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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Obama Weekly Address 8-29-2009

George Wenschhof

Today, President Barack Obama discusses the continuing progress being made to finish the recovery effort from Hurricane Katrina as the 4th anniversary nears.

download .mp3 download .mp4 (90 MB) read the transcript

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Sunday Morning "Talking Heads" Guests 8-30-2009

George Wenschhof

Please remember to check you local listings for time and channel.

As one would expect and rightfully so, the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy will take center stage today.

It was his brother Robert Kennedy who inspired me to first become involved in politics at the age of 15, when he entered the presidential race in 1968. Some years later, around 1980, when I was working for the National Association of Counties (NACO) and living on the Hill, I first met Senator Ted Kennedy by happenstance, on the steps of the Capitol. He towered over me and a shy 27 year old said hello, only to be received by his big grin, friendly handshake and booming hello. Some years later, in 2002, I had the privilege to work for Robert Kennedy's daughter Kathleen Kennedy Townsend when she ran for Governor of Maryland. Ted Kennedy may have had his failings at times, but his inspiration for many of us and for those less fortunate will be missed, but not forgotten.

NBC "Meet The Press" - Dick Gregory will have Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) along with Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Bob Schrum. Also appearing will be Doris Kearns Goodwin.

ABC "This Week" - George Stepanopoulos will have Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Ut.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.).

The roundtable discussion will include Liz Cheney, George Will, Sam Donaldson, Gwen Ifill and EJ Dionne.

CBS "Face The Nation" - Bob Schieffer will have Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calf.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) along with Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.).

Fox News Sunday - Chris Wallace will break from the Kennedy remembrance by hosting former Vice President Dick Cheney.

The roundtable discussion will include Bill Kristol, Bill Sammon, Juan Williams and Mara Liasson.

CNN "State of The Union" - John King continues the tribute for Ted Kennedy when he welcomes Senators Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). Also appearing will be former Lt. Governor Robert Kennedy Jr., Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, and Boston Red Sox President Larry Lucchino.


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Friday, August 28, 2009

Daily Democratic Wire 8-28-2009

George Wenschhof

Today, President Barack Obama and the First family will travel to Boston and attend the funeral services for Senator Ted Kennedy - Vice President Joe Biden and his wife will also attend. has more here.


Special election to fill vacant Senate seat of Senator Ted Kennedy - the date will be either January 19 or 26 and the Governor is required to choose one of these dates within a week. Still up in the air is whether or not the state legislature will act on the request by the late Senator Kennedy to allow the Governor to appoint an interim Senator until the date of their special election. I would look to see the approval be given by the state legislature. You can read more here.


Consumer spending up in July - the second month in a row. The popular "Cash for Clunkers" program is credited with having an impact as consumers took advantage of the rebate. has more here.


Obama losing support among Independents - an interesting read detailing the loss of support among independents and shows the large number of Independents across the country today. has more here.


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Dougherty is the Right Choice for Mayor

George Wenschhof

I have written previously on numerous occasions, going into this City of Frederick, Maryland election, I had no horse in the race.

As a result, the many in-person discussions and live online Democratic candidate interviews I have conducted have been enlightening to me and I hope for my readers of Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof.

All of my live online candidate interviews are linked conveniently in the right hand margin and I encourage you to read them before you vote on September 15.

My discussions and interviews with the Democratic candidates for mayor have led me to support and cast my vote on September 15 for former Mayor Jennifer Dougherty.

The next decade will be a challenge for elected officials at all levels of government due to the serious worldwide recession.

What will be needed is a mayor who not only has a command of the issues, but the ability to implement and provide the necessary services of local government during a period of financial revenue shortfall. Jennifer Dougherty is the person most qualified and capable of ensuring an efficient city government during this time.

Dougherty has proposed 7 Steps to lower taxes, ways to control spending, invest in public safety and protect the environment. The details of each can be found on her campaign website;

Furthermore, her implementation of the Neighborhood Advisory Councils (NACs) during her term as mayor showed her commitment to reach out and include residents in the city decision making process.

Dougherty's successful economic development efforts along the "Golden Mile" and "Carroll Creek" during her previous administration are additional examples of how her experience will help the city in the years to come.

This decision to vote and support Jennifer Dougherty for mayor did not come without numerous interviews and considerable thought on my part.

My concerns with Jason Judd began when I first met and interviewed him at my favorite downtown deli "Beans and Bagels" in December 2008. Over a three hour period, I found Mr. Judd to be intelligent and thoughtful, but not decisive. In fact, after meeting him, one would be hard pressed to label Jason as an engaging or inspiring candidate.

A common comment many Democratic voters have shared with me after meeting him at a campaign organized House Party is, "I'm not one who loves Dougherty, but I'm voting for her over Jason because she is more qualified".

Since my first interview with Jason, up to and including the recent FCC candidate forum, he has continued to exhibit hesitancy in his answers to questions posed to him.

Under The City of Frederick government charter, the mayor is essentially the Chief Executive Officer who is responsible for making the day to day decisions in city government.

