Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Calvin Ball A Lackey?

Posted by David Keelan on Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Washington Post quoted me as calling Calvin Ball a lackey.

My response is this.  It has been taken out of context and I will speak with Amit Paley about that at an appropriate time.

When I spoke with Amit I do not believe I ever used that term in our very long conversation.  It is my guess that Amit took that term from a previous post I wrote on Calvin (here).

If Calvin Ball can not demonstrate his independence and distinguish himself then I don’t think he will be able to pull what Guy Guzzone did – three years as Chairman.  If the other council members (save one) see Calvin Ball continuing to do the bidding of Ken Ulman – he is out after 12 months.  That would be the best outcome for Calvin because it moves him out of the limelight for the next three years, and gives him time to repair his image as a lackey so he can win re-election in 2010.

The Washington Post paraphrased this statement as follows:

David W. Keelan, a Republican who runs a prominent blog about Howard County politics, has called Ball “a lackey” who follows marching orders from older Democrats with more political experience.

Am I parsing words?  I don’t think so.  In the Post article I simply call him a lackey.  In context I say Calvin has an image problem.  I also state that Calvin has the opportunity to demonstrate independence.  I don’t believe that Ken Ulman issues edicts to Calvin Ball but I think Ken Ulman has a lot of influence with Calvin because of party affiliation and his role as a mentor.

As a newbie on the council I think it is natural that he would have leaned heavily on Guy and Ken for guidance.  I also think it would be natural for Guy and Ken to put the newbie front and center on a controversial piece of legislation.

I have no doubt that “He is one of the most intelligent, thoughtful people that I (Ken Ulman) know(s).”  I am sure many people would say the same about Calvin Ball.  I don’t know Calvin Ball and it would be unfair of me to contradict Ken Ulman.  If my comments were presented to Ken Ulman in the context as written in the post article I would understand why Ken Ulman also said:

“I think any criticism of Calvin in that manner is offensive and does a tremendous disservice to who he is as a person.”

And Ulman would be correct.  However, I contend my comments were presented out of context.

Calvin responded:

“Some people need to let it go. The election is over.”

That is a narrow perspective Calvin.  The concerns that I and many other people have expressed (both republican and democrat) are not about the election.  They are about the opportunity you have to provide an independent voice for the County Council and how important that responsibility is to residents.  I encourage you to widen your perspective and to not view every criticism in the narrow context of the past election or partisan politics.

The quote that I had given and hoped Amit would have included in his article was this:

“I think Calvin Ball has the capability to do a good job and I wish him nothing but the best.”

So Mssrs. Ulman and Ball you have much more experience with the press than I ever will so take the article with a grain of salt, and take the “criticism” as a legitimate concern (expressed by many people along the political spectrum) and part of the constructive dialogue that will help you to “…usher in this new culture of collaboration and consensus.”

Now for my snarky comment:

Calvin, this is Ken Ulman, the County Executive. I know you know Calvin. I just like the way it sounds.  Listen Calvin, I got a call from the Washington Post.   Calvin, who is this Keelan guy? I don’t know Calvin that is why I am asking you!

When the Post calls you here is what I want you to say.  Hang on Calvin I have a lot more experience with these guys.  Remember I have four years experience as a County Councilman and one month as County Executive so just hear me out.  We are going to start calling you the “elder statesman” on the County Council.  How do you like those beans? Calvin, that is a figure of speech. I don’t care if you like beans. Yes, I know you aren’t elderly either. Calvin, I have to go.  I will send your press statement over to your office.”


26 Responses to “Calvin Ball A Lackey?”

  1. Hayduke said

    A couple points:

    Where, aside from on this blog, has Ball been considered to even have the “image” as a lackey?

    Of course your comments were taken out of context. The story — like all news stories — followed a formula. You played — and were always meant to — the role of critical, bordering on mean, Republican. Quotes of yours will be found or misconstrued or taken out of context to ensure that role is properly filled. People don’t ready let’s-all-make-nice articles about politics. People read controversy, and Greg Fox’s comments weren’t controversial enough.

    Your “snarky” comment is far more offensive than anything you said in the newspaper.

  2. Hayduke said

    Sorry, should be “people don’t read…”

    Apparently, some people don’t proofread either.

  3. numbersgirl said

    So let me get this straight. You didn’t call him a lackey, you just said he looks like one?

  4. Hayduke,

    I am not going to name the people who have expressed the same concerns as I have regarding Calvin Ball. If Mary Smith has an opinion she can express it herself. If you don’t trust me and my “prominent blog” then what can I say or do?

    I got the phone call and yes I played. I also have the advantage of being able to respond and clarify so I did. Don’t blogs regularly comment on news stories, especially if the article references one of us?

    More snarky comments to follow. If they contain anymore faux conversations between Ken and Calvin depends upon my perception of Calvin being independent. My next snarky comment could easily be:

    “Calvin this is Ken Ulman the County Executive. (CLICK). Calvin? Calvin are you there?”

