Tuesday, October 28, 2008

McMillan: O'Malley's Slots Myths

Maryland Slots....Rewarding Fiscal Irresponsibility

We saw it during the Wall Street bailout. Fiscal irresponsibility. Political spin broadcast as fact by the media. Politicians using sweeteners and strong arm tactics to push a deal that's "good for everyone." Special Interests spending millions to promote their agenda. Doing "something" becoming more important than doing the right thing. What were the results? Fiscal irresponsibility was rewarded. Politicians got their deal, but ignored the policies that created the crisis. Special interests profited, and taxpayers got the bill. The same scenario is unfolding with Maryland's slots referendum. But before we reward Governor O'Malley's fiscal irresponsibility, before we accept his slots spin as fact, before we believe the false promise of more education funding, and before we give special interests another big payday, let's compare O'Malley's slots myths with the facts.

O'Malley Myth #1: "Maryland's budget has been cut by $1.8 billion. Even after a $1.5 billion tax increase, we need slots to avoid painful cuts in services." Fact: Maryland's budget increased from $30 to $31.2 billion after the Special Session. You can't make $1.8 billion in budget cuts, and simultaneously increase spending by $1.2 billion. It's no more possible than having your grass grow two inches while you're cutting the lawn. During the Special Session called to "fix" O'Malley's $1.7 billion deficit, spending on new or expanded programs nearly equaled spending reductions. Additionally, 40% of the $1.4 billion tax increase went to increased spending, not deficit reduction. Total spending wasn't cut. It was redistributed and increased. Most of O'Malley's recent "cuts" simply level fund programs, or eliminate vacant jobs. Only $156 million in ongoing annual spending was actually cut. State spending still grows by $800 million this year. The fiscal bottom line: Martin O'Malley blew a $1 billion surplus, raised taxes $1.5 billion, increased spending, and created a new $1.4 billion deficit. His reckless policies preceded the national economic downturn. Now O'Malley wants a slots bailout, not to avoid cuts in basic services, but to grow big government programs. Maryland can't tax and gamble its way to prosperity, or spend itself out of a deficit. Excessive spending and higher taxes are the root causes of Maryland's economic problems. Slots won't solve them. Slots will simply add fuel to the government's spending fire, while pulling $1.4 billion away from existing Maryland businesses. Slots, like tax increases, will hurt small businesses, kill jobs, and weaken our economy.

O'Malley Myth #2: Slots receipts will go to an Education Trust Fund, and used to increase education funding. Fact: 48.5% of the funds generated by slots will be earmarked for education. Gambling interests will receive 42.5%. The slots amendment doesn't guarantee any increase in education funding. It doesn't even protect education funding from cuts. The slots amendment only requires the state's slots revenue to be used as a source of education funding. It does not prohibit the state from shifting general fund dollars previously designated for education to other budget items, and replacing them with Education Trust Fund dollars. Sound tricky? These shell game shenanigans are business as usual. During the Special Session, legislation required $100 million of the sales tax increase go to the Transportation Trust Fund. This April, O'Malley shifted $50 million from the Transportation Trust Fund to balance the budget. Who are you going to believe when it comes to "trust" funds, Governor O'Malley, or your lying eyes?

O'Malley Myth #3: Those who supported Governor Ehrlich's slots proposal should support O'Malley's. Fact: Governor Ehrlich and many other slots supporters oppose the slots constitutional amendment because it's a bad deal. Governor O'Malley has radically changed the terms of Ehrlich's slots agenda. Under Ehrlich, slots and cuts instead of higher taxes were arguably the lesser of two evils. With O'Malley, slots after a record tax and spending increase are just an additional evil. During his first term, Governor Ronald Reagan faced with a budget shortfall. Legalized gambling was proposed as a solution. Reagan rejected the idea, stating, "The state should be funded from the strength of our people, not from their weaknesses." Reagan is right. There are no easy answers to our budget problems, but there are simple ones. The most obvious one is for government to spend no more than it receives. That's not much to ask on the heels of a $1.5 billion tax increase.

