Friday, September 29, 2006

Environmental Advocates Storm District 33

Yesterday's Capital introduces the two strong environmental challengers, Scott Hymes and Mike Shay, for the Republican-held seats in District 33. Hymes, a long-time member of the Severn River Association, and appointee to the Severn River Commission, is taking on Senator Janet Greenip, one of the few legislators to vote against the Healthy Air Act, and one of the least effective Senators in the body.

Shay has been instrumental in forging South Arundel Citizens for Responsible Development (SACReD) into one of the most effective anti-development organizations in the County and, in his spare time, helped set up a low-power FM radio station featuring environmental programming in South County. His opponent, Bob Costa, has a stronger record on the environment than Greenip, but hasn't made the environment a priority in his 4 years in office.

This year's election sees a wave of candidates with strong environmental and smart growth credentials taking on incumbents whose priorities are elsewhere. Imagine the impact of electing 4 Councilmembers, a County Executive, 3 Delegates, and 2 State Senators who have a track record of fighting on the right side of environmental battles. We're lucky enough to have the opportunity to do just that on November 7th.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Senator Speedo Considers Pulling a Lieberman

Though Maryland has a "sore loser" law, as was cited in an earlier post, apparently, like so many of our laws, it has a loophole: a candidate who lost a primary can run if appointed by a party central committee to fill a vacancy. Now, John Giannetti, who lost the Democratic Party primary for State Senate District 21 to Jim Rosapepe may run as a Republican. The Republican placeholder, John Stafford, dropped out of the race, and now State Republicans are poised to appoint Gianetti if he will have them.

[UPDATE (9/28/06): Giannetti, in fact, pulls a Lieberman. Let's hope next session the legislature passes a "Giannetti" Amendment closing the gap in the "sore loser" law.]

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District 30 Surprise

Turns out the District 30 race is going to be a little more interesting than 3 Democrats v. 3 Republicans. The "Constitution" Party, America's Taliban-lite, has an entrant in the District race where Democrats and Republicans have historically been separated by a razor-thin margin. David Whitney, Pastor of Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church of Pasadena, will be running at local Republicans, Ron George, Andy Smarick, and Ron Elfenbein from their right. Keep in mind, all three Republicans are pro-life, anti-tax, and pro-corporate interests.

Whitney is running his campaign based on opposition to same-sex marriage, the right-to-choose, and implementing his biblical interpretation of the State Constitution. Exactly what impact this will have on the general election is difficult to say, but one would certainly expect it to cut into Republican vote totals, and, perhaps, force Smarick, Elfenbein, and George to pitch their messages rightward to co-opt Whitney's thunder.

Oddly, Pasadena seems to be a hotbed of "Constitution" Party activity, giving rise to their 2004 Presidential candidate, Michael Peroutka, and, apparently, nurturing the religious right views of Delegate Don Dwyer, whom many Republicans feel is a Republican for reasons of political convenience rather than conviction (Dwyer supported Peroutka, rather than George W Bush for President in 2004). The "Constitution" party affinity apparently runs in the family. Republican primary-loser, and brother-in-law of Dwyer, Les Belcher, seems to have thrown his support behind Whitney (many of the Belcher billboard signs now have Whitney signs in their place).

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Preservation Ploy Prevented

Thanks to some close reading by County Council members, a potential loophole that could eventually undermine the preservation of 400 acres in South County will hopefully be averted. Some unscrupulous soul, perhaps the same one who fudged the Smith Farm contract, inserted language into the contract between the County and Mary Kinder that could potentially allow the land, which is intended as an agricultural preserve, to be converted into ballfields or a school. For Councilwoman Vitale, it brought up the spectre of the Smith Farm debacle, in which Janet Owens tried mightily to subvert the intent of the contract between previous County Exec, John Gary, and Elizabeth Gleaves, Andy Smith's widow.

The vote to hold the bill until the questionable language could be dealt with passed with a 6-1 roll call. Good riddance, Mr. Burlison.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Pulling a Lieberman

At least one candidate who was defeated in Tuesday's primary has inquired about the rules for re-filing as an independent, and apparently others are considering it. A quick glance at Article 33, governing Maryland Election law reveals that it can't be done:

ELECTION LAW
TITLE 5. CANDIDATES
SUBTITLE 7. NOMINATION
§ 5-706. Candidate defeated in primary election.

