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In Defense of Byron Macfarlane, Howard County Register of Wills

Posted by David Keelan on Monday, October 29, 2018

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Posted in General, Howard County, Howard County News, Maryland | Leave a Comment »

When is a news story a news story?

Posted by David Keelan on Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The fact that this has not received in depth news coverage is a news story in itself.

It is understandable that reporters must be careful when reporting on events that negatively reflect on an individual’s behavior and actions.

The reporter and news organization must adhere to a set of principles that verify and corroborate the incident through reliable sources. A journalist should not attempt to publish a story without following strict guidelines.  Ethical journalism is intended to enlighten the public on matters that are of public interest through an accurate and fair process.

But how long does it take to report a verified story that has important implications and is of obvious public interest?

The events of September 30, 2018 in which the current Register of Wills, Byron Macfarlane, gave his secure access card to a group of people who then used Mr. Macfarlane’s card to enter the courthouse after hours and without his presence is certainly a news story and of public interest.

I have spoken to reporters about his incident. Each one of them asks, “Has it been verified” to which I reply, yes. However, you cannot take my word for it and I encourage them to call the Sheriff’s office, or the Administrative Judge’s office. The Sheriff’s office may be reluctant to discuss it but they are not going to lie about it either.

This incident has been documented in a Sheriff’s office report to the Maryland Courts. When asked if the elected official responsible for the breach of security was Byron Macfarlane the Sheriff’s office affirms that it was Byron Macfarlane.

This incident became known publically when a lawyer, who conducts business at the Howard County Courthouse, discussed the events in exasperation and wondering aloud what the Administrative Judge was going to do to address the incident, and prevent further occurrences.

An elected official, Mr. Macfarlane, permitted afterhours access to an unauthorized group of people and failed to grace them with his presence as they entered the courthouse. The courthouse is a secure facility. One only need to consider the metal detector, and the deputy sheriffs operating the screening procedures at the public entrance to the building that there are security procedures and concerns that require controlled access. Mr. Macfarlane’s office is in the courthouse and he observes these procedures every time he enters the courthouse. I don’t know whether he observes the same security procedures as the general public. Whenever I have been to the courthouse I have had to follow those security procedures.

Why do courthouses have security procedures? Seems obvious to me. But apparently it is not as obvious to Mr. Macfarlane (despite his 4 year term as the Register of Wills working in the Courthouse).

A courthouse is a public facility and vulnerable to acts of violence. The safety of people, documents, and property is clearly important. So is the integrity of the judicial process. To that end procedures have been created and enacted. Mr. Macfarlane either does not appreciate this or thinks he is immune to security protocols.

Courthouses are not immune from violence. On September 12, 2011 a man went on a rampage in Crawford County, Arkansas looking for a judge and shot the judge’s case coordinator. On December 15, 2011 a man convicted of sexual assault in Grand Marais County, Minnesota shot the county attorney and the father of one of the his victims. It happens more frequently than we would like to think about.


Allowing an unescorted group of people (I heard a 20 person film crew) to enter the courthouse after hours could lead to a catastrophic injury, loss of life, breach of integrity of ongoing cases, loss of vital documents and records, physical damage to security equipment and the building.

So, I am at a loss. The journalists in print, radio, and television know about this incident, they read the blogs and the facebook posts. They understand there is a great deal of public interest in this story. Why won’t they do the same investigating that dozens of private citizens have conducted?

The fact that this has not received in depth news coverage is a news story in itself.


Posted in Damn Interesting, General, Howard County, Howard County News | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Byron Macfarlane should resign and concede the election!

Posted by David Keelan on Saturday, October 20, 2018

In my previous post I discussed an incident where in elected official gave his secure key card pass for entrance into the Howard County Courthouse to group of people. This group then used the secure key card to enter the courthouse after courthouse hours – without the company of this elected official.

It is simply outrageous that a person elected by the people into a position of trust would show disregard for or ignorance of the safety and security of our own courthouse, those that work there, the citizens that have business with the court, and where he works. This person on this act alone should speak up and do the right thing – retire from politics! Now!

I heard rumors of who this selected official might be and made polite but pointed inquiries of him, but as of now I have not received a reply. He should speak up now because this story is getting bigger, and he must have hoped it would not come up in public before the election. It has come forward!

