Bay Bridge toll could double

The Maryland Transportation Authority is developing a plan that would raise tolls dramatically for the first time in decades.

The proposed tolls are part of a four-year package of $210 million in increases that would affect the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, the Baltimore Harbor crossings, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway and other toll facilities.

The plan discussed before the authority’s finance committee Thursday calls for raising the tolls Oct. 1 this year and July 1, 2013.

The toll on the Bay Bridge would be raised from $2.50 to $5 this year, and $8 in 2013. Tolls on the bridge have been frozen since 1975. Commuter rates would jump to $1.50 in the first phase and $2.80 in the second.

Maryland Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley said Thursday that toll increases are unavoidable because of the need to pay bondholders for existing debts and the growing maintenance demands of aging bridges, tunnels and roads.

“They are at an age where they need major rehabilitation, and we need to pay for that rehabilitation,” Swaim-Staley said.

Republican Sen. E.J. Pipkin, R-Cecil, described the proposed increases as “outrageous.” He said they show how “out of touch” Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration is with the average working family.

“Do you think the average family income in Maryland has gone up 300 percent?” Pipkin asked.

Read more here.

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Red Reps 10 Doyle Niemann : Maryland’s Marxist State Delegate

Doyle L. Niemann is a Democratic Party member of the Maryland House of Delegates, representing District 47.

Delegate Niemann has represented the 47th Legislative District in the Maryland House of Delegates since 2002, when the 47th District was created.

After serving his first four years on the Appropriations Committee, where he was a member of the Health and Human Services and the Public Safety and Administration Subcommittees, Niemann moved to the Environmental Matters Committee in 2007. He currently serves on the Natural Resources, Environment, and Housing Subcommittees and is the committee’s point person on foreclosure and other real estate issues.

As a freshman, Doyle was appointed to the Governor’s Housing Commission by Gov. Bob Ehrlich. He also served on the legislatively created Child Welfare Work Group, the Maryland Task Force on Identity Theft, and the Task Force on the Title Insurance Industry. He chaired a special two-year Work Group on Career and Technical Education in Prince George’s County and co-chaired the Task Force on Delinquency Prevention and Diversion. He represents the House of Delegates on the Criminal Coordinating Committee for Prince George’s County and is a Deputy Majority Whip.

An influential and well known Delegate to be sure.

Unfortunately, the good Democrats of Maryland, who persistently keep electing Mr Doyle, have little knowledge of his Marxist background.

Read more here.

Salisbury City Council Walks All Over Freedom OF Religion

To protect the religious freedom of its constituents, the City Council has decided to open its legislative sessions with a moment of silent meditation, rather than the traditional Lord’s Prayer.

“We need to be mindful of the fact that we do this from the position of government officials, and law cases have very definitively stated we are not to promote religion over secularism, secularism over religion, or one religion over another,” said Council President Terry Cohen at this week’s six-and-a-half-hour work session.

The council considered several options, including removing prayer completely, reciting a prayer not exclusive to a particular deity and implementing a rotation in which each meeting is opened by a resident representing a different religion.

A 2008 opinion written by former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor factored into the council’s decision, as the ruling states “the restriction that prayers be nonsectarian in nature is designed to make the prayers accessible to people who come from a variety of backgrounds, not to exclude or disparage a particular faith.”

City Clerk Brenda Colgrove polled 30 Maryland municipalities regarding their religious practices. Of those, nine recite a verbal prayer, seven recite the Pledge of Allegiance and observe a moment of silence, and 14 do nothing.

Councilwoman Laura Mitchell first suggested the moment of silence at an April 19 work session, and said Monday that it’s the best way to be equitable, respectful and legal.

“For me, prayer is very private and a silent prayer is a way I can worship the way I choose without forcing that on anyone else,” she said.

Councilwoman Shanie Shields staunchly opposed removing verbal prayer, stating the rotation of different faiths would be best.

“I don’t care what other cities do, or what the Constitution says, because sometimes that’s wrong,” she said. “We talk about crime, the economic situation of our people, children getting into trouble in school — the city needs prayer.”

Read more here.

Laura Mitchell Statement On Lord’s Prayer Issue

“Our first work session was extensive and productive. I am now the Council representative on the Airport Commission, Tri-County Council, and the Zoo Commission. In addition to the agenda items (tow ordinance and health care consortium agreement), we also touched on what we want to accomplish in our tenure on the Council. One topic that I broached was to discuss replacing The Lord’s Prayer with silent prayer. Although the initial suggestion came from another member (who chose not to bring it up), I have long felt that the recitation of a prayer from a singular religion was exclusionary. Not to mention that the courts have ruled that government meetings should not show such preference to any religion. I am not aware of any formal complaints, but must we wait for such to make a change that the high court has said we should make? Equally as important, shouldn’t we want to be more inclusive in our City governance? I believe so. We are constantly asking our citizens to get involved, share your concerns, come to meetings. If that is what we really want-and I certainly do- than I feel we should do all we can to make everyone feel welcome. I believe that allowing individuals to worship or pray in the manner of their choosing before the meeting is a very sensible way to accomplish that goal. I am not trying to remove religion from our City or even our meetings, I am simply suggesting that we be respectful of the diversity in our community and even on our Council. I hope that you can understand where I am coming from on this but I am happy to talk with you individually about it if you wish.”

