Howard County Blog

A Blog on what is going on in Howard County

Friday, September 29, 2006

Let the people decide on Council vacancies

Council member Guy Guzzone has filed a bill (Council Bill 79-2006) for introduction on Oct. 3 that would ultimately fill early Council vacancies by election in conjunction with presidential year primaries and general elections. Under his bill, which implements a charter amendment overwhelmingly adopted at referendum in 2004, the relevant Central Committee would continue to fill any vacancy that occurs, but the choice of that Committee would no longer be entitled to sit as a Council member right past the next election and until the end of a four-year term. Instead, the voters of the district in which the vacancy occurred would get to elect their choice.
If all is normal, the hearing on this bill should occur on Monday, Oct. 16. Those who want the person who professes to represent them on the Council to actually be their choice would do well to turn out and testify on that night in the George Howard Building.
Is there any down side to this proposal? I can't think of any.
Sure, the Central Committees would lose some of their existing control over the Council replacement process. But they'd still be able to make the initial choice. But the final choice in the process would be made by vote of the people. Any extra cost would be minimized by holding the vacancy-filling election in conjunction with already existing elections. The will of the people and democracy would be the winner.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Jen Terrasa Candidate For County Council District 3 Has Good Ideas On Route 1 Development

Jen Terrasa, Candidate for Howard County Council District 3, has some good ideas about the development of Route 1 in Howard County. The Route 1 corridor is the place in Howard County where a more urban environment should be created for the county. Route 1 should be the first place where Metro service is brought into the county. It also is the place where smart development should take place by creating multiuse building that combine offices, stores, restaurants and condos-apartments. This "new" downtown could provide the environment where young couples, new families and retirees could live, work and play in the county. Development is coming to the county whether we like it or not, so we need more candidates with vision, like Jen, to move Howard County in the right direction.

Legislative District 13: competitive to a degree

Legislative District 13 (of which I am a constituent) starts in south Elkridge and runs through East Columbia into southeast Howard County and along the border with Montgomery into Highland and Dayton. Democrats run strongly in East Columbia, while Republicans do best in Scaggsville through Dayton and in the Elkridge portion of the district. The precincts in southeast Howard County outside of Columbia can be won by strong candidates of either major party. On paper, it should be a totally Democratic district. But it didn't go that way in 2002.
The surprise winner of the 2002 Senate race in LD13 was Republican Sandra Schrader. She defeated longtime Council member Vernon Gray (who seemed to be regarded as too pro-development and was especially unpopular in the Scaggsville through Dayton part of the district). I'm a student of voting records and Senator Schrader seems plenty conservative to me, but she has thrown enough bones to moderates to make herself at least competitive for reelection in 2006. To win this time, she has to defeat County Executive Jim Robey, who moved into the district to run. He has run well at the polls, both in this district and elsewhere, so Schrader should have her hands full. On the other hand, Robey has no legislative voting record, so anyone interested in issues has to go by what he's done as Executive and what he says.
There was a fairly divisive Democratic primary for the three delegate seats here, but the conclusive winners were Delegate Shane Pendergrass, Council member Guy Guzzone, and Delegate Frank Turner. All should be favored to win in November.
There was no primary for delegate on the Republican side, so their delegate candidates are Mary Beth Tung (who ran best of their three candidates in 2002), Loretta Gaffney (an assistant to Del. Bates and running for the first time), and Pastor Rick Bowers (who is also running for the first time and is reportedly strongly associated with the cause of protecting the traditional marriage relationship between a male and a female). The connection between Pastor Bowers and the DefendMarylandmarriage.com website is documented here:
http://www.exgaywatch.com/blog/archives/2005/02/protecting_mary.html
Divorce would seem to represent a greater threat to the institution of marriage than any kind of union between same sex couples. At any rate, it will be interesting how this issue plays with the voters in this district.
The websites of or information on all eight LD13 candidates are as follows:

http://www.senatorsandyschrader.com/

http://www.robeyforsenate2006.org/

http://www.shanependergrass.com/

http://www.co.ho.md.us/CountyCouncil/Dist3_Bio.htm

http://www.mdarchives.state.md.us/msa/mdmanual/06hse/html/msa12313.html

http://www.marybethtung.com/

http://www.lorettagaffney.com/

http://www.voterickbowers.com/index2.asp

Ellicott City and points west (LD9/Senate and 9A/House of Delegates)

