Sunday, December 30, 2012

MEGA JuiceBlender: Updates on Don Dwyer, John Delaney, Maryland Wind Power, Death Penalty, Gun Control & More!

Below Maryland Juice presents several recent political tidbits to take note of, starting with an update on everyone's favorite gay-bashing, drunk-driving Delegate Don Dwyer. Sorry for the length of this JuiceBlender, but I'm playing catch up on a bunch of story threads below.

Maryland's Drunk-Boating Delegate Don Dwyer

JUICE #1: CRIMINAL CHARGES BROUGHT AGAINST TEA PARTY LAWMAKER DON DWYER // SPOTLIGHT ON HYPOCRISY - Maryland Delegate Don Dwyer stunned political observers with his moral hypocrisy earlier this year when he admitted driving a boat with over three times the legal blood alcohol content (BAC). Dwyer is a self-proclaimed family values, Tea Party lawmaker who previously led the charge against marriage equality in Maryland. But Dwyer's drunk-boating led to serious injuries for several children, and now The Baltimore Sun reports that the Republican lawmaker is facing criminal charges (excerpt below):
BALTIMORE SUN: Del. Donald H. Dwyer Jr. is facing five charges in connection with an August boat crash that sent him and six other people — including four children — to the hospital....
Dwyer, 54, was charged Thursday by Maryland Natural Resources Police with operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol, reckless operation of a vessel, negligent operation of a vessel, failing to register his boat and a rules-of-the-road violation.

If convicted, Dwyer could face a year in jail and up to $1,940 in combined fines.

The operator of the other boat, Mark "Randy" Harbin, also was charged in the crash; none of Harbin's charges were related to alcohol....
Don Dwyer's Republican colleague Del. Nic Kipke previously suggested that Dwyer should resign from office, but that was even before criminal charges were handed down. Now that Dwyer is actually facing jail time, The Capital Gazette has also weighed in and is joining the calls for Dwyer's resignation (excerpt below):
CAPITAL GAZETTE: ...after seeing Dwyer win three elections, we know he has a core of supporters who see his fundamentalist view of the world as their own. They have ignored his failing as a delegate, the inability to pass a single piece of legislation. Instead, they have been content with a representative focused on other people's morals, values and their lack of respect for the law. Now poor judgment has turned the table and the public must consider Dwyer's morals, values and lack of respect....

We should not tolerate a lawmaker who violates the laws passed by the very body he serves. Given the serious of the charges against Dwyer, he should resign.

With a blood-alcohol level measured at .24 -- three times the legal definition of intoxication -- his decision to take that boat onto the water represented a complete lack of respect for the lives of others. Police say he was negligent and reckless. He should have been charged with being oblivious.

It is less sensational yet of equal concern that Dwyer was piloting a unregistered boat. The man who has made his career lecturing us all on right and wrong decided he could ignore the law. His hubris was so great, so galling that he had the audacity to do it behind the wheel of a boat named Legislator.

Dwyer said he has no plans to step down....

JUICE #2: MD SENATE MAY SHIFT COMMITTEE MEMBERSHIP TO PASS WIND POWER BILL, BUT FROSH NOT INTERESTED IN DOING SAME FOR DEATH PENALTY - Maryland Juice has been hearing rumors of potential shifts to the membership of various committees in the Maryland Senate. The reason for this would be to remove members who have been obstacles to various bills and allow the legislation to come to a full vote on the floor. The Associated Press (via WNAV) this month noted that Senate President Mike Miller wants a vote on a wind power bill (excerpt below):
ASSOCIATED PRESS: Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller says he will consider changing the membership of the Senate Finance Committee, if that's what is needed to get an offshore wind measure to the Senate for a full debate in the upcoming legislative session....
Additionally, the Prince George's County Young Democrats Tweeted at Maryland Juice that State Senator Joanne Benson announced she would changing committee assignments:

Maryland Juice has been hoping that if the State Senate is going to be making changes to pass wind power, that President Mike Miller will do the same to finally get the death penalty off the books in Maryland. Notably, Miller is an advocate of executions by the government and seems to be unexcited about bringing Maryland in line with global norms on the issue. Meanwhile human rights group Amnesty International noted the United States' embarrassing position on the issue last year:
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: The United States stayed in its dubiously bad place on this fundamental human rights issue. The U.S. was the only country in the Western hemisphere or the G8 to kill its prisoners, and was responsible for the fifth most known executions in the world, behind China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. (As an independent country, Texas would have ranked 7th, between North Korea and Somalia, with its 13 executions in 2011.)
This issue (and others) continue to fuel my belief that Maryland's legislative leadership is much more conservative than the voters they are supposed to represent. More surprising, however, is the fact that liberal State Senator Brian Frosh seems to be pulling his punches against the immoral and Dark Ages practice of conducting state-sponsored murders in Maryland. The Baltimore Sun reported last month that the NAACP planned to make repeal of government executions their top priority in Maryland. But The Sun's coverage also noted that Frosh, who chairs the Senate committee with jurisdiction over state executions, does not believe that Miller should change the composition of the Judiciary Committee to abolish the death penalty. This is an odd view for Frosh (a death penalty opponent), given that he is no stranger to using strong-arm tactics to advance or kill legislation, as he did when he unilaterally overruled his colleagues and killed student voting rights in Montgomery County this year. It is also an interesting position, given that the composition of Senate committees is pretty arbitrary to begin with. See an excerpt from The Sun's coverage below:
BALTIMORE SUN: The NAACP is vowing to mount in Annapolis its largest-ever effort to abolish the death penalty in a state, saying Maryland's historic role in the civil rights movement makes it an appropriate place for the push....
The NAACP has historically opposed the death penalty for a variety of reasons, including racial disparities in how it is applied. [NAACP President Ben] Jealous said Maryland is especially important to the NAACP because of the state's civil rights history — including the careers of native sons Thurgood Marshall and Frederick Douglass....
To get a repeal bill to the Senate floor under standard procedure, the Judicial Proceedings Committee would have to approve it. A 6-5 majority on the panel has consistently supported the death penalty....

Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat, said he has little enthusiasm for one strategy suggested by repeal proponents — persuading Miller to shuffle committee memberships to dislodge the bill. "I don't think it's good policy to shift members of committees to pick up a vote on one issue," he said....
I agree that its not good practice to do this willy-nilly, but surely there are instances where it makes sense. When a state government grants itself the right to kill people, I think that might be a good time to dust off the old "committee membership switcheroo" tactic. Come on, we're doing it for wind power! I think that stopping state murder is at least as important as promoting renewable energy and halting climate change.

JUICE #3: SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI TO CHAIR APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE // TEA LEAVES: NO RETIREMENT COMING - Numerous outlets are reporting that U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (aka BAM!) has been tapped to chair the body's appropriations committee, which (naturally) has jurisdiction over how the Senate spends money. Mikulski will be the first woman to hold the powerful post, and already Maryland politicos are thinking about how this may benefit the Free State. One Maryland Juice source noted, "This makes it much easier to get federal funding for both Red Line and Purple Line... if we can just get the state to come up with some transportation revenues." In any case, The Associated Press reported on the development via The New York Times (excerpt below):
ASSOCIATED PRESS: Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski is set to become the first woman to chair the prestigious Senate Appropriations Committee, a position left open this week by the death of Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye.

