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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Democratic Chatter 1-31-2009

George Wenschhof Bio

Today, in President Barack Obama's weekly address he discuses the importance of the passage of his bill "The American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan". Click on the photo below to watch the video.

privacy policy download .mp4 download audio also available on vimeo


Another Obama Cabinet nominee with back tax problems - previously it was Timothy Geithner for Treasury Secretary who did not pay taxes for several years before paying up along with penalties prior to his nomination. This time, it is Tom Daschle, the nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services. Seems he did not report lino services provided to him by the private equities firm he worked for as a consultant. Reportedly $100,000 in back taxes were paid and in spite of this embarrassment, expect him to be confirmed by the senate. has more here.


After six rounds of voting Michael Steele elected RNC chair - the meeting in Washington D.C. of the Republican National Committee, had lots of drama with the rules dictating the winner must receive 85 votes. The final vote was 91-77 with Michael Steele prevailing over Katon Dawson, the GOP South Carolina chair. Michael Steele, the former Maryland Lt. Governor, is the first African-American to chair the RNC. He immediately talked about competing in all 50 states. Sound familiar? - let's see - a Democratic African-American elected President and the former DNC chair, Howard Dean promoted the successful 50 state strategy which aided Obama in his victory. has more here.


Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) introduces bill to limit executives pay - the bill pertains to executives who are or will be working for companies receiving government funds from the 700 Billion bailout known as TARP, the Trouble Assets Relief Program. It would limit them to not making more money than the President of the United States. has more here.


Obama to send 20 million in humanitarian relief to Gaza - while government funds in the U.S. are being spent in record numbers, this is a wise move. Hamas, in the past after flare ups with Israel resulted in much destruction were quickly there in neighborhoods passing out money and offering assistance. The U.S. humanitarian aid will be administered to the Palestinians through the UN. has more here.


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Sunday Morning "Talking Heads" Guests 2-1-2009

George Wenschhof Bio

Always plenty to talk about on the Sunday morning political discussion shows. This second Sunday after the Obama inauguration will be no exception.

In spite of attempts by President Barack Obama to charm Republicans on the Hill, his Stimulus bill was passed in the House without a single Republican vote. Expect dissecting of the 819 Billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan by the pundits and guests today. This bill is likely to capture most of the attention today.

The selection by the Republican Party on the sixth round of balloting of their first African-American to be the head of the Republican National Committee will have the tongues wagging as well. Is former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele a response to the first African-American President who happens to be a Democrat?

Of course, the final gasp of Governor Rod Blagojevich prior to being removed will receive some attention. New Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn will also be discussed.

A little below the radar is a Judge who refused to suspend a trial of a Gitmo detainee in spite of the request by the President.

Some mention may also be made of the rapid deployment of new foreign policy envoys George Mitchell and Richard Holbrooke to their respective assigned regions in the Middle East and Afghanistan/Pakistan.

Below is a list of the Sunday morning "Talking Heads" with their scheduled guests. As always, remember to check your local listings for time and channel.

NBC "Meet The Press" - David Gregory will interview Senators Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Tx.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.). The roundtable discussion will include Erin Burnett, Steve Forbes, and Mark Zandi.

ABC "This Week" - George Stephanopoulos will have Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), Google executive Eric Schmidt and FedEx executive Fred Smith. The roundtable will include Bob Woodward, George Will, Martha Raddatz, and David Sanger

CBS "Face The Nation" - Bob Schieffer welcomes Senators Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) and NY Times David Brooks.

Fox News Sunday - Chris Wallace scores newly elected RNC chair Michael Steele. Also appearing will be Senators Jon Kyl (R-Az.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)

CNN "Sate of The Union" - John King will have Governors Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.) and Jennifer Granholm (D-Mich.). Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calf.) and John Ensign (R-NV). Also former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and Grover Norquist.


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Friday, January 30, 2009

Democratic Chatter 1-30-2009

George Wenschhof Bio

Irresponsible and Shameful are the words used by President Obama yesterday - he was referring to the Wall Street bankers who gave themselves 18 Billion in bonuses. This. at a time when they are accepting help from the government and taxpayers during this severe economic downturn. The blog has more here.


Commerce Department releases more gloomy news on the economy - seems the decline of 3.8% in the last quarter of 2008 was the worst in a quarter since 1982. There are indications the first quarter decline in 2009 could be even higher. has more here.


Meanwhile, Exxon reports record 45.2 Billion profit for 2008 - their fourth quarter earnings were down by 33% from 2007, but the fourth quarter profit was still a staggering 7.8 Billion. A 7.8 Billion profit in a quarter when gas prices plunged and the country had it's worst decline in the economy in a quarter of a century. This could easily have some calling for some government intervention. You can read more here.


