Monday, July 30, 2007

Don't Count Your Chickens: Economic Development

The Mayor wants to create a Department of Economic Development, which would upgrade the operation from its current status as the Office of Economic Development, which is contained within the Mayor's Office.

I do not recall this ordinance coming up for a vote, but I don't think it did, and it has not appeared on the agenda for a vote since it was up for public hearing.

The point is, Economic Development is still an office and not a department. Yet, here is what the sign says on the door:

Does the city know that they are living a lie? Do they know, and just not care??

Although I cannot state with certainty the reasoning behind this, it is a typical result for the city. The laws don't seem to matter. The fact that certain laws and rules exist is a nuisance to the mayor--she will obey them if it's convenient but if not, oh well.

"Those laws are really hard and time-consuming....I'll just do what I want," I imagine her saying.

Enough about this...let's get to the meat of the debate.

We do not even need an office of economic development, and we definitely do not need to make it bigger. I don't care that other cities and counties have such departments; it doesn't matter, they don't belong.

Here is what the economic development office does, and would do on a bigger basis if it could:

-try to increase business opportunities in the city
-give out money to try and do the above thing
-try to promote minority business opportunities
-administer the sister city program

Question: What, in the name of higher taxes, does economic development have to do with the sister city program?

Answer: The mayor can appoint a major campaign contributor and/or friend to be the department head, then pay that person $115,000 per year and fly that person around the world to visit all of our sister cities. It is a mechanism for political favors.

Question Asker: Oh.

And that's that. Moving on, we do not need a department of economic development because the private market will take care of this just fine. An infinite number of market forces determine where a particular type of businesses will open. If an entrepreneur thinks he/she can make money in Annapolis, he/she will try and do it. This process is repeated trillions of times throughout history, and this leads us to the businesses we have now. The city is hopelessly foolish and arrogant if it thinks that it can do better than the private market.

There is, in fact, one argument in favor of an office of economic development that holds some water. You could say:

"Ah-ha, AP, you think you know it all--the private market only works if there is perfect information. Even if Annapolis would lead to profits for businesses, they might not know about it because they could not possibly know all of our laws or opportunities, and they might not even know us at all. The economic development does what a good government should--they eliminate an information problem and therefore correct a market failure."

and you would have a valid point. But you would be ultimately incorrect. The private market almost always gets it right. Even IF the department could have this benefit, it does not justify the downside.

So what is the downside? Mainly, it's that the government operates as a for-profit entity. Private for-profit businesses make investments based on risk and expected rate of return. Some of these investments succeed, and some fail.

The same can be said for the department of economic development. Their grants to minority businesses, subsidies, incentives, etc.--these are all SPECULATIVE INVESTMENTS in certain businesses, no different than a venture capital firm. THE DIFFERENCE IS, THE OFFICE OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DOES THIS WITH YOUR MONEY. This is not the role of government. There is a horrible equity problem here. The government is favoring a select few businesses as the expense of the many--at the expense of the citizens.

The best possible thing that could result from a Department of Economic Development is a successful business a few years before it would have otherwise been. The worst things that could happen include government-supported inequity, market distortions, businesses that would not succeed without government support, and worthy entrepreneurs that are put out of business because they cannot compete with the select few businesses that receive government help.

Here is how you spur economic development:
-Lower taxes on businesses, and on residents so they can spend more at these businesses
-Streamline the permitting process
-Sit back and smoke a cigar, because the private market will do the rest

Even if you want the government to promote minority opportunities, you can do this through planning and zoning.

Summary: Economic Development Departments = unnecessary.

Canton Gets It Right

Thanks to Capital Punishment for this heads up:

The Baltimore Sun ran an article today about the problem with bar-goers in Canton (a neighborhood in Baltimore).

Here's some of what they had to say:

Verbal sparring between the bars and neighborhood has been going on since at least 2001, according to city documents.

Residents' complaints are plenty: beer bottles through car windows, blocked streets, fights, screaming and drunken driving.

Sound familiar? Yes, these are the same things we are debating here, regarding the 2 am licences. And the solution they came up with.........

Residents and bar-goers on Boston Street will see new faces - and more police uniforms - in Canton this week. Two off-duty police officers will begin patrolling the nearby Northshore at Canton townhouse community Wednesday.

I think it is fair to say that the residents of Canton care just as much about quality of life as we do. Yet, they did not try to further legislate bars--THEY WORKED WITH THE BARS TO DEVELOP A SOLUTION THAT WOULD BENEFIT THE WHOLE COMMUNITY. THEY WORKED TOGETHER TO ADDRESS THE ACTUAL PROBLEM.

The residents and businesses in Canton should be applauded, and imitated.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Pay for Work

(Crossposted on Maryland Politics)

A recent post by Brian Griffiths asked what could possibly be wrong with cutting 1000 vacant state jobs as a way to reduce the budget deficit.

One thing is wrong: they shouldn't stop there. Today's Capital reports:

Recently, House Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Annapolis, said the legislature will look at cutting up to 1000 of the estimated 1,965 state job vacancies currently funded.

Am I a fool for thinking that ALL of the vacant jobs should be cut? Better yet, if vacant positions remain funded, where does this money go?

I own a business, and I can tell you that I will pay precisely nobody that does not work for the business. As taxpayers, we are owners of, and participants in, the government. Is the above request too much for us to ask?

2 AM Licenses: Solve the Problem, Not the Not-Problem

AP is slightly worried about a beat-the-dead-horse situation with another post on 2 am licenses, but this recent letter to the editor shows many of my arguments, all in one convenient location. There will be less frequent commentary than usual, so as to better display the flow of the letter, and the mistakes of logic.

Here we go:

Regarding a letter on liquor licenses:

The residents of Acton's Landing will soon witness the problems outlined in the letter. When I lived on South Street:

-My car was vandalized.

-Two of our vehicles were damaged by a hit-and-run driver.

-Seven cars on Charles Street had their windshields damaged late one night.

-Our neighbors had to clean condoms off their yards.

-Beer bottles were left on the sidewalk.

-Rowdy revelers returned to their cars late at night.

-Drunks relieved themselves against the wall of our abode (and on a driver from Reliable Cab Co.)

Everyone agrees that these things are problems. But here is where the reasoning in this letter starts to go array:

To solve these problems:

-Bartenders should not continue to serve drunken patrons.

Or, people could exercise SELF, REPEAT SELF-restraint and not drink themselves silly. Even so, many (if not most) bartenders are required to take alcohol training classes such as TIPS or TAM to help them identify recklessly intoxicated patrons. The main point remains: it is YOUR responsibility to monitor and maintain an acceptable level of sobriety for YOURSELF.

-Alcohol should not be served past midnight on weeknights. (If, however, one establishment gets a 2 a.m. license, they all should!)

I could not disagree and agree with you more! Let's start with the 'agree'. You are correct: if one gets it, all should get it. The planning commission, however, expressly stated that equity is not one of their goals! Go figure. Now for the 'disagree'. You say that a solution to the above problems is to move back bar closing times to midnight, and further distinguish weeknights from weekends. What problem does this solve? Seriously, how does changing hours of operation affect any of these things. I ponder:

-Does it matter what time your car gets vandalized?

-Are hit-and-run accidents time sensitive?

-Is it better to clean condoms off your yard on weekends than on weekdays?

-Do drunk revelers urinate less at midnight than at 2 am?

Answer: HELL NO! The point is: the time doesn't matter. All of these things are already against the law. Changing the closing times of bars is largely arbitrary and irrelevant. If PEOPLE behaved appropriately, perhaps because they knew they would be fined or go to jail if they were caught doing any of the things you mentioned, bars could theoretically be open 24/7.

Should we ban cars because people speed? Should we ban the internet because people use it to steal identities? Should we abolish our entire government because Congressmen are involved in scandals? NO!!! Get it? It's the PEOPLE that are the problem!

