The new Salisbury ‘Dream Team’ – Day and Ireton

It probably wasn’t a big surprise based on the primary results and the perception that this election was a tag team match between Jake Day and Jim Ireton vs. Debbie Campbell and Joe Albero. But the preliminary results are in, and it’s all but official that the Day/Ireton side won handily: Day picked up just under 72% of the vote in routing two-term incumbent Debbie Campbell while Jim Ireton managed just 68% of the vote in defeating Joe Albero and winning a second term.

Campbell was the only one of the three incumbents to lose, as District 1 Council member Shanie Shields won a third term with just 48% of the vote – a quirk in the City Charter allowed both challengers to advance through the primary. Cynthia Polk received 3 more votes than April Jackson did this time.

So where will Salisbury go now? Later this month it appears we will find that the 3-2 majorities which always seemed to stymie Ireton’s key initiatives will now become 3-2 votes in favor, with Day joining incumbents Shields and Laura Mitchell to provide a pro-Ireton majority. And I’d love to get a hold of Debbie Campbell’s green-highlighted copy of the Day plan just to see how many of these items indeed cost city taxpayers.

But another question may be the fate of River’s Edge, which was touted by Campbell as one of her achievements. While the money from the state is probably still going to be there, will the plans have to change to accommodate the retail aspect Day wants to bring to the city? (It’s still pretty sad that taxpayers all around the state are going to be paying a subsidy for a artisan community, but that’s a subject for another time.)

Still, given the primary results none of these results were completely unexpected. Both Day and Shields actually improved their percentages from the primary – which was not surprising to me because people like to back a winner. Day gained 723 votes from the primary while Campbell picked up only 292. Over 71 percent of the new votes went to Day, reflective of the final margin and perhaps a result of the (somewhat undeserved) negative reputation Campbell acquired over the years.

Of course, it’s too early to tell what the future will hold for the losers. While April Jackson was a first-time candidate in District 1, Cynthia Polk has now lost twice. And while Debbie Campbell can look back at eight years where she went from the reformer darling against the “Dream Team” in 2005 to being portrayed as the Wicked Witch of the West on one local blog, Joe Albero literally relocated himself to an apartment inside one of the properties he owns a year ago to establish city residency after living outside Delmar, Delaware for several years. Is he through with Salisbury?

Read more here.

A gun control story

This story, as I continue on the subject on the Second Amendment, almost writes itself – in fact, it fell together when I received an e-mail from an acquaintance of mine who recently relocated for his job to a warmer locale down south:

There is feel good gun control and then there is real life. This is our story.

Our family lived on the east side of Salisbury, Maryland for over 10 years. The last 3 years we had lived there every convenience store within a few miles had been robbed at gun point. One shop owner had two fingers of his hand blown off during the robbery. These were the stores we went to get gas; we didn’t have much of a choice. Every time we got gas we never knew if we would be in the wrong place at the wrong time. We were effectively victims waiting for a crime to happen.

The police departments, including the sheriff’s office, were doing their best however, their hands were tied. With budget constraints the county, state and city could not offer the citizens the level of support the city needed. You may have heard that, “When seconds count the police are only minutes away.” This was truly the case for us.

We have since left Maryland and in our new state we have gotten our carry permit and I can hardy describe the feeling now that I don’t have to be scared my family will be the next victim.

Read more here.

The $19 Million Dollar Question in Maryland

Over the past few days mayoral candidate Joe Albero has taken to his Salisbury News website – you know, the one with no authority line – and thrice bashed incumbent Jim Ireton for scheming to raise city taxes and fees by $19 million. But is Albero correct in blaming Ireton?

Yes and no. One could extend blame to the party Ireton is a member of and the politician he supported twice for President for signing an Executive Order compelling the federal government and states to increase their tempo in restoring Chesapeake Bay. It allowed the EPA great latitude in determining a course of action (like these marching orders show – orders which include the stick of possibly “withholding, conditioning, or reallocating federal grant funds”) and established a “pollution diet” which had little to do with maintaining the economic viability of the region but more to do with pie-in-the-sky goals for the state of the Bay twelve years hence. This supposedly would “ensure that all pollution control measures needed to fully restore the Bay and its tidal rivers are in place by 2025.” (Yet, as I’ll discuss in a bit, that won’t be the end of the road. Far from it.)

