Howard County Blog

A Blog on what is going on in Howard County

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ulman's administrative choices

According to today's Sun, soon to be County Executive Ken Ulman chose Lonnie Robbins as the county's chief administrative officer and Aaron Greenfield as his own chief of staff. Any comments?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Ed Kasemeyer moving up in MD Senate

When Senate president pro tem Ida Ruben lost in the primary, a vacancy was created that led to two recent actions by Senate president Mike Miller. He moved the Democratic Majority Leader into the pro tem slot (which amounts to presiding over Senate proceedings in his absence) and selected Howard County's Ed Kasemeyer as the new Majority Leader (or spokesman for the party on the floor). Such is the power of Mike Miller that he can do this on his own. Senator Kasemeyer will surely continue to serve on the powerful Budget and Taxation Committee.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Election Results Analysis

HayDuke has been doing some interesting analysis of the Howard County election returns. Check out his analysis: Part 1 and Part 2.

I have been thinking about doing some of my own number crunching, but it has been a little busy and HayDuke beat me to the punch. What analysis are you interest in seeing?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

High School Reunions

So my 10 year high school reunion (Oakland Mills Class of '96) is tonight over at Nottingham's. I am looking forward to it. It should be neat to reconnect and hear where everyone is with their lives. Feel free to use this as an open thread to share thoughts about your high school reunions. Did you go? Where was it held? What did you think? What were the highlights? Were there any surprises of how people turner out? How many of the class showed up?

As a public service I have in the past and am happy to continue to in the future post announcements about high school reunions of any school in the county, so that people know when and where their reunion is. I hope this blog can provide among other things the service of making it easier for Howard Countians who have moved out of the county but are still interested in following what goes on here to follow Howard County news online. I have found many former Howard Countians' thoughts about and appreciation for the Rouse vision and the community planning we have in this county enhanced by living in other places and seeing how other places are designed or have evolved.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Open Thread

What are you giving thanks for today? On top of the normal giving thanks for having a great family and great friends I am also giving thanks that the bad plan for redeveloping Downtown Columbia has not yet been approved and I am also giving thanks that considering who got elected there is a hope that with an engaged community we can get the plan fixed before it gets approved.

After the swearing in of the new County Exec and County Council in just over a week I suspect the dialog on Downtown Columbia will begin again and I give thanks that I think the new elected officials will create a more responsive dialog than has existed so far. As Thanksgiving is a time of reflection, let us reflect on what has been proposed for our community and ways we can make it better. Here are some past posts on the subject:

The Mall to Merriweather Promenade: Part 1
The Mall to Merriweather Promenade: Part 2

Mixed Income Housing: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3


Why community planning matters.

Martin Luther King Day thoughts on the impact of community planning and whether new developments are contributing or undermining his dream and Rouses vision.

Let's Not Be Florida

Will the county use the Focus Group to help restore public trust?

I guess not yet, but here's hoping they will do it this time.

Let's Talk Solutions

Favorite Birthday Foods Open Thread

Today is my birthday! Having been born on Thanksgiving and having my birthday again this year fall on Thanksgiving, I have often wished I had more control over what my birthday dinner was. What is your favorite birthday food? I like ribs because I don’t get them very often. My favorite food is Cincinnati Chili, but since I make that pretty often I want something I don’t normally get as my dinner on my birthday. What about you? What do you like to eat on your birthday?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Is a $1 increase in the state cigarette tax on the way?

Tax revenue goes to finance programs deemed necessary or desirable by our elected officials. We can't have good schools or police protection for free.
One piece of legislation to be introduced in the next session of the state legislature would increase the cigarette tax by $1 in order to provide revenue for programs related to health. It can be argued that such a tax increase would have a doubly beneficial effect. Not only would it raise revenue for necessary or desirable programs, but it would also discourage smoking and improve the health of smokers or prospective smokers by making it a more costly habit. Such a health improvement for smokers would reduce public health costs all by itself.
Would you favor such legislation or are you one of those for whom the idea of higher taxes is always bad and that our principal aim should be to cut them?

