Thank you for visiting our website

Featuring breaking political news and commentary on local, state, and national issues.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Daily Democratic Wire 7-31-2009

George Wenschhof

Last night, President Obama sat down for a beer with Professor Gates and Sgt. Cowley - they were joined by Vice President Joe Biden. No explanation as to why Biden joined the gathering, but he did even out the color of the participants. Interestingly, Biden does not drink, he had one of those "near" beers. You can read more here.

The conversation went well and Crowley and Gates have agreed to meet privately again in the future. This is good for the subject of race relations should be an ongoing discussion among all Americans. By happenstance, the two with their families bumped into each other as they were waiting for Happy Hour and were given a tour of the White House.

I watched a press conference given by Sgt. Crowley following the Happy hour gathering and he was very good. Better, in fact, than most politicians.

Today, at lunch, the president will dine with business leaders at the White House. This is a continuation of his effort to reach out to the business community. You can read more here.

Tonight, as I reported early this week, the President joined by the Vice President will address his full Cabinet. This is the start of a two day retreat of all the cabinet secretaries to be held at the Blair House. After running a full court press for the first six months of his presidency, it seems a time out has been called. Let's see what the next play is to be called. You can read more here.


This morning, the Vice President will address the National Urban League - the conference is being held in Chicago and the theme is "Planning for the Future". You can read more here.

When I was Employment and Training Director for the National Association of Counties (NACO), all of the Public Interest Groups (PIGs, as they were called) held annual conferences for their members. Landing the vice president as a speaker is always good. Public Interest Groups are often overlooked, but they have tremendous influence in Washington.


House Energy and Commerce Committee struggle to reach agreement on health care bill - a small victory for the Obama administration prior to the August recess. Seems Blue Dog Democrats have received generous financial contributions from the insurance industry. This sausage making bill could wind up smelling and tasting bad. Stay tuned. has more on the struggles in the House here.

Senior White House Adviser David Axelrod is also holding a strategy meeting for House Democrats today - it is members only and no press. Presumably, messaging will be discussed on how to promote health care reform during the Congressional recess. You can read more here.


Commerce Department reports economy shrank at a better than expected rate - in good news for the Obama administration the gross domestic product (GDP) only reduced by 1% last quarter after falling 6.4% in the first quarter of this year. has more here.


To receive "Daily Email Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wenschhof Interviews City of Frederick, Md. Alderman Candidate Kelly Russell

George Wenschhof

Today, my guest is Kelly Russell who is one of nine Democrats running for one of five seats on the Board of Aldermen in the City of Frederick, Maryland. The primary will be held on September 15 and registered Democratic voters will determine their Mayor and five Aldermen candidates for the November 3 general election. Also, please remember the deadline to register to vote prior to the primary is August 17.

Ms. Russell and I are communicating via computer from different locations within the city and I have not shared with her the questions I will be asking today. As this is a live conversation, please remember to click on your "Refresh" button every ten minutes or so, to see the latest question and answer.

The link to this discussion will be placed in the right margin of our home page so it may be easily read at any time convenient for our viewers of the website.

Some of our viewers may already know Ms. Russell from her days on the City of Frederick police force, from a social gathering, or from her recent days as head of her local Neighborhood Advisory Committee (NAC). She also has the distinction of being the first Democrat to file for alderman in the City of Frederick election.

At this time I would like to welcome Kelly and thank her for appearing live online with me on Air-it-out with George Wenschhof.

GW - Voters always like to know a little about the person they are voting for so why don't you start off by telling them a little about yourself, how long you have worked and lived in Frederick and what are some of the favorite things you like to do.