Also, the residential parking regulations are backward. Non-residents can park in residential districts for two hours during the day, but all night starting around 8 p.m. There should be parking only for residents, or guests for whom parking passes have been purchased, from 5 p.m. to 9 a.m.

Agreed. Residents work during the day and need their spots at night. But let's be honest--the city does not want to take the effort to coordinate parking enforcement outside of their business hours.

Here's an idea: fully staff the police department, then have the extra officers ENFORCE the public intoxication laws and the parking laws at night! Agreed? Ok. Great.

Also, people, you gotta remember that 3 types of people need to park downtown: residents, workers, and consumers. Downtown has the uniquely charming aspect of having residential areas next to business areas--that's why they call it DOWN-TOWN. You have to share the space with businesses and patrons. If you don't want to, move out of the middle of the town.

Just because Acton's Landing is about five blocks from Main Street, that doesn't mean it isn't affected by drunken patrons. As long as the law's aren't enforced, the revelers will continue to annoy.
CARYL P. WEISS, Annapolis

Exactly perfectly correct!!!!! Let me repeat that last sentence:

As long as the law's aren't enforced, the revelers will continue to annoy.

You have just wiped out your entire letter and supported my point in one single sentence. You said, if the current laws are not enforced, nothing will change. In other words, IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT TIME BARS CLOSE!!! Enforcement, enforcement! If this doesn't happen, nothing else matters. The fact that many citizens and elected officials do not understand this threatens to cause unnecessary harm and hardship to local business-owners.

So much for lightening up on the commentary.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Hire More Police!

Friday's Capital gave an outstandingly useful update on the city police officer shortage--one that shed light on a situation that, quite frankly, confused AP.

The mayor has pointed out that the pay and benefits for starting Annapolis Police Officers is generally higher than other jurisdictions. My brain, reflecting numerous years of study in economics, determined that if this were the case either one of two things was true:

1. There should be no shortage of police officers.

2. The utility (compensation plus non-monetary aspects of the job) was so horrible in Annapolis that officers would take lower paying jobs in other jurisdictions.

AP was baffled, as seemingly being an officer in Annapolis is roughly same as anywhere else, and there is a shortage of 22 officers as a matter of fact.

But I forgot to think about the political factors--I forgot to think about the whole freegin' point of this whole freegin' blog. As The Capital reports: has been nearly a year since the city has administered a written exam for people interested in becoming officers. The exam is generally considered the first step in the hiring process.

Ha! Incredible! You might as well offer a $1,000,000 starting salary--if they don't offer the entrance exam, there will be no new officers!! Holy guacamole, I'm all over this one.

The Moyer administration, through an email distributed by the public information officer, took the opportunity to give their take on the issue. I am now going to present you, the interested citizen and/or crime victim, various quotes from city officials so you can observe their thinking.

The drill:
their quotes: bold.
my excellent commentary: normal font.

City leaders contend they've hired more officers than the previous administration and are working to coordinate funding and room in academies in surrounding jurisdictions.

I didn't realize that how well crime is prevented is determined by the number of officers you hired in the past. The city, oddly enough, does not have a police academy. But, the city charter--granted in 1708--provided for the appointment of "constables and other necessary officers". In all this time of having a police department and not having a police academy, you mean to tell me the city has still not figured out how to coordinate funding and room in surrounding academies? They already found office space for the Department of Economic Development--AND THE CHARTER AMENDMENT TO CREATE THE DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT HAS NOT EVEN BEEN PASSED YET.

And while Detective Lee said he and other officers are continually questioned by people interested in joining the force, he doesn't know what to tell them.

Remember this...I'll get back to it.

Sgt. James Scott, the head recruitment officer for Annapolis police, said normally an exam would have been given in November and again in March. But he was told the funds were unavailable until the new budget kicked in this year.

OMG, in last year's budget, $96,000 was allotted for:

"Contract services: cost for on-line benefits program, Union & legal negotiations, employee physicals, psychological tests for police, Medical lab pre-employment & mandated CDS tests."

Folks, I am not making this stuff up. I have a hard copy of the budget if you would like to see it.

WHERE DID THIS MONEY GO??????????????????.....?

He said the cost depends on the number of applicants. He said he typically will get as many as 150 or 200 applications to take the exam.

Remember this too.

She (acting Chief Hopkins, I'm assuming) estimated the cost for each written test at $24 followed by physical, mental and emotional tests that can cost $700 per applicant.

So the total budget for this was $96,000. If the 'union & legal negotiations, and online-benefits' stuff takes up 75% of this budget, that would still leave $24,000 for testing, physicals, and emotional evaluations--enough to hire 33 officers. If the 'union & legal negotiations, and online-benefits' take up only half of the $96,000, you could hire 66 more officers. The current shortage is 22 officers. WHERE DID THE MONEY GO?

Sgt. Scott said he believes morale still is high among Annapolis officers, but will find out "what's on everyone's mind" during a recruiters committee meeting next week.

Here is how AP envisions that meeting:

Sgt. Scott: What's on your minds?
Everyone: Why don't you hire more officers?
Everyone: Our morale is low because we can't enforce the laws that we should.

Everybody asks when we're going to get people on, but that's a general question, he (Sgt. Scott) said.

Holy Crap!! 'When are we going to get people on' is, like, the most specific, non-general question I have ever heard! The answer is a fixed date in time, and can only be given after a specific recruitment plan is in place. Not to mention, that gives you a pretty damn good idea of what is on everyone's minds!

Ms. Moyer contends there is a nationwide shortage of qualified candidates to fill the police ranks and has said before that Mr. Weaver is working with Chief Johnson to create a pamphlet of information for those interested in a law-enforcement career.

AP: [dizzy, faints]

[7 minutes elapse]

AP: [comes to]

A nationwide shortage????!!! The head recruitment officer just said, like 3 paragraphs ago, that there are 150 to 200 applicants!!!! That's more applicants than the current size of the entire force!!! You could take the top 15% of the applicants and fill your vacancies! Forget about the pamphlet--offer the test!!

It's still unknown when the pamphlet will be completed.

AP: [re-faints]

The shortage in police officers is a nation wide crisis. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as internal security pressures, have made it very difficult for every police department to recruit and retain officers. Annapolis is far from alone in having difficulty recruiting and retaining police officers.

200 people don't even need to be recruited--they have already applied.

The current pay for newly hired officers -- $44,630.00 annually --is among the highest in the State. In fact, as of May 2007, it was the highest starting pay of any jurisdiction in the State. It is substantially higher than the starting salaries paid by Baltimore City,Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Howard County, and Montgomery County.

Difference is: those counties actually hire their recruits. Offer the test!

Simply put, the City believes it has made a proposal that would make employment with the Annapolis Police Department extremely attractive to both incumbents and prospective new hires. The salary, health benefits,retirement benefits, and working conditions would be among the most attractive in the region. Unfortunately, the Union has rejected this offer, and has offered nothing constructive as an alternative. As a result, negotiations remain deadlocked, with no apparent end in sight. did make employment attractive---so attractive that 150-200 people apply to take each of the semi-annual exams. That's 300-400 people a year. HOW THE HELL IS THERE A SHORTAGE? With those numbers, you can tell the union 'the hell with you', and hire as many people as you want based on free market labor principles. THAT IS, IF YOU OFFER THE ENTRANCE TEST.

It is my hope that this post will be put in a time capsule, to be opened when the mayor returns returns from Europe and the police chief returns from sick leave. (Attention Mayor Moyer and Chief Johnson: get the heck back to work and fix this problem.)

I hope you were paying attention to today's rant--there will be a test!

Commit A Crime In Anne Arundel County? Don't Worry, Just Buy Your Way Out.

(Crossposted on Maryland Politics)

It was reported yesterday that an Anne Arundel County Circuit Court assigned NO jail time to a man who pleaded guilty to first-degree assault. The defendant stabbed his victim as the result of an argument over who was next in line to buy a crab cake in a carry-out restaurant in Linthicum.

