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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Obama proposes reduction in corporate taxes in exchange for new jobs and infrastructure programs - The White House cast the new plan as a “grand bargain for the middle class,” as well as a new way to ease the partisan gridlock expected to intensify this fall with battles over funding the government and raising the debt ceiling.

“If we’re going to break free of the same old arguments, where I propose an idea and Republicans say no just because it’s my idea, let me try offering something that serious people in both parties should be able to support,” Obama said at an warehouse in Chattanooga, Tenn., where he outlined his new offer: “A deal that simplifies the tax code for our businesses and creates good jobs with good wages for the middle-class folks who work at those businesses.” has more here.


Consumer confidence drops in July - U.S. consumer confidence pulled back in July as consumers were less optimistic about the outlook for the economy and labor market, according to a private sector report released on Tuesday.

The Conference Board, an industry group, said its index of consumer attitudes slipped to 80.3 from an upwardly revised 82.1 in June.

The report was shy of economists' expectations for the index to hold steady at June's original reading of 81.4.

The expectations index dropped to 84.7 from 91.1. Still, consumers were not so gloomy about their current standings, with the present situation index rising to 73.6 from 68.7, the highest level since May 2008. has more here.


Alison Lundergan Grimes begins senate campaign to unseat McConnell - The Democratic Party’s 15-month effort to take down Mitch McConnell began in earnest here Tuesday evening, with 34-year-old Alison Lundergan Grimes declaring that the veteran Senate Republican leader embodies a “disease of dysfunction” in Washington.

In a carefully scripted campaign rally that featured a video endorsement from former President Bill Clinton, speeches from prominent state Democratic leaders and remarks from the candidate’s 83-year-old maternal grandmother, Elsie Case, the party tried to project a sense of unity that Grimes is best-equipped to take out the powerful GOP leader who has dominated the state’s political world for three decades. has more here.


Former Senator Harry Byrd Jr. Dies - Former Sen. Harry F. Byrd Jr., the Democrat-turned-independent who began his career as a staunch segregationist and preached fiscal restraint in Washington long before it became fashionable, has died. He was 98.

Byrd's son, Tom Byrd, is president and publisher of The Winchester Star, which first reported the death. Tom Byrd's office confirmed that the former senator died Tuesday.

Byrd served 17 years in the U.S. Senate, replacing his powerful father, Harry Flood Byrd, a U.S. senator from 1933 until failing health forced him to retire in late 1965. Gov. Albertis

Harrison appointed the younger Byrd, a longtime state senator who, like his father, supported segregation.

In 1966, Byrd won a special election for the remaining years of his father's term. Switching from Democrat to independent, Byrd won re-election in 1970 and 1976.

Even as an independent, Byrd got more votes than the Democratic and Republican candidates combined. It was only the second time an independent won a U.S. Senate seat.  NBC News has more here.


Weiner campaign continues to unravel - Anthony Weiner¹s communications director apologized Tuesday night for bashing a former intern in a scathing interview laced with four-letter words.

"In a moment of frustration, I used inappropriate language in what I thought was an off the record conversation," Barbara Morgan said in a statement to CNN. "It was wrong and I am very sorry."

Morgan added that she called and apologized Tuesday night to the former intern, Olivia Nuzzi.

Talking Points Memo, a left-leaning news organization, published a report late Tuesday night, quoting Morgan as she responded to a New York Daily News article written by Nuzzi, who described an unflattering account of Weiner¹s New York City mayoral campaign.

"(Morgan) went off on a curse-filled rant about Nuzzi, describing her as a fame hungry 'b**ch' who 'sucked' at her job. Morgan also called Nuzzi a 'sl*tb*g,' 'tw*t,' and 'c**t' while threatening to sue her," the TPM article stated. has more here.


EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock will not run for Senate in Montana - EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock announced Tuesday that she will not run for Montana’s open Senate seat, further dwindling a short list of potential candidates for the Democratic nomination.

“Montana raised me, and it will always be my heart,” said Schriock, a Montana native and former top aide to Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. “It has been truly incredible to hear from so many folks who believe in me. I would love to say yes, but this is not the right time.”

Schriock was one of a handful of Democrats floated as potential candidates two weeks ago, after former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer made the surprise decision not to run. Just days later, state Auditor Monica Lindeen took herself out of contention.

Schweitzer’s decision left the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Max Baucus in jeopardy. It’s now one of the top pickup opportunities for Republicans, who must net six seats to win the Senate majority in 2014. has more here.