A Republican for Commerce Secretary? - rumors are flying that Republican Senator Judd Gregg (NH) is seriously being considered for the position by the President. This Cabinet position has been open since New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson withdrew from his nomination.

The scuttlebutt that has everyone talking is the Governor of New Hampshire is a Democrat and would be able to pick the replacement should Gregg be picked for Commerce Secretary. A Democrat would most likely be picked to fill Gregg's position and if Al Franken survives the court challenge in Minnesota, this would give the Democrats 58 plus 2 Independent Senators (Lieberman-Conn. and Sanders - Vt.), giving them the magic 60 filibuster proof number of Senators.

In spite of the allure, do not expect this to happen. has more here.


Vice President Joe Biden to head Middle Class task force - President Obama was often critical of the George W. Bush administration and the Republican "trickle down" theory of economics. Biden has an editorial in you can read here. As part of their commitment to a change recognizing middle class challenges, a new White House website will be announced today


SCHIP approved by Senate 66-32 - after some reconciliation with the House bill, it will head to the President for signature. This twice vetoed bill by former President George W. Bush will provide health insurance to 11 million disadvantaged youth. This is a 4.1 million increase from the current 6.7 million children currently being served by the program. has more here.


On the foreign policy front, new envoy Richard Holbrooke to visit Pakistan/Afghanistan - as George Mitchell stays busy in the Middle East, Holbrooke has plenty to be discussed here as well. India and Pakistan continues to be a potential flash point and the new Pakistan government could easily be classified as fragile. Afghanistan poses it's own unique issues and challenges as President Obama prepares to send an additional 20,000 troops to help stabilize the country. has more here.


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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blagojevich Saddened, but not Surprised at Removal

George Wenschhof Bio

After just four days of the state senate impeachment trial of Governor Rod Blagojevich, the vote this afternoon was 59-0 to oust the Governor from office. Lt. Governor Patrick Quinn was immediately sworn in as Governor. The vote followed testimony from the Governor who continued to deny any wrongdoing. has more as well as video here.

The removal of Governor Blagojevich ended the two months of scrutiny he has been under ever since his arrest for allegedly being involved in a pay-for-play scheme involving the filling of the vacant Barack Obama senate seat.

The Governor spoke to reporters at 7:15 PM ET expressing his sadness but no surprise at the vote removing him from office. He thanked the voters and expressed how grateful he and his family were to have been able to serve the citizens of Illinois. In a brief question and answer period with reporters he continued to say the fix was in and he looked forward to his date in court and the opportunity to clear his name.

The circus surrounding Blagojevich was further exacerbated with his appointment of Roland Burris to the vacant senate seat. After initial efforts by Democratic leadership to block the appointment failed, Burris was sworn into office. This situation, as well as the media frenzy surrounding the filling of the vacant Hillary Clinton senate seat in New york prompted Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) to offer a constitutional amendment on the manner vacant senate seats are filled. He is calling for special elections similar to what is done for vacant seats in the House.

The interesting question that will remain for pundits and constitutional lawyers to discuss remains "is it allowable to impeach and remove a Governor who has not been convicted of a crime"? Do not expect this issue to go away.


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Gore Presses for Passage of Stimulus Bill

George Wenschhof Bio

In an email sent to supporters, former Vice President Al Gore continues to work hard for passage of President Obama's Stimulus bill which includes clean energy investments. 40,000 members of "" wrote to their Congressmen supporting passage of the bill.

Gore recently testified in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the importance of the climate crisis facing the world today and now is asking supporters to contact their Senators to express their support of the American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Plan. To contact your Senator, just click here. Below is a short video of his message to you. Click on his picture to watch.

Al Gore's message on the recovery.
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Democratic Chatter 1-29-2009

George Wenschhof Bio

President Barack Obama will meet with Cabinet members today - back to business after members of Congress for cocktails last night at the White House. The President is expected to meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and also Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.


Not one House Republican votes in favor of Stimulus bill - Eleven Democrats joined the Republicans in voting against the bill which passed with a 244-188 vote. Included in the Democrats who voted against the bill was first term Maryland Congressman, Frank Kratovil. A trip to the Hill by the president did not help as more and more questions are being asked as to what has been included in this massive 819 Billion plan. Originally sold to the public as a major infrastructure repair bill that would put Americans back to work, it now seems less than 5% of the funding goes toward infrastructure spending. The NY Times has a good read on how effective and how quickly this stimulus plan will be. You can read it here.

Expect even more scrutiny to be applied by members of the senate and expect more changes. However, in the end, the bill will pass. The House vote by the Republicans also sets up a possible major issue come the 2010 mid term Congressional elections. If this massive spending bill does not help in putting the U.S. economy back on track by the 2010 elections, the Republicans will be saying "we told you so". Politicians should remember it did not take one action or one bill to get the U.S. in this economic mess and it is extremely doubtful, it will take only one bill to get the U.S. out of the mess we are in. Politico has a good read here.