Editors Note: Contact Laura at Laura@LauraMitchell.org

Read more here.

SU BOYCOTT!!!

Here’s Why:

For the last 15 months, local blogger Joe Albero has been tormenting and harassing the family of 11 yr old Sarah Foxwell who was found, brutally murdered on Christmas day, 2009. Yesterday afternoon, after the hearing for Sarah’s murderer Thomas Leggs, Sarah’s grandmother implored the public to help end Albero’s reign of terror over her family by boycotting any and all businesses that advertise with Albero’s blog. Seagulls- you are the economic powerhouse of the Eastern Shore- please rally to this woman’s aid!!!

Here’s How:

Here is a list of local businesses you may be familiar with, we ask that you stop giving them your money until they pull their ads from Albero’s site. Thank you. Go Gulls!

UPDATE:

Evolution Craft Brewing Company
Sobo’s Wine and Beerstro
Pani Pit Pizza
The Red Roost
Vinny’s La Roma
Boonies
Cakes By David
Lagoon Bar and Grill
The Fountains
Eric Ludwig’s Downtown Barber Shop
All About Tan
Benedict’s Flowers
Mitchell’s Marshall Arts
Crown Sports Center
The Smoke Shop
The Storage Center
Cubes
The Roop Group
Pohanka
Simpson’s Towing
Car Care
Cathy’s Pet Salon

Read more here.

It May be Time to Leave Salisbury, Maryland

Cohen, Mitchell, Spies elected to City Council

Unofficial results from the Wicomico County Board of Elections show Councilwoman Terry Cohen, Laura Mitchell and Tim Spies as winners of the District 2 City Council election.

Mitchell was the top vote-getter with 796 votes, followed by Cohen with 783 and Spies with 741.

Muir Boda received 673 votes, while Orvile Dryden and Bruce Ford received 542 and 357, respectively.

Anthony Gutierrez, election director with the BOE, said 210 absentee ballots were issued and, as of Tuesday morning, 144 had been returned. However, he added, more will “trickle in” throughout the coming days.

The first round of absentee ballot canvassing is Thursday at 10 a.m., after which another round of unofficial results will be released. Official results will be determined April 13, after the second round of absentee ballot canvassing and provisional vote count.

Read more here.

Tales from the voting booth

A quick update…

First, I can almost guarantee that I won’t have the results from Salisbury’s election first tonight because I have a job to do. It pays better than this site, although if the advertisers from another somewhat disgraced site wished to invest in mine this enterprise may make me more coin than my job.

Anyway, I voted today around 3:00. There were two items I found worth mentioning.

First, I asked about turnout at my polling place (Wicomico Presbyterian) and I was the 375th voter. If this is relatively accurate then I think turnout isn’t going to be much greater than 15 to 17 percent, and that doesn’t bode (no pun intended) well for the challengers. It’s the faithful voters who showed up in the primary who are voting in this election, too – so the results will likely be similar. Had there been 500 voters at the precinct I believe the challengers had more of a chance. Let’s hope I’m wrong on that one for Muir Boda’s sake.

If it were up to people who read monoblogue and Two Sentz, though, Muir would be a shoo-in. Here’s the results of our joint poll:

Muir Boda, 34 votes (38.2%)
Laura Mitchell, 22 votes (24.7%)
Terry Cohen, 14 votes (15.7%)
Orville Dryden, 13 votes (14.6%)
Tim Spies, 5 votes (5.6%)
Bruce Ford, 1 vote (1.1%)

Of course, I think the influence of having an ad for Muir Boda on my site and Laura Mitchell on Two Sentz just might influence the poll. If nothing else, I suppose that proves blog advertising works (see first paragraph above.)

Finally, I had a nice complement from the young lady who’s running Laura Mitchell’s campaign, or at least I presume she does. She thanked me for my fair coverage of the race, and not jumping into the rumor mill about Laura’s living arrangement.

Now maybe there was something to the rumor, but since the protagonist seemed to backtrack from it I doubt it. And hers wasn’t all that important of an issue, just like who Jim Ireton sleeps with was but a sidebar to the real issues surrounding the mayoral race two years ago. It hasn’t affected his job performance, although I was pretty skeptical about that anyway.

So after tonight’s count we will probably have an idea of who will be representing District 2 for the next 4 1/2 years, since the next time these seats will be contested will be the fall of 2015. Unless it’s close enough to require an absentee count and we end up in a tie, I think the top three in the primary will prove to remain in those positions.

If so, beware – it’s open season on landlords and other small businessmen in Salisbury.

Read more here.