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Archive for the ‘Ulman’ Category

Beware the brackets – a hidden way to increase county spending?

Posted by Ed C on Monday, April 7, 2008

Buried in Howard County Bill 15-2008 (pdf) are a set of double brackets that may be a back door attempt by Ken Ulman to increase county spending. The introduction seems innocent enough (emphasis added):

AN ACT amending certain definitions; amending the amount and clarifying the enforcement of the mobile home park refuse collection charge; clarifying the fee for the collection of excess refuse; amending the refuse collection charge assistance program to clarify that the Department of Finance shall administer the program and to amend the amount of the credit; making certain technical corrections; and generally related to refuse collection charges in Howard County.

But a closer look at those pesky “certain technical corrections” under Section 20.900:

Section 20.900. Definitions.
(e) Refuse Collection Service: Refuse Collection Service means the collection and disposal by the county of solid waste[[, excluding the separate collection and processing of recyclable materials]].

Currently trash collection and disposal costs are paid with a annual $175 fee paid by Howard County residents, while the the costs associated with recycling are paid from the general fund. If this legislation is adopted as currently written, the costs for both programs will fall under the “trash collection” fee.

So what? We the taxpayer pay for both anyway, what difference does it make what accounting bin the money comes from? Well, according to public works director James M. Irvin (from the Baltimore Sun: Ulman wants recycling costs moved)

The trash fee raised $14 million for this fiscal year, which is close to what the county expects to pay for trash disposal, according to public works director James M. Irvin. Shifting recycling costs to that fund would mean more revenue would be needed to cover costs.

The current costs for collection in the recycling program is $5 million. That cost is offset by $1.4 million in the sale of recycled materials. This “technical correction” will place an additional $3.6 million dollar of costs into the trash collection “account.”

The current county trash disposal contract expires in 2013 and County officials are expecting a large jump in costs. So, when the county looks to increase the $175.00 fee, the total costs are going to appear even higher (about $45 per household)  when the recycling costs and the general trash collection fees are combined.

If this change passes, will Ken Ulman and the County Council reduce the general budget and reduce our taxes to offset this change?  Or, will this become “found money” and spent elsewhere, effectively increasing or tax burden?

Greg Fox (R-District 5) is going to seek such an amendment, but I was unable to find it posted on the County web site.

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Posted in Budget, Ed C, Howard County, Taxes, Ulman | Leave a Comment »

Budget and Environment

Posted by David Keelan on Friday, December 28, 2007

Ulman stays with ‘green’ plans despite budget worries 

In remarks about the County Enviroment Office:

Originally, a residents commission recommended that the environmental office have up to seven workers. But now, if approved, the office will have one – Joshua Feldmark, who is now director of a 13-member environmental citizens advisory board.   Ulman, Feldmark and Jim Caldwell, the former director of Montgomery County’s environmental agency, said Feldmark can still move the green agenda forward alone, working with existing county employees in various agencies.

That is what should have been proposed in the first place.  Creating a new office is wasteful.  Give Feldmark the authority he needs, support him, and make sure his peers understand his position and authority.

Ken Ulman doesn’t need 13 people to coordinate enviromental policy in the County.  Additionally, Ken Ulman said:

If he could afford one more position, Ulman said, it would be for someone to help get the public involved in learning about environmental issues.

Come on!  Don’t we have a communications office for Howard County that could accomplish that task?  What does he mean by “if HE could afford”.  I hope that is not a direct quote.  He can’t afford anything because it is NOT HIS money.

Hybrid vehicles.  Do they reduce operational expenses enough to offset the increased capital expenses?

Posted in David Keelan, Howard County, Ulman | Leave a Comment »

Did Ken Ulman just move into a higher tax bracket?

Posted by Ed C on Sunday, December 2, 2007

Well, he will have if he files as an individual. As reported in the Baltimore Sun (2.9% pay raises for Ulman, council set to go into effect)

Ulman’s salary increases from $147,000 to $151,263, while the County Council members’ salaries rise from $49,000 to $50,421.

