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Merdon Tax Cut Passes Council

Posted by David Keelan on Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Story

It is interesting that Larry Carson sought a quote from Grover G. Norquist.  He doesn’t like targeted tax cuts, but Grover is a strict conservative and I would not expect him to like this.

Regardless, other taxpayer organizations liked this a lot.  Montgomery County is looking at similiar legislation.

Some of the “policy experts” echoed sentiments on the blogs about how it is poor public policy to create targeted tax cuts.  It happens all the time folks.  Aren’t 501c’s a forum of targeted tax cuts?  You know what I mean.

Anyway, these seniors need help.  We need them to stay in Howard County.

The council’s majority Democrats – including Ken Ulman, the Democratic nominee for county executive – tabled the bill Oct. 3 and drew up amendments to limit the benefit to lower-income people, but he backed off yesterday for fear amendments might kill the popular bill.

Calvin Ball sent me a copy of his amendments on October 27th.  If you are on his Council distribution list then you did too.

  • His amendments pegged eligible income to 80% of the median income in Howard County.  A difference of only approximated $2,000 per year in income.
  • It stepped in the tax cut to a full 100%  when a Senior’s income was 20% or less of the median (I didn’t hear the commission on aging comment on that).
  • It would institute an income test

The only significant difference was the stepped in tax cut up to a 100% property tax credit.

This bill passed because it is one week before the election and because it is good policy.

Ulman said that if he is elected executive, he would take another look at the measure.

For what purpose?  Can he please clarify?  If he doesn’t like it in its current form then he should have voted against it.  Don’t accuse Merdon of playing election year politics if you don’t have the courage to vote against a bill and only do so in order to avoid Senior backlash at the polls.

Today is Tuesday, October 31st.  Have you seen any negative campaigning today?


Posted in County Council, Howard County | 42 Comments »

The Smear Tactics Continue

Posted by David Keelan on Saturday, October 28, 2006

I think that the following candidates should distance themselves from and make it clear they do not endorse the tactics of the Howard County Issues organization.  This organization is attacking the character and defaming two individuals who have served the community very well over that past eight years.

Kevin Zeese, Steve Wallis, Don Dunn and Donna Thewes, have all been endoresed by this “independent” organization.  Please tell the voters that you repudiate these tactics and do not support organizations that use unfounded allegations to assassinate the reputation of another..

The Unaffiliated/Independent Voters at (find a link on the right side of this blog under Howard County Blogs) has posted the following: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in County Council, County Executive, Howard County | 5 Comments »

Tom D’Asto and Mary Kay Sigaty

Posted by David Keelan on Friday, October 27, 2006

Tom D’Asto’s platform on the redevelopment of Town Center has resonated with a lot of voters.  (See Tom’s responses to the Blogger Forum) It is the key issue facing District Four.  He supports a one year moratorium on the process and has has presented an 8 point plan on Town Center development: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in County Council, Howard County | 6 Comments »

Next Round District 5

Posted by David Keelan on Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I will be writing about the Greg Fox v Don Dun and Jim Adams race in district 5 next.  Stay tuned and thanks to Freemarket for the swift kick.

Posted in County Council, Howard County | 5 Comments »

Democrats stall Merdon’s aging in place bill

Posted by David Keelan on Friday, October 6, 2006

Election Year Politics and Government Working Hard for YOU!

Howard County Democrats are stalling the passage of Chris Merdon’s aging in place bill hoping to take the issue away from Merdon in the run up to the November 7th election for County Executive.

Remember, the idea from this bill was inspired by actions in the Democratic controlled General Assembly who passed House Bill 288.  They had done a study on how much this would cost.  Merdon included the information and gave it to the rest of the Council.

For a refresher here is the information on the General Assembly website.

Democrats Ken Ulman and Calvin Ball Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in County Council, Howard County, Merdon, Ulman | Leave a Comment »

Harper’s Choice Candidate Forum

Posted by David Keelan on Thursday, July 27, 2006


5440 Old Tucker Row
Columbia, Maryland 21044


Contact People: Rebecca Johnson
Member, Harper’s Choice Village Board

Phil Wright
Chair, Harper’s Choice Village Board

The Harper’s Choice Village Board announces a west Columbia candidate forum to be held Aug. 28, 7:30pm, at Kahler Hall (Harper’s Choice Village Center, Columbia).

To enable candidates’ views to be discussed in some depth, the forum will be limited to candidates for Howard County Executive and District 4 County Council.