The judge, Michele D. Jaklitsch, suspended the convict's sentence because he agreed to pay the victim $25,000, explaining

"I think that it is important for the victim to get his money rather than wait seven to 10 years when he gets out."

This was not the civil trial--it was the criminal trial for the defendants offenses against the people of the State of Maryland! Hogwash!!

The way to deter criminal behavior is to provide a disincentive to commit the crime. Where is that disincentive? The message has been sent: don't worry about what crime you commit, you can just buy your way out. Somebody send the memo to Paris Hilton!

Maryland is becoming known for its ridiculous sentences to criminals. If we can't even properly punish violent offenders and sex criminals, what chance do our other laws have of being enforced?

In Virginia you go to jail for reckless driving--in Maryland you can buy your way out of stabbing someone for a crab cake. Geez, this post pretty much wrote itself.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Is Annapolis Crazier Than Takoma Park?

A highly rated political blog called Maryland Politics (see link on side of page) recently chronicled a resolution by the town of Takoma Park, MD, which supported impeachment of President Bush and Vice-President Cheney. The city has a history of quirky resolutions, and scarily the citizens seem to be fully supportive.

I'm sure that you are thrilled, as I am, that Annapolis finally has a competitor in the race to pass meaningless resolutions! The City of Annapolis has a solid history of passing resolutions that apply to places they have no control over. Here is a summary of some of those things:

-Resolution supporting Midshipman Owens. Proper Jurisdiction: United States Navy.
-Resolution apologizing for slavery. Proper jurisdiction: the 1865 Congress of the Confederate States, perhaps.
-Supporting the Martin Luther King Institute of Non Violent Studies at Sojourner Douglass College. Proper jurisdiction: Board of Regents, Sojourner Douglass College.
-Inappropriate Ethical Behavior by Maryland Public Service Commission. Proper Jurisdiction: Maryland General Assembly or United States Supreme Court, I think. (I seem to remember that the supreme court has original jurisdiction when states are sued. But maybe not.)

You would think that the city has no problems of its own.

This is only the tip of the iceberg.. see for yourself...bring it on Takoma Park!

Walter E. Williams

I know this blog is not a forum on national issues, but you folks should check out this fella.

Walter E. Williams is an economist, specializing in political economy, that gives the no BS take on the issues of the day.

He also takes great pride and effort--as I try to do--to relate economic and incentive-based reasoning to political issues, in an understandable way.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Election Code Review

The election code review committee presented their findings to the city council, and the resulting bills (O-33-07, CA-2-07) are on their way to passage.

Folks, the rules for elections may seem technical and geeky to you, but I can tell you with certainty that the city of Annapolis experiences fraud in its elections. It is a great challenge to balance the right of every eligible citizen to vote with the necesity to maintain the integrity of the electoral system.

The proposed charter amendment and ordinance would make the following changes to the election code:
-clarify the 4 year terms of the members of the Board of Supervisors of Elections
-election judges can now be residents of the county--they don't have to live in the city
-election judges can work partial days, rather than having to work the entire time the polls are open
-changes to how results are reported
-any voter may request to be put on a permanent absentee ballot application list
-defines instructions for provisional ballots (which are what you have to fill out if you are eligible to vote but for some reason your name is not on the list)
-if somebody sends in an absentee ballot, then dies before election day, the vote counts
-campaign financial reporting schedule tightened
-anybody can request an absentee ballot without explaining why they need one

Some comments on these changes:
1. the city needs more judges--allowing county judges to work and allowing judges to work partial days is good
2. it is generally bad to allow absentee ballots whithout a reason. is voting on election day really that much of a hardship? this makes fraud easier. same line of reasoning for the permanent absentee ballot application part
3. people who are not alive should not have their votes counted...i don't care how hard it is to check the death lists and cross reference them to the absentee ballots

Remember, fraud happens! And every vote counts! In the Ward 4 special election, the result was determined by 35 votes. With margins so tight we have to make sure that people can vote, and that the people who do vote are the persons they claim to be.


Last night the bill to allow a triathlon to take place in September was put on a legislative action agenda. This is against the rules, but presumably the city council voted to suspend the rules since this triathlon would happen in September and they take off the entire month of August.

I am assuming that this passed...someone please let me know if it did not.

Basically, the city dock area will be shut down for the entire second weekend in September to allow this triathlon. At first, the city was going to do this for $1!!! One dollar to shut down the city's central tourist attraction, deprive the downtown businesses of revenue, and pay the overtime for the public works staff to clean up the mess. The bill was amended to charge $5,000, which still seems low.

The city, according to the bill, "believes that the event will generate additional economic revenue" and "finds that the premises are not needed for public use" during the time of the event.

Three points:
1. If you are going to shut down that area for the whole weekend, you better have more than a 'belief' that it will generate more economic revenue. The city presents no evidence as to how the downtown businesses might be affected.

2. How, in the name of God's Green Earth, did the city council determine that the public did not need to use the area. There are only, like, eleventy billion people who come to the city dock on any given weekend. On a good weather weekend--like the second weekend in September--that number jumps to twelve ga-zillion. Since the city council has determined that these people will not be visiting on this particular weekend, I'm sure the city clerk has, on record, sworn affidavits from every possible tourist and resident that they will not be needing the downtown area at that time.

3. It would cost $5000 to rent a bar for a private party on a Saturday Night. Why does it only cost $5000 to rent the entire downtown center of a city for a whole weekend? AP was denied admission to the University of Maryland Phd program in economics, but even he knows that this is a raw deal.

I hope that you like swimming, running, or biking--because on that weekend you will not be able to have any ice cream, crab cakes, or water taxis.

Public Hearing, July 23

AP arrived at the public hearing around 6:45 with full intentions of staying for the whole thing. Alas, midway through the plastic bag testimony--around 9:45--I determined that staying any longer would be a detriment to my lifestyle. Nonetheless, I will now recount selected events of the evening.

+Overwhelming testimony was given in support of a proposed development on Annapolis Neck Rd. (R 37-07) Basically, some long-time property owners want to sell their properties to a developer, who in turn will erect affordable workforce housing. Admittedly I do not know the background on this issue, partly because it has been ongoing for 6 years. Seems like they have a pretty darn good argument, provided they can adequately show that allowing their area en exemption will not open the floodgates for everyone else to try and get special exceptions.

+The election code review committee presented their findings. I will devote an entire later post to this issue.

+A bill to allow the proposed triathlon was voted on...I will post on this as well.

+John Hammond, the Anne Arundel County Budget Officer and my roommate's father, challenged the council not to give themselves raises because they don't deserve it. Upon hearing this, alderwoman Hoyle shrewdly quipped "Mr. Hammond, didn't I just read in the paper that you are the highest paid employee in the county?" Quite rude and irrelevant, if you ask me, and if you are reading this blog, you did ask me! (Of note, aldermen should be paid more, but not these aldermen.)

+And for the main event, everybody and their mother wanted to testify on the bill to plan plastic bags. The bill, as it stands, would only ban plastic bags. It would not require the use of reusable bags. I did not hear anybody speak that was entirely for the bill (if somebody stayed longer than I did and heard such a support, email me). The closest anybody got to supporting the bill was saying something like "I applaud your idea and this is a step to help, but there are more effective things we can be doing." I will now present you with some quotes of actual testimony given:

Sierra Club of A.A. County: "This is not a solution; the best solution is reusable bags."

Alice Ferguson Foundation: "Plastic bags are not the most important problem...we should focus on education."

Progressive Bag Alliance: "Paper bags are worse for the environment. Plastic bags are 100% recyclable. We need to increase focus on recycling."

Maryland Retailers Association: "This legislation goes too far and doesn't achieve what he (Alderman Shropshire) wants. Plastic bags don't litter--people litter! Citizen education is more important, and we need to enforce the litter laws that we already have."

(Note to readers: AP was so refreshingly impressed by the comments made by the Maryland Retailers Association, that he immediately mailed a donation check for $20 to the organization. Focusing on the PEOPLE that cause problems and enforcing laws that we already have can solve so many problems.)