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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Dougherty: “Government is not the enemy”

George Wenschhof

During my ninety minute interview with Jennifer Dougherty, the unaffiliated candidate for mayor of The City of Frederick constantly focused on the issues and her leadership ability.

The former mayor informed me she was running her campaign as if she had a primary and has already knocked on 6,000 doors. By September 10, the day of the primary election, she plans to have knocked on another 4,000 doors.

One thing she heard from residents is they are not happy with the decision by the current administration to eliminate bulk trash pick up and that she would bring it back if elected mayor.

She told me “government is not the enemy and can help people in every neighborhood and business as well.”

In regard to mayor Randy McClement (R), alderman Karen Young (D) and alderman Shelley Aloi (R), who are all running for mayor, Dougherty said “they have had four years to address the big issues and she doesn’t see any evidence they would be able to make any meaningful change if they were elected mayor for the next term.”

Jennifer believes one of the biggest issues in this election is leadership experience and feels during her term as mayor she demonstrated the willingness to get things done, citing the start up of phase I of the Carroll Creek development as one example.

In this case, she appointed a task force to create development on what had long been a dormant site, named local businessman Dick Kessler as chair and facilitated the groundbreaking for La Paz restaurant and the office building on site “A”.

When I mentioned the underfunded city pension and other post employment benefit plans (OPEB), Dougherty informed me she would cut in half the amount of time Mayor McClement has established at reaching an increase from the city current 50% funding level to 80% funding level.  She wants to achieve an 80% funding level in ten years versus the twenty years proposed by the mayor.

Jennifer also wants to review the recent change by the city from tax equity to tax differential, arguing there is as much as $10 million in residential taxes being paid by city taxpayers for duplication of services under the current formula and an even higher loss of revenue when commercial is added.

In addition, the former mayor pointed out to me the city fund balance is nearly two times higher than what is needed. She told me by resolution, 12% is called for and in fact, it is currently 23%.  She would use the $16 million, resulting from the change, to plow back into needed services and to reduce the tax burden for city taxpayers.

In regard to the city purchase of the Hargett farm during the Holtzinger administration, she felt this was a mistake and huge liability to the city.  She would consider selling some of this property to reduce the debt load of the city and to cover needed infrastructure improvements.

Dougherty added another potential revenue source for the city would be to privatize the city owned parking decks.

She also said she would propose a reduction in business personal property tax by 50% over a three year period.  Businesses in the county do not currently pay these taxes and although Dougherty said it would result in a $1.2 million reduction in revenue to the city, it would spur economic development and create jobs.

In closing my interview, Jennifer shared with me she was proud of the way the neighborhood advisory councils (NACs) that she initiated when she was mayor, were working today.

She believes they can even work better and would like to begin brown bag lunch monthly meetings with NAC leaders, businesses leaders, elected officials, and high achievers from high school.

The meetings would be open with the press invited and she would discuss what was coming up on the city agenda, etc.

Stay tuned.
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Monday, July 29, 2013

Who will be the next mayor?

George Wenschhof

City Hall
The City of Frederick primary election is only six weeks away and with the off year election promising a dismal voter turnout of less than twenty-five percent, the likelihood of an unaffiliated mayor being elected is higher than one would initially expect.

It is possible, disgruntled voters who were supporters of a losing candidate in the primary election, will turn to the unaffiliated candidate, instead of their party nominee in the general election.

With such low voter turnout and city voters having a choice between three candidates for mayor in November, anything can happen.

Republican mayor Randy McClement has drawn, what is believed to be, the most crowded field of candidates for mayor ever in a city election.

Another first is three women running for mayor with the possibility they could face each other in the general election held on November 5.

The prevalent explanations one hears for such a large field of contenders for mayor is; McClement has shown little leadership, provided no vision for the future of the city and in general acted more like a “caretaker” while serving his first term in office.

A total of seven candidates are vying to be mayor; three Democrats, three Republicans and one Unaffiliated.  The Republican and Democratic candidates will face a primary on September 10. 

While many believe the winner who emerges will be the candidate who is stongest on the issues, often in local political contests, it is personal history that influences voters. 

Former Democratic one term mayor Jennifer Dougherty, is running for the fifth time for mayor and this time it is as a unaffiliated candidate.  She will not have a primary and will face winners of the Republican and Democratic primaries in the general election.

The number one question I receive from city voters, which I hear numerous times a day, is; “who do I believe is going to win?”