It appears you had your mind set on running for aldermen as you were the first to file. Tell the voters why you are running and why they should vote for you. Also, do you favor one of the Democratic mayoral candidates and if so, why?
KR - Hi George! First of all, thanks for reaching out to the candidates and offering this opportunity. I am a big proponent of using technology to enhance communication, so this is right up my alley. I grew up in Rockville, but moved to Frederick in 1983. I wanted a career as a police officer, and a former Frederick officer suggested that I look here. He brought me up to check it out and I fell in love! I moved here into a downtown apartment that year, right across from City Hall, and began working for the FPD. I have been in Frederick now for 26 years, and 25 of those I have worked for the city. I have lived downtown, in Heather Ridge, Fredericktowne Village, and now near Hood College.
I have become a bit of a gardener since moving to my current home. I am probably most often spied in my yard, digging in the dirt, or doing yard work. I find it therapeutic to get my hands dirty. Over the years I have been an active athlete, participating in a lot of local 5 and 10K races, and other sports events. I have two rescued cats at home; Pandora and Romeo. I love to visit with my neighbors and have folks over to my home to chat.
I have been planning this run for about four years now. You and I talked about it back then in the Giant Eagle. I'm sure you remember! I decided that I needed to prepare myself better, and that's when I got involved with the NAC. I have worked within the city government for 25 years; as an officer, supervisor, and commander. I have worked with almost every department on one project or another, I have had the experience of over two decades that I feel should be used for the future of the city. Serving as an Alderman would make use of those years, and seems a natural segue for public service. I love this city, and want to continue to work hard for it!
GW - Recently, the City Historic Preservation Committee (HPC) made local headlines creating a stir as a result of Mayor Jeff Holtzinger allegedly instructing city staff to not enforce a fine levied by the HPC on a property owner. The issue pertained to the placement of a sign and previous existing lettering on the building. Some feel the mayor acted improperly while others feel the HPC renovation guidelines are onerous. Whether or not the regulations followed by the HPC need to be revised may become a campaign issue in this election.

Prior to this recent flap, you were involved in a controversial issue surrounding your attempt to designate your neighborhood as part of this downtown historic district. The three Democratic aldermen passed the motion which was followed by a veto by the mayor. It was reported a majority of the homeowners in your neighborhood did not want the historic district designation.

Since the beginnings of the Historic District in downtown Frederick, there have been various complaints over the years. However, the ambiance of downtown has been maintained and property values have also benefited as a result.

First, tell us about why you wanted to designate your neighborhood as part of the historic district and second, as an alderman would you support a review of the guidelines used by the HPC?

KR - Ever since I moved here it was my dream to live in the College Park neighborhood. I have been extremely fortunate that the "stars aligned" for me, and I was able to buy this house. I came from Montgomery County, and remember when Rockville had an old historic downtown, where my mom would take me to buy my P.F. Flyers. It has been destroyed. I lived in the Bethesda Chevy Chase area, and have seen those old neighborhoods ruined by teardowns and replacement by "McMansions".

When I moved to College Avenue, the city had just completed a comprehensive rezoning that changed many old single family neighborhoods to allow for townhouse and condo developments. These neighborhoods included Monocacy Village, Villa Estates (Wilson, Lee, Grant and that area), as well as mine. Our neighborhood formed a group called "Preserve our Neighborhoods", and we conducted a petition drive to revisit the zoning. We held a community meeting in Schley Park that was attended by a hundred people, including the Mayor, and Alderman, and the Planning Director. After all of our efforts, the city did go back and review, and rezoned 7 or 8 neighborhoods, preserving their integrity.

In an effort to more permanently preserve the beautiful homes in College Park, we used the Land Management Code process for designation of an Historic District Overly. It was a controversial process, to say the least, but was the process in place. It had no provision for homeowner voices to be heard in a formal way, as many of these process across the country are set up, but it clearly was not an effective process for all of those involved; for or opposed. Since then, there has bee a comprehensive rewrite of the process which is currently being vetted by HPC, Planning Commission, and will eventually go before the Mayor and Board for approval.

Historic preservation is a cultural and heritage issue in my view, and should not be political. I think it is unfortunate that it has become a political issue as a result of one specific case. All decisions made by commissions have an avenue for appeal through due process. Additionally, historic preservation is governed by Federal, State, and local law. We don't have to have an historic district, but if we choose to, we are bound by laws. I support historic preservation efforts, and support a process that is respectful of all the stakeholders.


GW - Speaking of signs, I like your campaign sign which has a distinctive oval inside a rectangle shaped sign. Candidate campaign signs are a good way to get your name noticed by the voters. Having one that stands out from the other candidates is always helpful.

How did you come up with the design and how many have you placed in the city since you began putting them up in yards about two weeks ago? I noticed them first in your neighborhood and now am seeing them across the city.

KR - I'm glad you like my signs, George! I've actually gotten a lot of comments on them. I wanted something that was out of the ordinary, and could become a kind of signature logo. I worked on a lot of designs over the last year or so, but when it finally came down to it, I found that simplicity was the key. I had round lapel stickers printed and it dawned on me that I could use that, and make the sign slightly asymmetric.

