Friday, July 23, 2010

Spy Report: District 19 Senate Debate

Once again, MPW dispatched a cloaked spy to a candidates' debate who listened from the shadows as incumbent District 19 Senator Mike Lenett and challenger Roger Manno went at it. Here is the secret dispatch from our mole.

Last night the 2 Democratic candidates for District 19 State Senate had their first debate.

It was a little unusual in that County Executive Ike Leggett was included, and he sat between the other 2 and answered each question just as the State Senate candidates did.

At one point in the debate, Roger Manno said that in some states a State Senator is able to stop construction of a highway in his district, and indicated that he would have been against construction of the ICC if he had been our State Senator. He also predicted there would be “another ICC” within 5 years.

Mike Lenett responded that in 2006 when the ICC was still only under discussion, Manno was on record as supporting it.

At another point in the debate, Lenett listed the bills he had sponsored and gotten into law, such as the ban on allowing people to drive while holding a cellphone, thus making driving safer for everyone. Manno responded that Lenett’s bills didn’t mean much for people in Leisure World, and some groans were heard from the audience.

In other “debate” news, both Lenett and Manno said they were against gambling in Maryland, while the other “debater,” Ike Leggett, said he had been persuaded to support it.

Later, Manno supported Leggett as being in favor of a hike in the gas tax to pay for transportation improvements, while Lenett said he was opposed to raising the gas tax because that was regressive and instead he wants to raise more money for transportation improvements by such things as eliminating the exemption from the Maryland sales tax for purchases of yachts.
A few notes:

1. Both Lenett and Manno voted for the slots constitutional amendment and the slots implementation bill during the special session, so neither of them should be claiming to oppose gambling. Both of them need to own their votes.

2. No individual State Senator could have stopped the ICC. Groups of MoCo legislators tried to stop it and failed in prior years.

3. Manno indeed ran as an ICC supporter in 2006. Later, he described the opening of the road's first segment as a "recipe for disaster" and protested its toll structure. In contrast, when the Gazette asked Mike Lenett which transportation projects he favored in 2006, Lenett pointedly excluded the ICC.

4. Eliminating the yacht exemption and similar small-bore measures are unlikely to raise the hundreds of millions of dollars needed for transportation projects across the state.