A Democrat, Mikulski was first elected to the Senate in 1986 after serving 10 years in the House. Last year, she became the longest-serving woman in Senate history.

With her ascendancy to the chairmanship of Appropriations, she enters a male-dominated realm that in the past has had sweeping power in deciding how federal dollars will be dispersed around the country....
On the other hand, Josh Kurtz from Center Maryland had an astute observation about the ascencion of BAM! In a column this week Kurtz noted that Mikulski's elevation to Appropriations Chair meant she was clearly not going to be vacating her U.S. Senate seat anytime soon (excerpt below):
JOSH KURTZ: ...for all the cheering about Mikulski in Maryland, there was also a perceptible, if mostly silent cry of pain last week among ambitious younger politicians looking to move up the food chain: My God, now she’ll never leave!

It’s already been widely suspected that the 76-year-old senator wasn’t planning to retire anytime soon, that she’d seek a record-breaking sixth term in 2016. Now there shouldn’t be any doubt. Mikulski, whose political career has been her life, has extra reason to stay....

JUICE #4: CONGRESSMAN-ELECT JOHN DELANEY TAPPED FOR HOUSE FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE // WILL THE 1% BE GOOD FOR THE 99%? - A former campaign aide to Congressman-elect John Delaney reports that the 6th Congressional District Democrat has been tapped to serve on the U.S. House's Financial Services committee. Maryland Juice caught the following post on Facebook a few days ago:

Depending on what type of official Delaney turns out to be, this could either be a great thing or an unfortunate development. Remember when Dick Cheney let oil industry lobbyists make energy policy for the White House?

During Delaney's heated campaign for Congress this year, his opponents marched out a series of stories about his company Capital Source, including allegations that Delaney was essentially insensitive to the plight of ordinary people affected by his company's activities. I have no idea if those characterizations were accurate or not, but it does lead me to be slightly skeptical about whether it is a good thing to put a member of the 1% in charge of financial services in Congress -- especially if it is unclear if that one-percenter is committed to advancing social & economic justice. Note that I don't mean to use the 1% term pejoratively here; rather, I'm merely reflecting the reality that Delaney is (as a matter of fact) very, very, very rich, and he got that money through the very sector he will be regulating. Hmm.

On the other hand, Delaney could understand that most of his constituents are not interested in seeing further consolidation of wealth in the United States, and so maybe he will turn out to be a refreshingly forward-thinking voice on fiscal issues. After all, it should be obvious to those with at least half a brain that it is not healthy for our economy to have a shrinking body of wealth among middle-class consumers. But for now, we'll all have to keep close tabs on John Delaney's votes and priorities in Congress.

JUICE #5: STATE SENATOR BILL FERGUSON OF BALTIMORE MAY FACE 2014 PRIMARY CHALLENGE FROM FORMER SEN. JOHN PICA - State Senator Bill Ferguson of Baltimore is having an "interesting" month to say the least. We recently reported that his car was vandalized with horseshit and acid, and now a former State Senator who served 16 years ago wants to primary Ferguson in 2014. See a quick excerpt from The Baltimore Sun's coverage below:
BALTIMORE SUN: Former state Sen. John A. Pica Jr., who has been out of office the past 16 years, is considering a return to the political arena with a possible Democratic primary challenge to Baltimore Sen. William C. Ferguson IV....

"I wouldn't be looking at this if I didn't think I could be a much more effective senator," Pica said. He said that while his votes on issues would not be much different from Ferguson's, he could be more effective than Ferguson in bringing back state money to Baltimore....

Ferguson, the youngest member of the Maryland Senate at 29, knocked off seven-term incumbent George W. Della Jr. in the 2010 Democratic primary. After a bitter campaign marked by harsh accusations on both sides, the young teacher trounced the veteran by almost 60 percent to 40 percent.

The incumbent said he will seek re-election. If Pica does run, Ferguson said, the race will be seen as a contest between "old politics" and a "new way of doing business...."

JUICE #6: GOV. O'MALLEY PUSHING MARYLAND ASSAULT WEAPON BAN // FMR. LT. GOV. MICHAEL STEELE CONDEMNS NRA STATEMENTS - In the wake of Connecticut's school shooting, Maryland Democrats are making gun control legislation a priority in 2013. Governor O'Malley and Democratic state legislators are proposing a ban on assault weapons and other measures. WAMU reported a couple weeks ago on O'Malley's plans (excerpt below):
WAMU: Last week's shooting presents three main areas of legislative focus, the governor said: laws relating to assault weapons, mental health treatment and school safety....
Indeed, in tandem with O'Malley's push, several Democratic lawmakers are introducing bills to curb gun violence. In a follow-up article, WAMU detailed some of the bills that are being proposed by State Senators Bill Ferguson of Baltimore and Jamie Raskin of Montgomery County (excerpt below):
WAMU: In the wake of last week's mass shooting in Connecticut, a group of state senators in Maryland is unveiling a series of gun control bills they will push during the upcoming session of the General Assembly.

The bills are wide-ranging, including an assault weapon ban, mandatory reduction of ammunition clip size and banning concealed gun permits for people who've been committed involuntarily to a mental institution in the past five years....
"This madness must stop," Ferguson says. "We can not continue to have a community in which gun violence is accepted...."

"There is simply no reason for any civilian in the United States of America to be carrying around a military style assault weapon like an uzi," Raskin says....
Republican lawmakers, on the other hand, are proposing to simply require police officers to be present at Maryland high schools. The Gazette reported on the counter-proposal by Maryland Republicans (excerpt below):
GAZETTE: Del. John W.E. Cluster Jr. (R-Dist. 8) of Parkville has crafted a bill requiring school resource officers — sworn, active-duty police officers — to be assigned daily to every public school in the state....

Cluster made clear that his proposal would only include sworn, active-duty police officers, and that they could become good role models for the students in the schools they serve.

He also said he is skeptical of proposals such as the state assault-weapons ban, which he doesn’t feel would keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people....
In an interesting aside, former Republican Lt. Gov. Michael Steele recently weighed in on the gun control debate by condemning the NRA's call for teachers to start packing heat. In comments that appeared in Politico, Steele called the proposal "disturbing" (excerpt below):
POLITICO: “I don’t even know where to begin. As a supporter of the Second Amendment and a supporter of the NRA — even though I’m not a member of the NRA — I just found it very haunting and very disturbing that our country now is talking about arming our teachers and our principals in classrooms,” Steele said on MSNBC immediately after LaPierre finished his comments.

Steele continued: “What does that say about us? What does that say about us? I do not believe that is where the American people want to go. I do not believe that is the response that should be coming out of the tragedy out of Newtown....”
While Maryland Juice is glad to see the surge in interest in common-sense gun control legislation, I am curious why American policymakers continually wait for tragedies to occur before addressing obvious problems. We seem to lack a proactive or predictive policy apparatus in this country. Again, I point to the Minnesota bridge collapses, the flooding of New Orleans, the NUMEROUS school shootings in America, and many, many other tragedies as examples of dangerously reactive policymaking. When will Americans get macro and start working to preempt problems, rather than waiting until tragedy strikes to act?