As of three hours ago, I have over 100 signs in Westbrook, Amber Meadows, Monarch Ridge, Fredericktowne Village, College Park, Villa Estates, downtown, Old Farm, Whittier, Wyngate, Carrollton, Homewood.... The list goes on! Having 22 years to drive around in a police car and walk the beat has helped me get known around town. I still get called Lieutenant, or even Kelly the Cop quite often.


GW - The early retirement buy-out plan which was passed under the current city administration has received plenty of attention and deservedly so.

Voters can not understand why aldermen would approve payment of two years salary to an employee and then allow the employee to be hired back by the city. Mayor Holtzinger's executive assistant Ron Tobin who is now running for the Republican nomination for mayor is one who was paid two years of salary and then hired back.

As an alderman, how would you have handled this proposal when presented to you?

KR - George, the voters include me, too! It is still beyond me.

As an Alderman I would have done what I did do as a citizen. I objected to it verbally to several Alderman, I sent emails, and I attended public meetings. I wrote an extensive list with 33 very pointed and specific questions and gave them to three of the Alderman to ask for the record (which they did not do). When the measure passed, I approached an Alderman to make a motion to rescind. He did, but the Mayor vetoed. I have spoke on the public record against it.

As a former Human Resources manager, I was amazed that this occurred with barely a question, and a blind faith that is was a good financial move, without so much as a spreadsheet. I would have asked my questions and required good, thorough, and comprehensive answers. I would have asked more if I needed to.

As for the employees who took the buyout, I place NO responsibility on them. They were made an offer they couldn't refuse. As for Mr. Tobin - as the Mayor's Executive Assistant, it is his responsibility to advise and protect the Mayor from making poor decisions. Instead, he took advantage of the situation.


GW - The national economy continues to be weak and all indications point to a slow and gradual improvement. While how taxpayer's money is spent is always important, it will be even more so over the next four years of the incoming administration.

The city charter requires the mayor to submit a balanced budget for board of aldermen approval. I noticed on your campaign website; , you have some thoughts on how to improve on this process. Share with the voters your thoughts on the city budget process.

KR - Thanks for reading my posts on the website, George. I'm going to use some of that material here.

"Each department’s budget is largely made up of salaries, benefit, and insurance costs. Because these large sums are included, and are usually increasing, it appears quite often that department budgets are growing because the operating costs are not being managed frugally. However, if you look at operating costs for most of the departments, the increases are usually quite small, and sometimes are even held or decreased. This is the money that the city has direct control over to fund the way the city does business and provides services to you on a day-to-day basis.

I believe that the personnel related costs should be removed from individual department budgets and separated into a different budget. This change would cause a bright light to shine on exactly how much (or how little) departments are working with to serve the public. When the administration tells us that a department’s budget has increased by large amounts, it is usually because of these required personnel costs, not the money that goes directly to fund each department’s activities. This is misleading and needs to be changed."

Additionally, our budget each year is balanced largely by percentage cuts made by departments. I'd like to see a change in that process to the end that the essential services and top priorities are identified and funded properly first. This list of priorities would be developed jointly by the Mayor and Board, using department and citizen input. Only after that are the rest of the items funded.


GW - I also noticed on your campaign website discussion of the city's shared use pathways and the potential to receive funding from the recently passed federal Stimulus bill.

You indicate 8 of the proposed 25.7 miles of the shared pathways have been constructed for pedestrian and bicycle use. This sounds like a good idea for as the community continues to grow, areas for pedestrian walkways and bicycle use become more limited.

Do you know if the city applied for funding to help construct these pathways and if not, why?

KR - I have had conversations with Tim Davis, the city's Transportation Planner, and others about it. I do not know the details of the funding situation right now, but it is very much an active project. If there is one thing I do know, the city has been, and continues to be, aggressive in finding funding sources through a number of creative means like grants. Planning has also worked with the police department on the design criteria that will aid in making these paths safe. Shared use path are a critical piece of the puzzle in connecting our citizens who walk and cycle with other parts of the city that are not easily or safely accessible. Also, it is in our future as a way of life. Fuel costs, green initiatives, and financial factors will all lead us toward developing more walkable and sustainable communities.


