Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kick it With George!

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Realtors Announce Endorsements in Council Races

The Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors has announced their endorsements in the County Council races. Following is their press release.

For Immediate Release

Contact: Bobette Banks
bbanks@gcaar.com

GCAAR ANNOUNCES ENDORSEMENTS FOR THE MONTGOMERY COUNTY COUNCIL AND COUNTY EXECUTIVE PRIMARY ELECTIONS

On June 28, 2010, the Greater Capital Area Association of REALTORS® (GCAAR) is officially announcing its endorsements for the Montgomery County Council and County Executive 2010 primary elections. In any field of candidates there is a wide array of personal and career experience. And GCAAR certainly believes that each of the candidates running bring such experience to the people for consideration and further demonstrate a commitment to the election process by giving up their time to tell others their views.

With such strong candidates, there were many issues to consider during our discussions. However, after thorough debate and careful deliberation, GCAAR believes that the candidate’s listed below best share the REALTORS® vision and possesses a deep knowledge of the issues facing our members and the real estate industry. GCAAR feels confident that each of these candidates understands the issues of concern to the real estate community, homebuyers, sellers and property owners in Montgomery County. And that each of these candidates has a strong commitment to a good quality of life in Montgomery County. GCAAR is proud to officially announce these endorsements.

County Executive Race – Ike Leggett

At-Large Democratic Primary Race:
1. George Leventhal
2. Nancy Floreen
3. Marc Elrich
4. Becky Wagner

At-large Republican Primary Race – Brandon Rippeon

District 1 Democratic Primary Race – Roger Berliner
District 2 Democratic Primary Race – Craig Rice
District 3 Democratic Primary Race – Phil Andrews
District 4 Democratic Primary Race – Nancy Navarro
District 5 Democratic Primary Race – Valerie Ervin

###

GCAAR is the voice for REALTORS® in Washington, DC and Montgomery County, Maryland. Representing more than 8,500 real estate professionals in the Greater Capital Area, GCAAR provides numerous services vital to its members' daily business needs and works with lawmakers to ensure public policy that encourages home ownership.

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MCGEO Targets Schools in Questionnaire

The Municipal and County Government Employees Organization (MCGEO), which represents most county employees other than police officers, fire fighters and school workers, has included the following six questions in its questionnaire for County Council candidates.

Question 4.

The County Council cannot force the School Board to equitably share in the furloughs - this year or next. However, it is apparent to the Police Officers, Firefighters and MCGEO represented county employees that the council was collectively unable/unwilling to summon the political courage to cut the school budget deep enough to force the council to distribute equitable furloughs. While some councilmembers postured for a deeper cut (2%), it was never brought to a vote. In fact, some councilmembers seemed to turn weak in the knees when dealing with the Superintendent of schools. You all collectively sought the shelter of the “lowest common denominator” and cut only $24.4 million out of a $2-billion dollar budget. This lack of leadership resulted in the council willing to confine the furloughs to the only side of the budget which accounts for just 1/3 of the employees funded by it. This devalues our service and the services we provide. OUR MEMBERS ARE YOUR EMPLOYEES!

If you are an incumbent, please explain:

• How do you justify this?
• Do you admit that Jerry Weast is a better negotiator than you?
• What, if any, regrets do you have?
• Can we expect the same response next year?

If you are a challenger, please explain what you would do differently:

• Would you cut the school budget?

Question 5.

The County Council makes decisions to allocate resources that fund both the school board and county services. The school board currently gets 56-57% of the total funds allocated by the council.

Do you think the share should: (Circle One)

(A) Be increased
(B) Stay the same
(C) Be reduced to a more equitable balance

Question 14.

The current economic crisis is placing substantial pressure on the County budget which funds both County and School Board services. If the State mandated Maintenance of Effort (MOE) is not waived then the County side of the budget must absorb the vast majority of budget cuts, layoffs and furloughs. If the MOE is waived, then the resulting impact of cuts, especially number of furlough days could be more equitably distributed across both County government and School Board systems resulting in fewer furlough days per employee regardless of employer.

Would you waive MOE in order to more equitably distribute the sacrifice across the employers?

Yes No (Circle One)

Comments:

Would you temporarily waive MOE and disperse the pain more equitably?

Yes No (Circle One)

Comments:

Question 15.

Montgomery County has a system where all school board members are elected county wide, although 5 must live in a district and 2 can live anywhere in the County. Do you favor electing school board members by single member districts?

Yes No (Circle One)

Question 16.

Do you think it was fair that only county employees were asked to do furloughs and the school system refused to do so?

Yes No (Circle One)

Question 17.

If endorsed by our Union, will you commit to writing a $4,000-$5,000 check to our PAC, like you would to MCEA, to assist our Union’s campaign on your behalf?

#####

The intent behind these questions is obvious. MCGEO sees the budget as a zero-sum game between the county government (which also includes the police and the fire fighters) and the schools (which have three other unions including the teachers, supervisors and support staff). MCGEO is apparently trying to lock in County Council candidates to support its priorities even at the direct expense of the schools. So if any candidates agree with MCGEO, they put their endorsements from the teachers and the other school unions at risk. (To be fair, the teachers advocate for their budget too, but their questionnaires are not so heavy-handed.) And looming over all of this is the Washington Post, which is pressuring candidates to reject all public employee union support.

This is creating an impossible situation for any county-level politician who would like to deal reasonably, but not slavishly, with labor. We would not be surprised if more than one candidate refused to complete this questionnaire.

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SEIU Slams Becky Wagner

Four members of SEIU Local 500's endorsement committee have issued the following response to Council At-Large candidate Becky Wagner's mass email on the union's endorsement decision. Hide the children, folks!

Ms. Wagner,

As members of the SEIU Local 500 Committee on Political Empowerment, we were both surprised and disappointed by your public assault on the integrity of our endorsement process. You were wrong on your assumptions about our reasoning, and clearly out of touch in your assertion that you understand the interests of working people.

Those of us who serve on this committee do so on a volunteer basis and we take our responsibilities very seriously. We bring decades of experience and knowledge about our members and the issues that matter to them. We do some of the most thankless, underappreciated work there is. Among other things, we cook food for children, mop floors and scrub toilets in school buildings, care for those with developmental disabilities and provide a safe environment to some of the most at risk children in this state.

For the better than four decades our union has existed, we have struggled for appreciation for the work we do, and respect for who we are. When recommending candidates to our members, we strive to support those candidates who reflect that vision and are committed to being strong advocates on our behalf.

We understand your disappointment in not receiving our endorsement. In announcing our decision to support candidates other than you, we didn’t utter a single word of disrespect for who you are or criticism for any of the positions you’ve taken. Yet, you choose to single us out for public ridicule.

Can you name another organization that chose not to endorse you that you’ve done this to, besides us?

Your statement was condescending and disrespectful to our membership. We expected better from someone who professed to be an advocate for working people – someone who claimed to be different but, in the end, apparently was no different at all.

Respectfully,

Mary Belin, Union member for 45 years
Henrietta Jenkins, Union member for 19 years
Ruth Musicante, Union member for 15 years
Terezia Foote, Union member for 8 years

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Jay Hutchins and Eric Luedtke on "Political Pulse" on Ch. 16 TV‏

Jay Hutchins, who is running for MD State Delegate in District 19, and Eric Luedtke, who is running for MD State Delegate in District 14, will be on the "Political Pulse" TV political show on:

Thurs, July 1st at 9 p.m.
Fri-Sun, July 2nd-4th at 6:00 p.m.
and Tues, July 6th at 9:30 p.m.

Political Pulse is on Montgomery Municipal Cable in Montgomery County.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Police, Fire Fighters Picket Duchy Kickoff (Updated with More Photos)







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Sharon Grosfeld Endorses Ariana Kelly

Former District 18 Delegate and Senator Sharon Grosfeld has endorsed Ariana Kelly for a District 16 House seat. Following is former Senator Grosfeld's statement.

Ariana possesses the rare combination of talent, intelligence and compassion that inspires people to listen closely to her ideas and believe in her. She has demonstrated strong leadership in her past efforts to secure legislation important to Maryland families, and I am convinced that as a state delegate representing District 16, she will take her passion and negotiating skills to even greater heights. Ariana is exactly the person anyone would want to advocate for their interests.

