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, October 31, 2007

20071031 This Week in The Tentacle

This Week in The Tentacle

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick or Treat

Kevin E. Dayhoff

Happy Halloween! Of course, for Marylanders, Halloween came early this year when Gov. Martin O'Malley appeared Monday evening before a joint session of Maryland General Assembly with a very big trick or treat bag.

Martin and His Merry Band of Hucksters

Richard B. Weldon Jr.

The special session of the General Assembly looms over state legislators like a specter; how appropriate that today is Halloween. Instead of the Grim Reaper looking to take your soul, these guys (and gals) merely want your wallet.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Quiet Mayor

Roy Meachum

Jennifer Dougherty sneaked back into public view. Again. She declared she might be interested in taking on Andrew Duck and the other Democratic candidates who might challenge Roscoe Bartlett for the Sixth Congressional District seat.

An Engineer of Engineers

Nick Diaz

In recent years I've been doing some thinking, (an inherently dangerous activity), about my role as a veteran middle-school mathematics teacher. Most of my years with Frederick County Public Schools I spent in the classroom, in the act of attempting to teach kids from 10 to 14 years of age something about numbers and number relationships.

An Inescapable Conclusion

Farrell Keough

We have come a surprising distance on our road towards "Enlightenment." If you will remember, we began our discussion recognizing the truths of our honorable Montgomery County Executive, Democrat Isiah "Ike" Leggett informing us on how our enlightened leadership has made Maryland a sanctuary for illegal intruders.


A Walkersville resident says the "Muslim" issue in her town isn't "religion." CLICK HERE!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Special Sessions: Not So Special Anymore

Richard B. Weldon Jr.

The Constitution of Maryland acknowledges that a 90-day annual legislative session limitation may necessitate additional meetings. An unexpected crisis, a major disaster, or some other unpredictable situation might necessitate bringing legislators back to the State Capitol.

The OC Hotel-Motel Tax Increase

Tom McLaughlin

The Worcester County Commissioners are receiving public opinion about a bill to increase the room tax in Ocean City to attract more tourists. The money would be spent to advertise the town in the Western Shore markets.


The controversy in Walkersville over the Ahmadiyya Muslims' plans to build a facility there continues to raise eyebrows. CLICK HERE!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Doomed Special Session?

Roy Meachum

From here, the omens are not good for the governor's special session that opens Monday. Martin O'Malley hoped calling the legislature in would lead to answers for Maryland's staggering deficits. I don't think it's going to happen.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Time for Action

Chris Cavey

The citizens of Maryland will soon learn if their legislators understand the definition of representation as the Maryland General Assembly readies to convene in special session to consider the most massive tax hike in this state's history.


Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot sent a letter to the governor and every member of the General Assembly on Wednesday detailing his objections to the special session, slated to begin Monday. The Tentacle has obtained a copy for your edification. CLICK HERE!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Blackwater USA

Kevin E. Dayhoff

The founder of Blackwater USA, Erik Prince, is famous for being media averse. However in the last year, especially since the Democratic Party achieved majority status in the United States Congress, Mr. Prince's name is slowly becoming a household word.


A Thurmont resident takes issue with the upcoming General Assembly special session and the seeming inability of politicians to "cut." CLICK HERE!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Walkersville's Muslims

Roy Meachum

Please let us be clear: The Muslims trying to buy the farm in Walkersville have nothing to do with the other Muslims who have lived quietly in the community for years.

The Power of The Courts

Farrell Keough

During our last time together, we discussed how "Enlightened Maryland" has become. We give away our taxes, our services, and even our children's education to illegal intruders in deference to a more enlightened way of life.


A Frederick resident takes issue with Roy Meachum's column of last week, which was about the furor over the Muslim facility in Walkersville. CLICK HERE!

Monday, October 22, 2007


(EDITOR'S NOTE! Rick Weldon's column, which normally would have appeared on The Tentacle today, has been lost in the nether world we call cyberspace. It may appear unexpectedly later in the week, or it may be lost forever. Please remain hopeful. At least something written by Mr. Weldon, and prepared on another instrument invented to record man's intelligence and insight, shall appear here next week, even if a re-run is necessary.)

Humanizing a Made-for-TV Governor

Katie Nash

The latest news stories surrounding Gov. Martin O'Malley have included endeavors to improve his public image. As he travels with his entourage to Maryland communities to unveil his ambitious tax-and-spend proposals, the media reports on the slight image adjustments O'Malley's consultants want them to see.

Wishful Thinking v. Reality

Tom McLaughlin

Now that Dad has passed away and I am free from my caregiver duties, I must elect where I am going to live. I have already decided to purchase a house in Middletown. (Down, Realtors, it's a private sale.)

20071031 News Clips

News Clips

Oct. 31, 2007


Ehrlich keeps profile high, options open
Some infer preparation for a political comeback,0,793656.story?coll=bal_tab01_layout

Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. seems to be everywhere. He and his wife, Kendel, take calls on a weekly radio show. He's exhorting Marylanders to oppose his successor's tax and slots plan - an "insulting, phony piece of junk," he says. He has written a newspaper op-ed piece chastising the new administration. He's talking to college students at Towson University and fills in later this week behind the counter of an Annapolis-area coffee shop. What, exactly, is Bob Ehrlich up to?

"It looks very much to me that he really wants to make a political comeback," said Matthew Crenson, a political science professor at Johns Hopkins University. "He has done everything he can to keep himself in the public eye."

"Any former governor, especially one at Bob Ehrlich's young age, can be a public policy player, and I think any good politician would proceed at a manner that leaves their options open," said Kevin Igoe, a Republican strategist.

Still, some Democratic lawmakers believe that Ehrlich is playing a behind-the-scenes role in Annapolis, pushing legislators to defeat a plan that O'Malley says is needed to close a projected $1.7 billion gap.

But Del. Christopher B. Shank, the House minority whip from Western Maryland, who has appeared on Ehrlich's radio program, rejected that view.
Shank and other Republican leaders said they welcome the forum that Ehrlich has provided on his radio program to foster debate on state issues.

