April 17, 2014

Deadbeat Politicians: Meyer Marks (R-MD)

Blacklisted: Meyer Marks (R-MD)

My friend Joe Steffen wrote this great piece exposing Meyer Marks’ denial of payment to a vendor for services successfully rendered. Meyer Marks, who was once a Maryland gubernatorial candidate and is now a State Senate Candidate, enlisted the services of the talented Tex Fischer for his short-lived gubernatorial campaign. Tex charged Meyer $500 for a website, which is a ridiculously low price for a man of his skill set. After Tex successfully completed his work in building a pro-quality website for Meyer, Meyer flatly refused to pay him. Read Joe’s article for the full details.

This is personal for me. Tex Fischer, like yours truly, is a fellow web designer. He is a good one too, who really should be paid a lot more than what he is currently being paid by clients. As vendors and consultants, we have been screwed by too many clients and campaign managers, even with written agreements. In fact, being screwed once is one too many times.

If you go to a restaurant and eat without paying, do you think you can walk away a free man? No. The restaurant will alert the police and you will face prosecution.

Why does the public tolerate campaigns that use and abuse vendors and consultants and refuse to pay them in the end? The sad fact is that some of the good politicians who deserve respect are as deadbeat as the bad ones. Sometimes it is not really the politician who stands in the way of payment but it is the campaign manager or chief of staff who is stiffing the vendor. It is the same thing in the final analysis.

You would think that politicians in a party that purports to support hard work and small businesses would pay vendors and consultants their full market value correctly on time. This is not the case in too many instances. If legal action is an ineffective deterrent because it is too costly for the vendors and consultants, public shame needs to be left on the table as a deterrence.

Meyer Marks is blacklisted.

Speed Camera Protestor Vandalizes Speed Cameras

The Tea Party consistently claims that their protests are routinely law-abiding and orderly as opposed to Occupy Wall Street. This is a truthful statement. On a side note, the right wing, despite their anti-government proclivities, certainly does not attempt to practice the effective strategies of civil disobedience employed by the left wing during the civil rights era. (I would argue that the right-wing can be more effective in generating public awareness if they practiced civil disobedience like MLK, but that is for later.)

However, that does not mean that the right wing are harmless little angels with clean hands. Here is a recent example of right-wing anti-government vandalism. A speed camera protester in Salisbury, MD spray painted speed cameras with the years “1774″ and “1776″. These are two important years in the run up to the American Revolution.


Of course, in the minds of the hardcore right-wing, they can do no wrong and will try to blame this on the “liberals who are trying to make them look bad.” Sure. Whatever. We will let the judicial process run its course.

Meanwhile, let me reiterate this settled constitutional fact to the unhinged, right-wing partisans who claim to be the purest defenders of the Constitution. Time and again, the courts have ruled that, “there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in a public place.” You may not like speed cameras, but they are a valid exercise of the state’s law enforcement power.

Ron George for Governor Birthday Money Bomb

Delegate Ron George, candidate for Governor, building a new Maryland.  The suggested donation is $30 based on the age Ron feels inside!

Audrey Scott (R – District 36) withdraws from Maryland Senate race

In an e-mail to MDGOP Central Committee members dated 8/23/13 at 5:47pm, former MDGOP Chair Audrey Scott and losing candidate for RNC Maryland National Committeewoman in 2012 has withdrawn from the State Senate race to replace E.J. Pipkin.

For more, read below.



Delegate Don Dwyer (R-MD) Arrested for Drunk Driving


Republican Anne Arundel County Delegate Don Dwyer was arrested and charged with drunk driving on Tuesday. One year ago, Dwyer was charged with boating under the influence after injuring seven people in a boating accident and pleaded guilty in exchange for no prison time.

Dwyer is a right-wing extremist (for our Virginia readers, Don Dwyer is the Maryland equivalent of Dick Black/Dave LaRock/Bob Marshall…the Axis of Crazy) who is often the lone dissenting vote on bipartisan measures on “Constitutional grounds.” Maryland political insiders on both sides of the aisle do not rate him highly on the intelligence scale. Most recently, Dwyer held a political fundraiser in which he raffled off an AR-15 and an AK-47. You can be pro-gun and still think that this is an extremist stunt designed more to stick a needle in the eye of liberals and feel good about yourself instead of promoting self-defense in a positive environment. (I do find it ironic that Constitutional conservatives who adhere to “American exceptionalism” are willing to shell out their hard earned money for a chance to win an AK-47, an assault weapon made famous by the SOVIET UNION. Hello! Is there anything wrong with this picture?)

