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

Monday, March 31, 2008

20080331 News Clips

News Clips 03-31-2008


Session set for hectic ending

O'Malley on way to 2 key victories,0,5202927.story

One week ago it appeared that Gov. Martin O'Malley's second legislative session would conclude with few victories and plenty of unresolved problems. But in 24 hours, the logjam of bad news broke. In that time, O'Malley struck a rate- relief settlement with BGE's parent company, Constellation Energy Group, that includes a one-time $170 rebate to each customer. And he floated a proposal to repeal the unpopular computer services tax that is likely to dominate debate in the final week before the General Assembly adjourns for the year. But it remains to be seen how the actions will play out with voters. Some Republicans say that the BGE settlement falls short of what O'Malley could have secured and that his proposed tax on millionaires is political folly. "The settlement is cents on the dollar in terms of what ratepayers had on the table," said Sen. E.J. Pipkin, an Eastern Shore Republican. "And one of the last acts that the governor is going to support this year is an increase in income taxes. I don't see how you gain ground with that."

"Here we are a week to go, and it's like Groundhog Day," said Del. Christopher B. Shank, a Western Maryland Republican and the House minority whip. "It just reflects how opportunistic this governor is. He's just going from issue to issue to try to figure out how he can rescue his political career." But O'Malley's success or failure this year will probably be judged on whether he can line up votes for the BGE settlement and the computer services tax repeal.

Backroom deals are back in play in Annapolis

We were back in the backroom again last week, standing around watching senators and delegates hash out their differences on the state budget. Now, after some fierce re-education by IT professionals contemplating moves out of state to avoid the tax, they fully recognize their mistake. The negotiators knew they could be back at the table later this week wrangling over the additional budget transfers and reductions in spending growth they would need to repeal the $200 million tax.

Anne Arundel, attorney general wrangle over detention center

Anne Arundel’s attempt to stop the expansion of a juvenile detention center in Maryland City is being squashed by the attorney’s general office. County Executive John R. Leopold said last week that he has asked Attorney General Doug Gansler to enforce a state law he claims the District of Columbia violated when it began expanding the Oak Hill Youth Center, which houses the District’s juvenile criminals. “The law prohibits any state or other jurisdictions to build a detention center without prior written approval from the Secretary of Juvenile Services ... which they never received,” Leopold said. But that law doesn’t include juvenile centers, said Raquel Guillory, Gansler’s spokeswoman Anne Arundel opposes the facility’s existence, especially since the District began expanding the center this past year unbeknownst to county officials or the community — the District never held public meetings on the project, they said. Officials from D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty’s office did not return calls for comment.

Speed-camera contractor paid per citation

A state lawmaker says Montgomery County is "exploiting a loophole" in state law designed to keep speed-camera operators from profiting off the number of speeding tickets issued. "Some of our residents are starting to get the sense [speed cameras] are a cash cow, and we need to do everything in reason to assure them that is not the case," said Delegate Saqib Ali, Montgomery Democrat. According to Transportation Article 21-809(j) of the Maryland Code, "If a contractor operates a speed monitoring system on behalf of Montgomery County, the contractor's fee may not be contingent on the number of citations issued or paid." County officials declined a request from The Washington Times to obtain a copy of the contract with ACS. Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, has proposed expanding speed cameras to every other jurisdiction in the state, and lawmakers appear ready to approve his measure this year. The statewide measure has passed initial votes and is awaiting final approval in the Senate and House. Mr. O'Malley's proposal carries the same language as the Montgomery County law, including the clause prohibiting per-ticket payments to contractors.

From the altar, a vow of protest

Some clergy say until Maryland allows same-sex marriage, they'll conduct religious rite but others must sign legal papers,0,2635397.story

Rabbi Elizabeth Bolton was always vexed by the notion that despite the country's traditional separation of church and state, Maryland gave her - a religious leader - the power to change people's legal status by signing their marriage licenses. At the same time, the Reconstructionist rabbi from Baltimore was troubled by the state's laws prohibiting same-sex marriage. Bolton has joined a small but growing band of clergy who have decided that they won't sign any marriage licenses as agents of the state until it allows gays and lesbians to marry. Maryland's highest court last year upheld a law that defines marriage as between a woman and a man, and efforts have not advanced in the General Assembly to create a legal relationship for gay and lesbian couples that confers many of the same rights granted to married couples.