With the new O’Malley tax plan, if Mr. Ulman were to file as an individual he would find himself in the new tax bracket designed for the “semi-rich” and face the new rate of 5.5% for income over $150,000. The really rich, as defined by the Maryland democrats get the privilege of paying 5.75%. (Gov. O’Malley proposed a top rate of 6.5%)

Did the MD democrats index these new income tax brackets to inflation? Did they learn anything from the AMT? When originally passed in 1969, the AMT was designed to target 155 “high-income” households.

From Wikipedia:

Over the coming decade, a growing number of taxpayers will become liable for the AMT. In 2010, if nothing is changed, one in five taxpayers will have AMT liability and nearly every married taxpayer with income between $100,000 and $500,000 will owe the alternative tax. Rather than affecting only high-income taxpayers who would otherwise pay no tax, the AMT has extended its reach to many upper-middle-income households. As an increasing number of taxpayers incur the AMT, pressures to reduce or eliminate the tax are likely to grow.

Just as the failure to demonstrate a little foresight with the AMT, are we in a situation where those that think they are targeting only the “rich” will find that they also hit the “middle-class” over time?

But hey, don’t worry, we live in one of the wealthiest counties and states in America – We can afford it. (Especially if you’re an elected official with automatic, annual pay increases.)

Posted in Ed C, General, Howard County, Maryland, O'Malley, Taxes, Ulman | 5 Comments »

MRSA

Posted by David Keelan on Friday, October 19, 2007

Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

What the 4377 is that? You may be asking.  Well you should be.  It has been all over the news lately and it is very serious. 

I think our officials in Howard County, starting with Ken Ulman, should take the lead in bringing awareness of this issue to the public.  Most of all he should not put any, especially some of our most vulnerable, citizen in a situation where they may be exposed to MRSA. 

MRSA is a staffph infection that is highly resistant to antibiotic medications and there has been a rise in the occurance of this strain of staff infection.

The Centers for Disease Control says that MRSA infections are more prevalent and invasive than previously thought.  Additionally, the CDC says the overall incidence rate is an “astounding” 32 invasive infections per 100,000 people.  Finally, older adults and people who are ill or have weakened immune systems, ordinary staph infections can cause serious illness called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureusor MRSA.

Older adults….  Lets get back to that.

WBAL reports:

Howard [County] is the latest Maryland county Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in County Executive, Ulman | 7 Comments »

Yeah, what Greg said

Posted by David Keelan on Sunday, August 26, 2007

County Councilman Greg Fox had some words of wisdom to share with Ken Ulman in the Baltimore Sun.  Among Greg’s points:

  • The 6 percent pay raise guaranteed for four years for county firefighters 
  • Teachers and police 5 percent raises for two years
  • Hiring large numbers of new employees.
  • The county’s general fund, or locally funded budget, went from $734 million last fiscal year to $812.5 million for the fiscal year that began July 1.

“We knew that the state was looking at us as being part of the solution, and we shouldn’t have been spending and spending as if we weren’t going to be part of it,” Fox said.

Fox and other members cautioned the council during budget talks in May that the county needed to limit new spending given impending state cuts, federal accounting changes requiring an escalating annual payment for future retirees’ health benefits and the looming need for a new county government and courthouse complex.

We are going to now see the mettle that Ken Ulman is made of and I hope for Howard County’s sake we are not disappointed.  Ulman expects:

But Ulman said the county is prepared for “reasonable numbers,” such as a state cut of $5 million to $8 million.

Let us hope he is right because the County can absorb that through property tax assesments.  It won’t be easy but we alway exceed projected income in that area.  But if it is $40M then Ken has a problem – and we all share in it.  What will he do?  Raise property taxes is my guess.  Although he says he would not do it lightly.

Ken Ulman the Conservative

Then the best quote of the article

“We think we budgeted conservatively for the outlook,” he said. “If we don’t pay our police and firefighters a competitive wage, we lose them.”

Loose them to where?  Baltimore City?