While Jason Judd did grow up in Frederick County and attend Governor Thomas Johnson High School, he did not move to the City of Frederick until November of 2007 and continues to commute to D.C. for work with the Service Employees International Union. His lack of time living in the city as an adult or working in the community could also prove troublesome in the capacity of mayor.

However, Mr. Judd's experience in community organizing has helped him run a competitive campaign.

Ms. Dougherty has lived and operated businesses in the city for twenty-two years, four of those years serving as mayor. In these lean times, her professional experience in the community and previous term as mayor will prove invaluable and be a benefit for city residents.

I have found the other Democratic candidate, hometown Chris Simpson to be extremely straightforward. He has often said "I don't know" to questions posed to him which is a refreshing response. However, he will not seriously compete for the Democratic Party nomination. I enjoyed meeting him and hope he stays involved in local politics.

Nonetheless, I do expect Simpson to draw more than just a token number of votes as his talk of public safety in various parts of the city, especially the west end, will resonate with some voters.

It is doubtful Mr. Simpson will draw votes from supporters of Ms. Dougherty. Instead, his votes will either be from residents who were not going to vote or he will draw votes from Mr. Judd who are from the "Anyone but Dougherty" block of voters.

Interestingly, some local Republican leaders have expressed to me their desire for the Republican Party nominee for Mayor to face Jason Judd in the General Election as they fear Dougherty would be a much more competitive opponent.

Much has been written, including by me, as to the acrimony that surrounded the previous Dougherty administration. Dougherty has learned and grown by that experience and deserves another term as Mayor. This time with a Board of Aldermen who will work with the mayor on behalf of the residents of the city.

Next week on Wednesday, I will discuss the Democratic candidates for Aldermen.


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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Daily Democratic Wire 8-27-2009

George Wenschhof

President Barack Obama will give eulogy at Saturday mass for Ted Kennedy - today, the body of the late Senator will be transported from Cape Cod to Boston where he will lie in repose for one day at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. Funeral services will be Friday and Vice President Joe Biden will speak at the wake. The burial in Arlington will be on Saturday alongside his brothers John and Robert. has more details here. has very comprehensive coverage of the late Senator Ted Kennedy today - take time to go and read some or all of the many informative articles here.


Health care reform bill may be named after Kennedy - in death, the late Senator may serve to unify Democrats to move forward and pass meaningful health care reform. Ted Kennedy spent a lifetime pressing for health care for all. You can read more here.


Senator Chris Dodd may become chair of Senate Committee overseeing health care reform - Dodd, who was a very close friend of Senator Kennedy is the senior member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee and in line to assume the vacant chair. However, Dodd is also the chair of the Senate Banking Committee and it is unlikely he would do both. Next year Dodd is also up for reelection. has more here.


Governor Bill Richardson (D-NM) cleared of wrongdoing - a year long federal investigation into pay-to-play allegations pertaining to one of Richardson's large political donors has been dropped with no charges. You may recall Richardson withdrew his name from nomination to Commerce Secretary due to the ongoing investigation which he felt would delay his confirmation. You can read more here.


Afghanistan vote tally delayed until mid September - not a good sign as the last reported figures showed with 17% of the vote counted President Hamid Karzai leading his main challenger Abdullah Abdullah 43-34%. Now, it is being reported the preliminary vote tally will be released on September 3 and the final vote tally two weeks later. If no candidate receives a simple majority of the vote a run off election will take place in October. has more here.


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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Daily Democratic Wire 8-26-2009

George Wenschhof

Senator Edward Kennedy passes away at age of 77 - his battle with brain cancer mirrored his many battles in the Senate. First diagnosed in May 2008, he courageously fought the incurable form of cancer, living longer than what medical experts had predicted. It doesn't seem that long ago when his picture with his brothers President John Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy hit the newsprint in 1960. They looked so young back then and I was but seven, but the photos and the name became etched in my memories along with "...and the Dream lives on..". Much will be written of the Lion of the Senate over the following days and weeks, as it should be for the champion of those less fortunate.

The NY Times has a article this morning you can read here.


This morning, President Barack Obama to make a statement to the press in regard to the death of Senator Kennedy - He and the First Family are vacationing on Martha's Vineyard and it was speculated the president might visit Ted Kennedy. Senator Kennedy's endorsement and backing of Obama during a very close Democratic primary in 2008 helped secure the Party nomination for Obama. You can read the prepared statement here.


Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY) failed to disclose $660,000 in assets in 2007 - this may prove problematic as he is already facing an ethics panel inquiry surrounding several issues, including income from a vacation home in the Dominican Republic. Stay Tuned. has more here.


Howard Dean speaks at Health Care Reform Town Hall meeting in Virginia - the former DNC chair spoke at the meeting held by representative Jim Moran (D-Va.). Supporters of reform backed by Organizing for America (OAS) and Change that Works packed the 2700 seat auditorium. Opponents of reform were a minority, but nonetheless loud. has more here.