So, it seems to be confirmed that the elected official in question is the Register of Wills (row) of Howard County, Byron Macfarlane, and who’s office is in the courthouse. Mr. Macfarlane is running for re-election this year! I hope he has sense not to and promptly resigns the office.

Since learning about this ignorant act I looked him up on the internet and found this article on

Mr. Macfarlane may want to put his time and effort where it is needed most – HIMSELF.

Posted in Damn Interesting, General, Howard County, Howard County News | Leave a Comment »

Howard County Courthouse Security Breach

Posted by David Keelan on Saturday, October 20, 2018

It has been reported that on September 30, a deputy from the Howard County Sheriff’s Office found a group of people at the Howard County Courthouse. They apparently entered the building using an access card that was given to them by an elected official. Can you believe that this “official” was not present?! Do you get that? An elected official gave his pass to a group of people to enter the courthouse after hours AND WAS NOT WITH THEM. UNESCORTED!

I am told, nothing inside the courthouse seems to be disturbed, and the group’s presence was limited to the lobby and this elected official’s office. Thankfully.

What might have happened if the deputy had not discovered their presence? Imagine the reams of sensitive documents that could have been exposed? I do not think anyone would want their personal legal matters exposed to the public. What if this group (whoever they are) has sinister purposes – unaccompanied they could have stashed weapons, or physically compromised security systems, or most anything….

What an incredible lack of judgement! And this person is an elected official? I hope they are not after this election.

If they are willing to sacrifice the security of a courthouse are they capable of serving in an office that must do most of it’s business in the courthouse? The Baltimore Sun Howard County Republican Club Howard County Democratic Party Howard County Times Howard County Republicans

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Update: I was informed that this group of trespassers was a film crew. Alarming since recording equipment is not allowed in the courthouse except by permission of the Administrative Judge.

A report must have been filed on this matter.

Security procedure for the court house state; “The Howard County Government issued identification card is utilized as the Circuit Courthouse Employee Identification Card. A laminated photograph identification card shall be issued by the Sheriff’s Office to those employees in the Circuit Court who are not issued a County ID (i.e., Clerk’s Office, Register of Wills, and Law Clerk interns who will be working in the Courthouse).”

Well, interns are not elected officials. So, was the elected official the Clerk of the Courts, or Register of Wills, a judge, the states attorney… What other elected official has a security badge for courthouse access? Will we ever know which elected official betrayed trust, and risked the security of the courthouse?

Posted in Damn Interesting, General, Howard County, Howard County News | 1 Comment »

Fair Share

Posted by David Keelan on Sunday, June 10, 2007

I love how people come up with these nice names for terrible ideas.  The Howard County Board of Eduction and the Howard County Education Association are having a public disagreement over this principle ironically named “fair share”.

What is fair share?   A mandatory union fee to be paid by school system employees who are not members of the union.  Why charge someone to belong to your club if they are not a member?  The Baltimore Sun explains it this way:

The mandatory fee would be paid by teachers and support staff who are not union members but who benefit from union services.

I can not believe this.  What a load of pig dung.  What services?  The Sun nor the HCEA is ever really specific about this.  Give me a list of services. 

How many of us are the residual beneficiaries of someone elses work?  The Sierra Club (I am not a member but I appreciate some of their work), the NRA (I believe in the 2nd Amendment but I don’t own a gun), Ducks Unlimited (Conservation), in addition I work for a company with employees who are repesented by a couple of unions.

When the unions negotiate salary and benefits for these employees guess what those same benefits usually find their way in to the management benefits package.  The most obvious example of this is the granting of founder shares when my company merged with another.  We don’t get everything but we get most of it.  If the union came to my company and demanded that they begin deducting union fees from my pay check I would go ballastic and hire a lawyer.

I managed the Baltimore St. Patrick Day Parde for 3 years.  We brought thousands of people to downtown Baltimore on a day that nothing else is happening.  We created an event and a buzz around it.  We spent over $100,000 for that event every year and had a great time doing it.  It was hard work raising $100,000 from March 17 to March 17th every year.  We didn’t make lots of money – but we covered our bills.  However, the bars, the merchants, the restaraunts, and the city made lots of money.  We had a study done that estimated spending at the parade exceeded $1M.  We never saw one penny nor one tax dollar for our efforts.  Do you think Martin O’Malley or these businesses gave a rats !##.  You would be correct if you said they didn’t care and Martin O’Malley still insisted we pay the city $14k for traffic cops, road closures, and security (despite the tax dollars we raised).  Do you know what  I empathise with the HCEA – but my message to them is the same I got from Martin O’Malley – GET OVER IT.  What they are doing isn’t right.  If I want to have a parade then I have to pay for the parade.  What else am I going to do hold a parade in a field so none of the Baltimore City merchants and free load off my hard work?  Unlikely.