My reply is typically the same; “there are too many moving parts and different scenarios that could play out to pick a winner” – the bottom line is it is hard to call at this point.

The Republican primary will include another former one term mayor; Jeff Holtzinger and alderman Shelley Aloi running against McClement.

Holtzinger is sure to be battered with the questionable decisions made during his administration to approve the costly and dubious “employee buy-out” and purchase of the Hargett Farm for a municipal park. 

In addition, the manner in which he claims to meet the city mayoral candidate residency requirement, has received scrutiny from many Republican voters, who do not support him.

Holtzinger has been critical of the slow pace McClement has taken in moving forward on pivotal infrastructure projects, such as the completion of Monocacy Boulevard.

His entry into the Republican primary may help McClement survive a three way primary that includes Aloi.  Alderman Aloi has made no secret of her distain for the manner McClement has conducted himself during his first term, telling me “the city cannot take four more years of him”.

Throughout her first term as alderman, Aloi was critical of McClement, most recently, over his reaching agreement with city police on pension funding she believes the city cannot afford.

On the Democratic side, their primary is shaping up to be a battle between two strong local political families with alderman Karen Young facing off against Maryland state delegate Galen Clagett. 

Interestingly, in what promises to be a close race, votes pulled by newcomer Carol Hirsch, may determine the winner in the Democratic primary.

Many have opined it was Democratic infighting that led to wins by Republican mayoral candidates in the last two elections, even though there is a Democratic voter registration advantage in the city.

In 2005, it was Ron Young who challenged and beat incumbent Jennifer Dougherty.  He would go on to lose a close race to Jeff Holtzinger, with many saying it was angry Dougherty supporters who enabled Holtzinger to win.

Four years later, Jennifer would lose again in the primary, this time to newcomer Jason Judd who received the support of Ron Young. In the general election, Judd would lose another close contest to Randy McClement, who many believed received the support of unhappy Dougherty voters and from Galen Clagett, who did not support growth policies espoused by Judd.

Tom Slater, former long term chair of the Frederick County state Democratic Central Committee shared with me his thoughts on what was shaping up to be a close contest between Karen Young and Galen Clagett.

Slater told me "based on his record in Annapolis, Galen has been a progressive and a strong supporter of the Democratic party. I would also add that he has strong management skills."

Slater, who is supporting Clagett for mayor, said there is certainly a split among some Democrats and in a broad sense is centered on growth issues. He also felt there remains bad feelings among some Democratic voters from the last city election who perceived Galen did not support the Democratic candidate for mayor; Jason Judd, who lost in a close race to Republican mayor Randy McClement.

He added it was well known there have been long standing issues between Galen and former county commissioner Jan Gardner (D) and former state delegate Sue Hecht (D), both of whom are expected to support Karen Young for mayor.

Clagett detractors often bring up to me it is also no secret that Clagett Enterprises, owned by Galen, contributed to Republican Blaine Young’s Frederick County commissioner campaign in the 2010 election.

When I asked Clagett about the donation, in a recent interview, he said “… it was a business decision made by the corporate board and the discussion was centered on improving the business climate of Frederick County.”

Many believe Karen Young has been running for mayor ever since winning the most votes for alderman in the 2009 election.

Karen's supporters say she works harder than anyone they know, will thoroughly research an issue before taking a position, has a strong financial background and would be a good manager.

Her constant disagreements with Mayor McClement often led her to align her votes with Republican alderman Shelley Aloi, leaving her at times in disagreement with her fellow three Democrats on the board.

In addition, some voters believe Karen developed a reputation of being somewhat caustic when discussing her opinion on the issues.

The lone unaffiliated candidate; Jennifer Dougherty, another candidate who has received the “caustic” label from some voters, is receiving a free pass to the general election, which is both a positive and a negative.

The positive is she faces no opposition until after the primary election and can save her campaign funds for when it is needed prior to the general election.

The negative for Jennifer is this is the fifth straight election she has run for mayor and outside of the uniqueness of her running as an unaffiliated candidate; she has received little media attention due to her not participating in the primary election. (Editor correction: this marks her fourth straight city election.  Dougherty ran in 1993, 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2013, but not in 1997.)

She will have her loyal supporters, but in order to win, even in a three way race, she will need to pull from Democratic and Republican voters.

So far, I have interviewed mayoral candidates; Republican Mayor Randy McClement, Maryland state delegate Galen Clagett (D) and alderman Karen Young (D).  Next up is Jennifer Dougherty as I hope to interview all the city candidates prior to the election.