Leopold admits reversing his stand on impact fees

As state delegate in 2001, he decried them; today he seeks larges increases to balance county budget,0,4153255.story

Years before he became Anne Arundel County's chief executive, John R. Leopold sounded a lot like the critics of his current plan to impose perhaps the highest development impact fees in Maryland. In 2001, Leopold attacked county leaders' idea of raising those fees "during our current recessionary slump." He argued that it could hurt commercial growth, dampen the prospect of affordably priced housing and unfairly burden selective homeowners. Today, as Leopold tries to balance the county budget amid millions lost in state aid and real estate tax revenue, the second-year county executive acknowledged that he has flipped his position. To steer the county through a period of fiscal uncertainty and hold to his pledge of not raising property or income taxes, he is supporting big increases in impact fees. Leopold has, however, sought to vary the fee for homes based on the number of bedrooms to eliminate the regressive impact on lower-income households. "There's an old saying in politics: You stand where you sit. Now I sit in the county executive's chair. I have a responsibility to fund these programs." In the context of his shifting views on the county transfer tax, critics wonder whether Leopold is guided by self-interest. "Historically, he has been consistent on where he has been on impact fees," Councilman C. Edward Middlebrooks, a Severn Republican, said of Leopold. "He fought against them, and he thought the transfer tax was the way to go. Then, when he had the opportunity to actually do something, he abandons everything he has said over the years for raising impact fees. How can that be?" Leopold reiterated that the council's interest in the transfer tax was an attempt to shield developers from higher impact fees. Those fees are intended to offset the burden on roads and schools. With thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of development coming to Anne Arundel County because of a major expansion at Fort Meade, Leopold said the county is not getting enough financial aid from state and federal leaders to pay for several billion dollars in transportation improvements.


Dysfunction in Annapolis

One week from tonight in Annapolis, the General Assembly ends its regular 2008 session, during which Gov. Martin O'Malley and the legislature have done everything possible to hit law-abiding Marylanders with with more taxes and regulations, while leaving the state a more welcoming place for illegal aliens and criminal felons. Then, there are serious issues like fixing the mess that the governor and the General Assembly made at last fall's special session. Mr. O'Malley and Senate President Mike Miller both say they want to get rid of the 6 percent tax on computer services that has prompted angry warnings from businesses about moving to Virginia. The problem is that the politicians insist on making up any lost revenue by imposing higher taxes on the most wealthy (i.e., the most productive) Marylanders — another way of chasing jobs across the Potomac. While productive Americans are being pushed out of state, Maryland continues to be a welcoming place for lawbreakers. Given the political leanings of the politicians appointing them, we fully expect the panels to be packed with people who will tell us that capital punishment is always wrong and that the recent influx of illegals is an economic boon to the state.

Cell phone distraction

Our view: Bad behavior is rewarded,0,4513156.story

Cell phone-addicted motorists in Maryland got a reprieve. They'll be able to continue driving and gabbing, while more responsible drivers on the road remain on hyper-alert, ready to dodge and swerve to avoid them when they misdial or, worse, reach for a dropped cell phone. The House Environmental Matters Committee last week defeated a bill that would have outlawed the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Committee members who prefer to drive and talk should have recused themselves from the vote. The legislation might have had a chance because for the first time in years, it won approval in the Senate. At the very least, committee members should have restricted the use of text-messaging while driving. Maryland is behind the times on this one: Lawmakers who opposed the bill say they don't want to legislate responsible behavior. By that standard, drinking while driving would be legal with the understanding that responsible Marylanders would voluntarily abstain.

Power plans

Our view: Settlement offers the chance to move forward,0,6005434.story

It would be foolish to give an instant thumbs up or down on the proposed settlement announced last week between the state and Constellation Energy Group over the 1999 deregulation deal. Cursory analysis is what got ratepayers in trouble nine years ago. The proposal has far-reaching ramifications, and lawmakers will need to closely scrutinize all of it in the days ahead. The biggest payback, however, would be to remove any further liability for the future decommissioning costs of the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant from ratepayers once and for all. That's a potential $1.5 billion savings and possibly even more. Indeed, if there is a lesson to take away from this episode, it's the need for a more vigilant and assertive PSC. Legislators can debate the settlement's sufficiency, but there's no question that PSC Chairman Steven B. Larsen has given the agency new teeth. That benefits not only ratepayers but probably Constellation as well - at least if it means that the 1999 settlement can be put in the past. Maryland must now focus on future needs, addressing the rising cost of energy and ensuring an adequate supply. A proposed expansion at Calvert Cliffs is going to cost billions of dollars, but the benefits for the state and the company could prove enormous.

Our Say: Pact with utility has some pluses, avoids legal mess

There's probably only way to get a completely fair deal for Maryland with the power company that now controls so much of its future: Invent a time machine and go back to 1999 to undo that year's disastrous utility deregulation deal. Given that he can't do that, Gov. Martin O'Malley seems to have gotten a good deal for Marylanders in the legal settlement with Constellation Energy Group announced last week. Certainly, it's a better deal than could have been reached if Mr. O'Malley had not taken a hard-nosed attitude toward a bullying power company. And it's better than a prolonged legal battle. He also needs to focus on heading off anticipated power shortages, and getting this state's power grid ready for the 21st century. While last week's deal may be debated for a long time, we hope it at least allows Maryland to start moving out of the wreckage of 1999 and planning for the future. If it does that much, it will have been worthwhile.