GW - When I was introducing you earlier, I mentioned you were the chair of your Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC). They were first created under the Dougherty administration to help facilitate input from residents across the city.

Kelly, we are now to your last question today. Have you noticed a difference in how they functioned and interacted with city hall during the term Jennifer Dougherty was mayor and this current term of Mayor Jeff Holtzinger?

Do you have any thoughts on how the interaction could be improved? You also did not indicate earlier if you had a favorite of the three Democratic mayoral candidates.

KR - I have been an appointed coordinator for about four years, so my tenure has really been under this administration. I have seen somewhat of a decline in participation over my time, and some NACs have languished completely. In contrast to that, however, there is a really dedicated core group of folks that are committed to the NAC. They have continued to flourish, and have worked on some good initiatives. I have said before that I am committed to revitalizing and growing the NACs, and would like to see an Alderman assigned to liaison with them. The community partnerships that have, and will evolve from these groups can only work in favour of the citizens. Information flow that is up and down, as well as sideways, is critical, and the NACs are a great conduit for that!

As for Mayor, at this point in the campaign, I am focused on my tasks and getting to City Hall. Sorry to give you the standard politician answer! That being said, I will work hard with whomever comprises the new Mayor and Board of Alderman, if I am fortunate enough to get the chance.

Thanks again for this venue! I look forward to even more online interactions, and hope to bring that mindset with me to City Hall.


GW - Thank you again Kelly for being my guest today on Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof. Best wishes on the campaign trail. At this time, I would like to give you some time for some closing remarks.

KR - Thank you, George. This has been a great opportunity to chat a little more casually than the standard 100 words or less survey questions. I appreciate that, because I enjoy conversations. I believe that is the key to good government. I have been really fortunate in my life to have had the chance to serve the public, and would like the chance to continue giving back to my community. I look forward to doing that as an Alderman. Folks can read more about me on my website at Make sure you are registered to vote, that you know where your polling place is, and then vote for your candidate(s) of choice! Thanks.


To receive "Daily Email Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

Daily Democratic Wire 7-30-2009

George Wenschhof

This afternoon, President Barack Obama will welcome Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the White House - they will discuss security issues and the dealing with Islamic terrorists. Climate change is also a topic for discussion. You can read more here.

Early evening, it's happy hour time with Sgt. Crowley and Professor Gates - turns out the President is a Bud man - same as me.


Unemployment Claims up - the latest Labor Department figures showed an increase of 25,000 initial claims for a total of 584,000. Auto plant shut downs and the sluggish economy continue to impact American workers. has more here.


Health care vote planned for September - seems the only agreement Congressional leaders could reach is to delay the vote until after the August recess. Blue Dog Democrats in the House continue to stymie reform efforts and in the Senate, the public option for health care is rapidly fading. has more here.

The fear many have is a watered down negotiated agreement will have little effect on improving health care for Americans and the resulting bill will be wasted money.


Ethan Axelrod hired by Huffington Post - he happens to be the son of David Axelrod who is a senior White House adviser. His father was also a reporter so it runs in the family. has more here.


To receive "Daily Email Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

Democratic Alderman Candidate Kelly Russell to be Guest Today

George Wenschhof

Kelly Russell will join me today from 2:00 - 4:00 PM ET. The link to our conversation will be placed in the right hand margin so you will be able to read at a time convenient to you.

She is the third of the nine Democratic candidates to appear on Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof. Last week I interviewed incumbent Donna Kuzemchak and you can read her conversation with me here. Earlier, this week Michael O'Connor was my guest and you can read his interview here.

I plan to have all nine appear by August 20, prior to the City of Frederick primary on September 15. The only Democratic candidate for aldermen to have not confirmed their appearance is incumbent David Koontz.

My previous interviews with the Democratic mayoral candidates are also linked in the right hand margin of the home page.

Josh Bokee will be my guest next week on Tuesday August 4 from 7:00 - 9:00 PM ET.


To receive "Daily Email Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Daily Democratic Wire 7-29-2009

George Wenschhof

Today, President Barack Obama will attend two town hall meetings on health care reform - in the morning, the president will be in Raleigh, North Carolina at Broughton High School. This afternoon, he will be at a Kroger supermarket in Bristol, Virginia. he will speak on how reform is necessary and how he intends to close the many gaps in coverage that exist today in health care insurance. has more here.