Restaurant Association of Maryland: "Behavior is the culprit here."

Sveinn Storm: "In 3 decades of working downtown, I have never seen a citation issued for littering. But there are plenty of paid city employees who clean up the trash."

Giant Food (The awesome grocer that AP uses): "We started using plastic bags 30 years ago due to environmental pressure to stop cutting down trees!"..."Why don't we ban cars because they speed?"

Safeway: "A ban is Un-American--it takes away our right to choose."..."This bill is illogical; it lacks full thought and common sense."..."No other jurisdiction has banned plastic bags."

Alderman Sam Shropshire: "Our emphasis is on reusable."

Note: No it's not. Not the way the bill is written.

Both liberals and conservatives are pro-environment. The difference is: liberals want to punish the entire industry from which the problem stems. Conservatives would rather encourage progress, deal with the problem INDIVIDUALS, and work for a solution that allows plastic bags (or anything else) to be used. The car analogy above was a good one. Any product, if used by an evil person, can be problematic. You don't punish freedom, or capitalism--you deal with the evil in that person.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Dowtown Rooftop Dining

As reported yesterday in The Capital, the county Circuit Court overturned a ruling that would have allowed Jerry's Seafood to open a new location at 4 Dock St. with rooftop dining.

In case you haven't visited the Jerry's Seafood location in Seabrook, MD, let me just tell you: it is the absolute greatest seafood restaurant in the history of the world. I can say with absolute certainty that you can't even find a better seafood joint in the Lost City of Atlantis.

The thing that makes AP's blood boil is that the lawsuit to stop Jerry's Seafood was organized by Bryan Miller, the former President of the Ward 1 Resident's Association. As you learned by my post yesterday, this is typical behavior for the many of the Ward 1 isolationists.

Current W.1R.A. President Doug Smith had this to say:

We think it's the right move and we applaud the decision....It certainly helps preserve the ward.

So, you're saying that the vacant property that currently exists is better than a restaurant with rooftop dining that blocks the view of....nobody? What harm is there in rooftop dining? Don't people come to the city to enjoy the views? Oh, I forgot, they come to see the houses that you have remodeled.

The court decision to block rooftop dining is the result of a strict interpretation of the law that prohibits outside dining. Banning dining outside on sidewalks at least makes sense, as pedestrians need room to get by. But, numerous exceptions have been allowed to this rule (including O'Briens, Mangia, Dock St., Armadillos, City Dock Coffee, Castle Bay...the list goes on and on). Given the willingness to allow this sidewalk dining, AP is baffled as to why rooftop dining should not be allowed. Can anyone email me a good reason?

Furthermore, this restriction applies only to the Historic Conservation District, which is basically Ward 1 with some exceptions. Other places in the city are already allowed to have rooftop dining. In fact, Metropolitan--which is only 65 one-hundredths of a mile away from Doug Smith's house and .o2 miles farther away than Jerry's Seafood would be--already operates with rooftop dining.

Take a deep breath, refill your glass of sauvignon blanc, and read that above paragraph again. Go ahead, I'll wait..............................................Ok, now ask yourself, does that many any sense? I submit to you that it does not.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Attitude Adjustment Needed In Ward 1

As I sat through the Planning Commission meeting on Thursday, I spent most of my time daydreaming about how awesome it would be to have a mini-golf course over by the EbbTide. (It's a random thought, I know, but how cool would that be?)

Luckily I was able to focus for meaningful periods of time, only to grow sour at the attitudes of many of the Ward 1 Residents. The father of a childhood friend of mine is a lobbyist here in Annapolis, and growing up we used to ask him if he helped to pass any good which he would always respond "I only kill bills". From first hand experience, there is a core group of Ward 1 activists that have taken on this very same personality.

Regarding the 2 am licenses, many Ward 1 residents gave emotional, even sensational testimony about how they and their properties have been the victims of urination, vandalism, and noise nuisance. But all I kept thinking was...these things are ALREADY against the law--if these laws were being enforced then a bar closing at midnight would be no different than a bar closing at 2 am. Disregarding this fact, Ward 1 residents refused to acknowledge that enforcement is a problem.

They also believe that their proprietorship is what makes their properties valuable and makes people want to visit Annapolis. But all I kept thinking was....if you take Ward 1 houses and transplant them in, say, Denton--you have a totally different ballgame. As AP has pointed out before, it is Annapolis' topography, historical context, charismatic citizenry, etc. that makes people want to come here and makes your houses in the Historic District so valuable.

As an astute cohort of mine pointed out, it seems that many residents in Ward 1 have no interest in collaborating. They view themselves as watchdogs--custodians of the charming days of yore. They would rather point out the merits of a study done in 1993 (the Ward 1 sector study, which resulted in the zoning and alcohol restrictions that are currently at issue) than lend their expertise to do a current study. Rather than work with other parties to find a mutually beneficial solution, Ward 1 residents often adopt a confrontational style that forces elected officials to pick sides, resulting in little progress and lots of hostility.

I plead with you--Acton's Landing, Murray Hill, Market St., et. al--try and work with us. The things that you think are problems--we think they are problems too! And we have creative ways to solve these problems without making your lives worse. Remember, Ward 1, the other 7 Wards are important too.

Email: Crime

Due to the surging popularity of this blog, we are now the 125th most popular political blog in Ward 5! And as such, AP must remain closed to comments to ensure the continued quality of the content.

But, if you email a comment, we will probably post it! This comment came from a friend of mine--I am withholding his (or her??!) name at this time because I have not asked permission to use the email on this site.

(If this person approves, I will list his name. If he disapproves, well, I will probably plagiarize his ideas as my own!)

Here it is:

In Friday’s blog on Crime you mention a few key things the Mayor should be reading, doing, and implementing regarding crime in the City. I agree with you 110%, especially when we are now at our 5th homicide within the City for the year. At this rate, we are on our way to surpassing 10 for the year. I find only one problem with your suggestions; the Mayor is off for 2 months visiting “sister cities” across Europe. Perhaps she feels safer in these “sister cities” than she does in the Annapolis she is supposed to be managing.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Capital Editorial: City Officials' Pay

In a recent post, AP declined to comment on the timing of the proposed mayor and aldermen pay raise, opting instead to talk about the level of compensation. I have just brewed myself a double-strength cup of Colombian coffee from Caffe Pronto--no sugar, no cream-- and am now ready to continue my analysis of this topic.

First, some background information on the issue. Here is how the current system works:
-a committee of citizens is formed no later than 1 year before a general election to study compensation
-the committee submits recommendations no later than 9 months before the next general election
-a public hearing is held, then the city council can decrease, but never increase, the recommended compensation
-changes approved by the council must be approved no later than 3 months before the election, and go into effect for the NEXT city council

The mayor's proposal would:
-change the pay for the CURRENT city council
-tie pay increases to cost of living (inflation) increases
-this would, by necessity, change the charter of the city

The Capital ran an editorial in opposition of the proposal to raise the pay of the mayor and alderman. AP will now reprint this editorial, and offer insightful commentary on selected issues. As always, the bold font represents the text as it originally appeared, and the insightful commentary appears in normal font.

Businesses are struggling to maintain payrolls. People are losing jobs, or at least being denied raises. Even state government is leaving vacant positions unfilled.

True, perhaps, but remember: city government is distinct from state government, and it most certainly has a different role and structure than the private market. We should be careful when comparing government to the private market, because government exists to provide the services that cannot exist in the private market (public goods).

So when Mayor Ellen Moyer suggests a pay increase for herself and the city's part-time aldermen, we have to wonder if she and the City Council have lost their collective mind.

This blog spends the majority of its time wondering that.

If our elected officials want taxpayers to believe that times are bad and revenues are stretched thin, is it a good time to be pushing for a 3 percent raise?

I would say that the state politicians would like us to believe that the times are bad--see AP's posts on the 'doomsday budget'--but the mayor usually doesn't care about the prevailing conditions. She tends to do what she wants, when she wants, regardless of circumstance.