"He certainly is reminding his listeners and the public of these issues," said Sen. David R. Brinkley, the minority leader from Frederick County. "Anytime you have an individual who can get the public interested and activated, how is society harmed by that?"

Brown ties BRAC economic promise to tax plan,0,2674086.story?coll=bal_tab01_layout
The economic promise for Maryland of military base realignment could falter if lawmakers fail to approve tax increases the O'Malley administration is seeking to upgrade highways and transit systems, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown warned yesterday.

Brown, who is overseeing the administration's base-growth planning, said the state's ability to absorb up to 60,000 new jobs around its military installations may depend on finding the money needed to widen highway s and expand transit serving Aberdeen Proving Ground, Fort Meade and other facilities over the next few years.

Minority business owners have complained of being ignored or shut out of lucrative federal contracts, particularly a $477 million job recently awarded to build offices at Aberdeen Proving Ground. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin said in a telephone interview from Washington yesterday that he is pressing the Department of Defense, the Small Business Administration and other federal agencies to report to him on what steps they are taking to ensure that minority businesses get a shot at base-related contracts in Maryland.

City's eye on slots site
Favored location is warehouse area south of stadiums c t31,0,3597868.story?coll=bal_tab01_layout
An 11-acre warehouse district south of Baltimore's sports stadiums would become the home of a new slots facility under a proposal by Mayor Sheila Dixon's administration that officials said could cut city property taxes, The Sun has learned.
If the statewide proposal to legalize slot machines is approved, Dixon would push the site - which is owned almost entirely by the city - as the best option to keep gambling out of residential neighborhoods and give Baltimore greater control over the facility's operation.
As part of the proposal, the city would rent the land to a private company and use the proceeds to reduce Baltimore's property tax rate and help build 10 schools.
"Even if this measure passes, there will be a year of advocacy groups on both sides of the issue lobbying for voter support," Polakoff said. "Come November 2008, voters will vote on this, and not until then will we know that any of this is even a reality." Some noted that, during Orioles and Ravens games, surrounding neighborhoods become swamped with traffic and parking headaches. They questioned the impact that a year-round slots facility might have. Others object to the proposal for broader, anti-gambling reasons.

O'Malley ties plan to fund tax break, voters' OK of slots
Expansion of Medicaid benefits, more for school construction, also linked,0,3300896.story?coll=bal_tab01_layout
Gov. Martin O'Malley has tied voter approval of legalizing slot machine gambling to funding of his plans for a property tax cut for homeowners, expansion of the Medicaid program for childless adults, and a boost in spending for school construction.
If the General Assembly places a slots referendum on the November ballot next year and voters approve it, the state would get enough revenue to offset a proposed 3-cent property tax cut for homeowners from fiscal year 2010 through 2012 - and also hundreds of millions more for health care and higher education, Joseph C. Bryce, O'Malley's legislative director, told lawmakers yesterday. But if voters reject the slots constitutional amendment, then the state won't be able to reduce its property tax rate, Bryce said at a joint session of three legislative committees reviewing O'Malley's budget plan.

Senate Minority Leader David R. Brinkley, a Republican who represents Carroll and Frederick counties, asked Bryce about Comptroller Peter Franchot's recent statement that the state does not face an "immediate fiscal crisis" because the current budget is balanced.

Brinkley said O'Malley's projections of state revenue from legalizing slot-machine gambling - $59 million in fiscal year 2010, $459 million in 2011, and $724 million in 2012 - show that the legislature does not have to take action during the special session.

Majority favor slots
County residents favor some tax rises, not others, poll finds,0,7948652.story
Anne Arundel County residents' opinions are decidedly mixed on Gov. Martin O'Malley's tax proposals to balance the state budget, with strong majorities favoring raising taxes on businesses and high-income earners but opposing increases in the sales and car-titling taxes, according to a new survey. The Anne Arundel Community College poll, released yesterday as state lawmakers returned to Annapolis for a special session to weigh O'Malley's tax package, found that 6 1 percent of respondents support bringing slots to Maryland.

Nearly half (47 percent) said a greater focus should be placed on cutting state programs than raising taxes. Nearly three in 10 (27 percent) said the emphasis should be on raising taxes.

Republicans have opposed the suggested tax increases. Some lawmakers in both major parties have expressed unease about O'Malley's proposed referendum on slots that would allow up to 15,000 machines in five Maryland locations, including 4,250 in Anne Arundel County, presumably at Laurel Park.

State legislature begins debate on O'Malley plan
Against a divisive background of protest and partisan dissent, Gov. Martin O'Malley opened the General Assembly's special session yesterday preaching the need to find consensus. From increasing the sa l es tax from five to six cents on the dollar to reforming the income tax and hiking the corporate tax from 7 to 8 percent, Mr. O'Malley's sweeping plan will affect the pocketbooks of every Marylander. Before the legislature went into session, nearly 200 people gathered at Lawyers Mall to protest Mr. O'Malley's tax proposals. Holding signs that read "Stop O'Malley's Massive Tax Hikes" and "Welcome to O'Malley-fornia," people chanted, "No more taxes."
"The people are already out of money," Sen. Janet Greenip, R-Crofton, said at the rally. "All we need (to solve the deficit) is for government to live within its means."
At the moment, Republican senators and many Republican delegates have withdrawn their support for legalizing slot machines. This endangers Mr. O'Malley's slots plan, which would establish 15,000 machines at five locations, with 4,250 of them in Laurel.

The license fees would be much more expensive, raising $850 million next year versus t he $50 million in the governor's plan, said Mr. Schuh, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. "It accomplishes everything (the governor) is trying to accomplish, plus it helps solve the deficit," he said. "It will enable him to rely less on taxes."