RNC Chair to be selected tomorrow - more than a handful of candidates exist for the chair of the Republican National Committee who meet tomorrow in Washington D.C. to have a final vote on the choice. The early favorite was current chair, Mike Duncan. Other contenders include African-Americans Michael Steele who was a former Lt. Governor of Maryland and Ken Blackwell who was a former Secretary of State in Ohio. Another notable contender for the chair is Chip Saltsman, former campaign manager for the Mike Huckabee, who sent the CD entitled "Barack, the Magic Negro" out to friends over the holiday season. Let's see what direction the RNC intends to take with their choice for chair tomorrow. has more here.


Ethics questions surround new White House deputy counsel for economic affairs - just yesterday, the President announced Neal Wolin in this new position. Already, he is coming under scrutiny with concerns pertaining to his recent position as executive of The Hartford Financial Services Group. Seems, after some maneuvering, Hartford qualified for some of the bailout bill funds. It is being said Mr. Wolin would need to recuse himself from future actions pertaining to his former employer. has more here.


"Blago Watch" Update - Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich will appear at his impeachment proceedings in the state senate. His appearance come after the senate president, John Cullerton asked him to speak. He will be given ninety minutes beginning at 12:00 PM ET with no questions being allowed. The prosecutor will then have thirty minutes, followed with a vote. You can count on Lt. Governor Quinn to be nearby following the vote. The Chicago Tribune has more here.


Obama's choice for national intelligence confirmed by senate - In a unanimous voice vote, retired admiral Dennis Blair was confirmed last night. he replaces former director Michael McConnell who resigned shortly before Blair was confirmed. has more here.


On the foreign policy front, newly appointed Middle East envoy is on the job and busy - wasting no time after being appointed by President Obama, George Mitchell arrived yesterday in Israel and after meeting with officials will be in the West bank today. He will meet with Palestinian President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad. This is part of a seven day tour of the region. So far, no meetings with Hamas have been scheduled. The Washington Post has more here.


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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Democratic Chatter 1-28-2009

George Wenschhof Bio

President Barack Obama will meet with business leaders this morning - He is expected to give a press announcement after the meeting around 11:00 AM ET. Later today he and the Vice President will meet with Robert Gates and the Joint Chiefs at the Pentagon to discuss withdrawal plan for Iraq. has more here.


House to vote on 825 Billion Stimulus bill today - the vote comes after the President went to the Hill yesterday to meet with Republicans. The 825 Billion is made up of 275 Billion in tax cuts and 550 Billion in spending. In spite of the conversation, many Republicans were still questioning the many inclusions in the bill. Expect the bill to pass easily in the House where the Democrats have a 257 to 178 advantage. However, with the added scrutiny the bill will receive, expect changes in the Senate version. The Washington Post has more here.


Former Vice President Al Gore presses Congress to pass Stimulus bill - one of the many components in the bill includes many "green" jobs and technology. Gore is also expected to urge Congress today to take additional measures in regard to climate control. I received a email from him last night urging supporters to contact their Congressmen in support of the bill. has more here.


Holder confirmation expected soon - after a short delay with some Republican Senators who are members of the Judiciary Committee expressing concern in regard to prosecution of those in the previous administration who may have been involved in the harsh interrogation techniques that were authorized. Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) publicly announced his support of Eric Holder for Attorney General yesterday. has more here.


"Blago watch" update - the Illinois state senate is expected to vote on the impeachment of Governor Rod Blagojevich by tomorrow. Yesterday, the governor continued the circus atmosphere surrounding his impeachment by boycotting the trial and appearing on as many television shows as possible. Meanwhile, Illinois Lt. Governor Quinn prepares to be sworn in as Governor. The Chicago Sun-Times has more here.


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"Frederick's Up and Coming"

J. Burke Miller Bio

I Want to "Believe"

On Monday evening, Governor Martin O'Malley spoke before approximately 4,400 Midshipmen as part of the United States Naval Academy's Forrestal Lecture. At the annual lecture series that offers Midshipmen the opportunity to pick the minds of prominent political leaders, some of our nation's best and brightest did not pass up the opportunity to hit Governor O'Malley with some tough questions. These questions concerned his greatest blunders as a politician and (even more after my own heart) some pertained to HBO's wildly popular drama about crime and corruption in Baltimore - "The Wire".

Governor O'Malley took each question in stride while never hesitating in his defense of Baltimore and its people. Much to his audience's delight the former two-term Baltimore Mayor chastised the show for the dark cloud of cynicism that it often cast not only over the city of Baltimore but also over mankind in general. For his ability to answer tough questions well and for the seemingly genuine optimism for Baltimore's future, I tip my hat to the Governor. But, I cannot honestly say that I am presently so confident in the city's promise. I find it difficult to argue against the belief that Baltimore has made marked improvements in terms of safety, livability and image; however, I still read the news.