How about this one.  In business various lines of business always leverage the work of other lines of business to eek out a residual benefit for themselves and line of business.  Now only one of the LOBs is funding any initiatives, only one is fighting the budget battles, and sitting on endless conference calls cajoling people to get the work done.  But when the work is done others take the end result and apply it to their product or work group.  Who is crying about it?  No one.  That is life.  That is business.  It has been done to me and I have done it to others.  Is it bad business.  Not at all and no one minds it because they are looking to the greater good.  Ahem.

What is the purpose of this?  I think it is a money grab.  To read the HCEA’s explanation they sound like they would have to close their doors if they can’t charge non-members.  They make it sound like non-members are a bunch of cheats who take the fruits of their hard labor and work and won’t pay for it.  The fact is that the services they are talking about are contract negotiations which occur one every X years?  The non-members don’t take advantage of any other services the HCEA provides.  What are those benefits?

  • Transfers (non-procedural, merits)
  • Evaluations (non-procedural, merits)
  • Class Size
  • Parent Complaints
  • Conflict with Other Staff
  • Child Abuse (what to do if accused, procedures)
  • Suspension and Dismissal
  • Certification and 2nd Class Certificates
  • Lawsuits (including negligence, failure to educate)
  • Special Education Concerns
  • Workers Compensation Claims
  • Health and Safety
  • Environmental Conditions

This really infuriates me.  What specifically does this mean other than what I have already stated?

State law requires that HCEA treat non-members and members alike in respect to the contract. In effect, a non-member receives free services – services that are paid for by their dues-paying colleagues. Some people may not want to be members of HCEA, but we would like the opportunity to discuss with our Board the possibility of their paying a fee for the services they receive from HCEA.

Tell me more please.  Also, why not discuss it with your non-members.  Why negotiate with the BoE – it isn’t their paycheck.  Perhaps the reason you won’t speak to the non-members is that they have a message for you that you don’t want to hear.  I think that is closer to reality than the HCEA insinuate that they are a bunch of free loaders.

I certainly hope the Board of Education holds their ground on this issue if not the HCEA is going to demand 1% of the life time earnings of all Howard County school graduates since the students are in effect receiving free services in the form of well paid teachers represented by the HCEA. 

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

Isis, oh, Isis, you mystical child.

Posted by David Keelan on Tuesday, March 6, 2007

That is a line from one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs.  I am a big fan of Bob Dylan.  His son, Jacob (Wallflowers) could have a big career ahead of him too.  I like all of Bob Dylan’s music except for the album he did with Johnny Cash.  Both men have unique voices.  Put them together and it will make you … Well you decide.  I am sure you can find a sample on line.

Isis, oh, Isis, you mystical child.
What drives me to you is what drives me insane.
I still can remember the way that you smiled
On the fifth day of May in the drizzlin’ rain.

Hayduke is waiting for proof of those allegations laid out in Lynn Anderson’s Baltimore Sun hatchet job on (among others) Chris Merdon.  Ian, you will have to keep waiting.  Ian might make good editorial decisions.  I would say that The Sun should hire him because he must have better instincts than Lynn Anderson and her editor.

Lynn Anderson says that ISIS was registered with the State the day after Chris Merdon met with Ted Bayer and Mark Anzman – August 26th.  Do you understand what she is implying?  A private meeting was held with DHR, and three men.  The next day they formed a shell minority owned business to do unfairly win State contracts.  That is it right?  Did anyone else get a different impression?

That is a notice of the meeting Ms. Anderson is referencing.  It is a pre-bid conference that over 40 people attended.  I counted twice and came up with 42 people both times.  Lynn Anderson writes her article in such a way as to imply the Merdon had a private meeting with DHR and these two men.  That is not a very “private” meeting and could not be further from the truth.  The attendee list can be found on the link provided.  Did Lynn Anderson bother to read the 8 page document?

