Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sectarian Conflict, Maryland Style

We like arguing with Baltimore Sun transportation reporter Michael Dresser. He’s an honest, vigorous advocate for his city and his region. Posing as his alter-ego, “Baltimore Guy,” Dresser wrote a column blasting the I-270 widening project. After we pointed out all the things Baltimore received from the state, Dresser offered this response:


I showed Baltimore Guy your article, and he wasn't at all pleased. I think you hurt his feelings. -- Mike Dresser

“What is this Montgomery tofu-head trying to put over on me, anyway? Has all that brie rotted his brain? Does he think Baltimore wants to keep feeding on crumbs from Montgomery’s table? Shove that! We want more of the feast. We can take all the growth that comes our way without whining about traffic.

“And if we don’t get high-tech jobs in Baltimore, we want them a lot closer than freaking Montgomery County. My kid, who just graduated from UM with a computer sciences degree, doesn't want to commute to Gaithersburg even with the ICC because the tolls will cost an arm and a leg. He’d rather get a job somewhere on Interstate 95 where people won’t look down on him because he drinks Natty Boh instead of Cos-mo-pol-i-tans.

“And why does this guy keep going on about Baltimore city? Doesn’t he realize he’s up against Baltimore County and Howard County and Harford and Anne Arundel too? None of us get squat from new jobs along I-270. We want them on the eastern end of their precious ICC. And it just so happens we have pals in Prince George’s and Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore who feel the same way.

“So why don’t we all have a meeting in Annapolis and let those Montgomery County liberals explain to us all again how much we owe them and how only Montgomery is worthy to be a job creator and how they’re generously offering to absorb more traffic for the good of the state? We’ll show them gratitude.”

OK, Baltimore Guy, back in your box. We want to keep it civil here.

Sorry, Adam, Baltimore Guy’s been a little touchy since his industrial base went away.
We love honesty and Dresser gave us a big dose of it. This is far better than listening to another awful “we’re all in it together” speech!

For all the sound and fury surrounding the I-270 project, it will not be the near-term battlefield for Free State sectarianism. The real conflict will take place over the FY 2011 and FY 2012 state budgets. We have blogged several times about Senate President Mike “Big Daddy” Miller’s intention to send teacher pensions down to the counties, a move that would disproportionately devastate MoCo. The state’s never-ending budget disaster makes that much more likely next year or the year after. But for all the talk about ending the one state program that may actually benefit MoCo in net terms, no one is discussing ending the state’s 100% subsidy for Baltimore’s Community College, Detention Center and Central Booking Facility. Let’s view once again the state’s $185 million handout from the Governor’s FY 2010 budget – a special deal that no one else in Maryland can ever hope to get.

What would happen if that aid ever wound up on the chopping block? The Baltimore delegation would fight like hell and the Sun would have their backs. Meanwhile, the Washington Post’s clueless Boy King has already asked the Governor to send teacher pensions down to the counties.

We hope our state delegation understands what they’re up against.