I have a great deal of friends that have flocked to the streets of Federal Hill and Canton for the relatively cheap housing, multiple job opportunities for young professionals and the booming nightlife. Yet, I am still from an area that was hit hard by the tragic death of Zach Sowers and still remember the callous remarks concerning Zach made by Margaret Burns, a (still employed!) spokesperson for the (still employed!) Assistant District Attorney Patricia Jessamy. On top of that, news broke yesterday of the tragic slaying of Frederick taxi-driver Stephen Mauk in Baltimore.

Now, I have no intentions of disproving Governor O'Malley's optimism because I both applaud it and on many levels can recognize the improvements of Baltimore. Instead, I cite these few instances to point an accusatory finger and repeat one of my favorite quotes, "attitude reflects leadership." How can we expect the citizens of Baltimore to "Believe" (the city's newest slogan) amidst the poor leadership they are currently being offered? I think the world of most members of Baltimore's state delegation and of Governor Martin O'Malley but the examples being set by City Councilwoman Helen L. Holton and Mayor Sheila Dixon are embarrassing and to be honest, exactly the sort of thing that HBO's "The Wire" pointed out.

Holton and Dixon, both recently indicted on charges of corruption, were not only noticeably absent onstage at President Obama's Baltimore Whistle Stop, but are apparently absent of morality as well. A year ago, my belief that public service is reserved for those who are determined to make the world around them a better place may very well have been regarded as naivety. However, there is currently a man in the White House that makes me believe that we do not need to put up with political corruption any longer. While I understand that the nature of politics will always breed some levels of corruption in certain individuals that does not mean that the voters need to tolerate it on any level. Hopefully, the Illinois State Legislature will set a strong precedent for us soon.

In the spirit of our justice system's strongest credo - "innocent until proven guilty" - both of these women may very well be innocent and if Councilwoman Holton emerges from this as such, I will write her a letter that contains my sincerest apology. Mayor Dixon, on the other hand, will not receive any such letter as she lost my respect when she stood firmly behind a policy that will force the taxpayers of Baltimore, a city largely stricken by poverty, to foot the bill for her legal fees. In her responses to the policy, she is yet to explain how her alleged misuse of gift cards originally donated for Baltimore's homeless and severely poor population falls within the realm of her acting in her role as Mayor and on behalf of the city of Baltimore.

I look forward to the time when I may be able to look to Baltimore and feel the same affinity as does the Governor but I know that no such time will come as long as corruption runs rife through City Hall. Hopefully, we will soon see Baltimore set a standard for excellence that dictates to all future public officials that, "We will no longer tolerate such corruption," and the city's slogan can move on from "Believe" to "See."


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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Democratic Chatter 1-27-2009

George Wenschhof Bio

President Barack Obama reaches out to Muslims in interview - I watched on CNN part of the interview conducted by Hisham Melhem broadcast on Al-Arabiya. This was a significant interview where the president was reaching out in friendship to the many moderate Muslims. he pointed out the actions of radical Muslim factions resulting in the tearing down of communities as opposed to the building of communities. George Mitchell, the recently appointed Middle East envoy is on his way to the region to begin negotiations. has more and some video of the Obama interview here.


President Barack Obama will meet with Republican Congressmen today - he is expected to continue to push his Economic Stimulus bill. Republicans and some democrats are questioning the size of his bill and how effective it will be. Meanwhile, Caterpiller, Sprint and others announced large numbers of layoffs. has more here


Vice President Joe Biden to swear in Kristen Gillibrand as NY Senator today.- the ceremonies are expected to take place at 12:30 PM ET in the U.S. Capitol. Earlier today, the Vice president had breakfast with the new Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. has more here.


Timothy Geithner confirmed as Treasury Secretary - this was expected in spite of the revelations Mr. Geithner had not paid social security taxes for several years. Geithner is expected to spell out new restrictions on the 700 Billion bailout program today after criticism of no accountability for the first 350 Billion that has been spent. Read more here. William Dudley is reported to be the person to replace Geithner as President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. has more here.


McAuliffe's race for Governor of Virginia not a given - for many Democrats, he was referred to as "McAwful" when he served as chair of the Democratic National Committee. Now, he is bringing his experience of raising millions to the Virginia Governor race. RealClearPolitics has a good read here. Expect Brian Moran, a former Democrat state delegate to battle for the Democratic nomination. He is already calling on candidates to refuse to accept out of state contributions, clearly a shot at McAuliffe. In addition, Moran has just added Joe Trippi as his media director. Read more here. Joe Trippi gained notoriety when he managed the Howard Dean campaign for President in 2004.