As one can readily see, there are many moving parts to this mayoral election, with past history and interpersonal relations likely to have as much impact on the outcome as a candidate’s position on current issues most important to voters.

Voters would be well served to read candidate interviews, visit their websites and attend forums prior to casting their vote.

Stay tuned.


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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Grimes Begins Race to Unseat McConnell - Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes previewed the launch of her U.S. Senate campaign with a video posted online.

She says in the video, senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has "wasted decades blocking legislation that would have helped Kentucky and our country."


Death Toll Rises to 72 as Egyptian Military Cracks Down on Protesters - The death toll from clashes between Egyptian security forces and supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi has risen to 72, the health ministry reported Sunday, as both sides appeared to harden their resolve and doubts grew about the chances for national reconciliation.
The bloodied and mangled bodies of dozens of Morsi’s Islamist supporters lined the floors of an improvised hospital in eastern Cairo after security forces launched an attack against demonstrators calling for Morsi’s reinstatement. The Washington Post has more here.

Obama To Meet With Senate and House Democrats on Wednesday -President Barack Obama will make a rare trip to Capitol Hill to meet with House and Senate Democrats on Wednesday, according to several sources.

Obama is heading to Chattanooga, Tenn., on Tuesday, where he will appear at an Amazon facility. That speech, the second in a series of economic addresses by Obama, will cover manufacturing and the creation of high-wage jobs, the White House announced.

On Wednesday, Obama will travel down Pennsylvania Ave. to meet with Democrats on both sides of the Capitol, according to Hill sources. Topics for discussion are expected to include the economy and job growth, especially the president’s proposals to address both issues. has more here.


Weiner's Campaign Manager Quits - Former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D-N.Y.) bid for New York City mayor faced another setback Saturday with reports his campaign manager quit the team.

The New York Times reported that Danny Kedem, the head of Weiner’s campaign, resigned following last week’s disclosures that the candidate had continued sending explicit sexual messages to young women on the internet long after the same revelations forced him to resign his House seat in 2011.


Teresa Heinz Kerry Released from Hospital - Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of Secretary of State John Kerry and heir to the ketchup company fortune, was released Saturday from Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, where she was treated for a seizure she experienced on July 7.

Doctors said they expect Heinz Kerry to complete a full recovery at home after some limited out-patient treatment, read a statement released by Kerry's spokesman Glen Johnson.
Heinz Kerry, 74, was admitted to the hospital following an experience of seizure-like symptoms at the family's Nantucket home.

"It was amazing, a miracle," Heinz Kerry said of her care and caregivers, according to the statement. "They are the kindest people, who love what they do and do it superbly well."attention of the group at Spaulding. I've always known Massachusetts is blessed to have some of the greatest health care in the world, but we've just lived it, and are grateful to all."  NBC News has more here.


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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Obama Weekly Address

George Wenschhof

President Obama reiterated his economic message in his weekly address Saturday, calling on Congress to focus on opportunities for the middle class.

"If we don’t make the investments necessary to make America a magnet for good jobs – in education, and manufacturing, and research, and our transportation and information networks – we might as well hit the 'pause' button while the rest of the world forges ahead in a global economy," Obama said.


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Republican Weekly Address

George Wenschhof

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Saturday previewed plans to crack down on the government’s reach after the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) actions came under heavy scrutiny.

In the weekly Republican address, Cantor laid out how House Republicans will advance a series of bills in their final week before the monthlong August recess, all aimed at curbing a government Republicans see as run amok.

All the measures face long odds of becoming law, given the Senate controlled by Democrats and President Obama in the White House.


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Friday, July 26, 2013

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Janet Yellon
Obama Considering Yellon, Summers to Replace Bernanke - Senate Democrats have signed onto a letter urging President Barack Obama to appoint Janet Yellen to be Ben Bernanke's successor as chairman of the Federal Reserve, according to The Wall Street Journal. 
Yellen currently serves as the vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.
The Journal reported it could not confirm the full list of senators who signed on, but the list appears to represent the more liberal wing of the Democratic caucus -- a third of the 54 seats they currently hold in the upper chamber.

"There's a lot of concern among a lot of Democrats about an appointment of Larry Summers to that long-term position as Fed chairman," Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), who signed the letter, told the Journal. "He was one of the architects of getting rid of Glass-Steagall, of getting rid of other regulations. There's real concern about his economic views not really being in line with Obama's views."

Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Angus King (I-ME) are also confirmed to have signed the letter. has more here.


