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Archive for September, 2006

Weekend Open Thread

Posted by David Keelan on Friday, September 29, 2006

I am out of town with my son – playing!

Talk about what you want.  Keep it clean and play nice.

Posted in General | Leave a Comment »

Ken Ulman’s Curriculum Vitae II

Posted by David Keelan on Friday, September 29, 2006

My previous post on this topic Ken Ulman’s Curriculum Vitae

First, Ken worked in the Office of the Secretary of State in the Charities Division and then in Intergovernmental Affairs, serving as a liaison to local governments and municipalities across Maryland. Later, Ken served as the Governor’s Director of the Board of Public Works and Special Projects, as well as Secretary of the cabinet.

No one has provided any answer to the question.

What is the Director of Public Works and Secretary of the Cabinet?

Why do I bring this up again?  I read on Evan Coran’s blog about the County Executive race.  Someone posted the following comment:

Straight Talk said

Ulman’s website says he was “Secretary of the cabinet” in Maryland. Really? No record of this in the Maryland state archives! Below is a link to a list of state Departments – which agency did Ulman head up?

I’d vote for the candidate with the real record of accomplishment. If this guy wants a future in politics, he should dispense with the distortions…

Ken Ulman’s website biography

It got me thinking again and wondering why no response?  I get a lot more readers now than I used to so maybe someone can finally answer this question.  Does anyone who reads this blog know what those offices Ken references are?  Do they still exist?  Who has those positions in the Ehrlich Administration?  Under Glendening what were the responsibilities? 

Ken Ulman doesn’t describe or explain what his responsibilities were in those roles anywhere that I can find and they have been attributed to him since he first ran for County Council in 2002.  In additiona, it is on the Maryland Democratic Party website, it is on the Howard County website, and the Howard County Democratic Party website.

I found a reference in the Columbia Flyer (Sept 19, 2006) that said Ken Ulman worked in the office of the Secretary of State.  There is a Business Monthly Article from 2002 that says Ulman “served as the staff member for the Board of Public Works.”

Business Monthly, January, 2006

Ulman, a lawyer like his well-known father Lou Ulman in the field of elder law, had served as cabinet secretary and Board of Public Works liaison for Gov. Parris Glendening.

Ok, that is different thant Director of the Board of Public Works.  Cabinet Secretary – Sectretary of the Cabinet?  Maybe it was a subcabinet position?  Maybe the office is now defunct?

Anyone have a clue?  Is Straight talk onto something?  Is Mr. Ulman distorting his record and dressing up his resume?  Anyone want to drive down to the state archives and look this up for me?

Posted in County Executive, Howard County, Ulman | 26 Comments »

An open letter to Ken Ulman & Steve Wallis

Posted by David Keelan on Wednesday, September 27, 2006

In case you didn’t catch it this letter appears in The View Newspapers today September 28th.  It seems to have been written and sent to Mssrs. Ulman and Wallis shortly after September 14th.

Candidates Should Hold Discussion on Growth

To: Ken Ulman

From: Christopher J. Merdon

cc: Steven Wallis

I recently read an article in the Washington Post (September 14, 2006, headlined “Executive Race Rivals Eye General Election”) concerning the issue of growth in Howard County. You are quoted as saying, “I’m ready for this discussion. I’ve been waiting for it for quite a while.”

You should not have to wait any longer and neither should the citizens of Howard County. I would like to propose that you join me in a focused public discussion concerning growth. If you agree, I suggest that we invite Independent candidate Steve Wallis to join us.  Howard County’s voters deserve a full and honest discussion of this very important issue.

Our respective campaign teams can work out the details for such a public discussion to suit all three candidates. Please contact me to begin this process.