It's surely an uphill struggle for any Democrats attempting to compete with Republicans in western Howard County. A third of Legislative District 9 is in southern Carroll County and the Howard County portion stretches from Ellicott City through Clarksville all the way to Lisbon. Two delegates are elected from LD9A in Howard County and one from LD9B in Carroll.
It's ironic that the three Republican incumbents in the Howard portion were all originally appointed to fill vacancies. Former Council member Allan Kittleman was appointed to the Senate to succeed his deceased father, Bob, who was much respected and had served in both the House and Senate for years. It surely didn't hurt Allan in the past to have that Kittleman name at election times and I don't think it will in the future. When Bob Kittleman was named to replace Chris McCabe in the Senate, Gail Bates got to replace Bob in the House of Delegates on Feb. 4, 2002. Warren Miller was chosen to replace Bob Flanagan (who had been named transportation czar by incoming Gov. Ehrlich) in the House on March 10, 2003. All three are reliably conservative and will be hard to beat in the district that they represent.
Only two Democrats are making the effort in this rather conservative territory. Rich Corkran is running for the Senate in LD9 against Kittleman and winning seems out of the question. Being somewhat competitive should be as good as it gets. In LD9A, Dave Osmundson is running solo against Delegates Bates and Miller. At least, he's not running against a Kittleman.
The websites for the five candidates are as follows:

http://www.kittleman.com/

http://www.corkran4mdsenate.org/

http://www.batesmiller.com/splash.shtm

http://www.ozfor9a.org/

Open Thread

So I went to the Nats game last night and have gotten home very late after 14 innings. Sadly the Nats lost 8 to 7.

Where are your sports loyalties? We live between Baltimore and Washington so I am curious which teams you guys and gals root for?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

LD12 Senate candidates

Legislative District 12 runs from West Columbia through Elkridge into southwest Baltimore County and is split about equally between the two counties. Democratic State Senator Ed Kasemeyer has represented this district (and its predecessors) since January 1995. I wouldn't say he's safe for reelection, but nearly so. He's well-connected with the Senate leadership (such as it is), as can be seen from this source:
http://www.mdarchives.state.md.us/msa/mdmanual/05sen/html/msa12169.html


This year his Republican opponent is Richard Martel Jr. His website, which includes his responses to a Maryland Right to Life questionnaire, is here:
http://www.rickmartel.org/

A sure thing in Legislative District 12B

If you're a betting person, you won't go wrong in betting on the reelection of Delegate Liz Bobo to her fourth term representing the residents of Legislative District 12B (which includes most of liberal Democratic West Columbia and little else). That she's safe for reelection is fine with me, since I agree with her on just about every issue.

The Republicans don't always bother to put up an opponent, but this year their candidate is Christopher Feldwick. Some information on him can be read here:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/metro/elections/2006/maryland/candidates/Christopher_J_Feldwick.html

Delegate Bobo's website is:
http://www.lizbobo.com/

The candidates for Legislative District 12A

Legislative District 12A is mainly in southwest Baltimore County, but it extends into (mainly) Elkridge and Ilchester in Howard County.

Past voting results point to Democratic Delegate Jim Malone, who is running for his fourth term and is currently vice-chair of the Environmental Matters Committee, winning one of the two delegate seats in LD12A. The probability is that it'll be either the one term incumbent Steve DeBoy or Republican challenger Joe Hooe, who ran four years ago and came close, who wins the second one. The other Republican, Albert Nalley, is making his first run for this office and should have more of a name recognition problem than the others. Here are the websites of the four candidates.

http://friendsofmalone.com/

http://www.stevedeboy.com/index.php

http://www.joehooe.org/

http://www.alnalley.com/

Delegates Malone and DeBoy also have voting records, with which I am somewhat familiar and by which they can be judged. Much of the information about those records can be found at the state legislature's website: www.mlis.state.md.us

Tot Lots After Dark

HayDuke has flippant post on this subject.

Personally I think the idiots who cannot use the trash can should be ashamed of themselves and their friends should knock some sense into them, so they don't ruin the use of the playground for others.

Democratic Central Committee

Sadly, Tony McGuffin, the chair of the Howard County Democratic Central Committee resigned from the central committee this week. Michael McPherson was elected the new chair. I hope that the current members of the central committee will continue and work to build on Tony’s hard work to develop strong local Democratic Clubs and a precinct organization.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Downtown Columbia Redevelopment Focus Group

The final Downtown Columbia Redevelopment Focus Group happened this afternoon. Use this thread to share your thoughts about the downtown Columbia development plans or the focus group.