Justice Department Challenges State's Voting Laws - The Justice Department is preparing to take fresh legal action in a string of voting rights cases across the nation, U.S. officials said, part of a new attempt to blunt the effect of a Supreme Court ruling that the Obama administration has warned will imperil minority representation.

The decision to challenge state officials marks an aggressive effort to continue policing voting issues and is likely to spark a new round of politically contentious litigation that could return consideration of the 1965 Voting Rights Act to the high court.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s decision Thursday to intervene in a Texas redistricting case follows a ruling by the court last month that invalidated a critical section of the historic legislation. The justices threw out the part of the Voting Rights Act that determined which states with a history of discrimination had to be granted Justice Department or court approval before changing their voting laws.  The Washington Post has more here.


Halliburton to Plead Guilty in BP Gulf Oil Spill - Oilfield services giant Halliburton has agreed to plead guilty to destroying evidence in connection with the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, the Justice Department (DOJ) announced Thursday evening.

Halliburton was the cement contractor on BP’s ill-fated Macondo well that blew out in April of 2010.

The blowout and explosion of Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers and ultimately dumped several million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Halliburton has agreed to pay the “maximum-available statutory fine,” will be subject to three years of probation and continue cooperating with the federal government’s ongoing criminal probe, DOJ said in a summary of the case. has more here.


Ousted Egyptian President Mursi Accused of Kidnapping, Killing Soldiers - The Egyptian army is detaining ousted President Mohamed Mursi over accusations of kidnapping, killing soldiers and other charges, the state news agency said on Friday.

The army had previously said it was holding Mursi for his own safety and the report was likely to stoke tension before mass rallies on Friday billed as shows of strength between supporters and opponents of the Islamist Mursi, Egypt's first freely elected leader.

Both sides warned of the potential for bloodshed in Egypt, which has been convulsed by political and economic turmoil since the 2011 uprising that ended 30 years of autocratic rule by the U.S.-backed Hosni Mubarak.

State news agency Mena said the mooted charges against Mursi included conspiring with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, killing prisoners and officers "deliberately with prior intent", kidnapping officers and soldiers, and setting fire to the prison of Wadi el-Natroun.

They relate to his escape from the prison in 2011, when he was arrested during the uprising against Mubarak, and provide legal grounds for his continued detention. has more here.


Obama at Camp David Today -President Barack Obama will host Cabinet members and their families on Friday for a rare retreat at Camp David, a White House official said.

Obama uses the facility far less often than many of his predecessors have, only occasionally holding meetings there or heading there for a weekend of rest and relaxation.

The president has hosted Cabinet members and their families there just once before, weeks before Democrats' big losses in the 2010 midterm elections.

First lady Michelle Obama is expected to join him, though the White House didn't say whether first daughters Malia and Sasha will join Cabinet members' kids there. has more here.


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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

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Here is what community activist Val Dale says about this news program "Be a part of making Frederick Politics a reality! A new ONLINE news show, hosted by veteran Frederick writer George Wenschhof hosting public officials, newsmakers, activits/advocates, experts, citizens all discussing the issues we all care about that impact our lives in Frederick County and City! YOU see the people, YOU hear the debate, YOU hear the information...YOU decide!"   

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Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Obama Kicks Off Economic Tour Today - President Barack Obama is slated to travel Wednesday to Galesburg, Ill where he will give what the administration is billing as a major economic speech. The President is scheduled to deliver the address at 11:55 a.m. ET on the campus of Knox College.
From Illinois, Obama will travel to Warrensburg, Mo. to deliver remarks at the University of Central Missouri. The speeches are part of a campaign-style tour launched by the White House to shift the focus of the press and Capitol Hill back to the economy. has more here.


NY Times Says Weiner Should Withdraw From Race - At some point, the full story of Anthony Weiner and his sexual relationships and texting habits will finally be told. In the meantime, the serially evasive Mr. Weiner should take his marital troubles and personal compulsions out of the public eye, away from cameras, off the Web and out of the race for mayor of New York City.

Mr. Weiner, who resigned from Congress two years ago after sending lewd messages and photos of his crotch to women he had not met, was forced to revisit the issue on Tuesday, and so were we all. A Web site called The Dirty had another woman’s story, another round of sex texts, and another picture of Mr. Weiner’s penis.   The NY Times has more here.


Congress Approval Hits New Low at 12%, Obama Approval Drops to 45% - 45 percent of those surveyed in the NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll said they approved of the job the president was doing, a drop of 3 points from June. Fifty percent said they disapproved.