This letter was referenced in a Baltimore Sun article on Sunday, September 24th

Invitation to debate

Republican county executive candidate Christopher J. Merdon said Friday that he had sent a three-paragraph open letter dated Sept. 19 to Ken Ulman, his Democratic rival, with a copy to independent candidate C. Stephen Wallis, suggesting a public discussion on the issue of growth.Merdon said that while the three candidates have participated in numerous candidate forums, and more are scheduled, “I want to have a debate just on growth and development.” The forums mix all the issues, he said.

Ulman said he would be happy to debate growth, and he said he and Merdon have spoken privately about debates apart from forums. But Ulman said Friday he had not seen Merdon’s letter, and he wondered why his fellow county councilman didn’t just call him directly.

“He has my cell phone number, and I have his,” Ulman said.

Ulman said the letter was ” a bit disingenuous.”

“I’m not going to respond to any letter,” he said.

Wallis said he knew nothing about the letter until called by a reporter.

“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “It’s nothing less than a political ploy. Growth has come up at virtually every forum.”

I would not be surprised if the letters were thrown out unopened because they were mistaken for campaign literature.

As to Mr. Wallis’ complaint that the issue has come up at every forum.  He is correct.  My problem is that it doesn’t get enough time or attention.  I think a one hour debate on growth in Howard County and only on growth in Howard County is a great idea. 

How much attention does it get in a forum?  Ten minutes?  Twenty minutes tops?  And that would be between all the candidates represented at the forum not just Mssrs. Merdon, Ulman and Wallis.

I hope they accept the invitation.  They can have it at my house if need be.

Posted in County Executive, Howard County | 1 Comment »

Don’t need no ticket

Posted by David Keelan on Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I read Hayduke’s post, People Get Ready, and have been thinking about it ever since.  It was thought provoking and a very introspective piece of writing.

Yes Hayduke, I am interested in what you have to say whether it is partisan or not.

Introspection is a very very good thing.  We all should indulge ourselves in what truly is a very selfish act.  That it is selfish is a fact, but that doesn’t mean introspection is wrong.  It is actually very healthy and I don’t think enough people spend enough of their time indulging themselves.

Introspection is about oneself.  A review of what you have been doing.  For a lot of different reasons I have been indulging myself lately.  There’s a train a-commin’ and I can hear it.  Did you ever have that feeling?  I am sure you have.  I think at one time or another we feel a change is in order whether we initiate it or are just swept up in it, and I ain’t talkin’ politics.

Relative to partisanship dear reader, if you haven’t figured it out yet this is a partisan blog.

When I started this blog it wasn’t because I am a partisan.  I started this as a challenge to myself to keep up on issues that are effecting me and my family here in Howard County.  I have always had a keen interest in politics and I blame my father.  Local politics is where Government mostly effects one’s life on a daily basis.  Whether it is trash or snow removal, tax increases, or new programs at you kids school, or tax breaks for senior citizens.

This is a partisan blog.  I can’t help it and I don’t apologize for it either.

Even though I am a partisan I firmly believe we are all trying to achieve the same things regardless of political affiliation.  Ninety-nine percent of us are inherently good people and we don’t want to see people suffer and we want to lend a helping hand.  To me it is about who should be helping lift people up.  Other people or Government?  It is easy to let Government do it.  The cost comes out of my paycheck and I never really see it.  It is kind of like paying an indulgence (pardon the pun).  Problem is Government doesn’t do it very well.  My church does it better so I would rather have my tax dollars back and give it to my church and go volunteer to help out.

I believe in the ideals of the Republican Party which to me is primarily limited government.  The United States first form of government was defined in the Articles of Confederation (post revolution and pre-Constitution) which envisioned a very weak Federal Government.  When Congress wrote the Constitution it envisioned a stronger Federal Government because the States were bickering with one another and even refusing to execute the laws passed by Congress.  For the reasons stated in the anti-federalist papers, and because of the experience of many people and countries before we came to be many people were adamantly against a stronger Federal Government.  A government with too much power is a threat to civil liberties and States rights many argued.  The reason for the weak Articles of Confederation drew upon the experience of the times.  Our founders were of a time when the memory of Oliver Cromwell, over 100 years after his death, was still a vivid memory.  They were experienced with the abuse of so much power in the hands of only a few people (namely the King of England) so far away.  They were concerned about a dictator.  Which is why I admire George Washington so much.  President Washington could have been President for life and he knew it.  He left the trappings of Washington because he loved this Country and its experiment more than himself.