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MoCo NOW Releases Early Endorsement List

The Montgomery County chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) has released its early endorsement list. Its first picks are:

Maryland General Assembly

Senate


District 39
Saqib Ali

House of Delegates

District 14
Eric Luedtke

District 15
Brian Feldman

District 16
Charles Chester

District 18
Dana Beyer

District 19
Jay Hutchins

Montgomery County Council
At-large
George Leventhal

School Board
District 3
Patricia O’Neill

NOW says, "This is not a final list, and candidates will be added as they are endorsed." Fair enough. Most early endorsements are no-brainers, that is, people who are obvious picks because of their long records of support in and out of office. By that measure, why are so many of the county's most renowned female candidates off the list, like former NARAL staffers Cheryl Kagan and Ariana Kelly? Why was Duchy Trachtenberg, a former President of Maryland and MoCo NOW, not endorsed? And how about Marc Elrich, who worked with George Leventhal on the successful 2007 bill to protect domestic workers?

Wow, NOW.

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Prince George's Fights Back Against Illegal Signs!

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Planet Earth Endorses Craig Rice

OK, maybe not, but it sure seems that way. Here is his supporter list (which does not include institutions like MCEA and SEIU).

County Council Support:
• Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Floreen, Council President
• Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin, Vice-President, District 5
• Montgomery County Councilmember Mike Knapp, District 2
• Montgomery County Councilmember George Leventhal, At-Large

State Wide Support:
• Comptroller Peter Franchot
• Attorney General Doug Gansler
• Senator Rob Garagiola, District 15
• Delegate Brian J. Feldman, District 15 - Chair, Montgomery County House Delegation
• Delegate Kathleen Dumais, District 15
• Delegate C. William Frick, District 16
• Delegate Susan C. Lee, District 16 - Vice-Chair, Montgomery County House Delegation
• Senator Jennie Forehand, District 17
• Delegate Kumar Barve, District 17 - House Majority Leader
• Delegate James W. Gilchrist, District 17
• Senator Rich Madaleno, District 18
• Delegate Al Carr, District 18
• Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez, District 18
• Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher, District 18
• Delegate Tom Hucker, District 20
• Delegate Sheila Hixson, District 20
• Delegate Charles E. Barkley, District 39
• Delegate Kirill Reznik, District 39

Municipalities:
• Mayor Peter Fosselman, City Of Kensington
• Mayor Sidney Katz, City of Gaithersburg
• Mayor Jeffrey Z. Slavin, Town of Somerset
• Gaithersburg City Councilman Ryan Spiegel

Community Leaders:
• Craig Zucker, Candidate for Delegate, District 14
• Eric Bernard, Montgomery County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association*
• Marilyn Balcombe, Germantown Community Leader
• Adam Leucking, CEO, Results Leadership Group*
• Marcie Goodman, Bully PoliceUSA*
• Kelli Nelson, Community Advocate for Developmentally Disabled Community*

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Doug Duncan Endorses Ilaya Hopkins

Former County Executive Doug Duncan has endorsed Ilaya Hopkins, who is challenging incumbent Council Member Roger Berliner in Council District 1 (Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Potomac). Following is her press release.

NEWS RELEASE

Media Contact:
Chris Gill, campaign manager
Email: chris_gill@ilayahopkins.com

Former Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan Endorses Ilaya Hopkins for District 1 County Council Seat

BETHESDA, MD – June 28, 2010 – Ilaya Hopkins, candidate for the District 1 seat on the Montgomery County Council, today announced that former Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan endorsed her for the District 1 County Council seat.

“It’s an honor to have Doug Duncan’s support in my bid for the Montgomery County Council District 1 election,” said Hopkins. “During his 12-year tenure, Doug provided visionary, decisive leadership that transformed the county into a national public education leader, a model for smart growth, and an economic engine for the state. I am proud to be associated with his tremendous record of accomplishment for our county and communities.”

“It is with great pride and a sense of hope that I endorse Ilaya Hopkins for the Montgomery County Council District 1 seat,” Duncan said. “I have gotten to know Ilaya through her community work and her recent campaign. She is an exceptional leader, with a strong track record of success serving her community. Now more than ever, we need leaders who will focus on the real challenges Montgomery County is now facing – exploding budget deficits, over capacity in schools, choked roads and fleeing businesses. Ilaya has the courage and vision we need to make the tough decisions that will once again put Montgomery County back on track and provide the quality of life we deserve,” said Duncan.

Doug Duncan served as Montgomery County Executive from 1994-2006. During his tenure, Duncan improved educational excellence, strengthened environmental protections, fought poverty and urban blight, and positioned Montgomery County as an international biotechnology leader.

Among his many accomplishments, Duncan invested in education to reduce class sizes, hire more teachers and provide all-day kindergarten. Under Duncan, Montgomery high schools consistently ranked in the nation’s top three percent. His administration preserved more farmland and open space than any other county in the nation and invested in mass transit to relieve traffic congestion and improve air quality. He led efforts to invest $2 billion in public and private sector funds that transformed Silver Spring into a model of smart growth and urban development. Under his leadership, 85,000 jobs were created and Montgomery County enjoyed the lowest unemployment in the state.

About Ilaya
Hopkins serves on the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Implementation Committee, the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board where she co-chairs the Quality of Life committee, and is a board member of Bethesda Green, a public-private partnership to promote a healthy economy and sustainable living practices. She chaired the Coalition of Military Medical Center Neighbors, which has members who represent 10,000 people who live, work, attend school and do business in the vicinity of the Medical Center Metro, home to the new Walter Reed National Medical Military Center in Bethesda. She is the immediate past president of the East Bethesda Citizens Association, a neighborhood group of 1,200 houses adjacent to the Bethesda Central Business District between East West Highway and Jones Bridge Road. She is a graduate of Leadership Montgomery, active in the Rosemary Hills Primary and North Chevy Chase Elementary Schools PTAs and is a member of Montgomery Women. She lives in Bethesda with her husband and two sons.

To learn more about Ilaya, her position on the issues and campaign activities visit www.ilayahopkins.com. You can follow Ilaya on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ilayahopkins and Facebook at www.facebook.com/ilayahopkins.

The Democratic primary is Tuesday, Sep. 14th, 2010 and the general election is Tuesday, Nov. 2nd

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Becky Wagner vs. SEIU

Council at-large candidate Becky Wagner just sent out a mass email blaming her non-endorsement by SEIU Local 500 on her support for privatization. This comes in the context of her past opposition to the county's living wage law. Taken together, these two positions suggest a willingness to contract out county services to workers paid as low as the minimum wage. MCGEO, which is just as opposed to privatization as is SEIU, contributed $3,000 to Wagner's campaign last November. What will they think?

Following is Wagner's mass email.

The price of telling the truth is one I'm willing to pay

I am a little surprised at how easy it would be to tell everyone just what they want to hear. As I sit through interviews with various unions and interest groups, it is clear that telling the truth often means an endorsement may not follow.

I received the call last week that I did not get SEIU Local 500’s endorsement. They are endorsing other at-large candidates. There is some irony in not being endorsed by this service workers’ union. Throughout my professional career I've been a consistent supporter of workers and their rights. My dad was a fireman and an engineer for the railroad (yes, a union man) and my mom worked as a library aide. Neither of them had the privilege of a college education, which is why they worked constantly to assure that all six of their children went to college.

I knew my interview would not go well when the first question, framed as “the only question that matters,” was about my response to the question of privatization. I told the truth about the privatization question. My nonprofit organization, Interfaith Works, competes for and wins contracts and provides services to the most vulnerable in the County. We have a 5% overhead.

As a nonprofit provider of social services, I would be dishonest to say I oppose the privatizing of public services when in fact we hold competitively bid contracts to provide social services on behalf of the county. In some cases, direct service nonprofits are better suited to serve the community as we are more flexible, identify trends more quickly and often have a closer understanding of community need, specifically regarding ethnic, minority and low income communities.

The interview committee didn't love that answer.

We are facing perilous fiscal challenges that are going to require new and bold thinking about how we do our work and perform our services. Someone has to tell the truth about this rather than say anything to be re-elected, or elected. Remember the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz saying, “Courage, Dorothy!”

I have the courage to tell the truth, regardless of the cost.

Becky

Becky Wagner
Democratic candidate for Montgomery County Council, At Large
becky@beckywagner.org

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Franchot on Kojo

From the Kojo Nnamdi Show:

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Clint Webb for Senate

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Equality MD Endorsements and Some Surprises

Equality Maryland released their early endorsements today. A complete list and some highlights below the fold.