JUICE #7: ALONZO WASHINGTON SWORN IN TO REPLACE DELEGATE JUSTIN ROSS // MEANWHILE GREG HALL STILL IN LIMBO - Prince George's County's political team has been undergoing constant shifts in recent years, and 2012 was no exception. A few days ago, Delegate Jolene Ivey posted a photo on Twitter of Alonzo Washington being sworn into the House of Delegates. Washington is replacing Democrat Justin Ross who vacated his seat earlier this year. I have to admit, I ~love~ Alonzo Washington's bad-ass hairdo:

Meanwhile, Maryland politicos are still awaiting the final outcome of litigation regarding Prince George's County's other vacant State House seat. Tiffany Alston and Greg Hall continue to battle in court for the right to represent Maryland's District 24. But with the case still in front of Maryland's high court, we may have to wait until 2013 to see how this shakes out.

JUICE #8: NANCY NAVARRO BEGINS MOCO COUNCIL PRESIDENCY, BERLINER REFLECTS ON HIS TERM AS PREZ - Councilmember Nancy Navarro became the first Latina to serve as President of the Montgomery Council this month. She succeeds Councilmember Roger Berliner, who ended a one-year term as President this month. Note that the MoCo Council Prez position changes every year, with the Councilmembers themselves voting on the leader of their body. Below you can see a video interview with Navarro where she describes her plans for the year. You can also see Berliner reviewing his year as President.



Saturday, December 29, 2012

How to Score Tickets to the 2013 Inauguration of President Barack Obama // PLUS: Ticket Info for the Inaugural Balls

Alrighty folks, Maryland Juice is back in action after a much-needed mental cleanse from the sizzling political action of this past year. I decided to resume the blog with some very practical information on the upcoming inauguration of Barack Obama's second term as El Presidente de los Estados Unidos (English-only? Pfft!). Below you can see some information on how to request inauguration tickets, along with details on some inaugural balls that you may be interested in. The bottom-line is that unless you are a well-connected insider, you need to request free inaugural tickets from your members of Congress. The inauguration and official "Obama" balls are on Monday, January 21, 2012, while the state parties are holding events on Sunday, January 20th.

Get Crunk w/ POTUS & FLOTUS!
As in 2008, there will be no guarantee that you will get tickets, but if you don't there will surely be folks peddling their tix on eBay. If all else fails, you can always huddle in steerage with the rest of us on The Mall. As for the inaugural balls, those will cost money, and the ones that Obama attends will likely be hotly sought-after tickets. Without further ado, here are the links to request tickets, followed by information on some balls. Note that I couldn't find ticket links for every member of Congress. If you happen to have one of the missing links, please email me the info at ¡Muchísimas gracias!

2013 Presidential Inauguration Ticket Links for Maryland Residents:

Links & Info for 2013 Inaugural Balls:
  • Official Obama-Biden Ball on January 21, 2012 at DC's Convention Center ($60/person) - Those who sign up will receive an email notification when tickets become available with a link where they can request up to two tickets on a first-come, first-served basis. Public tickets to The Inaugural Ball are limited and will cost $60 each - LINK
  • Maryland Democratic Party Inaugural Ball on January 20, 2012 at National Harbor ($225/person) - LINK
  • Virginia Democratic Party Inaugural Ball on January 20, 2012 at Westin Arlington ($250/person) - LINK

See ya'll at the inauguration & balls!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Peter Franchot Releases Internal Poll From Aborted Governors Race // PLUS: Del. Brian Feldman Weighing 2014 Comptroller

UPDATE: The Gazette's C. Benjamin Ford printed comments today from Del. Brian Feldman about a possible primary challenge against Comptroller Peter Franchot (excerpt below):
GAZETTE: Del. Brian J. Feldman (D-Dist. 16) of Potomac, a tax lawyer and certified public accountant, told The Gazette on Thursday that he is eyeing a possible bid. During the upcoming legislative session, he plans to talk to people from across the state and weigh whether he has enough support to challenge Franchot....

His experience as a tax lawyer and CPA make for an “ideal background” for a comptroller, he said. Feldman said he has disagreed with Franchot on several issues, including finding funds to meet the state’s transportation infrastructure needs. Feldman supports raising additional revenues to pay for transportation projects, while Franchot has opposed it.

Maryland Juice has two interesting tidbits regarding the Free State's 2014 election cycle, including leaked polling results from Comptroller Peter Franchot's aborted gubernatorial campaign.

JUICE #1: BRIAN FELDMAN FOR COMPTROLLER IN 2014? - First, knowledgeable sources are discussing the possibility that Del. Brian Feldman will challenge Peter Franchot in a Democratic Primary for Comptroller. Feldman, a Democratic lawmaker from Montgomery County, had been known to be interested in the race. Moreover, the field might be more clear for him now that State Senator Jim Rosapepe has decided against challenging the incumbent Comptroller. Our sources also speculate that labor organizations and certain Democratic officials might be willing to aid efforts to unseat Franchot. Could Brian Feldman become the beneficiary of these efforts?

It seems plausible that Peter Franchot could be vulnerable in a Democratic Primary. After all, the state's Primary electorate is quite liberal, but Franchot has sometimes employed inflexible, Tea Party-style rhetoric regarding taxes, spending and revenue in Maryland. On the other hand,  Franchot's almost run for Governor has been a strength for his fundraising operation. As I recall, he had at least $1 million in the bank at last check, so any challenger would need to catch up quickly on fundraising. That means that those who wish to make an example of Franchot better be prepared to work hard and employ a strong (well-financed) message.

JUICE #2: FRANCHOT RELEASES INTERNAL POLLS FROM ABORTED GUBERNATORIAL BID - The possibility that challengers are considering a run for Comptroller might explain why the incumbent Peter Franchot decided to release his internal campaign polls. It seems that while he was exploring a run for Governor, Franchot's polls purported to show he was in 2nd place for the race to succeed Governor O'Malley in 2014. More to the point, Franchot's poll results claimed that a rough majority of voters would support him in a re-election bid for Comptroller. Yesterday Tom Coale released these details and more at the HoCo Rising blog (excerpt below):
HOCO RISING: Normington Petts & Associates took the poll from likely Democratic Primary voters in May and December of this year.  The number of respondents was not disclosed.  These voters had an 85% favorability rating of the President and 70% for Governor O'Malley....

Although 53% of respondents remain undecided on the current slate of candidates, for those that have made up their mind, voters lean heavily towards Brown.  If the race were held today, with all four candidates in the race, the projected results would be:
  • Brown    22%
  • Franchot 13%
  • Gansler   8%
  • Ulman    4%
Leaving the Gubernatorial race, 49% of respondents said that if the election were held today, without knowing the opponent, they would vote to re-elect Peter Franchot to the Comptroller's office, which may respond to some of Franchot's critics saying he has gone too far to the right to do well in a state-wide primary. 
QUICK COMMENT ON FRANCHOT'S POLL - Maryland Juice has also obtained a leaked copy of the polling memo and summary results from the survey that HoCo Rising discussed yesterday. See both items below, preceded by my quick caveats. First, Franchot's internal poll results seem pretty convenient for him, given that his own ambitions have created a laundry list of Democrats interested in applying for his job.  Now that he is running for re-election, it seems obvious that he would want to dissuade challengers from entering the race.