Do I need to explain what a pre-bid conference is?  Well just in case you don’t know.  It isn’t a meeting.  It is more like a lecture.  “We are seeking bids on the following.  These are our requirements… and blah blah blah” for an hour or so.  They are not fun, but if you want the business you got to be there.  Guess who runs those meetings.  Usually the procurement staff Ms. Anderson writes about.

Ms. Anderson notes that ISIS was to “perform 11 percent of the work”.  She doesn’t mention that ISIS provided a couple of contract employees for a few hours of work.  They never approached 11 hours of work.

That is only after looking at the beginning of her article.  That is her definition of a “direct role” in the formation of ISIS on Merdon’s part?  Lynn Anderson is an embarassment to real journalists.  A blogger can do better research than that.  My apologies to all bloggers.  The Articles of Incorporation don’t mention Merdon either.  Look it up on the SDAT web site.

“DIRECT ROLE”.  That is a DIRECT quote.

Lets go further.  She implies that it was improper of Merdon to hire Gantech as a sub-contractor because of political donations.  She fails to mention that Gantech was also at the pre-submission meeting (referenced above), expressed interest in the project, was qualified to do the work, had provided work for the State previously and was known as a reliable prime contractor and sub-contractor.  She implies Merdon was doling out political favors.  I wonder why she didn’t say Gantech had a “direct role” in the formation of ISIS since they were in the private meeting too.  Hmmm.

Here is a question.

Can anyone explain why it takes 120 days to be approved as a minority business in the State?  Why shouldn’t it take only 30 days?  Should it take less time than 30 days?  Seriously, there are only 6 requirements to become an MBE.  Race/Gender, net worth, US Citizen, small business.  How long does it take to do an assets test?  Never mind I will ask Calvin Ball the question about assets testing.

The Comptroller said this:

“We want to be a pro-business state in Maryland, and that means that everybody plays by the same rules,” said Franchot, who previously served as chairman of the transportation and environment subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. “And if the playing field is tilted for any reason, normal businesses turn away from Maryland.”

He is absolutely correct.  He should also ask the Secretary of Transportation (who runs MBE) to stream line the application process so it doesn’t take 4 months to be certified as a minority owned business.  I think during the investigation they are going to find that many businesses (if not all) were trying to expidite a ridiculously long 4 month time period.  And why would anyone be surprised if that turned out to be the case.  Think about it if you had to wait 4 months for certification in anything.  If you are a business that means money.  Yes money.  That is what businesses are about.  They have employees and bills to pay too.

In the end the investigation will go foward and we will never hear another word about it.  Why?  Cover up?  No.  Because it is not a story even worth the bits on this page.

Merdon should sue Anderson and the Baltimore Sun.

Posted in Howard County Blogs, Howard County News, Maryland | 30 Comments »

Many Letters

Posted by David Keelan on Thursday, October 19, 2006

Being the political season lots of political letters are showing up in the Howard County Times and the Flier.

Here is a sample:

Ulman resorts to smear tactics to salvage campaign

Henry David Thoreau said, “It is characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Howard County, Howard County News | 2 Comments »

HoCo Times Political Ads

Posted by David Keelan on Friday, September 8, 2006

Being the last week of the primary elections I fully expected this weeks Howard County Times edition to be full of political ads I was disappointed. 

With a circulation of 20,000 I am surprised more candidates didn’t take advantage of the exposure. 

However, the Times did do its continued coverage of various races providing free publicity for many of the candidates.  There were a lot of letters pro and con for various candidates also providing free publicity for the candidates.

The only ads I saw were for:

John White for U.S. Congress in the GOP Primary.  This is a a color ad based soley on illegal immigration and features an endorsement from Ivan Betancourt, President of the Howard County Republican Club.  Ivan hails from South America and is a naturalized US Citizen and an all around great guy.  It is a large three column ten inch ad.

Jim Fitzgerald for Sheriff in the Democratic Primary.  This is a black and white three column 5 inch ad.  It includes an endorsement from States Attorney of Howard County Tim McCrone, Howard County Police Officers’ Association, Columbia Democratic Club, Baltimore Council of AFL-CIO Unions, and the Howard County Sheriff’s FOP.

Greg Fox in the Council District Five Primary.  The largest and most impactful ad was his  full page full color ad. 

Greg pulled out the big guns with support from Governor Bob Ehrlich, Lt. Governor Michael Steele (“Greg has the character and integrity required for public office.”).  It is also accompanied with photos of Greg with Bob Ehrlich, Michael Steele, Allan Kittleman, and the Fox mascot with Kendall and Bob Ehrlich.