Feds give $5.7M to region's BRAC infrastructure

The federal government has allotted $5.7 million to help the communities around Fort George G. Meade and Aberdeen Proving Ground prepare for an influx of more than 20,000 jobs, U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger touted at a press conference Monday. The military bases in Anne Arundel and Harford counties are expected to gain the jobs between 2009 and 2011 under the government's Base Realignment and Closure Act, known as BRAC. The money is expected to help pay for needs including roads, mass transit, work force training and health care, according to Ruppersberger's office.

Steele to HUD?

With today's resignation of Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson, is former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele a prime candidate to fill the position? He's got a fair relationship with President George W. Bush, was publicly vetted in a Senate race, and would likely find quick confirmation the Senate

20080324 Governor Ehrlich is scheduled to join Mount Airy Councilwoman Peters for a campaign desert reception

Governor Robert L. Ehrlich is scheduled to join Mount Airy Councilwoman Wendi Wagner Peters for a campaign desert reception on April 4, 2008 at the Mount Airy Maryland American Legion.

Please join us for this special event.

Please read the following note from Councilwoman Peters:

Dear Friends,

After thoughtful consideration and the blessing of my family, I have decided to run for reelection to the Mount Airy Town Council. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve the town in which I was born and raised and look forward to your support for a second term.

We have many challenges before us: implementing a long-term water source, regaining the synergy and economic development in our downtown and satisfying the shortfall in our recreational facilities. We will be addressing these challenges in the midst of difficult financial times. My 18 years of experience serving the town will be valuable as we move forward to address these issues.

Your support for my campaign is very important. I would like you to join me for a Dessert Reception on Friday, April 4 from 7:00 – 9:00 pm at the Mount Airy American Legion on Prospect Road. This will be a great opportunity to gather with friends and neighbors, discuss the issues that matter to you and enjoy some delicious desserts.

In addition, I am honored to have as my special guest, Governor Robert L. Ehrlich. I hope that you will join me as I welcome him to Mount Airy. This will be a special evening. (Please RSVP to 301-829-2525.)

I appreciate your support and look forward to seeing you on Friday, April 4.


Wendi W. Peters



For other posts on Soundtrack on Mount Airy: Mount Airy or Peters Mount Airy Councilwoman Wendi Peters or Mount Airy Fire Department or History Mount Airy Maryland or Water and Sewer Mount Airy.

20080324 Re-elect WENDI W. PETERS for Mount Airy Town Council

Re-elect WENDI W. PETERS for Mount Airy Town Council

Experience and qualifications:

March 24, 2008

Town of Mt. Airy – Councilwoman

Liaison – Recycling and Sanitation - 2006-present

Zoning Administrator – 2004-2006

Liaison - Water and Sewer – 2004-2006

Maryland Municipal League – Communications Committee

Chairman – 2007-2008

Member – 2006-2007

Mentoring Connections Team – Mt. Airy Middle School

Mentor – 2008

Advisory Committee to the Community Legacy Board

MD Department of Housing and Community Development

Member – 2006-2007

Community Law in Action

Mentor to Baltimore City High School students – 2006 – present

Mount Airy Main Street Association

Member - 2004-present

Downtown Revitalization Committee

Member - 2002-2004

Town of Mt. Airy – Planning & Zoning Commission

Vice Chairman – 2000 – 2004

Member – 1998 – 2004

Twin Ridge Elementary School – PTA

Executive Board – 2002

Parent Volunteer – 1998 – 2004

Town of Mt. Airy – Board of Zoning Appeals

Member – 1997

Town of Mt. Airy – Recycling Commission

Chairman – 1990 – 1996


University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland

Fellow, Academy for Excellence in Local Governance, 2007

Loyola College, Baltimore, Maryland

B.A., Political Science, 1989

Villa Julie College, Baltimore, Maryland

A.A., Paralegal Studies, 1983


Maryland State Bar Association, Associate Member

Maryland Association of Paralegals

National Federation of Paralegal Associations

For other posts on Soundtrack on Mount Airy: Mount Airy or Peters Mount Airy Councilwoman Wendi Peters or Mount Airy Fire Department or History Mount Airy Maryland or Water and Sewer Mount Airy.

20080327 Finding Health Insurance if You Are Self Employed by Marci Alboher

Finding Health Insurance if You Are Self-Employed by Marci Alboher

March 31, 2008

I have been self-employed for essentially all my working career and this article really struck home, especially: “If there is one thing that separates the self-employed from those employed by others, it is their preoccupation with health insurance.”

And – “I don’t know if people who don’t have chronic illnesses can really understand this,” she said. “But I have worked full time my entire adult life — generally 15 to 18 hours a day. I have paid into the system for all those years. And there is only one thing that could bankrupt me, and it is my health. I could lose every penny I own from one serious hospitalization without insurance….”