It's a rotten time.

Agreed, but for different reasons. It's a rotten time because it affects the current council.

The City Charter allows the council to adjust its members' salaries every four years in decisions that apply only to the new council seated after the next election--a protection, demanded in rulings by the attorney general, against elected officials sweetening their own compensation.

Now you're talking!

The council followed the charter in 2005 when it voted for raises for the next council, taking salaries to $70,000 for the mayor and $12,600 for each alderman. So why, then , is the council considering more raises--another $2,100 for the mayor and $380 for aldermen?

They are considering more raises because they are grossly underpaid for what they do. Click here to learn why.

Ms. Moyer says she is simply following up on the council's approval of a report--authorized by Dick Israel before he was elected alderman--that recommended making mayoral and aldermanic salaries more comparable to those in neighboring jurisdictions. Her proposal actually changes the charter, which wisely prohibits elected officials from immediately adjusting their own salaries.

This theme appears over and over in the Moyer administration: "Don't blame me, the process was already underway.", or "There is nothing I can do about this, it is a regional/national phenomenon." Note to the mayor: you can change whatever you want, or at least vote to change it.

Citizens should be outraged. The mayor and aldermen may change the charter to give themselves an out-of-step cost-of-living raise recommended by someone who is now on the council. There is a reason the charter protects the public from aldermen who give themselves raises. The charter shouldn't be changed.

Agreed, this is BS. But they need to get paid more! Keep reading to find out why.

We have another problem. Although the current salaries are very conservative, some city officials just don't deserve a raise--particularly those who spend more energy on solving problems outside the city than inside it.

Very conservative salaries = grossly underpaid.

The memorable debate on banning toy guns has been succeeded by one on banning plastic bags. The council has gone after alleged racism at Annapolis High School, the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra and finally the Naval academy--none of them institutions over which it has any authority. It apologized for slavery--is an apology for the Iraq war next?


A serious municipcal subject, traffic congestion, was handled by paying $150,000 for a study that told the city nothing--and so nothing has been done. Market House struggled to re-open and a new police building has been falling apart. We won't even talk about crime,

good, because I am getting tired of typing...

which no one in City Hall seems to think is a big issue.

City Hall is a small place--they can't think of everything. Just kidding....Hallelujah!

For this they deserve a raise?

No, they don't, not for this. But in general, they do. Please keep reading...the big analysis is to come!

How about a performance evaluation instead?

So, let's give the mayor and aldermen a performance evaluation. E-mail us your comments--good and bad--at We'll make sure they know how you feel.

Attention, that would be a long about you just click on this site to see how I feel.

Ok, let's do some analyzing.

In economics, labor theory says that a person is paid exactly the value of what they produce. Many times this is hard to calculate, but let's look at a simple example. Let's say Billy can cook $20 worth of cheeseburgers per hour. Now, let's say that Billy takes a job at McDonald's, where he earns $15 per hour. Burger King realizes that they can pay him $16 per hour and hire him, while still making a $4 per hour profit on Billy. Then McDonald's says: heck, we can hire Billy back, pay him $17 per hour, and still make a $3 per hour profit. The process continues until Billy makes $20 per hour, which is his worth.


(This is a very simplified analysis. Actual wage theory takes into account utility--not just pay--and also takes into account the cost (rent, utilities, overhead) of the worker, not just his value. Email me if you are a glutton for punishment and want a complete explanation of this idea.)

An alderman makes $12,600 per year. Any adult that can show up for work with pants and shoes on is worth more than $12,600 per year. Any person who has the ability to actually win an election is worth way more than that.

So, automatically, an alderman is making less than his/her value. Just as Billy went to work for Burger King, the aldermen are looking for a way to be paid their worth.

There are several ways to do this. A person might be willing to make less than their worth in the short term, if they believe this will increase what their worth actually is in the long term. Take Wayne Taylor, for example. He was the Ward 4 Alderman, and as an adult was worth more than $12,600 per year. But, his aldermanic seat helped him earn appointment as the Director of The Department of Aging for Anne Arundel County, making (I'm guessing) $125,000 per year. Think of how easy his job must be....all he has to do is make sure time passes!!!! Here is the checklist for the director of the department of aging:

1. make sure sun rises in the east
2. make sure all clocks have good batteries
3. oversee calendar industry
4. earn $125,o00 per year

Can we blame the aldermen for wanting to do the same thing? You mentioned the bills about toy guns, plastic bags, slavery, etc. Well, the aldermen do these things to get their names known so they can run for mayor, county council, or delegate and at least earn close to what they are worth! As aldermen, they have to buy their own stationery for goodness sake. Although I have no evidence to support the following claim, Alderman in the City of Annapolis has to have the fewest professional resources of any elected position.

And the mayor.....the mayor makes about half of what her department heads make...and they are her subordinates! If you are the mayor, either the non-monetary aspects of the job are valuable enough to attract you to the job, or you are trying to increase your worth for the future.

As for raises based on performance, let's take a step back. Remember, the goal of compensation is to pay the worker what he/she is worth. The theory of a merit-based raise assumes that the level of compensation was previously correct, then examines performance as a way to see if the value of the worker has increased. If it has, then a raise is given to keep the worker's pay in line with his/her worth.


Good grief, I need some more coffee.

Anyway, there is something we can do about this:

-wait until the time dictated by the current charter to determine pay for the next council
-get serious about paying more money
-since the new aldermen are paid what they are worth, they will (hopefully) worry about city business and not the stupid bills you talked about
-think about having a city manager form of government

Friday, July 20, 2007

Crime: Some Inside Information

From time to time--usually every full moon or so--AP's predictions and suspicions are validated by fact. Such seems to be the case here, regarding crime, police, and the mayor's stance on how to use the latter to reduce the former.

Let's talk to someone who would know, vis-a-vis a monologue commentary on my part and a letter to The Capital from an insider:

In a guest column, Mayor Ellen O. Moyer used the ratio of police officers to every 1,000 residents as a measure of how well the Annapolis police department is staffed.

You know, I bet that using ratios such as officers per thousand is a poor staffing guideline. Annapolis, for example, has a high non-resident population--especially when the state legislature is in session--and probably requires special consideration.

However, a recent study by the International Association of Chiefs of Police states that "ratios, such as officers-per-thousand population, are totally inappropriate as a basis for staffing decisions." Rather, the unique characteristics of each jurisdiction should be considered.

I was just thinking the same thing!

Even Annapolis police officers are asking the city for a commitment to full staffing and state that the city is not fulfilling its responsibility to make our city safe.

For goodness sake, funded positions in the department have gone vacant in the city for years. AP has argued, and will continue to argue, that enforcement of the laws that already exist is lacking and should be the overwhelming crime-reduction-prevention priority. In most cases we do not need new laws; WE NEED TO CREATE CONSISTENTLY STRONG DISINCENTIVES FOR PEOPLE WHO COMMIT CRIMES. THIS MEANS PUNISHING THEM HARD WHEN THEY BREAK THE LAW.

The mayor seemed to imply that Officer Friendly walking a regular beat is a "police state". Nothing is further from the truth.

My instinct is telling me, probably as a result of my extensive listening of the Ed Norris show, that community policing and beat walking are important parts of crime fighting and have been successful.

She should read a publication by the Department of Justice "Community Policing for Mayors," for an understanding of the advantages of community policing, which is about mutual trust and problem-solving.

And there we are. I got a bit of a chuckle reading this, as I imagined something like the "XXX for Dummies" series of books, complete with a pretty picture of the market house air conditioner.

The mayor claimed that her administration "asked the housing Authority to hire a public safety director" and so forth. As the author of the report that made these recommendations, I know that these suggestions did not come from her administration, but rather from myself, other citizens and the authority itself.

This is typical quote from the mayor, straight from the "I tried to fix the problem and there is nothing I can do about it" family of rhetoric. This quote comes with a tasty side of non-truthfulness, with just a hint of brashness. Two and a half stars.