Anyone favor more regulation of electioneering at the polls?

State law prohibits electioneering within 100 feet of a polling place's entrance. Once in a while, someone will introduce legislation moving this limit back to an extent that would effectively eliminate pollworking (which, at bottom, everyone has to do if only to cancel out pollwork activity by the opposition).
Having, of necessity, been involved in pollwork activity over the years, I know that various voters react to this in different ways. Some don't mind it and even welcome it if it enables them to learn something about a candidate for a low level office or some ballot question. At the other extreme are voters who will tell you to stay away from them or it wouldn't be beneficial to your candidate. Wise pollworkers will take their word for it. Sometimes their body language will be enough to send you a message. An overly-aggressive pollworker can hurt their candidate's cause, just as an extrovert or social animal who seemingly knows how far to push it can be helpful.
How many out there would favor effectively doing away with pollworkers by establishing, say, a 300 foot limit? Presently, it's seen by some as a necessary evil and by others as freedom of political speech. Do you see it as good or bad and would you favor changing the limits so as to make it impractical?

New Exec & Council to be sworn in on Dec. 4

I note that this event will occur at Centennial High at 7PM on the 4th and that all of these officials will have been elected to their position for the first time.
Does anyone have any predictions as to who will eventually be elected as Council chair? Rest assured that it won't be a Republican this time.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Making Robo Calls Illegal

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says that one of the first ten bills he wants the new Senate to pass is a bill making the annoying election RoboCalls illegal. I think that is a great way to start the next session of Congress! :)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Precinct Level Results

The County Board of Elections has posted the precinct level data online for the general election. Go check it out and see if anything jumps out at you. I am going to see if anything is worthy of a post when I have had a chance to fully process it all.

Also the Hedgehog Report has a good post about the stellar preformance (insert snarky tone here) of our glorious Board of Elections. I would love to have some insight on why things have been such a mess over there recently. Feel free to share insights in the comments or email me.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Ben Cardin’s New Committee Assignments

Harry Reid has announced the Democratic committee assignments for the new congress. Our new Maryland Senator Ben Cardin has been assigned to the following committees:

  • Environment and Public Works
  • Foreign Relations
  • Judiciary
  • Budget
  • Small Business

This seems to me to be a pretty good set of committees.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Fun from The Onion

We can always count on the satirical newspaper The Onion for the best take on the elections:

Republican officials are blaming tonight's GOP losses on Democrats, who they claim have engaged in a wide variety of "aggressive, premeditated, anti-Republican campaigns" over the past six-to-18 months. "We have evidence of a well-organized, well-funded series of operations designed specifically to undermine our message, depict our past performance in a negative light, and drive Republicans out of office," said Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman, who accused an organization called the Democratic National Committee of spearheading the nationwide effort. "There are reports of television spots, print ads, even volunteers going door-to-door encouraging citizens to vote against us." Acknowledging that the "damage has already been done," Mehlman is seeking a promise from Democrats to never again engage in similar practices.

Of course it must be satire to say the Democrats are well-organized and well-funded, but we can hope that under Howard Dean that situation is going to continue to improve. This win is clearly a product of his leadership and the fifty-state strategy. I am still on cloud nine. I mean how can one not be with the idea of Jon Tester in the US Senate.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The new Howard County school board

The primary election made clear that there were only seven viable candidates for election to the county Board of Education this year. Now four of them (Frank Aquino, Sandra French, Patricia Gordon, and Larry Cohen have won four-year terms on the board and a fifth (Ellen Flynn Giles, barring a miracle for Janet Siddiqui in the absentee vote count) has won a two-year term. The seventh, incumbent Josh Kaufman, finished suffiently behind Siddiqui that he's no longer in the running for reelection. In my view, he hurt his prospects for election by jointly sponsoring some program or project (I don't remember what it was) with Republican County Executive candidate Chris Merdon in such a way that made it look like he supported Merdon. That was unfortunate for him.
The expected victory by school board member Mary Kay Sigaty in her Council race means there will soon be a vacancy (to be filled by the County Executive) for her seat. Whoever gets it would finish out her term, which ends in 2008. I'll bet it's Siddiqui's if she wants it.
In 2008, there will be only three school board seats to be filled (that of incumbent Diane Mikulis, Giles, and whoever gets the Sigaty seat).