O'Malley links tax cuts, health coverage to slots
Gov. Martin O'Malley yesterday warned that if his plan to legalize slot machines is rejected, he will not cut property taxes, freeze college tuition, increase spending on school construction or expand health care coverage. "Because of the necessity of sending slots to referendum to forge that consensus, we needed to adjust some of the startups and some of the enhancements within this plan to accommodate for its success or its failure." However, Democrats and Republicans who returned to Annapolis on Monday for a special assembly session to resolve the budget issue were apprehensive of his new strategy.
"I think holding things hostage is not necessarily a good plan," said Sen. John C. Astle, Anne Arundel Democrat.
House Minority Leader Anthony J. O'Donnell, Southern Maryland Republican, said, "I wish he would stop threatening people. It's very unbecoming of him." The O'Malley administration also would scrap devoting 50 percent of corporate income tax revenue as a steady source of money for higher education, if slots are not approved.
And Mr. O'Malley would limit his plans to expand health care coverage to 100,000 of 800,000 uninsured Maryland residents.
Lawmakers began hearings on the governor's plan to cut education funding yesterday and heard from budget analysts who said they estimated that the shortfall is now $1.5 billion.

County targets income tax plan
Delegation says Montgomery will bear too heavy a burden
Montgomery lawmakers are crafting an alternative to Gov. Martin O'Malley's income tax plan that would shift collections away from the county, which they say is unjustly burdened by the plan.

''The majority of the delegation is opposing the governor's plan," said Sen. Rona E. Kramer (D-Dist. 14) of Olney. ''They feel Montgomery County contributes a very, very large portion of the tax rate and it gets very little back." O'Malley's plan is designed to make the tax brackets more progressive - that is, have lower-income families pay a smaller portion of their wages in taxes and have we a lthier filers pay more. Del. Luiz R.S. Simmons (D-Dist. 17) of Rockville has introduced legislation to repeal a 1997 tax cut that reduced the top rate from 5 percent to 4.75 percent and doubled the personal exemption to $2,400.
Lawmakers say this benefits Montgomery. O'Malley's plan draws 83 percent of its income from the county; eliminating the tax cut means 25 percent of the income comes from Montgomery.

Today: Gas, Corporate Tax Hearing; Calls For Cuts In County Aid

Hearings resume today in Annapolis as the special session of the Maryland General Assembly enters its third day.

Members of four legislative committees hold a joint hearing this morning on Governor Martin O'Malley's transportation funding plan which the governor says is needed to pay for overdue road and bridge construction projects.

That package includes a plan to boost the gasoline tax from 23.5 to 24-cents per gallon in January. Future annual increases would be tied to construction costs.The governor also repeated his warning today of dramatic cuts in state services, including the closings of State Police barracks, and state parks, if lawmakers do not approve his tax and slots plan that he says is needed to eliminate a structural budget deficit of up to $1.7-billion.

O'Malley told WBAL News that the cuts could take effect before July 1, when the new fiscal year for the state begins.

Aides to Governor O'Malley have told lawmakers voters must approve a slots referendum next year, if they want to see cuts in the state's property tax, or expand health insurance for the uninsured.

Governor O'Malley says that's because the state won't realize the $500-million slots will generate annually, unless the referendum is approved. O'Malley says he's advocating the referendum to try to end the heated debate over a slots law that he says may not pass.


Halloween goes all tasteful,0,4963624.column
Martin O'Malley's critics say he's a spender. Can't prove it by the Halloween decorations at the governor's mansion. The hundreds of tax protesters who rallied on Lawyers Mall this week might have taken heart if they'd glanced at Government House next door: Two ghosts and a scarecrow. Hay bales. Cornstalks. A pair of leaf wreaths. Some mums. Call it classic Annapolis. Understated. Dignified. I say, skimpy. Under the top. A little, well, Montgomery County.

In raising Maryland's vehicle titling tax, take trade-ins into account,0,884498.story
A proposal to raise the vehicle titling tax by 20 percent is scheduled for a hearing in the Maryland General Assembly today. Legislators have an opportunity to align Maryland's vehicle taxation process with the 44 states that deduct the value of a trade-in when calculating sales tax on a vehicle purchase.

Maryland automobile dealers recognize the need for increased transportation funding. But when a customer trades in a used vehicle with value and is still taxed as if the old vehicle is worthless, that represents double taxation. Therefore, state automobile dealers have made a proposal to Gov. Martin O'Malley and the General Assembly: Increase the titling tax from 5 percent to 6 percent, but tax consumers only on the difference between the new vehicle price and the value of a use d car trade-in.

These are not happy days for Maryland dealers. The climate for automobile sales is the worst we've seen in a decade, and economists predict the worst is yet to come. If Maryland consumers are not purchasing vehicles now, why will they purchase when the titling tax is increased 20 percent? Maryland is not making any money unless a car dealer sells a vehicle.

Increasing the titling tax by 20 percent and assessing tax on the used car trade difference is a reasonable solution that would benefit the state and Maryland consumers alike.

High stakes in the special session
When running for the highest office in the state, Gov. Martin O'Malley deftly sidestepped the difficult question of how he would manage the growing deficit in Maryland's budget. In his first ye a r, the governor sidestepped the difficult question again. He told state agencies to tighten their belts - not exactly the kind of efficiency miracle he promised. And then he tapped the state's reserve account, pulling some $900 million from the so-called rainy day fund.
So, here we are headed into year two and the governor is out of time and soon, out of money.
His answer: Create perhaps the most widespread, far-ranging tax increases in the history of Maryland dribbled out bit-by-bit to the public and then pushed in a special session of the legislature in an atmosphere of panic and dire warning that we are in for ''a very, very bad time" if we don't adopt his program.
In short, the special session that kicked off this week is a fabricated, unnecessary crisis.
The fear is that Governor O'Malley will push through a package of ill-conceived policies that will encumber Marylanders long after he has moved on in pursuit of grander political ambitions.
So, governor, let's slow this train down. Let's examine our options thoughtfully and reach a consensus that can stand the test of time for Marylanders.

20071031 Father of slain Marine wins case against funeral protesters Father of slain Marine wins case against funeral protesters

For additional information on Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder, a 2003 Westminster High School graduate who was killed in Iraq on March 3, 2006 – please click here: Iraq War Reaction in Carroll Co. - Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder Killed in Iraq March 2 2006

The funeral service, which is the focus of the trial, took place in Westminster – and in spite of the fact that I cherish free speech and the right to protest; the actions of the members of the Westboro Baptist Church was reprehensible…

Father of slain Marine wins case against funeral protesters

Pa. man awarded $2.9 million in compensatory damages

By Matthew Dolan, Sun reporter, 3:56 PM EDT, October 31, 2007

Albert Snyder of York, Pa., the father of a Westminster Marine who was killed in Iraq, today won his case in a Baltimore federal court against members of Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro Baptist Church who protested at his son's funeral last year.