But on a very basic level, Franchot's poll results beg the simple question: why did Franchot leave the race if he thought he was in a competitive 2nd place? Also note that Maryland Juice previously published Anthony Brown's internal numbers, and the Lt. Gov's poll results showed Attorney General Doug Gansler in 2nd place (not Franchot). Brown's poll also claimed that with Franchot out of the race, Gansler and Brown would each gobble up equal shares of Franchot's supporters. In any case, readers curious to see more discussion about Franchot's poll should head over to the HoCo Rising blog to read Tom Coale's take on the polling results. In the meantime, check out Franchot's documents below:
Peter Franchot - Dec 10, 2012 Polling Memo for 2014 Maryland Governor

Peter Franchot - Dec 10, 2012 Polling Summary for 2014 Maryland Governor

Thursday, December 13, 2012

JuiceBlender: Herman Taylor vs. Rep. John Sarbanes, Acid on Sen. Bill Ferguson's Car, Doug Duncan Poked, GOP Gov 2014

Below, Maryland Juice highlights four images that may be of interest to politicos.

PHOTO JUICE #1: FORMER DEL. HERMAN TAYLOR VS. REP. JOHN SARBANES? - A Maryland Juice reader forwarded us an invitation to a fundraiser for former Delegate Herman Taylor. In 2010, Taylor left the Maryland House to run for Congress in a Democratic Primary against Rep. Donna Edwards. Taylor received 9% of the vote, but it looks like he may be thinking about running again. His invitation asks people to consider a contribution to his "campaign efforts" and the event is hosted by authority of "Herman Taylor for U.S. Congress." Note that it appears he has been redistricted into Rep. John Sarbanes' slice of Montgomery County. Interesting. See the screenshot below:

PHOTO JUICE #2: SEN. BILL FERGUSON'S CAR VANDALIZED WITH ACID AND HORSESHIT - The Baltimore Sun reported a couple days ago that State Senator Bill Ferguson's property was recently violated in a repugnant manner (excerpt below):
BALTIMORE SUN: State Sen. Bill Ferguson's car was vandalized overnight, and he said he suspects political enemies are to blame.... Ferguson said that in 2010, someone dumped food and horse manure on his car. This time, there was also manure on the hood of the car.... "The car, it's just stuff, but it really scared my wife, the notion that someone was standing on our property," Ferguson said in an interview....
Sen. Ferguson posted the following photos and message on his Facebook page:

PHOTO JUICE #3: MOCO REPUBLICAN MEYER MARKS FOR 2014 GOVERNOR? - A Maryland Juice reader tipped us off that a Montgomery County Republican Central Committee member was plotting a run for Governor in 2014. Indeed, a visit to Meyer Marks' website turned up a placeholder section called "For Governor 2014." Hmm. See the screenshot below:

PHOTO JUICE #4: MOCO COUNCILMEMBER GEORGE LEVENTHAL POKES DOUG DUNCAN ON FACEBOOK - Just jokes, right? A Maryland Juice reader forwarded us a Facebook post of George Leventhal poking at former three-term County Executive Doug Duncan on Facebook. Leventhal and Duncan are both plotting runs for County Executive in 2014. See the screenshot below:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

GUEST ANALYSIS: Maryland Lawmakers Who Are Out of Step With Their Voters // PLUS: Baltimore Election Results Mapped

UPDATE: Delegate Galen Clagett sent us a response to the post below, where he explains that though he voted against final passage of the Dream Act, his objection was to any bills that required money that year. See his message below:
DELEGATE GALEN CLAGETT: Dear Juice, I wanted to respond to your posting on December 12 regarding Md lawmakers being perceived as "out of step" with their voters. I saw my name listed as voting against the Dream Act and wanted to clarify something not contained within a simple accounting of votes, that is, a fiscal note.

To be sure, I supported this important legislation when it came before the House previously (and had no fiscal note), I also voted for it as a citizen in November. However, as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I was unwilling to vote for any legislation this year that contained a fiscal note given our current budget situation. As you probably know, sometimes it is not the issue itself but the collateral impact thereof (esp. when it concerns the state budget) that determines how we have to vote.

I am proud to be know as a moderate Democrat and I work very hard to make sure that I represent my constituency in 3A when in Annapolis. As anything, numbers have stories, and those stories provide a great deal more information and perspective than the numbers alone. I would hope that you and your readers keep that in mind when reviewing actions taken during Session.


Delegate Galen R. Clagett, 3A

Two Maryland Juice sources forwarded us worthwhile items about our state's recent Presidential Election results. The first tidbit is about Maryland lawmakers who may be out of touch with their voters, while the second discussion item is a series of maps depicting how voters in various parts of Baltimore voted in the November elections. We highlight a few of the interesting results below.

JUICE #1: POLITICIANS WHO MAY BE MORE CONSERVATIVE THAN THE VOTERS IN THEIR DISTRICT - An anonymous Maryland Juice source forwarded us a list of lawmakers who may be out of touch with their constituents. In particular, they sent us a spreadsheet of election results highlighting politicians who voted against the Dream Act and/or marriage equality, but who represent districts where a majority of voters supported either Question 4 or Question 6. In other words, these politicians may represent districts where the voters are more liberal than the elected officials. For at least some of these officials, these misfires might serve as warning signs that a challenge in a party primary could be more fruitful than they realize. Do elections have consequences?

POLITICIANS WHO OPPOSED THE DREAM ACT BUT WERE OVERRULED BY THEIR BOSSES (AKA THE VOTERS) - The two lists below show politicians who may be out-of-step with their districts. In particular, these politicians voted against the Dream Act but represent districts where a majority of voters voted "for" Question 4 at election day precincts. In short, these politicians misfired on one of the hottest issues in state and national politics this cycle. The Democratic Dream Act opponents below live in districts where voters supported in-state tuition for all Maryland students:
  • Sen. James Brochin - [ Democrat ]
  • Sen. Anthony Muse - [ Democrat ] - ( also voted against marriage equality )
  • Sen. Bobby Zirkin - [ Democrat ]
  • Del. John Bohanon - [ Democrat ]
  • Del. Jon Cardin - [ Democrat ]
  • Del. Galen Clagett - [ Democrat ]
  • Del. Pete Hammen - [ Democrat ]
  • Del. Sally Jameson - [ Democrat ] - ( also voted against marriage equality
  • Del. Steve Lafferty - [ Democrat ]
  • Del. Brian McHale - [ Democrat ]
  • Del. Dan Morhaim - [ Democrat ]
  • Del. Dana Stein - [ Democrat ]

These Republicans live in districts where voters supported the Dream Act:
  • Del. Sue Aumann - ( also voted against marriage equality )
  • Del. Gail Bates - ( also voted against marriage equality )
  • Del. Bill Frank - ( also voted against marriage equality )
  • Del. Ron George - ( also voted against marriage equality )
  • Del. Patrick Hogan - ( also voted against marriage equality )
  • Del. Herb McMillan - ( also voted against marriage equality )
  • Del. Warren Miller - ( also voted against marriage equality )

POLITICIANS WHO OPPOSED MARRIAGE EQUALITY BUT WERE OVERRULED BY THEIR BOSSES (AKA THE VOTERS) - The two lists below show politicians who may be out-of-step with their districts. In particular, these politicians voted against marriage equality but represent districts where a majority of voters voted "for" Question 6 at election day precincts. These politicians are not keeping up with their constituents on a major civil rights issue. The Democratic marriage equality opponents below live in districts where voters supported same-sex marriage rights:
  • Sen. John Astle - [ Democrat ]
  • Del. Sam Arora - [ Democrat ]
  • Del. Talmadge Branch - [ Democrat ]
  • Del. Steven Deboy - [ Democrat ] - ( also voted against Dream Act )
  • Del. Cheryl Glenn - [ Democrat ]
  • Del. Melvin Stukes - [ Democrat ]