Nov. 7 was a big day for Democrats

Locally, statewide, and nationally, Democrats made out very well on Nov. 7. It was clear early on that the House of Representatives was going to be majority Democratic and the only question was how big the margin would be. Now it's just a question of how many seats over 230 (out of 435). Today's Washington Post lists nine undetermined House races, but only two where the Democrat is in the lead. With the recently-declared victory of Jim Webb in Virginia, there will even be a Democratic majority in the Senate. My hope is that this means that no more Alitos (or clones of Scalia) will be confirmed for any judicial post during the last two years of Bush's disgraceful reign. There'll certainly be no more talk now of a change in the Senate rules to allow ending a filibuster by majority vote so that the courts can be stacked with right-wing ideologues. There may even be a few well-deserved and overdue investigations now that Democrats will chair all committees and control the investigating apparatus in both houses of the Congress.
Statewide, the pre-election polls were starting to look a little scary for Martin O'Malley and Ben Cardin, but both won convincingly (the latter moreso than the former). Both of these winning Democrats carried the predictable jurisdictions of Baltimore City and Montgomery and Prince George's Counties by big margins and both added Charles and Howard Counties to their win list. Cardin even added Baltimore County, but O'Malley just missed out there on the home turf of Gov. Ehrlich. I was especially happy to see Cardin prevail over the sleazy, fraudulent and/or racist ploys by the opposition and a handful of contemptible Democratic politicos from Prince George's County for whom the color of Michael Steele's skin was more important than his positions on issues. It was good to see that the voting public was not taken in by them in any significant way.
In state legislative races, Democrats picked up two seats in the State Senate (although that could go back to one after absentee ballots are counted in Anne Arundel's LD31, where old guard Democrat Walter Shandrowsky leads religious right Republican Bryan Simonaire by 198 votes going into it). The Democratic gains there are in Howard's LD13 (Jim Robey/see below) and LD21 (where Jim Rosapepe smashed former Democrat and incumbent new Republican John Giannetti by better than 2 to 1). I'll admit to actively campaigning for Rosapepe.
In the House of Delegates, the Democratic gain is at least seven and possibly nine. The two seats most in doubt prior to the absentee count are both in Baltimore County. In LD8, Democrat Ellen Baisden leads incumbent Republican Joe Boteler by 47 votes. In LD42, Democrat Tracy Miller leads incumbent Republican and religious rightist William Frank by just seven votes. I'll be pleasantly surprised if both Baisden and Miller prevail. I can't resist applauding at the apparent loss of the fervently anti-gay crusader Don Dwyer in LD31. He's sufficiently behind fellow Republican Nick Kipke for the final delegate slot that his prospects for making it are slim indeed.
Locally, there was a lot of pre-election concern over whether County Executive Jim Robey would be able to overcome the advantages of incumbency held by State Senator Schrader in LD13, whether Ken Ulman could keep the County Executive position in Democratic hands in the face of all this talk about zoning and growth, and whether the Democrats could retain a majority of the County Council seats. But the county voters made it look easy. Robey defeated Schrader by over 5000 votes. Ulman sent Chris Merdon into political retirement by over 10,000 votes. And Democrats went from 3-2 on the Council to 4-1. Both Ulman and district 3 Council candidate Jen Terrasa demonstrated that getting shut out of newspaper editorial endorsements didn't mean a thing with their easy victories. (When I wasn't working in the Rosapepe campaign, above, I was doing it for Terrasa and/or Ulman.) Courtney Watson was impressive in winning the fourth Council seat in a historically Republican district.
With the election of Robey over Schrader, Democrats now have a 2-1 majority in the county's Senate delegation and a 6-2 majority in the House delelation. That means that the Democratic legislative agenda for the county should have smooth sailing on its way to enactment in Annapolis.
None of the delegate races in my district (LD13) were all that close, but I've got to say that Democrat Dave Osmundson came closer to defeating Republican incumbent Warren Miller in the very conservative and reliably-Republican LD9A than I expected.
Some Republican incumbents in low-level elective offices in the county felt the Democratic breeze blowing. Longtime Register of Wills Kay Hartleb, a Republican who was originally elected as a Democrat, leads as the counting of absentee ballots starts. She'll probably prevail, but it's no sure thing. The judges of Orphan's Court went from 2-1 Republican to 2-1 Democrat and it was clear that, if the Democrats has run a third candidate for that office, it would have been a clean sweep.
I'm going to be checking on the precinct by precinct results later on.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

