Category Archives: Politics

Party official: Second Amendment protesters “homegrown terrorists,” “time to dox” them

“Really, don’t worry about the Red Flag law. The only way police are going to show up at your door to seize your guns is if someone reports you as being a danger.”

“What kind of danger?”

“Oh, I don’t know, a terrorist or something.”

* * *

Separately, Merriam-Webster defines dox as “to publicly identify or publish private information about (someone) especially as a form of punishment or revenge.” Even if calling adversaries terrorists has somehow been normalized, calling for them to be doxxed still hasn’t, right?

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Frederick County: April Miller best choice for school board vacancy

Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner will have the chance to fill a vacancy on the eight-member Frederick County Board of Education with Ken Kerr’s advancement to the House of Delegates. Those interested in serving have been invited to submit their names.

I myself am hoping that Gardner sees fit, despite party differences, to appoint incumbent April Miller to renewed service on the board, should Miller apply. The most obvious reason is at the ballot box: Miller ran fifth of eight for the four posts available, with 35,489 votes (unofficial), fewer than 2,000 votes short of what proved the cutoff. By comparison, Camden Raynor, the 20-year-old (as of September) college student who made a bid for a seat and is said to be a prospect for the vacancy appointment, received 27,701, even with the powerful endorsement of the teachers’ union (“Apple Ballot”).

The strongest reasons to support Miller, however, are substantive. To begin with, she has done a fine job on the board over her two terms, winning praise for constructive engagement even from board members with different priorities. Like colleague Elizabeth Barrett, sometimes seen as her opposite number on the board, Miller is known for thinking for herself and asking uncomfortable questions.

The wider question is whether it is a healthy development, in a county where conservatives make up around half the electorate, to wind up with a school board with no conservatives on it at all. The alternative is one consisting pretty much exclusively of present or past Apple Ballot endorsees. (The union declined to endorse Barrett this time around; she won anyway.) On many issues, absent Miller, there will be no voice raised in dissent, no one to ask certain types of questions or frame objections. In short, there will be a shortage along a very relevant dimension of ideological diversity.

Though nominally non-partisan the school board is all but partisan in practice, so this means asking CE Gardner, a Democrat, to overlook party lines and appoint a known Republican. On the other hand, that’s the sort of thing successful managers do: Gov. Larry Hogan has appointed Democrats to many high posts, part of the centrist appeal that has enabled him to win over Democratic moderates. At a moment where eager Democrats are no doubt applying for the spot, it might take a magnificent gesture on Gardner’s part. But it’s one we could use right about now.

More: Tom Neumark letter to the editor in the FNP.

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In miniature, November 10

Midterm campaign edition:

  • An issue in some races: “Critique of Maryland Congestion-Relief Plan Rests on Very Bad Logic [Austill Stuart] So much for the “Lexus Lanes” epithet: “Congestion pricing is not just slanted toward the elite” [Tyler Cowen]
  • Brian Frosh is part of a state-AG task force that subpoenas and investigates private groups and individuals for having promoted erroneous opinions on environmental questions. Which should have been more controversial during the campaign [Mark Uncapher]
  • Republican mailers assailed Dems on this issue, yet “supervised injection facilities save lives” [Jacob Sullum, Reason]
  • Sen. Ron Young (D-Frederick), at 12:55: stop saying we raised taxes 46 times, I counted and we only raised them 15 times [FNP podcast debate with Craig Giangrande]
  • In Maryland as elsewhere, “single payer in one state” is more of a political stunt than a practical program [Todd Eberly]
  • Poor showings at Tuesday’s polls for many lawmakers rated highly by Maryland Business for Responsive Government could spell trouble ahead on business issues [MBRG]

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Frederick County: Union shouldn’t control school board

Tom Neumark says many of the things I had been thinking about the county school board races. We really shouldn’t want a board entirely consisting of members raised to office through the political clout of the teachers’ union with its Apple Ballot. Yet that’s what we may soon find ourselves with.

Two incumbents were denied the union’s endorsement this year, namely April Miller and Elizabeth Barrett. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these two — though differing from each other in many ways — are both known for thinking for themselves, asking hard questions, and standing up for parents and families not always represented otherwise.

It raises all sorts of conflict of interest for the education unions to place their members, retirees, and close associates in public offices regularly called on to resist union demands. Yet Frederick County is already much of the way down that road. Let’s not proceed further.

Related: two school board hopefuls aren’t FCPS employees, but still have a less direct stake in compensation decisions, per this LTE from Stephanie Covati of Middletown.

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Frederick County: NO on Question D

My letter to the editor in the Frederick News-Post opposing Question D, on mandatory binding arbitration and collective bargaining for career firefighters:

Please vote NO on Question D, a charter amendment promoted by the firefighters union at the intended expense of taxpayers and the general public. The provisions of D expanding collective bargaining are bad enough, but even worse are those subjecting the county to mandatory binding arbitration whose outcome — get this — must be funded in the county budget, no matter what the people’s elected representatives may think of it.