In District 18, EM has endorsed four candidates for delegate: incumbents Al Carr, Ana Sol Gutierrez, and Jeff Waldstreicher as well as challenger and EM Board Member Dana Bayer. Next, in District 39, EM endorsed incumbent Sen. Nancy King over her challenger, Del. Saqib Ali.

In both the delegate race in District 18 and the senate contest in District 39, the challengers have attempted to position themselves as stronger on LGBT rights and EM's endorsement of the incumbents undercuts this theme. In any case, it's a positive sign that candidates now position themselves as more liberal on this; times have changed.

Meanwhile, in District 19, EM has not yet endorsed Bonnie Cullison--an openly lesbian candidate for the House of Delegates--though it did endorse incumbent Ben Kramer. For now, EM is staying out of the hot Senate race in that district.

On the other hand, Del. Karen Montgomery scored a coup with EM's endorsement of her challenge to incumbent Sen. Rona Kramer, also perceived as strong on equality. The complete list follows:

State Senate
Delores Kelley D-10
Bobby Zirkin D-11
Edward Kasemeyer D-12
Karen Montgomery D-14
Rich Madaleno D-18
Jamie Raskin D-20
Paul Pinsky D-22
Nancy King D-39
Catherine Pugh D-40
Nathaniel McFadden D-45

House of Delegates
D-3A Galen Clagett
D-10 Adrienne Jones
D-12B Elizabeth Bobo
D-13 Frank Turner
D-14 Anne Kaiser
D-15 Brian Feldman
D-16 Bill Frick
D-16 Susan Lee
D-17 Kumar Barve
D-17 Luiz Simmons
D-17 Jim Gilchrist
D-18 Dana Beyer
D-18 Al Carr
D-18 Ana Sol Gutierrez
D-18 Jeff Waldstreicher
D-19 Benjamin Kramer
D-20 Tom Hucker
D-20 Heather Mizeur
D-21 Ben Barnes
D-21 Barbara Frush
D-21 Joseline Pena-Melnyk
D-22 Justin Ross
D-23 James Hubbard
D-26 Kris Valderrama
D-30 Virginia Clagett
D-30 Judd Legum
D-34 A B. Daniel Riley
D-39 Charles Barkley
D-39 Kirill Reznik
D-40 Barbara Robinson
D-40 Shawn Tarrant
D-41 Samuel Rosenberg
D-42 Stephen Lafferty
D-43 Maggie McIntosh
D-43 Curt Anderson
D-43 Mary Washington
D-46 Brian McHale
D-46 Luke Clippinger
D-47 Jolene Ivey
D-47 Doyle Niemann

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hrant Jamgochian Announces Kickoff

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Folk Singers for Kagan

Who else but Cheryl Kagan would bring in a nationally recognized folk singer from Delaware for one of her fundraisers?


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Michael Sriqui Announces for Delegate in District 16

Following is his press release.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: John Olderman
Email: John@VoteSriqui.com

Michael Sriqui Announces Candidacy for the Maryland House of Delegates

Former Common Cause Vice President Stresses Campaign Finance Credentials

Government reform activist Michael Sriqui today announced his candidacy for the Maryland House of Delegates from the Bethesda-anchored 16th District. One of the district’s three seats in the House is open following the April resignation of Delegate Bill Bronrott.

“Reforming government and re-invigorating democracy have been at the heart of my political activism for over a decade,” said Sriqui, 31, a public television producer and Bethesda native. “Special interests use Maryland’s campaign finance system to build a wall between citizens and the State House. Reform will break down this wall and give activists the chance to pursue real progress on a host of important issues.”

Sriqui, a Bethesda native and a graduate of Walt Whitman High School, Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and the London School Economics, has spent the last month meeting with residents and speaking to neighborhood associations. “People remain nervous about the economy,” he said. “With the budget stretched so thin, they want leadership that’s willing to put the public interest first.” He said that elected leaders throughout Maryland had made too many promises they couldn’t keep when the recession hit. “People begin to feel our democracy isn’t representative when too few interests have too much sway,” he said.

Before running for Delegate, Sriqui served as Vice President of Common Cause, a non-partisan, non-profit advocacy that works to enhance citizen engagement in politics and hold elected officials accountable to the public interest. He has directed political campaigns in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and was a research aide to former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski in 2001. Sriqui, whose father is of Moroccan Jewish origin, is a member of Magen David Sephardic Congregation in North Bethesda.

2010 marks the first election since 1998 that voters in District 16 will directly elect a new Delegate. All three members of the current delegation were originally appointed by the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee to fill vacancies per the Maryland Constitution.

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Duchy Trachtenberg Schedules Campaign Kickoff

At-Large County Council Member Duchy Trachtenberg has scheduled her campaign kickoff for the Strathmore Mansion in Rockville on Tuesday, June 29. Following is her announcement.

You are Cordially Invited To Join

County Executive Ike Leggett

Councilmember Phil Andrews

Terry O’Neill/Allendra Letsome
(NOW President/NOW VP)

At Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg’s Re-election Campaign Kickoff

Tuesday, June 29th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm

The Strathmore Mansion
Rockville Pike
North Bethesda

Reception starts promptly at 5:30

Parking is available on-site at the Mansion or in the Grosvenor/Strathmore metro lot (corner of Tuckerman/Rock Pike).

Location is metro and handicapped accessible.

Please rsvp to Liz Browne at voteduchy@gmail.com

By Authority: Trachtenberg for County Council, Elaine A Blong, Treasurer

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Is There Such A Thing as Too Young?

By Marc Korman.

I am a proud, young(ish) Democrat. I have given endless hours and more money than my wife is comfortable with in support of young candidates. My first piece written for MPW was about the generational shift in the Montgomery County Delegation between 2005 and 2007. But lately I have spent some time pondering if there is such a thing as being too young for elective office.

One of the candidates in the Republican primary for Comptroller, Brendan Madigan, is 18 years old and about to start his senior year of high school. Kyle Lierman, a Delegate candidate in District 16, is 23 years old. Scott Goldberg, another District 16 challenger, is 27 years old. Eric Luedtke, District 14 Delegate candidate, is 28 years old. Does any of this matter?

Both Lierman and Goldberg cite to the same Maryland leaders who held elective office early. Ben Cardin was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates when he was just 24 and became Speaker at 35. Steny Hoyer was elected to the State Senate at 27 and was the youngest Senate President at age 35.

Others have also been young. Martin O’Malley was in his late 20s when he was elected to the Baltimore City Council and mid-30s when he rose to Mayor. Jeff Waldstreicher was just 26 when he was elected to the House of Delegates. Jeannie Haddaway from District 37B on the Eastern Shore was 26 when she entered the House. J.B. Jennings from District 7 in Baltimore and Harford Counties was 28 when he was elected to the House of Delegates in 2002.

The Maryland Constitution sets a minimum age for the House of Delegates and Senate at 21 and 25 respectively. Interestingly, it does not set an age for Comptroller but it does require the Governor and Lieutenant Governor to be at least thirty. There is no minimum age requirement for Attorney General, but an AG does have to have practiced law in Maryland for ten years prior to their election which will boost the age of any candidate.

Of course, it is not the age that matters at all but the experience and judgment. John McCain demonstrated nicely that you can be a grizzled old man and still lack the latter quality. During the 2008 primary, Barack Obama was regularly compared to John F. Kennedy. Obama was actually a bit older. He was 46 during the primaries, the same age Kennedy was when he was assassinated almost three years through his term. In fact, Obama was also older than Bill Clinton was when he took office.

Obama’s problem was not his age, it was convincing folks he had the experience and judgment necessary to be President. To briefly compare records, Kennedy was a war veteran, three term House member, and serving his second Senate term when he ran. Bill Clinton had been Arkansas Attorney General and Governor for twelve years. In my own view, Obama never quite showed he had the experience people commonly look for in president, but he did a good job showing he had the judgment running a disciplined campaign and demonstrating knowledge and wisdom on issues.

That is what young candidates need to do. They need to share their story and explain what they have done in their lives thus far to prepare them and demonstrate they have the good judgment to serve. Outside of the limits set by the Maryland Constitution, there is no age requirement and candidates should run when they feel they are ready. Then it will be up to the voters to decide if the candidate has assessed themselves appropriately.

Full Disclosure, I have donated to Eric Luedtke.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Jeff Waldstreicher Endorses Ariana Kelly

Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher (D-18) has endorsed former NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland Executive Director Ariana Kelly for Delegate in District 16. Following is Delegate Waldstreicher's statement.