With the Elections Over

I am looking forward to looking at the precinct level returns to see what we can learn about different candidate’s strengths in different parts of the county. At the macro level we can clearly see that Maryland, including Howard County, had a major Democratic wave that reflected the national Democratic wave that carried Democrats into control of both houses of Congress. The biggest sign of this wave is that David Osmundson came within 1217 votes of knocking off Warren Miller in the Delegate 9A race. Howard County has a Democratic County Executive and a 4 to 1 majority on the County Council, and a majority of both the Delegates and State Senate delegations. I am looking forward to seeing what they will accomplish with this power.

So moving forward, what do we know about Howard County voters:

1) They are clearly committed to quality public services and understand that such quality public services cost money.

2) Looking at State Senate District 13 it is very clear that the voters of eastern and southern Howard County believe in guaranteeing access to birth control and emergency contraceptives for all regardless of age. I look forward to State Senator Jim Robey taking the lead on this.

3) They selected a County Council, and thus the Zoning Board, who is controlled by those who have publicly raised real questions about the current plans for the redevelopment of downtown Columbia. The majority on the Zoning Board opposes the extension of Wincopin Street south through the Hug Statue Park. The majority of the Zoning Board has publicly stated that the current proposed percentages of affordable housing are insufficient. There are other examples, but the point is that the Department of Planning and Zoning needs to start changing their plan to reflect what the community wants if they want the Zoning Board to approve a plan.

While we are on the issue of changing the plan for downtown Columbia redevelopment, I have known Ken Ulman for years and I am sure he will take an active role in making sure the Department of Planning and Zoning (which as County Exec he now is in charge of) presents a plan that he is proud of. He is a very hands-on, engaged person. When he champions something he does it with immense passion, energy, and creativity. I take his press conference last Friday as a good sign that he is dissatisfied with the current plan and plans to push for changes to the plan to reflect what the community is saying. Ken has signed on to the paper that the Coalition for Columbia’s Downtown has put forward to advance the redevelopment of downtown Columbia in a way that reflects what the community has been saying and this is another good sign. The first decision Ken will face as County Executive that will impact the redevelopment of downtown Columbia is likely to be who he appoints to the current vacancy on the Zoning Board. This will tell us a lot about how Ken plans to proceed and will be examined closely

Post Deleted

I have a very loose editorial policy on this group blog where I let my guestbloggers post just about anything they like as long as it is in some way relevant to Howard County, but I came home tonight and discovered that one of them had posted something that I thought was inappropriate. It was a not to flattering picture of a recent candidate for office and a suggestion that readers create their own caption for the picture. Though I have nothing against the notion of create your own caption posts I thought this one was in bad taste and did not advance dialog or understanding on any issues. I was even more surprised by this because the guestblogger who posted this post was a former intern and active volunteer for that candidate and had only posted positive things about that candidate on this blog. I can only guess that this post was done in the exhaustion after a hard fought campaign. We all do some things that we later regret, particularly when we are tired. I have decided to delete the post in question. I created this blog to advance dialog and collectively brainstorm solutions to challenges facing our community and the post in question ran contrary to that.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Problem in Precinct 6-17

Precinct 6-17’s polling place was moved between the primary and the general election from Owen Brown Place to the East Columbia Library. This morning there were not proper signs so please tell anyone you know that lives in this precinct.

