Recent Posts

MD Senator E.J. Pipkin To Resign 8/12

August 5th, 2013

Maryland Senator E.J. Pipkin will officially resign on August 12th, 2013. He plans to move his family to Texas, where he will be pursuing a Masters Degree in Sport Management at Southern Methodist University. In a statement he wanted to resign now to offer time to his replacement to serve in office, and then run for reelection.

Here is a portion of his statement:

One’s responsibilities to family and oneself often change the direction of life. So, it is with regret that I am resigning as Senator from District 36. My last day will be Monday, August 12, 2013. I will carry with me both the bitter and the sweet memories of the past eleven years. My family will be moving to Texas, where I will pursue studies at Southern Methodist University for a Masters of Science in Sport Management.

I chose to resign now, rather than serve out my term, which ends in January 2015, in order to give the Republican who fills the 36th District Senate seat the advantage of serving the people until he or she runs for re-election.

Senator Pipkin frequently sparred with Senate President Mike Miller. The Washington Post reports that Senator Miller wishes him “nothing but success in the future. Senator Pipkin had a strong work ethic, was knowledgeable on the issues and served his constituents well.”

Now the question is, who will replace Senator Pipkin? The most obvious first speculation would be fellow District 36 representative Delegate Mike Smigiel. Delegate Smigiel, whom I had the pleasure to meet earlier this year, is a strong conservative candidate who has served Caroline, Cecil, Kent, and Queen Anne’s counties well since 2002. Yes, District 36 is spread across 4 counties. If Delegate Smigiel replaces Senator Pipkin, who would replace Delegate Smigiel? Will anyone else vie for Senator Pipkin’s seat?

Sources:
Senator E.J. Pipkin Press Release
Washington Post

Several Maryland Taxes Go Up Today

July 1st, 2013

Today marks the first of several Gas Tax increases, each 1 % or about 3.5 cents per year. The tax increase starts today, with additional increases on 1/1/2015 and 7/1/2015. The current gasoline tax in Maryland is 23.5 cents, and supporters of the tax claim that the tax hasn’t been raised since 1992 and that the highways and bridges are crumbling. Additionally Brian Witte of the Cumberland Times is reporting that if “Federal legislation allowing the states to collect a sales tax on Internet sales does not pass, the sales tax is scheduled to rise another 1% in January 2016.

Tolls on Maryland bridges and tunnels are also set to increase today. Some of the toll increases are 50% increases over the current tolls. The Chesapeake Bay bridge is increasing for 2-axle vehicles from $4 to $6, and tolls on Routes 95 and 40 will increase from $6 to $8.

In other tax-increase news, 10 of the most populous counties in Maryland are required to have raised taxes to clean up the Chesapeake Bay today. Carroll County voted to not collect a new tax but will instead shoulder the burden by using existing revenue. Frederick County raised their taxes by 1 cent, while Anne Arundel County voted to tax most residents $85, while some residents may see a bill as high as $170. Howard County is debating lowering the tax increases that they already passed, but currently many single family homeowners will pay between $90-150.

Howard County Delays “Rain Tax” Implementation

June 21st, 2013

Ken Ulman’s hardship relief is itself a hardship

WBAL is reporting that Howard County Executive Ken Ulman will not start collecting the “Rain Tax” starting July 1 as had been scheduled. Citizens of Howard County had been outraged by the Howard County Council version of the mandatory fee increase (read: Tax) known officially as the Watershed Protection and Restoration Plan.

At last month’s County Council meeting, many residents showed up in opposition of the 4-1 Council’s support for the highest rain tax rate for the whole state. Some churches and other non-profits might have to pay up to $30,000 in taxes. Single family homeowners would have to pay anywhere from $100-200 for an average size house. Councilman Greg Fox reported that some homeowners were over $200, with some even as high as $1000.

The County Executive admitted that they expected some businesses and non-profits would experience hardships because of the Rain Tax that is supposed to start on July 1st, 2013. Ulman is now saying that they will look after those businesses and non-profits that will experience a hardship. But the hardship relief itself is a hardship. Imagine having to prove to a County bureaucrat that your business can’t afford to pay the new rain tax. Imagine having some county worker examine your books and then arbitrarily decide if you can afford the tax. Businesses should not have to beg the county to go easy on them!

Ken Ulman thinks that if he can charge residents a smaller fee of $15 to $90 a year (townhouses and single family houses respectively), that the average citizen will just rollover and take the new tax. He must believe that businesses can just take the new Rain Tax in stride. In some estimations, larger churches who have large parking lots and large roofs will be unfairly taxed to the tune of $10,000-30,000. So Ulman’s new solution is to limit the tax to 25% of their annual property tax bill which could still cost $1,000s. Ulman’s plan does not propose any cap to limit the highest amount of tax for any group, homeowner or business.