These Republicans live in districts where voters supported marriage equality:
  • Sen. Ed Reilly - ( also voted against Dream Act )
  • Del. Gail Bates - ( also voted against Dream Act
  • Del. Ron George - ( also voted against Dream Act )
  • Del. Michael Hough - ( also voted against Dream Act )
  • Del. Tony McConkey - ( also voted against Dream Act
  • Del. Herb McMillan - ( also voted against Dream Act
  • Del. Warren Miller - ( also voted against Dream Act
  • Del. Kathy Vitale - ( also voted against Dream Act )

JUICE #2: SEN. BILL FERGUSON'S MAPS OF BALTIMORE ELECTION RESULTS  -  The second politico tidbit is that State Senator Bill Ferguson of Baltimore City has an interesting new series of maps on his website. Visitors can look at how different neighborhoods of voters in Baltimore weighed in on various ballot items, but we highlight a few interesting examples below:

Question 4 - Dream Act Results in Baltimore: (Green/Yellow = Support, Red/Orange = Oppose)

Question 6 - Marriage Equality Results in Baltimore: (Green/Yellow = Support, Red/Orange = Oppose)

You can check out more maps at Senator Ferguson's website.

Congressman-Elect John Delaney Announces Top Office Hires // PLUS: Delaney Campaign Operative Launches Consulting Firm

Democrat John Delaney today announced the inaugural line-up of his Congressional office staff. The newly-elected representative for Maryland's new 6th Congressional District will have a team that includes both veterans and new faces on Capital Hill. Additionally, one of Delaney's campaign operatives is launching a new political consulting firm. To the victors go the spoils! Check out the pair of press releases below:


Congressman-Elect John Delaney Names Chief of Staff, 
District Director, Communications Director

Congressman-Elect John Delaney has named John Monsif his Chief of Staff and Lisa Bianco his District Director. Delaney will bfe sworn in as Maryland’s Sixth District Representative on January 3.

Monsif previously served as Congresswoman Louise Slaughter’s (NY-28) Chief of Staff. In addition to five years of Capitol Hill experience as a Chief of Staff and Legislative Director, Monsif brings to Delaney’s office seven years of private sector experience.

Prior to becoming Delaney’s District Director, Lisa Bianco served as Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer’s Maryland Political Director.

Will McDonald moves from the campaign into the congressional office as Communications Director.

Campaign Manager Justin Schall will remain on as a senior adviser handling all of Congressman-Elect Delaney’s political operations.



Delaney Political Director Launches Feldman Strategies

Firm to focus on political outreach, event management, and communication strategy

WASHINGTON, DC - Today Andrew Feldman, former Political Director for John Delaney’s successful congressional campaign, announced the formation of Feldman Strategies LLC. Feldman Strategies will serve political and advocacy campaigns, specializing in communication strategy, event management, and political outreach.

“Feldman Strategies is here to help its clients build the critical relationships they need to win,” said Andrew Feldman, Principal of Feldman Strategies. “It is crucial for all types of campaigns to have a political outreach, event management, and a sound communication strategy, and to make sure they are well executed,” Feldman added.

Prior to his role as the Delaney Campaign Political Director, Feldman spent several years working on campaigns ranging from city council seats to the presidency.  He also worked in government, most notably doing advance work for the Office of the Vice President, and in the private sector with Devine Mulvey and Rasky Baerlein, leading media and public relations firms.

Please see the testimonials that follow below, and to learn more about Feldman Strategies, visit


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

MD State Senator Jim Rosapepe Exits 2014 Comptroller Race // Citing Franchot's Decision, Rosapepe Opts for Re-Election Bid

UPDATE: An anonymous source provided the following mini-analysis about possible ramifications of the Franchot-Rosapepe domino effect:
ANONYMOUS SOURCE: Rosapepe staying put means both Ben Barnes and Joseline Pena-Melnyk, who had been mentioned as candidates for his seat, will probably stay put in the House or look elsewhere. It also means Kumar Barve will run for re-election to the House. Because Kumar was the only member of senior leadership thinking of jumping ship, unless there is a surprise announcement of a retirement by a committee chair, this means House of Delegates leadership will likely not change after the 2014 elections. This will lead to more frustration among mid-level leadership that will likely lead to more people thinking of pulling a Justin Ross - leaving the House for greener pastures.

Maryland Juice just received a major email announcement from State Senator Jim Rosapepe responding to Comptroller Peter Franchot's decision not to run for Governor in 2014. Rosapepe, a Prince George's County Democrat, was actively pursuing an exploratory bid for 2014 Comptroller. He has now decided to remain in the State Senate and seek another four-year term to represent District 21. See his press release below:

Rosapepe Comment on Franchot Announcement

Commenting on Comptroller Peter Franchot's announcement to run for re-election in 2014, Senator Jim Rosapepe (D, College Park) said:

"With my friend Comptroller Peter Franchot's announcement today that he intends to run for re-election in 2014, I am announcing my intent to run for re-election to the Maryland Senate.

My travels around our state over the past year and a half, as I've explored running for Comptroller, have allowed me to learn much more about the needs and aspirations of our people from the Bay to the mountains, from inner cities and outer suburbs to small towns and farms.  I've been humbled by the encouragement and support I've received from Democrats and Republicans, business and labor leaders, environmentalists and educators, colleagues and new acquaintances.

I know the experience has made me a better State Senator. While my interest in serving as Maryland Comptroller is undiminished, I look forward to continuing to serve the people of the 21st District, and of the state, in the Maryland Senate."

After Franchot's announcement today, Maryland Juice expects more dominoes to fall. Numerous politicians will begin sizing up their positions and adjusting to this development. More soon!

BREAKING: Peter Franchot is NOT Running for Maryland Governor in 2014 // The Comptroller Will Seek Re-Election

A Maryland Juice source just forwarded us an earth-shattering email blast from Comptroller Peter Franchot. In an announcement this morning, Franchot tells supporters he will not be running for Governor of Maryland in 2014. This may keep a few people out of the 2014 Comptroller's race, as I assume some would-be candidates will not want to take on an incumbent from the same party.

Meanwhile, this may have unpredictable affects on the Democratic Primary for Governor. So far, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, Attorney General Doug Ganser, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman and Delegate Heather Mizeur are still eyeing the race. But this reduces the number of Montgomery County candidates from three to two, which I imagine isn't completely insignificant. In any case, see Peter Franchot's announcement below:
PETER FRANCHOT: As we approach the heart of the holiday season and the end of 2012, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued friendship. Indeed, I have so much to be thankful for this year – from my good health and wonderful family, to the support of so many good friends and the opportunity to serve the people of Maryland in what is undoubtedly the best job I have ever had.