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Frederick Co. MD Democratic Buzz

George Wenschhof Bio

Last week on Tuesday, I published a column pertaining to who may be the Democratic candidates in this City of Frederick election year. If you missed that column, you can read it here. I indicated more Democratic candidates may emerge as the deadline for filing is not until July 7, 2009.

One additional Democratic candidate who may file for Alderman is James Racheff. I enjoyed a long conversation with him this past Saturday. He is currently the chair of the City of Frederick Zoning Appeals Board and also sat in on several meetings of the city charter review committee. Mr. Racheff also flew to Boulder, Colorado with county and city elected officials and staff to review their waste disposal methods. He has a sincere interest in the future of the city and would be a competitive candidate for Alderman.

This week, I want to examine what may be some of the issues that come up in the campaign. I do not intend to delve into the intricacies of each issue in this column, but rather will attempt to list what the issues may be. The candidates, of course, will be providing their positions on these issues and others as the campaign unfolds. Again, the primary election will be held on September 15 and the general election will be held on November 3, 2009.

Let's take a look at some of the issues listed below in no particular order of significance:

The Hargett farm condemnation for a city park - current Republican Mayor Jeff Holtzinger campaigned on the need for a municipal Park in this neighborhood and upon winning the election immediately began the process of identifying a location. After the location had been identified, a condemnation process was instituted after the property owner and the city could not reach agreement on the price.

The majority of the Aldermen including Democrat Marcia Hall (who I indicated will run for Mayor) supported this action proposed by Mayor Holtzinger. A local court decision recently ruled the process was allowable and ordered appraisals to be provided by March.

The property is zoned for residential development with some site plan approval granted. Questions that may arise will pertain to loss of tax revenue along with loss of impact fees. Also, expect questions as to why chose an already approved and zoned residential area which will possibly be valued higher than property absent of such zoning.

While other comments will be from residents in the neighborhood who feel this is a much better use than the planned residential use. They feel another residential development was sure to add strain to an already less than satisfactory road transportation grid for the area.

City Employee Pension and Early Retirement Plan - Plenty has been said about this with a final analysis of the effectiveness of the plan change still elusive. Again, this plan was approved with a majority vote of the aldermen. It appears the level of cost savings originally anticipated for the city was higher than what will transpire.

What caught the attention of some local political activists was when certain city staff who took advantage of the early buy-out ended up being hired back. While they were hired back at an entry level salary, the city was still paying twice for 1-2 years of employment.

It appears this action, which was instituted and approved for positive reasons, will require additional scrutiny to determine if modification to the approved plan will need to be made by the Mayor and Board.

Residency - most city voters are tired of hearing about this issue after the brou-hah-hah that occurred under the former Democratic Mayor Jennifer Dougherty administration. Some activists continue to question the residency of Mayor Holtzinger. While he stands by his statement he meets the requirements in the city charter.

As everyone knows, Dougherty challenged Ron Young's eligibility to run against her in the Democratic primary and went on to veto a charter amendment changing the residency requirement which had been approved by the aldermen. The end result of her action resulted in the current Mayor being able to file and eventually winning election to the office of Mayor.

While this issue may receive a loud drumbeat by some candidates, do not expect this to be a major concern of the voter.

Budget - Financial Condition of the City - in this serious economic downturn the entire country is experiencing, a critical review of the Budget and the financial condition of the city is an issue all candidates should address.

The tax rate for homeowners increased during the Dougherty administration and so far has been reduced during the Holtzinger administration. The Budget to be introduced by Mayor Holtzinger for the next fiscal year is sure to receive a thorough examination by the candidates. Keep an eye on the tax rate and if it is kept the same or reduced. Also the size of the budget and the level of services being provided. There is always plenty of areas in a Budget for disagreement among candidates in an election year.

Planning and Zoning - an area that always comes up in an election year. Is growth happening in a manner voters approve? This becomes a moving target in a city like Frederick due to the rapid growth that has taken place. Often, new residents question the process even more than the long time residents.

However, traffic congestion continues to exist at all the major routes into and out of the city and remains a major issue among voters. Needed state and federal funds are just not being brought home by current state and federal elected officials. Hopefully, with the passage of the proposed Stimulus Plan by President Barack Obama, much needed infrastructure funds are received for the City of Frederick.

Regardless, a "pay as you grow" approach should be in effect for future growth. However, the major problem is not how to plan effectively for future growth, but rather, how to catch up in the city infrastructure due to mistakes made over the last few decades. Also expect current approved or proposed annexations to receive attention during the campaign along with candidates describing their vision for the future of the City of Frederick.