Posted in Fox, Howard County, Ulman | 18 Comments »

Sometimes Rumors Are True

Posted by David Keelan on Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I heard a rumor during the campaign for County Executive.  It was September or October 2006.  We got an anonymous email tip.  Some of us discussed it and we said we couldn’t do anything with it because the tipster was anonymous, and wouldn’t follow up with us.  We felt it was just too scandelous and hot to touch without proof.  We even thought about giving it to a reporter and let them run with it (maybe it is time to reconsider that again).  We didn’t even go that far.  However, if the tables had been turned Ken Ulman would have gone to every reporter this side of the Patapsco.

The email said something like this:  “What would you do if you knew Ken Ulman had an illegal alien working as his housekeeper?”

Well, I had completely forgotten about it.  Completely!

Then I read today’s news.  Ulman dismisses illegal housekeeper

Ken Ulman says:

The woman has lived in the United States about 15 years, Ulman said, and “it never occurred to me” that she was not a legal resident.

“I have conflicted feelings,” said Ulman, who checked on the woman’s status after an inquiry from a reporter. “She is a good person who deceived me. She knew she was illegal, and she didn’t tell me.”

Hmmm.  Back in Sept/Oct someone knew she was not a legal resident and they contacted the Merdon campaign.  A reporter just happend to recently inquire.  How long has this rumor been around?  How could it be that the Ulman’s didn’t know if the Merdon campaign knew.

Should we give Ken the benefit of the doubt?

This should not go away.

As Larry Carson sums up in his article – similiar issues did not go away for other people in the same situation:

A number of public figures have had problems with employment of illegal immigrants. Linda Chavez withdrew as President Bush’s first nominee to be labor secretary in early 2001 after news reports that from 1991 to 1993 she housed and occasionally gave money to an illegal Guatemalan immigrant woman who also did housework for her.

Earlier, Zoe E. Baird, former President Bill Clinton’s nominee for attorney general in 1993, was disqualified after admitting she knowingly employed an illegal immigrant as a nanny. Early in 1993, then-Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown disclosed on television that he had failed to pay Social Security taxes for a part-time domestic worker for four years.

“I am annoyed at myself for making a mistake and not filing the 1099,” Ulman said. “Since she wasn’t an employee, I knew I didn’t have to withhold taxes.”

I feel comfortable writing this because enough people saw this email to back me up.

Update:

My nanny (domestic) says she’s an independent contractor and doesn’t want taxes withheld. Can I do that?
The simple answer is no. The IRS has strict guidelines to define employees and independent contractors (Refer to IRS Publication 926). Nannies and other domestics are generally considered employees. It does not matter how the employee refers to herself or how you refer to her in an employment contract. You are obligated for all payroll tax filings and remittances.  The IRS has reaffirmed this stance twice in 1999. In two private letter rulings (PLR 199923014 and 199923015) the IRS disregarded a written contract’s designation of a worker as a contractor, ruling that the substance of the relationship and not its label determines the worker’s status.

Posted in County Executive, Howard County, Ulman | 30 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 »

Block that…Tower (updated)

Posted by David Keelan on Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Remember this campaign pledge?

Nov. 3–Democratic candidate for Howard County executive Ken Ulman said yesterday that if elected Tuesday he would move to block construction of a 23-story lakefront tower in Columbia and impose a 14-story height limit on downtown buildings. The two proposals are part of a broader plan Ulman was to announce at noon today at the lakefront for redirecting the process for developing Town Center. Ulman said he decided to speak up now “when I saw this issue being made into a political football by my Republican opponent. I felt it was important to lay out exactly what my vision is.” Ulman, who represents west Columbia on the County Council, said he rejects Republican candidate Christopher J. Merdon’s call for at least a one-year delay in the planning process.

Update:  I found this on Ken Ulman’s campaign web site.  I just want to be sure I am quoting his campaign pledge accurately.

Ulman Nov 3 ‘06 press conference

Ken Ulman’s November press conference where he pledged to introduce legislation restricting building heights in Columbia Town Center.

I will share with you what I see as the core features of the master plan based on my own personal vision andwhat I have heard… And finally, downtown Columbia must be developed at reasonable heights. The community’s voice has been loud and clear that a 22 story building has no place in our Town Center.  As County Executive, I will introduce a height limit for New Town Zoning to prohibit any building over 14 stories.

