, not fundraisers.

To be eligible for "public financing," candidates would have to raise seed money in sums of $5 or more from about 350 registered voters in their districts in addition to $6,750 in other contributions.

Once the public money was deposited in a candidate's account, he or she would be limited to spending a total of $100,000 for a primary and general election for the Senate, and to $80,000 for the House. The candidate would have to reject private contributions, except for a small amount from the candidate's political party.

If a competitor opted out of the system, a candidate could spend up to twice that amount.


Fake Private Parts Are No Joke, Myers Says

Delegate Wants to Ban Vehicle Displays of Plastic Genitals

Maryland Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr. to truckers: If you've got 'em, you don't need to flaunt 'em.

As the General Assembly debates global warming and the death penalty, Myers (R-Washington) has something else on his mind: the outsized plastic testicles that truckers dangle from the trailer hitches of their pickups.

To some truckers, they are manly expressions of rural chic. But Myers, who says his Western Maryland district is brimming with giant fakes on the roadways, calls them vulgar and immoral -- and filed legislation this week to outlaw them.

"People are making a joke out of it," Myers said yesterday. "But I think it's a pretty serious problem. You have body parts hanging from the hitches of cars. We've crossed a line."


Lobbyist causing strife in chamber

Del. Stull says he would 'rather not' work with Murphy, cites controversial history

Delegate Paul Stull doesn't like Don Murphy, the newly hired lobbyist for the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce.

In fact, based on interviews with members of the delegation, it's fair to say "detests" would be a better word.

"It's pretty clear I would rather not have to work with him personally on Frederick County business," Stull said Wednesday.

On Thursday, Murphy, a Republican, acknowledged the rocky relationship.

"It's politics, you can't make everybody happy," he said. "This is about, or should be about issues related to the Frederick County chamber, not personal animosity between legislators and lobbyists in Annapolis."

Stull said he would have liked the chamber to have talked to the delegation before making the hire, especially as the lobbyist will be expected to work so closely with the delegation.

Richard Adams, chamber president and CEO, said that was never considered.

"How were we to know there were issues? I'm not a mind-reader, there's no way I would know that. I don't think we need to make more of it than it is, and that's what I sense that you're trying to do."


Md. Lawmakers Push to Allow Import of Less Expensive Drugs from Canada

Comparing his effort to acts of civil disobedience during the Civil Rights era, a Maryland senator is proposing legislation that would defy federal law by allowing the state to set up a program to import less expensive prescription drugs from Canada.

In the bill called the "Canadian Mail Order Plan," the state would negotiate directly with Canadian pharmacies on behalf of residents for low-cost drugs. The prescription drugs, which would have to be priced below their American counterparts to qualify under the program, would be purchased directly from Canadian companies over a state-operated Web site, according to David F. Kahn, a legislative aide working on the bill.

At a hearing on the bill Wednesday, chief sponsor Sen. Paul G. Pinsky, D-Prince George's, said consumers could save as much as 25 to 50 percent by purchasing lower-priced drugs from Canada.

The importation of foreign prescription drugs would fly in the face of federal law since the drugs would be unapproved by the Food and Drug Administration.

But Pinsky said that circumventing federal law is justified because the government hasn't done enough to make prescription drugs less expensive.
"Sometimes you have to break the law," Pinsky said in an interview outside the Senate committee room. " ... When Rosa Parks sat down in the bus, it was against the law. She did it because it was the right thing to do. I think this is the right thing to do."


City takes, then sells woman’s truck

Three unpaid parking tickets cost Kelly Watson her Ford truck. When Watson, 32, of Columbia, went to retrieve her 1999 Ford F-250, the city had auctioned it off. A vehicle, with an estimated Kelly Blue Book value of $6,700, sold for $2,500. Somebody got a great steal. And it sure wasnt Watson.

I’m still in shock, she told The Examiner. I cant believe I lost my car for a couple of parking tickets.

Watson parked her car in front of a friends house in West Baltimore on Sept. 26, 2006. Four hours later, she said, it vanished.

Believing the F-250 was stolen, Watson called Baltimore Police Department. After filling out a report and checking the impound lots, police promised to call if the car turned up.

After a month of checking with the city, Watson finally received a call, but not from the police.

Someone called on my cell phone and asked me if I wanted to buy my car back for $3,000, she said. I was like, how did you get my cell phone number?

It gets worse. Watson found out that, despite the stolen-car report, the city had towed her truck to its impound lot on Pulaski Highway for three unpaid parking tickets that totaled $574 in fines.


Councilman demands BACVA accountability

Presently, 85 percent of BACVA’s budget comes from the citys hotel/motel tax, which accounts for about $8 million. The rest comes from its members and marketing partners for a total operating budget of $9.9 million.

However, across the country many convention centers are operating at a loss, and the new head of BACVA has projected a 60 percent drop in bookings for 2008.

Conventions are booked five to seven years in advance, and I dont know what happened with my predecessor; they did good in 2004-2005, but bookings for 2006-2008 have a gap, and thats the drop we are seeing currently, said Tom Noonan, president and chief executive officer of BACVA.

We are trying to close that gap with more corporate and pharmaceutical bookings, but there is a dip. However, we will have a strong showing for 2009 through [the coming years], he added.

Noonan hopes to open a New York office, launch a new ad campaign for the 757-room downtown Hilton Hotel, and increase his sales and marketing staff.


Gaithersburg bans day laborers from solicitation on streets, parking lots

Measure will not take effect until the county opens new employment center next month

The city became the first in Montgomery County on Tuesday to ban day laborers and contractors from conducting hires on city streets, driveways and parking lots.

The controversial anti-solicitation ordinance, passed 4-1 by the City Council, would apply to any worker or employer, but was crafted with day laborers specifically in mind.

The council stipulated that the measure not take effect until after Montgomery County opens a new employment center for day laborers off Shady Grove Road in Derwood, likely in early March.

First introduced in October a month before Gaithersburg abandoned its six-month search for a center site within city limits the proposed law raised the ire of religious leaders, laborer advocates and civic groups such as the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union, which has challenged similar laws around the country.