Thus, the state of Maryland became a greater participant in the effort – not that Governor Martin O’Malley, who Ireton also supported for election twice, was exactly going to be dragged kicking and screaming into the prospect of further power over and control of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay watershed population.

But it can be argued Ireton has his hands tied, and if Joe Albero wins? He still has to deal with it. As it turns out, this $76 million effort is just a portion of Salisbury’s share of costs to enact the Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan, lovingly presented to the EPA by the state of Maryland last year. This led to the mandate from the Maryland Department of the Environment for local officials to prepare a plan for Wicomico County:

As requested by MDE, each of the twenty‐three counties and Baltimore City were instructed to prepare a Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan that details / demonstrates how each jurisdiction will do their part in improving the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries across Maryland.

Read more here.

Law Abiding Citizens in Maryland to become Criminals

Testimony in opposition to SB281:
Firearm Safety Act of 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Senate:

Let me begin by saying I find this bill to be improperly named, because its passage will not make Marylanders any safer.

As members of the General Assembly, you are charged with making laws. By definition, criminals break them.

Yet I predict this bill will make criminals out of law-abiding citizens.

Otherwise this law will deny the right to self-protection from many thousands of Maryland residents your government claims to be looking out for: the poor and disadvantaged among us. If one were to purchase a handgun after November 1, not only will they be responsible for the price of the gun but also hundreds of dollars’ worth of licensing fees, classes, and other costs associated with this law. They’ll be faced with a choice: self-protection or starvation. Is the state going to step in further and pay for gun safety courses for the poorest among us, waiving the $100 licensing fee on a sliding income scale? Of course not.

Certainly at this point you’re shaking your head at the crazy example I point out above, but I shook my head in disbelief when I saw this bill for what it is: a kneejerk response to a tragedy this law would not have prevented. Again, by definition criminals break laws. The very first victim of the Sandy Hook tragedy owned her weapons – the ones stolen to be a means for committing these murders – legally.

Logic and reliance on facts aren’t generally the strong suits of those who would take away the access to weapons, though, so that truism is lost on those who pushed for this bill in the name of “safety.” As you probably know – and will likely hear often throughout this day of testimony – the Second Amendment clearly states “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” It does not go on to say “…shall not be infringed, except when they put scary-looking enhancements on the weapon” or “…shall not be infringed, except for the payment of $100 and taking of a training course.” I would further argue that the people aren’t the “well regulated militia” but the “over-regulated militia.”

It’s rather unfortunate that I can’t be there today to deliver this in person, to see the reaction on your faces when I take a page out of the old saw many of us grew up hearing, “Question Authority.” It’s the people’s job to do so when authority oversteps its bounds and turns a right into a privilege for the chosen few.

I understand this bill probably has enough votes to clear the Senate based on the number of co-sponsors; furthermore, I’m sure it’s no coincidence that this hearing was scheduled at a time when President Obama would be nearby.

But I guarantee to you that I speak for thousands and thousands of law-abiding gun owners in Maryland who have never fired their weapon in anger; in fact, I would wager that most have not fired their weapons in the last year. Luckily, society is still civil enough that the need for self-protection is a rare occasion for most of us.

Read more here.

Publicity Hound?

Originally I was going to use this item yesterday as part of the headquarters story, but on second thought I decided it deserved its own headline and post.

In five months beyond the November election, Salisbury voters will decide the fate of three of their leaders: District 1 Councilwoman Shanie Shields, District 2 Councilwoman Debbie Campbell, and Mayor Jim Ireton. I’m under the impression Shields won’t run again; the other two are presumably going to seek another four-year term.

You may recall that earlier this year I profiled a campaign kickoff by local realtor Adam Roop, for a yet-to-be-determined city elected office. But I hadn’t mentioned this effort by political gadfly and blogger Joe Albero – until today.