Considering the dynamic that small business and the self-employed still constitute the meat and potatoes of our economy I sure wish someone could figure this out…

Nevertheless, one thing is for sure, the populist-driven health care initiatives that are proposed by presidential candidates Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama – are not the answer.

Not only will their plans bankrupt the nation - I have no interest in dealing with some faceless, uncaring government bureaucrat for my healthcare.

That said –


Shifting Careers: Finding Health Insurance if You Are Self-Employed


Published: March 27, 2008

If there is one thing that separates the self-employed from those employed by others, it is their preoccupation with health insurance.

I was reminded of this on Feb. 14, when I wrote a post on the Shifting Careers blog asking small-business owners and would-be entrepreneurs what they were doing about health insurance. Within hours, scores of people posted comments about their own experiences and, if they had managed to find good resources, shared those. I have been reading e-mail messages and trying to make sense of the subject ever since. In short, it is not pretty out there.

A 43-year-old woman wrote about going without insurance in the first year of her business. “I lived in terror of needing a doctor visit or worse yet, lab tests or something more,” she said…


The unluckiest are those with chronic illnesses or the dreaded pre-existing condition that results in a denial of coverage. Many of these people abandon dreams of entrepreneurship altogether because they need jobs that come with a health plan and they cannot find a way to self-insure.


“I don’t know if people who don’t have chronic illnesses can really understand this,” she said. “But I have worked full time my entire adult life — generally 15 to 18 hours a day. I have paid into the system for all those years. And there is only one thing that could bankrupt me, and it is my health. I could lose every penny I own from one serious hospitalization without insurance.

Read the entire article. The article is written well, but its content will make ya sick…Finding Health Insurance if You Are Self-Employed


20080331 "Session set for hectic ending" by the Baltimore Sun

"Session set for hectic ending" by the Baltimore Sun

March 31, 2008

When I first read this in the wee hours of the morning while desperately in need of a cup of coffee, I did a double take and had to confirm the source.

And sure enough, it was written by the Baltimore Sun. When I first began reading it, I could have sworn it was a press release from the Maryland Democratic Party.

The contrast between the coverage of the current administration and the previous administration is profound. One could teach a college class in the difference in slant and bias.

In this case, as is the case with most of the Baltimore Sun writers, they write quite well, if they would only be as equally capable and competent with reporting the news “straight down the middle.”

Oh, I love the take that this governor is swooned over as he rides in to take care of problems that his administration essentially created…

Ay caramba.


Session set for hectic ending - O'Malley on way to 2 key victories

By Laura Smitherman | Sun reporter

March 31, 2008

One week ago it appeared that Gov. Martin O'Malley's second legislative session would conclude with few victories and plenty of unresolved problems.

The Democratic governor was mired in a fight with the state's largest utility over high electricity rates that have dogged him since his inauguration, and computer companies were threatening to leave the state over a new tax he signed into law late last year. His poll numbers were down, and he faced opposition from his own party on several of his legislative initiatives.

But in 24 hours, the logjam of bad news broke. In that time, O'Malley struck a rate- relief settlement with BGE's parent company, Constellation Energy Group, that includes a one-time $170 rebate to each customer. And he floated a proposal to repeal the unpopular computer services tax that is likely to dominate debate in the final week before the General Assembly adjourns for the year.

Finalizing the computer tax repeal and the BGE settlement - both of which must be done through legislation - would give O'Malley political victories after a cantankerous special session in November that raised taxes by $1.3 billion to help balance the state's budget.

Read the rest of the article here: Session set for hectic ending - O'Malley on way to 2 key victories

Related links

The Session: News and notes from Annapolis

Photo gallery

View photos from the 2008 General Assembly session

Blog: The Session

Video: Daily updates

State of the State: Text | Video

Issues: What to watch for during the session


20080331 Click here to go to my new blog Kevin Dayhoff - Soundtrack

Click here to go to my new blog Kevin Dayhoff - Soundtrack

March 31, 2008


Click here to go to the new blog: For my latest posts – please see - “Kevin Dayhoff – Soundtrack Division of Old Silent Movies.”

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster Maryland USA.

E-mail him at: kdayhoff AT or kevindayhoff AT

His columns and articles appear in The Tentacle -; Westminster Eagle Opinion;, Winchester Report and The Sunday Carroll Eagle – in the Sunday Carroll County section of the Baltimore Sun. Get Westminster Eagle RSS Feed

“When I stop working the rest of the day is posthumous. I'm only really alive when I'm writing.” Tennessee Williams

September 27, 2006 / December 20th, 2006 / January 31st, 2007 / December 31, 2007 / December 31st, 2009

Sunday, March 30, 2008

20080330 Protestors at Karl Rove speaking event

Protestors at Karl Rove speaking event

March 30, 2008

Hat Tip: Blogs for McCain

"The tail and horns are retractable."