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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Daily Democratic Wire 8-25-2009

George Wenschhof

This morning, President Barack Obama nominated Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke for another term - so much for the promise yesterday from deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton of no news from the president while he was on vacation. Bernanke flew to Martha's Vineyard to be present for the announcement. You can read more here.


Housing prices rise for first time in three years - for the last quarter. The peak was in 2006. Since then, home prices have fallen 30%. ABCNews has more here.


Upon new release of information pertaining to abuse of prisoners, Attorney General Eric Holder appoints Special Prosecutor - the newly released report details additional abuse of prisoners by the CIA and their contractors. Holder stated he had no choice but to appoint a prosecutor to determine if a full investigation is to follow. The man chosen for the job is John Durham, a prosecutor from Connecticut. The NY Times has more here.


Afghanistan Election may be headed for a run-off - Reuters is reporting that with 10% of the vote counted, President Hamid Karzai has a 41% - 39% lead over challenger Abdullah Abdullah. If neither obtains a simple majority of the vote, there will be a run-off election. has more here.


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Monday, August 24, 2009

Daily Democratic Wire 8-24-2009

George Wenschhof

President Barack Obama and family to enjoy quiet vacation at Martha's Vineyard - or so he hopes. Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton says don't expect any news this week as the President enjoys his first full week of vacation since taking office. However, the media will attempt to follow every move the family makes so look forward to daily photo ops of the First Family when they venture out from the Blue Heron Farm vacation compound. The Washington Post has more here.


Only 43% of policy making jobs in Obama administration have been filled - perhaps the President should have taken some resumes of job seekers with him to Martha's Vineyard. These are 500 high level positions which require Senate confirmation. The NY Times has more here.


Time to break up the big health insurance companies - studies show that in many locations across the country just a few insurance companies dominate the market. This leads to rising costs for the consumer. The "public option" inclusion in many of the health care reform bills circulating on the Hill is designed to create competition and lower premiums. If the public options fails, perhaps it is time to further regulate the insurance industry. has more here.


Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) points out the obvious on health care reform - it is not that the Republicans want a bipartisan bill - they don't want health care reform. Yesterday on NBC "Meet The Press", Schumer indicated the Democrats are prepared to go it alone with their 60 votes in the Senate if a bipartisan agreement is not reached soon. has more here.


Afghanistan situation deteriorating - Admiral Mike Mullen who is the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said yesterday on CNN "State of the Union" the security situation is worse now and the Taliban are using more sophisticated methods. has more here. Senator McCain (R-AZ) called for more U.S. troops. This is not good news as additional charges of a rigged national election abound in Afghanistan. The results of the election are expected to be released tomorrow.


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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Daily Democratic Wire 8-23-2009

George Wenschhof

Today, President Barack Obama and family leave Camp David and head to Martha's Vineyard - unlike his predecessor George W. Bush, who seemed like he always was on vacation, this is the first week long vacation for the President since taking office. They will be staying at the Blue Heron Farm. Similar properties rent for $30,000 per week. USAToday has more here.


Tom Daschle works to calm the health care reform debate - the man President Obama wanted to oversee health care reform through it's treacherous path in Congress continues to provide advise. He proposed several months ago the idea of non-profit insurance cooperatives, an idea which is now picking up steam on the Hill. The NY Times has a good read here.


Afghanistan election results now due to be released on Tuesday - while many will view the election as largely successful, election monitors say it was marred by vote rigging, intimidation and low turnout. Especially the southern and eastern regions dominated by the Pushtans, who are the country's largest ethnic group. has more here.

With U.S. public support of the Afghanistan conflict eroding, Peter Baker has a good read today in the NY Times entitled "Could Afghanistan Become Obama's Vietnam?" You can read it here.


CIA report due to be released tomorrow to show more prisoner abuse - additional reports of mock executions and threatening of a al Qaeda leader with an electric drill and a gun will be part of the revelations. has more here.


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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Daily Democratic Wire 8-22-2009

George Wenschhof

Today, the President and his family is visiting the Presidential retreat Camp David. Tomorrow, they will head to Martha's Vineyard for a full week family vacation.

Yesterday, President Obama spoke of the importance of the Afghanistan election and how the country was moving forward.


Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke says U.S. beginning to emerge from Recession - yesterday, his remarks including the U.S. is near a return to growth led a surge on the stock market on Friday. Bernanke did caution the recovery will take time as unemployment is expected to remain high. has more here.

However, keep an eye on the Chines stock market which just dropped 20% from their most recent peak. The Chinese are also holders of a large chunk of U.S. debt. has more here.


Existing Home Sales Jump - in July to the highest rate since August 2007. Declining sales prices, aid to first time home buyers, and continued low interest rates are fueling the recent sales. has more here.


Senate Finance Committee continues to massage health care bill - rising concerns pertaining to the projected cost of 1 Trillion over the next ten years has led to some cost saving efforts aimed at reducing the overall cost by 100 Billion. However, don't expect consensus to be that easy on this controversial proposal. You can read more here.