  5. Numbers,

    Yes. Is that the only thing in the post you are focused on?

    No comments about the quote that wasn’t quoted?

    No comments or questions about the fact that I don’t believe Ken Ulman issues edicts to Calvin Ball?

    No comments about how I think this is a good opportunity for Calvin Ball?

    Are you just concerned about the one single lone word?

    I guess you didn’t catch this one either.

    “I think Calvin Ball will be elected Chairman. Not much doubt in my mind about that. I hope he distinguishes himself in the role. With Guy Guzzone off to the House of Delegates Calvin Ball might actually be able to act as his own person rather than suffer under the undue influence of Mssrs. Guzzone and Ulman.”

    Just asking.

  6. numbersgirl said


    When you include imagined conversations between elected officials, it is impossible to give any weight to your statements, your views, or your blog.

    What began as a spirited debate on issues, spiraled into pure partisan hackery, and is now nothing more than yarns spun from delusional conspiracists.

    So no, no other comments.

  7. Numbers,

    I am an equal opportunity partisan hacker. It doesn’t matter to me with what party they happen to be affiliated.

    A little parody can be fun and used to make a point. People often use parody as a tool. It does not denote delusional conspiracies – unless you are Jon Stewart.

    It is odd that people sometimes look at text and either immediately focus on what they don’t like and disagree with, or what they like and agree with. I also don’t understand why every topic has to be written with the utmost care and deliberation so as not to offend anyone. Why can’t a writer utilize sarcasm as much as praise or even both in the same written text. Doesn’t that contribute to the debate? Does it detract from the debate?

    I believe this blog remains a place where people can participate in spirited debate on the issues presented – provided the readers and writers have thick skins. Have a paradoy of your own? Please send it a long.

    Are we allowed to laugh at political leaders? Most certainly. Can satire, humor, and parody be an effective tool to make a point? Yes. Will some people be offended? Absolutely.

    Some people actually make a living with political satire…. Capital Steps, Garrison Keillor, Will Rogers, Doonesbury, Jon Stewart, Jonathan Swift, South Park, Monty Python… People who read or listen to them take it with a grain of salt.

  8. Freemarket said

    From any reporter’s point of view, David’s claim to fame is this blog. David is not an official representative of the Republican Party nor is he an elected official. He is known for flagrant partisanship. Therefore, whenever a reporter comes to Keelan, they are after partisan dirt, not open and rational debate. David- if that is not how you wish to be perceived, you have a lot of work to do on this blog.

    David, I challenge your claim of being an equal opportunity political hacker. You are an apologist for anything the Republicans do, while you examine Dems (especially Ulman) with a microscope. You won’t challenge Warren Miller on taxes or gay marriage, even though you have made comments at odds with his position. You are a shameless partisan. No harm in being a partisan, but spare us the equal opportunity nonsense.

  9. Freemarket,

    Have you read my posts about the GOP congress (I shed no tears for the Republican loss of majorities in both Houses of Congress. They lost for a lot of reasons), GW, or Wayne Livesay, more recently James Baker? No doubt – I do examine the dems much more closely. I have had plenty of dialogue (face to face) with Warren Miller on gay marriage so I didn’t have to go into on the blog. I even challanged Warren on the gasoline tax.

    The fact that idealogically I am more aligned with the GOP would lead one to believe that I would examine the democrats more closely. That would not be a surprise to anyone would it.

    When I disagree with a Republican I don’t have problems saying so.

    The best part of running this blog is the love mail I get from Republicans and Democrats :=(

  10. Agree with Keelan said

    Keep up the good work David. First you expose Ulman’s lies, his resume and now this.

    Why anyone would turn to Ken Ulman for advice is beyond me. Ulman will drag him down into the world of dirty politics.

    Most posters on this blog are apologists for Ulman (like numbersgirl and freemarket), what with the blanket dismissals of his trumped-up job titles (which would be lambasted if he were a Republican) and nasty campaign techniques.

  11. Erich Heyssel said

    I personally think after having his (David’s) comments taken out of context in a well circulated paper, and then having Ball and Ulman respond, David is entitled to a snarky comment.

  12. Thank you Ehrich,

    I don’t think anyone reads anymore. They scan the posts and then take what they want. Numbersgirl thinks I called Calvin a lackey. Amit Paley wrote that I called Calvin a lackey. What I said was if he didn’t excercise independence he would look like a lackey. Big difference but everyone wants to see the partisan slant because they want to perceive it that way.

    Almost 16,000 people read the Washington Post daily in Howard County. Twice that read it on line daily. So now almost 50,000 Howard County residents think David Keelan called Calvin Ball a lackey for Ken Ulman. Hmmm. So thanks for allowing my snarky comment.

    Lets take a vote. Is Keelan the only apologist on this blog, and is Keelan the only one running a partisan blog in Howard County?