Delegate Waldstreicher Endorses Ariana Kelly

It is with unbridled enthusiasm that I endorse Ariana Kelly, Democrat for state Delegate. Ariana and I have a strong personal friendship developed over many years, so I’ve seen up-close as she’s fought to improve the lives of Maryland families. It would be an honor to serve with her in the House of Delegates.

Born and raised right here in Montgomery County, Ariana is a working mom with two kids who lives in Bethesda. When I served as Chairman of NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, I watched as Ariana worked tirelessly to advance the cause of women’s rights and social justice. I know she’s brought that same commitment to environmental issues in her current position. She’s not just a reliable vote, she’s a champion for progressive policy.

As a parent myself, I’m also excited that Ariana joins Senator Frosh and Delegates Lee and Frick in being recommended by Montgomery County’s teachers. That’s no accident; Ariana’s commitment to education is unimpeachable. She supports smaller class sizes, fair teacher pay, and the elimination of portable classrooms. As I saw at NARAL, Ariana is a fiscal hawk, so she knows we must accomplish all this while living within our means and balancing our budget.

Finally, Ariana is simply a wonderful person. She has a diplomatic, collegial disposition that wins allies. She is loyal to her values, but more importantly, she is loyal to her friends. Ariana will undoubtedly bring a level of experience and maturity that is sorely lacking in Annapolis.

I can’t wait to serve with Ariana Kelly.

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From the Saqib Ali Archives

We took a screenshot of this when Delegate Saqib Ali (D-39) put this up on Twitter last fall and promptly forgot about it. But that was a disservice to our readers since it proves yet again that Ali is one of the state's funniest politicians.

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Aruna Miller Announces for Delegate in District 15

Following is her press release.

Aruna Miller Announces her Candidacy for State Delegate District 15‏

DARNESTOWN, Md. – Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee’s At-Large Member, Aruna Miller, has declared her candidacy for Montgomery County State Delegate representing District 15.

Miller is a transportation engineer who has over 20 years of experience promoting and implementing safe multi-modal access that is convenient for all users— pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Working to make Maryland and Montgomery County a more commutable and livable community is one of the cornerstones of her campaign.

"I have spent 20 years, working to enhance safe access for our residents to get to work, school, friends and recreation. Transportation is vital for the state's economic and social health and in improving the quality of life for Maryland residents.” said Miller.

Miller also serves on the Board of Directors for the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Educational Foundation, Inc which provides scholarships for MCPS students, academic-enriching opportunities for students/staff and grants to schools. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded over 1 million dollars in scholarships in addition to over $900,000 in grants.

”Education accessibility is paramount, the more educated our population the less reliance on social services, the more we attract businesses, overall it’s a net gain to the community for every dollar invested. During these fiscally challenging times, it’s important now more than ever that we continue to invest in our future and not consent to short-term economic pressures.” says Miller.

Miller believes that Montgomery County will lead the state in the economic recovery with leadership that supports pro-economic tax policies.

Miller’s Campaign Chair is the Hon. Esther P. Gelman who was the Commissioner of the MNCPPC (1970-1974) and was elected to the Montgomery County Council (1974-1986).

Gelman stated, “It is a great honor to be Aruna Miller’s Campaign Chair. Aruna is one of the hardest working, community spirited activist that I have ever known. Aruna will add to our strong delegation and will contribute to make it stronger.”

Miller looks forward to knocking on doors and discussing issues with residents of District 15. “I believe Montgomery County is the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family I am looking forward to meeting with and serving the people of District 15 to continue foster smart growth and livable communities as our county continues to grow.”

Aruna Miller’s campaign kickoff will be announced shortly and include several key community leaders.

Hon. Esther P. Gelman - Chair
David Miller - Treasurer

For Further information please contact David Miller 240-498-8394

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Introducing the Citizens League of Montgomery County

By Dan Hoffman.

Several months ago Marc Korman provided a post to MPW referencing the development of a new organization in Montgomery County, aimed at re-engaging county residents and giving them a tool for bringing fresh ideas, perspectives, and solutions to our elected County officials. I’d like to finally introduce the organization he was referring to, the Citizens League of Montgomery County.

The Citizens League of Montgomery County (CLMC) is comprised of individuals, or ‘Member Citizens’. We feel that your individual perspective and ideas are important. After all, ideas begin with one individual. Seeing an idea to fruition in Montgomery County, as in many places, is a long and daunting process for any individual.

The CLMC was formed to give that individual, you, a new course. For those who care about positively participating in the development of policies that will shape our County for decades to come, we are offering a vehicle for you to get involved on your terms. Using technology to its fullest potential to reach untapped pockets of activism in the County, CLMC hopes to facilitate the civic process for thousands of County residents.

Our collective strength will help influence County leaders towards balanced, common good solutions. We are not ‘pro’ or ‘anti’, right or left, but rather we seek to help individuals find that elusive third option, and bring it to the surface. The Board of CLMC is made up of individuals from all walks that believe in this and are looking to you and your guidance. We have gathered a Board of County leaders to help guide the formation of CLMC and build membership: Casey Anderson, Jaclyn Lichter, Henry Hailstock, Rich Parsons, Oscar Ramirez, Chad Salganick, Barnaby Zall and myself. Join the League today and become a Member Citizen. Being a member of the League is free and open to everyone (although we do accept donations – from County residents and capped off annually to keep this a true grassroots organization). We’re excited about the potential ideas every individual in this County has to offer!

So please visit www.mococitizens.org and join today. Consider submitting an idea or perhaps comment on some of the ideas that have already been posted. Add us on Facebook as well. This organization will be successful with YOUR participation. This is your think tank and we have significant challenges ahead of us in this County. So let’s get to work!

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Senator Nancy King on the BOAST Bill

From the Washington Grove Town Council meeting on November 23, 2009.

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Delegate Gerron Levi on Kojo

From the Kojo Nnamdi Show.

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Brian Feldman's Walk Piece




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Nancy Floreen and Jane de Winter on "Political Pulse" on Ch. 16 TV in MoCo‏

MoCo County Council President Nancy Floreen, who is an At-Large Council-member, and Jane de Winter, who is running for 1 of the 4 At-Large County Council seats, will be on the "Political Pulse" TV Show on:

Thurs, June 24th at 9:00 p.m.
Fri-Sun, June 25th-27th, at 6:00 p.m. and
Tues, June 29th, at 9:30 p.m.

"Political Pulse" is on Montgomery Municipal Cable in Montgomery County.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Two Wildest Campaign Videos Ever

Of course, they are from Alabama. This is Republican Dale Peterson, who was running in the primary for Agriculture Commissioner.



Peterson lost, but cut this video endorsing the Republican who beat him. Note how he fires a rifle shot at a miscreant stealing a campaign sign.



Now why can't Maryland politicians let it rip like this?

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Buy a Piece of the Hunk

Here's one of the more creative campaign tactics of 2010: District 19 Delegate candidate Sam Arora is selling artwork of himself! For $50 contributed here, you can frame this up in your living room. What are you waiting for, ladies?

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SEIU Local 500 Makes Council, School Board Endorsements

Shortly after SEIU's Maryland and D.C. State Council made endorsements for state legislators, SEIU Local 500 (which represents school support staff and adjunct professors) released their county office endorsement list. Many of their incumbent endorsements were expected. The newsworthy endorsements are incumbent Roger Berliner in District 1 (who is batting one thousand on this measure), Craig Rice in District 2 and Hans Riemer, who is challenging at-large. Incumbent at-large member Nancy Floreen also earned an endorsement. Following is their press release.

SEIU Local 500 Announces Montgomery County Endorsements

GAITHERSBURG, MD (June 22) – SEIU Local 500 announced its endorsements of candidates for the Montgomery County Council and Montgomery County Board of Education today.

For election to the Board of Education, SEIU Local 500 has endorsed Patricia O'Neill, Judy Docca, Mike Durso, and Shirley Brandman. SEIU Local 500 members chose to endorse Roger Berliner, Craig Rice, Nancy Navarro, and Valerie Ervin in their respective district-wide county council races. In the at-large county council race, Local 500 endorses incumbents Marc Elrich, Nancy Floreen, and George Leventhal, and challenger Hans Riemer.

“In a difficult year, Local 500 is supporting leaders who value the contributions of Local 500 members, who educate and support the needs of students and persons with disabilities throughout Montgomery County,” said Mary Belin, MCPS supporting services staff member and chairwoman of SEIU Local 500’s COPE committee. “We are proud to support long-time friends of Local 500 members and those they serve, as well as challengers, who we believe will bring fresh ideas and principled leadership to the county.”