20080328 News Clips

News Clips 03-28-2008


Volunteer calls closing of barrack 'a disgrace'

Annapolis state police unit more than just an office

The brown bricks of the Annapolis State Police barrack add up to more than just the modest, rectangular building that sits along Taylor Avenue. But budget times are tight, and Gov. Martin O'Malley agreed this year with the Department of State Police that the time has come to close it down, a proposal that has floated in the halls of the State House for the past four years. Mr. Sears, now 86, has been volunteering at the Annapolis state police barrack for the past 46 years. "If they are looking for something and can't find it, they call me," he said this week. But those days are now numbered. "We're faced with a budget problem," said Sen. John Astle, D-Annapolis, the day after a February meeting with Col. Terrence Sheridan, the secretary of state police, to discuss the idea of closing the barrack. "Sometimes you have to make tough decisions." But four years ago, under the administration of Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., the state studied consolidating the Annapolis and Glen Burnie police barracks and found the most cost-effective maneuver would be to close the Glen Burnie station and bring its operations to the capital. "Considering the communication requirements, from a fiscal aspect, it would be more cost effective to close the Glen Burnie barracks and move all operations to the Annapolis barracks," the study said.

Cell phone ban is killed

By a 12-9 vote, House committee blocks plan to outlaw use while driving,0,4292349.story

After coming closer to becoming law than it has in a decade, a bill that would have banned the use of hand-held cell phones while driving died yesterday in a House of Delegates committee.
National momentum has been building for such bans, which traffic safety advocates say prevent accidents and save lives, and this month the legislation passed in the Maryland Senate for the first time. But it was defeated by a 12-9 vote in the House Environmental Matters Committee, which has killed similar bills in recent years. "A lot of people had concerns," said Del. James E. Malone Jr., a Baltimore County Democrat and chairman of the subcommittee that overwhelmingly urged a defeat of the measure. "Do you say you can't use a cell phone, but it's OK to eat, drink, read and put on makeup while driving?" The measure that passed in the Senate was less stringent than the one Lenett originally introduced. Police would have been able to cite drivers for using cell phones only if they were stopped for another reason, and first offenders would have had no points assessed on their driving records. The ban would have expired after two years unless the legislature renewed it.

State, Constellation reach truce on rates

Rebates, end of investigations let both sides claim victory,0,6218219.story

The years-long dispute over whether consumers were shortchanged in a 1999 deal to deregulate the power industry ended yesterday with Constellation Energy Group and Gov. Martin O'Malley concluding that neither side could afford to keep fighting. The two sides announced a settlement yesterday that allows both to claim a measure of victory, while avoiding a prolonged legal battle that could have distracted from efforts to resolve a looming statewide energy shortfall. Industry analysts say Constellation needed to make peace with lawmakers if it is to invest up to $5 billion in a new nuclear reactor and other generation projects in Maryland and elsewhere. The stakes were equally high for O'Malley, who could ill afford to be at war with the state's largest energy producer at a time when Maryland needs more electricity. Some lawmakers were skeptical of the settlement and whether state negotiators got the best deal for consumers. Sen. E.J. Pipkin, an Eastern Shore Republican, said he would examine any costs stemming from the 1999 deal for which ratepayers would still be on the hook. Del. Warren E. Miller, a Howard County Republican, called the $170 per-household refund "better than nothing," but he discounted the settlement as a political victory for O'Malley. "I think he still has to explain to ratepayers why there was a 72 percent increase" in utility rates, Miller said.

Bill to exempt some sites from smoking ban fails

Balto. County bars with enclosed 'outdoor' areas had sought change,0,4983382.story

A bill that would have created an "outdoor" exemption for Baltimore County bars and restaurants to the state ban on smoking in public places died in a House committee yesterday, effectively ending an effort that some health advocates feared could unravel statewide support for the newly imposed law. The bill drew opposition from Baltimore County's executive and health department. It also worried health advocates, who feared other jurisdictions would seek a similar exemption, opening the door to further weakening of the law.

Assembly wrapping up budget work

But members still divided on how to cut $300 million,0,2703338.story

House and Senate leaders began hashing out the finishing touches on the state's $31.2 billion budget yesterday, although they remain divided on how to cut more than $300 million from state spending. The two sides have not agreed on how much money should go to stem cell research grants and to raises for providers of care for the mentally and physically disabled; how deeply to cut funding for higher education; and when to implement the health care expansion passed in last year's special session.
"We're making good progress," said Sen. David R. Brinkley, the Senate minority leader from Carroll and Frederick counties, who is one of eight lawmakers on the budget conference committee. "It's a tough budget year, and there are a lot of hard decisions to make across the board." By law, legislators must pass a balanced budget before it adjourns next month. The plan they adopt will cover the fiscal year that begins July 1. Their efforts might be complicated by continuing attempts to repeal Maryland's new computer services tax. Gov. Martin O'Malley and legislative leaders are backing a plan to replace that $200 million-a-year levy with an income tax surcharge on those earning $1 million or more and cuts from transportation projects and state agency budgets. O'Malley and other state leaders have expressed optimism that a repeal will pass, despite opposition to their proposal.