Failed effort at Historic District Designation - one alderman candidate Kelly Russell, who resides in the neighborhood, proposed the change. Unfortunately, 46 of the 62 owners of the properties which would have been affected by the change disagreed with the idea. While the three Democratic aldermen voted in favor of the designation, the Mayor vetoed their approval.

It is doubtful this will become a major issue in the campaign, especially when 79% of the families who would have been affected by the change, disagreed with having the historic district designation being attached to their homes.

Speaking of the Historic District, I have a proposal the city should consider which would aid homeowners within the historic district, the historic commission, and the home contractors who perform the renovations in the district.

I suggest city staff provide a training class for home contractors on the allowable materials, etc. that would be approved by the Commission and after successful completion of the course, the contractor would be certified in "historic district" renovations. The contractors would receive valuable information and when a homeowner began the process of renovating their home, they could be provided with a list of approved contractors by city staff.

Police Department - Police Chief Kim Dine has done an outstanding job since his hire during the former city hall administration. He is well liked and respected among the many different segments that make up the community.

As this is a major component of what is provided by city government expect discussion during the campaign on the size of the budget in this area.

One such issue sure to receive attention will be when amendments in a previous budget year introduced by aldermen to increase police officers and police cruisers, they were vetoed by Mayor Holtzinger twice before reaching a compromise.

The big question is what is being done to locate and build a new police station. The current headquarters located in part of the Frederick County Courthouse complex is woefully undersized.

Department of Public Works/ Infrastructure - under the Mayor Holtzinger administration, a water agreement with the County government was reached, a realignment of Monocacy Blvd. was done, an Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) was approved, the homes under HOPE have begun construction and the (MPDU) Moderately Priced Dwellings Units provision has moved forward.

Trash collection and snow removal are important issues to voters in a local election and memories are long when a bad event transpires. In one of the early years in his administration, some voters questioned the actions taken by Mayor Holtzinger in a snow event that resulted in snow turning to ice banks along the curbs which screwed up parking for some time in the city.

Speaking of Parking, downtown parking woes continue - this has been an ongoing problem regardless of who has filled the Mayor seat. I wrote a column on this issue which was published on on May 11, 2007. You can read it here. Basically, I believe the mindset of the city should be to make the visit to downtown Frederick enjoyable and to make every effort to minimize parking hassles by residents and visitors. This, as opposed to looking at how to increase a revenue stream for the city. The bad will generated by the latter approach outweighs any monetary short term gain.

Let's not forget Clustered Spires, Keys Stadium, and the Weinberg Center - should the city continue to own and in the case of the golf course, operate these entertainment centers? Expect some discussion in this area, especially due to the economic downturn.

Speaking of the Keys Stadium, here's a beef I have held for some time. The cost for admission is great for families, but once inside the vendor prices are similar to those that exist at Camden Yards, the home of the Baltimore Orioles. As the City owns the park, how about placing some regulations on the price of a hot dog and soda. I am sure there are plenty of local business owners who could provide the food concessions at Keys Stadium at a much more affordable price. Presently, it's almost like a bait and switch - you get in at an affordable rate but are nailed when you go to buy something to eat or drink.

How about the Weinberg Center? The reason I say that is it's not currently a huge controversy. This is pleasant after the fighting pertaining to funding and privatization that occurred under the Dougherty administration between Mayor Dougherty and a past President of the Weinberg Board of Directors.

The ballpark, golf course and the theater are great attractions and offer benefits for the city. But, expect all to be brought up during the campaign.

Well, that's a start at looking at some of the issues that may come up during the campaign this year. We will be following the election and adding our thoughts on what the candidates say throughout the campaign about the issues facing the voters in the City of Frederick.


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Monday, January 26, 2009

More Obama Inauguration Day Photos

Ann-Marie Luciano Bio

Editor's Note: Ann-Marie sent us some great photos to accompany her column we published on January 23 entitled "The Privilege to Witness History". Here are some of her pictures from that historic day. To view them all click here.

Pinocchio and the Shoes

Ann-Marie signing the Constitution

Trying to get on TV

Inside warming Tent

Watching Obama Speech on Jumbotron


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Democratic Chatter 1-26-2009

George Wenschhof Bio

President Barack Obama to direct EPA to allow States environmental protection flexibility - in yet another reversal of positions taken by the George W. Bush administration, President Obama is expected to to sign an executive order this morning. The order would allow the Environmental Protection Agency to process and approve stricter tailpipe emissions regulations California and 13 other states want to enact. The NY Times has more here.


Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) will introduce constitutional amendment to change the way vacant U.S. Senate seats are filled - recently, the method of having the Governor appoint vacant Senate seats has been exposed for scrutiny due to the many open seats resulting from appointments to the Obama administration. New York with the Caroline Kennedy media circus and of course Illinois with Governor Rod Blagojevich being arrested in an alleged "pay-to-play" scheme has brought tons of attention to this section in the constitution. Senator Feingold says it is time to begin holding special elections to replace Senators who leave prior to the end of their term. has his statement here.