Election Day Open Thread

Election Day is here! Please go vote and then share your experience and discuss any election related issues here. I will not be available to post most of the day or election night, so I will be leaving it to you to provide the latest on what is happening on the ground and give the first analysis of the results. One thing you can do is when you go vote you can ask how many people have voted so far at your polling place and then you can post on here those numbers and which precinct you voted in. That should give us a sense of turnout. So without further ado, what are you seeing and hearing on election day? What are candidates doing? How are they closing their campaigns? What are your friends and neighbors saying? Feel free to make your final case for your favorite candidate.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Deciding who Decides

With the election upon us it is useful to remember that the next county executive and county council will be making the decisions on the biggest change to the county since Columbia was approved when they determine how Downtown Columbia will be redeveloped.

Here are some of the past posts on this blog about the downtown redevelopment plan that is moving forward under the current county executive's Department of Planning and Zoning with the support of some members of the current council. (If any of the current council wants to make it clear they are not one of the supporters of the current plan I invite any member of the current council to come forward and provide detailed comments on what if any of this current plan they think needs to be changed. I am looking for specifics and not empty platitudes. It is the details of the plan that will determine its success or failure.). So here are the links to the previous posts on the plan:

The Mall to Merriweather Promenade: Part 1
The Mall to Merriweather Promenade: Part 2

Mixed Income Housing: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3


Why community planning matters.

Martin Luther King Day thoughts on the impact of community planning and whether new developments are contributing or undermining his dream and Rouses vision.

Let's Not Be Florida

Will the county use the Focus Group to help restore public trust?

I guess not yet, but here's hoping they will do it this time.

Let's Talk Solutions

Sunday, November 05, 2006

County Council District 5 Race - Voters Need Answers From Fox

Mr. Fox needs to provide clear answers (no spin) to four important questions so voters can accurately choose their representative on the County Council in District 5.

1. Was he recruited by Allan Kittleman to become a candidate for the District 5 County Council Seat? Did Allan Kittleman contribute $4000 (the legal limit) to his campaign? Did those funds come from Allan Kittleman's Campaign fund? Did Allan Kittleman interfere with the Primary Election process? (See Jann Anderson's letter to the Editor in the Howard County Times.)

2. Fox's website lists his employment history as 20 years of employment in "two Fortune 200 companies". Why doesn't he say that he is currently employed by Constellation Energy, the parent company of BG&E? Ethically, he would have to recluse himself from any issue involving "power" in the County Council. If elected, will he represent the public's interest or do the bidding of his party boss (Kittleman) and/or Big Business?

3. Was Fox involved with Allan Kittleman to commission a push poll (at the cost of $10,000) to discredit his opponent in the Primary Campaign (fellow Republican Wayne Livesay)? What questions were asked? Was the poll designed to create negative images of Liveasy in the minds of voters? (See Byron Macfarlane's letter to the editor in the Howard County Times.)

4. On his website, Fox cites as Community Experience, "Neighborhood Leader representing community views on school redistricting efforts." In reality, he promoted what was locally referred to as "the Greyhound Plan" to shape the attendance area for Reservoir High School. Originally, his group advocated the "Gray Plan" which would restrict attendance to the areas immediately surrounding the new high school in Fox's neighborhood. When numbers required expanding the area, his group canvassed nearby middle class neighborhoods for their support of (and inclusion in) his plan while arguing that students from North Laurel (including student from public housing) would be bused to more distant schools "because they were on the bus anyway". Hence, his plan was dubbed "the Greyhound Plan". How does Fox's actually efforts in school redistricting make him a "neighborhood leader representing community views? Which community is he representing? Is this the kind of political leader who will represent all of his constituents or just the "fortunate few"?