One of the items discussed at today's focus group was the proposal to extend Wincopin Street south through the Hug Statue Park and over the top edge of the grass amphitheater at the Lakefront.

You can find out more about this proposal and the problems with it here.

This proposal to extend Wincopin Street south has been one of the most persistent elements the Department of Planning and Zoning have stuck with despite repeated input from the community and focus group members that this extension was not needed and would destroy some of the best community gathering areas in Howard County.

Well, as long time readers of this blog know, there is a way to solve this problem and still allow the developers to make a huge profit.


Here is a re-post of that solution for Wincopin South:


OK as I have listened to the community over the last couple of months I have heard a number of concerns about the current plan that could be fixed by a creative solution so I wanted to throw it out for discussion. Though some of these concerns on their own are not some people top concerns I do think the plan would be better if they were addressed. Here are the particular concerns that this particular solution would address:

1) Wincopin Street South cutting through the Hug Statue Park and over the top edge of the grass amphitheater



2) The elevation drop from the Mall/Merriweather area to the Lakefront that makes walkability difficult




3) The main walking axis being through the Mall


4) The phasing of the plan
5) The lack of small retail places heavily subsidized and available to artists, craftsmen, and musicians
6) The lack of workforce housing
7) What happens to the economic draw to the Lakefront while Clyde’s is gone if they renovate or tear down the CA Building?
8) How do we make sure we get amenities before we give away everything the developer wants?

Answering this last question goes to the issue of building trust back into the process. It is pretty clear to me that trust is gone from the process because of General Growth behavior thus far and the approval of the 22 story Tower, which robbed the community of the believe the government would stand on their side, while also proving that developers left to do what they want don’t - despite everything Dick Talkin says during the focus groups – look out for the communities interests.

OK so what is the solution to these concerns? It is to have the first part of downtown to be built be on the current Spear Center parking lot and have what is built there be an elevation transition building that serves as a South Lake Pavilion and then turn Wincopin Street South into a pedestrian only street. I know that is not very clear so let me walk you through the parts:


1) The elevation drop from the Mall/Merriweather area to the Lakefront is very steep and thus not very walkable. In Wellington, New Zealand they have parallel roads that are 3 stories higher than each other. To address this they use a cascade of shops inside buildings like Gallery Place at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor to transition people from one level to the next. If we built a similar building on the current parking lot south of the Spear Center and make it a South Lake Pavilion modeled in content after Faneuil Hall in Boston or Pike Place Market in Seattle, then we create an elevation transition building that will transition people from the end of Corporate Boulevard to the Lakefront and added an economic draw to the Lakefront that will keep the Lakefront alive during any remodeling of the CA Building.


2) This new South Lake Pavilion, combined with some (maybe 20%) residential in Corporate Boulevard creates an east-west axis that complements the Mall to Merriweather Promenade and thus makes the main east-west axis not be through the Mall. We could even make Corporate Boulevard into a new Main Street.



3) At the end of this new Main Street would be a giant arched entry to the South Lake Pavilion that would then have a cascade of shops leading down to the Lakefront with a giant glass wall looking out at the lake. On one of the mid-levels would be an exit on the north side leading to a pedestrian only boulevard leading to the Hug Statue Park lined on the side away from the lake by cafes, restaurants, and small retail places heavily subsidized and available to artists, craftsmen, and musicians in 4 to 6 story buildings maybe looking like this:



4) North of the Hug Statue Park Wincopin Street would start.

5) In the area off of Little Patuxent Parkway would be a free public parking garage for this area with a walkway from the parking to the walking boulevard like downtown Silver Spring has. On top of the parking will be some office space and residential units so that the combined height of the structure is 8 to 10 stories and the upper stories are staggered enough away from the lake to ensure the lake and the walking boulevard are not crowded by tall buildings.


6) The residential units above the parking and maybe even some on the upper stories of the South Lake Pavilion could include some units that are co-rented with retail space on the walking boulevard and in the pavilion so that the owners, managers, or workers in the shops can live near work at an affordable price. These units would be sprinkled in with other non shop-connected units whose cost reflects the full range of incomes in the county.

7) Walking bridges over Little Patuxent Parkway could connect a building in the Main Street zone and another near the Mall with this area.