On November 4th, instead of rewarding fiscal irresponsibility, accepting another bad deal, and writing gambling interests another big check, let's tell Governor O'Malley that it's time for government to start living within its means, just like we do. Vote YES for fiscal responsibility, and vote NO on slots, Question #2.

Herb McMillan served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 2003-2007 and is currently President of the Maryland Taxpayers Association. Budgetary data provided by the Maryland Department of Legislative Services.

Monday, October 27, 2008

City Council Meeting 10/27: Live Blog

Yes, live!

This is a public hearing meeting, which ironically means that there will probably be less public speaking than at a regular meeting, because at least at this meeting people have to talk about what's on the agenda.


Yikes, the Maritime Republic of Eastport is here. They have children, confirming the worst fears of mainland-ers that they are developing a youth indoctrination program. Their annual Declaration of (Tug Of) War will come be expressed in a battle on November 8.


The city just received a grant that will allow them to buy yarn. I'm sure I'm leaving out some relevant information but that's what struck me.


We are now being treated to a presentation on the Legacy of Slavery in Annapolis. There is a screen, and a projector--likely causes of "a case of the Mondays" for the MIT department. The right side of the room must now move to the left side, because the screen is set up on the right side of the room. Lesson: when looking for factual information, always look to the right.*

(*Political pun!!)


The presentation has come to a halt because the presenter tried to access a web page and it says "page cannot be displayed". Finally, vindication!! Presenter: if you are reading this right now, I will sell you the secrets of my internet "borrowing" for $5, payable in $.05 installments for however long it takes.


As an aside, the pre-meeting conversation included the nature of the whereabouts of former city attorney Shaem Spencer, who is now a district court judge in Glen Burnie. I was informed that an unofficial city delegation was sent to heckle the honorable magistrate, a field trip that I imagine to be hilarious.


I noticed that Alderman Paone is drinking a diet coke--an endurance technique that I pioneered some 18 months ago when this blog first began. Well done, sir.


The presentation is over. I believe that now the public will be heard.

Bill: O-05-08, to correct a technical error in the code regarding free standing signs.
-P/Z director John Arason gives a brief.
-nobody speaks for or against.

Bill: O-18-08, more technical changes to.....wait for it......sign regulations!
-Arason testifies again.
-I dare say that the public is again, ambivalent. Alderman Arnett seems to know the deal.


I will send $2 to anybody who writes a comment while I am writing this blog. You only pay the $4.95 shipping and handling.


Of shipping and handling, which is the more expensive undertaking?




My goodness, I think it's easier to make yourself a criminal in this town by putting up an illegal sign than anything else. If I were the Downdown Dictator (one of my pet name's for the office of mayor), the sign code would read like this:

15.535.9525 Signs:
If you put up a sign, we will grab 20 random people who passed by your sign. If none of those people say "that is a dumb-ass sign", or "who thought this would be OK?", then you can keep the sign.


Alan Hyatt, a local mogul, is representing Shopper's Food Warehouse--who apparently have been aggrieved via signs.


For the record, my favorite signs are THIS ONE (watch for immigrants cross the road!), and THIS ONE (not overly wordy, yet you understand completely the choice you have to make.)


Classie Hoyle, whose ward this concerns, has not commented at all during this exchange.


Bill: O-30-08, clarifying the duties of DNEP and the Public Works Administration.

-an unidentified employee is testifying.

-small government tip of the day: if two government departments can't figure out who does what, maybe one of those departments doesn't need to be there

-since when was Public Works an 'Administration' and not a 'Department'?

-a man with a briefcase is talking about sprinklers. I don't know why this is relevant, but then again I haven't read this bill, and he just referenced the bill, so he is probably making a valid point.


I haven't stopped blogging, I've just stopped paying attention to the meeting. I plan to be interested soon.


Ok, I read O-30, and there is a provision that changes the requirement to install sprinklers from a renovation that exceeds 50% of the market value of a house to a renovation that increases living space by more than 50%. I don't know if this is the first time this came up, but people are really focused on it.