Further compounding the effort for health care reform is projected overall U.S. budget deficit of 9 trillion over the ten year period from 2010 - 2019. The budget deficit of the current fiscal year ending September 30, while 250 Billion lower than expected, will be 1.6 trillion. The current budget is mostly a carry-over from the George W. Bush administration. The Obama administration's goal is to cut the budget deficit to 512 Billion by 2013. You can read more here.


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Obama Weekly Address 8-22-2009

George Wenschhof

Today in his weekly address, the President speaks again on the need for health care reform. He debunks the many myths and discusses what a "public option" is which is included in many of the bills currently circulating on the Hill. More importantly, he talks about how this is the moment to finally do what is right to help Americans in need.

download .mp3 download .mp4 (123 MB) read the transcript

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Sunday Morning "Talking Heads" Guests 8-23-2009

George Wenschhof

As always, check your local listings for time and channel.

NBC "Meet The Press" - Dick Gregory will discuss the recent Afghanistan election with the Chair of the Joints Chief of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry. Results from the election are not expected to be announced until Tuesday.

Also appearing will be Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Orrin Hatch (R-Ut.) who are both members of the Senate Finance Committee. Expect health care reform to be the subject.

The political roundtable will include Travis Smiley and Joe Scarborough.

ABC "This Week" - George Stephanopoulos will have Senator John McCain (R-AZ) as his guest. Afghanistan, Iraq and health care reform will all be discussed.

The roundtable discussion includes George Will, David Frum, Paul Krugman, and Robert Reich.

ABC "Face The Nation" - Bob Schieffer continues the health care reform discussion with Senators Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) who are also members of the Senate Finance Committee. Former DNC chair Howard Dean will also be a guest. Expect him to hammer against dropping the "public option" from any health care reform bill.

Fox News Sunday - Mike Wallace will also talk health care reform with Senator Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) and Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.).

The political panel will be Bill Kristol, Juan Williams, Tad Devine, and Nicolle Wallace.

CNN "State of The Union" - John King also has Mullen and Eikenberry as guests to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

Senators Richard Lugar (R-In.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) will give their take on health care reform.

Political strategists Donna Brazile and Bill Bennett will add their thoughts.


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Friday, August 21, 2009

Daily Democratic Wire 8-21-2009

George Wenschhof

Today, President Barack Obama will meet with Tom Daschle - the White house meeting with the former Senate Majority Leader will most likely center on health care reform. has more here. Daschle had been the choice of the President to be the HHS Secretary and to be the point person on the Hill for health care reform.

Later today, the President and his family will head to camp David for the weekend. On Sunday, they will be off to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts for a week vacation. has more here. The President is also expected to visit ailing Senator Ted Kennedy during his vacation.


Afghanistan election results not expected until tomorrow - and this is the earliest the vote will have been tallied. At this point President Hamid Karzai and his main opponent in the election, Abdullah Abdullah are both claiming victory in the election which had dozens running for President. The winner must receive a majority of the vote or a run-off takes place. has more here.


Blackwater used by CIA to arm predator drones - the close ties between the CIA and Blackwater continue to be revealed. The New York Times is now reporting Blackwater now renamed Xe Services, is being used in secret bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan to arm the predator drones used to conduct missile strikes on suspected Al Qaeda leaders. They also provide security for the secret bases. The NYTimes has more here.


DNC out raises RNC by 3.3 million in July - seems the more outlandish myths on health care reform thrown out by the right wing Republicans increases Democratic donations. The Democratic National Committee reported 9.3 million and the republican National Committee reported 6 million. has more here.


Cash for Clunkers program to end next week - the popular program provided a 4500 rebate when you traded in an older care for a newer more gas efficient one. Congress just added another 2 Billion to the original 1 Billion funding level. To date,1.9 Billion has been submitted under the program. No additional funding is expected for the program. has more here.


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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wenschhof Interviews City of Frederick, Md. Alderman Candidate John Daniels

George Wenschhof

Today, my guest is John Daniels who is one of nine Democrats running for Alderman in the City of Frederick, Maryland election. The primary will be held on September 15 when Democratic voters will determine their five aldermen and one mayoral candidate to move on to the general election to be held on November 3.

As has been the case with all of my guests, we are communicating via computer from different locations within the City of Frederick. I have not shared with him the questions beforehand. This is a live discussion, so click your computer "Refresh" button every fifteen minutes to see the more recent question and answer.

The link to this conversation will be placed in the right hand margin of my Home Page along with the other mayoral and aldermen interviews. Encourage your friends and co-workers to read them all before they vote on September 15.

I met John briefly when I attended his campaign announcement and listened to his kick off speech. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with him and talk more about the campaign.

A retired navy man, he and his wife Judy discovered Frederick, somewhat by accident, when looking for a part for an older Mercedes. They were already looking to move to the general metropolitan area due to grandchildren who reside in Silver Spring. After a visit downtown, they fell in love with Frederick and moved here.