In that spirit of sincere gratitude, I would also like to let you know that I have decided to seek re-election as Comptroller of Maryland in 2014. This is a decision that I have made after a great deal of personal reflection, and with the sound and thoughtful advice of my wife, Anne, and my two children, Abbe and Nick. It is no secret that in recent months, I have given thought to running for governor. I am humbled by the extraordinary support that my prospective campaign received in every corner of our state, and I am now more convinced than ever that there is a shared desire among Marylanders – irrespective of ideology or party affiliation – for an honest conversation of the fiscal and economic challenges that still lie ahead.

I look forward to engaging in that conversation from my office in the Goldstein Treasury Building. I have developed an abiding love for a Comptroller’s Office that has been recognized as the best in the nation, and is admired throughout the State of Maryland for its high standards of efficiency and professionalism.

Like so many people on my team, I have devoted my career to providing businesses and families with the exceptional customer service they deserve, while ensuring that everybody pays their fair share of taxes. At the same time, I have relished the opportunity to serve as an independent voice and a tough fiscal watchdog for the taxpayers – whether by opposing wasteful spending on the Board of Public Works, fighting to hold the line on state debt, protecting tax filers from fraudulent preparers, or leading by example and doing a better job for less money within my own office.

After nearly six years as Comptroller, it is still a profound honor to hold the office that once belonged to the likes of J. Millard Tawes, Louis Goldstein and William Donald Schaefer. By their words and actions, those Maryland giants set a timeless standard for honorable public service that is still reflected in the Comptroller’s Office today. My goal is to do my job and lead the Comptroller’s Office in a manner that honors their shared legacy.

Accordingly, I am looking forward to the year ahead with great anticipation. Thanks to my exceptional team of professionals, I expect to move closer than ever before to a paper-free tax filing season (and will remind you that by filing electronically, you can help my office save taxpayer money while ensuring that you receive your refund within three business days).

We also look forward to doing our part to create a level playing field, as well as a fair and predictable regulatory environment, for Maryland businesses that employ local people and reinvest in local communities. I will continue to advocate for a course in financial literacy as a high school graduation requirement. Finally, I shall continue to respect the sacrifice of Maryland’s taxpayers by ensuring that their hard-earned money is spent wisely, and by opposing initiatives that, however well-intentioned, would further weaken an economy that remains fundamentally fragile. These are neither Democratic nor Republican priorities – these are Maryland priorities that are rooted in sheer common sense. As always, I welcome and look forward to your feedback and advice on these important issues.

In closing, I would again like to thank you for your friendship and support, while wishing you and your family a peaceful holiday season.

More on the 2014 Comptroller's & Governor's races soon!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Can Doug Duncan Really Make a Comeback for Montgomery County Executive? Politicos, Pundits & Residents Weigh In

ROUND-UP OF COMMENTARY ON DOUG DUNCAN'S ATTEMPTED RETURN TO POLITICS - Last week former Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan announced he would be running to reclaim his old job in 2014. It's been six years since his three-term reign as MoCo Exec from 1994-2006, but many residents still seem to harbor strong feelings about Duncan. Though some think he would enter a 2014 Democratic Primary in a strong position, many others are already scoffing at the idea. Some newspaper articles covering the Duncan campaign have generated dozens of comments from readers, and the pundit-class is beginning to weigh in on the development.

MOCO POLITICOS WEIGH IN: Below we highlight a worthwhile new op-ed about Duncan from a MoCo politico, along with thoughts grabbed from ordinary readers at news sites. But first, Maryland Juice asked a small group of political observers to anonymously weigh in and provide their first-blush assessment of Duncan's chances. These folks are no fools, and here's what a few of them had to say. Note that it also appears that Ike Leggett's inability to make a decision on whether or not to retire is creating incentives for politicos to debate and point out his flaws:
SOURCE #1: Doug will have to reintroduce himself to a very different Montgomery County electorate and build bona fides on issues like the Purple Line, but a lot of unlikely people are interested in his candidacy. Unlike many members of the Council, he's got political backbone and cares about more in politics than media coverage. And unlike Ike, he's an effective executive - Ike's great but at heart he's a legislator and not an executive.

SOURCE #2: A complete step backward, bordering on ridiculous. He engages in serial job hunting.

SOURCE #3: In the past I supported Doug and I still appreciate his vision, strength and executive style while in office.  However, I don't see his current passion about returning to office.  It seems more about knocking off Ike Leggett.
SOURCE #4: I want a County Exec who wants the job, not one that needs the job. A paycheck is never a good reason to run for office.

ARE DOUG DUNCAN & IKE LEGGETT OUT OF STEP WITH TODAY'S MOCO? - Maryland Juice and the site's sources are not the only ones questioning the viability of a Duncan comeback. Dan Reed, a young Montgomery County blogger, posted a pretty thorough review of the issue at the Greater Greater Washington blog a couple days ago. Reed titled his piece "Montgomery County has changed. Has Doug Duncan?". In particular, Reed fleshes out new issue dynamics in Montgomery County and points to evidence that both Duncan (and incumbent executive Ike Leggett) may be out-of-step with today's voters. He highlights the two politicians' recent opposition to the Purple Line and advocacy for a MoCo youth curfew as examples (excerpt below):
DAN REED (VIA GREATER GREATER WASHINGTON): While [Doug Duncan] presided over 12 years of prosperity and growth, it's worth asking whether he's prepared to guide a county that looks quite different than it did just a few years ago....

More important is the possibility that Duncan, who pushed for growth in the county but staunchly opposed the Purple Line between Bethesda and Silver Spring, is no longer in tune with what Montgomery voters want.

As this shift occurs, the old guard of anti-growth civic leaders are gradually being replaced by a new, diverse group of young adults and families, minorities and immigrants, that somewhat resembles the "coalition of the ascendant" that reelected President Obama. These groups are generally open to growth, especially if it provides much-needed jobs, affordable housing or other amenities....

As a result, the pro-growth and no-growth coalitions are becoming more dynamic. In 1994, Duncan earned the support of Montgomery's business community by supporting the Intercounty Connector, which would support development on the fringes of the county, while opposing the Purple Line between Bethesda and Silver Spring, which he called "spending millions to go nowhere." He continued to fight the Purple Line as an administrator at the University of Maryland.

But today, it enjoys strong support from nearly all of the county's elected officials and a cross-section of business, environmental and civic groups, who all agree that the project can support a new generation of infill development, reduce traffic and pollution, and revitalize older neighborhoods....

At the same time, Leggett's administration has often held the county back, suggesting that an old-school Montgomery politician can only bend so far. He tried to strip funding for the Purple Line from this year's budget and spent most of 2011 promoting an controversial and ineffective youth curfew....