I have a solution to Ken Ulman’s hardship problem, give every business a lower Rain tax. How about $250 for religious organizations and non-profits, and $500 for-profit companies who revenue exceeds a certain dollar amount.

Ken Ulman has stated that the new bill will need to pass the County Council, and he is pushing to have it go into effect on December 1st. The county’s “Impervious Surface Calculator” has seemingly been removed from their website.

NSA/FBI Collecting and Storing Internet Usage

June 7th, 2013

The Federal Govt. is spying on your email, video, chat, pictures, Skype sessions, internet usage. The NSA and FBI are collecting ALL of your information, and have been for 3 years. They are copying the data and storing it. This includes Google, Facebook, Hotmail, Yahoo, Skype, Gmail, AOL, YouTube, and that is just what we know so far. It is a damn shame that this is allowed to happen. This must not continue!

Basically all of the tech giants are allowing direct access to user’s data. Direct access means that they are asking for the data, they aren’t getting a court order, it means that they get real-time access to the data for everyone. The government is then copying the data to their own servers so that they can monitor and assess the records for every citizen in the United States. The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. is reporting that the secret government program is called PRISM.

Source: Guardian (U.K.)

Audit: Baltimore & PG Schools Wildly Misspent Funds

May 23rd, 2013

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General issued an audit of Maryland’s use of federal money given as part of the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.” The audit covered from April 2009 through June 2010, but was expanded through May 2011 after uncovering prohibited expenses.

The report found $362,939 in unallowable and $346,861 in unsupported expenditures. The troubling expenditures included travel, entertainment events, utility bills, awards, giveaway items, food, and items for personal use.

The audit also found that Maryland Dept. of Education did not monitor any of the Recovery Act expenditures until after the audit period.

Breakdown of some of the most outrageous expenses, all of which are prohibited uses of federal grant money:
$2,413 for a fried chicken dinner at a PTA meeting for 25 adults ($99/parent)
$4,352 for two Baltimore Inner Harbor dinner cruises for parents and teachers
$1,336 for 30 people for dinner, dancing, and a performance by a “local singer” at a theater in Baltimore
$500 for food at a Parent/Student makeover day
PG County even paid $222 for an electric pencil sharpener

Sources: US DOE Office of Inspector General
Baltimore Sun for original story

Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan still on Army payroll – $278k

May 22nd, 2013

Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who is the “suspected” shooter in the November 2009 Fort Hood shooting, has reportedly earned more than $278,000 in military salary since the shooting. According to the Washington Times, Major Hasan was a psychiatrist and the Department of Defense has a policy that all employees continue to earn a salary until a guilty verdict is rendered.

As you may remember, 13 people died, and 32 people were injured in the Fort Hood shooting. This was the worst shooting ever on a military base. Several employees reported that Hasan yelled “Allahu Akbar!” and then opened fire. Witnesses also note that he took particular aim at soldiers and not civilians. However, the Army still calls this an act of “workplace violence” instead of what it really should be called, Islamic Terrorism.

Del. Don Dwyer Sentenced to Jail Time for Boat Accident

May 14th, 2013

Delegate-DwyerThe boating accident on the Magothy River injured 7 people including himself and 5 kids. His alcohol level at the time was .24, which is three times the legal limit. According to WBAL, Delegate Dwyer was sentenced to serve 30 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, and 1 year of supervised probation. He has filed an appeal, and the sentence will be postponed while under appeal.

On January 8, Delegate Dwyer spoke out on Facebook about the boating accident:

In the past year I have faced both personal and professional challenges that were extremely difficult for me. As a result, and regrettably so, I turned to alcohol to cope. As many of you know, this culminated in a serious boat accident in August when the boat I was operating was struck by another vessel.

In that post, he said that in order to prevent a prolonged problem with alcohol, he voluntarily entered and completed an alcohol intervention program.

Delegate Dwyer also just held a “Gun Rights and Liberty BBQ” on May 11th, where they were selling raffle tickets to buy an AR-15 and AK-47.

Source:
Del. Don Dwyer’s Facebook Page
WBAL.com

Two New Scandals at a Second Maryland Prison

May 9th, 2013

Bloods Gang/Drug Activity Run Partially From Baltimore Prison

18 suspected members of the Bloods gang have been indicted by a federal grand jury for racketeering, drug related crimes. The case revolves around an investigation that began with a separate federal indictment of Michael Dominique Johnson, who is from Columbia, MD in Howard County.

The investigators began to monitor his communications from the Chesapeake Detention Center. The federally owned prison is run by the State of Maryland, and just happens to be located across the street from the Baltimore City Detention Center that had 13 correctional officers indicted in a major scandal in April.

This story is developing.