To that end the US Constitution seeks to limit the authority of the Federal Government.  It reserves a great deal of power to the States.  Since the Constitutions adoption we have seen an erosion of State’s rights and thus civil liberties.  I am not going into specifics.  I will say that I often thought that Newt Gingrich and the ACLU had more in common than they had differences.

That does not mean I don’t believe in government.  I think the US Constitution is brilliant.  I believe in it strongly.  I believe that the Feds should provide for a strong national defense, regulate interstate commerce, but that those things not enumerated in the Constitution should be left to the States.

Now, I don’t claim that the GOP is the only party that feels this way, and it certainly isn’t its only platform issue.  I also don’t confuse the ideals of the Republican Party with policy – with which often times I disagree.  I believe that Republican’s believe in limiting the power of the Federal Government more than the current power structure in the Democratic Party.  To that end I am a Reagan Republican.

I don’t think I am so partisan that I can’t be persuaded.  I often am.  I want to be fair minded, and I don’t want to be closed to new ideas, or perspectives, or new ways to think about something.  My God, who would want to be condemned to a life of mediocrity like that.  That is not to say I don’t get hot about an issue, or passionate about a discussion.  Whew you should see my family go at it.  The in-laws can’t stand it because they are convinced a fist fight is going to break out in the middle of the family reunion.  Not to worry.

The other reason I started this blog is because I wanted to run for County Council District One.  I decided it wasn’t the time to do so having just adopted two children.  Given my interest in the position, politics, and the issues facing Howard County I thought that writing about those things would be a great way to stay informed, research the issue, get to know more about how this County works.  I never thought I would learn so much about how County Government works.  I would never have thought how easy it is to piss some readers off.

It has been a great experience and I think I am doing what I set out to do even if I didn’t know that is where the train was headed.

Now, did I expect to be a vocal advocate for people running for office.  At the time no.  But when I have something to say about a person I have known for a long time who is running for office I am going to say it.  I don’t think it is partisan but I am willing to argue about it. 

These writings are my thoughts wrapped tightly around my beliefs and relationships so it is natural that my bias will be apparent.  This is not a newspaper.  Although I don’t intend to be partisan (all the time) I am sure that from any number of readers perspective I appear to be partisan and doing it on purpose.  That is fine.  Perception is reality and who am I to deny someone their perceptions?  Call it emotional baggage.  The fact is it is me.  That is why I write.

Oh, and like Hayduke I wanted to become a better writer.

In the end, Hayduke I was hoping you would play too because I was counting on you to keep me honest.  Although I do respect your decision I felt we balanced each other out, and I liked to be challenged – it makes me introspective.

Posted in Howard County Blogs | 1 Comment »

Register of Wills

Posted by David Keelan on Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Here is an office that not many people think about unless they have had a death in the family.  Even then if one is not charged with overseeing the estate of a loved one one might never have a reason to to think about this elected position.  If a loved one doesn’t have a will then survivors will become very familiar with this office.

I have a co-worker who was the primary care giver of her Aunt.  Upon her Aunt’s death she spent a lot of time working with the Montgomery County Register of Wills to straighten out the estate.  She said that the help they provided was priceless.

Our current Howard County Register of Wills is Kay Hartleb.  She has held this office for many years and the reason being is that she has done a fantastic job.

What does the Register of Wills do?

The Register of Wills is responsible for appointing personal representatives to administer decedents’ estates and for overseeing the proper and timely administration of these proceedings. We also perform the following duties: assist and advise the public in the preparation of all required forms; maintain and preserve the permanent record of all proceedings; serve as the Clerk to the Orphans’ Court; track estates and refer delinquent matters to the Court; determine and collect inheritance taxes and probate fees/court costs; audit accounts of personal representatives and guardians; mail various notices and court orders to interested persons; and, verify compliance with court orders.