Mr. Fox voters need answers to these questions.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Open Thread

What are you seeing from local candidate as we head into the final weekend before the election? Any races you are still trying to figure out? If you are looking for information on the ballot questions check out guestblogger Ken’s thoughts in the comments of this post.

What to Look for Nationally on Election Night

So though I don’t post on it regularly on this site, I also follow national politics closely. One of the national political analysts, Stu Rothenberg, has a good summary of what to look for as early indicators on election night:

7pm (EST) – The House

Kentucky 4 – Rep. Geoff Davis (R) is running for a second term in a heavily Republican district that voted 63% for President Bush. Combined GOP spending has overwhelmed former Rep. Ken Lucas (D) and the Democrats in the final weeks. If Davis loses, even with the nature of the district and an overwhelming financial edge, the GOP majority is in serious jeopardy.

Kentucky 3 - Rep. Anne Northup (R) is facing yet another challenge in her Louisville-based district. Northup's district is certainly more Democratic than the 4th District (John Kerry took 51%), but it looks like she'll go into Election Night with a narrow lead, but under 50%. If she loses, that means undecided voters are breaking heavily and convincingly for the Democrats and other battle-tested incumbents like Clay Shaw (Florida 22) and Heather Wilson (New Mexico 1) are in a lot of trouble.

Kentucky 2 – If state Rep. Mike Weaver (D) defeats Rep. Ron Lewis (R), Democrats are in for a huge night. The 2nd District voted overwhelmingly (65%) for President Bush in 2004 and it would bring a whole series of heavily Republican districts into play. A loss would be particularly troubling since Lewis doesn't have the burden of personal or ethical baggage, just the weight of President Bush.

Republicans are likely to come out of the hour, including Ohio and North Carolina at 7:30pm, down by at least seven or eight seats (half-way to a Democratic majority). If a Democratic tsunami is hitting, Republicans could realistically lose the majority before the polls close in the 8pm states (IN 2, IN 8, IN 9, OH 1, OH 2, OH 12, OH 15, OH 18, NC 8, NC 11, KY 2, KY 3, KY 4, VA 2, VA 10). But if Republicans can escape these early states down by only three or four seats, it should be a considered a moral victory.

8pm (EST) – The Senate

Missouri – Sen. Jim Talent (R) is in a neck-and-neck contest with state Auditor Claire McCaskill (D). Missouri is a competitive, but GOP-leaning state, featuring a Republican incumbent who has run a great campaign. If Talent loses, the GOP majority is in serious jeopardy, and its gone completely if Sen. George Allen (R) loses earlier at 7pm in Virginia.

New Jersey – This is the single best Republican opportunity in the Senate, as state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R) attempts to unseat appointed-Sen. Bob Menendez (D). Kean has run effectively on "change" in the face of a Democratic wave in a Democratic state. A GOP victory in the Garden State would likely signal a very narrow Republican Senate majority next year.

Control of the Senate will likely be decided by the time the votes are tallied in the 8pm states. Mike DeWine (R) will already be gone (7:30pm poll closing in Ohio), followed by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania). Assuming Democrats prevail later in the night in Rhode Island (9pm) and Montana (10pm), as expected, Democrats would need to hold New Jersey and Maryland and win both Missouri and Tennessee to take the majority. But if Sen. George Allen (R-Virginia) loses at 7pm in Virginia, Democrats would only need to win one of the Missouri-Tennessee contests.

9pm (EST) – Governors

Minnesota – Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) appears to be falling victim to the national environment. He remains fairly popular, yet he's locked in a tight battle with state Attorney General Mike Hatch (DFL). The third party candidate's campaign has stalled, and that is making it difficult for Pawlenty to win. The governor won his first term with only 44%.

Rhode Island – Gov. Don Carcieri (R) is also popular and goes into Election Night with a significant lead. But the state is hostile toward Republicans and is likely to throw out their Republican U.S. Senator.