Having this project done as the first part of the redevelopment of downtown provides the community with a nice pedestrian friendly area with small shops and workforce housing up front and it removes any need to run a road through the Hug Statue Park and over the top edge of the grass amphitheater. It also addresses the elevation transition between the Mall/Merriweather area and the Lakefront. It adds economic draws to the Lakefront and it creates a focal point of economic activity for future development to work out from down the new Main Street, up the Lakefront, down to the walking bridge over Rt. 29, and around the apartments near the Central Library to the Crescent zone. It also has the added plus of starting on an area that does not require tearing down any buildings first.

I know this plan doesn’t solve all of the concerns with downtown Columbia. Personally one of my top concerns – having mixed income housing throughout – is not solved by it, nor is the traffic flow problem north of the Mall. However it does address some of the other concerns out there and might be part of the solution to many of these problems.

Let me know what you think.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Voting Machine Hacking

Princeton University recently released a very study on the easy of commiting election fraud by hacking the Diebold computerized voting machines we use here in Maryland. Here were their keep findings:

1. Malicious software running on a single voting machine can steal votes with little if any risk of detection. The malicious software can modify all of the records, audit logs, and counters kept by the voting machine, so that even careful forensic examination of these records will find nothing amiss. We have constructed demonstration software that carries out this vote-stealing attack.

2. Anyone who has physical access to a voting machine, or to a memory card that will later be inserted into a machine, can install said malicious software using a simple method that takes as little as one minute. In practice, poll workers and others often have unsupervised access to the machines.

3. AccuVote-TS machines are susceptible to voting-machine viruses—computer viruses that can spread malicious software automatically and invisibly from machine to machine during normal pre- and postelection activity. We have constructed a demonstration virus that spreads in this way, installing our demonstration vote-stealing program on every machine it infects.

4. While some of these problems can be eliminated by improving Diebold’s software, others cannot be remedied without replacing the machines’ hardware. Changes to election procedures would also be required to ensure security.

You can go read their full analysis here and finds more background here.

Delegate Liz Bobo -- who was one of the leading champions of the voter verified paper trail bill that passed the House of Delegates unanimously and would have created a way to determine in election machines were tampered with -- will be speaking Tuesday, September 26th at 7pm at the Democracy for Howard County meeting at Elkridge Library about voting machine issues.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Howard County Maps

If you want to find all of the cool maps I have been using of council and legislative districts and precincts you can go here. Click on "Maps Home" in the upper right corner and then click on "Map Gallery". There are also great maps of the school districts and Columbia's Villages there too.

Blogging and Traditional Politics

Blogging is an irreverent format where any citizen can say what they want. We bloggers and blog commenters say what is on our minds and have a tendency to speak the truth to power. This may sometimes create a culture shock when bloggers interact with politicians that are new to the format. We welcome and encourage politicians to come to blogs and engage in a discussion with voters. Blogs provide a great opportunity for politicians to side step traditional filters in the media and interest groups and engage voters directly. This opportunity to directly communicate to voters is something politicians all over the country have been taking advantage of to get their message out and get input on their ideas, but it is very new to our candidates in Howard County. In my irreverent blogging manner I added the line "(Remember we can search your financial reports and it looks worse to lie and get catch. If you want to be on the safe side you can answer for each of your biggest contributors.)" to question 5 of the County Council/County Exec questions of the Bloggers Candidate Forum. My fellow bloggers thought I didn't need to say this because it was stating something the candidates already new and frankly I should have listened to them, but I went ahead and included it anyway. I have decided that they were right and am going to take the line "Remember we can search your financial reports and it looks worse to lie and get catch." out of the questions listed below. It does not change the question and I hope it removes an excuse that at least one candidate wanted to use not to participate. The pluses for candidates to participate and engage directly with voters without their words being filtered far outweigh the culture clash of bloggers irreverent words and traditional politics.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Counting the Votes

So as we all know our primary election in Maryland was a mess. There still isn’t a final result for the Democratic primary in Maryland’s 4th Congressional District, where Congressman Al Wynn is only ahead by about 2900 votes with thousands of provisional ballots yet to be counted in Montgomery County and massive irregularities in the turning in of the Prince George’s County voting machines (including a truckload of machines and memory cards arriving 21 hours after the polls closed on September 12):