“Local 500 members play a critical role in education and community service throughout Montgomery County and the region,” explains Merle Cuttitta, president of SEIU Local 500. “We are invested in the political process in order to ensure that the services we provide are properly funded and understood as essential to the success of our county and region. Naturally, we support candidates who are pro-education and pro-working families. Local 500 members are committed to ensuring their election this fall and we look forward to working with these leaders in the coming years. Though they will undoubtedly be challenging ones, we believe this group is suited to meet those challenges and bring all the county’s stakeholders together to find acceptable solutions.”

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Service Employees International Union Local 500 represents 18,000 women and men working in child care and education, and in service to communities and the public interest in Maryland and Washington, D.C.

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Meet Ana Sol Gutiérrez: District 18 Democrat

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SEIU Announces State Legislator Endorsements

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Maryland and D.C. State Council has announced its endorsements for state legislators. The big news in MoCo is that SEIU is supporting two Senate challengers: Karen Montgomery in District 14 and Cheryl Kagan in District 17. Following is their complete list.

SEIU MARYLAND & DC State Council Endorsements

SENATE


District 8
Katherine Klausmeier

District 13
James Robey

District 14
Karen Montgomery

District 15
Robert Garagiola

District 16
Brian Frosh

District 17
Cheryl Kagan

District 18
Richard Madaleno

District 19
Michael Lenett

District 20
Jamie Raskin

District 21
James Rosapepe

District 22
Paul Pinsky

District 24
Joanne Benson

District 26
Anthony Muse

District 27
Thomas V. Mike Miller

District 28
Thomas Middleton

District 39
Nancy King

District 41
Lisa Gladden

District 44
Verna Jones

District 45
Nathaniel McFadden

District 47
Victor Ramirez

Delegates

District 10
Emmett Burns
Adrienne Jones
Shirley Nathan-Pulliam

District 11
Dana Stein

District 12A
James Malone

District 12B
Elizabeth Bobo

District 13
Guy Guzzone
Shane Pendergrass
Frank Turner

District 14
Anne Kaiser
Craig Zucker
Eric Luedtke

District 15
Kathleen Dumais
Brian Feldman

District 16
William Frick
Susan Lee

District 17
Kumar Barve
James Gilchrist
Luiz Simmons

District 18
Al Carr
Ana Sol Guiterrez
Jeff Waldstreicher

District 19
Jay Hutchins
Bonnie Cullison

District 20
Sheila Hixson
Tom Hucker
Heather Mizeur

District 21
Benjamin Barnes
Barbara Frush
Joseline Peña – Melnyk

District 22
Tawanna Gaines
Anne Healey
Justin Ross

District 23A
James Hubbard

District 23B
Marvin Holmes

District 24
Carolyn Howard
Michael Vaughn
Greg Hall

District 25
Aisha Braveboy
Derrick Davis
Melony Griffith

District 26
Veronica Turner
Kris Valderrama

District 27A
James Procter
Joseph Vallario

District 27B
Sue Kullen

District 28
Sally Jameson
Peter Murphy

District 30
Michael Busch
Virginia Clagget

District 32
Mary Ann Love

District 39
Charles Barkley
Kirill Reznik
Shane Robinson

District 40
Barbara Robinson
Shawn Turrant

District 41
Sandy Rosenberg

District 43
Curt Anderson
Maggie McIntosh

District 44
Keith Haynes
Ruth Kirk

District 45
Talmadge Branch
Cheryl Glenn
Hattie Harrison

District 46
Peter Hammen
Brian McHale

District 47
Jolene Ivey
Doyle Niemann
Lamar Thorpe

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Berliner Endorsed by Governor O’Malley

Following is the press release from Council Member Roger Berliner's campaign.

Contact: Heather D. Mills

Email: friendsofrogerberlinerpress@gmail.com

Berliner Endorsed by Governor O’Malley

Bethesda, MD (June 21, 2010) – Incumbent County Councilmember Roger Berliner (District 1) today concluded his sweep of every major state officeholder when his campaign announced the endorsement of Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley in Berliner’s bid for re-election. The Governor explained his choice concisely:

"As I’ve traveled around Montgomery County, I’ve consistently heard three things about Roger – he’s a tireless advocate for his constituents, he knows how to build consensus on the serious issues facing the county, and he has a clear vision for a sustainable future. District 1 is one of the most important economic engines of our great state, and Roger's proven leadership creating good green jobs and growing our tax base is more important than ever."

Councilmember Berliner responded to the Governor’s comments:

“I am very grateful to have the Governor’s wholehearted support, particularly since we share similar democratic values and priorities. We need Governor O’Malley in Annapolis to keep our State moving forward, and I look forward to vigorously campaigning with him in District 1.”

The addition of Governor O’Malley’s endorsement underscores the value many elected officials see in Berliner’s continued presence on the Council. As Delegate Brian Feldman, the Chair of the County’s Delegation to Annapolis, pointed out when he endorsed Berliner in April, “teamwork” and strong, trusted relationships matter in doing the business of District 1, the County, and the State – especially in these trying economic times.

Berliner’s campaign had previously announced more than 150 endorsements of local and elected leaders in January, a list which included United States Senator Ben Cardin, Attorney General Doug Gansler, and State Comptroller Peter Franchot. Last month, the incumbent councilmember expanded that list when he received the endorsements of the District 15, District 16 and District 18 delegations. Additionally, Berliner’s campaign announced the endorsements of the County Executive, Ike Leggett, and five of Berliner’s colleagues on the council, including Council members Andrews, Elrich, Leventhal, Navarro and Trachtenberg.

Berliner has also been endorsed by the Montgomery County Education Association (the “Apple Ballot”) and the Montgomery County Sierra Club.

The primary election is scheduled to take place Tuesday, September 14, 2010.

About Councilmember Roger Berliner:

Roger Berliner, a life-long Democrat, was first elected to the Montgomery County Council in November 2006 when he defeated the incumbent Republican by 12 percentage points. He currently serves as Lead Member for Energy and Environment on the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy, and Environment Committee and is a member of the Public Safety Committee. He also serves as the Council’s representative to the County’s Sustainability Working Group and Green Economic Task Force. Regionally, he is on the Washington Regional Board of Directors of the Council of Governments, and serves as Vice Chairman of COG’s Climate, Energy, and Environment Policy Committee.

Councilmember Berliner’s accomplishments on the County Council include:

· Comprehensively addressing our traffic nightmare by sponsorship and passage of a tough new transportation test for development; proposing that Wisconsin and Connecticut Avenues be designated by the Governor as Sustainable Transportation Corridors; and providing incentives for developers to commit to taking action that will result in fewer cars on our roads.

· Sponsoring and passing several major energy/environmental initiatives that include the groundbreaking Home Energy Loan Program, a tax credit for solar energy, and a consumer measure that gives homebuyers information on how much their new home will cost to heat and cool, as well as sponsoring a first in the country “carbon tax” that would be paid by the largest polluters in order to compensate the County for its investment in greenhouse gas reduction programs.

· Successfully fighting to protect our quality of life by sponsoring and passing comprehensive McMansion reform; preserving the open space at the heart of Bethesda on Woodmont and Bethesda Avenues; preserving the historic viewshed of the C&O Canal from unsightly development; and sponsoring legislation to preserve farmer’s markets.

· Leading the fight to provide stronger public safety by keeping the Bethesda police station open to the public 24/7; fighting against the proposed ambulance fee that would cripple our invaluable volunteer service; and advocating for a new computer system to reduce response times for ambulance calls;

· Strengthening our local economy by working with the County Executive’s team to provide small businesses with access to capital; creating good “green” jobs in Montgomery County; being a leader in the remaking of White Flint, which is estimated to produce $6-7 Billion in additional county revenues; and sponsoring a resolution that would create a Joint County Executive/County Council Commission on Restructuring County Government.

· Fighting to preserve the quality of our school system by sponsoring and passing the amendment to the growth policy that ensures developers contribute where schools are overcrowded; working with MCPS to ensure that District 1 schools receive their fair share of modernization funding; and supporting 99% of the school system’s operating budget requests.

From speed bumps to modern elementary schools to sustainable transit policies, Roger's focus has been and will continue to be protecting the community we love and preserving our quality of life.

