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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.

Citation: https://ncsc.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/facilities/id/182

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 Marylandreporter.com

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 »

Free flu shots – comming to a traffic jam near you?

Posted by Ed C on Saturday, October 27, 2007

From the Baltimore Sun, Howard County offers free flu shots. The Howard County Heath Department is going to hold another flu shot clinic at Gateway Business Park on Sunday Nov 4th from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM.

I participated in this “emergency-preparedness” exercise last year. The article quotes waiting times last year were 90 minutes. Although I didn’t time it, I’d swear that I waited longer than that. The county is going to try to improve on that this year:

To cut waiting time, which last year was about 90 minutes, the county has separate vaccination sites for adults and families.


Police will direct traffic around Gateway Drive in the Gateway Business Park, off Route 175, which usually is empty on Sundays. Vehicles with adults will be directed to a parking lot at a building containing eight vaccination stations. Vehicles with families will be directed to another office building lot with 15 vaccination stations.

I really support using events like this as preparedness exercises. Last year showed they had some problems and it sound like they are going to address them. In the event of an true emergency like an avian flu out break or other biological event, the experience gained from these types of events could make a difference.

I’ve already received my shot this year, but I you haven’t received yours yet you may want to give this a try. You can’t beat the price and you get to help increase the county’s preparedness to boot.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Ed C, General, Howard County | 8 Comments »

It’s expensive to live in Howard County – Steven Sattler, CA Communications Director

Posted by Ed C on Thursday, August 30, 2007

From the Baltimore Sun: CA officials paid well.

The Columbia Association paid about $1.2 million in salaries to the top 8 association officials. The CA has an annual budget of $50 million.

The association manages open space, swimming pools and athletic facilities in Columbia, with much of its annual budget coming from taxlike liens paid by every property owner in the planned town.

I enjoy living in Columbia and use the facilities offered by CA regularly. That said, maybe some of the “expense” of living here should be attributed to that “taxlike” lien.

Posted in Ed C, Howard County, Taxes | 4 Comments »

Going Forward On the Tower?

Posted by David Keelan on Friday, July 20, 2007

Well the law suit has been dismissed.  Is the fight over?  Mr. William Rowe, mid-Atlantic vice president of WCI Communities’ hopes so.

“My hope is that now we have a hearing examiner ruling, a board of appeals ruling, a Circuit Court ruling complemented by a unanimous [planning board] vote against the proposed zoning amendments. All of them put together complement each other and should be enough to convince everybody that the project was approved appropriately,”

According to the article I don’t think those members of the community fighting the towere are through.  However, it takes money to file an appeal and I don’t know what financial resources these folks have.

The question remains.  What is Ken Ulman going to do?  This is a set back for him in terms of his campaign promises.

As a reader commented earlier:

If Ulman ends up dropping the height limit pursuit, in favor of the tower, he has broken a campaign promise. Even though the end result is what you want, you attack him for breaking a campaign pledge.

If Ulman sticks with the height restriction, then he is blindly pandering to CoFoBoBo et al, and is making decisions that are bad for business. The end result isn’t what you want, and you attack the guy for that.

Either way, the guy can’t win in your perspective.

That reader is correct.  This is a no win situation for Ken Ulman.  He played politics with a hot potato in order to get elected and he knows it.  What he does on this issue will be a real test and show of his character.

Posted in Howard County, Ulman | 3 Comments »

O’Malley Whine er Watch

Posted by David Keelan on Friday, July 13, 2007

The Democratic party sent out an email that really brought back some memories.  Remember during the election last year when Ken Ulman put up a web site that told absolute lies about Chris Merdon’s record.  Yes campers, I just said Ken Ulman is a liar.

At the time I traced the web site to Mr. Ulman’s campaign and posted the evidence on this blog and people called ME a liar.  I was told that Ken wouldn’t stoop to that level.  After all Art McGreevy had even said Ken was above that kind of thing when he trashed Mary Kay Sigaty in the County Council race.