All eight of the candidates will be participating:

— County Executive Candidates:
Harry Dunbar, Chris Merdon, Ken Ulman, and Steve Wallis

— District 4 County Council Candidates:
Tom D’Asto, Josh Feldmark, Mary Kay Sigaty, and Jeffrey Underwood

The public is invited to ask questions and hear the candidates’ views on the future of Howard County.

Posted in County Council, County Executive, Howard County | Leave a Comment »

County Council Candidate Forum

Posted by David Keelan on Monday, July 24, 2006

County Council Candidate Tom D’Asto sent a reminder about the forum tonight.
Vantage House County Council Candidate Forum tonight 7:30PM.

For more information contact:

Tom D`Asto

Posted in County Council, Howard County | Leave a Comment »

HCRC Primary Candidate Forum

Posted by David Keelan on Sunday, July 23, 2006

Not much to say.

General Assembly Legislative District 9A

There are three candidates running for two seats in this district – incumbents Gail Bates and Warren Miller and challenger Melissa Covolesky. Gail Bates had a conflict and was unable to attend as she was attending a national legislative conference in which she is an officer.

Melissa Covolesky had the most to prove and she requited herself well.  As David Wissing said, they pretty much agreed on the issues.  At one point Melissa mentioned that Gail Bates did not support slots (which Warren and Melissa do).  Warren came to Gail’s defense pointing out that she abstained from voting and is was based on her religious faith.

Melissa mentioned her family’s long history in the State.  She has a relative who was the King of England’s appointed Governor in the State.  I had no idea that she was a Tory.  In all honesty, it is an interesting factoid, but really seemed more like bragging than a qualification.  Not that she shouldn’t be proud of her heritage and her family’s long history and connection to the State, but I don’t brag about the fact that my ancestors were Irish peasants persecuted by the British (probably some of the same ones), were tenant farmers on the Shirley Estates for an absentee landlord who starved them out during the potato famine.  In other words I am not too taken with those kinds of British connections.  Warren noted that his family has been in Howard County for a long time and have deep roots.  His children are attending the same schools that he did.  His heart is in Howard County.  He went so far as to note that he even helped renovate the Lisbon Fire Hall (the very place the forum was held) when he was a kid.

Melissa did well.  That was the test and she passed.

In terms of experience,relationships and ability to get things done, or as Warren pointed out, the importance of killing bad legislation in committee so it can’t get to the floor are the reasons I support Warren and Gail.  I have spent a lot of time talking with Warren.  I have been impressed with his intelligence, soft spoken confidence, how he quickly grasps the heart of an issue.  I have no doubt that he has built a lot of camaraderie and respect in Annapolis.

County Council

Overall, I don’t think many of the candidates understand a lot of the issues as well as I think they should.  Perhaps they can only express so much in 2 minutes – I know it is hard, but I can’t help but think they could do better.  I took a hard look at Jim Adams.  Maybe we do need an accountant on the County Council.  Jim didn’t show a grasp for a lot of details relative to issues, but he understood process and articulated it well.  He might not make a good legislature or politician, but he could be a great watchdog, provide excellent constituent services, and help keep Government accountable.  If you think he could do that best while a County Councilman then vote for him.  If he doesn’t win then  I hope he seeks appointment to the Spending Affordability Committee.

Wayne Livesay was asked, in a round about way, about the Hatch Act.  He called me out referencing my letter to the editor, and later apologized (though he didn’t have to).  I brought up the Hatch Act here many times.  He can call me on it.  Anyway, a couple of things.  He says he did some research (sounded like he had help digging up old records) on how many of these Federal applications and assurances he signed.  The latest one I have a copy of is May 2005.  He says he didn’t sign that many as if that diespells the issue.  Also, he says that the assurances he signed don’t mention the Hatch Act by name, but rather by statute.  He is right.  That doesn’t mean that he should not have been familiar with the statute.  He mentioned early on in answering that question that as police chief he had a staff of people handling those things including lawyers.  Well, it would have been a simple thing to look in the US Code for that particular statute and come up with the Hatch Act.  He signed the assurances and should have known what he was signing.

Wayne also noted that the progression from police chief to county council seemed to be a natural progression for him.

As David Wissing reported:

Some other questions of interest included one on the referendum effort that was recently struck down by the courts and removed form the November ballot involving whether the rezoning process known as “Comp-Lite” should be on the November ballot. Mr. Livesay stood out as the lone candidate opposed to the referendum on “Comp-Lite”. his reasoning was that it was impossible for the voters of Howard County to fully understand all the issues of all the projects involved in “Comp-Lite”. I can’t remember when, but Greg Fox retorted later on that he believes the voters of Howard County are more intelligent than Livesay gives them credit for.