GW - John, let's get started with you telling the voters a little bit more about you and your family. Share with them some of your interests. I remember you telling me how you and Judy have sailed around the world. We will get to some of the issues facing the City of Frederick shortly, but first tell the voters why you decided to run for Alderman.

JD - Hello George, and hello fellow Frederickans. Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to talk with you today.

As George just said, I spent my career serving in the U.S. Navy and retired after 23 years as a Master Chief. Throughout my career in the Navy, I was a flight engineer on an aircrew team, and as such, I understand the necessity of working together to accomplish a mission. I spent my latter years in the Navy in several different senior positions where I had decision-making responsibilities for people, budgets and systems. My leadership skills as District Chief of Recruiting reached into the civilian community in establishing relationships with educators and community leaders.

After I retired, I opened a small marine products business involving retail sales and services. In that endeavor, I experienced all of the issues of small business owners—including competing with the big box stores. In fact, it was difficult, if not impossible, to compete with the national chain marine stores, which allowed me to take a second retirement—a real retirement aboard our schooner, cruising the Caribbean and the U.S. east coast (

When my wife, Judy, and I decided to end our 10-year cruise and settle close to our grandchildren, we began a search for our new home. We considered many towns, large and small, but when we drove into Frederick and turned onto Market Street, we were home. We chose Frederick for the same reasons that some of you have stayed in Frederick all of your lives, or that others have chosen Frederick as your new home—it has ambiance, history and charm, and more than that, it has community. Over the past almost 2 years, we have met many people, worked in campaigns—local and national, and for the past 6 months, I have attended nearly all of the mayor and alderman meetings, talked with the leaders in city hall, researched the history of every issue currently before the board, and have had conversations with lots of residents during my campaign.

I’m running for alderman because I think I can make a difference.


GW - I have written in previous columns that most aldermen candidates do not often publicly state their support for a mayoral candidate, offering instead to say something like "they can work with anyone..."

You and incumbent Alderman Donna Kuzemchak are the exceptions in this election. Ms. Kuzemchak stated her support for Jennifer Dougherty for Mayor when she was my guest. When I met with you recently, you indicated you are supporting Jason Judd and even canvass for him on Saturdays, reserving the rest of the week for your own campaign.

Tell the voters why you are supporting Jason Judd for Mayor.

JD - Of course, like the other candidates have said, I will work with the mayor that the citizens elect. One of my strongest suits that I bring to the table is my ability to work with others and I will do that with whomever I’m elected to serve. Having said that, my preference for mayor is Jason Judd. The reason that I support Jason is simple: he and I share many of the same ideas and we hold a similar vision for Frederick. I feel that Jason brings new ideas and that he has the experience and ability to lead.


GW - The city early retirement employee buy-out debacle which transpired during the current administration continues to baffle many city voters.

They wonder how a program that provided a payment of two years of salary and also a hire back by the city of the employee received approval by the Board of Aldermen.

While you can not go back in regard to this decision, voters want aldermen who will ask the right questions and look after their interests when considering proposals that come before them.

How will you assure the voters you will be diligent on their behalf when you make decisions on proposals presented to the Board of Aldermen?

JD - First, let me say that I too am baffled. The buy-out by any standard was a lucrative arrangement, not properly vetted. The board did not approach this with due diligence nor did they spend the necessary time to understand both the intended and unintended consequences. We are still being blind-sided by the consequences.

When I am on the Board of Aldermen, I will slow the process, read the documents, research the issues, and ask the hard questions. In addition, even more important, I will insist that we provide adequate time for public review and comment. There was no compelling reason why this decision had to be rushed thru this process.


GW - The annexation of three farms (Thatcher, Crum and Summers) into the City of Frederick will come before the Board of Aldermen soon for a vote.

Some aldermen candidates have supported the annexations commenting on the economic benefits, while others who feel they are premature have opposed. Others have supported some of the annexations, but not all.

In addition, some opponents have said they will start a petition opposing the annexations should the Board vote to approve, forcing the decision to a ballot referendum.

First, tell the voters if you support any or all of these annexations. Second, should the Board vote for approval, would you support a petition drive to force the vote to a ballot referendum?

JD - I have not heard a compelling reason for the city to annex the Summers Farm at this time. Before we annex this land for development, we should be focused on redevelopment and infill along the Golden Mile. At such a time as we have revitalized the Golden Mile, then I would support the possibility of annexing the Summers Farm.

The Thatcher/COPT and the Crum farms are different issues. The traffic generated by the proposed 2,000,000 square feet of commercial space and additional residences on the Crum land is a serious issue and it does not appear to be an easy nut to crack. US15, with its un-signalized grade-level interchanges is already a serious safety hazard. Constructing a Biggs Ford road interchange to support the anticipated traffic is a huge expense; some estimates show it as high as 80 or 90 million.

The State highway administration, in a letter dated 11 June of this year, indicated that the interchange they had planned for in the I270/US15 multi-modal study would only support the existing low density land use. Additionally the SHA strongly recommended that the cost of planning, design and construction of the interchange be included in the annexation agreement. To my knowledge this proffer has not been made.

