Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Point – Counter Point

Posted by David Keelan on Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Howard County Blogs will be conducting a general election online forum.  I didn’t expect a primary forum/debate for House of Delegates District 9A when I posed some questions to Melissa.  The questions regarded Melissa’s pledge to not increase taxes combined with the endorsements she received from union organizations that do support tax increases in order to further their own missions.

It would be interesting to have Greg Fox, Jim Adams, and Wayne Livesay participate in a similiar dialogue on this blog.  I know all three are readers of this blog too.

The question was for Melissa Covolesky.  She “replied” in the comments section which I put in a post (I pledge no tax increasess ii…) so it would get greater visability. 

The whining that Melissa refers to in the previous comments/post may be this letter written by Delegate Gail Bates.

Despite voting for the enhanced teacher pension bill, the number one priority of MSTA, we failed to receive the endorsement of the Howard County Teacher’s Union.  It seems that the union’s top priority was not the pension enhancements, but the bill to delay further improvements to eleven consistently failing Baltimore City schools, since that vote counted twice in their calculations for rating legislators.

We are proud to have voted against HB1215 and to oppose the veto override.  We know that Howard County parents and the majority of Howard County teachers would not tolerate more than a decade of schools achieving failure rates of greater than 80%.  We are also aware that even one year in the education of a child is critical for that child’s future.  To endorse continually failing schools by delaying for one more year the State’s efforts to make improvements thus protecting the Teachers Union is unconscionable and we stand by our votes.

We are also aware of the extra funding commitment Howard County taxpayers have made to assist Baltimore City schools since 1998, money that could have been spent in Howard County classrooms.  We are heartened by the fact that Governor Ehrlich has increased State spending for renovations and new school construction in Howard County.  Because of the Governor’s commitment and our support, a new high school was built at Marriotts Ridge.  Although the  funding was initially in doubt, the State stepped up the funding for this needed school.

We trust the majority of teachers and the parents of our district to look past the union mentality and make the right choice in September.

State Delegate Warren Miller (who I support) is also a reader of this blog and he responded to Melissa as follows:

I read with some amusement the exchange between My Opponent and the Blog Moderator over the question posed by several endorsements and the e-mail from the Maryland Taxpayers regarding the “Taxpayers Protection Pledge”.First it’s important to answer the question that David posed – “Is it mutually exclusive to sign such a pledge and accept the endorsement of these organizations that supported every single tax increase during the Robey administration?

  • Howard County Teachers Union (HCEA)
  • Howard County Police Association

In my view the endorsements and the signing of the pledge cannot co-exist for the following reasons

The Teacher & Police Union will always want increased spending for the welfare of their employees – it’s the principal reason for Unions to exist.

When you spend time in Annapolis you realize that these groups are very aggressive about trying to get additional funding, even if it throws state budgets and budget formulas off.

To answer some of what my opponent characterized about me – “Warren has signed the pledge so what would he have done if they endorsed him? Humm?

In regards to the Teachers I didn’t participate in the interview process because I did not want the endorsement of a group that supports failing Baltimore Schools and I did not want to be associated politically with the likes of Delegate Liz Bobo and Del. Shane Pendergrass! So no I did not want the endorsement of a “Big” Labor union.

The Police union did not at any time send me a questionnaire/interview me so I had no ability to opt-out of the interview process. I am glad the Dan Bessick who runs the Police Union endorsement process and jointly serves on the Howard County Democrat Central Committee didn’t endorse me – again when I vote “No” on the vast majority of Union backed bills I could sleep with a clear conscience (and I have slept well over the last four years knowing that I was doing the right thing for the taxpayers of Maryland!)

“I was very upfront with the teachers panel that while I might agree in theory with a particular program, that I *wouldn’t* raise taxes to fund them. I am big on reassessing programs and re-allocating money (something you will hear repeated throughout my campaign, interviews and every forum, if you have/had been listening) rather than just heaping money into programs for perpetuity. Maybe it was my candor to the interview board that led them to think they should endorse me over my opponents. Novel, huh? But certainly not within the scope of your attempted hatchet job.”

When you watch the budget process in Annapolis you realize that 99% of the money is given to Howard County by formula and the real decisions regarding how the money will be spent follows this process – the School Board creates the budget and the School Superintendent modifies and approves and then the budget is sent to the Howard County Council/ County Executive – at no point does the delegation get involved in those decisions. I would at least hope that my opponent understands this and didn’t make promises to the Teachers Union thinking that as 1 delegate out of 141 She was going to suddenly re-task million and million of dollars for the Teachers Union.

“Get real Dave, Gail Bates also sat for the Teachers edorsement and she and Warren have hit every single paper with their editorial whining that they DIDN”T get the endorsement”.