So with voting irregularities in Al Wynn’s base in Prince George’s County he had the follow exchange with Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) during a House committee meeting Tuesday:


BARTON: Down in Texas, we had a Democratic primary about 50 years ago that Lyndon Johnson won by 54 votes. And he got the nickname "Landslide Lyndon." We have Mr. Wynn next. He had a little bit of a tussle last week, but he did win. And so, I want to recognize "Landslide Wynn" for any opening statement that he wishes...
WYNN: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. In fact, they're still counting, but we're quite optimistic. And I did take a couple pages out of Lyndon's book, so if I win, it can be attributed to Texas know-how.
(LAUGHTER)
(UNKNOWN): Did you (inaudible)?
BARTON: I hope not. I hope you win fair and square.
(LAUGHTER)
WYNN: A win is a win.


For the record Lyndon Johnson stole the 1948 Texas Democratic Primary by 87 votes not the 54 votes Joe Barton thinks, but even the notion that someone would say they took “a couple pages out of Lyndon's book” and “A win is a win” regardless of whether it is “fair and square” should be sending up warning flags to everyone. There will always be politicians like Mr. Wynn who will try to commit fraud to say in power, but the problem is made worst by our current voting machines that make it a lot easier for elections to be stolen. With paper ballots the stealing of elections takes more manpower and leaves a trail of forensic evidence that can be tracked back as was done with Lyndon Johnson’s stealing of the 1948 primary. With computer voting that does not include a voter verified paper trail there is no way to know how or if a vote is recorded as a voter cast it.


Delegate Liz Bobo got a bill to require a voter verified paper trail unanimously passed by the House of Delegates, but it was blocked through legislative maneuvering by state Senators Paula Hollinger and Mike Miller.


As noted below Delegate Bobo will be speaking on this issue at the Democracy for Howard County meeting next Tuesday, September 26th at 7pm at Elkridge Library.


Also if you want more info on Lyndon Johnson’s stealing of the 1948 primary a great history of it can be found in Robert A. Caro’s Means of Ascent, which is one of the best political campaign history ever written. The Howard County Public Libraries have a copy unabridged on booktape (with all of my driving I am a big fan of the libraries great collection of unabridged booktapes).

Tuesday, October 24th Calvin Ball at the Elkridge Library Hosted by Democracy for Howard County

Tuesday, October 24th at 7:00 pm Democracy for Howard County will have as guest speaker Calvin Ball, County Councilman for Howard County District 2. Councilman Ball will speak about Community Revitalization. The meeting will be held at the Elkridge Library. This is an opportunity for the community to discuss with Councilman Ball how Howard County can maintain its high quality of life as we move into the future. Democracy for Howard County always provides refreshments (pizza, snacks and drinks) at their meetings, so they appreciate an RSVP from those who plan to attend. I hope to see all of you there!

Democracy for Howard County is part of Democracy for America.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Precinct Level Results

Board of Education candidate Allen Dyer leads by example yet again. Allen went over to the Board of Elections and bought all of the precinct level returns for $25 and then because he believes making government information transparent and available to citizens he has posted all of the returns online. You can find them on his website here.

This is a great public service and I agree with David Wissing it would be nice if the Board of Elections would actually put this info up on their website.

Whatever you want to say about Allen, he challenges the status quo and leads through his actions to change policies he thinks are bad. Personally, I think the school board needs someone like Allen on it challenging conventional wisdom and always probing for improvements to the system. Having a person like Allen on the board will push the board to think through things they otherwise would not.

Thanks again Allen!

Update: I will start crunching the numbers over the weekend.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

School Board Election Open Thread

I went to a School Board candidate forum at Glenwood Library hosted by the West Howard County Democratic Club tonight. All of the candidates, other that Roger Lerner, were there. I am interested in hearing your thoughts on the race and which candidates you like and why. As you know I strongly think Di Zou would be a great addition to the board and I found it interesting that Di was the only candidate to mention the need for vo-tech in his opening remarks.

So for those who were at the candidate forum, what did you think? For everyone else what do you think the needs of the school system are? Which candidates are speaking to the issues you care about?