Now I understand my political advice is generally worth the price paid for it, but it seems to me that having shirts and bumper stickers will build name recognition but not give someone a reason to vote for you. As it stands right now, the website listed on the shirt simply redirects to his Salisbury News website, not a separate campaign site.

I can already see the comment now should Joe deign to add his two cents to this conversation, something along the line of “it’s my campaign, I know what I’m doing, you simply fail to understand my master plan to win this race.” Whatever – as I said, my advice is sometimes worth the price paid for it.

But if he’s as popular as his rhetoric makes him out to be, why would he be wheeling out a nearly full rack of shirts (presumably as a giveaway to supporters?) The shot was taken as he was leaving to go to another event, as Joe said to me.

I have a hard time taking Albero seriously as a candidate until I see a formal announcement and (as a Salisbury voter myself) his ideas on how to improve the city. Several of those I spoke with this afternoon felt similarly, preferring to keep their distance for the time being.

That didn’t have anything to do with the headquarters, nor will the local GOP be actively involved in the Salisbury city races because they’re non-partisan elections. Hence the reason I decided this should be a separate post. But I took the picture since Albero’s space was placed next to the GOP’s at the Farm and Home Show; aside from that, the Wicomico GOP has no official connection to the Albero mayoral campaign – or any other Salisbury one, for that matter.

Read more here.

A liberty forum for two

This was probably a pretty short forum if just two candidates were featured, but if you didn’t have the opportunity to find out what two of the First District Congressional candidates had to say at a recent forum sponsored by the Free State Patriots. Featured were Libertarian candidate Muir Boda and write-in aspirant Michael Calpino.

I’m glad to give these guys a little bit of exposure, but the obvious question remains: where were Andy Harris and Wendy Rosen? Were they invited? Since the forum occurred in June (the videos were released earlier this week) I’m led to assume neither showed up.

Read more and see the two videos here.

A show of support

Normally the time around 2:30 is a slack one for the restaurant business, and certainly Chick-Fil-A is no exception on a normal day. But this was the scene outside the Salisbury restaurant this afternoon.

Yes, cars were literally lined up around the restaurant and inside you could barely find a table. This was the scene while I was waiting on my food.

Actually, the wait to order food wasn’t bad at all – it was the wait to get the food that was about 20 minutes. I asked the friendly young man who waited on me about how the day was and he said “crazy.” He was expecting a busy day, he said, but not quite like this. In listening to other people talk I heard at least one person had come from Millsboro, Delaware just to eat at the restaurant. Inside, employees were offering to refill drinks and handing out mints to those who were waiting.

Now I don’t know how the location at the Centre of Salisbury fared, but my guess is they had the same sort of business.

How was the food? I’ve always liked their waffle fries but this time I tried one of their cool wraps. Probably should have stuck with the sandwich, but next time I’ll know better. It wasn’t bad, just wasn’t all that great.

From what I’ve been able to gather, I’m not the only local person who’s provided an eyewitness report of his experience at Chick-fil-A today. But one thing about this show of support which makes it far more obvious than a boycott is the number of people who packed the parking lot and restaurant. And there wasn’t a lick of trouble or complaint from those who had to wait.

Read more here.

Trouble brewing; will likely be handled with CAIR

Not too long after the controversy about Ocean City’s prayer breakfast stirred up accusations of Islam-bashing from certain quarters, even when it turned out to be much ado about nothing, we may hear from CAIR and its liberal allies once again once word gets out that the Delmarva Republican Women are hosting a “Voices Against Sharia” meeting on March 31. Two of the featured speakers are Manda Zand Ervin and Catherine Mann-Grandy.

This is from Ervin’s bio at the American Islamic Leadership Coalition:

She is the founder and president of the Alliance of Iranian Women, a group which has deep connections within the Iranian diaspora and within Iran.

As the head of the Alliance of Iranian Women, Manda Ervin works to bring the West’s attention to the plight of Iranian women under Islamic Sharia laws. On September of 2009 she was invited to the G-8 International Conference on Violence Against Women, at the Italian Foreign Ministry headquarters in Rome, Italy, where she was the featured speaker on Iran. She almost single-handedly gathered the support to pass a 2003 U.S. Senate Resolution on the human rights of the women of Iran. Manda is frequently consulted by Members of Congress considering resolutions and legislation on Iran policy and human rights.