Meanwhile, the "Blago watch" continues - the impeachment trial is scheduled to begin today for Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. He is refusing to take part, saying the state senate impeachment trial is unfair and he is not even being allowed to have witnesses testify. Instead, he has gone on a frenzied media tour, appearing on whatever show will have him. One of the more outlandish statements made so far is his admission he had considered appointing Oprah to the vacant Senate seat. Tonight, he appears on CNN Larry King Live at 9:00 PM ET. The Chicago Tribune has more here.


Over in Minnesota, the Norm Coleman trial begins - the incumbent Republican Senator filed suit challenging the mandated recount results by the state canvassing board which certified Democrat Al Franken the winner by 225 votes. The argument will try to show errors in the recount. Hopefully, this drama will end soon with this Senate seat filled by Franken. has more here.


House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) says comprehensive heathcare reform will not happen this year - he was remembering the healthcare reform failure by Hillary Clinton back in 1994 when she tried to push it through in President Clinton's first year in office. However, his statement is at odds with Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) who has promised comprehensive healthcare reform in 2009. Kennedy is suffering from brain cancer. has more here.


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It Starts

Ken Kerr Bio

It didn't take long for the GOP to try and spoil the party. People were still finding their way home from last Tuesday's Inauguration before Limbaugh unpatriotically wished for the complete failure of our new president. Then our former Governor, Robert Ehrlich, told us in Wednesday's Washington Post that we were so "caught up in the historic nature of the moment but blind to the substance of the speech" which, according to Ehrlich is a call for class warfare.

Ehrlich appeared later that evening on the CNN program "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" where David Shuster asked him about the class warfare and how it can be possible for the middle and working class to engage in "war" on the wealthy. Ehrlich replied, in his unfortunate Baltimore accent, that the top 1% wealthiest Americans now pay 40% of the income tax, and that sounds like warfare to him.

Shuster let it go; I can't. We can't. We can no longer let them Limbaugh-logic us. We can no longer let them play fast and loose with the facts, cherry-pick data, and distort reality.

Ehrlich said "income tax." The top 1% pay 40% of "Income" tax. It's not only untrue, it is deviously deceptive and deliberately designed to make middle and low income earners feel sorry for the wealthy and guilty about not holding up our end.

Limbaugh blustered, "And, of course, when there's a tax cut that comes down, it's inevitable that the people who pay taxes get the tax cut. And I forgot the number off the top of my head, but we're up to now something like 38% of all taxes are paid by the top 1%. How can you have a tax cut and those people not get one? And if the purpose for the tax cut is to stimulate the economy the people that pay the taxes have got to get the tax cut.

"The tax cuts . . . reduced tax rates for people in all income brackets but they had a disproportionate effect on people at the very highest levels because they had already been paying a disproportionate share of total federal taxes and in part because stock dividends get a special lower rate."

Disproportionate as compared to what? Feudalism? reports "The top 1 percent of all households got 18 percent of all personal income and paid nearly 28 percent of all federal taxes in 2005, according to the Congressional Budget Office."

According to Stephen Moore of The American, the wealthiest 1% of the population earn 19% of the income but pay 37 percent of the income tax. The top 10 percent pay 68 percent of the tab. Meanwhile, the bottom 50 percent—those below the median income level—now earn 13 percent of the income but pay just 3 percent of the taxes. These are proportions of the income tax alone and don't include payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare.

That's right. But notice how Moore refers to "19% of the income but pay 37 percent of the income tax. " There are other taxes besides "income tax." The wealthy know this all-too-well. Actually, CBO calculates that the top 1 percent paid only 27.6% percent of all federal taxes.

One big tax that lower and middle income earners pay is Social Security—that and Medicare/Medicaid. Most of us pay 6.2% on our earnings for Social Security and 1.45% on our earnings for Medicare. However, that is only for the first $102,000 of yearly earnings. That means most of us (me) pay a tax of 6.2% on every dime we earn while the wealthy get a 6.2% tax cut for every dime beyond $102,000. And for the top 1%, that goes FAR beyond $102,000.

The CBO states that the top 1% pay 4% of those taxes. I think they can afford it. But, we are fighting on their ground and according to their rules. We should be looking at this differently.

Here is how we should be looking at this. Let's take it a-step-at-a-time:

America's 112 million families had combined wealth of $50.3 trillion in 2004.

When those families are ranked by the size of their wealth, however, the top 1% alone held $16.8 trillion in wealth.

That is more than a third of the United States' total wealth

It is also more than the $15.3 trillion held by the bottom 90% of U.S. families.