“There is an old saying: “How you run is how you govern.” Ken Ulman is running a positive, well-organized campaign. He is working hard every day. It was these traits that led to his endorsement. [Teacher’s Union]  If how you run is a reflection of how you will govern, the community will be well served by Ken Ulman.”

For example here are a couple comments regarding my allegations about Ken Ulman’s involvement with therealchris.com at the time:

Yeah, really. Even if the Ulman campaign is behind this, as you suggest, do you have any evidence that the allgations contained in the website are inaccurate or misleading?

And

It also takes real Chutzpah to suggest that the publishers of this site are trying to hide thier indentity from the public. Right on the web site itself it says:

“By Authority of Maryland Democratic Party, Ken Banks, Treasurer.”

I refuted many of the lies Ken Ulman told about Merdon’s record and no one ever responded or came to Ulman’s defense.  They just called me a liar.

The next day or two Ulman admited he was behind the site.

The Democratic Party was quoted at the time:

This site is “not unusual,” said David Paulson, communications director for the Maryland Democratic Party, adding that the party not only pays for http://www.therealchris.com, but also http://www.therealsteele.com, which blasts Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, Republican U.S. Senate candidate.

“There is cooperation between the Ulman campaign and the Democratic Party,” said Paulson, who declined to discuss the level of Ulman’s involvement.

As Ken Ulman said at the time and I quote this because even though it is a bunch of BS it seemed to work for him:

“Folks want to spread conspiracy theories,” he said. “If folks don’t like the fact that their records are being pointed out, it’s part of the campaign.”

Do you know what?  When you examine campaign finance records their is no record of the Democrats paying for the www.therealchris.com (either domain name or hosting services) their is no record of the Democrats paying to printer for the thousands of mailers that promoted the web site either.  How do I know ?  The printers mark on the mailers clearly identifies the printer and producer and it is the same printers mark on Ulman other campaign literature.  I see that Ulman’s campaign paid a mailing house a lot of money during the campaign.  I don’t see that the Democratic party made any payments to the same mailing house.  So did Ulman’s campaign pay for the web site and the mailers and inappropriately use the Democratic Party authority line?  Does this violate campaign finance laws – we will find out.  That is a different story and will let you know what the State Board of Elections says.

So what is the fuss?

The fuss is the excellent web site www.omalleywatch.com , Martin O’Malley’s alarm regarding the site, and how a tactic they perfected is now coming back to haunt them.

The memo I referenced above is here and explains the issue.

Evidence is mounting that former Governor Bob Ehrlich and his new North Carolina law firm’s Maryland-based staff are the driving force behind a totally anonymous and controversial smear website. The owners and operators of that website have gone to great lengths to both communicate their partisan attacks to the press and keep their identities secret from the voters of Maryland.

The Dems know something about scare tactics… 

The Democrats and Martin O’Malley are obsessed with discovering who is behind the site.  Strike that.  They are obsessed with connecting Bob Ehlrich to the site.  Now they think they have a smoking gun and are trying to fire up the loyalists.

Unlike Ken Ulman and www.therealchris.com where I connected the IP addresses and the ISP / web hosting company to www.kenulman.com do you know what the Democrats came up with?  An email memo to reporters and bloggers written by a former Ehrlich press secretary who works for the same law firm Ehrlich works for now.

So here is a synopsis of the Democrats proof.

Person A worked for Ehrlich at Government House.  Person A then went to work for Ehrlich at Womble Carlyle.  Person A issued a memo to a reporter discussing their concerns about an O’Malley land deal.  The same points and concerns show up on a blog (www.omalleywatch.com) Therefore, Bob Ehrlich is behind www.omalleywatch.com.

Absolutely spot on brilliant.  Can’t get anything past Martin O’Malley and the Democratic Party.  Just incredible detective work.  No wonder crime is practically non-existent in Baltimore City.