Read more here.

Activists ram gay marriage bill through House

Today was a dark day for those who believe marriage should be between a man and a woman, as the gay rights crowd – a definite squeaky wheel in the overall process of life – elbowed aside tradition and browbeat the House into passing HB438 by a vote of 72 for and 67 against. (Initial reports had it 71-67.)

After killing off several amendments earlier in the day, one of which would have been to substitute the phrase “civil union” for marriage and another to automatically send the bill to referendum first, the House this evening moved the bill on to the Senate, which is expected to pass it.

Last year the Senate passed the bill initially only to see the House effort fail when enough votes could not be found late in the session. Strangely enough, the House composition is essentially unchanged this year but several key Delegates have changed their votes in the interim. Delegate Heather Mizeur, a key proponent of gay marriage, tweeted that opponents of gay marriage have pursued “ugly charges of deal making and shady morals” but there are indeed allegations of jobs being promised to opponents who change their vote, among them Delegate Wade Kach, a Republican, and Democrat John Donoghue.

Obviously we will see what happens in the coming weeks with these Delegates and others who had their arm twisted. Meanwhile, it’ll be easy to spot who flipped their votes from 2011 to this year* once the tally is placed online.

The Senate should take up the bill in the next couple weeks; in the meantime the referendum process will be getting underway as opponents organize for what is expected to be a bitter and caustic fight leading up to a vote this November. It’s likely the gay marriage referendum will share the ballot with a referendum on the Maryland DREAM Act, a bill passed last year to give in-state tuition to the children of illegal aliens.

As for HB438 proponents, I have seven words: where do I sign the referendum petition?

* I stand corrected. The House last year didn’t vote on SB116 (the 2011 version of the gay marriage bill) as Delegate Vallario made a motion to recommit to committee, which when passed killed the bill.

Read more here.

A caving on Bennett Middle School?

According to published reports in both the blogosphere and mainstream media, Wicomico County Council is holding yet another meeting tomorrow morning to discuss the stalled Bennett Middle School project. County Executive Rick Pollitt has already asked County Council to allot a 7 cent per $100 increase in the property tax to help pay for the new school without presenting the remainder of his operating budget. (The phrase for that where I come from is “a pig in a poke.”)

First of all, it’s notable that the meeting will be a daytime meeting rather than an evening meeting, since I thought the intention of having night meetings would be to encourage participation. Perhaps that time worked better within the schedule of the few squeaky wheels who don’t understand that people are tapped out, so no means no. For working folks, it’s not that easy.

And since it will be a legislative session, this will give at least one of the four who originally voted to hold off on the school until funds are more available the opportunity to cave in to the caterwauling of these parents who are more than willing to pay higher taxes. News flash: there is nothing stopping those in Parents in Action from stroking a check to make up the difference in their tax rates; however, the rest of us may want to see a better funding plan for a more affordable school that won’t put those same children who attend the school into decades of watching the county pay for it.

G.A. Harrison opines in his piece that District 2 Council member Stevie Prettyman is the weakest link among the four, and that over the last week there has been a “sometimes mudslinging” campaign against the four who voted to be fiscally prudent – another I spoke to agreed that the County Council is getting “hate mail.” Perhaps supporters of fiscal sanity were a little too complacent.

Of course, there is the slim chance that we are the recipient of some fiscal miracle and the county can afford this project without saddling the next generation in debt or, more importantly, raising taxes on a population which is already overburdened. Harrison suffers from one possible inaccuracy in his report, though – I believe a seven cent rise in the property tax homeowners would result in a staggering 17.5 cent per $100 increase in the personal property tax Wicomico County businesses are saddled with. Certainly local businesses can weather that increase, no problem.

Failing that miracle, it bears noting that a County Council which bends whichever way the wind blows is also subject to a primary challenge next time around. I can guarantee you local Democrats will give no credit for voting to raise taxes in the next election and will instead use the 2014 campaign to paint County Council as the obstructionists who rode Rick Pollitt out of a job.

Read more here.

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