The top 1% had average wealth of $15 million per family in contrast to the $22,800 average wealth of the least wealthy 50% of families or the $313,500 in wealth for families ranked between 50% and 90%.

You got that? According to Ehrlich and Limbaugh, we are supposed to feel sorry for and grateful to the top 1% who have an average family income of 15-million-dollars-a-year!

Put another way, does it seem fair that 5% of the people have 95% of the wealth, yet pay only 50% of the taxes? Yet, 95% of the people live on 5% of the wealth and have to come up with the other 50%.

Our new President said in his inaugural address that we "will restore science to its rightful place." After a prolonged period of anti-intellectualism in the United States, we can no longer let these conservative sophists frame the argument, set the rules for discourse, and control the language.

Let's start with this nonsense about an unfair tax burden on the obscenely wealthy.


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Sunday, January 25, 2009

John King Interviews Obama Campaign Manager David Plouffe

George Wenschhof Bio


On the new CNN Sunday morning political discussion program; "State of The Union", host John King interviewed David Plouffe. Click on the CNN video above to watch the interview. Mr. Plouffe ran the successful Obama campaign, utilizing the Internet and millions of supporters in the effort. Mr. Plouffe speaks on how they intend to keep engaged in the future the 13 million email addresses, 4 million text meassaging numbers, and the 2 million active volunteers.


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Democratic Chatter 1-25-2009

George Wenschhof Bio

President Barack Obama has 68% approval - In the first Gallup poll conducted since he became President. Only 12% disapproved of his performance so far. The poll was conducted January 21-23, 2009. has more here.


NY Senator Charles Schumer backed Gillibrand - While better known contenders Caroline Kennedy and Andrew Cuomo had star power support, Krsiten Gillibrand had the support of Senator Schumer to be the replacement for the vacant Hillary Clinton Senate seat. However, Senator Gillibrand who was selected by Governor David Paterson, still has lots to prove to New Yorkers. Her 100% approval rating by the NRA hardly endears her to NY Democrats. Stay tuned to this as it is likely she will receive stiff Democratic opposition in the 2010 Democratic primary. has more here.


President Obama continues bipartisan approach - He is scheduled to meet with Republican Congressmen for lunch on Tuesday. Sure to be discussed is his American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan. has more here.


China's impact on U.S. economy comes under scrutiny - Timothy Geithner who is awaiting confirmation as Treasury Secretary, recently warned of currency manipulation by China. Of course, not mentioned was the huge amount of U.S. debt that China currently has an interest in. In this economic climate, the relationship between these two countries is critical. Keep an eye on this. has more here.


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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Democratic Chatter 1-24-2009

George Wenschhof Bio

Obama delivers his first weekly address to the nation as President - He speaks of the importance of his Stimulus bill known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Download video as high-quality .mp4

President Obama orders staff to come up with new restrictions on use of the remaining 350 Billion from the Bailout bill - this comes after reports of executives of banks renovating offices after receiving funds from the first 350 Billion. reportedly, Lawrence Summers, White House Director of National Economic Council is developing details of the new restrictions. has more here.
The President to address a joint session of Congress in February - continuing to push for approval of his stimulus plans, Obama is expected to give a speech to members of congress in early February. The president hopes to have approval of his plan by the middle of next month. has more here.
NY Governor David Paterson pick to fill Hillary Clinton's seat not all that surprising - seems Kristen Hillibrand has been picking up supporters since her first victory in a Congressional race in 2006. A lawyer, she has been able to gain a 100% approval rating from the National Rifle Association while also receiving support from women's groups such as Emilys List. However, even with the advantage of being the incumbent, the Senate race in 2010 will not be as easy as a Congressional race. The NY Times has more here.
William Lynn nomination for deputy Secretary of Defense raising questions - the new Ethics standards announced by President Barack Obama this week have already needed to be waived in this case. Mr. Lynn is a former executive/lobbyist for Raytheon. which is one of the largest defense contractors in the country. Carl Levin (D-Mich) who is the chair of the senate Armed Services Committee has expressed his support for Lynn but John McCain (R-AZ.) is questioning why the waiver is being provided to Lynn. has more here.
Remember the SCHIP legislation President George W. Bush vetoed twice? - It's back, and the children's health insurance bill is likely to pass in the Senate on Monday. The House has already passed their version of the bill. has more here.
"Blago watch" continues - Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's penchant for doing the bizarre, reached a new level yesterday as he said his impeachment trial was similar to a lynching. Last night on CNN Larry King show, it was announced the Governor would be his guest this coming Monday night and would be talking calls from the public. Who knows if the latest actions by the Governor prompted his defense attorney Ed Gensen to indicate he would no longer represent the Governor. has more here.
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