The jury of five women and four men awarded Snyder $2.9 million in compensatory damages. The amount of punitive damages to be awarded has not yet been decided. The jury deliberated for about two hours yesterday and much of today.

Snyder was the first in the nation to attempt to hold members of Westboro Baptist Church legally liable for their shock protests at military funerals after the church protested the military's inclusion of gays at the funeral of Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder, a 2003 Westminster High School graduate who died March 3, 2006, in a vehicle accident in Anbar province.

In June 2006, Snyder sued the tight-knit fundamentalist Christian church and three of its members individually. The father argued that Westboro's demonstrations exacerbated his pain and suffering in March 2006 while he mourned the death of his only son.


Read the rest of the article here: Father of slain Marine wins case against funeral protesters

Related: Jury sees video of funeral protest

Church members protest outside federal court in Baltimore Video

Anti-gay church members protest Photo

Iraq War Reaction in Carroll Co. - Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder Killed in Iraq March 2 2006

20060315 Westminster Eagle Coverage of the death of Cpl Snyder in Iraq

Iraq War Reaction in Carroll Co. - Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder Killed in Iraq March 2 2006

03/15/06 - Extended family bids farewell Matthew Snyder, the Westminster Marine who died March 3 in a Humvee accident in Iraq. Leo Patalinghug, one of three clergy who conducted the funeral Mass, recalled several years ago visiting the S...

03/07/06 - Finksburg resident killed in Iraq Matthew A. Snyder, 20, was deployed in February to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom, assigned to Combat Service Support Group-1, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force.

03/15/06 - Obituaries Matthew Snyder, 20, of Westminster

Lance Corporal Matthew A. Snyder, USMC, of Westminster was killed instantly March 3, while on assignment in Al Qaim, Iraq.

A Mass of Christian burial was he...

03/15/06 - In face of tragedy, outpouring of support showed community's be Matthew Snyder brought home the tragedy of war last week, as the local resident and Westminster High graduate returned for the last time to his family and friends.

Besides, there's plenty of me...

04/05/06 - Letters 2006-04-05 00:00:00 Opinion Letters Community support, comfort was greatly appreciated

The family of Lance Cpl.

Matthew Snyder

03/29/06 - After Westminster incident, House passes bill to ban funeral pr 2006-03-29 00:00:00 Local News After Westminster incident, House passes bill to ban funeral pr By GEORGE R. ALTMAN
Capital News Service

Inspired by the recent protest at the funeral of a sol...

20071030 News Clips

News Clips

Oct 30, 2007


Republicans protest O'Malley plan,0,4146273.story
With some chanting "No new taxes" and hoisting signs reading "Impeach O'Malley Now," hundreds of protesters packed a Republican-organized rally yesterday in the shadow of the State House to decry the General Assembly special session called by Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley to consider taxes and slots. "We have been hearing a lot of talk about the citizens of Maryland wanting to invest in the state as a whole," said Sen. E.J. Pipkin, an Eastern Shore Republican. "But I don't think you want your governor or this legislature to be in charge of your portfolio." Republican legislative leaders h ave said they will fight passing revenue-raising legislation without also reviewing the annual budget.
"We cannot sustain a government that is growing at a higher rate than we can afford to pay," said House Majority Leader Anthony J. O'Donnell, a Republican delegate from the Eastern Shore, to the cheers of placard-waving supporters. "We don't have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem."
"We beat in-state tuition for illegals in Maryland," said Del. Warren E. Miller, a Howard County Republican. "The reason we beat it was because of your letters. Let's scare the liberals. Let's scare the governor."

'No new taxes:' Md. groups rally against O'Malley's tax hike plan
" No new taxes" was the rallying cry Monday of demonstrations by taxpayer, conservative and Republican groups around the State House. "I'm going to stand up and oppose every stinking tax," said Del. Donna Stifler, R-Harford, typifying the comments of dozens of GOP lawmakers. Stifler said she was getting 80 to 100 e-mails and phone calls a day opposing any tax increases.
The late afternoon rally had been organized by the party and promoted on conservative talk shows for several days.
The Republican message was consistent: Maryland doesn't have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem.
"What we're witnessing today is the flight of common sense from Maryland," said Del. Warren Miller, of Howard County.

Protests welcome back Assembly
http://www.washingtont i
Hundreds of anti-tax demonstrators greeted lawmakers on their return yesterday for a special General Assembly session to consider Gov. Martin O'Malley's plan to increase taxes and legalize slot machines to cut the state's $1.7 billion budget shortfall. Voters opposed to the plan by Mr. O'Malley, a Democrat, began their protest in the early morning by flooding the state Capitol with nearly 1,000 phone calls before noon, then packing Lawyer's Mall in front of the State House to call state Democratic leaders the " 'Taxes' Axis of Evil."
Republicans said yesterday that they were pleased with their position opposing unpopular tax increases.
"For the first time in my five years down here, I've seen the other side of the aisle on the defensive," said Delegate Donald H. Dwyer Jr., Anne Arundel Republican. "I'm surprised, Montgomery County and Baltimore City elected officials are very concerne d ."
The Maryland Republican Party has sent an e-mail to supporters urging them to lobby 10 Democratic senators from moderate to conservative districts.Interest groups have also begun lobbying lawmakers, opposing various taxes in Mr. O'Malley's plan.
The Maryland Retailers Association began running ads opposing the 20 percent sales-tax increase.