I am told that we are waiting or the planning board to review and comment on Mary Kay Sigaty’s ZRA petition.  We will see if either of them submit legislation or if Ulman is going to pull an O’Malley (problem is O’Malley has an Ehrlich to dump on – Ulman doesn’t) End Update

Remember this February statement?

“I’m actively engaged in discussions with all parties,” Ulman said, and “I’m hopeful all parties will come together and compromise.”

Which is it.?

  • Ring Ring…. County Executive Ken Ulman speaking.
  • Hi Ken, this is Mary Kay.
  • Ha ha.  Ok.  Mary Kay who?  Mary Kay cosmetics?
  • Ken, this isn’t a knock knock joke.  This is Mary Kay Sigaty.
  • [Sigh…]  Hello Mary Kay.  Actually, I am glad you called.  About my order.  When is my toe nail polish going to arrive?  [Snort].
  • Aren’t you funny Ken? 
  • I know. I know.
  • Ken, about that WCI tower.  I am going to submit legislation proposing height restrictions and I want to know if you are going to support me.
  • Mary Kay, first let me ask,  do you think that candy apple red or peach is a better color for my toe nails?
  • Peach is better for your comp….  Er… Ken, stop it, no more jokes. Get serious!
  • [Snort… ]Ok ok Mary Kay.  Well Mary Kay, as you know this is a very complicated issue.  I was against the tower before I was for compromise.  Now I am waiting for the results of my poll on the issue to come out.  So, I don’t think it is fair for you to put me on the spot.  First you run against me for County Council and now you want a straight answer….
  • Ken, you said you would stop the tower.  Are you going to stop the tower or not?
  • …..
  • Ken? 
  • Are you there, Ken?
  • Ken, for Pete’s sake will you stop crying?

Since Mr. Ulman layed out his exact vision EIGHT months ago isn’t it time for him to act?  Shouldn’t the business community expect an answer on this question?  Given the implications of retroactive legislation don’t we all deserve closure to this question. Will Mr. Ulman uphold his campaign pledge or is all this just rhetoric or will we he refuse to act at all?

Posted in County Executive, Howard County, Ulman | 46 Comments »

What is the facination?

Posted by David Keelan on Monday, June 4, 2007

The post I wrote about Ken Ulman’s resume (which I believe to be true – the post and not the resume mind you) continues to resonate with readers.  Here is a visual on the stats.

 kucv.jpg

Frankly, I am astounded that this post has has over 1,300 unique views since I posted this in October 2006.  No one cared in November 2006.  Why does this post remain so popular?

It is my ardent hope that some where down the line this resume issues will become a problem for Mr. Ulman’s political career.  Although this was not an issue in the 2006 local election (I not going to quote Brian Harlin) I think, in the end, when the stakes are much higher the piper will come callin’.  Someone with a lot more at risk and a lot more money will make sure this is an issue and make sure it will stick.

How do I really feel about it.  I think that it is too bad.  Other than the typical snypes I hear about Mr. Ulman’s continued smuggness, and the Crown Victoria he is driven around in while telling the press/public he drive a hybrid, I think he is doing a good job so far as an executive.  I wasn’t too pleased about the budget – but not a whole lot of gripes.  Considering the party and person in power it could have been much worse.  With that said, no matter how well he does in his current position it will be over shadowed by the resume. 

Deep down I admire Ken Ulman.  Here is a young guy who knows what he wants and he goes out and gets it.  I have always admired determined people who are certain about what they want in life.  What distinguishes these kinds of people from one another is how they go about getting what they want.  I don’t need to say anything else.

If he thought www.therealchris.com was a great idea, wait until Lt. Gov. Brown turns his guns on Ken in 2014.

PS:  Regarding the PIA request submitted by The Examiner seeking overtime pay for County employees.  Did anyone notice that the information was from the Robey administration?  Considering Ulman’s administration doesn’t have a full year under its belt I suppose that makes sense.

Posted in County Executive, Howard County, Ulman | 9 Comments »