Read the Examiner story by Len Lazarick.  No mention in The Baltimore Sun that I could find this morning.

Lets get real.  The Democrats have no problem attacking Steele and Merdon with smear web sites and lying about their records and trying to conceal who is involved.  Yet a legitimate site (www.omalleywatch.com) comes out that fairly examines O’Malley’s administration and to them it is a major consipiracy.   No one lied at omalley watch.  Can the Democrats say the same?

The State Comptroller, Mr. Franchot, happens to find the site to be useful because he used the same referenced memo in a board of publics work meeting (the same one where Ken Ulman was the director – remember) to question the Governor and the deal.  It was a great memo, why wouldn’t the Comptroller use the information?

As O’Malley Watch so eloquantly put it in their response to the whiners at Government House:

Evidence is mounting that the Maryland Democratic Party (MDP) and the O’Malley administration wet their pants several times a day over the new phenomenon known as omalleywatch.com. Several members of Governor O’Malley’s staff have been overheard referring to information on the site. The Governor himself referred to the site as “critics” at the Board of Public Works hearing.

Now since www.omalleywatch.com has started to create some real credibility O’Malley has to tear it down.  Unlike my response to www.therealchris.com where I proved that Ken Ulman was a desperate liar when it came to Chris Merdon’s record the Democratic Party and O’Malley refused to address any of the points in the referenced memo.

I bet that they never will.

I think who ever is behind omalleywatch.com should come forward.  However, for the Democrats and O’Malley to whine about the use of a tactic they perfected is just ridiculous.

We are getting the same BS about BGE, Maddalone, Slots, the budget gap, unfunded mandates, etc.  This is what the Democrats are worried about?

Posted in Howard County, Maryland, O'Malley, Ulman | 22 Comments »

Tax Increases Being Prepared…

Posted by David Keelan on Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Get ready for tax increases.  First comes the prep work.  Senator Pipkin says it all…. but it comes down to this “SCARE TACTICS”.

Senator E. J. Pipkin (R. Upper Shore 36) voiced outrage at “fear and strong-arm tactics to force counties to support tax increases.” He pointed to an e-mail, prompted by the O’Malley administration and sent on July 5 by the Maryland Association of Counties’ (MACO) chief lobbyist, Dave Bliden, to various county leaders to motivate local government support of impending tax increases.

Why is MACO doing the bidding of the Governor’s office?  Aren’t they the Association of Counties?  Why on earth would they involve themselves in this battle?

Pipkin characterized the e-mail as “an end-run around most local elected officials which resembles the type of arm-twisting used by Tony Soprano and his ilk.”

Yep, they didn’t tell County Council nor our House or Senate representatives.  This went straight to the County Executive’s offices.

Referring to Josh White, the Governor’s Intergovernmental Relations Chief, the e-mail said, “Josh is interested in coordinating a message for the Governor as he goes on roadtrips to the counties. He (Josh White) is looking for not just the property tax equivalents, but real vignettes of the county ‘doomsday budgets’…like closing libraries, reductions in deputies, larger class size, no support for volunteer firefighters. I (Bliden) suggested a goal of 10 examples for each county, if the proposed State ‘doomsday budget’ comes to fruition…..”

Doomsday budgets.  Get ready folks.  We are going to have to shut down County Government.  Make no doubt about it the libraries will have to go out of business.  Please nominate 10 examples of your own for Howard County in the comments section below.

Now I will bet that Calvin Ball’s living wage bill will go foward without question.  No matter how much that contributes to the “doomsday budget” Ken Ulman will be screaming and crying about shortly.  Did I hear someone ask “Why will Calvin’s bill go foward?”  That is a good question.  As one reader put it to me:

Call it “charity for the unions” ask why, in the face of an alleged budget crisis would they consider raising costs that might require tax increases. Just paying back their union buddies for campaign donations and volunteer poll workers.

 The reader then encourages me to:

Call them out for buying votes with our tax dollars.