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20-20 Hindsight: A Look Back at the 1990 Election That Transformed the MoCo Political Landscape

By Steve Simon.

Twenty years ago at this time – much like this year – a first-term Montgomery County Executive was cruising into reelection, with no real challenger in sight. Then, two hours before the candidate filing deadline, five-term County Councilmember Neal Potter shocked locals by postponing his previously announced retirement plans to enter the race and take on a seemingly unbeatable incumbent, in Sid Kramer.

Riding a “slow growth” wave of the time, Potter pulled off a stunning upset over Kramer in the September primary. He then went on to an easy victory in November – even beating Kramer again, as he launched an ill-fated, write-in campaign. And the rest, as they say, is history.

But what may be more interesting are the many ways that the county’s history and political landscape were altered, as a result of that fateful 1990 election.
One of the greatest aspects of Frank Capra’s holiday classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, is the way the lead character, George Bailey, was given a magical chance to see how things may have turned out if he was never born. Implicit in that were the lives that he touched and how different the paths of those individuals would have been if George did not exist.

Now let’s see… if Neal Potter had not run for County Executive in 1990… hmmm….

Would Sid Kramer have gone on to parlay a second term as County Executive into, say, a run for Governor? Or maybe into a third term – thereby accomplishing the feat before Doug Duncan could even contemplate a run?

If so, would Sid’s children, Rona Kramer (now a state senator) and Ben Kramer (now a delegate), have ever launched their own political careers?

(And by the way… if not for that defeat, certainly Sid Kramer would never have launched the write-in campaign in the General Election, thereby ending his political career and any chance of a return run in later years.)

Would Jon Gerson, County Executive Potter’s economic development director, have eventually continued on a career path that would lead him to his current stop as the “Apple Ballot king-maker” for the teachers’ union (Montgomery County Education Association)?”

Would General Dynamics have ever really considered setting up headquarters in Montgomery County, if Potter had not made some now infamous, dismissive remarks about whether we needed or he wanted the defense contractor giant here anyway? Much like the Northrop Grumman move of 2010, many observers say the company was never really seriously considering Maryland over Virginia, but that the most lasting impact of the decision was in the negative way it seemed to characterize the local business climate.

Would Potter aide Gene Lynch have ever launched a public service career that would include the following collection of high-level stints: Special Assistant to the County Executive, Montgomery County Chief Administrative Officer, Secretary of General Services for the State of Maryland, and Montgomery County Planning Board member?

Would Bill Hussmann – top aide to the first-ever Montgomery County Executive, James Gleason – have ever resurfaced onto the county scene to become chief administrative officer under Potter, and eventually be appointed Chairman of the Planning Board?

Would former County Councilmember (and current Leggett aide) Bruce Adams have been able to follow a more achievable path to becoming County Executive in 1994, if he was running as someone other than the “anointed” successor to Potter?

Would then-Planning Board Chairman Gus Bauman have ever launched an upstart run for County Executive in the open-seat 1994 election, as Potter – often labeled the “10th County Councilmember” – stepped away from the County Executive job to run for County Council again? Most observers contend that Bauman’s third-place finish in the primary election siphoned off enough Bruce Adams votes to propel Doug Duncan to victory.

Would Andy Sonner (former Montgomery County State’s Attorney and Kramer rival who reportedly commissioned a poll in that summer of 1990, indicating that he didn’t have the name recognition to challenge Kramer, but that perhaps 20-year Council member Neil Potter did?) have run himself for county executive against Kramer, just for spite? And if he did so and lost, would he have never been in position to realize his later career accomplishment of being appointed as a judge?

Would Montgomery County look different today if Neal Potter had never sent legislation over to the County Council to strip the County Executive (including himself, during his term) of the power to appoint members of the Planning Board and to craft a recommended annual growth policy?

Would the concept of smart growth ever have taken hold statewide in the administration of former Governor Parris Glendening, if folks like Gene Lynch had not brought it with them from the land of “wedges and corridors?” (Meaning from – you guessed it – a Montgomery County with a General Plan and agricultural reserve shaped many years earlier by people like a young Neal Potter. And lest we forget how that future county executive’s involvement in local politics, and his views on growth, were shaped largely by his observations of how a powerful State Highway Administration in the 1950s had brazenly claimed his parents’ farm to make way for construction of the Capital Beltway.)

So you see, Montgomery County… 1990 really was a pretty transforming year! Twenty years later, it’s kind of fun to look back on it with “20-20 hindsight.”

-- Steve Simon is an independent public relations consultant. In 1990, he was a Montgomery County public information officer, who will never forget the shock of those gathered in the election press room, when it was announced that Neal Potter had pulled off his stunning upset.

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Lawton Center to Be Site of First Solar Roof

Ketch Ryan and Kirk Renaud in the Town of Chevy Chase pushed hard to make this happen and I know that they'll be especially thrilled by the news in this press release from Councilmember Roger Berliner (D-1):

Jane Lawton Center in Chevy Chase to be Site of First County Solar Roof Program

At Urging of Councilmember Roger Berliner, Community Building Will Serve as Model for County Buildings


ROCKVILLE, Md., June 21, 2010—Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner announced today that the Leggett Administration has agreed to make the Jane Lawton Recreation Center in Chevy Chase the site of the Division of General Service’s first solar roof program. Councilmember Berliner, in collaboration with the Town of Chevy Chase, has been working for more than a year with local solar cooperative members and the Montgomery County Department of General Services to honor this facility and Jane Lawton in this way.

Councilmember Berliner has been urging the County to make the Lawton Center a model for the County’s program to retrofit more public buildings with solar energy. In May, Councilmember Berliner wrote to the Department of General Services “in hopes of speeding up progress on a no-cost option to install solar panels on the Lawton Center in Bethesda.” The County announced today that it had agreed to the solar panels.

“I am pleased that the Leggett Administration and General Services Director David Dise have firmly committed to moving forward expeditiously in making the Lawton Center a photovoltaic (PV) installation site for the County's planned retrofit of County roofs,” said Councilmember Berliner. “It is fitting that this much used and much loved recreation center will now also be a site for environmental education and a showcase for the positive role solar energy can play in our County's future. This is the kind of visionary leadership that embodies the spirit of Jane Lawton and her living legacy.”

The Lawton Center, which was formerly known as the Leland Community Center, is located at 4301 Willow Lane within Leland Neighborhood Park in Chevy Chase. The building serves as a recreation center and houses the Town of Chevy Chase offices and a Day Care Center. In 2009, the center was renamed to honor Ms. Lawton, who worked her way from PTA volunteer to mayor of the Town of Chevy Chase to Maryland delegate representing District 18.

In addition, Director Dise has indicated that the project will qualify under the local small business initiative and that this work will be reserved for local vendors.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Farewell to Maryland Politics Watch

In all probability, this is the last original post I will be writing for Maryland Politics Watch for the foreseeable future. I owe it to all of you to explain why.

It’s actually pretty simple. Two endeavors occupy nearly my entire life. In the first endeavor, I work for an international union (the Carpenters) as its sole researcher. I am responsible for investigating corporate, economic and academic issues throughout the United States and Canada. I travel frequently. My “office” is often nothing more than a cell phone, a laptop, a rental car and a never-ending series of randomly located hotel rooms. I do whatever I have to do to perform this job as well as I possibly can.

Every spare minute that I can find goes to my second endeavor, which is writing Maryland Politics Watch on an unpaid basis. I owe a great debt to everyone that has aided me in this, especially my precious spies. Even though I write the blog at night and on weekends and program the content for daily viewing, it requires almost as many hours as my job. If that were not the case, then the quality of the work here would not be high enough to create and sustain the audience that this blog has.

Caught between these two activities is my family: my wife Holly and my one-year-old son Andres. Tragically, I have spent more time working on the blog than I have with my son.


Andres Pagnucco trying to get his Dad's attention.

So long as I have both a very demanding job and a very demanding blog, I cannot be the husband and father that my family deserves. So I have to choose. And right now, I am choosing the job that puts food on my son’s table. That, of course, is not the blog.

Some may wonder why I don’t simply “cut back.” It is not my nature to do anything without giving it 100% effort. I’m just not made that way and I can’t change.