DOUG DUNCAN'S COMEBACK ATTEMPT GENERATES VIGOROUS DEBATE ONLINE - Maryland Juice was intrigued to see that news of Duncan's comeback was generating vigorous debate among readers at various news sites. Some of the negative comments can likely be attributed to the fact that the County Exec race is already heading up, and at least some politicos and residents may have favorites in the race. But my suspicion is that most residents do not fall in that category. Indeed, it is hard to imagine that Duncan could survive decades in political office without having made numerous enemies along the way or producing voter-fatigue. The reader comments seem to verify that possibility, as numerous people mentioning this-or-that land-use project that they opposed, but Duncan supported. Check out a random smathering of reader comments from The Washington Post & articles discussing Duncan's comeback attempt:
  1. Great. Duncan is the reason we don't have a Wegmans in Bethesda. He was protecting Giant's labor unions.
  2. And he's why the jail is in Boyds, moving the undesibable county stuff out of his neighborhood and into ours, where there are fewer votes. And personally, I wouldn't miss Wegman's if it weren't going in to Germantown. I was a member of the UFCW (back when it was called the RCIA), BTW so I appreciate any protection we workers can get; sorry we have to have the Dunk to get it.
  3. I'm a Republican and will vote for Duncan, again. He's the most capable county executive in my 50 years in the county..
  4. ...well we will just have to beat the dirty republican stooge in the primary. he sold us out to the developers once and should not be allowed to have a second chance...
  5. I think without Doug Duncan there would be no Downtown Silver Spring as we know it today. That is a good enough reason to consider him again.
  6. Doug Duncan would not have allowed Burtonsville to be ruined by the no growth crowd. Just look at Burtonsville, and then compare it to Maple Lawn in Howard County. Something is very wrong with the Montgomery County side of Rt 29
  7. He is running because he needs a job. He is the one that gave everything to unions and developers. How did he do in the poll against Leggett? Probably 60% (Leggett) to 40% (Doug) just like Silverman.
  8. This is the best thing to happen for Wheaton in a long, long time. It's good to see some hope for unseating Leggett.
  9. "Leggett, who repeatedly has said he wanted to leave after this term, is weighing another run.In an interview Wednesday, he said he plans to meet with supporters next year to announce his decision." Ike still has supporters??? 
  10. The reason DD is running is because he couldn't hold a job elsewhere, including a cushy job and the U of M. He's shiftless and a has been. He offers nothing new. People remember him fondly because he spent a lot of money at a time when there was money to spend. He's so yesterday. Happy times won't return with him in charge. Just heavy handedness.
  11. Gawd awful manager in-the-pocket of developers. Stay retired, for the sake of all of us..
  12. Oh yuk...another bureaucrat who cant get a job. Has NO private sector experience and no sense of how to move an economy forward. Highly respected? And he resigned for what reason....short memories!
  13. NO NO NO! Twelve years was more than enough. During his terms, the state and county used 80 million public bucks to build Strathmore Concert Hallo for Duncan's friend Eliott Pfanstiehl (that's right, only 20 mill from the Potomac/business crowd); put the Conference Center in the wrong place on Rockville Pike (wouldn't Silver Spring been better?; but he owed something to the Marriotts; approved the Transit Hub in SS that is still not finished even though he's been out of office 6 years (thin concrete notwithstanding) that will cost 60-80 million in public dollars for a glorified bus shed; and picked his own developer for redeveloping downtown Silver Spring (Foulger Pratt), who are total novices in urban development and design, but have been contracted to do lots of other SS development, including the "bus shed." The "new" Downtown Silver Spring was supposed to be the key to the castle that would get him to Annapolis. Instead we have Discovery Communications, which is an overstuffed building sitting on a too-small site. The company supports Silver Docs, but exactly what else does the global media company do for the locals. All of the "fields of dreams" in Silver Spring have amounted mostly to national second-tier chains and restaurants that you could find out in any large strip mall, plus City Place which most people are afraid to go into. Duncan does not give a hoot about growing local and small business; and exactly what is he doing now that would qualify him to make another run? He was forced to leave UMD after just seven months into a plum assignment (have we forgotten that?). Plus he is thin-skinned and cannot take criticism. 

I think all of this goes to show that there could well be an enthusiasm gap between Duncan boosters and haters. Moreover, though some longer-term MoCo voters are familiar with Duncan, not all have fond memories. We shall see where this all goes soon!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

JuiceBlender: Jamie Raskin Flashmob & Mustard, Garagiola & Hixson Seek MoCo VFW Slots, Doug Duncan: Purple Line Foe?

Below Maryland Juice highlights a few tidbits relating to MoCo politics, starting with a few items regarding Sen. Jamie Raskin's unusual fundraising event last night:

JUICE #1: SEN. JAMIE RASKIN CELEBRATES 50TH BIRTHDAY W/ A FLASH MOB, MUSTARD & SOLD OUT FUNDRAISER - Last night State Senator Jamie Raskin (D20 Democrat) hosted a 50th birthday fundraiser in downtown Silver Spring. The event reportedly sold out with 600 RSVP's on the eve of the celebration. You can see a quick photo from the fundraiser below, but more interesting than the size of the crowd is the flash mob and mustard that accompanied the event. Details after the photo:

A large crowd packs the Silver Spring Civic Center for Sen. Jamie Raskin's 50th Birthday

In conjunction with the birthday fundraiser, Raskin had announced earlier in the week that downtown Silver Spring would be the site of a Jamie Raskin "dance flashmob" on the afternoon of his fundraiser. I did a double-take when I received the following email announcement for the pre-event dance party (excerpt below):
RASKIN FLASH MOB INVITATION: We are now inviting the world to come participate in an historic Rock&Roll Flash-Mob Birthday Dance Eruption at 4:36 PM on Saturday, December 1, just a few hours before my birthday bash, in downtown Silver Spring on Ellsworth Avenue, to be led by the extraordinary Alyce Jenkins and dozens of her students at the Maryland Youth Ballet who are going to take off their Nutcracker ballet slippers, come outside and rock out in the heart of downtown Silver Spring with hundreds of fired-up 50th birthday revelers....
Maryland Juice did not actually get to attend the flashmob, but luckily an attendee posted a video of the dance on YouTube:

Note that prior to joining up with the flashmob, participants had the opportunity to learn the dance steps through an instructional YouTube video:

Perhaps equally as unusual as the Raskin flashmob dance is the party favor that was given to attendees of the birthday party: a bottle of Jamie Raskin mustard (seriously!). I'm not quite sure if there's a story behind this, but I'm told that Raskin is related to the owner of the world's only mustard museum. In any case, see a photo of the limited edition Raskin mustard below:

JUICE #2: SEN. ROB GARAGIOLA & DEL. SHEILA HIXSON SEEK SLOT MACHINES AT MONTGOMERY COUNTY VETERANS HALLS - That didn't take long. Only weeks after the passage of gambling expansion in Maryland, State Senator Rob Garagiola and Delegate Sheila Hixson are proposing a new law allowing slot machines at veterans halls in Montgomery County. The Gazette recently reported on the Democratic lawmakers' insistence on continuing to prioritize gambling expansion in Maryland (excerpt below):
GAZETTE: Veterans’ groups from Montgomery County soon may be allowed to operate gambling machines in their halls, a privilege denied to them during the August special General Assembly session.

When lawmakers voted to expand gambling in the state, they included a provision to allow some gambling machines at veterans organizations west of the Chesapeake Bay — except in Montgomery County, where delegates were reluctant to sign on without local discussion and hearings.

Sen. Robert J. Garagiola (D-Dist. 15) of Germantown and Del. Sheila E. Hixson (D-Dist. 20) of Silver Spring have prepared a bill to do away with that exemption in the upcoming legislative session.... A hearing on county bills will be held Dec. 3 in Rockville.