Mandatory binding arbitration in the public workplace takes fiscal decisions away from those who are accountable to voters. It gives unions an artificial incentive to arrive at a bargaining impasse so as to call in an arbitrator who will always give them at least as much as management’s offer. It is also unfair to other employees who don’t get such privileges. In states like Connecticut and California, this system has done much damage to the finances and flexibility of local government, resulting in high property tax levels, cuts to other services, or both.

News-Post reporter Samantha Hogan writes that, ‘At a forum for nearly all the county council candidates at the Brunswick Fire Department, each one said they didn’t support Question D, given the binding arbitration aspect.’ They’re right to oppose a measure that is D for damaging, destructive and defective.”

Walter Olson
New Market

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Frederick County’s June 26 Republican primary

I had been planning to write up the precinct results of the Republican primary vote for Frederick County Executive (data) but this map by Jordan Tessler tells the story in a picture. Councilman Kirby Delauter ran competitively in in-town Frederick and Brunswick as well as winning the county’s northernmost towns, which he has represented on the Council. That left him 10 points behind Del. Kathy Afzali, who swept suburban developments from Ballenger Creek to growth-vexed southeastern areas like Monrovia and Kemptown, as well as easily carrying Jefferson and her home of Middletown. Regina Williams showed localized strength, carrying five or six precincts east of Frederick around Libertytown and New Market. The overall lesson: the suburbanized areas are now where the Republican primary is won or lost in the county.

In the 3rd District Senate primary, in which Delauter’s frequent ally Billy Shreve was far outdistanced (77-23) by businessman Craig Giangrande, it was once again the suburban and newer-home vote that had its way. Giangrande ran best in outlying parts of the district such as Jefferson, Oakdale, and Worman’s Mill, while Shreve tended to fare best in in-town districts.

The four-way primary contesting two at-large seats, won by Phil Dacey and Danny Farrar, did not draw a strongly regionalized vote.

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In miniature, July 4

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State Democrats meddle — to no avail — in District 3 primary

My June 18 letter to the editor in the Frederick News-Post urged county political leadership to condemn the deceitful mailer series launched by state Democrats seeking to meddle in the District 3 Senate primary. I was responding to the first mailer in what turned out to be a series of six, ostensibly critical of councilmember Billy Shreve as being too close to President Trump but in fact sent to Republicans in the apparent hope of boosting Shreve’s chances of being the GOP nominee.

Sen. Michael Hough, Republican senator for adjacent District 4, went on Jennifer Charlton’s WFMD radio show to explain (at 13:45 in this clip) how the “Todd Akin” gambit works. At 16:20 he says:

The Democrats are going to drop about fifty thousand bucks into this primary on behalf of Billy Shreve. And the part that really is outrageous? Billy Shreve went on a radio show and laughed about it and said, “I share a lot of common interests with them. I like these guys.” He thinks it’s great. To me, I find it totally outrageous and it would be very destructive, quite frankly, if they’re allowed to get away with this.

The next week I was a guest on Jennifer’s show and had a chance to discuss the issue myself.

I can report that the series of six expensive mailers appears to have been an almost complete waste of the Democrats’ money: Craig Giangrande won in a blowout, 77 to 23 percent.

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Senate bid to deny Trump ballot access in Maryland

My letter to the editor at the Frederick News-Post:

I have myself been critical of President Donald Trump’s refusal to divulge his tax returns, but the bill advanced in the Maryland Senate purporting to make that a requirement for the next presidential ballot in Maryland is partisanship at its most inane. [Sponsors] are here attempting to (1) impose a new qualification on presidential candidates not found in either the U.S. constitution or federal law; (2) do so by means of denying ballot access in their own state, which means by restricting the choices of their own electorate; and (3) do so with the open aim of opposing a single particular candidate.

We may pause for a moment to imagine how this sort of stunt could be pulled by other partisans against other candidates, should it catch on.

No wonder California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) vetoed a similar bill because of the obvious constitutional concerns.

Related: in U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton (1994), a Supreme Court divided 5-4 held that Arkansas could not add to the qualifications for election to Congress enumerated in the Constitution by disqualifying candidates who had already served a set number of terms in office; it also specifically rejected the view that a restriction on ballot access does not act as a bar to office because it leaves open the possibility of running as a write-in.

Note also that the Arizona legislature in 2011, under the influence of “birther” sentiment, passed a measure requiring presidential candidates to provide proof of citizenship in order to get on the state’s ballot. Although natural born citizenship unlike the release of tax returns is of course a genuine constitutional prerequisite for serving as president, the interference with the appropriate distribution of federal-state power, as well as the intent to target one particular candidate, namely birther target and incumbent President Obama, was evident enough that conservative Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the measure. [cross-posted from Overlawyered]

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“Is your child texting about partisan gerrymandering?…”

My bit of Twitter humor from the other day:

Is your child texting about partisan gerrymandering? Know the language:

IDC: Is district compact?
SMDH: Splitting more Dem households
OMG: Omigod, Maryland’s gerrymandered
HBD: Hilariously bad district
LOL: Less outrageous lines
OMW: Our map wins
FFS: Friend/foe spread

On a more serious note, I’m visible in this photo of Gov. Hogan’s press conference last month on redistricting reform:

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