The mayor claimed that the city "has never received a report on the public safety program."

I do not believe this for one second. In all her time as mayor and alderman, she has NEVER seen a report on the Housing Authority's public safety program? Please. Anyway, if she really didn't see a report, it would be her fault. ATTENTION MAYOR MOYER: YOU ARE THE MAYOR, IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO ASSESS PROBLEMS AND FIND SOLUTIONS! YOU CAN MAKE THEM GIVE YOU A REPORT! But I'm sticking with the theory that she has seen a report, and conveniently forgot.

Does she not remember last October's meeting with the chief, myself, and the authority, at which the safety program's funding and status were presented? Does she not read the monthly reports that come to her?

The reports were probably buried under a Rochefort, France paperweight and an original copy of Great Expectations.

And what happens when well-intentioned citizens suggest some best-practice solutions? They are dismissed as "garbage" and "craziness".

This is super-classic, five diamond rated Moyer rhetoric. It is a marriage of the "you can't possibly know what you are talking about" and "this is not our problem" families of quotes. Click here for another recent example of this.

Do citizens feel safer today than they did six years ago?
DENNIS M. CONTI, Vice-Chair, Public Safety Committee, Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis

Sadly, the answer to this question is yes. Wait.....stay with me!! Six years ago were the 9/11 attacks and a year thereafter the sniper shootings. Let's rephrase your question:

"Has Mayor Ellen O. Moyer done anything in her 6 years of mayorship to reduce crime?"

Negative. Quite.

Planning Commission Meeting, July 19

AP attended the planning commission meeting last night, and today AP has been searching the internet for legal psychotropic drugs to try and re-create the experience. It was a grueling 5 hours, and in typical city fashion the items that nobody was there to speak about were first on the agenda and the items that everyone was there for were last.

Here are the abridged minutes:

7:07: call to order

7:08-8:48: debate and hear testimony about 3 bills that affect, literally, only Eastport. One bill affected one single street, another was the result of one business sign. Some of these bills may have been given a favorable reading, perhaps some unfavorable, perhaps some were tabled until next meeting---I wasn't really paying attention because I hadn't had any coffee.

8:49-8:54: 5 minute break

8:54: commission begins to hear testimony on 2 am liquor license zoning rules

summary of above testimony:
Ward 1 residents:
-drunk people urinate on our flower pots
-there is no right to fair zoning
-more drinking = more problems
- blah blah blah ward 1 sector study blah blah
-ward 1 sector study was good
-we spent a lot of money on our houses
-we will be happy if downtown businesses close up and move to parole (no BS folks, this is totally true)

Bar Owners, concerned citizens, government watchdogs, other dilettantes:
-current zoning rules are arbitrarily unfair
-some licenses can't even APPLY, REPEAT: APPLY, for a 2 am
-have police enforce the laws about public intoxication
-hire more freegin' police
-ward 1 sector study is outdated
-get your facts straight on how many bars would be affected

11:41: public testimony on this bill ends

11:42: many people are dizzy, portraits on wall seem to come alive

11:43: commission recommends unfavorable position on 2 am zoning bill

11:44: many leave in a hurry, trying to make last call

11:51 (est) adjournment

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Do Our Elected Officials Make Too Much Money?

At Monday's city council meeting, a public hearing will be held for (amongst other things) a change in the way cost of living raises are given to our elected officials.

If you want to read about how the mayor and aldermen will receive a bigger raise than the police officers under the current proposals, click here. The truth is, the two events probably have little to do with each other. A study on elected official compensation has been in the works for some time now, and I doubt they could have predicted the details of the negotiations with the police union. Frankly, AP has no interest in discussing this particular aspect of this issue at this time.

What I am interested in talking about is the level of compensation for the elected officials. Although I started this post yesterday, I had somewhat of an impromptu conversation about this issue with the gentleman behind this morning and we tend to agree on most of it.

Former Governor Ehrlich often preaches the value of having candidates for office that have succeeded in their private lives. The problem is, most of these people would have to take a pay cut if they were to be elected. The mayor, a full-time city employee, makes $70,000 per year. Each alderman makes $12,600, which will not pay your mortgage if you own any house in the city. People make work decisions based on utility, which means the total value to them of the job's salary as well as non-monetary factors such as hours, convenience, and having plenty of attractive co-workers in the office.

For the system of government that we have, $70,000 is probably not enough. The non-monetary aspects are great: prestige, fulfillment of public service, possibility of a sweet cabinet-level position in the O'Malley administration, etc. But, any city mayor could probably make twice their salary in the private market.

(Of note, currently the mayor appoints a city administrator, who makes slightly less than twice the mayor's salary and does, well, slightly nothing. If he did slightly anything he may consider fixing the air conditioning problem in the market house or replacing some other department heads. {Note to city administrator: you can do it! Just pretend like the other department heads are named Patmore}).

And the aldermen, heck---being an alderman is/should be a full-time job. It takes time to respond to constituent needs and adequately research bills. But with the paltry salary they receive, they either have to be independently wealthy, live off the land, or have another full-time job. Can we really blame aldermen for wanting to run for mayor or county council? Their hourly wage probably works out to be worth 3 Auntie Annie's pretzels at Market House.

Here is the list, to the best of my knowledge, of what other full-time jobs the aldermen have:

Dick Isreal: attorney, longtime assistant attorney general

Mike Christman: former navy pilot, current retail company COO

Classie Hoyle: educator, educational activist, baltimore slumlord, oops, landlord

Sheila Finlayson: educational lobbyist, school board critic/crusader

Dave Cordle: investigator, state's attorney's office

Julie Stankivic: health policy analyst (in baltimore, btw)

Sam Shropshire: founder, Maritime Republic of Eastport (yay!), involved in various non-profit organizations (note: I am not quite sure how or if Alderman Sam earns other income)

Ross Arnett: #1 greatest job ever (economist), retired federal government executive

How do we solve this problem? I'm going to stop short of saying this is the solution, but consider this idea:

-get rid of city administrator

-pay the city council more money and increase their responsibility/ability to serve

-have city council hire a city manager at its discretion (not by appointment by the mayor)

-have mayor be figurehead, preside over city council

-have city manager run logistics of city operations

-enjoy better city

Well? Whadda' ya think?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sister City Report

The mayor has posted her first non-biographical entry on her blog, The mayor visited Rochefort, France on July 16. We learn that this city is near the water, that shipbuilding is important, and that they 'brew' cognac there. How excellent.

Everyone should have a vacation, and the mayor's decsription of the city reminded me in a nostalgic way of my recent trip to Spain. The thing is, I went for 10 days during Thanksgiving--a time when not much work gets done anyway and me being gone only affects me--and the mayor is gone for 60 DAYS!, and her being gone affects some 30,000+ citizens, at least theoretically. For example, on the day when the mayor was learning the above facts,

-there were 122 calls to 911
-6 people were arrested
-we were in a traffic jam on forest drive, or west st., or near park place, or on chiquapin round rd.
-the air conditioning problem at market house still has not been solved
-there is no director of public works
-i slammed my finger in my car door, and it hurts

Oh well, nothing we can do about it now. Even if there was an emergency, the mayor has a no-air-travel policy so she wouldn't be back to help anyway.

Most of the post was somewhat mundane, but this particular section caused some alarms to sound:

I also learned that in Annapolis we rely far more on private contributions to support the simple things that bring pleasure in life like fireworks, gardens, art, celebrations like Charter 300 and major efforts in preservation. Public dollars are the major and sometimes only source of investment here.

Make no mistake, Annapolis spends a lot of $$$ on things that should be left to the private system. For goodness sake, we had better spend less than the French do. See, the thing is, the more you rely on the private market, the better you are.