While many respected Republicans (there are plenty of them in Maryland) are urging Dwyer to resign since he has violated the public trust, there is a strong contingent of Republicans on Facebook and Twitter who are fiercely defending Dwyer. Some say he is a “patriot” as if that is a license for him to do whatever he wants. Others say that they would rather have Dwyer in office than some “RINO who will compromise.” So basically, these people would prefer a drunk clown who is 110% fire-breathing conservative than an upstanding, nice person who is 90% conservative. Therein lies the problem with today’s GOP.

This begs the question. If Dwyer is some sort of Constitutional conservative “patriot” who will cede no ground to Democrats and “RINOs”, is it that difficult to find Constitutional conservatives with integrity that these people must defend Dwyer at all costs? Some of Dwyer’s Constitutional conservative defenders feel like they are victims of a witch hunt and they possess the same victim mentality they like to accuse Democrats of possessing. Surely, if electable Constitutional conservatives with integrity exist, the grassroots would have no problem calling for Dwyer’s resignation because he would be replaced by a nicer, friendlier, and more upstanding Constitutional conservative. It makes you wonder.

Make no mistake. Integrity matters. A Constitutional conservative with no integrity is an embarrassment to the movement and stunts party growth, regardless of how reliable and uncompromising the Constitutional conservative is on his “principles.”

Yet, time and again, we see the same Republican voters who criticize Bill Clinton at every turn, vote for Newt Gingrich, David Vitter, Mark Sanford, and their ilk. Don Dwyer, who used to harbor State Senate ambitions, will aim to tap into this blind partisanship to win reelection in 2014 provided he is not forced out of office by then.

Wendi Peters for Delegate Campaign Announcement (7/11/13)

July 11, 2013

Mt. Airy, MD – Former Mt. Airy Town Councilwoman Wendi Peters announced her candidacy for a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates (District 4 – Frederick County).

Live Blogging the MDGOP Convention

Lutherville-Timonium, MD

1:44pm: Let the revolt begin.
1:46pm: They are debating the rules. This is going to be a long day.
1:47pm: By the way, “unauthorized media”, which consists of the most respected outlets critical of the Interim Chair has been relegated to the back, including yours truly.
1:50pm: The infighting is well underway.
1:52pm: The microphone is breaking up and experiencing feedback.
1:53pm: This convention is out of control.
1:56pm: Roll Call.
1:56pm: “It is bad that my head hurts already?” – Jackie
1:59pm: Any impartial observer can tell you that this Interim Chair does not command the respect of the Party.
2:03pm: Cheers for the Treasurer’s report.
2:04pm: I am convinced that politicians and their activists have never matured beyond high school.
2:09pm: Motion to close nominations for MDGOP Chair.
2:10pm: Nominating speech for Collins Bailey is happening now.
2:15pm: Collins Bailey speaks.
2:19pm: Nominating speech for Greg Kline is happening now.
2:22pm: Greg Kline speaks.
2:26pm: The microphone stopped working.
2:27pm: Lots of cheers in the unauthorized bloggers’ row for Greg Kline.
2:27pm: Nominating speech for Diana Waterman, Interim Chair, is happening now.
2:32pm: Diana Waterman speaks.
2:36pm: The vote begins.
2:36pm: For once, *****Republicans are questioning the wisdom of a secret ballot*****. They want transparency at all costs.
2:37pm: Secret ballots will be governed by county chairs.
2:44pm: This vote will take a while. However, if you think this is bad with 3 candidates for Party Chair, get ready for 7 candidates for Lieutenant Governor and 2 candidates for Attorney General at the RPV Convention four weeks from now.
2:51pm: The votes are read.
2:56pm: No one got 50%+1 to win outright. Top two finishers are #1 Diana Waterman and #2 Collins Bailey. There is no requirement to drop out if you are in last place.
2:58pm: Meanwhile, I am eating another cupcake.
3:04pm: They are reading the votes for the second ballot. All three candidates have remained in the race.
3:08pm: Diana Waterman wins on the second ballot outright.
3:09pm: Collins Bailey would have won if Greg Kline dropped out and ordered his supporters to back Collins. Two candidates split the anti-Waterman constituency.
3:12pm: Awkward exchanges of support and unity going around.
3:28pm: Collins Bailey nominated for 1st Vice Chair.
3:30pm: Dwight Patel nominated for 1st Vice Chair.
3:32pm: Scott Schaefer nominated for 1st Vice Chair.
3:34pm: Mary Burke-Russell nominated for 1st Vice Chair.
3:36pm: Mary Rolle nominated for 1st Vice Chair.
3:40pm: Candidate speeches.
3:48pm: 5 minute recess.
3:49pm: No, this is not elementary school recess.
4:03pm: Collins Bailey wins outright out of a field of five.
4:08pm: Elected officials are addressing the convention.
5:00pm: This convention has devolved into a total clown show.