Session’s work reflects weak economy, pols say

Democratic leaders say they have protected state’s priorities

Now, in the waning days of the 2008 session, amid a sputtering national economy and revenue write-downs, lawmakers have scaled back expectations for new programs held up after the special session as examples that the state was moving ahead with its priorities even while addressing a $1.5 billion budget deficit. Legislative leaders said this week that they have protected the hard-fought gains of the special session, including health care expansion, the Chesapeake Bay Trust Fund and money for K-12 education. ‘‘The budget you pass is morally what you’re about,” Miller said. ‘‘You need a good balance. You need modest revenue increases. At the same time you need to make sure the public is not unduly burdened at these challenging times.” Republicans continue to say state spending is out of control. ‘‘It was irresponsible to vote those new spending programs in the first place at a time when we couldn’t afford them,” House Minority Leader Anthony J. O’Donnell (R-Dist. 29C) of Lusby said. ‘‘They may be wonderful ideas if we had unlimited resources.” Meeting the funding needs of programs passed during the special session was an unrealistic expectation, O’Donnell said. ‘‘It was irresponsible, we couldn’t afford it at the time, and nobody should be surprised that we still can’t afford it,” he said. ‘‘The legislature has not cured its spending addiction.” Republicans are not the only ones with spending concerns. Some fiscally conservative Democrats said the state needs to be wary of the national economy. ‘‘We need to stop spending,” Del. Pamela G. Beidle said. ‘‘We don’t know what this economy’s bringing in the next six month or year.”

State OKs Ocean City property tax breaks

Amusement parks have sought relief,0,7195430.story

The General Assembly has passed legislation that would let local governments give tax breaks to two Ocean City amusement parks, both of which have been grappling with skyrocketing property tax bills. The bills, which were sponsored by Del. James N. Mathias Jr., could help keep Trimper Rides and Amusements and the Jolly Roger Amusement Park in business. Both resort mainstays have struggled with escalating property taxes because of the real estate boom. “They're both very vital to the continued success of Ocean City," said Mayor Richard W. Meehan. Meehan said the town initially wanted the state to pass a tax credit for amusement parks, but that wasn't feasible. So the two bills were the next best choice, he said.

Craig offers reduced budget for Harford,0,3431159.story

Harford County Executive David R. Craig unveiled a $895.8 million proposed budget yesterday for fiscal year 2009 that includes money for renovating schools, expanding the detention center, hiring more deputies and raising salaries for county employees. His 2009 budget plan is $84 million less than the $980 million budget that he proposed last March. Citing a tough economy, Craig said he told heads of various county agencies last fall to make modest requests. "We can see the economy was weak, particularly the housing market," he said. "We told everyone to come in with a conservative budget." Craig wrote in his budget message that the county "places a priority on recruiting and retaining the best employees." The budget, which goes next to the county council, takes effect July 1.

Physical-ed study bill advances in state Senate,0,2615999.story

The Maryland Senate advanced a measure yesterday that would create a task force to study mandating a minimum amount of physical activity or education for students in public schools.
The bill would have required schools to provide students in kindergarten through eighth grade with at least 2 1/2 hours of physical activity a week, but lawmakers changed the bill to study the issue, noting concerns that it would be too expensive and require the hiring of more teachers. The bill also would have required high school students to complete two years of physical education to graduate. The task-force bill still needs a final vote in the Senate; the House of Delegates has not acted on a companion measure.

GOP: Dems blocking expansion of board

Democrats are again blocking a bill that would expand the Carroll board of commissioners from three to five, GOP lawmakers say. In a 2004 referendum, voters supported expanding the board to five commissioners, elected by district. But Republicans and Democrats have squabbled in Annapolis for years over how to divide the districts. Carroll’s General Assembly delegation has introduced a bill for the second time in four years calling for a map known as option 1, which would create district lines splitting the towns of Manchester and Hampstead. Sen. David Brinkley, R-District 4, the bill’s co-sponsor, blamed Martin Radinsky, Carroll Democratic Central Committee chairman. Brinkley labeled as false Radinsky’s assertion that option 2 gives Democrats a better chance to win an election. “Marty Radinsky’s working behind the scenes trying to sabotage things,” Brinkley said. “It’s pretty pathetic, actually.” With about two weeks remaining in the General Assembly’s session, both sides agreed plenty of time remains for passage of a bill that would expand the number of commissioners. “We should be able to get something through,” Brinkley said. “I’m still optimistic.”