Well, honestly I didn’t think of Calvin’s bill in that light.  Now that the point is raised I have to ask the question.  The reader’s comments make sense to me.  We will have all the proof we need when we get the “DOOMSDAY” scare tactics thrown at us and Calvin’s bill passes.

Bliden goes on to say, “the Gov could be visiting the counties during the next weeks, which presents an opportunity to deliver. And, with a good product, we could share with the other counties to get them motivated. Something for discussion at our July 13 meeting.”

“It boggles the mind that such terms as ‘opportunity to deliver’ and ‘good product’ would be used to bamboozle Marylanders into handing over more of their hard earned money to the state,” said Pipkin.

Bliden continued, “Another good perspective would be having interested constituencies there to show their interest, e.g. the volunteer ff’ers (firefighters).”

Hmmm.  I wonder if Ken is going to call on the union here in Howard County.  He will probably pack the rooms with them.  He has probably told Mayor O’Malley that he can deliver any union the Mayor wants.  Although water meter readers at Public Works might be questionable.

Pipkin said, “I thought I was beyond shock and outrage until I read about using volunteer firefighters to help beef up the propaganda campaign to get locals to rally behind the state tax increases. The e-mail lays out an arrogant and shameless blueprint for getting locals to back tax increases. As Bliden says, the next few weeks of gubernatorial visits to the counties ‘is a good opportunity to make a case, and, even more important to convince the Governor we (the counties) are there 100% to help him help us.'”

“Absolutely shameless!” said Pipkin.

The referenced email follows:

Ladies and Gentlemen–

I just spoke to the County Executive Smith and Jan Gardner about a conversation I had with Josh White, the Governor’s Intergovernmental Relations Chief, about which we wanted to motivate a a response.

Josh is interested in coordinating a message for the Governor as he goes on roadtrips to the counties. He is looking for not just the property tax equivalents, but real vignettes of the county “doomsday”

budgets”… like closing libraries, reductions in deputies, larger class size, no support for volunteers firefighters. I suggested a goal of 10 examples for each county, if the proposed State “doomsday budget” comes to fruition..

The Gov could be visiting the counties during the next weeks , which presents an opportunity to deliver. And, with a good product, we could share with the other counties to get them motivated. Something for discussion at our July 13 meeting. Another good perspective would be having interested constituencies there to show their interest, e.g. the volunteer ff’ers.

This is a good opportunity to make a case and, even more important, to convince the Governor we are there 100% to help him help us.

Can you get your team motivated? We would be most willing to work with them.

Best wishes.

David

As Monoblogue put it:

I suppose my issue with this attitude is that, judging by this e-mail, counties are more interested in protecting their turf than asking the tough questions, both of themselves and of Governor O’Malley.

What would those tough questions be?  Examining our ever increasing spending  and stoping Calvin Ball’s “living wage” bill.  Despite what some people think Marylander’s are not open to having their pocket picked when Government can’t control their appetite for our money.

The Examiner picked up this story this morning.  Think it will be in The Sun?

Posted in Howard County, Maryland, O'Malley | 8 Comments »

Howard officer dies after being hit by car

Posted by David Keelan on Monday, June 18, 2007

This is terrible news….

Howard officer dies after being hit by car

Wheeler was standing in the road to flag down cars that other officers using radar flagged for a traffic infraction. Investigators believe the driver — a 24-year-old woman whose name was not released — did not see Wheeler before he was struck. Charges against the driver have not been filed.

I have witnessed police in many jurisdictions using this tactic and always thought it was extremely dangerous.  One time I was driving during rush hour on I95 between Baltimore and Howard County when a State Police officer walked into the middle of the left lane and flagged down a car.  Traffic came to a screeching halt and almost caused a serious accident.  Not only does it put drivers at risk it certainly puts the officer at risk.

I certainly hope that this practice will now stop.

Posted in Howard County | 1 Comment »