I think Wayne is taking his lead from Charlie Feaga.  That is a mistake.  I talked to Charlie about his vote on comp-lite.  I think Charlie has made this more complicated in his own mind than he needed to and passed it along to Wayne.  I don’t care if other properties that were properly included in comp-lite are caught up in this.  I sympathise for them, but it isn’t my fault or your fault. The County Council stiffed the process and put those property owners in jeopardy when they passed that illegal legislation.  Those property owners have recourse.  When County Council breaks the process what recourse do you and I have?  Wayne, you were wrong to say you don’t support the referendum.  By not supporting the referendum you make it clear that you do not understand the real issue.  I would be happy to discuss it with you anytime.  You have my phone number.

David Wissing also reported this.  My sentiments exactly.

One other question concerned a somewhat old issue about property tax cuts and what do with the surplus the County was running. There were two property tax cut plans proposed, one to cut the tax rate and one to lower the yearly cap increase. This issue was discussed at length in the HoCo blogosphere and there was really no final conclusion other than “it depends”. While this debate has become somewhat mute since Robey’s plan was passed and signed into law, the question of which was a better plan is still an interesting philosophical question. Unfortunately, all five candidates dodged that question and said they would have liked to seen both tax cuts implemented. Well wouldn’t we all? Most surprising though was Livesay changed his previous position on this issue that he espoused at a previous forum when this question came up. he said he did some research on the issue and decided Howard County could have afforded both tax cuts.

I felt Greg Fox had the best grasp on the issues.  I wonder how many other candidates know about or appreciate the Constant Yield Tax Rate (CYTR).  Greg made a good point that the County could take in more property tax every year if the property tax was only $.96 (CYTR) rather than the current $1.013.  Neat trick huh!  He is absolutely right.  He is an out of box thinker and we need that.  His closing statement was strong too.  Some thought it was overboard.  However, given we were in the heart of his district I thought it was perfect.  Greg has the endorsement of most every major party figure in the County.  His Republican credentials are beyond reproach – he has worked tirelessly for candidates, specifically Sandy Schrader (which we wonder if Wayne will), in the past and even now.  He is experienced, is a republican through and through, and is a critical thinker who will be an asset to the council.

Posted in County Council, General Assembly, Howard County | 1 Comment »

HoCo Police Union

Posted by David Keelan on Sunday, July 23, 2006

From The Sun

Nothing surprising here and nothing much to say except.  Howard County has another police union.  The Fraternal Order of Police.

Let us wait and see what their endorsements might be.

I will be curious to see if the Sun covers those endorsements with as much enthusiasm.

Posted in County Council, County Executive, Howard County | Leave a Comment »

Political Outlook in 2006

Posted by David Keelan on Wednesday, August 3, 2005

County Executive Race

Chris Merdon is building a strong campaign presence for the County Executive race. The campaign has been sign waiving (despite a thinly veiled attempt by the Democrats on the County Council to stop sign waiving through a road side vendor ban they put in place) , placing yard signs, and bumper stickers are popping up.

Steven Adler, the 2002 Republican candidate, has recently been quoted in the Baltimore Sun and he sounds bitter.

The Democrats do not have a candidate yet. Although the likely candidate is Guy Guzzone, Council President, hasn’t committed to the race one way or the other. Rumor has it he is intimidated by Merdon’s strong start, frustration with County Executive Jim Robey’s (D) support of Board of Education Chair Courtney Watson’s political aspirations. Watson hasn’t said she would run for the Democratic nomination – but she hasn’t said she wouldn’t. It could be possible that Councilman Ken Ulman might seek the nomination. Another potential candidate maybe State Senator Ed Kasemeyer, although it is unlikely he would give up his comfortable seat in the General Assembly.

State Senate

Senator Allan Kittleman will run for re-election after serving the remainder of his father’s term.

County Executive Jim Robey conducted a poll (which he initially denied) to learn if he had a shot at Kittleman’s seat. He doesn’t and he didn’t need to waste money on a poll to find that out. Carroll County alone would trounce him. Rumor is that he and his wife may downsize their home and move to State Senator Sandy Schrader’s District and challenge her re-election bid. Robey certainly stands a better chance in that District, but given that Schader trounced C.Vernon Gray (Council member for life) there in 2002 it isn’t a sure bet for Robey.

House of Delegates

Candidates are forming up on both sides. With Neil Quinter (District 13) running for Ben Cardin’s seat in the US House of Representatives might give the Republicans a shot at these seats.

The Republicans might have a primary in District 9A

Posted in County Council, County Executive, Howard County | Leave a Comment »