I again have not heard a compelling reason for annexing these properties at this time. It is interesting to note that our 2004 Comp Plan table LU.4 indicates that this area northeast of the existing city is in the 2015-25 timeframe for annexation. Coincidentally, this is also the timeframe for the State’s anticipated improvements to US15.

Additionally, before anyone moves forward with this, we would want to address the environmental issues of the 50-acre flood plain on the Thatcher property.

If the Board insists on voting for annexation of either the Crum or Thatcher properties, I will support a petition to put the matter on the ballot.


GW - Staying with the issue of growth, I want to ask you about "sustainable growth" you discuss on your campaign website

Frederick County Government recently voted to proceed with the construction of a Waste-to-Energy (WTE) facility to handle waste disposal. City of Frederick Mayor Jeff Holtzinger provided public testimony in support of WTE. However, I am not sure the Board of Aldermen voted in support of WTE.

First, tell the voters a little more about some of your ideas of "sustainable growth". Second, do you support the proposed Frederick County Incinerator?

JD - First:, sustainable growth and smart economic development go together, hand-in-glove. They go together because they grow a city where residents can live, work, and play, all in walking distance or a short transit ride away. To do this for Frederick, we must:

a. manage our growth to encourage more businesses and increased population density within our existing footprint.

b. provide incentives to small retail and light manufacturing businesses to locate in our midst.

c. support and expand our technology incubators.

d. re-purpose under-utilized real estate, and create disincentives for letting buildings stand vacant.

e. build more affordable housing, including a mix of single-family and multi-family dwellings within walking distance of, or a short public transit ride to and from the places people work.

Second: I do not support the WTE. Rather than build an incinerator, I would like to see Frederick County reduce, re-use and recycle. Additionally, an aggressive composting program would further reduce the demand on the landfill. Approximately 95% of our waste stream is recoverable, and a 65-70% recovery rate is achievable.

The WTE is not a panacea and, in fact, may compete with recycling. Even with an incinerator, we will require a landfill to dispose of the ash and non-burnable waste. When we factor in the ash created from imported waste, we may require more landfill space than a 65-70% recovery rate would require. Plus, $600 million is a lot of money. I am disappointed in our choice.


GW - Perhaps, the most important responsibility the next mayor and board will have is management of the budget. In all likelihood, tax revenues will be down as signs indicate the national and worldwide recession will linger.

Share with the voters some of your thoughts on this subject.

JD - There is no question but that the next mayor and board will have a difficult job in managing the budget with reduced revenues. It is worth noting that in addition to decreased property tax revenue, the tax equity with the county will be declining over future years due to reductions in county spending, and we will continue to have additional cuts in SHUR (state highway user revenues) funding.

How do we make up for the loss of revenue?

1. Go to a zero-based budget, justifying the need and benefit of every line on the operating budget.

2. Triage the CIP's, cutting or postponing lower priority projects, such as the proposed regional park development.

3. Declare a moratorium on additional debt.

4. Aggressively pursue federal and state grants.


GW - John, the time has sped by and we are now to my last question. The recent flap pertaining to a fine issued by the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) has created discussion surrounding the HPC and the City of Frederick Historic District. In this case, the Mayor allegedly instructed staff to disregard the fine issued by the HPC on a property owner while a remedy exists to the owner by filing an appeal.

The downtown historic district has been a plus for the city since it was created despite periodic complaints pertaining to over rigorous renovation guidelines.

First, do you support the continuation of the historic district and second, do you feel a review of the renovation guidelines used by the HPC is necessary?

JD - I do support the HPC continuing to oversee the preservation of the historic district. Decisions are difficult and sometimes appear arbitrary, but the HPC has made a significant contribution to the overall preservation of buildings in Frederick. I will support not only a review of the guidelines, but also a review of the procedures that property owners must follow to obtain permission for renovations.


GW - Thank you again John for being my guest on Air-it-out with George Wenschhof. I want to remind everyone the September 15 primary is less than four weeks away so please remember to go vote! I would now like to give you time for some closing remarks.

JD - Thanks, George, for providing this forum.

Some folks have asked me if being so new to Frederick is a disadvantage for my campaign. My answer is, yes and no. Yes, I am new to Frederick, but no, I am not new to leadership roles, and, no, I don't think being new to Frederick is a liability. There are many new residents in Frederick, and there will be even more over the next few years. In fact, the state's projection for population increase over the next 20 years is in the neighborhood of 50%. So I think that I can relate to the issues of not only long time residents, but also of new residents. You know, in the British Virgin Islands, they have the term "belongers"-- you see it on signs in the airport customs lines. There, you are a "belonger" if you are a citizen and a resident of the island. So I see myself as a tax-paying, Frederick "belonger," ready to serve the community. I believe that I’m the right person for the job. I have the time, temperament and leadership skills to be on the team that moves Frederick forward.

I ask for your support and for your vote on September 15.


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Watch Live Obama Health Care Forum - Begins at 2:30 PM ET

George Wenschhof

Organizing for America (OFA), which grew from the grassroots campaign organization which aided Barack Obama in his run for president, is hosting this health care forum for supporters.