County Exec Race

So I have been processing the number from last week’s primary and I noticed that the numbers are much worse for Ken Ulman than even the 21.4% for Harry Dunbar might indicate. Those numbers don’t count the number of Dems who chose not to vote in the county exec race. Often this is done as a protest vote in non-competitive primaries to send a message to candidates that voters are concerned with the presumed nominee. In this case 27,295 Democrats voted in the primary with the vote breakdown being:

Harry Dunbar: 5,256

Ken Ulman: 19,295

No Vote: 2,744

This means that 8,000 Democrats (an amazingly round number) chose not to vote for Ken Ulman out of the 27,295 that made the effort to go vote last Tuesday. Doing the math that means that 29.3% chose not to vote for Ken.

If Ken doesn’t recognize the danger he faces in these numbers he is less smart than I have always thought he was. Ken needs to stop running a front porch campaign and start convincing voters he is listening to their concerns and has a record he is proud of. Lucky for Ken he and other candidates have a great opportunity to do this in the Bloggers Candidates Forum, which will be a way candidates can engage with voters directly, unfiltered by the media. All candidates’ responses will be posted in full and unedited and there is no limit on length. Any voter can then comment on those responses and post their own questions that the candidates can then answer. I hope candidates and voters take advantage of this opportunity.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Open Thread

Well we just had a busy week of politics, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get your thoughts on what happened last week, what you want to know from the candidates that made it through the primaries, and looking ahead what issues do you want the next county council, state legislature, and congress to deal with? As always Open Threads are a great place for you to comment on what matters to you.

I am also currious about:
1) What do you think of the Bloggers Candidates Forum Questions that are posted below?

2) Who went to see Jon Stewart at Merriweather on Saturday and what did you think? I was out on the lawn and had a blast.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

School Board

So my pre-primary guess was correct that Di Zou and Peter Sola were on the cusp of making it into the General Election. Di made it, but Peter didn’t. Of course the sample ballot mess with them miss-spelling Peter Sola’s name didn’t help.

Our choices in the General Election are to pick which 5 of the following will make the best combination on the Board of Education:

Frank Aquino
Larry Cohen
Allen Dyer
Sandi French
Ellen Flynn Giles
Pat Gordon
Josh Kaufman
Roger Lerner
Janet Siddiqui
Di Zou

I am really looking forward to seeing their responses to out Bloggers Candidates Forum questions.

What are your thoughts on the School Board race?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Bloggers Candidates Forum Questions

The questions for the Bloggers Candidates Forum were sent out yesterday to the candidates who made it into the General Election. So you, our faithful readers and commenters, can know what to look forward to below are the questions we came up with. Let me know what you think. I am also curious if you can guess who wrote which questions. The candidates have until October 1st to give their response. We will then post their responses unedited and both you and us can comment on and discuss their answers.

County Council and County Exec Candidates

1) Name one parcel of land in your district that you think is an example of poorly designed development and explain what is wrong with it and what changes you would have required to approve it if you had been on the Zoning Board when it was approved? (County Exec candidates should answer for the County Council district they live in.)

2) What do you think the county’s rural preservation program should try to achieve?

3) Why are you a member of the political party that you are a member of?

4) Do you support your party’s nominee for governor? If so, why? If not, why not?

5) Explain how you got to know your biggest political contributor? How often do you communicate with your biggest political contributor? (If you want to be on the safe side you can answer for each of your biggest contributors.)

6) Do you support the county council’s decision to pass the comp-lite legislation? Why or why not? If you were a member of the county council that passed comp-lit legislation please explain your vote. Do you support the comp-lite referendum? Why or why not?

7) Do you support an end to the surcharge of $1.00 per square foot on new construction that has been created to fund school construction? Why or why not?

8) Do you support cutting any residential taxes (property or income)? If so, which and how would you pay for it. If not, why?

9) Do you believe that the county should build a new government complex? Why or Why not? How would you fund such a project?

10) Do you think County Council members should personally intervene in zoning cases in order to influence their outcome?

11) Would you pass legislation implementing the county charter amendment that passed in 2004 that allowed the county council to establish a procedure to hold special elections in conjunction with the Presidential year elections to fill vacancies on the County Council that occur in the two years between the County Council elections and the elections in the Presidential year?

12) Do you have any proposal in mind that would provide adequate housing for low income people in the county? If so, what is it?

13) Do you support tax money going to pay for the busing of kids to non-public schools?

14) Do you favor using zoning regulations to try to restrict or curtail freedom of expression for establishments some people allege are indecent or should be X-rated?

15) Do you support moving the Savage Library?

16) Would you pass a law guaranteeing that all land that is counted towards open space requirements be open civic space accessible for all Howard County residents to use for voter registration, communication, and political assembly?