That’s close to the lowest numbers registered for Obama in the poll, a 44 percent approval and 51 percent disapproval rating registered in November 2011.

Mr. Obama’s 45 percent approval rating matches that of George W. Bush at this stage in his second term, while Bill Clinton’s approval at this stage in his term stood at 56 percent, The Journal said.

Congress fared poorly in the poll as well, registering a new low approval number. Only 12 percent of those polled said they approved of the job Congress was doing; 83 percent disapproved. That’s tied for Congress’s lowest approval ever in the poll and the highest disapproval registered. has more here.


U.S. Moves to Arm Syrian Rebels - Reluctant approval from Congress for providing military support to Syrian rebels allows the Obama administration to move forward with plans first announced almost six weeks ago.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Tuesday that the goal of the military aid expected to include small arms, ammunition and perhaps anti-tank weapons is to keep the Syrian opposition going against forces aligned with President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Noting al-Assad's forces have been helped by Hezbollah in Lebanon as well as Iran, Carney said Syrian rebels need the help of the United States and allied nations to withstand an increased assault.
"The aid is intended to help the opposition resist Assad and eventually prevail," Carney said, adding that any resolution of Syria's civil war will require a political transition. has more here.
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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mayor Proud of Keeping Taxes Level without Sacrificing Services

George Wenschhof

Mayor Randy McClement
When I asked Republican Mayor Randy McClement “what he saw as his most significant achievement(s) during his first term in office and what he would like to accomplish if reelected?” he spoke of keeping taxes level without sacrificing services.

Throughout the first four years as mayor of The City of Frederick, his number one issue was balancing a budget when faced with a significant deficit.  His first year, the city faced a $6 million deficit, followed by $8 million, $12 million and $9 million over the next three years.

Randy told me he changed the process to zero based budgets and as a result, every year the city came under budget.  During tough economic times, the mayor said city staff did an excellent job.

McClement said that while there are some indicators the economy is improving, he believes his focus, if reelected, will continue to be on the financial health of the city.  Randy noted that city housing permits were up by 800 and he was hopeful that next year state real estate tax assessments will increase, resulting in added revenue for the city. He told me the city was $6-8 million behind in road repair projects, that he would like to fund.

However, he was still concerned of the ripple effect the 20% federal government cut resulting from sequestration will have on the local economy.

On my facebook page, I mentioned I was interviewing the mayor and asked for questions. One question came from city resident Ed Hinde who asked: "What's his Vision for the city, and how does he intend to bring that to reality?"

Randy answered that vision and reality were two things.  The mayor added he wanted to maintain the charm and character of the town which were main reasons people visit and live here.

He also wants to keep moving forward with building economic vitality throughout the city and referenced the development of the small area plan for the Golden Mile and the East Frederick Rising plan on the east side.

In regard to the nearly $200 million underfunded city pension and other post employment benefits programs (OPEB), the mayor said he had created a citizens task force and a city employee task force to provide recommendations.

The recommendations that have been implemented will result in a goal of 80% funding for the programs within 20 years, which will be an increase from the current 50% funding level.  Randy said there was still more that can be done and he was considering additional changes.

As to economic development, McClement said completing phase II of the Carroll Creek project was a priority.  Randy was pleased to tell me the city obtained a $3 million federal grant, the city matched with all but $700,000 coming from the city with in kind services provided by city employees.

The mayor pointed out that when phase I of the Carroll creek project was completed it was estimated the economic growth benefit to the city was $50-51 million.

When it came to public safety Mayor McClement said he was pleased with his selection of Police Chief Thomas Ledwell.  When I asked him what he was doing to reach the funding level of 141 officers, he said the 2014 budget included funding for two academy trainings.  Current police levels are at 119.

In regard to the need to build a new police headquarters, the mayor told me due to changes in technology, he would rather have more officers than a new headquarters.

However, Randy said they have a study on what was needed and are always looking for a place to go.

He added they are currently evaluating the feasibility of consolidating some offices on an infill lot the city purchased from the Board of Education on Haywood Road.

Another question I received on my Facebook page came from Vanessa Rini-Lopez who asked: "As a fiscal conservative, how does he reconcile his support of a waste-to-energy (incinerator)?"

McClement told me he has never taken a position on the decision by the Frederick Board of County Commissioners to build an incinerator to handle waste disposal.  He added there would be a need to come up with an option other than trucking waste out of state.