If I had one wish for MPW readers, it is that they could see the political process as closely as I have witnessed it. It’s really not about third readings, zoning text amendments, committee votes, task force reports, staff memos or any of that. It’s all about the people who participate in government decision-making. I have come to know these people better than anyone – perhaps, even better than they know themselves. They are a fascinating group. Elected officials are not the cardboard, All-American baby-kissing characters they try to become at election time. Nor are they all evil, money-grubbing con artists as they are frequently portrayed by the media. Yes, many of them are insecure, needy, egotistical and overly sensitive, though there are plenty of exceptions. A few of them are even paranoid, arrogant and self-obsessed. But the vast majority of them enter politics with some spark of good intent in their hearts. Many of them really do have beliefs, and even principles, and are not faking them. Most of them want to perform well. The late Delegate Jane Lawton (D-18) was an example of the very best of politics, and even of humanity itself.

What the public never sees are the sacrifices they make. I can’t count the number of times elected officials have despaired in private conversations with me – often very emotionally – about the impact of their office-holding on their families, their careers, their finances, their social relationships outside of politics, their enjoyment of the fun things in life, and even on their emotional condition. Some sacrifice these things for the wrong reasons. Maybe it’s ego or the need to be recognized. These people become little more than the badges they wear on their chests. But some sacrifice these things for the right reasons, like a true dedication to helping others. The really good ones often can’t serve without giving 100%. I sympathize. I wish there was a reliable way for the voters to tell apart the good ones from the mediocre ones and the really bad ones.

Now to the blog. I can’t say whether I will ever write again about state and local politics or policy. If I do, it will have to be in a way that is compatible with the economic and personal well-being of my family. No matter how hard I have tried, I cannot make it work under the current circumstances. I may occasionally put up guest blogs, press releases, event announcements, endorsements, videos, photos, literature and the like. (Isn’t it a shame that the mainstream media ignores most of that material?) But I cannot simultaneously be the Walter Winchell of Maryland and an international union corporate investigator and a good husband and father. Unless things change, I can no longer write original columns for Maryland Politics Watch.

Thank you to everyone, and especially to the great David Lublin, who is the best blog-father an online rapscallion like me could have ever had.

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Kyle Lierman's First Lit Piece


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Upcoming Candidate Forums

The following candidate forums are scheduled for the near future.

Democratic Candidates Forum District 19

Date: Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Time: 7:30pm - 9:00pm
Location: Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle School
Street: 11800 Monticello Ave.
City/Town: Silver Spring, MD

Description: Sponsored by The Greater Silver Spring Democratic Club in conjunction with The Democratic Club of Leisure World. All Democratic candidates for the Maryland General Assembly in Legislative District 19 have been invited.

Please Remember:

The Democratic Primary Election is
Tuesday, September 14, 2010.

For more information, please contact either Emily Ackerman at (301) 565-2483, or Paul Mitchell at (301) 588-7126.

County Council At-Large Candidate Forum

Date: Monday, July 12, 2010
Time: 7:00pm - 9:00pm
Location: BlackRock Center for the Arts
Street: 12901 Town Commons Drive
City/Town: Germantown, MD

Description: The Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce is hosting a County Council At-Large Candidate Forum. This race is critical for the business community in Montgomery County. This is a great opportunity for our members to talk with the candidates about their concerns and hear from you on the various issues impacting the business community in Gaithersburg, Germantown, the County, and the State.

Council District 1 Candidate Debate

Wednesday, July 14th at 7pm
Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, 4805 Edgemoor Lane

The debate will feature Councilman Roger Berliner and challenger Ilaya Hopkins. The event is being hosted by the Bethesda CivicCoalition, Edgemoor Citizens Association, and the Downtown Bethesda Condominium Association.
The debate will be moderated by Miranda Spivack from the Washington Post

District 16 Delegate Candidates Forum

Wednesday, July 21st at 7pm
Bethesda Library, 7400 Arlington Road

Come hear from the candidates for Delegate. The event is being hosted by the District 16 Democratic Club. If you are on Facebook, be sure to join the group "District 16 Democratic Club, Montgomery County, MD"

District 17 Candidate Forum - A discussion with the Senate candidates

Date: Thursday, July 29, 2010
Time: 8:30am - 10:00am
Location: The Crowne Plaza Rockville
Street: 3 Research Court
City/Town: Rockville, MD

Description: The Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce is hosting a District 17 Candidate Forum. This race is critical for the business community in Montgomery County. This is a great opportunity for our members to talk with the candidates about their concerns and hear from you on the various issues impacting the business community in Gaithersburg, Germantown, the County, and the State.Free. All members and non-members are invited to attend.

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Where MPW Readers Come From

Here’s the geographic distribution of page views from the computers used by our readers from May 30, 2009 through May 25, 2010. This period accounts for 602,689 page views, or about 60% of the total traffic in the history of our blog.

Country
United States: 97.8%
Others: 2.2%

State
Maryland: 66.5%
District of Columbia: 12.8%
Virginia: 4.6%
Others: 13.9%

County
Montgomery: 39.8%
Anne Arundel: 7.5%
Prince George’s: 5.6%
Baltimore City: 5.4%
Baltimore County: 2.6%
Howard: 1.6%
Harford: 0.4%
Western Maryland: 2.1%
Eastern Shore: 1.0%
Southern Maryland: 0.5%

City
Silver Spring: 13.0%
District of Columbia: 12.8%
Rockville: 9.2%
Baltimore: 5.4%
Annapolis: 4.8%
Gaithersburg: 4.5%
Bethesda: 3.5%
Olney: 2.1%
Potomac: 1.6%
Chevy Chase: 1.6%
Germantown: 1.2%
Laurel: 1.1%
Derwood: 1.1%
Arlington: 1.1%
Glen Burnie: 1.0%
Alexandria: 0.9%
Ellicott City: 0.9%
Bowie: 0.9%
Hyattsville: 0.9%
Frederick: 0.7%

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sharon Dooley's First Lit Piece


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Leggett for Winston

By Marc Korman.

On a hot Saturday morning Mark Winston kicked off his campaign for Delegate in District 16 in front of over thirty people outside his campaign offices. He was joined by a very special guest who endorsed him, County Executive Ike Leggett.


Winston is one of approximately nine challengers in District 16. His speech focused on his priorities including balancing economic development with environmental stewardship, keeping the public school system strong, and a focus on quality of life. He defined quality of life as not just good schools and transportation, and safe communities, but building the type of place that children would want to return to after college, as Winston’s own college graduate daughter is doing.

But in a race with so many candidates, Winston also sought to distinguish himself by emphasizing his experience. He cited his fourteen years on the Housing Opportunities Commission, four years on the State Transportation Committee, fourteen years involved with his temple, thirty-three years living in District 16, and thirty-five years as an attorney. He said that while some may view the Delegate seat as a stepping stone, he does not. Winston emphasized that when he goes to the polls, he thinks about which candidates has the judgment, experience, seasoning, and temperament to deal with unforeseen events. In this race, Winston believes he is the candidate who fits that description.

County Executive Leggett, who was introduced by District 16 resident Bruce Adams, kicked off that theme before Winston spoke. He said endorsing Winston was not a difficult choice and he was proud to stand shoulder to should with him. In his comments to me before speaking, Leggett said Winston was a longtime friend of twenty-five years and was “not just someone who popped up.” He also expressed his support for Delegates Frick and Lee.

Winston’s campaign is being managed by Zack Gallant, who is also working for Senator Mike Lenett and is a veteran of the Cardin and Obama campaigns. Councilman Roger Berliner also stopped by the event, though he said he was not endorsing.

Full disclosure, I am a Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee member from District 16. I have not endorsed Mark Winston or any other challenger.

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Scott Goldberg's First Lit Piece


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Friday, June 18, 2010

Mark Winston Announces Delegate Run in District 16

L. Mark Winston, who unsuccessfully sought appointments as a District 16 Delegate in 2002 and 2007, has announced his candidacy for the seat. Following is his press release.

For Immediate Release
June 17, 2010
Contact: Bonnie Casper (301) 252-7616

Announcement

Mark Winston, an attorney practicing law in Maryland and the District, Saturday, will formally announce his candidacy for election to the Maryland House of Delegates from the 16th Legislative District. The District includes North Bethesda, Bethesda, Glen Echo, Cabin John and a small portion of Potomac.

Winston, a former member and chair of the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission, the county’s public housing and housing finance agency, and a former chair of the State Transportation Commission, a group advising the Governor and Transportation Secretary on policy matters, is making his first run for elective office.

In announcing his candidacy Winston said:

“I seek election to the House of Delegates because I care about public policy and because the State Legislature does important work. This is a rare opportunity for a citizen to make a meaningful contribution to the well being of our community – and I am committed to doing that.”