Senators advance Leopold's agenda

The majority of County Executive John R. Leopold's legislative agenda has been cleared for passage after Anne Arundel's Senate delegation signed off on multiple bills yesterday. Senators unanimously supported lifting the caps on food license and well-drilling fees and mandating the Maryland Department of the Environment to pay the county back for environmental testing it did for fly ash contamination. "Fortunately, (Mr. Leopold's) agenda is very modest," said Sen. Janet Greenip, R-Crofton. In terms of the bills to lift the caps on fees for food establishment licenses and well permits, the Senate delegation's two Republicans - Mrs. Greenip and Sen. Bryan Simonaire, R-Pasadena - begrudgingly voted in favor so the county can cover its operation costs.

Wynn to quit seat in June

Maryland Rep. Albert R. Wynn said yesterday he will resign before his term ends to take over a D.C. law firm job — a move that comes after the eight-term congressman's sound defeat in last month's primary. Under state law, Mr. O'Malley can choose to leave the seat vacant for the rest of the term. Mr. Wynn said he hoped his early departure will allow Mrs. Edwards to gain seniority among the incoming freshmen members of Congress and to smooth her transition. However, the winner of the Republican primary, Peter James, said the move seemed more like a transfer of power between Democrats. “I see this as a ploy, since Donna Edwards has name recognition, to get her in there quickly,” he said.

Wynn's Resignation Leaves Maryland Scrambling

Rep. Albert Wynn may have served 16 years in the House of Representatives, but his announcement yesterday that he was retiring eight months before his final term ends may be the cheapest move in his political career. Wynn, who lost a hotly contested primary to Donna Edwards earlier this year, announced that he was leaving his seat for a job at a local law firm starting in June. His transition to a better-paying job comes at the expense of his constituents in Prince George's and Montgomery counties, who will either have to go six months without a representative in the House, or have to cough up the money for a special election to fill the seat until the November general election. Wynn played up his resignation as something of a gift for Edwards. "My leaving early will also allow our Democratic nominee, Donna Edwards, the opportunity to successfully navigate a special election and be sworn in this summer. This will not only give her seniority in the incoming Congressional Class of ’09 but, more importantly, will allow her to get off to a fast start in serving the citizens of our community. I offer her my best wishes and stand ready to assist in any way possible."

More post-deployment aid urged

O'Malley, Mikulski seek more funds to help returning troops,0,3727825.story

Gov. Martin O'Malley and Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski told a group of soldiers yesterday that the government must do more to help returning troops by increasing mental health funding and cutting bureaucracy in existing programs. During a meeting at the 5th Regiment Armory in Baltimore, both officials heard accounts from about a dozen members of the Maryland National Guard who had emotional and financial problems after returning from deployment overseas. "When they come back home, just like they stood by America, America has to stand by them," said Mikulski, who vowed to seek an additional $45 million for integration programs nationwide. "We've got to help these guardsmen." Maryland's proposed budget includes $3.5 million for behavioral health programs that would include troops who live in areas where there are now no programs and $800,000 for an integration program that would help veterans overcome post-traumatic stress disorder and other combat-related illnesses. O'Malley said Maryland must increase its efforts but offered few specifics about what could be done.


Time to put government on a diet Rascovar on Politics | Barry Rascovar

This is austerity? Maryland’s next budget shows nearly a 4 percent growth in general fund spending — over $550 million more to run state government. Higher education funds are increasing by 9 percent. Aid to public schools is rising by $180 million. Bay restoration funds are growing by $83 million. And yet on Wall Street, there is fear we may be entering a dangerously uncertain period marked by recession and inflation. The collapse of the housing and mortgage markets could spill over into other parts of the economy. It could be a very rough ride — but you’d never know it from the still-growing budgets of local and state leaders. Given the weak national economy, this would be a good time for Annapolis officials to start identifying programs and services to prune or even eliminate. But Maryland’s leaders fear the repercussions of any drastic belt-tightening. Today’s politicians don’t tand up well under pressure. It is easier for them to find ways to increase funding every year for every program. Still, if state revenues continue to plummet, officials may have no choice but to agree on some limited priorities and identify non-essential areas that can be reduced in size.

Look at Maryland’s new budget. When the state comptroller lowered revenue projections by $333 million, did legislators or the governor slash actual spending by an equivalent amount? Of course not. Legislators made less than $150 million worth of on-going program cuts. The rest of the budget balancing was done through fiscal sleights of hand — fund transfers and one-time reductions that don’t provide a long-term answer. It means the state will enter the next budget cycle in worse shape. That $333 million revenue hole is only being plugged temporarily.

