Friday, October 24, 2008

Robin Ficker Never Gives Up

Imagine if you tried something in 1975 and it didn’t work out. So you tried it again in 1990 and it failed. And then you did it in 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2004 – all with no success. You would stop trying, right? Well, you’re not Robin Ficker.

Say what you will of Robin Ficker, but he is a man of immense energy. After many years of heckling that would have put a two-headed jackal to shame, the Washington Wizards relocated his season seat away from visiting players. (Unusually, Ficker got the message and failed to renew.) Next, the Maryland Court of Appeals suspended Ficker’s law license, stating in a 7-0 opinion, “The hearing judge found that he exhibited incompetence, lack of diligence, failure to communicate with his client, and committed conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.” Ficker then started a “Robin Realty” brokerage, but that seems to be mainly a front for planting his notorious “Save Our Homes” signs everywhere.

All of the above pales beside his endless runs for office (County Executive, U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress, State Senate and even a successful Delegate race in 1978). The signature Ficker move came in 2004, when he briefly considered challenging Governor Ehrlich in a GOP primary. His problem? No running mate. His solution? Posting this classified ad in the Baltimore Sun for a Lieutenant Governor:

Prefer female who is tax-cutting Republican, ambitious, intelligent, fearless, adventurous, hardworking and young (age 30 by 01/07) with flexible schedule to traverse Maryland.
But enough of Ficker’s illustrious career of mayhem. His latest ballot proposal, like almost all of his others, would limit Montgomery County’s ability to raise property taxes. Under current law, seven of the nine County Council Members must vote to approve any property tax increase that would exceed the rate of inflation. Ficker’s Question B would change the requirement to unanimous approval. That could give any one County Council Member absolute veto power over the entire budget – a power that not even the County Executive possesses.

Ficker cares more about minimizing his property taxes than he cares about your needs for fire, police and school services – needs that do not go away when a recession depresses county tax revenues. While his proposal differs structurally from Prince George’s County’s 30-year-old TRIM amendment (which requires voter approval of tax increases), its intention is the same: starving the government of revenues. Prince George’s Delegate Joanne Benson (D-24) recalled the battle over TRIM in a 2003 Gazette article:

Del. Joanne C. Benson (D-Dist. 24) of Landover was there in 1978 when a group of residents banded together at a meeting to pass TRIM.

“Research showed us that if we put this initiative in place, in 25 years we were going to see a devastating impact on public education and public safety, and that is exactly what has happened,” Benson said.
So there you have it. If you would like Montgomery County’s schools and police department to resemble those in Prince George’s, you should take your place alongside Robin Ficker. Otherwise, vote no on Question B.