Live Blogging the MDGOP Chair Debate from Montgomery County

Kensington, MD – Montgomery County GOP Candidates’ Forum featuring candidates for MDGOP Chair: Collins Bailey, Greg Kline, and Diana Waterman

6:05pm – After walking up the world’s longest escalator at the Wheaton Metro stop, I’m ready to do work!
6:25pm – I think there are more cameras than people here and there is a lot of people here.
6:47pm – There is a mad frenzy for free pizza. This is an economic principle called the Tragedy of the Commons.
7:02pm – People are just having a good time socializing. We are definitely not starting this show on time.
7:04pm – Now we are getting started.
7:09pm – MDGOP Interim Chair Diana Waterman is introducing herself.
7:10pm – The votes for the MDGOP Chair will be cast by the MDGOP Central Committee members and their proxies.
7:11pm – “The Chairman is the chief fundraiser of the party.” – D.Waterman
7:12pm – Greg Kline is introducing himself.
7:13pm – “A functional Republican Party is crucial to establish common sense governance in Maryland.” – G.Kline
7:14pm – Kline outlines his grassroots involvement in Anne Arundel County.
7:16pm – Collins Bailey stands up to speak. He is the first person to stand up. His efforts to command presence by standing up has resulted in him stepping out of my camera’s field of view while I am typing.
7:17pm – “We’re in the 4th quarter shoved up against the end zone. There are blue jerseys against us. We are trying to throw a Hail Mary and there is no receivers downfield.” – C.Bailey
7:18pm – Unless your name is George Allen, Jack Kemp, Steve Largent, J.C. Watts, Jon Runyan, Heath Shuler, or Phil Tran, please do not make football analogies.
7:19pm – How do we reconcile the social conservatives and the libertarians? (Paraphrasing)
7:19pm – “Create an advisory committee made up of various groups…libertarians…social conservatives…” – D.Waterman
7:21pm – “We can’t hope to unite if we are not talking together.” – D.Waterman
7:21pm – Greg Kline wants to be more “inclusive” of libertarians and social conservatives.
7:22pm – G.Kline would nominate RNC Maryland National Committeewoman Nicolee Ambrose to such an outreach committee.
7:23pm – “We have the best candidates, but we don’t have a packaged message that we can sell.” – Collins Bailey
7:25pm – Question 2: How have you supported the MDGOP in the last four years?
7:25pm – Greg Kline talks about being an activist, donor, and a leader in conservative new media by founding the blog Red Maryland (one of the premier conservative blogs in Maryland).
7:27pm – Collins Bailey recruited candidates to run for office at all levels of government and had his daughter register voters.
7:29pm – “Prior to 2005, I didn’t do anything…Then I joined the Chesapeake Republican Women in 2005.” – D.Waterman talking about taking leadership roles in various party units since then.
7:30pm – “Please don’t let my husband know how many checks I have written to the GOP because I keep all the books.” – D.Waterman
7:31pm – What are your thoughts about letting unaffiliated voters cast ballots in the GOP primary?
7:31pm – Collins Bailey questions the wisdom about registering new citizens and independents when you don’t know how they will vote, but then considers how to get more people involved in the party.
7:33pm – He concludes by saying we can use three separate ballots for Democrats, Republicans, and unaffiliated voters so unaffiliated voters can’t vote for MDGOP offices.
7:33pm – Greg Kline is not a fan of letting unaffiliated voters vote in GOP primaries.
7:34pm – Kline is concerned about disruption from opponents.
7:34pm – Diana Waterman is not “opposed or in favor of it.”
7:36pm – “Why would unaffiliateds have any desire becoming a Republican if they can vote in GOP primaries without registering as a Republican?” – D.Waterman
7:36pm – Nicolee Ambrose helped the effort to reverse the rules changes at the 2012 RNC Convention. She has since been removed and replaced by Louis Pope. Would you restore Nicolee to the RNC Rules Committee?
7:38pm – Diana Waterman stands by her removal of Nicolee from nomination for the Rules Committee. She explained that the party did not exist before March 1st so it was a removal from nomination, not a removal from committee.