Democrats are almost certain to gain at least five governorships (Arkansas, Ohio, Massachusetts, Colorado, and New York) by the time the 9pm states are finished counting. If Pawlenty loses in Minnesota, Gov. Jim Doyle (D) has probably held on in Wisconsin, and Democrats are closer to a seven-seat gain in governorships. And if Carcieri falls, Democrats could net up to ten governorships by the time the night is over. (Remember that Democrats lost ten governorships in 1994.)

Senate Wave Watch – If Democrats successfully knock off Jon Kyl (R) in Arizona, they have likely won control, even if all the votes haven't been tallied in the earlier states.

11pm (EST) – Hip-Waders or Life Rafts?

Idaho Governor – All eyes should be on Idaho for the size of the Republican wave. Rep. Butch Otter (R) is facing an unexpectedly close and competitive race against 2002 nominee Jerry Brady (D). Otter has some Washington baggage because he is a member of Congress, but he doesn't produce the hate from within his own party that 1st District nominee Bill Sali (R) gets. A Sali loss could be passed off, in part, as a local problem, but an Otter loss would represent something much, much bigger.

I would add that Indiana, which along with Kentucky is historically one of the first states to report their results, is something I will be using as my indicator on the House races. Particularly if Democrats pick up IN-3 then we are having a tsunami year. IN-3 is a very conservative district in the northeast corner of Indiana and includes Fort Wayne. Stu used it as his 1994 indicator race, when the current incumbent Republican beat Democrat Jill Long. The current Democratic nominee Dr. Tom Hayhurst (a Fort Wayne City Councilman and Air Force veteran) has significantly out raised Republican Congressman Mark Souder and the National Republican Campaign Committee after doing a poll a couple weeks ago poured in hundreds of thousands of dollars into the district. It will take a tsunami for Democrats to win this seat, but it looks possible and will be our first indicator that one is coming.

Elsewhere in Indiana there are three top tier House races. If the Dems take only one it means that the Dems have snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory and though they may pick up seats the Democrats might not win back the House. If the Dems pick two seats in Indiana, then they will probably get back the majority and pick up 20-25 seats. If the Dems pick up all three, then the Dems will probably pick up at least 25 seats and more likely in the 30 to 40 plus range.

Friday, November 03, 2006


So I went to the Columbia Association meeting resulting from the attacks on Cindy Coyle and Barbara Russell based on the false reading of the law and the CA Charter made by Bill Santos. As should not surprise anyone that bothered to read the law, both the lawyer asked to look at this issue by CA and the lawyer Barbara and Cindy were forced to hire the attacks were completely unfounded and what Barbara and Cindy had done was both perfectly legal and personally ethical.

Room at the meeting was standing room only and the only person who was even slightly supportive of the notion that Cindy and Barbara had done something wrong was Jud Malone.

Now to why I titled this post Integrity: With five days until the elections Chris Merdon came to the meeting to show moral support for those who had stuck their necks out to endorse him. Chris gave up an entire evening to sit and attentively listen to the proceedings. He did not try to make a speech. He did not work the room glad-handing people. He just showed respect, listened, and through his presence provided moral support to the wrongly accused. For a politician to take this time off to sit through a long meet on the evening less than a week before the election showed a lot of integrity.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ballot Questions

So one of the most difficult things to figure out here in Maryland when voting is what each of the ballot questions is actually about. Here is info listed in the Washington Post Voters Guide:

Howard County Ballot Questions

Question A: County Auditor

To amend the Howard County Charter by amending Section 212 "County Auditor" to extend the deadline for submission of the annual financial audit to November 30.

Question B: Budgetary and Fiscal Procedures

To amend the Howard County Charter by amending Section 614 "Enterprise Accounting" to delete an obsolete reference to enterprise accounting principles, amending Section 616 "Borrowing limitations" by expressing a limitation on the aggregate amount of outstanding indebtedness as a percent of the full cash value of the assessable base in accordance with State law; amending Section 617 "Form and terms of bonds" by repealing a requirement of biennial principal payments on bonds, eliminating obsolete requirements of the form of bonds, and eliminating an obsolete reference to the Metropolitan District Commission.