(a) Scope.- This section does not apply to:

(1) a candidate for the office of judge of the circuit court;

(2) a candidate selected by a political party to fill a vacancy in nomination under Subtitle 9 or Subtitle 10 of this title; or

(3) a candidate defeated in a presidential preference primary.

(b) Candidacy not allowed.- The name of a candidate who is defeated for the nomination for a public office may not appear on the ballot at the next succeeding general election as a candidate for any office.

[An. Code 1957, art. 33, § 5-706; 2002, ch. 291, §§ 2, 4.]


Curiously, Maryland election law does leave the door open for a major party candidate defeated in the primary, but nominated at the party convention, to appear on the general election ballot.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Local Upsets

The biggest local shifts coming from yesterday's primary election appear to be in District 21, which falls within both Prince George's and Anne Arundel Counties. As of right now, it looks like both "Senator Speedo", John Gianetti, and sitting Delegate Brian Moe have been unseated.

Elsewhere in the County, in District 31, Delegate Don Dwyer came in a distant second behind upstart Steve Schuh, and in District 32, Mark Chang far outpaced Delegate Terry Gilleland. What that means for the general election is still to be determined.

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And Now the Game Begins

All the candidates who put their names out there deserve some credit. It takes a great deal of time and energy to run a political campaign, or at least to run one right.

Certainly, I'll be sorry to see some go (several of the young, energetic candidates from District 4 come to mind), others can't move from the public arena quickly enough (goodbye, Mr. Callahan and friends). Regardless, the field has been winnowed, and we now begin a two-month sprint to the finish. Are you ready?

Primary Election Results - State Level - PRELIMINARY

House of Delegates

District 21
Democrat: Barbara Frush
Democrat: Ben Barnes
Democrat: Joseline Pena-Melnyk
Republican: Neil Sood

District 30
Democrat: Mike Busch
Democrat: Virginia Clagett
Democrat: Barbara Samorajczyk
Republican: Ron George
Republican: Andy Smarick
Republican: Ron Elfenbein

District 31
Democrat: Joan Cadden
Democrat: Thomas Fleckenstein
Democrat: Craig Reynolds
Republican: Steve Schuh
Republican: Don Dwyer
Republican: Nicholaus Kipke

District 32
Democrat: Mary Ann Love
Democrat: Ted Sophocleus
Democrat: Pam Beidle
Republican: Mark Chang
Republican: Terry Gilleland
Republican: Wayne Smith

District 33A
Democrat: Pat Weathersbee
Democrat: Paul Rudolph
Republican: Tony McConkey
Republican: James King

District 33B
Democrat: Mike Shay
Republican: Bob Costa

State Senate

District 21
Democrat: Jim Rosapepe
Republican: John Stafford

District 30
Democrat: John Astle
Republican: Herb McMillan

District 31
Democrat: Walter Shandrowsky
Republican: Bryan Simonaire

District 32
Democrat: Ed DeGrange
Republican: John Vandenheuvel

District 33
Democrat: Scott Hymes
Republican: Janet Greenip

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Primary Election Results - County Level - PRELIMINARY

County Executive
Democrat: George Johnson
Republican: John Leopold

County Council

District 1
Democrat: Daryl Jones
Republican: John Lindner

District 2
Democrat: None
Republican: Ed Middlebrooks

District 3
Democrat: None
Republican: Ron Dillon

District 4
Democrat: Jamie Benoit
Republican: Sid Saab

District 5
Democrat: AJ "Tito" Baca
Republican: Cathy Vitale

District 6
Democrat: Josh Cohen
Republican: Rene Swafford

District 7
Democrat: Eric Lipsetts
Green: Robb Tufts
Republican: Edward Reilly

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Early Primary Returns

With 37% of precincts reporting it looks like it may be possible to call several important races:

Looks like...

County Executive:
Democrat: George Johnson
Republican: John Leopold

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Primary Day

Get out and vote.