President Obama will discuss reform, debunk the many myths and answer your questions. You can watch this health care reform forum live beginning at 2:30 PM ET by clicking here.


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Daily Democratic Wire 8-20-2009

George Wenschhof

Today, President Barack Obama will be a guest on conservative talk show host Michael Smerconish radio show - this will be broadcast from the White House from 1:10 - 1:30 PM ET. The President wanted to confront the conservatives head on with the issue of health care reform. You can read more here.

At 2:30 PM ET, the President will hold a live conference call with supporters - the continuing campaign organization of Barack Obama, now called Organizing for America, will host the call and anyone can listen in. If you want to watch or listen live and also ask the President a question, click here.

In addition, Organizing for America has a new page on their website entitled "Setting the Record Straight" which debunks all the myths being thrown about. You can read it here.


1.2 Billion from Stimulus Plan available for medical digital records - today, Vice President Joe Biden and HHS Secretary Katheleen Sebelius will discuss these grants while in Chicago. You can read more here.


Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) requests change in process to refill vacant senate seats in Massachusetts - obviously concerned in regard to his own failing health and the current upcoming vote on health care reform. Kennedy sent a letter to the Governor, House Speaker and Senate President asking consideration be given to allow the Governor to temporarily appoint a replacement to a vacant seat prior to when a special election would be held. The Boston Globe has more here.


Initial unemployment claims up 15, 000 last week - for a total of 576,000 based on a new Labor Department report. A Labor department spokesperson said they hoped to see claims remain under 600,000 and and felt signs the recession was ending would be when they fall below 500,000. has more here.


CIA hired Blackwater in secret assassination program - The NY Times has a good read today on how the CIA hired contractors from Blackwater USA for a secretive program designed to assassinate leaders of Al Qaeda. You can read it here.


Afghanistan vote concludes and the count begins - initial reports indicated voting was slow and steady despite sporadic violence. The results are not expected until Saturday. You can read more here.


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Democratic Alderman Candidate John Daniels to be Guest today

George Wenschhof

Today, I will conduct my last interview with the Democratic candidates for alderman prior to the primary election. Today, on Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, John Daniels will join me live online from 5:00 - 7:00 PM ET.

He is the ninth Democratic alderman candidate to appear as my guest. All of the links to my previous conversations with the aldermen and mayoral candidates are located in the right hand margin of the Home Page.

Make sure you read them all before you vote on September 15.

On primary election day, Democratic voters in the City of Frederick will determine the five aldermen candidates and one mayoral candidate who will move on to the general election held on November 3.


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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Daily Democratic Wire 8-19-2009

George Wenschhof

Today, President Barack Obama will discuss health care reform in a series of phone conferences - He has two phone conferences planned with thousands of religious leaders today and will also appear on BlogTalkRadio at 5 PM ET. You can read more here.


Marist poll shows Palin would get crushed by Obama 56% - 33% in 2012 - the poll also shows the resignation by Sarah Palin of the Governor seat in Alaska also hurt her with voters. You can read more results from the poll here.


NBC News Poll show Americans feelings toward health care reform unchanged since July - however, the misinformation being spread by Republicans such as death panels, care for illegal immigrants, pay for abortions, and a government take-over of the system is now believed by a majority. Even though, independent fact-checkers say these claims are all untrue. Shows how nasty politics gets sometimes. has more here.


Democrats begin talk of going it alone on health care reform - The NY Times has a good read here. Seems White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Democratic leadership is sending a strong message to Republicans that if they do not stop their misinformation effort and begin meaningful negotiation on health care reform, they will use budget reconciliation as a means to pass reform. In the case of budget reconciliation, a simple majority is needed in Congress to pass the bill.


Carly Fiorina may challenge Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calf.) in 2010 - Fiorina filed papers allowing her to begin fundraising. Fiorina has her work cut out for her as she will have to overcome her failures in running Hewlett Packard and being let go as manager of the losing John McCain presidential campaign. has more here.


Violence results in deaths of election workers on eve of Afghanistan election - stay tuned as the election will take place tomorrow. Reports also indicate election materials are slow in arriving at polling locations. President Hamid Karzai is facing dozens of opponents and speculation is a run off may be necessary to determine the winner. The winner must receive a majority of the vote and not a plurality. You can read more here.


North Korean diplomats to meet with Governor Bill Richardson - in what appears to be another overture toward entering into discussions with the U.S. the diplomats are going to Sante Fe to meet with the Governor. This comes soon after former President Bill Clinton's successful trip to N. Korea to free two American Journalists. has more here.


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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

First Campaign Finance Reports from City of Frederick, Md. Democratic Candidates

George Wenschhof

As I indicated in a post one week ago on the site (read here), the first financial reports are but a glimpse into the strength of a candidate. There will be two financial reports filed between the primary and the general election on October 5 and October 27. The fourth report is due after the general election on December 3.