7:40pm – Collins Bailey said the Chair had the authority to do such a thing.
7:41pm – Collins said Nicolee would be a better representative for the party and would move to restore her role.
7:42pm – Greg Kline would recaucus and restore Nicolee’s role in the Rules Committee.
7:42pm – Kline talks about the importance of reversing the rules changes at the RNC to make the party more inclusive. He would have been more transparent with his actions if he was Chair.
7:44pm – What is your plan to get more young Republicans across the state?
7:44pm – “We need to get to our folks early.” – C.Bailey
7:45pm – “Get a celebrity who is a Republican and an alumnus and register the high school students. Stay in contact with them.” – C.Bailey
7:47pm – “Each voter knows what works in their county and what does not.” – D.Waterman
7:49pm – “Have a state party that is inclusive of young people…I know that have to have groups that appeal to those folks.” – G.Kline
7:50pm – “When I was a young Republican, I was following Reagan. Folks today are a lot more libertarian.” – G.Kline
7:51pm – What innovative ideas do you have to win something significant in 2014?
7:51pm – Diana Waterman talks about the Pathfinders program to train potential candidates and activists.
7:53pm – Greg Kline wants to elect a State Senate that can filibuster legislation and explains that it is a realistic goal.
7:54pm – Collins Bailey wants a roadmap for the next 20 years.
7:55pm – Bailey explained that Republicans lost the voter registration battle badly to the Democrats and the independents.
7:56pm – What is your overall philosophy for fundraising?
7:57pm – Kline wants to restore confidence in the party.
7:59pm – Kline wants to emphasize social media donations.
8:00pm – Waterman wants to target more voters and get people to buy into the product the MDGOP is selling. Make it results driven.
8:01pm – “Message, manpower, and money.” – C.Bailey
8:03pm – “You got to know what you are selling.” – C.Bailey
8:03pm – What would you do to promote candidate development?
8:04pm – Greg Kline supports the Pathfinders program.
8:05pm – “Develop and promote the candidates…Has the party taken care of its 2010 candidates who lost? No.” – C.Bailey
8:06pm – Bailey said that there was too much focus on the Governor’s race and not enough focus on the General Assembly races.
8:07pm – Waterman said she will continue the Pathfinders program and will add Sunday dates.
8:10pm – What is your plan to win the Annapolis and Frederick elections this year?
8:10pm – Bailey wants to give people the tools to be successful.
8:12pm – Waterman says that county committees need to be involved in municipal elections.
8:13pm – Waterman says that counties need to help other counties.
8:14pm – Kline talks about the importance of Election Day volunteers to get out the vote in a low turnout election.
8:16pm – What is your plan to capitalize on the 2nd Amendment movement and mobilize their supporters for 2014?
8:17pm – “Identify your base, network your base, and turn out your base.” – C.Bailey
8:19pm – Waterman wants to put the laws on a petition.
8:20pm – Waterman said the previous petitions failed because they didn’t mobilize the get-out-to-vote effort the same way they mobilized the petition drive.
8:21pm – Kline wants to support a petition drive and a fundraising drive.
8:22pm – Last Question! Why should we vote for you for Chair?
8:22pm – “We need a Chairman who will take responsibility for the failures and who can spread the successes. We need a Chairman who does not have future political ambitions…” – G.Kline
8:25pm – “I want to flip the whole House and become a red state in 20 years. If you don’t believe in that, don’t elect me. I’m not satisfied with second best. I don’t like mediocre. If we don’t flip the House in 2014,…I’m not satisfied with that. Seriously consider somebody else.” – C.Bailey
8:28pm – “I don’t think you will find anybody who is satisfied with where we are. We are all unpaid. We do the best we can to change our image and promote our candidates. We are collectively are charged with changing our party. Any kind of change will not happen overnight.” – D.Waterman
8:32pm – Done.

Hillary Pennington’s PEP Talk will be broadcasting live on site from 9:00pm to 10:00pm with the post game show.