Bills: O-31-08 and O-34-08, reducing the Homestead Credit to either 1o5% or 102% depending on which bill you like

-Doug Smith: reduce it to 102%

-Mayor Moyer suggests that the 110% level is necessary to achieve the level of services that the citizens have come to expect.

-Randy Landis (who gets called "Gimpy" by the mayor on the way up to the podium): also likes both proposals, likes the reduction to 102% better

-fyi, for the purposes of this bill, 102% means that the tax-assessed value of your house cannot increase by more than 2% each year. currently, it can increase by 10% (or 110% using the semantics of this bill)

-Mayor Moyer applauds herself for reducing the property tax rate, a statement that doesn't

-Mike Dye: in favor of both, don't care which percentage is chosen as long as any effort is made to lower the percentage. the real purpose of this is transparency (because if the Homestead Credit is low, then you can only increase taxes through the rate, and everybody knows about it). Mike is taking some direct shots at the mayor on this because she let the credit be 10% then claimed to lower taxes because she lowered the rate.

-Brian Gill: the transparency argument is a good argument.

-Mike Dye: "I have heard a host of excuses!". Brilliant! The Mayor keeps saying "don't just complain to us, because the state and the county do it to", and Mike says "right now, I'm worried about the city". Very awesome.


I lost track of where we are because a luminary came to speak with me.

Ok, nobody spoke about O-32-08 (City of Annapolis Exempt Service) or O-33-08, a confusing bill that I will post about soon.


Legislative Action!

O-24-07: Sandwich Board Signs!! Specifically where and when they are allowed. WITHDRAWN.

R-45-08, job description and pay grade for elections board position. PASSES. 9-0 vote.

R-52-08, creating a historic West St. gateway committee.

-Alderman Stankivic proposes an amendment that there should be a person from each ward on the committee, and somebody who may or may not work for the city is at the podium arguing against this. So, the city is arguing with itself on this amendment.

-The above mentioned person just named like 300 people who are already on the committee, and Alderman Paone just said "well, it sounds like you have everybody represented but the residents", and I just upgraded to the platinum membership to the Alderman Paone fan club.

-Alderman Cordle: this is a moot point because the state owns part of the road.

-The '1 person from every ward' amendment passes (I think).

-bill PASSES. 9-0 vote.


Alderman Stankivic excuses herself.

R-54-08 (first reader), Establishment of a Council Compensation Commission. passes/referred to committee. Rules suspended and this bill PASSES on second and third readers. 9-0 vote.



Boat Show Update

At the September legislative meeting, two separate proposals were introduced to renew the lease of the boat show. After receiving a flurry of 2 emails, I broke new ground by doing actual research on the issue. And this week, flying in the face of everything blogs are supposed to be, I actually participated in a face-to-face meeting with representatives from one of the interested parties. This is their story.

(Note to readers: In a moment of fear that I was coming dangerously close to journalism, I threw away the notes that I took at the meeting. But, my memory will be close enough.)

The idea for the Boat Show apparently started in the 1960's with a man named Jerry Wood. Seeing that shows had been successful in convention centers, Mr. Wood thought the next step was to take the boats to the water, seemingly their natural place. Mr. Wood successfully secured 2 silent investors in the new venture: Ed Hartman, and Bennet Crain.

For the next 30 years, the Boat Shows grew quite successfully, purportedly the result of Mr. Wood's endeavours, and not those of the silent investors. And for those 30 years, many locals became involved in the production of the show.

A number of years ago, Mr. Wood died, and left the rights to the show to his wife, Kathy. She lived for a few more years, then also passed. The rights to the show were then split between the 2 silent investors--for a few years until Crain passed, leaving sole rights to Ed Hartman.

Now, before we go any further, let me tell you that most of the story can be found in The Capital's article. So, I am going to try and provide some elaborations on the story.

I met with Tim Dowling, the owner of Annapolis Sailing School, who ran the production of the show for Mr. Wood. Tim has worked on the show for some 15 years, and his operations partner, Jim Barthold, has worked on the show for 35 years. Both of these men have decided to leave the old operation and start a competing interest, which begs the question of why.