In short the Register of Wills is where one goes to register your will.  If the estate has no will they represent the decendents and the State in the distribution of the estate’s assets.

In a time such as the death of a loved one and where the oversight of the distribution of an estate’s assets are concerned I can think of no other more qualified person to fill this role than Kay Hartleb.

Throughout her tenure we have never had a hint of scandal or problems.  That is because of the office staff and Kay Hartleb’s leadership.

Kay has lived in Howard County for 45 years, is married with 3 children and 7 grandcildren.  She has conducted post graduate studies in Advanced Estate Administrationm, and is on the Executive Committee of the Maryland Register of Will’s Association and a Member of the Maryland Judges of the Orphans’ Court Association.

Kay is running for re-election and if experience counts in any race it counts in this one.

In 2002 Kay did not have a challenger in the General Election because people know that this is one of the most effecient offices in Howard County.  It is tough to beat such a well respected person.

In 2006 Kay does have a challenger.  Mr. Lawrence Blickman.  he is a recent newcomer to Howard County who registered to run for the office on the last possible day.  On that day Kay Hartleb received a call from the Board of Elections.  They asked her a question to this effect.  “Mrs. Hartleb, their is a gentleman here who is asking what your position pays in terms of salary.”  If anyone asks I can produce witnesses.  I couldn’t believe it.  Is this guy fishing for a job?  Why didn’t he ask “What does the job entail?”

So, I believe it is in the best interest of all of Howard County residents to keep an experienced, dedicated and principled leader in the roll of Howard County Register of Wills and ask that you vote for Kay Hartleb on November 7th too.

Posted in Howard County | 1 Comment »

Parris Glendening Who?

Posted by David Keelan on Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Lets take a poll.

In 1994 Prince George County Executive, Parris Glendening, won the Governor’s race by a slim slim margin.  In fact, he lost Howard County in that election 46% to 54% .  The race wasn’t settled for months.

In 1998 Glendening ran for re-election and won Howard County by practically reversing those numbers 53% to 47%.  The power of incumbancy played a large role in that he only won by 5,500 votes while Robey won re-election by over 8,200 votes (of course that was before Robey went on a tax and fee binge).  Glendening won despite the fact that his approval ratings were slipping at this time.

One must wonder with the high approval numbers Ehrlich has at this time can he repeat what Glendening managed to do?

When Glendening left office he did so with a 37% job approval rating just one month before the General election.  At the time Bob Ehrlich had a 58% favorable rating in Howard County and 60% State wide.  Glendening watched on the sidelines as his protoge KKT lost the Governor’s race to Bob Ehrlich. 

Governor Glendening has kept a very low profile since he left office and I wonder if we might see him in the 2006 General Elections.

Governor Glendening’s legacy is certainly a mixed bag, but I think by most standards he accomplished little during his term.  His keynote initiatives were Smart Growth and The Chesepeake Bay.

He also left a gapping $1billion hole in the State budget (the same practice he employed in Prince George County).

He will also be remembered for divorcing his wife and marrying an assistant while serving his second term.  I understand it was not the first time that we had two first ladies at the same time.

If you are old enough to remember share with the rest of us your thoughts on Gov. Glendening and his legacy.

Posted in Maryland | 1 Comment »

Election Year Posturing???

Posted by David Keelan on Friday, September 22, 2006

I stole this entire post from David Wissing at The Hedgehog Report not only because I couldn’t say it any better, but because I am really busy today and very lazy about blogging.


I haven’t been really commenting on it much, but Republican candidate Chris Merdon, in recent weeks, has been coming out with new initiatives he hopes to accomplish when he is elected as County Executive. There are located on his website. It started last months with proposals for a 311 Call Center and a Senior Tax Relief Plan and has been followed up after Labor Day with proposals for Middle School Competitive Athletics Programs and, earlier this week, a forward-looking environmental plan for Howard County.