HOW ARE WE HELPING VETERANS BY PUSHING THEM TO GAMBLE MORE OF THEIR MONEY? - The supporters of placing slot machines at Montgomery County's neighborhood VFW & American Legion posts argue that only members of the veterans halls will be able to gamble there. Even still, this further expansion of gambling in Maryland has been a controversial issue. Opponents have argued that the definition of a "veterans hall" is very vague and could lead to backdoor slot machines in undesired locations. In a guest column on Maryland Juice, Delegate Doyle Niemann argued that the most recent round of expanded gambling at veterans halls would lead to a creep of neighborhood gambling sites (excerpt below):
DOYLE NIEMANN: ...there is no requirement as to being an established organization....  so presumably anyone can go out and incorporate a new organization and then apply. Expect that to happen....

As to who can play, some veterans organizations may limit admission to members, but there is no requirement under the bill that they do so.  The only limit is that the machines have to be at the place of business of the organization.  So a "veterans" thrift store open to the public might be able to get slot machines and have them available to the public.  Again, expect that....
But even if Doyle Niemann is wrong, I think there is something perverse about the policy logic of trying to help veterans by encouraging them to gamble more -- and to do it by placing slot machines in their neighborhood haunts. Moreover, giving special privileges to veterans nonprofits that will be denied to the numerous other struggling nonprofits in Montgomery County would be completely arbitrary. Veterans halls may be struggling for funds, but so are numerous worthy non-profits offering programs ranging from food assistance and health services, to legal representation and housing for the indigent. Following Hixson and Garagiola's logic, we could give them all a fundraising boost by allowing them to operate slot machines targeted at their members. It is unfortunate that so many Democratic lawmakers seem to love using the lazy and unproductive revenue from gambling as a substitute for actually making tough decisions. I wouldn't exactly call it intelligent policy logic to propose helping retired Armed services members by encouraging them to gamble more. In fact, I was a bit encouraged to see that Montgomery County was exempted from this sort of inept policymaking during the summer's special session. But it turns out that was just a fake-out, and we may not have been spared from the expansion of slots after all.

If Sheila Hixson and Rob Garagiola get their way, I will be sandwiched between two new toeholds of gambling in Maryland. There is an American Legion Post one mile from my house in Silver Spring and a VFW Post one-and-a-half miles from me in Takoma Park:

KEY:  (A) Silver Spring American Legion Post,  (B) Takoma Park VFW Post
If you want to see if there is a "veterans hall" slot parlor proposed for your neighborhood, you can consult the (perhaps incomplete) list I've compiled below:

Montgomery County's American Legion & VFW Posts:

TESTIFY TOMORROW OR SEND AN EMAIL TODAY // TELL HIXSON & GARAGIOLA, NO SLOTS IN MONTGOMERY COUNTY: Clearly the expansion of gambling in Maryland is never going to end, unless we speak out and tell them to quit it. Senate President Mike Miller, after all, is already talking about adding even more casinos to neighboring Prince George's County. If you want to speak out against the effort to push MoCo veterans to gamble more, there is a public hearing TOMORROW (MONDAY) at 7:00 pm in Rockville:
Monday, December 3, 2012  - House Hearing for local bills: 7:00 PM - 3rd Floor Hearing Room, Stella Werner Council Office Bldg., 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850 - Local bills refer to legislation affecting issues specific to Montgomery County. Click here to sign up to testify.
You can also email Sen. Rob Garagiola & Del. Sheila Hixson to encourage them to drop their MoCo slot expansion effort at the email addresses below:

JUICE #3: DOES DOUG DUNCAN STILL OPPOSE THE PURPLE LINE? - Now that former Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan has announced a 2014 bid for the Exec's office, some politicos are raising problems with his take on key issues. Indeed, much of the mainstream media coverage about Duncan thus far has credited him with being forward-thinking about downtown Silver Spring redevelopment, and other such projects. But yesterday a MoCo politico forwarded us a website link and news article indicating that Duncan may not be so forward-thinking on one of Montgomery County's key economic development and transportation priorities: The Purple Line.

The Purple Line is a proposed light rail line that would run East-West between Bethesda in Montgomery County and New Carrollton in Prince George's County. The line would stop through College Park, Silver Spring, Chevy Chase and other neighborhoods along the way, with the goal of taking cars off the road and discouraging further sprawl development. Full disclosure: I previously served as a campaign director for Purple Line NOW!

DOUG DUNCAN'S HISTORY OF ADVOCACY AGAINST THE PURPLE LINE - In spite of my personal support for this project, it would not be controversial to suggest that the Purple Line might be MoCo's top transportation priority. The fact that Doug Duncan has historically opposed the Purple Line suggests he might not "get" today's Montgomery County and the evolving dynamics between the area's housing market, jobs, and transit. I made this point on News Channel 8 last Friday. Indeed, Duncan's political coming-of-age occurred during a period when the political battles lines were drawn differently around land-use issues. A MoCo politico who likely agrees, shared with Maryland Juice an unusual page from the website of the Action Committee for Transit (ACT). The MoCo-based transit advocacy group highlights a candidate pledge that "Doug Duncan signed in 1994, when first running for county executive, to oppose light rail between Bethesda and Silver Spring — the core of what is now the Purple Line."

Doug Duncan's 1994 candidate pledge opposing the Purple Line

Our source also points to comments Duncan made in The Washington Post seven years later in 2001, slamming the idea of the Purple Line: "Duncan, who did not attend Glendening's announcement, said the new line would mostly serve people already using transit and do little to get people out of their cars and onto trains. It also would not extend across the Potomac River from Bethesda, something Duncan argues is needed to reduce traffic congestion." The article's headline blared, "Decision to Build Purple Line Inside Beltway Fires Up Duncan." Has Doug Duncan become less car-centric in the last decade? 

VIRGINIA IS BUILDING THE SILVER LINE - Indeed, in 2014 it would be strange for Doug Duncan to campaign on economic development in Montgomery County but continue opposing a potential major driver of job-creation. In remarks to The Washington Post about his candidacy last week, Duncan stated "that he thinks the county is 'slipping' against Northern Virginia when it comes to attracting businesses. 'I’m concerned that Montgomery County is getting a much bigger reputation that it is being anti-business'...."

Duncan, however, should be concerned that Virginia pulled off a major coup by breaking ground on the new Metro Silver Line. If you've driven on a highway to Virginia lately, you've surely seen the metro tracks under construction. The new transit line to Dulles has already sent Herndon home prices soaring, and it promises to give our Confederate neighbors the ability to turn their noses up against MoCo's continual failure to secure transit funding. Indeed, many expect the Silver Line to be a lure for businesses and residents alike. But instead of fighting for transit funding, so many business leaders in Montgomery County are obsessed with their tax rates and have made unrealistic tax cuts their primary policy priority.

WHERE IS DOUG DUNCAN TODAY ON THE PURPLE LINE? - So in a 2014 campaign for Montgomery County Executive, where will Doug Duncan be on the Purple Line? Ike Leggett always seemed fairly lukewarm and cautious on the project, and Duncan's history has shown him to be an active opponent. Meanwhile, more and more of today's Montgomery County residents want transit-friendly, mixed-use walkable neighborhoods. One need only look at local real-estate market trends to note this obvious fact. Likewise, policymakers need to think about these trends in terms of making sure Montgomery County is competitive in maintaining and creating vibrant, desirable neighborhoods. After all, the high quality of life in MoCo is what keeps us strong. That includes our schools, transit access and housing -- but increasingly, housing and transit creation are getting short shrift from politicians. But candidates do often try to re-invent themselves. We shall soon see how Duncan comes out on the issues.