“We face serious challenges. We must find ways to preserve and improve the quality of life of our community, in spite of the fiscal challenges brought on by our recession and reduced public revenues. Simple solutions will not suffice. We find ourselves in times which call for strong, experienced and substantive leadership.”

“Serving in the House of Delegates is not a steppingstone for me. Rather, it is an extraordinary opportunity to serve in a capacity that is fulfilling in and of itself, and I hope that my prospective constituents will give me that opportunity. I pledge that, if elected, I will do everything in my ability to be worthy of their confidence.”

“The enhancement of our quality of life requires that we see the inter-relationship of several issues. We must maintain a first rate public educational system. We must improve our transportation networks in order to reduce congestion. We must achieve balanced smart growth compatible with safeguarding our environment. We must encourage job growth and economic development consistent with available public facilities. The State Government plays a significant role in all of these things.”

“I look forward to this campaign and having the opportunity to meet as many of my prospective constituents as possible.”

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Republican Congressman Joe Barton Apologizes to BP

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One Year of Your Favorite MPW Posts

Here are the most-viewed MPW blog posts from May 30, 2009 through May 25, 2010. This period represents over 60% of the total page views in the nearly four-year history of this blog.

1. Pols Party While Budget Burns
2. Why MPW Turned Down the Washington Post
3. Montgomery College President Wanted for Arrest in Arizona
4. MPW Poll: House 19
5. Twitter to Post: Bloggers Aren’t Your Slaves
6. How to Save Money on Your Electric Bill Right Now
7. Delegate Sheila Hixson’s Son Passes Away
8. Snap Your Whip at Bethesda’s Pimping Castle!
9. A Voice from the Other Half: Montgomery College Part-Time Faculty Member Speaks
10. MPW Poll: Senate 19
11. Hunk of the Hill Runs for Delegate
12. MPW Poll: Council District 1
13. Top Snow Totals in Maryland
14. MPW Senate Challenger Poll
15. More Warnings of State Budget Apocalypse
16. Zina Pierre and the District 30 Dilemma
17. Is WMATA Management Starting to Crack?
18. People With Developmental Disabilities at Risk of Losing Services
19. King, Ali Battle Over MPW Posts
20. MoCo Primaries to Watch, Part Three

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Is Ehrlich a Lobbyist?

The Sun and the Post say no. Blogger Steve Lebowitz says yes. Let's be clear: your author would not have released the attack ad that the O'Malley campaign put out on Ehrlich, lobbying and oil because the evidence behind such charges, in our opinion, does not rise to an appropriate threshold of proof. In fact, O'Malley's people have committed a significant tactical error because they have shifted the focus away from Ehrlich and towards O'Malley's truthfulness, thereby hampering their future credibility. Still, the debate over Ehrlich's private sector activity is worth having because his campaign has released so little information about it.

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Post Pushes Bloggers for More Original Content

The Washington Post’s blogoscabbing program, through which it has convinced a few bloggers to work for it for free, attracted nationwide condemnation when we exposed it. But the Post is moving forward with the program, and it is pushing the bloggers relentlessly to hand over original content that would not appear on their blogs, but would appear only on the Post’s website.

When the Post tried to convince your author to sign on, its selling point was its alleged ability to drive traffic to our blog. The Post said that it would reprint a paragraph or two of at least some MPW posts and link back to the blog for the remaining content. Post spokesperson Kris Coratti told Media Jobs Daily, “We think there is value in the additional traffic it will drive to their blogs and in having their writing exposed to a new audience.” Your author pointed out to a Post representative that when its Maryland Politics blog did link to MPW, we received very little traffic bump, probably indicating that our audiences mostly overlapped. That was news to the Post, and so was MPW’s edge over them in online subscriber counts.

But merely reprinting and linking to existing blog content is not the Post’s goal. Their real intention is to direct the bloggers to provide content that would only appear on the Post’s website. And the Post has been emailing its bloggers non-stop to get them to provide this free and exclusive work.

On April 19, Post editor Sarah Lovenheim sent the following in an email to their bloggers:

Hi Folks,

This week marks the soft launch of our new local blogging network. We're thrilled to include all of you in this new feature and hope the experience is rewarding and exciting for everyone involved.

To make this successful, we'll stick to the workflow plan we discussed earlier. Here's our proposed guest blogging schedule (to reiterate: if it's your week to 'host,' we'd like to rely on you to submit a little extra if there's breaking news):

'HOST' SCHEDULE:

Peter Galuska of Bacon's Rebellion: April 19-23 (Peter - please let me know if this is for any reason a bad week)
Sommer Mathis of DCist: April 26-30
Topher Matthews of the Georgetown Metropolitan: May 3-7
Kenny Burns of Maryland Politics Today: May 10-14
Paige Winfield Cunningham of Old Dominion Watchdog: May 17-21
David Alpert of Greater Greater Washington: May 24-28
Dan Malouff of Beyond DC: May 31-June 4

Regardless of whether you're hosting, please submit a quick original post during the week. Length is not important. Sometimes the shorter, the better. Even one paragraph is fair game (assuming it's poignant, punchy or provocative).
This is not mere reprinting and linking to the bloggers’ existing content. The Post is establishing a “workflow plan” and explicitly asking for “original” – that is, exclusive – posts.

On April 21, Lovenheim sent this email to the bloggers:

Peter, Sommer, Kenny, Paige, Topher, Dan and David,

I hope you all had a chance to check out our All Opinions Local blog this morning. We posted an introductory piece highlighting the goals of our network and showcased bios of all of you. We've received positive feedback from colleages at the Post and hope you have, too!

Please feel free to key to the blog on your own sites. As we did with Peter Galuszka's piece (Peter - thanks again for a great post and the reporting you did on the side for it!), we'll key to your Web sites on all posts submitted/reposted.

As a reminder, please send any submissions or questions to localnetwork@wpost.com, rather than to just to myself or Mike. This way, we can be sure that someone always gets back to you in a timely manner.

Fred Hiatt, our editorial page editor, is enthusiastic about our kick off and as always, we'd welcome your suggestions on how to make this more robust moving forward.

Best,
Sarah
Here is the Post congratulating one of the bloggers for “reporting on the side” and urging them to drive traffic to the Post’s site.

On April 28, Lovenheim sent the following email to the bloggers:

Hi Folks,

Just touching base to see what sort of opinion/analysis pieces you might have in the basket. Some topics that would be great to have someone write on --

Maryland may change teacher evaluations (they'd be based on student performance), perhaps setting up a conflict between academics and teachers unions. Are these evaluations fair?

Some D.C. Council members want to prevent police from joining a federal fingerpointing program that lets authorities check the immigration status of people they arrest. How could this impact the broader immigration reform debate?

Please let us know of any pieces you have in the works and hope all is well.

Thanks,
Sarah
Now the Post is telling what the bloggers to write about!

On April 30, Lovenheim sent this email to the bloggers:

Hi, All,

Please let us know what you might have on tap for today. If you haven't contributed an original post yet this week, the earlier you can send your drafts, the better. As a reminder, a blog post can be as brief as a graf or two.

We have a new spot on the local homepage (see the Opinions hed) to promote your pieces and if we can keep the blog lively enough, that space could remain ours!

Thanks,
Sarah
On May 12, Lovenheim sent this email to the bloggers:

Hi, Folks,

Hope you're doing well. When you can, please let us know what you have on tap this week. Particularly if you haven't filed an original post yet (please remember: these can be brief), we'd love to know what you have in mind for later.

Thanks,
Sarah
And on May 17, Lovenheim sent out this email:

Hi, Folks,

Hope you all had a good weekend. If you haven't already, please let us know what you have on tap this week. We could really use some more content today -- whether you'd like to weigh in on a story from the weekend, pose a question to readers or file a paragraph or two on a new topic, we'd welcome your submissions.

Thanks so much,
Sarah
It’s obvious what’s going on here. The Post has absolutely no intention of driving traffic to independent blogs. Instead, it wants the bloggers to concentrate on writing free, exclusive content for the Post. Under the terms of its contract with the bloggers, the Post would have the right to republish that work even if the bloggers terminated the contract. Furthermore, in the event of a lawsuit over the work, the bloggers agree to indemnify the Post and assume all legal liability! And the Post is getting all of this for FREE.

Every paid reporter at the Post should be up in arms over this. In an organization that has lost hundreds of millions of dollars and has had four employee buyouts since 2003, how long will their jobs be safe?

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