The Anti-Tax Crowd is Killing the GOP

Here in Virginia, we are fortunate to have leaders with backbone like Congressman Frank Wolf and Congressman Scott Rigell who are not afraid to stand up and tell Grover Norquist and his ilk to take their anti-tax obsession elsewhere. Unfortunately, it is Grover Norquist and his ilk who control the Republican Party at the grassroots, even in seemingly “hopeless” states.

I was spending time in Maryland, my favorite state along with Virginia, at the Montgomery County Republican Convention recently. A conversation between an activist and me entered the subject of Governor Bob McDonnell’s transportation plan. She and I saw eye to eye and agreed that due to increased fuel efficiency and changing tastes that are moving away from driving, the gas tax is not a sustainable long term solution for transportation funding. We need to look for an alternate source of funding.

Things got weird when a long-haired, shaggy far-right extremist stepped into the conversation to criticize Governor Bob McDonnell’s transportation plan. He criticized it on two points.

First, he wanted to eliminate the gas tax and replace it with nothing. We have heard that before. The next argument was bonkers.

Second, he is against the implementation of any sustainable revenue source that will grow over the years. His reasoning against a sustainable revenue source is that if tax rates stay the same, but the tax base has broadened and raised more revenue, the politicians are responsible for a ***tax increase*** because the government is bringing in more tax revenue even if the government never raised the tax rate. Therefore, politicians don’t have to raise the tax rate to raise taxes. If a certain tax starts bringing in more revenue at a fixed rate thanks to a broadened tax base, that politician has just raised taxes according to this far-right winger and deserves to be voted out of office.

Mind. Blown. By that standard, all of the successful Republican Virginia General Assembly members who campaigned on broadening the tax base and not increasing tax rates in 2009 would be defeated if this particular anti-tax, fringe right winger from Maryland had his say and as I have probed deeper, there are more of his ilk than expected.

This is why the general electorate does not trust Republicans to govern wisely despite all the unforced errors the Democrats make.

Maryland: Vote No on Question 7

Question 7 on the Maryland ballot has become the most hotly contested issue in the region with tens of millions of dollars poured into the effort from competing interests in the gambling industry. It is an interesting issue to follow because support does not fall on party lines. About half of Democrats and about half of Republicans support it. About half of Democrats and about half of Republicans oppose it. Since the parties are unable to take a clear stand, individuals have the freedom to follow their conscience without fear of reprisal and retribution from their political parties.

That is why Democratic Delegate Heather Mizeur can oppose Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley on this issue. There are good arguments on both sides of Question 7. The Washington Post outlines good reasons for its support and the Baltimore Sun outlines good reasons in its opposition. However, in my opinion, the best argument comes from Delegate Heather Mizeur’s op-ed in the Washington Post arguing for a “no” vote on Question 7.

Rather than simply criticize and point out the flaws in Question 7, she addresses the concerns for which Question 7 is designed to fix and outlines a list of alternative policy proposals that would be more effective at addressing those concerns in a timely manner. Her policy proposals are strong.

Supporters of Question 7 claim that adding a casino in Prince George’s County and expanding table games would create thousands of permanent jobs and provide tax revenue for schools. Job creation and public school funding are certainly essential goals for progress.

Yet, Question 7 fails on both counts. The future of jobs lies in the knowledge sector. These are the kinds of jobs that will pay dividends and will grow rapidly in the next few decades. Cutting taxes on small businesses and closing the loopholes that have allowed many big businesses in Maryland to skip paying Maryland taxes is a good first step to level the playing field and encourage small business growth.

Instead of giving handouts to the casino industry in hopes that the casinos can deliver on their promises, Maryland needs to invest in its transportation infrastructure. The Purple Line needs to be built. Rail needs to be expanded. More bus service needs to be offered. Roads must be improved. Even as more and more people are teleworking and starting up home-based businesses, transportation will become even more important as technology has allowed us to multitask. Losing two hours in traffic equates to two hours of productivity lost and is intolerable for a growing number of working professionals in the knowledge sector.

Finally, Delegate Mizeur suggests that Maryland engage in public-private partnerships to finance school construction. Maryland schools are #1 in the nation, but will not be #1 for long if they do not continue to innovate in all areas of performance. Since schools yield positive externalities that benefit society as a whole, it makes sense to get the business community and organized labor involved in the process of school financing.

I believe the ideas proposed by Delegate Heather Mizeur are better for Maryland jobs and schools. For these reasons, a “no” vote on Question 7 is the best course of action.