State Legislative Candidates

1) What are your positions on particular items regarding Election Day reforms for the state of Maryland? Specifically, please address the issues of early voting, voter identification at the polls using photo ID or documentation, and a voter verified paper trail for all votes cast.

2) Would you support or oppose a bill that would alter the current rate plan to allow citizens to "opt out" of the rate plan recently passed by the General Assembly and allow them to pay the full cost of the increase in energy costs each month to avoid paying interest charges?

3) Why are you a member of the political party that you are a member of?

4) Beyond funds for children with special needs whose education cannot be adequately provided for in our public schools, do you favor public funding of non-public schools in any way? If so, in what way?

5) Do you favor additional restrictions on or loosening restrictions on the right of a woman to choose abortion?

6) Now that emergency contraceptives are available to adults, would you favor making them also available to minors? If not, would you prefer that minor females who become pregnant be (a) required to give birth or (b) permitted to choose abortion on their own?

7) Do you favor a statewide smoking ban in restaurants, bars and places of employment?

8) What is your opinion on laws regarding handguns and assault weapons bans?

9) Do you favor relaxing handgun laws in the state of Maryland? Please explain your answer.

10) Do you favor some degree of public funding of statewide and legislative campaigns in Maryland? If so, please explain.

11) As a way to make campaign contributions more transparent, would you favor requiring that contributions by associated entities or subsidiaries of controlling entities be listed as coming from the controlling entities?

12) Currently, there is a scholarship program unique to Maryland under which state senators (especially) and delegates get to provide scholarships in their name to prospective students. Would you support ending this program and turning the associated funds over to a state unit for dispersal according to non-political or non-partisan standards? If not, how would you handle the public funds you would be allowed to dispense under this program?

13) Would you pass legislation to establish a procedure to hold special elections in conjunction with the Presidential year elections to fill legislative vacancies that occur in the two years between legislative elections and the elections in the Presidential year?

14) Do favor some additional regulation of publicly-necessary utilities (such as the ones that provide electricity) so as to prevent de facto monopoly situations that can lead to unaffordable high rates for some users? Why or why not? Would you support some form of publicly-owned and operated utilities?

15) Do you support slots in Maryland? Why or why not? If you support slots in Maryland where would you locate them?

16) Do you support an end to the surcharge of 1.00 per square foot on new construction that has been created by the Howard County State Delegation as an alternative to an increase to the County Transfer Tax to fund school construction? Why or why not?

School Board Candidates

1) Are standardized tests an adequate measure of student performance on the most important skills students should develop in school? If so, how so? If not, why not?

2) What is a school system policy that needs changing? How would you change it?

3) Rank order in value of importance what you want a student to have when they leave the school system (1 being the highest importance and 8 being the lowest. If an item is one the school system should not provide give it a zero.):
a) ability to recall facts they were taught
b) have an appreciation for the great books and thinkers throughout history
c) communication skills
d) research skills
e) respect for authority
f) critical thinking skills
g) an understanding that actions have consequences
h) ability to assess the credibility of sources of information

4) Rank order which of the following most effectively promotes learning (1 being the highest importance and 10 being the lowest. If an item doesn’t promote learning give it a zero.):
a) field trips
b) music instruction
c) a dress code
d) clubs and non-athletic after-school extracurriculars
e) sports
f) foreign language trips overseas
g) mentorship/internship opportunities in potential fields of employment
h) practice standardized tests
i) student presentations
j) assigned seats

5) Which of the following should be allowed on school grounds? (selected as many or a few as you want)
a) prayer meetings
b) handing out of condoms
c) a gay/lesbian/bisexual student group
d) low riding jeans
e) girls tops with spaghetti string shoulder straps
f) student run civic or political club
g) teaching of evolution
h) distribution of non-school or non-governmental literature (i.e. literature from the Boy Scouts, church groups, etc.)

6) Do you support or oppose including the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance (including the phrase "under God") as part of the official school day?

7) What is the scientific method?

8) Excluding the current president who were America’s five best presidents and who were America’s five worst presidents? For each give up to five bullet point reasons why.

9) What five books or thinkers most influenced your thinking? How did they do so?

10) What five movies best encompass the American experience and how would you use them to teach a course on American history?

11) What book on the approved reading list of the school system is one you would enjoy teaching? Develop three topics for papers related to the book you would assign to assess students critical thinking skills.