I dispute the point that Gail and I wrote a “whining” letter, when we reviewed the bills the Teachers union cared about the score was heavily weighted on blocking the Governor’s attempt to help Baltimore City kids in failing schools. Again I am glad that I supported the Maryland Department of Educations attempted take over of failing schools and if the unions don’t like that – tough!

To which Melissa Covolesky replied:

The FOP endorsement is also a Union, yet my opponent readily accepts that one. Here is an excerpt from an article on Cave speculating why his opponent received the endorsement over him: (from the Examiner)

Cave told the union he has added 18 positions in eight years, obtained newer vehicles and computers, and upgraded body armor.

But Cave said in an interview with The Examiner that Fitzgerald pledged more proposals for sheriff’s deputies than he did.

“He promised them everything in the world,” Cave said. “… I would like to give them everything they’re asking for, but that’s not going to happen.”

SO it is apparent what their priorities were in handing out their endorsements. I don’t believe the Police Officer’s Association had interviews with the state level delegation – I did not interview nor ask for their endorsement. Nor did I have an opportunity to do so with the FOP.

I respect Warren’s decision not to sit for the Teacher’s endorsement, but his slate partner did sit for it. And as a slate, they take each other’s good with the bad.

Lastly, no promises were made to the teacher’s or anyone else. They are a lobbying organization like every other lobbying group. The most I can ever promise is to listen to concerns and keep a balanced budget. I have pledged with a clear head not to raise taxes and I intend to keep that and I made that clear to the teacher’s and to whoever else talks about funding.

If there is so little discretion as to the budget, then please stop claiming your victories for keeping it balanced. You apparently have little to do with it, right? (I suspect whatever your response will be to this, and I wrote it in such a way to get a response, I as a delegate will have the same opportunities to influence the process through the committee/subcommittee process, just as you did. You can’t have it both ways.) I did intern in Annapolis for a senator and while I am obviously not as familiar at it as you are at this point, I do have a pretty good grasp of what I am getting into with the process. 

To which Warren replied:

Not to get in an argument – I have a right to post just like you. You might want to check your facts on the FOP they are not or never have been a “Union” they are a “Fraternal Organization” as such they lobby for different things and they typically endorse Republicans like Governor Robert L. Ehrlich in the last election.

Your comments about the Sherriffs Candidates have little bearing on how the FOP endorses.

And just to make the record clear Gail and I agree ninety nine percent of the time and have a great record of accomplishment in Annapolis we run on our records because we have records and years of community service and commitment. Your not using the term “Slate” correctly – you have to look at what an entire party puts forth to correctly use the term (ie West Virginia and the “Mountain Party”) Gail and I are not a slate in that sense since the county GOP does not endorse in a primary!

I have never claimed to single handidly “balance” the state budget, but again there is a law that requires a balanced budget – what I have said is that I support Governor Ehrlich’s fiscal responsibility and budget cutting in State Agencies…

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5 Responses to “Point – Counter Point”

  1. Mary Smith said

    Regarding Adams, Fox, and Livesay having a dialogue on the blog about positions; Please do!

    Can I ask the first question?

  2. hocomd said

    Mary, please do.

  3. Mary Smith said

    For Adams, Fox, Livesay:

    Please describe your position on comp lite, and support your position. Please describe any inconsistency in reports that don’t represent your position. Specificity is encouraged, no need to compress into sound-byte size.

  4. Jim Adams said

    Go for it Mary. I think Mr. Lincoln had it right when he said of the people, by the people, for the people. This is a chance for us to see what is on the citizen’s mind.

  5. Jim Adams said

    I believe comprehensive zoning, should be as the word is defined, comprehensive. I have hear that comp lite may be illegal, of course this would have to be determined by a court of law, and even if it is legal, it gave unfair advantage to those (I think the number was thirteen) parties who were included at the last moment. There was no 30 day period, as required by the parties involved with comprehensive zoning.

    My real concern is that there is a feeling of untrust between citizens and the council. As you might have hear,there is favortism shown to developers.

    Our sucess in land use has been because of planning.
    With BRAC at one end, open farm land at the other end, the predication of thousands of new jobs available in the area, we run the risk of trashing our County.

    I believe to prevent this, we employee an individual, a lawyer as a legal zoning officier. A person with no ties to the county, who will be objective in their decision making, to address issues out side of comprehensive zoning. The council would be involved with appeal cases and peroidic reviews (comprehensive zoning).

    The Planning Board members should go through orientation beginning their service on the board and there should always be a lawyer in the meeting to assist and advice the board.

    Planning and Zoning should be staffed well enough to follow up on the zoning plans (ex. are there the parking spaces that were agreed on).

    Mary, as an accountant I believe in internal controls, as a citizen and one who believes as President Madison wrote in the Federalists Papers “our government works better with checks and balances”, and as a person who has lived a good life in Howard County, I just want to protect our life styles, and if we can, improve them. My thoughts may not be yours, so as a part of this dialogue, I hope you will share yours with us. Thank you.

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