The initiatives have been getting rather positive coverage in the past week. The Senior Tax Relief plan even managed to garner these headlines from the two liberal daily newspapers, The Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post.

Warm Greet for Plan to Cut Senior’s Property TaxSeniors Back Tax Cut Plan

Not unexpectedly, the Democratic candidate, Ken Ulman, has immediately criticized Merdon for these bold proposals despite the fact that he actually admits they are good ideas in some cases. In fact, in a Baltimore Examiner article from earlier this week in regards to Merdon’s environmental plan, he had this to say:

Ulman attacked Merdon’s move, saying it was “cynical to announce a plan 50 days before an election.”“Some of them aren’t bad ideas, but voters see through this election-year posturing,” he said.

So reading this quote from Ken Ulman, one would be under the impression that no candidate should be allowed to propose any ideas within 50 days of an election because it is nothing more than “election-year posturing”. That is what his quote is implying, right?. So imagine my surprise when I read this in this morning’s Baltimore Sun.

Zoning and child care are subjects that don’t often intersect, but as Howard County’s three-way race for county executive heats up, Ken Ulman, the Democratic nominee, staked out new positions on both this week. Ulman said he wants before- and after-school programs in Howard County to expand and to eliminate a 448-child waiting list countywide, helping working parents.
At the luncheon, Ulman said he now favors a separate county Zoning Board — a position closer to one held by Angela Beltram, a former county councilwoman and a leader of the Comp Lite opponents.

Wait a minute…is Ken Ulman proposing a plan within 50 days of an election? Would Ken Ulman consider this “election-year” posturing? Never mind the fact that Ulman is obviously trying to pander to Angie Beltram, a former Democratic councilwoman who threatened to vote against anyone who voted for Comp-Lite (which includes Ulman), by switching his position within 50 days of the election. Is that “election-year posturing”?

By the way, questions are starting to be raised about certain items on Ken Ulman’s website resume. Apparently, he may be claiming job titles that he never quite had. I’d be curious to see if the media picks up on this….

Posted by Dave Wissing

Posted in County Executive, Howard County, Ulman | 1 Comment »

You Have Got To Be Kidding

Posted by David Keelan on Thursday, September 21, 2006

In a room full of people you would think a witness would come forward.  If a witness can be found then Mike Miller should be toast.  I don’t know if the voters would turn him out or not as I don’t know the district.

If true this is just outrageous.  I heard Clarence Mitchell IV comment on the radio today that he would not be surprised if this was true. 

However, somebody is lying in this article.  He said… He said…

Developer Says Senate President Slugged Him in Jaw at Hearing Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General Assembly, Maryland | 2 Comments »

Reactions and Attacks – Merdon’s Green Plan

Posted by David Keelan on Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The articles regarding Merdon’s announced Green Plan can be found in both The Sun and The Examiner

Angela Beltram, leader of a citizens group angry about development in Merdon’s Ellicott City council district, said she favors tighter restrictions on so-called infill development.  “They ought to just change the infill law,” she said, adding, “I’m not sure we should use preservation money to do it.”

I would be interested in what Angie has in mind.  I am cautious though.  In my neighborhood many people purchased double lots when my development was built 45 years ago as an investment for retirement.  Can you imagine telling them that they can sell or develop that lot today?

Mary Catherine Cochran, president of Preservation Howard County, liked the idea of preserving suburban lots but said it might “be a pretty hard sell to put agricultural money in a residential area.”

Marsha McLaughlin, county planning director, said, “The concept of adding green space in existing neighborhoods is a good idea,”

Gary J. Arthur, county recreation and parks director, said the county now plants about 7,000 trees a year and might have trouble finding contractors to plant 50,000. He said the county would like to have more small neighborhood parks,

Public Works Director James Irvin said the county has never looked at buying alternative-fuel vehicles.  Initiatives such as the push to use biodiesel fuel and the harnessing of the landfill gases have been considered before and were not cost effective at the time, said Jim Irvin, director of the county’s Department of Public Works.  However, the moves are “worth a look again,” Irvin said.