Unity Is Urged as Assembly Convenes
O'Malley Gives Case To Plug Budget Gap
Gov. Martin O'Malley urged lawmakers to "move beyond conflict to find consensus" as they convened last night for a high-stakes special session on Maryland's projected $1.7 billion budget shortfall. The session, which legislators expect to last at leas t two weeks, is extraordinary for its scope and its potential consequences. Special sessions are typically convened for quick action on a single issue; O'Malley is pushing the largest overhaul of Maryland's tax code in four decades. Republicans, who are in the distinct minority in the House and Senate, were far less charitable in their assessments of O'Malley's chances for success and his remarks. "There obviously is no enthusiasm for raising taxes," said Senate Minority Leader David R. Brinkley (R-Frederick). "He's taking a tremendous gamble."
House Minority Leader Anthony J. O'Donnell
(R-Calvert) dismissed O'Malley's speech as containing "some platitudes, but no real substance." O'Malley last night blamed Maryland's budget problems largely on an income tax cut initiated a decade ago and passage of a landmark education plan in 2002 without new revenue to pay for it.
He balanced this fiscal year's budget by using nearly $1 billion from t he state's rainy-day fund, a move he said would provide time to search for long-term solutions and to let wounds heal after four years of partisan battles between lawmakers and Ehrlich. As a result, Maryland's budget is projected to remain balanced until June, when the current fiscal year ends.

'Malley calls for 'correcting course'
Governor urges legislators to join in fixing shortfall,0,6317043.story?coll=bal_tab01_layout
Opening the special session that could define his four-year term, Gov. Martin O'Malley told Maryland lawmakers last night that "it is time for us to correct our course" by enacting his sweeping plan to eliminate a projected $1.7 billion sho r tfall in next year's budget. Addressing a joint session of the General Assembly, a somber O'Malley used the eight-minute speech to argue that the challenge is "consensus," not the "capacity" for the state to shoulder a bigger tax burden. O'Malley has proposed a plan that would rely on new tax and slots revenues to address the state's fiscal woes.
Senate Minority Leader David R. Brinkley, a Republican who represents Carroll and Frederick counties, called the speech underwhelming. "Here you have a speech where he's called everyone in to do an unpleasant task," Brinkley said. "I didn't hear any support. There were no applause lines. There was nothing where people were warm and fuzzy on this whole thing."
He criticized O'Malley for continuing to "play the blame game," such as when the governor called the projected deficit "inherited." "It's time to get past that," Brinkley said. " H e won the election; he's governing. Stop trying to blame [former Republican Gov. Robert L.] Ehrlich. Stop trying to blame the legislature before." At a Republican-led rally outside the State House before the start of the special session, lawmakers urged a crowd of several hundred to jam the phone lines of Democratic legislators and complain about proposed tax increases. "What we are witnessing today is the flight of common sense from Maryland," said Del. Warren E. Miller, a Howard County Republican. "Our founders knew overtaxing our citizens would lead to rebellion. Send a signal to Martin O'Malley and the liberal establishment that we've had enough."
Three legislative committees have scheduled joint sessions starting today to begin getting into the details of the governor's six bills.

Session's 'stakes are high'
O'Malley kicks off special gathering on taxes, slot s
Gov. Martin O'Malley appealed to Maryland lawmakers Monday to support his proposals to handle a $1.7 billion budget deficit in a special session, describing the huge shortfall as "one of the toughest fiscal challenges in the 373-year history of our state." Republicans have criticized O'Malley's budget plan as heavy on taxes and light on fiscal responsibility and have withdrawn support for slot machines. They've denounced the special legislative session as an excuse to rush through large and unnecessary tax increases. In the letter to Senate Minority Leader David Brinkley, Miller also asked the GOP to submit a detailed proposal of reductions in spending that it favors over O'Malley's plan. Brinkley said the state's fisc a l woes could be solved by slowing growth in spending and a slot machine plan hammered out in a regular session.
"They're creating the hype that there's an emergency for all these tax increases, and they're trying to pass the responsibility on to somewhere else," Brinkley said. "The fact is we don't need to be here."

Election set to replace Annapolis alderman,0,3236879.story
A special election has been scheduled in Annapolis for the alderman's seat vacated by Michael Christman, Mayor Ellen O. Moyer said yesterday. The primary election in Ward 2 will be held Nov. 27, with the special general election Dec. 19.
The winner will fill the final two years of Christman's term. The Republican, one of o n ly two on the eight-member city council, was elected in 2005 but officially resigned last week, noting frequent travel for his job.
GOP Alderman David H. Cordle Sr. has said his party is looking at potential candidates.

Some fear slots will hurt economy
Officials are concerned that slot machines at Laurel Park could derail a booming local economy and deter potential employers, including incoming federal contractors.
Elected officials and neighborhood advocates say slots aren't needed at Laurel Park because the area is under revitalization.
"With BRAC expansion, we have a growing economy on science and technology," said County Executive John R. Leopold. "That's where we should focus our energy." I f the decision were up to voters, who could have a say by way of a 2008 referendum, the economic concerns of leaders could be voiced by the surrounding communities that oppose slots.

Lie-In D.O.A.
On Sunday, 246 people were supposed to lie down in War Memorial Plaza to provide a visual representation of the people who have been murdered this year in Baltimore City. It was a noble idea and one that we were rooting for. Finally, a visual that would bring home what Baltimore's homicide statistics really mean in loss of life. Finally, people were getting together to show our leaders that we aren't OK with so many citizens' lives being taken.
But rather than destroying the image of Baltimore as a city indifferent to its own blood- soaked streets, the rally illustrated it. Maybe 200 people showed up at War Memoria l Plaza, significantly fewer than the number of homicide victims to date. No elected officials were present, though Mayor Sheila Dixon and City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake sent representatives who did not address the crowd. Even U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, who goes to everything, just sent a representative.
We don't doubt the sincerity of the organizers of Sunday's event. But it's almost shocking how few people attended and how little interest was shown by our city's leadership, considering the fact that Baltimore's murder rate is almost double Philadelphia's.