The two men point to Hartman. Having had little more involvement than receiving a check up until the death of the other stakeholders, Hartman had little experience in making the boat show run. Dowling and Barthold were put off not only by their own exclusion from the process--Dowling's contract was cancelled by Hartman through a legal loophole--but also that of other local businesses, including the company that had driven the piles for the last 30 years. Mr Dowling also has a different overall vision for the show. The show should be a part of downtown commerce, he said, as opposed to its current isolationist feel that happens when you try and keep tens of thousands of people inside of a chain link fence--and away from area businesses.

Mr Hartman responds by saying "talk is cheap", and suggesting that the shows under his watch have given increasing revenues to the city.

So, who is right? I must say that Mr. Dowling, having worked in the local bar industry, automatically received a +8 favorability rating from me for having such an important component of character in common with me. In fact, one of Mr. Dowling's staffers taught me how to tie a trash bag around a trash can on my first day of ever working in a restaurant, thereby spawning a quasi-lucrative career that has culminated in my ability to buy the laptop that I am using to write these words right now.

With the expectation you will not be persuaded by the above, let's try and take a more objective look. The winner, in my opinion, should be the party that best satisfies the following 3 conditions:
1. Keep it local.
2. Build on successes from the past/keep doing what has been happening.
3. Maximize long-term revenue to city and businesses.

Who you side with depends on who you believe. The choice is between a company owner who thinks he knows best, and the (former) actual operational employees of that company who think they know best. I can tell you from owning a business that employees often think they know better than the boss--sometimes they don't, but sometimes they do. I am inclined to support Mr. Dowling, but that's based at this time on little more than I believe what he's saying.

Here are 5 things to consider when choosing your position.

1. Many of the current Aldermen ran on a platform of transparency and fairness in government. Having a competitive bidding process for such an important event would be a good way to prove their commitment to that goal.

2. There are almost certainly 'good old boy' politics at work. Mayor Moyer's support is alarmingly overwhelming, and her overwhelming support of business negotiations has famously led to such results as the Market House, the pension lawsuit, the police station lawsuit, etc.

3. The Sailing HOF, as far as I can tell, is not involved. However, their position has relevance to Hartman. The Hartman family's interest in the city dock is not limited to the boat show--it also includes Watermark Cruises/Chesapeake Marine Tours. The sailing HOF, as we know, has its own plans of territorial dominance of that area. If the two camps butted heads, it would not shock me to learn that the Hartman camp originated the rumor that Dowling/Barthold were allied with the HOF folks. Public opinion is a good ally to have.

4. Hartman has been doing some crafty legal work. Any of the following names now apply to the boat shows*: United States Yacht Shows, Annapolis Boat Shows, United States Powerboat Show, and United States Sailboat Show. The renewal leases would be given to those last 2 corporations, which seem from the legal documents to be newly formed. If Hartman wants to build on the previous success of the show, if he wants to keep the shows in Annapolis, if he wants to hold on to them for the long-term and not sell to someone else--why all the maneuvering?

(*I can't follow the progression of legal changes. If you want to try, click here, and search for the above names.

5. The investors for Dowling and Barthold referenced in the newspaper article are Jib Edwards (Severn Companies), Alex Corckran (Corckran Investments), and Aden King (local businessman).

6. Here is the lease comparison emphasizing benefits to the city (as provided by Dowling):

Money to City:

Hartman: greater of 50% of gross ticket sales or $375,950.

Dowling/Barthold: greater of 50% of gross ticket sales or $500,000.

Fee Money to City:

Hartman: $3000 for Edgewood Rd. property, $25,750 for public safety and public services. No additional fee money.

D/B: $3000 for Edgewood Rd. property, $30,000 for public safety and services, additional flat fee of $100 per 'for profit' vendor space.

Civic Benefits to Community:

Hartman: none in recent history.

D/B: will pledge support and $10,000 to local charities. Will establish 'First Source Employment' program with good faith efforts to give city residents employment preference and establish an on-the-job vocational training program.