I am confused.  Either you looked at alternative-fuels or not.  Biodiesel is a fuel alternative for vehicles and heating oil.  Which is it?  Worth looking at again?  You bet it is given the price of oil and our increasing dependence on foreign markets.

From the competing campaigns.

C. Stephen Wallis, the independent candidate for executive, denounced campaign proposals from Republicans and Democrats as “idle rhetoric.” “Certainly the public sees the dis-ingenuousness of these tactics,” he said. “It’s insulting to the public.” Wallis suggested that buying suburban lots to remove them from development could put even more pressure for housing in the rural west. Converting methane gas to electricity may not be practical, he said. As for planting 50,000 trees, he said, “I can’t imagine doing it that fast. Saving older trees might be a better tack, he said. Wallis’ campaign manager Tom Snyder said his camp was working on their own environmental initiatives, which would be released soon.

Uh huh.  Mr. Wallis do you expect your proposals to be treated as “idle rhetoric”  Do you thing the public will be insulted when you announce your campaign proposal for the environment?

Ken Ulman, the Democratic candidate for executive, said Merdon’s suggestions come “after eight years of ignoring the environment.”  Merdon was one of two council Republicans who opposed Ulman’s 2003 bill to have the county pay up to 5 percent more to buy recycled paper products, Ulman said.  “I’m glad with 50 days left on his time in the County Council he finally proposed something positive on infill development. It’s about time he’s taken notice.”  “Some of them aren’t bad ideas, but voters see through this election-year posturing,” he said.

The difference between Mr. Merdon’s election year proposals and Mr. Ulman’s is that Mr. Merdon’s really mean something concrete.  They are not window dressing or lipstick on a pig.  Mr. Ulman has the fortetude to admit that they “aren’t bad ideas”.

Anyway, NOW is the time for Merdon, Ulman and Wallis to stand up and tell us what their vision is for Howard County.  NOW is the time for them to differentiate themselves from one another.  I don’t want to wait until after November 7th and find out that the other candidate had better ideas.  I think it is disingenuous to suggest that these candidates keep their ideas to themselves.

To attack Merdon as being dis-ingenious is not fair.  How does Wallis get off by saying Merdon doesn’t mean what he says.  I haven’t heard Merdon say a negative thing about Wallis, Dunbar, or Ulman so why is Wallis going off on Merdon now. 

As to Ulman’s comments.  “Ignoring the environment” ???  Ken, other than your paper proposal what have you done?  The same as Merdon – breathed the same air, sent you kids to the same parks, drove the same streets.  We are all concerned about the environment.  This isn’t about paper products.  This is about renewable sources of energy, reforesting, and preserving more green space.  We are all concerned about the environment and I am glad Merdon stepped forward with a viable and realistic plan.  I am looking forward to seeing Mr. Wallis’ plan.

Posted in County Executive, Howard County | 5 Comments »

GOP Central Committee Results

Posted by David Keelan on Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Nothing earth shattering here.  I noticed that new numbers are coming in that are changing the results a bit.  The new numbers are consistent with what was initially reported and the make up of the Central Committee will probably not change.

Here are highlights of the changes.

  • 1465 new votes have been added.
  • Loretta Shields was leading John Winters by 7 votes and now trails by 4 votes.  Both will still be on the Central Committee.
  • Joan Becker, Trent Kittleman and John Wafer are holding steady.
  • David Keelan, Brian Harlin and Ed Patrick ticked up a notch.
  • John Bailey, Bob Ballinger, Sandi Harriman and Heather Mitchell ticked down a notch

Nothing at this point is going to change the results.  This is just an interesting footnote.

Posted in Howard County, Republicans | Leave a Comment »