Robert Ehrlich: Budget plan bilks taxpayers, ignores history _ taxpayers__ignores_history.html
Maryland's liberal establishment is at it again. Less than nine months after restoring one party-rule, the liberals in Annapolis are pushing massive tax increases based on a revisionist account of Maryland's budget history. Let me set the record straight. Despite inheriting a raft of new spending programs, my administration left Maryland in strong fiscal health. We nearly tripled the Rainy Day Fund to $1.4 billion, and at the end of fiscal year 2006, Maryland enjoyed a $1 billion budget surplus and remarkably low unemployment. As recently as December of 2006, general fund revenues were up despite high gas prices and a slowdown in the housing market. We also preserved Maryland's Triple A bond rating, which saves residents money by allowing the state to borrow at low rates.
Government was leaner and more effective than it was when we inherited it, which is why I am so troubled by the administration's plans to enact historic new t a x increases.Here's what leaders in Maryland don't get: We don't have a revenue problem; we have a spending problem. With creativity and slower budget growth, legislators can align Maryland's spending with its needs without raising taxes. Yet they inherently believe that low taxes are a problem that must be "fixed" in order to expand government's reach into our wallets and our lives. So as our government leaders rush to Annapolis this week to raise our taxes, ask yourself: Have they made a real attempt to tighten government's belt? Or are they simply playing that old Annapolis routine of "scare 'em, tax and spend?" The stakes in Annapolis are high. This is our state. Call your legislator today. Let your voice be heard. To find out how to contact your legislator go to

O'Malley's tax increases will burden students
By Ashley Barbera - Chairman of Federation of MD College Republicans
As some of you know, Governor Martin O'Malley visited UMBC to speak to students about his proposed tax increases. The event was invite-only, and if your name was not on the very short list of invited students you were out of luck. Even if by some miracle you had found out about the event, you would not have been permitted to attend. Thus, the vast majority of the student body was denied the opportunity to hear from or question the Governor about a very important policy issue.
Now, don't get me wrong, I completely support funding higher education. As a member and former President of the Student Political Involvement Network, a nonpartisan organization on campus, I have spent years talking with legislators on both sides of the aisle, encouraging them to set aside their differences and find a way to keep college education affordable for all Maryland students. That being said, the tax increases that Martin O'Malley is proposing are not the right answer.
Measures such as doubling the gas tax and increasing the sales tax are extremely agressive in nature. They affect most those who can least afford them. It does not make sense to claim that funding higher education through tax increases would make college more accessible to the poor when it is the poor who will suffer most from those burdens. Many UMBC students are commuters and travel fairly long distances to come to school every day. Doubling the gas tax will significantly increase the cost of transportation for these students.I have been very disappointed in UMBC this week. I normally brag about our school when I tal k to other Republicans around the state and the country-"Some schools are known for being unfair and attacking conservative viewpoints, but not MY school. They're fair. They'll play devil's advocate for both sides. They let us think for ourselves." After this week, I am not sure if I could ever say that again and have it be completely true.

Was Ehrlich right about multiculturalism?,0,4084309.story
When he was governor of Maryland in 2004, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. stirred a hornet's nest when he denounced multiculturalism as "bunk" on a talk-radio show. Because many Americans believe multiculturalism merely means teaching children in a wholesome way about diverse cultures, Mr. Ehrlich drew heat. Now, th e National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME), the main advocacy organization for multiculturalism, is coming to Baltimore to hold its 17th annual national convention tomorrow through Sunday. Here is a perfect opportunity to examine the agenda and see if the former governor had a point.
School board members ought to be particularly interested, because they approve the doling out of taxpayers' money for K-12 teachers from every state to attend the NAME convention.
It is not necessary to accept my contention that ideological indoctrination permeates the multiculturalists' deliberations. Go to and read the full convention program. Better yet, ask to attend sessions that are of particular interest to you. After all, your tax money is paying for them, and for the lessons that teachers bring back for your children.
Then, decide for yourself whether Bob Ehrlich was right.

20071030 The Maryland Public Policy Institute press release

The Maryland Public Policy Institute press release

October 30th, 2007

The following press release from the Maryland Public Policy Institute is quite informative. And the web site at: is incredibly informative… Thanks to everyone who e-mailed this press release to me…

Maryland's Competitiveness Would Fall Sharply, Tax Burden Rise Under O'Malley Tax Plan

Business climate falls to 43rd best, tax burden rises to 11th highest

ROCKVILLE, MD, October, 30, 2007- At a press conference in the shadow of the State Capitol dome in Annapolis today, the Tax Foundation, joined by the Maryland Public Policy Institute, unveiled a new study revealing that Maryland's competitiveness will fall sharply if the tax changes proposed by Governor Martin O'Malley are enacted.

"Lost in the rush to increase taxes is the crushing impact these tax increases will have on Maryland's competitiveness," said study author Curtis Dubay. "Maryland's increased tax burden and less competitive business tax climate will severely lessen the state's ability to attract new or expanding businesses and their jobs."

The Tax Foundation has two measures to rank and compare tax burdens and competitiveness among the states. The first is the State Business Tax Climate Index. The Index ranks states based on the taxes that matter most to businesses and business investment: corporate tax, individual income tax, sales tax, unemployment tax and property tax. The states are scored on these taxes, and the scores are weighted based on the relative importance or impact of the tax to a business.

In the 2008 Index, Maryland ranked 24th best in business competitiveness. Under the O'Malley plan, Maryland would fall to 43rd best. Maryland's income tax would be the 49th worst system, trailing only California.

The other measure is the state and local tax burden. The burdens are effective tax rates calculated by totaling state-local taxes paid by taxpayers in each state, then dividing by their income. The burdens also reflect the economic incidence of taxes that are commonly shifted to out-of-state taxpayers.

Maryland's 2007 burden was 10.8%, making it the 23rd worst burden in the country. If the full O'Malley plan were implemented, the burden would rise to 11.5%, making it the 11th highest burden in the country.

Maryland's regional competitiveness would also fall sharply under the O'Malley plan. The Tax Foundation considered Maryland's neighboring states: Delaware, Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New Jersey. In those comparisons, Maryland has the 5th (of 6) worst business climate index ranking, the 2nd highest tax burden (just behind New Jersey), and the highest income rate.

The new study by the Tax Foundation on the O'Malley plan, Fiscal Fact No. 109, is available online at:

Also at the event, Maryland Public Policy Institute President Christopher B. Summers highlighted that, despite projections of steady economic and revenue growth, Maryland legislators continue to grapple with a projected long-term structural deficit. Ongoing general fund revenues are expected to grow 25 percent between fiscal years (FY) 2006 and 2011 while ongoing spending will grow 41 percent over the same period.