Hartman: 2008 will be the 3rd year of actively running shows, and the first year of doing the in-water set-up.

D/B: Barthold has been GM for 30 years. Dowling has run the water set-up for 15 years.

Misc. Business Attributes:

Hartman: sole proprietor, established financial credibility.

D/B. Financial backing from diverse group of 5 local residents who aim to keep shows local, financial credibility established by M&T bank.

Monday, October 13, 2008

City Council Meeting 10/13/08: Live Blog

For the second consecutive time, I have been able to access the internet, and can bring you the fun proceedings for the night. The reason that I know that tonight will be fun is because Arthur Kungle, a local historian, handed me a piece of paper as soon as I walked in, and that paper contained the phrase "quad erat demonstrat". No place to go from here, but up.

I am going to try to give descriptions of the bills that are voted on, because I didn't have time to do it during my preview post.


Alderman Shropshire is absent, but everyone else is here. The mayor unveils a surprise! It is a replica of the Thomas Point Lighthouse. The management of the lighthouse is loaning the replica to the city.


The "regular" meeting begins with committee reports. The Rules committee is reviewing charter amendments. I once was on a committee--it wasn't very productive.


The other committees report that they are indeed still having meetings.


My prediction about the closed meeting statement was accurate, and the mayor fulfilled her legal obligation by informing us that no action was taken as a result of a closed meeting about the Market House lawsuit.


******SISTER CITY UPDATE*********We have a sister city in Canada (Annapolis Royal), and today is Thanksgiving Day in Canada! We learned that the purpose of Thanksgiving Day in Canada is to celebrate the recovery of the Prince of Wales from an illness.


The mayor is quoting herself from a Baltimore Sun article.


At 7:27, Brian Gill was able to access the internet, and is bringing you tonight's fun proceedings.


********SISTER CITY UPDATE #2***********The city just got done entertaining the Mayor from another one of our sister cities: Richmond (England, I think).


Karen Jennings, a former candidate for Alderman in the great 2nd Ward, is making the environmental argument that I will mention later in this post. You don't know that I will mention it later, but I do.


The aforementioned Arthur is saying many things. The most entertaining among them, and I'm paraphrasing, "And then you've got the Annapolis Town Center that's not even in the City Of Annapolis! We need to sue them for fraud, boycott their stores, or do something. The fact that they are using the name 'Annapolis' is appalling--this only helps rich white men and hurts poor black women, not to mention the pollution." He's so entertainment that even Tony Evans is laughing approvingly.


Tony Evans now can speak, and admits defeat, declaring "That's a hard act to follow". Arthur humbly offers that he will never be Tony Evans. Now he's hitting the good points. He says "be careful of how you tinker with the lease, because the boat show could move". Translation: don't be surprised at what happens if you take the rights for the boat show away from its creator and give them to the Sailing HOF cronies.


Mockingly, Tony looks forward to the "high-tech treasure hunt" that is the geocache trail (see below). Arthur applauds. "Bravo". All is well.


Legislative action is about to begin.

CA-01-08: To revise the duties of the city administrator. The original intent of this bill was to address the issue of a powerful mayor. While the CA gave the city administrator more power, it still left the position to be appointed by the Mayor, which misses the boat. This bill has been challenged by CA-03-08*, and R-39-08. It has been postponed multiple times before, and is apparently postponed again without a vote, which is apparently allowed under the 120 day rule.

(*On first reader, contrary to the information in the preview post.)


Apparently there is a technicality that charter amendments cannot be revised until 2nd reader, which is inconveniently when the bill is voted on. So, Alderman Arnett replaces CA-03 revised (which would have been on first reader tonight), with CA-04, to be introduced at the next legislative meeting. I believe another public hearing will occur on this issue, whatever the bill numbering is. Alderman Hoyle is confused about the process, but in fairness, so is everyone else. I believe that someone could get elected parliamentarian, even though would require that person first convince the public and the election board that such a position even exists, which it does not.