Let's look at this very crude data:

Corporate Income Tax Rate: 33.33%
Individual Income Tax Rate: 10% - 48.09%
Per Capita Gdp (a measure of wealth): $30,693 (2006 est)
Unemployment: 8.1%

United States:
Corporate Income Tax Rate: 35%
Individual Income Tax Rate: 0%-35%
Per Capita Gdp: $43,444 (2006 est)
Unemployment: 4.5%

Tax Rates are a reasonable signal of how much the government is involved in the economy. In france the government does more, and the economy is worse. In the United States, the private market does more, and the economy is better.

Let's get a little more scientific.

In 1989, two World Bank economists studied 106 countries for 34 years, and found that:

-For manufacturing based countries, those with higher than average use of free market principles averaged 5% annual GDP growth, and those with lower than average use of free market principles had 3.9% annual GDP growth.

-For natural-resource based countries, those with higher than average use of free market principles averaged 5.5% annual GDP growth, and lower than average use of free market principles: 4.7% annual GDP growth.

Free market = better than socialism, but only if you want more wealth (or more political freedom).

Also, in 1995 two Harvard economists concluded that the way for poor countries to get wealthier and perhaps catch up to rich countries was to have a more open trade and protect property rights. Imagine that: a place where the government doesn't interfere with business, rights are protected, and laws are enforced. Brilliant!

Now, the mayor was probably not considering these things, but I think it shows the fundamental difference in political philosophies between liberals and conservatives, and in my opinion that conservatism is superior. Superior based on fact and data.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Why Should We Vote?

Arguably, or maybe unarguably, the biggest pain in the side of politically active folk is people who don't vote. Inexplicably, about half of registered voters (in a big election) do not find the occasion important or convenient enough to vote. Trying to find out why this is, is equally frustrating.

But today, O' glorious day! We can examine first hand the mindset of such a person, thanks to her letter to the Capital.

In this past election, I voted for the first time in my 44 years.

If you are 44 years old now, then the first time you could have voted is around 1981, and the first presidential election for you would/could have been 1984. I know that some of you, the loyal readers, are wondering why this person would not vote in 1984 when she could have. Well, here are some national events that were happening in 1984:

-Reagan proposes world wide chemical weapons ban
-USSR boycotts summer olympics in Los Angeles
-Hezbollah bombs US embassy in Beirut
-First woman executed in U.S. in 22 years
-crack cocaine first introduced in Los Angeles

No? Not compelling enough for you to vote, to show your beliefs on these issues? Ok, let's continue.

I had never voted before because I believed politicians are liars.

While preparing to write what I am writing right now, the cursor stood blank on the page for a while, because I scarcely knew where to start. I'm afraid that what I am about to say is incomplete and inarticulate, but i have to write something. The whole point of a representative republic, like we live in, is that the government derives its authority through the consent of the governed. The way you give consent is by voting for a candidate to govern you. If you wish, you can refuse you grant your consent by casting a 'protest vote', which means casting a ballot but not selecting any candidate.

They make promises that appeal to you, not to fulfill them, but to go further and do something they claimed to be against -- or they just simply make a mess of things.

Two points here. First, if one politician is even marginally less of a liar, hypocrite, or moron, or is less messy, voting for that person would be meaningful. In the unlikely case that they are equally unqualified, you can cast a protest vote. Second, if a politician breaks his promises or exercises blatant disregard of his oath, you can actually recall the politician from office. In the city of Annapolis, you can start a petition and force a referendum election with signatures from 30% of registered voters. Maryland does not allow for recall of a governor, but if you want you can move to a state that does.

I decided it was my responsibility to vote,


mainly because of all the lives that had been given so that I would have that right.

Only partially correct. These lives were indeed given so you can vote, but in a larger and more accurate sense they were given (amongst other reasons) so you could continue to enjoy your political freedoms and influence the way in which you are governed. Therefore, it is your civic duty to make known the way in which you demand to be represented--you do this by voting.

Well, it looks like my earlier feelings weren't too far off.

Assuming you are referring to your belief that politicians are liars, and so forth, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS. A politician who knows that the electorate, specifically the people who oppose him/her, is disinterested or will not vote will not do anything to satisfy you because it does not affect him. You do not vote so he/she does not care about you. If you, the loyal reader, would like more information regarding this issue, a more comprehensive analysis can be obtained through the study of Public Choice Economics.

The gubernatorial candidate I voted for won.

Agghhhh! Why you would vote for him is the subject of another post. For now, thank you for voting.

He promised to revamp the juvenile justice system, which I am an advocate for. He did nothing.

Doing nothing is a key strategy of the O'Malley Next Election Plan. It is harder to piss people off if you don't do anything, and not pissing people off helps you ascend the political ranks. (What also helps you ascend the ranks is to govern in a way that improves the lives of the citizens. But that's too much like work.)

Nationally, I voted for a horrific pair of candidates. Now we are in a war where so many are dying, and I really don't see a safe way out.

Not really the purpose of this blog, but what the hell....does anyone think that today, right now even, we couldn't remove all of our troops and bomb Iran, Iraq, or Ward 8 back to the stone age? (Note to Ward 8: just kidding.) That would be a safe way out. But that's probably not the answer and it's definitely another conversation.

I will be changing to a registered Independent and continue to pray for a way out.

This last sentence of your letter is the most furiously appalling of the whole bit. Praying is good, but you should not be praying for a light load, as it were, you should be praying for a strong back. You should be praying for the politicians to lead with righteousness and vigilance, and praying that you have the strength to stay the course. Instead, you have recused yourself from your already paltry participation in the political process. You have given up. You have thrown your hands in the air and announced that you will allow--by your own words--the politicians to make a mess of things. To boot, as if changing your registration to Independent affects anything (except by eliminating your ability to vote in a primary election), you have abandoned whatever principles attracted you to your previous political party and declared yourself an independent. Sadly, ma'am, you are not independent, you are apathetic.

Even so, Ms. Deshaies, I would like to thank you for your letter. Researching my response has enhanced my understanding of government, and hopefully karma will eventually re-inspire your efficacy.

Market House

With the Mayor in hibernation, AP will now take an examination of the market house--an issue that should have singularly defeated the mayor's re-election campaign, but did not. Today we will ignore the air conditioning situation and focus on the tenant situation.

The original market house, of course, was created by an act of the Maryland General Assembly in 1683.

Umm, was Maryland even a state in 1683?


Answer: no. Kinda' in 1776, but really 1788. So maybe it was the General Assembly of the Royal English Colony of Maryland.

Umm, when was the American Revolution?

(research, etc., so forth, so on, .....)

Answer: revolutionary era began in 1760's. So yes, probably a royal english colony. It appears that I was doodling in my Meade 5-star Trapper Keeper in lieu of paying attention in history class.

Here is my guess as to what occupied the original market house:

-yeomen of the great chamber
-wise sage
-map detailing route to outhouse

Here is a partial list of what is there now:

1. crab cake place
2. italian pastry franchise
3. local bank branch
4. donut franchise
5. soft pretzel mega-franchise
6. irish place
7. pizza place
8. cereal buffet
9. nice bathrooms
10. no starbucks!

Now, clearly we don't expect the place to stay the same. But, even as recently as when I was a teenager, the place had character.

Ten years ago, there was no clear path through the market house and traversing successfully through all of the corners was a source of pride for locals. Today, locals, tourists, and politicians alike are herded like robots to the franchise of their choice via the only thruway.

Ten years ago, a resident or someone working downtown could get comforting food at a good price from a long-standing family vendor. Today that is gone, and you can get a pretzel, a crab cake, or a donut from a highly commercialized franchise.

This is what we waited two years for? This is why we still can't park? Attention Moyer administration: I wish there were no term limits so I could vote you back for another 756 years! (Remember, we are robots, we can live that long.)(Attention Moyer administration: I probably would not vote for you and we really can't live that long, except in Ward 8.)

As it is now the wee hours of July 16 it is now my birthday. In observation of this day, and in recognition of my promise to not speak of the air conditioning situation, this post is over. As I am now 26 years old, I expect to be exponentially better at this blogging exercise than when i was 25, and you lucky folks will reap the benefits!

The Mayor Has a Blog!

Thanks to our new friend at for this information.