  13. Erich Heyssel said

    I think you are rather fair and balanced, as blogs go. Not to mention the entertainment factor…

  14. Keelen Rocks said

    You do good work. When Republicans are wrong, you admit it.

    The most partisan blog is Fineline. There is nothing on there that the DNC wouldn’t heartily endorse.

    I prefer free thinkers. Based on the internet traffic (and lack of comments on his site), I think most people agree.

  15. To Mr. Keelen said

    Ignore freemarket and numbersgirl. They always side with the Dems.

    Your comments were clearly taken out of context. Only Ulman would respond to a second-hand comment without having all the facts. That guy needs to grow up and gather the facts before jumping to conclusions. It was an amateur mistake by an amateur politician who has again shown himself to be petty and vindictive.

  16. Resume Update said

    Ken Ulman just updated his resume to include “Time Magazine Person of the Year 2006”

    Congratulations Ken!

  17. Dear Mr. Keelen-

    I apologize in advance for being so presumptuous as to give anyone advice on how to deal with
    print reporters” or any other employee of a widely circulated or viewed information vehicle.

    That said – I believe it is not only possible – but likely – that any interaction with a reporter that ends up in the end product will be at odds in some way with what you said, intended, think – or want to present.

    You have a choice (we all do) you can try to learn how to “play” – to be very careful to only say things that do not require any actual thought or reason to comprehend …. or are so banal as to be virtually meaningless no matter how they are minced and reformed…. or, you can boldy go on about your business, making thought provoking comments, observations, and suggestions — correct the egregious misrepresentations — and try to brush off the rest…. in the hope that over time those you reach will know the difference between what you write/say/do… and what finds its’ way into other people’s gossip/reporting.

    BTW, when I initially read the Calvin Ball comments – I had no problem understanding that you were esentially giving him what could be construed as “good advice”. Let’s not forget Mr. Ball was fresh off his “misstep” in the final moments of the campaign season, proposing last minute legislation which he later “thought better of” … and withdrew. Any “thinking person” has to have had a moment of pause wondering what (if any) strings were being tugged — and on which end? It was a real head shaker. And I must say – it did not make Mr. Ball look like “his own man”.

    On the other hand…. I wonder if this episode might help you to be more objective when some “democrat” misspeaks, or claims to have been misrepresented in the press, or “trips over his own tongue” … or some other persons’ words are “twisted”.

    Cindy Vaillancourt

  18. To Resume Update said

    Funny! At least the Man of the Year Award would be one real item for his CV.

  19. MBT said


    “When you include imagined conversations between elected officials, it is impossible to give any weight to your statements, your views, or your blog.”

    Then why do you post here? Your total lack of tolerance for anyone’s veiws but your own is far more offensive.


    “David, I challenge your claim of being an equal opportunity political hacker. You are an apologist for anything the Republicans do, while you examine Dems (especially Ulman) with a microscope.”

    Why don’t you go to Steve Fine’s site and call him an apologist for the Democrats?

    and this: “David is not an official representative of the Republican Party nor is he an elected official.”

    Which means David has the right to his opinions, as do you.

    I have become friends with Calvin during the last two campaigns and I got as much pain watching him get pilloried as I did my Republican friends. We all wish Calvin the best – afterall, the state of the county depends on it.

  20. Please correct me if I am wring – but isn’t it desireable, even necessary, to have both sides of an isssue represented in order to have a debate?

    Granted, name calling and childish sniping does not actually constitute “debate” — but without the presence of the counter argument/varied perspectives/other views … you just end up with a mutual back slapping party….

    kind of like we have had in the white house that helped get us into Iraq.

    Cindy V.

  21. not wring … wrong… sorry.

  22. Andy Dufresne said

    Your comments weren’t taken out of context, Ball is a lackey of Ulman. As anyone who has spent time with Calvin knows, he’s basically a 40 watt bulb.

  23. Ulman's Chauffeur? said

    Any more news about Ulman’s driver?

  24. Self Aggrandizement said

    Ullman was in the Sun. He said that O’Malley called him for a meeting and not the other way around. Does that make him important? I know it makes him insufferable.

    Give us a break and stop believing your own hype. Seriously.

  25. I don’t know what O’Malley calling Ulman first means about Ulman —- but it sounds like O’Malley is a conscientious politico. It also is encouraging for HoCo — let’s hope Ulman can capitalize on having the new Governor consider our county worth a phone call …. and hopefully translate that into plentiful state funds down the road —- for new buses, school construction, public transportation, etc.

    At some point it would be smart to accept the election results and try to make the most of them — an ambitious democrat as CE and a Democrat in the Governors mansion —- HoCo should make hay while the sun shines.

    Cindy V.

  26. Slow Growth? said

    A concern: they cited Ulman’s priorities as widening Route 29 and “improving” (a.k.a. widening) Route 32 from Route 108 to Route 70.

    That’s not a slow growth move. More roads mean more development.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: