Category Archives: Policy

The rush to spend Kirwan bucks

The majority party in Annapolis is rushing to appropriate a “down payment” of more than $1 billion over two years to implement the lavish spending proposals of the latest blue-ribbon commission on education issues. They’re in no similar rush to implement the Kirwan Commission’s supposed accountability proposals, maybe because those were just pretend anyway, intended as cover for the resource grab. In fact, the same majority party is moving to close down, rather than expand, choice options for parents and families seeking to escape the monopoly system.

The editorialists at the Washington Post have this figured out:

There seems to have been a headlong rush to embrace the commission’s recommendations, with most state politicians swearing fealty to them in last year’s elections. That should give serious pause to Maryland taxpayers. It’s not only that they will be footing the bill with higher taxes or cutbacks in other services. The state’s previous experience also demonstrated the shortcomings, if not outright failure, of increased education expenditures to produce better outcomes.

A previous educational commission, called the Thornton Commission, prompted a historic boost in school spending after 2002. Yet less than 40 percent of Maryland high school graduates can read at a 10th-grade level or pass an Algebra 1 exam. … Rather than simply rubber-stamping a push for massive new school spending, lawmakers should be asking the hard questions of whether Maryland families and children will really be helped.

If only Maryland voters had it figured out too.

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Some minimum wage notes

It really is amazing that campaigners for a $15 minimum wage law in Maryland, simply by producing a few business people who take their side, can get the Washington Post to report that the state’s business community is “split” on the issue.

While on the subject, it’s also revealing about the state of coalition politics (and ideology) when a nanny-state anti-sugar group goes to bat for a $15 minimum wage law.

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Now online: public submission of Sixth District maps

Now live: help fix Maryland’s gerrymandered Sixth District! This site (press release, guidelines) will let you propose and submit a map to Gov. Larry Hogan’s emergency commission using the inline Maptitude software. Aside from enabling the construction of maps using census blocks and other units, the software will ensure that the map you submit complies with legal requirements for equal numbers of persons per district and contiguous territory.

The site also accepts maps via data files or hardcopy as well as public comments of all sorts to advise the commission in its work. Note that public comment and map submission is open for two weeks, until Feb. 27. If possible, try to submit earlier rather than later.

More: Diane Rey, Maryland Reporter in January, League of Women Voters of Maryland overview. And on a lighter note, from Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford on social media:

Valentine about Maryland gerrymandering

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Hearing in Rockville January 31 on Sixth District gerrymandering

Gov. Hogan’s Emergency Commission on Sixth District Gerrymandering is holding its next public hearing in Rockville next week. Come share what you think a fair 6th district would look like! Details:

Thurs., Jan. 31, 7 p.m.
Montgomery College, Rockville Campus
Theatre Arts Arena
51 Mannakee Street
Rockville, MD 20850

Please share with others interested in free and fair elections and an end to gerrymandering in Maryland.

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Talking Baltimore crime on the Jerry Rogers show

I joined host Jerry Rogers on WBAL to discuss Baltimore’s dreadful crime statistics, in particular the plunge in clearance of homicide cases discussed in this report (with more here).

For more on the grim report of rising crime on the Johns Hopkins campus, see the university’s eye-opening interim report, or this piece by William F. Zorzi for Maryland Matters.

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Protesters disrupt Frederick horse carriage rides

Frederick has a well-loved tradition of horse-drawn carriage rides touring in-town neighborhoods during the winter holiday season. On one late December Saturday evening, according to a letter by Paula Carter in the Dec. 28 Frederick News-Post, some animal rights advocates staged a protest action that included running alongside one carriage and screaming obscenities at the occupants, including a family who had taken their small children out for a special treat.

Here is more on the protesters, who object in principle to the practice of horse-drawn rides and do not appear to have adduced any evidence of inhumane practice by the Lambert family. Among the protesting couple’s actions has reportedly been to bring their own dogs up close to the horses, supposedly illustrating the danger that if approached by dogs there is a hazard that horses will bolt and cause injury, which seems like a remarkable way of promoting concern about that hazard.

At a City Hall hearing on updating regulations about the horses a group of protesters came out to oppose the rides. When asked which of them lived in the city, only four raised their hands. More in a FNP editorial.

Here is a Facebook post by Karen Crum Nicklas about a counter-demonstration on behalf of the rides and the family that puts them on.

Elsewhere on Facebook (no longer on public view setting), commenter J.M. writes: “I have spent many years working with animals. The idea that all that higher mammals such as horses and dogs want is the kind of shallow, mindless “fun” of food treats, wild play, and running around is not just wrong, frankly it’s demeaning to them. Much like us, what they really seek are meaningful connections with humans and other animals, and this includes meaning found in accomplishing things. As in working.”

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“Frederick’s Forum” on the Sixth District remap

I joined hosts Darren Wigfield and Dave Schmidt on WFMD’s “Frederick’s Forum” on Saturday for a two-hour (!) show on gerrymandering and the Sixth District, with a little bit of unrelated talk about law and the Supreme Court toward the end. You can listen here: first, second portion.

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Emergency Commission on Sixth Congressional District Gerrymandering

On Monday Gov. Larry Hogan announced an executive order creating an emergency commission to redraw Maryland’s Sixth District to comply with a federal court order. (Coverage: WBALMaryland ReporterWashington PostBaltimore Sun and Capital GazetteAP/ABCFrederick News PostHerald Mail (Hagerstown), WMARMaryland Matters, and many others. ) I’m honored to serve together with Judge Alex Williams as a co-chair of this commission, which will also include Ashley Oleson (no relation) and six more members.

This nine-member commission will be drawn equally from among registered Maryland Democrats, Republicans, and voters affiliated with neither of those parties. Qualified persons of all party affiliations are encouraged to apply. Applications close December 10.  Some restrictions apply as explained at the link; for example, employees of the legislature and governor and officials of political parties are ineligible to serve. This is a unique opportunity for civic-minded persons to make a difference for the better in our state.

Shortly before being asked to be part of this effort, I discussed the Sixth District ruling in a podcast with the Frederick News Post’s Emma Kerr and Colin McGuire, as well as an interview with host Sheilah Kast at WYPR’s “On the Record”. I also joined West Coast-based libertarian radio host Bob Zadek for an hour-long show on the national aspects of redistricting reform.

 

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Scott Beyer’s Market Urbanism Report looks at Baltimore up close

Scott Beyer’s Market Urbanism Report has an active presence on Facebook and has just used it to devote a month’s worth of attention to the problems, challenges, and quirks of Baltimore, from policing good and bad to Formstone to the money-sink Hilton project to eminent domain to housing abandonment to the upkeep of public spaces. Check out the whole group as well as its associated website for a treasure trove of analysis and information about city and development issues, informed by market reasoning.

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On the Elevate Maryland podcast

Thanks Tom Coale, Candace Dodson Reed, and Ilana Bittner for having me as a guest on the Elevate Maryland podcast, which focuses on civic and political life from a Howard County vantage point. I join at the 20 minute mark and after a lengthy and detailed discussion of gerrymandering and the Maryland Redistricting Reform Commission’s recommendations, we move on to topics like the comparative restaurant scene (E.C. vs. Rockville vs. Volt and Family Meal — must we choose?), accordions, and TV. [Player.fm, iTunes]

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