12) Do you support an end to the surcharge of $1.00 per square foot on new construction that has been created by the Howard County State Delegation as an alternative to an increase to the County Transfer Tax to fund school construction? Why or why not?

13) How do you think the school board should address technology purchases/upgrades to avoid problems such as what occurred with the Student Management System software?

14) Do you support attempts in the 2006 General Assembly to reform eminent domain? Why or Why not?

15) Do you support state takeovers of schools if the state feels a school is failing? Why or why not?

County Council District 2

Calvin Ball won:

Ball, Calvin____2854_____66.45%
Sachs, Adam____1441____33.55%

Let’s hope Adam Sach’s idea of making the Zoning Board be appointed and thus less accountable to the voters of Howard County is dead. I know he had good intentions, but he really didn't think that one through. The only result would have been less public imput and less accountability.

County Council District 4

Mary Kay Sigaty wins. Surprisingly, though this is really tough for Josh and Jess who are old friends of mine, I think this might actually help Ken Ulman’s election. I have over the past months heard from a lot of people that they wanted to make sure there would be checks and balances in county government and they thought that to have both Josh and Ken in there the council would be too close to the executive. I think a lot of people will be more comfortable with Ken as county executive with Mary Kay on the council holding Ken’s feet to the fire. A weird twist I know. I am sure Josh will land on his feet and I am sure we him stay involved in Howard County issues.

Josh Feldmark _____2865 ____44.85%
Mary Kay Sigaty _____3429 _____53.68%
UNCommon _____ 94 ____1.47%

County Council District 5

Well that was a nasty Republican primary. This is a very Republican district so Greg Fox is probably pretty happy today, but any Livesay supporters still have the option of voting for a true west county champion in Don Dunn.

Adams, James C. _____177 _____4.10%
Fox, Greg ______2582 _____59.84%
Livesay, Wayne _____1556 _____36.06%


What are your thoughts on this primary?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Precinct Level Data

I just spoke with a nice lady at the Board of Elections and she said they will not have precinct level data for a couple days (maybe not until Sept 22), so I guess our analysis of the data will have to wait until then. Sorry not to provide the level of service I had hoped to last night :(

Last Nights Fun

Just to give you an idea of what we were up against in trying to get precinct results last night:



For the couple precincts we did get the results for we had strips like these for each voting machine that we had to go through, add up the machines for that precinct and then post. Many precincts had 7 plus machines. Not quite what I had expected and one of the major reasons things ended up going VERY slowly.

Thanks HayDuke for the photo.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Post Mortem on Live Blogging the Results

So the precinct results did not come into the Democratic Party's primary night party like they did last election. I will try to find and fill out the results tomorrow. When 5-17 a precinct Ken Ulman won in 2002 came in strong for Sigaty (and they were the only full precinct returns for that district that came into the party all night) I had a pretty strong feeling she would win and she did. The slate won in District 13. More tomorrow. Sorry this live blogging didn't work out as well as I had hoped.

Sadly the Board of Elections didn't fare any better (and you could say even worse). Here is a screen shot of what their website was posting on their "Results Page" well after midnight:


So the search for a good way to get quick local primary results continues...

WJZ and WBAL have some state and local results, but not county council, school board or central committee. As of right now the number of precincts reporting in some of these races still leaves the results very much in doubt. Voting machine problems in Montgomery County and Baltimore City have created a tremendous mess. I think it will take some time to sort out the real winners. In the meantime, let us put returning to marking our votes on durable (cardboardish heavy bond) paper like the machines we use to use so successfully in Howard County. The firing of Linda Lamone and the return to paper ballots should be the first order of business of the state legislature when their next session starts.

P.S. Add to the lessons learned from live blogging: HayDuke is a lot faster typer than me. While I spent two hours formating precinct maps on my blog and trying to find any results to report, HayDuke was giving a great running update of the fog of election night, including some great pictures.

House of Delegates District 13 Results

District 13 maps (finally!)

Precinct numbers are coming in slow. Hopefully we will have more in next half hour!









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Precinct 1-2









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Total44128152121119


Precinct 5-19









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Precinct 5-22









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Precinct 6-1









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Precinct 6-2









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Precinct 6-8









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Precinct 6-9









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Precinct 6-10









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2006
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Total63232293195276


Precinct 6-11









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Precinct 6-12









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00


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2006
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