The mayor has a new blog: Yours truly is truly Rush Limbaugh gained fame covering Bill Clinton, and the Yankees and Red Sox stir interest by rivaling each other, so too will we use this opportunity to (hopefully) engage in the adversarial political process, that which inherently produces checks and balances.

So far there is only 1 post, which curiously provides a biography of the mayor written in the third person. Very few particulars, which makes for a quite boring review at this time. But what excitement!

And, with any luck, this blog will rise from 155 to 149 on the list of the most popular blogs in Ward 5.

Friday, July 13, 2007

4th of July Parade

For at least the 7th year in a row, yours truly showed his patriotic spirit by participating in the city of Annapolis 4th of July Parade. Three generations of like minded individuals formed the Annapolis Sons of the Signers, an organized and well respected social group (and by organized I mean we meet for happy hour every Friday and by well-respected I mean we pay our tab) that recently acquired a fleet of 4 fire trucks for parade and other purposes. 'Signers' refers to the 4 signers of the Declaration of Independence from Annapolis: William Paca, Charles Carroll, Thomas Stone, and Samuel Chase.

Having won the mayor's cup for the 14th consecutive year, I have ordained myself a parade expert, and thus have standing to review a letter written to the editor of The Capital concerning the monumental event.

(Note to readers: the mayor's cup is a fictional prize, conceived by A.S.S. 14 years ago, awarded to the best float or group in the parade. Predictably, we are 14-time grand champions.)

This letter appeared in The Capital on July 12:

Happy Fourth of July! Welcome to Annapolis and to our small-town parade!

Thank you!

In case you joined the parade halfway through, you still had time to see a fleet of Corvettes, five more politicians seeking election, another fleet of Corvettes, a caravan of Mini Coopers, and about a dozen conversion vans, some of which had "for sale" signs splayed across their windshields.

First, the actual meaning of 'splayed' has nothing to do with what you are talking about, so I am going to assume that either you erred or The Capital erred, and you really meant 'displayed'. Second, very astute observation my friend. The procession of Corvettes can actually be seen from space, and the only thing more boring than mini coopers and conversion vans is reading a transcript of the mayor's no-travel-by-aircraft philosophy. As for the politicians: slippery slope, slippery slope. I tend to agree that candidates should not be allowed, but elected officials should. That's part of the deal: democracy: they represent us: etc.

I forgot about the legion of Segways advertising their local business. What about the American Legion? I don't recall World War II being fought on the back of Segways.

Perhaps you could have used a more recent reference. Perhaps the War on Terror. Perhaps, indeed, any of the other wars fought since 1945. I have been reliably informed that, to date, no wars have been fought on the back of Segways.

The crowds lining the parade route would have stood and cheered for our women and men in uniform--both past and present. Instead we were left numb by the meager wave of a politician and the exhaust of late-model muscle car.

I am starting to think that you are just a curmudgeon and would not be a fun person to eat hard-shell crabs with. But then again, I am cranky from the exhaust of an early-model 1954 Mack Deisel Pumper Truck from the town of Orange, NJ.

The parade's failure to honor the real contributors to our society and to our freedom and safety--such as veterans and non elected public servants--is the real story here. Our Annapolis parade has become a car show and an election campaign activity rather than a celebration of those who struggled, and continue to struggle, for our independence and freedom.

I will agree with you here, on the main point of your letter. The parade is a bit of a calamity. Our group hangs banners of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, has a marching band that plays patriotic tunes, throws candy to children, and shows how many people of different backgrounds and circumstances all enjoy in the spirit of our country. We do not solicit anything and do not stand to gain (except in ego) from our participation in the parade. Many other groups, and individuals, just the opposite.

And the band played on--except that there were only two in the parade.
JOHN BURKE, Annapolis

The A.S.S. band held rehearsals and kept a tune the entire time. Looks like we will make a historic triumph next year with our 15th consecutive mayor's cup!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Promise Made Good

Yesterday I noted how House Speaker Busch calmly assured us, vis-a-vis a quote in The Capital, not to worry about the budget cuts as they won't effect our essential services. Look! Down the page!! Just a little bit lower than you are reading right now!!!

The Capital, immediately recognizing the damage they did to the Democrat Propaganda Strategy, immediately ran an article the NEXT DAY about how the budget horrors will affect those services.

Here are some quotes:

A state workers union said the cuts threaten services to the most vulnerable Marylanders, from those in foster care to those treated by emergency responders......

"We are stretched to the limit," said Pete Peterson, a helicopter pilot who flies medivac flights.

Pete Peterson. Pete Peterson!!!!! Did the propaganda machine spend any time coming up with this name? I mean, this is straight out of a comic book--a superhero, life-saving helicopter pilot named Pete Peterson. I, for one, would like to meet Mr. Peterson. I bet he has some cool stories, or at least some hippie parents.

Flo Jones, a foster care case manager, said "many of the state's most vulnerable children will be at risk" if the Board of Public Works approved cuts to the already "threadbare" agency.

Feeling suspicious, I took the time to verify that 'threadbare' is indeed a word. Although perhaps slightly misused, it is marginally sensible in the context of this sentence. Now to investigate this Flo Jones character.......

Then the governor chimed in:

We need to restrain spending, O'Malley said yesterday.....

.....handily forgetting how much money he has wasted.

And around and around we go.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

O'Malley Tax Money Stuff

First, let's note that Mr. O'Malley is a walking contradiction here---he spent the $1 billion surplus, then proposed $280 million in cuts to address a $1.5 billion deficit, all while essentially browbeating the comptroller into approving an inflated purchase price for a member of his transition team.

(Folks, from a reliable source that might as well be the horse's mouth itself, Comptroller Franchot actually believes the stuff he is saying and is probably more dangerous for it. For someone like Franchot, such an egregiously corrupt act on behalf of the state is actually wrong. O'Malley doesn't care because he keeps his machine going.)

Anyway, I just want to put House Speaker Busch's comment regarding the situation on the record, because I promise you this will come up later. So says he according to an article in The Capital:

The (budget) cuts will not effect any of the "essential services" government is supposed to deliver.

This may not sound important, but it goes against all of the prevailing rhetoric. As a result of the budget deficit, all of our fine elected officials warn of a DOOMSDAY BUDGET!!!! (emphasis mine), whereby if we don't raise taxes and cut services we will be no better than a caveman. I just want to show you that this is not true, and even the most liberal of leaders knows it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

City Council Meeting, July 9 2007

This legislative meting was relatively pain free, save for having to endure the chair-woman-ship of Dr. Hoyle since Madam Mayor is in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. I mean, where did this woman get her PhD. Oh well, here is the summary of what happened.

-O-51-06: leasing of 2 parking spaces downtown to Discover Annapolis Tours
-O-17-07: letting the city sell trash without a peddler's permit
-O-34-07: issuing $28,900,000 in bonds
-R-32-07: special tax district for Park Place

Now, for some awards.

Dumb Bill of the Day Award: Alderman Sam Shropsire's bill to ban the use of plastic bags.

Asshole Award: Several of the below mentioned environmentalist hippie types refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance, and did not put their hands on their hearts.

Do you Care About Your Job Award: Tough competition here, as both the Mayor and Ward 8 Alderman were absent. In a close race, this award goes to Mr. Arnett--at least the Mayor has an excuse.

And now, for some observations.

It seems like every time Ward 1 Alderman Dick Israel offers a bill, everyone wants to be added as a co-sponsor. Is this because Mr. Israel is a particularly likable fella? Probably not. My guess is: it's because generally Mr. Israel actually takes the time to research his positions, and speaks from his background competency in many relevant issues. Ehh, makes you wonder how qualified the other Aldermen are.

NEWS BULLETIN: Ward 3 Alderman Mike Christman awakes from hibernation! Just kidding. But the often reserved alderman did manage to 'second' a bill when nobody else did, thereby allowing the records to show that he was actually at the meeting.

Next meeting: public hearing July 23 at 7 pm. This one should be good!