Despite an estimated $1.3 billion surplus in FY 2006, annual deficits loom in the near future and will grow rapidly, approaching 10 percent of general fund revenue by FY 2011. The cumulative gap between revenues and spending will exceed $5 billion over the next five years. With current revenue collections exceeding projections, lawmakers may perceive an opportunity for the state to "grow" out of its structural imbalance by increasing taxes. Given current levels of taxation, Maryland total personal income would have to grow more than 9 percent per year initially to close the structural gap-nearly double the current forecast.

"Annapolis leaders seem to believe that they have little need to constrain their spending," said Summers. "Maryland lawmakers cannot tax Maryland into prosperity."

Lawmakers should take a closer look at spending priorities in Maryland - especially regressive spending. Maryland lawmakers love to talk about state spending as "investing in Maryland's future," but most of the spending is symbolic spending. Future pubic spending should pass a cost/benefit analysis test. Lawmakers would be wise to reform Medicaid, education spending and testing, sell surplus real estate, reduce, and re-evaluate or abolish spending agreements on perennial money-losing ventures.

The nonpartisan, nonprofit Tax Foundation has monitored tax policy at the federal, state and local levels since 1937. Best known for its annual calculation of Tax Freedom Day®, the Tax Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(C) (3) organization.

Founded in 2001, the Maryland Public Policy Institute is a nonpartisan public policy research and education organization that focuses on state policy issues. The Maryland Public Policy Institute's work can be found on the Internet at


20071030 Special Session update from Howard County State Delegate Warren Miller

Special Session update from Howard County State Delegate Warren Miller

October 30th, 2007

Several folks e-mailed me the update below from Howard County District 9A State Delegate Warren Miller. I’ll bet you will get value from it also:

Dear Howard County Constituent,

I wanted to keep you updated on the Special Session in Annapolis and Governor O'Malleys proposed tax increases.


Warren Miller

State Delegate, District 9A

Howard County, Maryland

Once again I need help connecting the dots to make sense of the new O'Malley tax plan. Having looked at this piecemeal proposal several times, many things just don't make good sense. Before I get into the questions, I must commend the administration for orchestrating this whole traveling road show with laser precision. First the Governor endears himself to the community over a casual kitchen table conversation with an average Joe family. Then he proceeds to the rural areas of the state, styling himself as the hero of the Maryland agricultural community. Both were brilliant marketing moves in my opinion.

But now the message revolves around "doomsday". How do we go from the kitchen table or the cornfield to doomsday? Well, with Governor O'Malley the path is simple. If the General Assembly doesn't pass his tax increase bills, then we will spiral downward and never see daylight again. He has finally stooped to an all time low and unfortunately, I wish I could believe that he will not outdo himself in the future. He is resorting to tactics of terror, similar to the work of those who choose to push their agenda by taking our citizens hostage and sending us pictures of them in compromising positions. O'Malley has become a terrorist of sorts. He is sending his message of fright to college students and single moms without regard for them at all. He paints pictures of people being thrown out into the streets due t o program cuts and college students leaving college prematurely due to a lack of state funding. Fear is not the motivator that caused this country to rise to the top of the food chain. Fear paralyzes people, families and economies. This paralysis is just the formula for government intervention (another word for interference) in your daily life. If you can't function without their help, then you will do anything to preserve them, including paying tax rates that would make a loan shark blush.

Now time to connect the dots. The proposed tobacco tax is said to be two-fold; first, it will fund some health care projects and bail out some hospitals from bad debt. (By the way, most of this debt is caused by illegal immigrants using the emergency room as their primary care facility.) And secondly, this tax is supposed to act as a deterrent and reduce the number of smokers in Maryland. Trust me when I tell you that I do not support smoking or tobacco use. It is a proven killer, however, it is a legal activity and those who participate in it do it willingly. The addictive chemical make up of cigarettes causes the user to become a slave to the chemical and many users would like to quit but they simply can't. So this tax will possibly be the straw that breaks the camel's back and they will quit. I certain ly hope something short of cancer causes them to stop. Nevertheless, the main health benefit to this new tax is that many people will quit smoking.

With that said, let's look at another facet of this new tax plan. My health club membership is now going to be taxed. I am not sure why. I see empirical evidence proving that good health is achieved through physical exercise and healthy people cost less to care for overall. So here is my dilemma: If I buy into the notion that the tobacco tax will cause many smokers to become non-smokers (a good thing), what can I expect to happen to the health club members following the same logic? If health club members stop going to the health clubs and they become obese or unhealthy, what fiscal impact can be expected?

The bare bones truth is simple: this is not about health; it is about wealth. Yes, Governor O'Malley wants to play Robin Hood and take from the hard-working and give more to the hardly working. He also wants to make sure that the government continues to grow and gain market share in the affairs of your life. Remember, the goal is for big government to become invaluable to you so that you will gladly pay for them to stay around to help. It has been said over and over, but it bears repeating. We do not have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. Containing costs has not been considered, nor will it be. The only time we hear about containing costs is in reference to single moms losing job training or college students leaving school to work at McDonalds beca use they could not afford college tuition. And that brings me to my final dot that needs to be connected.

Last year the Governor (yes, this same Martin O'Malley) wanted to give illegal immigrants tuition breaks amounting to about $14,000 per year per student. This ill-fated plan would have cost Marylanders untold millions of dollars. He made the arguments ranging from "we owe it to ourselves to have an educated illegal population" to "an education will keep them from stealing from us in the long run". Now I hear Governor O'Malley stating that if we do not pass this budget, all the state schools will loose millions of dollars and students will go without, or tuition will be raised to ungodly levels. How much worse would it have been if his plan had not been stopped last year? I think that makes little to no sense, but then again, that's par for this course.

I simply don't believe the Governor has a plan. He is piecing together a tapestry one square at a time and hoping he covers all his bases. Unfortunately, this tapestry is just the wet blanket our state's economy needs to put out the fire caused by several years of strong growth. Thanks Governor O'Malley.