Of course he has the continued support of State Senators Allan Kittleman and Sandy Schrader (no surprises).    Finally it touts his endorsement by the Howard County Times.

Warren Miller in the Republican Primary for House of Delegates District 9A.  This is a five column five inch black and white ad.  It was paid for by the one of his many supporters, the Maryland Realtors PAC.  It touts Warren’s commitment to affordable housing, protecting homeowners, buyers, and small business, and his work on “Brownfields” laws.

William Donald Schaefer for Comptroller in the Democratic Primary.  This is a classy ad and is the second best in that it really grabbed my attention in its simplicity and straight forward message.  But kind of looks like a memorial.  It touts his lifelong public service.

Notably missing was an ad from Guy Guzzone or the slate he is running on.  What is he doing with his $150,000?  He could have bought any page in the Times that he wanted.

Also, I expected an ad from Ken Ulman just to put the final nail into Harry Dunbar’s campaign.  It will be very interesting to see how many protest votes Dunbar picks up on Tuesday.  It will be very telling for the General Election.

I paged through the paper five times.  I don’t think I missed any ads.  Let me know if I did.

As I said, Times covered some of the contested primarys so a lot of candidates got free press.

  • Dunbar v Ulman – County Executive
  • Fox v Livesy – Council District 5
  • Feldmark v Sigaty v UNCommon, X – District 4
  • Turner, Quinter, Guzzone, Basu and Pendergrass – House of Delegates District 13
  • Becker and Bernhardt v Titman – County Circuit Court
  • Cave v Fitzgerald – County Sheriff
  • 3rd Congressional District

Then of course their was the plethora of letters to the editor.  Some seem planted.  You decide which ones.

  • Three pro Livesay Council District 5
  • One anti Fox Council District 5
  • Marna McLendon (former States Attorney) against Livesay and for no one
  • Kathleen Sappington for Greg Fox
  • Angela Beltram (COPE – I think this is the 3rd letter in a row) against Guzzone and Ulman following up on her promise to remind voters who voted to pass the comp-lite legislation.
  • One for Peter Beilenson for US Congress
  • Two pro Titman for Judge
  • One pro Fitzgerald for Sheriff
  • One pro Cave for Sheriff
  • Two pro Sigaty for Council District 4
  • Three pro Feldmark for Council District 4
  • One pro Dyer for Board of Education
  • Two pro Ulman for County Executive
  • One pro Zou for Board of Education
  • Two anti Hollinger for Congress
  • One anti Guzzone for House of Delegates

Posted in Howard County, Howard County News, Media | 13 Comments »

Howard County Times Sample Ballot

Posted by David Keelan on Thursday, September 7, 2006

Everything you wanted to know about Ken Ulman 

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Howard County News, Media | 8 Comments »

Herman Charity, The Hatch Act, HoCo Times

Posted by David Keelan on Thursday, May 25, 2006

Don’t panic.  I am not at it again.

I have been told that Mr. Charity has decided not to run for Sheriff.  Apparantly the dust up over the Hatch Act and Wayne Livesay has given Mr. Charity pause to reconsider the implications of declaring his candidacy for a partisan office.

On April 27th I had reported that Mr. Charity was considering a run for Sheriff.

“Rumor has it he is considering a run. Also it is rumored (it may have been announced) that the President of the Howard County Police Departments union, Jim Fitzgerald may throw his hat into the ring too. “

Mr. Charity decided not to run (I am told) because he would have to resign from his current position (Assistant to the County Executive) in the County adminsration in order to launch a campaign.  Otherwise he would be in violation of the Hatch Act.

Well, that is a refreshing approach!  Maybe he should run for County Council District Five.  I wonder if he got an opinion from the OSC.

While discussing this with my source we wondered if Mr. Charity might not be Howard County’s next Police Chief.  Why not, he is Robey’s assistant, gained a lot of good administrative and management experience, he is a former policeman, good interim choice if Robey wants the next County Executive to appoint the next police chief.  Maybe that is why he isn’t running for Sheriff?  Probably not, Robey knew he would have to replace Livesay sooner rather than later.  Since I heard the initial rumor in late April I would think Robey would have said something like “Herman, cool your heels.  I have other plans for you.”

HOWARD COUNTY TIMES EDITORIAL Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Howard County, Howard County News, Media | 1 Comment »