During his term in office, Randy said the city has increased recycling and is moving to once a week trash pick-up for city residents.

At one point during my interview, I asked the mayor what he attributed to the large field of candidates running against him for mayor.  A total of six candidates are vying to replace Randy McClement as mayor; including two former mayors, two aldermen and one state delegate.

He agreed it was probably the largest field of candidates running for mayor in a city election and could not say why so many were running other than it was probably different reasons for different candidates.

The one hour interview went by quickly with many questions remaining to be asked.  The mayor has agreed to meet with me throughout the campaign.

Stay tuned.
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Monday, July 22, 2013

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Obama To Speak at OFA Event Tonight - President Barack Obama on Monday night is schedulted to speak and answer questions at an event for "Organizing for Action," the nonprofit group born from his campaign organization. Obama is slated to begin at 8:10 p.m. ET. The event will be held at Mandarin Oriental Hotel-Oriental Ballroom in Washington, D.C. has more here.


City Retirees Fear Detroit Bankruptcy Filing - Soon after Detroit emergency manager Kevyn D. Orr and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) approved a bankruptcy filing Thursday, groups representing the 20,000 retirees reliant on city pensions successfully petitioned a county court to effectively freeze the bankruptcy process.

Now, city and state officials, who say the court ruling will not affect their plans, are asking a federal judge to hold hearings early this week to validate the bankruptcy and move forward with a strategy for Detroit to discharge much of its estimated $19 billion debt.

But the prospect of cuts has sent a deep wave of fear over Detroit’s retirees, who like many in the city are skeptical of Orr, a corporate lawyer who previously worked in the District, and Snyder, a Republican unpopular in this deeply Democratic city.

“It’s been a nightmare for all of us,” said Shirley Lightsey, president of the Detroit Retired City Employees Association. “We don’t have that many people with pensions big enough for anything to be taken away from them.”  The Washington Post has more here.


Obama To Begin Series of Economic Speeches - President Obama will deliver the first in a series of economic speeches Wednesday aimed at gaining the upper hand in this fall’s looming budget showdown with Congress.
Obama will speak at Knox College in Illinois, the same location where he first outlined his economic vision as a Senate candidate in 2005.

Senior Obama adviser Dan Pfeffier told reporters in an email Sunday that Obama wants to steer Congress away from “phony scandals” and to prioritize economic benefits for the middle class in the looming budget wars.

Congress is deeply divided over whether to leave $109 billion in annual automatic budget cuts in place and will have to find a way to resolve their differences to avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1.

Lawmakers will also have to find a way to raise the $16.4 trillion debt limit by November at the latest. Obama wants a clean increase but Republicans are demanding more spending cuts in exchange for raising it. has more here.


Restart of Palestine-Israel Peace Talks Remains Hopeful - The Palestinians played down on Monday the significance of an imminent meeting in Washington of their top peace envoy with his Israeli counterpart, saying formal negotiation would not begin unless their opening terms were satisfied.

The Palestinian position seemed to run counter to U.S. hopes that bringing together Saeb Erekat and Israel's Tzipi Livni in the coming days would kick-start peacemaking stalled for almost three years over Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

In another setback to the negotiators' meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu planned first to seek cabinet-level approval for the prospective new talks, which were announced by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday. has more here.


Poll Shows Enzi Leading Cheney 55% to 21% - A new poll shows Sen. Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., with a considerable lead over his primary opponent, just days after Liz Cheney announced she would challenge him.

Enzi led Cheney, 55 percent to 21 percent, in a survey from Harper Polling, a Republican firm.
Earlier this week Cheney, who is daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, announced she would challenge the three-term Republican.

Enzi also had a high favorability rating of 74 percent in the poll. Cheney had a 45 percent favorability rating.

The poll surveyed 422 likely GOP primary voters via live operator calls on July 17 and 18, and has a margin of error of 4.77 points.

The Wyoming Senate seat is rated a Safe Republican contest by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call. has more here.


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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Thank you for your donations!

George Wenschhof
I want to thank you for the donations I have received.  They have ranged in amounts from $20 to $500 and are very much appreciated.

In response to many of you saying there was not any local video political programing,  I plan to produce an online video political discussion program. It will feature local elected officials, community leaders, activists and experts discussing the issues that matter most to you.

If, you not already watched, take three minutes and view my video located at the top of the home page.