O-11-08: Prohibited parking on unpaved surfaces in residential zones. This bill ran into opposition from environmentalists, who pointed out the incentive to pave over land. Others objected to the bill’s alleged ‘back-door’ attempt to stick it to illegal immigrants, who are perhaps thought to overcrowd houses and park their cars everywhere. BILL WITHDRAWN (along with R-21). UNANIMOUS VOTE.


O-14-08: Establishing standards for funding grants to non-profits. Proposed by Alderman Stankivic, this bill begins to address that any Tom, Dick, or Harry can come before the council and ask for grant money. The bell sets some guidelines for who can receive money, but the standards are vague, and would probably only exclude Tom from the above trio.

There are amendments offered right now that assign points to the criteria named for determining worth recipients, presumably to attempt to quantify the selection process. Aldermen are slowly pointing out that standards are good, but this bill is not. BILL PASSES, 5-3 VOTE (Hoyle, Finlayson, Arnett), WITH AMENDMENTS.


O-23-08: Quarterly financial reporting by organizations that receive grant money, sponsored by Alderman Cordle. PASSES, 7-1 VOTE (Paone).


O-26-08: Same thing as above but substitute semi-annually and Shropshire. WITHDRAWN.


Voting on ordinances is done. All ordinances listed on the preview post were passed and referred to committee. Let's vote on resolutions!

R-32-08: Expansion of programs for the Chesapeake Children’s Museum. Folks, I can’t make this up…the purpose of this bill is “that the City Council of the City of Annapolis hereby expresses its approval of the Project “Hand-Tossed Salad CafĂ©”. PASSES, UNANIMOUS VOTE.

R-39-08: Blue Ribbon Commission on forms of city government. This bad boy comes from Alderman Finlayson, perhaps at the behest of the other pro-powerful-mayor folk, and challenges CA-03 which is the product of Aldermen Israel and Arnett. Essentially, with CA-03, Israel and Arnett have already answered the question of which form of government is the best, and they assert that it is a city manager. POSTPONED.


A reader of this live blog has cleverly just asked me if Alderman Shropshire is absent because he is attending a seminar on ethics.

The real voting is now finished, and so is the blogging. I am going to risk my credibility and assume that all of the resolutions in the preview post will pass on first reader, despite the occasional objection from Alderman Stankivic. If not, I have some high-quality informants in attendance right now, and I trust that they will provide me with any information that I miss, on the off-chance that I am wrong.


Ok, I think I'm wrong. I think that they have been suspending the rules to have a final vote on some things that are on first reader. Alderman Cordle raises on objection that these spending measures are being pushed through. Nonetheless, I'll have to look at it tomorrow, because the blogging is done, as I mentioned.

Until next time, stay hungry Annapolis.

City Council Meeting 10/13/08: Preview

Much like air quality and terror threats, the best way to describe the amount of free time in any given week is by arbitrarily citing a color. This week is code yellow, which means that there is time to write blog posts, but no time to putz around trying to come up with clever commentary. So, here is what will be discussed at tonight's meeting, at which I will attempt to live-blog.


Normally the prayers and pledge of allegiance are led by a random alderman, but today the Mayor has all of those duties. She then will issue something called a "Close Session Statement". I have never seen this before, but I do know that the council goes into closed session to talk about who is suing them, so perhaps this is a lawsuit update. Perhaps we will learn that "they started it!" is the city's defense for the tens of millions of dollars currently at risk in the legal arena.

Things To Be Voted On For Good Tonight, Unless They Get Postponed, Or Unless Someone Else Brings Them Up Again In The Future:

(Note to readers: the free-time index has just been upgraded to a color called "sunflower fields", which means that there is no time to link to or analyze the bills on second reader. Tune into the live blog for that analysis.)

CA-01-08: Old city administrator charter amendment.

CA-03-08: New city manager charter amendment that would nullify CA-01.

O-11-08: Prohibited parking on unpaved surfaces, a.k.a. the crackdown on illegal immigrants with too many people living in one house.

