The gradual takeover

It’s been awhile since I talked about the concept of Smart Growth, but some relatively recent developments caught my eye and I figured it was time to talk about them. One of these items has been sitting on my top bookmarks for a few weeks now.

Last spring, against my advice, the voters of Salisbury elected Jake Day to their City Council. Since that time, Day has joined with nine other local elected officials around the state as part of an advisory board for Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. This is a collaboration between the rabidly anti-growth 1,000 Friends of Maryland and Smart Growth America.

Now allow me to say that downtown development is just fine with me. My problem with so-called Smart Growth legislation – such as the Septic Bill which mandated counties provide tier maps for approval by the state, usurping local control – is that it eliminates options local landowners may choose to use. If there is a market for people who wish to live in a rural area, it should be served; moreover, many parts of the region are already off-limits to development because the land doesn’t drain properly. At least that restriction makes sense.

Developing Salisbury’s downtown is important for the city, but not squeezing rural development is important for Wicomico County.

Another recent development in the city is the adoption of designated bicycle pathways, which in Salisbury are marked by “sharrows.” Since I frequently drive in Delaware, I’m familiar with their custom of designating bicycle lanes on the shoulder of the highway, as that state seems to take the concept farther than their Maryland neighbors. But sharrows have a different purpose, simply denoting the best place to ride in a shared lane. In theory, however, a group of bikes moving along the shared lane could slow traffic down to their speed. It may seem extreme, but this has happened in larger cities.

Granted, the designated bicycle ways in Salisbury are somewhat off the beaten path of Salisbury Boulevard, which also serves as Business Route 13 in Salisbury. But the anti-parking idea expressed in the American Spectator article is a dream of Salisbury bicyclists, who want to eliminate one lane of on-street parking when downtown is revitalized. With the lower speed limits common along downtown streets, the bigger danger for bicyclists comes from a driver of a parked car unwittingly opening a car door in the path of a bicyclist rather than the large speed difference common on a highway with a bike lane.

Read more here.

Annapolis Council To Consider Stripping Republican Mayor-Elect’s Power Because Republicans Are Not Allowed To Win and the Vote Does Not Actually Matter

Days after a Republican was elected mayor of Annapolis, City Council members say they will revisit legislation that would strip the mayor’s office of much of its power.

Democratic Alderman Ross Arnett of Ward 8 tells The Capital he will introduce a charter amendment to move Annapolis to a council-manager style of government. The city manager would report directly to the City Council, not the mayor.

Under Arnett’s legislation, the mayor’s post would be largely ceremonial. The mayor would retain a single vote on the council. Arnett says the change would stabilize the city’s management.

If the measure is approved, it would mean the Democratic-dominated council would be removing the powers of the first Republican mayor elected since 1997.

Read more here.

What a State Atty. General (and Candidate for Governor) Looks Like in the Middle of an Underage Alcohol Party

(he’s in the middle wearing the long-sleeved white-collared shirt holding a cell phone)

Disgusting Liberal Barbara Mikulski Calls Out “Tea Baggers” on Senate Floor

Maryland Parent Arrested from Common Core Meeting for Speaking Out of Turn

Maryland schools prepare for Anti-American and Destructive Common Core

Maryland public schools plan to move ahead with a new curriculum next school year, undeterred by opposition to the Common Core curriculum standards in other states.

Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards, but some states are reconsidering or slowing implementation due to opposition. Much of that opposition comes from conservative and Tea Party groups concerned about the federal government taking over the education system.

Yet it was the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers — not the federal Department of Education — that coordinated the creation of the new state standards.

In Maryland, the new curriculum is moving forward with little controversy. It was adopted in 2010 by the state and is being rolled out over a three-year period.

Curriculum called different, but not drastically so

William Reinhard, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Education, said the new curriculum is different than the current one, but not drastically so. The difference is bigger in math than reading, he said.

Reinhard said the sense from the nation’s governors and education leaders was that they needed a national standard that was internationally benchmarked.

The development was welcomed by the U.S. Department of Education, but the federal government did not have input on the standards themselves, he said.

“We’re happy to put Maryland students up against any in the country and any in the world,” Reinhard said. “We welcome this opportunity.”

‘Tsunami’ of reform

From the teachers’ perspective, it’s jokingly being called the “tsunami” of education reform because the new curriculum is being introduced at the same time the state is changing the way teachers are evaluated, according to Cheryl Bost, vice president of the Maryland State Education Association.

Bost, who was a fifth grade teacher until she took the position with the state teachers’ union last year, said some teachers are concerned about getting enough training on the new curriculum. But many teachers are looking forward to the new content itself.

Read more here.

Maryland makes big mistakes

With a vote in the House of Delegates, the state of Maryland removed the ultimate punishment and allowed criminals to live out the rest of their lives in prison, at taxpayer expense. Two House Republicans split from the pack in the 82-56 vote, joining one GOP Senator in listening to the siren song of those who would mistakenly believe our society becomes more civil with the punishment’s repeal, forgetting that knowingly committing a heinous, premeditated crime is supposed to come with the realization one would forfeit their right to life in doing so. Nothing like giving a hardened criminal animal free reign to kill a corrections officer – after all, what now does he have to lose?

Perhaps the one saving grace in all this was that the false flag amendment which would have made this an appropriations bill and not subject to referendum was stripped out, so it appears to me that this bill could be placed on the 2014 ballot with many of the same people who foolishly voted for it.

Meanwhile, in this age of austerity when hard-working families have to watch their pennies and learn to do with less, the House also passed Governor O’Malley’s bloated budget by a 101-36 vote. By those tallies, it’s obvious that at least three Republicans have turned their back on fiscal conservatism and must believe the state will continually be a spigot for goodies, courtesy of the taxpayer. I wouldn’t expect the O’Malley budget to fail as the bulk of Maryland continues to vote against its best interests and sends more big-spending liberal Democrats to Annapolis, but I would hope for at least a united front of Republicans – there should have been at most 98 votes for the bill, and I’ll be interested to hear the excuses when those Republicans are called out on the carpet. A vote for an O’Malley budget pretty much exhausts my 20 percent of slack I’m willing to grant.

Read more here.