As, I have mentioned previously, producing quality online video is expensive. To begin production, I need your financial assistance in raising the necessary capital to get started. Donations may be made by clicking on the donation button located in the right hand margin of my Blog;

I continue to write on local politics and have been interviewing the candidates for mayor and the board of aldermen in the upcoming City of Frederick election.

I recently interviewed Democratic candidates for mayor; alderman Karen Young (read interview here) and Maryland state delegate Galen Clagett (read interview here).  I will be interviewing Republican mayor Randy McClement on Monday.

I also weighed in on the ongoing effort by Frederick County Board of County Commissioners Blaine Young to privatize government services in a recent column published in the Frederick News Post which can be read here.

It would be great to be able to conduct these interviews with elected officials on an online video program for you to be able to watch and see their responses to the questions asked.

I would love to bring this program to you so you can hear what community leaders, local activists and elected officials say about the issues that matter to you.

Your donations are appreciated and are not tax deductible.  They help me to continue to publish and with enough financial support will enable me to begin production of a weekly pay-for-view online video political discussion program.

Thank you for your support!

George Wenschhof

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Judge Rejects Detroit Bankruptcy Filing - A Michigan Circuit Court Judge ruled Friday that Detroit's bankruptcy filing is unconstitutional and ordered the case be withdrawn from federal bankruptcy court.

But Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement soon after the decision that he intended an immediate appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals and would seek to block this latest order from taking effect while the appeal is heard.

The order came in response to motions by lawyers for retirees and pension funds for city workers, who argue the state constitution prohibits cutting pension and retirement benefits, as has been proposed in the bankruptcy case.

The order was from Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, the county that includes the state capital of Lansing. has more here.


Kerry Announces Israel-Palestine Agree to Restart Peace Talks - When Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Friday that Israel and the Palestinians had tentatively agreed to resume peace talks after three years, he did so standing alone as dusk fell over the Jordanian capital.

The image reflects both his achievement and his challenge: few people would have predicted success when he began his quest to get the parties into talks nearly six months ago; yet even as he heralded the planned negotiations, neither was at his side.

In a brief appearance at Jordan's Queen Alia International Airport, Kerry told reporters the Israelis and Palestinians had laid the groundwork to resume direct negotiations.

While acknowledging the agreement was still being "formalized," he said that "if everything goes as expected" the chief Palestinian and Israeli negotiators would come to Washington to start talks in the next week or so and to make a three-way announcement. has more here.


McAuliffe-Cuccinelli Hold First Debate in Virginia Governor Race - After months of assailing each other’s integrity from afar and by proxy, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II and businessman Terry McAuliffe traded direct attacks on stage Saturday in the opening debate of their heated race for Virginia governor.
In a 90-minute face-off, the candidates cast their arguments in sharply personal terms, accusing each other of bullying, influence peddling and “flimflammery.”

McAuliffe (D) dubbed Cuccinelli a conservative zealot on issues including gay rights and abortion and unsuited to govern the increasingly moderate commonwealth, while Cuccinelli (R) called McAuliffe a “Washington insider” with little understanding of the state and its voters.
From the start, Cuccinelli accused McAuliffe of looking out only for himself.
“Instead of putting Virginians first, you put Terry first, a common theme for you,” Cuccinelli said.  The Washington Post has more here.


Senate Nears Vote To Require Warrants for Email Searches - The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is pushing to fast-track legislation that would require police to obtain a warrant before accessing emails and other private online messages.

Sen. Patrick Leahy's (D-Vt.) goal is for the Senate to unanimously approve his bill before the August recess, according to one of his committee aides. Any opposition could delay a vote until after Congress returns in the fall.

He has secured unanimous support from his fellow Democrats and is in negotiations with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Judiciary Committee's ranking member, and other Republicans to address their concerns. has more here.


Nate Silver Leaves NY Times, Hired By ESPN - Nate Silver, the statistician who attained national fame for his accurate projections about the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, is parting ways with The New York Times and moving his FiveThirtyEight franchise to ESPN, the sports empire controlled by the Walt Disney Company, according to ESPN employees with direct knowledge of his plans.

At ESPN, Mr. Silver is expected to have a wide-ranging portfolio. Along with his writing and number-crunching, he will most likely be a regular contributor to “Olbermann,” the late-night ESPN2 talk show hosted by Keith Olbermann that will have its debut at the end of August. In political years, he will also have a role at ABC News, which is owned by Disney.
An ESPN spokeswoman declined to comment on Friday night. Mr. Silver declined to comment. The employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Mr. Silver’s deal could be announced as soon as Monday. The NY Times has more here.
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