O-14-08: Establishing standards for grant giving to non-profits. This bill is in a proverbial threesome with the next two bills on this list.

O-23-08: Requiring non-profits to report financials quarterly.

O-26-08: Requiring non-profits to report financials semi-annually.

R-21-09: Fees/fines resolution that travels with O-11.

R-32-08: Enhancing program offerings at the Chesapeake Children's Museum.

R-39-08: Establishing a Blue Ribbon Commission to evaluate various forms of government, even though 2 charter amendments to change the form of government are also on second reader today. Good timing.

Things That Are On The Agenda For The First Time And Will Pass On First Reader and Be Referred To Committee, Unless Someone Filibusters, Or The Power Goes Out, Or The Bill Is So Obnoxious As To Not Receive A Second:

(There are a ton of bills on first reader.)

O-37-08: Appointment procedures for the Art In Public Places Commission.

O-38-08: Updating the city recycling code.

O-39-08: Later closing hours for wine bars in the MX zone.

O-40-08: Change in effective day for the lawn fertilizer disclosure act that they already passed.

O-41-08: Rules for bed-and-breakfasts.

R-41-08: Proclaiming October as 'National Arts and Humanities Month' in Annapolis.

R-42-08: Supporting the Maryland Municipal League Geocache Trail.

R-43-08: Authorization for filing a transportation grant.

R-44-08: Re-designating Clay Street as a Community Legacy Area.

R-45-08: Approving new elections board job in the office of law.

R-46-08: Reclassifying grant-writing job in the DOT.

R-47-08: Transfer a contractual position to a civil service position of Stanton Center Recreational Director.

R-48-08: Approve position of dance coordinator.

R-49-08: Approve position of Hispanic Community liaison.

R-50-08: Approve position of external affairs officer in police department.

R-51-08: Establishing fees for barge houses.

R-52-08: Creating a committee to provide a comprehensive analysis of the $10 million Outer West Street Gateway. In other words, a committee is now being created to study the feasibility of a project that has already been approved.

R-53-08: Creating a task force to examine the impact of art and culture on the local economy.

Also, there are 4 appointments and 7 budget changes, for which I will attempt to gain information from the VIP crowd in the back of the room.

Tailgating will begin at 6:15 in the Hillman Garage. Please bring a covered dish or sparkling fruit punch.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fun With Wine

I am happy to bring you not one, but two wine-related stories as we head into this weekend. The first comes from the notorious 1st Ward, and Alderman Israel, who is proposing to change the permitted operating hours for wine bars in the MX zone, specifically to allow them to stay open until midnight 7 days a week.

The first thing that strikes me is that I only know of 1 wine bar in the MX district: The Purple Tooth. Catchy name, good cheese, old fire station, fine by me. I just don't like the specificity of the bill--instead of writing a bill for one constituent, how about relaxing the Ward 1 Superiority Doctrine and allowing the rest of the city to operate under the same rule. I think it's a bit of a stretch to compare this bill to Alderman Israel's stance on the 2 a.m. issue, but it's interesting to see how Alderman Israel is willing to extend the business hours for 1 wine bar in his district, yet favors reducing the business hours for the regular bars that comprise the majority of hospitality business in his ward.

The second wine story comes from a letter writer to The Capital. For the ever-increasing new readers of this blog, I enjoy having debates with these letter writers for 2 reasons:

1. These letters writers are either more fanatical, or less fanatical, than me.
2. They cannot debate back.

I have not done one of these in a while. A couple of months ago I cancelled my subscription to The Capital, the result of a joint collaboration of this blog's "save-the-blog-publisher-money" and "stick-it-to-the-man" initiatives. However, I have located a gem on the internet version.

The original text of the letter writer appears in bold, with my uncontested commentary in regular font.

Open letter to Gov. Martin O'Malley:

Since you could not be bothered to attend the Maryland State Wine Festival and present "The Governor's Cup" in person for the second year in a row, I can't be bothered to support you on slots, or for any re-election attempt you may make.