The City of Frederick government website already has all of the reports available to be viewed online here , thanks to Kari Melvin who works in the legal department. She will also make copies for you, but due to the volume of the pages, the cost is $19.00.

The reports include a list of financial contributions which include name and address, in-kind contributions, and a list of expenditures made by the candidate during the reporting period.

You are able to look to see who is giving money to help gauge who is behind the candidate (business, land developers, unions, individuals, organizations). However, in the first report, I would be hesitant to jump to conclusions.

The report also allows you to examine how the money is being spent by the campaign of a candidate. Signage cost is a given, but also look to see money being spent on publications (canvassing leaflets) and direct mail costs. In these local city races, it is extremely rare to see and money spent on campaign staff. Look to see how much money was spent during the reporting period as the more important number to look at is available cash on hand.

Fundraising will intensify by the campaigns over the final four weeks leading to the primary on September 15 and who has money available for the last week media push will be vital. This is when the voter's attention level is at the highest peak and the most effective ways to reach the voter is through direct mail, radio, robo-calls, and TV. Candidates who have a large enough volunteer bases will also do live phone banks for the get out the vote effort.

Below, I am going to list the Democratic candidates by amount of cash received and will highlight the available cash on hand. While in-kind contributions are always helpful and important, I have not added them to this review. I will also add a few brief comments.

Jason Judd: cash received 22,430 available on hand 7912
Jennifer Dougherty: cash received 7,258 available on hand 2036
Chris Simpson: cash received 6456 available on hand 32
Jack Lynch (withdrawn): cash received 330.00 available on hand 0

Jason Judd received the highest amount of contributions and also spent the most of any candidate during the reporting period. This is to be expected as the political newcomer is working to get voter recognition. Mom and Dad both contributed 1,250 as would any parent who had the resources would do for their son.

Some may question donations from people who live in D.C. or Tacoma Park, Maryland. However, that is also to be expected as Judd has worked and lived in both locations. Look to see someone bring up the 1500 in-kind contribution by the UFCW Union listed as Intern help. While another may question who New Design Limited Partnership with a Randallstown, Md. address is who contributed 1000.

Yet, the overall average contribution amount appears to be under 100, a result of several low cost fundraisers that were held during the reporting period. This is a very good start for fundraising. But keep in mind, former mayor Ron Young spent a reported amount in excess of 100,000 in the 2005 election and lost.

Former Mayor Jennifer Dougherty reported amount of cash received was second among the Democratic candidates for mayor. Last year, her campaign for Congress raised over 170,000. Being the former mayor, her name recognition is high among city voters.

Doughery won the City of Frederick vote in last year's election against Republican incumbent Roscoe Bartlett.

Her contributions averaged around 100 and her campaign received 1000 from Tom McLaughlin a long term supporter from Middletown, Maryland.

Interestingly, Chris Simpson raised more than any of the three Republican candidates for mayor. He aided his own cause by having his business contribute 1000 and he individually contributed another 1600 to the campaign. This is not unusual for a first time candidate who has the available resources and also shows the commitment of the candidate to the race.

Interestingly, a Jerry Wood (Taxi anyone?) with the same address of 6723 Plantation Road Frederick, Md. contributed 100 to his campaign and also 500 to Republican candidate for Mayor; Ron Tobin.

Jack lynch closed out his account after withdrawing from the race by refunding and a contribution to education.

Josh Bokee: cash received 6258 cash on hand 3317
Kelly Russell: cash received 4650 cash on hand 1339
Karen Young: cash received 4595 cash on hand 1759
John Daniels: cash received 3265 cash on hand 992
Michael O'Connor: cash received 3215 cash on hand 1441.
Carol Krimm: cash received 2925 cash on hand 820
Donna Kuzemchak: cash received 2415 cash on hand 976
David "Kip" Koontz: cash received 275 cash on hand 0
Andrew Kotkin: cash received 0 cash on hand 0

Some tidbits from the aldermen reports are as follows:

Josh Bokee and his wife donated 2000 and loaned the campaign another 1812.51 which is half of the amount the campaign has raised to date..

Local businessman Bert Anderson donated to the Judd, Young and Bokee campaigns.

Karen Young received 400 from Monocacy River Apts. LLC located in Randallstown, Md.

John Daniels and Judy Rice combined contributed 1000 to his campaign.

Kelly Russell received donations mostly in the 100 range and one 1000 contribution from Jenni Nakamoto from Jefferson, Md.

Michael O'Connor received 1000 from Richard O'Connor - Schley Ave. in Frederick. (Dad?)

Carol Krimm received 500 from herself, state delegate Galen Clagett (her boss), Ivan Lanier from Gransonville, Md. and Lisa Baugher (candidate for state senate district 3) for a total of 2000.

No big surprises here. All of the candidates have shown the ability to raise funds to be competitive in the primary except Andrew Kotkin who reported zero.

Of note is incumbent alderman David Koontz reported a 275 loan to the campaign for signs as the only funds received. He benefits from name recognition but will still need to raise funds to compete in a strong Democratic field in the primary.


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