Question C: Arbitration; Award Binding on Executive

To add Section 217 to the Howard County Charter to authorize the adoption of legislation providing for a system of arbitration to resolve negotiation disputes between unions, who are the exclusive representative of police and firefighters, and the County Executive on all matters concerning wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment which are subject to collective bargaining negotiation in accordance with the Howard County Code; providing that any law so enacted shall prohibit strikes or work stoppages by police officers and firefighters; providing that any award made pursuant to arbitration legislation adopted by the Council shall be binding on the County Executive, provided that any award is final no later than three weeks prior to submission of the current expense budget; and to amend Section 603(a)(4) of the Charter to require the County Executive to include any arbitrator's award made pursuant to Section 217 in the proposed expense budget to be submitted to the County Council.

Maryland Ballot Questions

Question One: Disposition of Park Lands

Shall Article XII-Public Works be amended?

This constitutional amendment says the Board of Public Works may not approve the sale, transfer, exchange, grant or other permanent disposition of any state-owned outdoor recreation, open space, conservation, preservation, forest, or park land without the express approval of the General Assembly or of a committee that the General Assembly designates by statute, resolution or rule.

Question Two: Circuit Court in Banc Decisions

Shall Article IV-Judiciary Department be amended?

This constitutional amendment establishes the right of a party who did not request in banc review by the circuit court to appeal an adverse decision by the in banc court to the State's intermediate appellate court, the Court of Special Appeals. The amendment provides that a party in a circuit court trial conducted by less than three circuit court judges is eligible for in banc review. The amendment establishes that three judges of a circuit court constitute a circuit court in banc. The amendment repeals the authority of the circuit courts to regulate the rules governing in banc circuit court appeals, and establishes that the Maryland Rules are to provide the procedure for such appeals. The amendment also eliminates obsolete language pertaining to writs of error from this provision of the Constitution.

Question Three: Civil Jury Trials

Shall the Declaration of Rights, Article 5, be amended?

This constitutional amendment authorizes the enactment of legislation that limits the right to trial by jury in civil proceedings to those proceedings in which the amount in controversy exceeds $10,000.

Question Four: Election Law Revisions

Shall Election Law 2-102, 2-103, 2-202, 2-202.1, 2-206, 2-301, 2-303, 3-501, 10-302, be amended?

Special Note: Provisions of this legislation would have amended prior legislation providing an early voting option to voters in primary and general elections. The early voting provisions of this legislation have been declared unconstitutional by court action; the remaining provisions of House Bill 1368 that are subject to this referendum are summarized below.

Requires power and duties assigned to the State Board of Elections to be exercised in accordance with an affirmative vote by a supermajority of the members of the State Board; requires local boards of elections to establish new precincts to serve certain higher educational institutions; requires local boards to adopt regulations concerning voter registration and to allow public notice and comment concerning proposed changes in precinct boundaries; requires local boards of elections to make public reports concerning deletion of individuals from the voter registry and concerning the number of voter registration applications received; authorizes the State Elections administrator to take specified actions to ensure compliance with State elections laws by local election boards and personnel, requires that certain provisions of this legislation apply only to certain jurisdictions and will remain effective until June 30, 2008; requires all polling places to be equipped with computers containing a record of all registered voters in the county.

I am still trying to dig into what these ballot questions will actually do. I will post again once I know more, but in the meantime I thought I would throw them up here for you guys to share what you know about them.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Elections Open Thread

Here is something funny that someone put on YouTube:

With less than a week until the election, what do you think of the current state of both the local and national elections? I think all of the metrics are indicating a very big wave nationally (maybe as high as a 55-65 seat pick up in the House and a 5-7 seat pick up in the Senate), but wave years are very hard to predict. Right now I would look to some surprise Democratic pick ups in the West. Locally I don't think I can remember a more depressing election year. Do you have any predictions? What have you been seeing from the candidates? Feel free to discuss both local and national elections.