Sadly, I have never won the Governor's Cup. However, I have won the Mayor's Cup, a fictional award that my fictional social club has awarded itself for the past 20 years, in recognition of having the best float in the city's 4th of July parade.

By the way, what an insignificant reason to drop your support for someone!

Dear John McCain: In these troubling economic times with major world issues, I cannot support you on anything because when you had hair, you parted your hair to the right and I part mine to the lef. Dear Gov. O'Malley: I cannot support you, for many other reasons.

Wine production in Maryland is a growing and thriving business. As such it brings in an increasing amount of revenue to this state, which you say is much needed to make up for the shortfall that your tax increases did not bring in.

What O'Malley says about the budget shortfall cannot be believed. He spent us into a deficit by withdrawing $1 billion from the rainy day fund and increasing spending, then "solved" that problem with a special session that raised taxes AND ADDED $600 million or so in new spending, but now there is a deficit again, so O'Malley calls for cuts, but also doesn't call for cuts. Got it?

Many liberals do not understand that raising taxes can actually have a negative effect on total taxes collected, a relationship suggested by the Laffer curve. Not always, not immediately, but eventually. Raising taxes depresses total business output, and encourages businesses to move to lesser taxing jurisdictions (think India, offshore bank accounts, etc.), meaning that the government loses income and payroll taxes. The evidence is too vast for me to enumerate here (mainly because I have a doctor's appointment in an hour), but if commenters press me on the issue, I may be forced to comply.

However, I have noticed that you and your band can play every pub and bar in Baltimore.

Do they take requests?

So I can assume that you're not personally opposed to the sale or consumption of alcohol by adults, just opposed to supporting the entire state instead of just one city.

Have you ever considered a career in politics?


Dear Rhonda,

I live a maverick's life outside of Annapolis, which is near Gambrills. Please send the wine you set aside for Gov. O'Malley to "The Fourth Most Popular Political and Economic Blog In the General Vicinity of The Annapolis Mall, Annapolis, MD, 21401", so I can surprise Mrs. Politics with a fancy dinner.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Alderman Sam's Event Is Still On, And So Is The City's Arrogance

On Monday I posted about a campaign event being held by Alderman Shropshire that has taken heat for being a partisan campaign event held on city premises. The initial reaction that I heard was that the event's location was being moved. When this didn't happen, several Aldermen became upset, and at least 5 of the Aldermen want this event stopped.

The Mayor is out of town, so we can't get her feelings. We know Alderman Sam's view, so let's not count him. Of the remaining 7 Aldermen, 5 steadfastly oppose it. Were this a city council meeting, the meeting would fail. But since this is a unilaterally organized function not requiring votes, majority opposition doesn't matter, and neither does the fact that city code prevents using public office for personal gain.

In the wake of such stunning opposition, the event has been moved............nowhere! Alderman Sam sent out a "revised" email, where the specific solicitation for campaign money was removed.

Classie Hoyle is the acting Mayor, and therefore can assumedly issue an 'event veto'. Perhaps I should say the pretend Mayor, because I'm quite sure she is not going to act on this issue. The event will go on, despite it inappropriateness. The city's position on this is that since similar events have taken place, this one will be allowed.

The same themes continue to pervade city government: lack of accountability, mismanagement, and arrogance to think that they don't have to follow the law.

I suspect that a formal ethics complaint will not be the end of this issue.

Breaking: The City's Public Works Building Is On Fire


The fire is out and Spa Rd. will be opened by 10!


I received this alert from the city
Annapolis Fire is on the scene of a fire at the City's Public Works Complex
in the 900 Block of Spa Road Spa Road is closed from Hilltop Lane to Smithville
Street, unknown for how long. This is a major route and traffic may be severely
affected, not only in that area, but city - wide, as usual Spa Road
motorists take alternate routes.

We will keep you updated, but for now, it is best to avoid the area if

I would ask my battalion of beat reporters to take a digital picture and send it to me so I can post it for the world.

...not sure if this is related to neglect in any way, but I want to be at the emergency funding meeting when they try and figure out how to pay for a new building/repairs.