I will try to post election results here as they come in. Stay tuned.

Capital live vote count.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Primary Election Tomorrow, Get Out and Vote

As most of you probably know, tomorrow, Tuesday September 12th, is the Primary Election Day. Be sure to go out and cast your vote. Information about voting locations, etc. can be found at the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections website.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Developers Skirting Campaign Finance Rules

Because buying candidates for $4,000 apiece isn't enough, local developers have found ways to give more, virtually anonymously through various Limited Liability Corporations that they've set up. Some good investigative reporting by the Capital reveals that, at least, Phil Bissett (R), John Leopold (R), George Johnson (D), and Dennis Callahan (D) have been on the receiving end of this graft. Bissett, in particular, seems to have his hand in the kitty of those who gave so generously to sitting executive and willing pawn of the development community, Janet Owens.

Top among those are Ed St. John, purveyor of nearly all the squat, ugly commercial/industrial complexes you see popping up around the County (over 2 million square feet!) and assorted Sturbridge LLCs, run by the DeStefano family. I'll leave you with this ominous line from Mike DeStefano, president of Sturbridge Homes. :

"In our business, it's particularly important to make sure candidates understand the importance of homebuilding in this county."

Right, its importance to degrading existing residents' quality of life and draining the tax base, because people like you, Mr. DeStefano, have fought so hard against letting impact fees accurately reflect the cost of building new infrastructure to accommodate it.

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

District 33A House Profile

Friday's Sun has a profile of the House race in District 33A. I was unaware of this little gem about about incumbent delegate Tony McConkey (R):

In 1994, McConkey, 42, was charged twice with battery and once with fourth-degree burglary after a run-in with tenants he was evicting in Prince George's County. The battery charges were dropped, and he received probation before judgment on the burglary charge.

McConkey voluntarily disbarred himself from the practice of law and the state revoked his real estate license in the 1990s after a failed land deal in Prince George's County.


Now he's a real estate broker and State Delegate. Nice.

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Sun District 30 and 31 House Profiles

This week, the Sun released its profiles of the District 30 and District 31 House races, as well as the District 31 Senate race.

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Getting Megawatts from Manure

According to Thursday's Sun the Soil Conservation District and the County are considering the possibility of building a biomass power plant at the Sudley Landfill in South County. The thinking is that by burning excess horse manure, and "green waste" (e.g., trees, plants, leaves, grass, etc.) that the County takes in, such a power plant would be a good source of renewable energy.

I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, and I certainly support the stated goal of bolstering renewable energy, but a couple of questions do come to mind: Will locally produced biomass be sufficient to power such a plant, or will it require that trash, or material be hauled in from elsewhere in order to fuel the fire? Burning biomass, while renewable, is still releasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a key ingredient exacerbating global warming. What about taking the manure and "green waste" and using them as the drivers for a municipal composting operation, where County residents and farmers could take nutrient rich fertilizer for the home or farm, to substitute for the petroleum-based fertilizers that are so often used in these applications?

Regardless, I look forward to the results of the County's preliminary study.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Sun Legislative Endorsements

Today's Sun contains their primary endorsements in the House and Senate races in the County.

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Monday, September 04, 2006

Planting Trees to Save Power

Today's Post has a good piece on how the Sacramento Municipal Utility District is distributing free trees to its customers to help reduce their electrical load. They've given away roughly 375,000 shade trees over 16 years.

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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Local Newspaper Endorsements for County Races

The Capital and Sun have recently released their primary endorsements.

County Executive:

Democrat: George Johnson (Capital, Sun)
Republican: David Boschert (Capital)
Republican: John Leopold (Sun)

County Council:

District 1

Democrat: Rik Forgo (Capital, Sun)

District 4

Democrat: Jamie Benoit (Capital)
Democrat: Devin Tucker (Sun)
Republican: David Alan Tibbetts (Capital, Sun)

District 6

Democrat: Josh Cohen (Capital, Sun)

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District 21 Profile

Sunday's Sun provides coverage of the District 21 House and Senate races.

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Clerk of the Courts/Register of Wills Profiles

Friday's Sun provided an explanation and coverage of two of the less well understood races in the County.