In other news at the Chesapeake Detention Center, a male correctional officer, Sgt. Nathan Colbert, has been charged of sexually assaulting a female inmate in front of two witnesses. A review of the court documents shows that the alleged assault occurred on July 7, 2012. Sgt. Colbert, 49, has been charged with 2nd degree assault, a 4th degree sex offense, and a correctional inmate sex offense. The trial is set for July 15, 2013.

FoxBaltimore reports that Sgt. Colbert placed his hand under her shorts and assaulted her, and she immediately pushed him away.

Sources: District Court of Maryland
FoxBaltimore

Overturning the Death Penalty Repeal in Maryland

May 8th, 2013

A new petition has been started to overturn Maryland’s death penalty repeal which was just signed into law by Governor Martin O’Malley last week. The petition is to put a referendum on the ballot for the 2014 General Election.

The new petition from MDPetitions.com is lead by Maryland Delegate Neil Parrot. In his email to previous petition subscribers he stated:

“We are going to work very hard to allow the people of Maryland to decide whether or not the Death Penalty should be available in Maryland if, heaven forbid, something as atrocious as the Boston Marathon Bombing were to occur at the Raven’s stadium or Camden Yards.”

Prior to the signing of the death penalty repeal by Governor O’Malley, only premeditated, 1st degree murder was a capital offense. Since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, 5 convicted murderers have been executed by the State of Maryland, with the last two coming under Governor Ehrlich in 2004 and 2005.

You may remember the “DC Sniper” from October of 2002, who killed 10 people and critically injured three others in Maryland, DC, and Virginia. In that case, John Allen Muhammad was sentenced to death in Virginia. John Lee Malvo was 17 at the time of the shooting and the Supreme Court ruled that the Eighth Amendment prohibits execution for minors.

Turning Maryland is urging you to sign the new petition from MDPetitions.com to overturn the Death Penalty Repeal. You can learn more and sign the petition now at http://mdpetitions.com/. MDPetitions.com is asking for volunteers to help obtain the required number of signatures.

According to the Maryland State Board of Elections, “The petition must be signed by registered voters equal in number to 3% of the votes cast for Governor in the preceding Gubernatorial General Election. For statewide referendum petitions filed in 2013 through 2014, that number is 55,736. Not more than half the required signatures may be from any one county or Baltimore City.”

Upcoming Deadlines:
May 31: 18,579 Signatures Required (1/3 of the required 55,736)
June 30: 55,736 Signatures Required (including the 1/3 turned in by May 31)

The state is recommending that the petition be signed by at least 20-30% more voters than the number required, since a substantial number of signatures are usually ruled invalid. In TurningMaryland.com’s analysis of the previous three petitions in Maryland, about 11-17.5% were rejected. Of those rejected about two-third were rejected for invalid signatures, and the remaining one-third because the signers were not registered voters of the county they signed the form for.

Voters registered with a middle name, must sign with either their first or middle name written out, in addition to their last name. Also individuals cannot register to vote at the same time as sign the petition. Individuals must receive a voter notification card in the mail before signing a petition.

Source: http://www.elections.state.md.us/petitions/
http://www.elections.state.md.us/petitions/petitions_faq_01.html

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bal-te.md.oken18jun18,0,2440962,full.story
http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2005-12-06/news/0512060136_1_baker-christopher-baltimore-county

Two New Posts Coming Shortly

May 7th, 2013

Since I haven’t posted an update in a couple of days, I just wanted to send you a quick note. I am currently working on two stories for Turning Maryland. The first story is about the new petition from MDPetitions.com to overturn the Death Penalty Repeal. You can learn more and sign the petition now at http://mdpetitions.com/. The second story I am working on will take me a little longer, as I am working on getting several sources on the complex issue of Governor O’Malley’s “Rain Tax” and whether or not it will be effective.

Stay tuned!

2016 Elections

Primary - 4/5/2016
General - 11/8/2016

Races to Watch

U.S. Senate

Barbara Mikulski (D) is retiring.

Top (D) Candidates
Donna Edwards
Chris Van Hollen

All 8 House Seats are up for election.

Current Representatives
1st - Andy Harris (R)

2nd - Dutch Reppersberger (D)

3rd - John Sarbanes (D)
Top candidates Dr. Mark Plaster (R).

4th - Donna Edwards (D) - running for Senate
Top candidates Anthony Brown (D), Glenn Ivey (D), George McDermott (?)

5th - Steny Hoyer (D)

6th - John Delaney (D) - may run for Senate
Top (R) candidates David Vogt (R), Kathy Afzali (R), Neil Parrott (R), Mike McKay (R).

7th - Elijah Cummings (D) - may run for Senate
Top candidates Calvin Ball (D), Corrogan Vaughn (R).

8th - Chris Van Hollen (D) - running for Senate
Top (D) candidates Kumar Barve, Valerie Ervin, Kathleen Mattews, Jamie Raskin
Top (R) candidates Frank Howard - potential