20071029 Jordan Bartel watch

Jordan Bartel watch

October 29, 2007

I have enjoyed many writers for the Carroll County Times over the years, but I have especially appreciated Jordan Bartel’s work in the last year or so he has been writing for the paper.

He is the Arts and Entertainment writer who is also featured in the “Encore,” and “In Focus” sections of the paper…[1]

Here is a recent sampling of his work. Enjoy:

Fearless and bold history to be unveiledFor many, homecoming means three things: football, beer and more football. But James Lightner is hoping that McDaniel College alumni will take a break from this year’s usual revelry for a history lesson about their alma mater. “Fearless a...Oct. 27, 2007

Buy Weblo, sell highHis market's bubble may be bursting, but Mike Jameson is doing just fine. In fact, he's more than fine. He's great. He has property down the East Coast, from Connecticut to Florida. He's safely set up shop in places with picturesque names like Siesta...Oct. 28, 2007

Strange, engrossing world of inflight magazinesKeeping yourself entertained 30,000 feet in the air is hard work. If, like most people, you do not chose to fly one of those special airplanes with comfy beds, ever-flowing champagne and individual televisions, options are limited. I'm a big fan of t...Oct. 18, 2007

Indie film makes its public debut in WestminsterWhen making a low-budget independent film, director Brian Pennington always keeps one thing in mind: feed the crew well. Sure, a good script is handy. String music adds a dash of legitimacy. Actors willing to travel and go unpaid for their time is cr...Oct. 26, 2007

Magnolia House: Couple opens 'different kind' of shopUNION MILLS It is usually a bit brighter in Magnolia House. Last Thursday afternoon, the electricity to the new arts store inexplicably went out, so the tiny lights that usually illuminate the paintings on the walls and make the jewelry sparkle wer...Oct. 16, 2007

Maryland embraces eerie eventsGrim grinning ghosts aren't the only ones who can socialize during Halloween. Maryland abounds with spooky spectacles for every holiday taste this weekend. So whether it's trick, treat or both, try one of the following: Carroll County Children can sh...Oct. 25, 2007

Best Bests for Oct. 25-31Keep this 'Secret' In "Edward Maiello: Secrets of the Wind," the Rhode Island-born and Maryland Institute College of Art educated artist's paintings reflect his relationship with the world and the people around him. The exhibit goes on view Oct. 28 a...Oct. 25, 2007

Out & AboutON STAGE: FIVE HOT REGIONAL THEATER PRODUCTIONS "A Shayna Maidel," now through Nov. 4, Columbia Set in 1946 Brooklyn, an exploration of one family's attempt at healing during the aftermath of the Holocaust. Black Box Theatre at Rep Stage, 10901 Littl...Oct. 25, 2007

Towson explores the flourishing art of vietnamTOWSON - As Brigitte Le walked through Towson University's Asian Arts & Culture Center last week, where paintings by a new breed of Vietnamese artists lined the floor waiting to be hung, she saw the cultural rebirth of her former home. She also can i...Oct. 25, 2007

Recalling when Halloween was a holiday just for kidsRemember that Halloween? You know the one, when your costume was perfect, you got the best candy, you trick-or-treated with your best friends. Yeah, that one. Everyone seems to have one particularly fond Halloween memory. Mine was when I was 2 or 3 a...Oct. 25, 2007

Overcoming life's scarsELDERSBURG - The first thing you notice is his scar. It starts as a small nick on Darnell Brockington's right ear lobe, extends down to his neck where it widens like a swollen river and then goes further down his skin, almost to his clavicle. He said...Oct. 21, 2007

Out of Africa: Teenager’s Kenyan photography comes to community collegeMembers of the Maasai tribe who “adopted” Becky Walter when she was 11 years old call her Naduboi. The name means “good fortune” and Walter has had a lot of it, especially when it comes to her photography. The 17-year-old Fran...Oct. 19, 2007

The IllusionistDesigner Lee Snijders has built his career on transforming both large and small spaces. Now he wants to show you how it's done this weekend at the Maryland Home & Garden Show. When he was a Walt Disney Imagineer, it was Lee Snijders' job to create il...Oct. 19, 2007

Best Bets for Oct. 18-24Fire in the belly Chili and autumn go together like peanut butter and jelly. So check out the third annual Chili Cookoff, sponsored by the Junior Woman's Club of Westminster, from 1 to 4 p.m. Oct. 21 at the Carroll County Agriculture Center's Shipley...Oct. 18, 2007

Spooky fun for everyone: Area offers array of events for those who love a good scare, and some for those who don'tDo you enjoy haunted houses but the screaming teens and fake gore ... not so much? Check out a ghost walk, tour or talk. They're spooky ways to discover hidden history of towns and are usually family appropriate. So if you like being scared but not t...Oct. 18, 2007

Gustafer Yellowgold: The little guy from the sun bringing all ages of music lovers togetherGustafer Yellowgold is an odd fellow. For one thing, he came to Earth from the sun, inexplicably landing in Minnesota, where he built a cottage in the woods. Gustafer's best friend is a dapper pterodactyl named Forrest Applecrumbie. Gustafer has a pe...Oct. 18, 2007

Out & AboutOn Stage: Five hot regional theater productions "Ten Little Indians," now through Oct. 28, Cumberland Moral of this classic Agatha Christie murder mystery: Going to a secluded castle with a gaggle of strangers = bad idea. Cumberland Theatre, 101 N. J...Oct. 18, 2007

Carroll News Briefs for Friday, October 19, 2007McDaniel grad ready for next challenge Greg Wagner, a 2007 McDaniel College graduate who conquered a disability to run in the Baltimore Marathon last week, is gearing up for his next challenge: the prestigious Boston Marathon. Wagner, 22, who lives i...Oct. 19, 2007

[1] Jordan Bartel brief Carroll County Times web site bio
Arts and Entertainment, encore, In Focus
October 29, 2007

Jordan Bartel is a reporter for the Carroll County Times.

Before coming to the Times, he worked as a beat reporter for The Chapel Hill Herald in Chapel Hill, N.C.

He graduated with a B.A. in journalism from The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in May 2004. While there, he was assistant features.

He lives in Westminster.