A critical victory

Our view: Shorefront land-use reforms are only a start,0,2267636.story

Environmentalists may soon have something big to rejoice: Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposal to upgrade Maryland's Chesapeake Bay Critical Area program appears to be headed for passage. The House has approved the bill - thanks to some reasonable compromises with local government and others who had opposed it. The Senate should soon follow suit. But as important a victory for the Chesapeake Bay as this might prove to be, there also ought to be a reality check. The General Assembly can toughen the restrictions on shoreline development all it wants, but unless the necessary financial resources for enforcement are provided (along with a real willingness on the part of local government), the state's ambition to maintain a 1,000-foot buffer along the tidal waterfront will never be fully realized. To put it more bluntly, the law is an unfunded mandate that local government can choose to aggressively enforce or largely disregard. That the state has no plans to help pay for any of this enforcement - aside from whatever local governments receive from higher fines - is not surprising under the state's budgetary circumstances, but it's not helpful. It's clear that even with this reform, the Critical Area law will not be perfect. Nor would a "perfect" Critical Area law be the bay's salvation. But a beefed-up Critical Area program is a crucial component in what must be a concerted and continuing effort to protect Maryland's most valuable natural resource. Achieving even that much is a notable accomplishment.

Friday, March 28, 2008

20080328 Linganore High School Band in Disney

Linganore High School Band in Disney

March 28, 2008

The Linganore High School Band from Linganore High School in Frederick County Maryland recently perform(ed) in the Main Street Parade in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom on Wednesday, March 19, 2008in Orlando Florida. ladorrance has a video up on You Tube:

Linganore High School Band in Disney


20080326 Too Little, Too Late - Media Discover Mercury in Fluorescent Bulbs by the Business and Media Institute

Too Little, Too Late - Media Discover Mercury in Fluorescent Bulbs by the Business and Media Institute

Each CFL contains about 5 milligrams of mercury. That’s enough for state environmental agencies to recommend complicated and expensive cleanups for accidental bulb breaks in homes.


20070913 Light Bulb Efficiency Standards

Too Little, Too Late - Media Discover Mercury in Fluorescent Bulbs

Journalists' beloved 'eco-friendly' lights now considered more dangerous than originally thought, after government mandate required their use.

By Nathan Burchfiel

Business & Media Institute


What is it about government mandates that curse innovation to failure?

Ethanol turned out to be more environmentally harmful than the fossil fuels it was replacing via federal mandate. Now scientists understand the “green” compact fluorescent light bulbs to be dangerous because they contain mercury.

While scientists couldn’t agree on just how beneficial compact fluorescent light bulbs were, journalists on network news shows had widely agreed that CFLs are a good thing.

“They last 10 times longer and they’re really great for the environment,” Kris Connell of Real Simple Magazine said on “The Early Show” March 10.

Each of the three broadcast networks has featured the bulbs and promoted them as energy-efficient, environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional incandescent bulbs. Journalists and others who support the bulbs touted their benefits but rarely focused on the potential risks.

NBC’s “Today” show featured the bulbs on its “Today Goes Green” series Jan. 23, 2008, as one way average Americans can adjust their lives to be more “environmentally friendly.”

“If every American home replaced just one incandescent bulb with a CFL, in one year it would save enough energy to light more than three million American homes and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of more than 800,000 cars,” co-host Meredith Vieira said.

“Replace just one of your standard light bulbs with one of those curly compact fluorescent lamps,” Diane Sawyer suggested on ABC’s “Good Morning America” April 20. “If every household in the U.S. replaced just one standard bulb with a CFL tomorrow … it would be like taking 2 million cars off the road.”

The Sept. 28, 2007, CBS “Early Show” even said “going green,” including switching from traditional incandescent bulbs to CFLs, was “good for your health, it’s good for your pocketbook, and it’s good for the environment.”

The print media joined in. USA Today called them the “wave of the future” in March 2007. The Los Angeles Times said in April 2007 the bulbs “would be good for the environment and consumers’ pocketbooks.”

With this help from the media, proponents of the bulbs convinced Congress to ban incandescent light bulbs in the energy bill President Bush signed into law in Dec. 19, 2007. The bill increases efficiency standards and effectively bans traditional bulbs by 2014, a timetable considered a victory by supporters like Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., who was the first to introduce legislation that would ban the bulbs.

But what the media ignored or downplayed in the run-up to the ban was that CFLs contain mercury, a highly toxic metal infamous for its presence in thermometers. In the last two years, network news shows mentioned the CFL-mercury link only seven times. Four of the reports came after the incandescent ban had already been signed into law.

Each CFL contains about 5 milligrams of mercury. That’s enough for state environmental agencies to recommend complicated and expensive cleanups for accidental bulb breaks in homes.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection recommended a woman contact a hazardous waste cleanup company when a CFL broke on her child’s bedroom carpet, sending the mercury level to more than six times the “safe” limit. The crew estimated the cleanup would cost $2,000.

The Maine DEP no longer recommends such an expensive cleanup process, but now suggests a 14-point cleanup plan.

The 5 milligrams of mercury are also enough to contaminate 6,000 gallons of water beyond safe drinking levels, according to a March 19 article that “extrapolated from Stanford University research on mercury.”

Read the entire article: Too Little, Too Late - Media Discover Mercury in Fluorescent Bulbs