Obama Cabinet Retreat this weekend - it would be nice to be the fly on the wall at this get together. All 22 members of the cabinet are expected to attend the two day event beginning Friday to be held at the Blair House located across from the White House. The Washington Post has more here.


Time for Reasonable Conservatives to end the "Birther Movement" - a few nut cases in Congress continue to question where President Barack Obama was born in spite of the release of his Hawaii birth certificate. Bill Pascoe, CEO of The Foundation of American Freedom says it's time for conservatives to deal with their own whack jobs. Here is an excerpt from his column published in CQPolitics; ............

"And I believe the time has come for reasonable and responsible conservatives to deal with the "Birther" Problem.

In January 1962, conservative leaders faced a similar problem: How to deal with the members of the John Birch Society, whose leader, Robert Welch, believed that the former president of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, was a a conscious agent of the International Communist Conspiracy.

National Review Founder William F. Buckley, Jr., Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, conservative historian and philosopher Russell Kirk, and American Enterprise Institute President William Baroody took it upon themselves secretly to meet at The Breakers hotel in Palm Beach, where they decided Welch and the Birchers would have to be excommunicated from the Conservative Movement, lest their lunacy taint reasonable and responsible conservative political activity.

Were Buckley alive today, is there any doubt he would have the same response to the "Birthers"?

I think not."

You can read the entire column here.


More Stupidity for the GOP to deal with - seems a member of a group "Tea Party" anti-reform gathering in Salisbury, Maryland and attended by some members but not sponsored by the business group; Americans for Prosperity, decided to hang in effigy, freshman Democratic Representative Frank Krotovil. has more here.


Sotomayor receives 13-6 vote of approval from Senate Judiciary Committee - as I reported yesterday, this was the expected vote with only Republican Lindsay Graham (SC) voting in favor. She is expected to receive confirmation by the full Senate within the next couple of days to become the first woman Hispanic supreme court justice. Sotomayor will be able to join the Supreme Court for a special session in September. has more here.


To receive "Daily Email Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

It's Obama's Economy Now

George Wenschhof

Barack Obama moved with lightening fast speed to propose and have Congress pass the nearly 800 Billion Stimulus bill. The actual name of the bill is the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. This followed closely after the passage of the 700 Billion Bailout bill approved at the end of the George W. Bush administration. That bill was entitled the Troubled Assets and Relief Plan (TARP).

Both were needed, according to bipartisan economic experts, or a financial meltdown of a magnitude never seen would follow. I will never forget the ash-white faces of the Senators standing behind then Secretary Henry Paulson when they announced the financial sector bailout bill following a private meeting. It was obvious they had been given the doomsday scenario if something was not done immediately.

Congress took the bait and approved the bailout bill in record time even though the details submitted by Treasury Secretary Paulson was less than three pages justifying the 700 Billion requested.

Many of the foremost economists knew the bailout bill would not be enough and Barack Obama, as the newly elected President listened. Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve guru and by happenstance, a scholar of the "American Great Depression", was one of many who urged action to put money into the economy. Thus, the creation of the 800 Billion Stimulus bill.

As President Obama would give his speeches on any subject including touting the importance of the Stimulus bill, he often would include the fact he had inherited this economic mess from the former Republican George W. Bush administration.

This statement, was of course, absolutely accurate. When George W. Bush took office, the U.S. national debt was 6.38 Trillion and the U.S. deficit was 159 Billion.

What followed was tax cuts for the rich, further deregulation of the financial markets, and an ill advised and unnecessary war with Iraq.

In eight short years, the Republican George W. Bush administration had increased the U.S. national debt to 10.6 Trillion and the U.S. budget deficit to 455 Billion (not including the 700 billion bailout bill).

Now, as health care reform is being debated in Congress, the Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats are questioning the Congressional Budget office estimated cost of one Trillion over the next ten years for health care reform.

The cost of the war in Iraq has been estimated to have been 3 Trillion over the past seven years.

The question I would ask those members in Congress questioning the need for health care reform to help the 47 million uninsured Americans is; "does the cost of a ill advised and unnecessary war in Iraq outweigh providing adequate health care for all Americans?".

Is it Obama's economy now? The answer is yes it is and it is economy we as Americans must now deal with as we move forward.

It is hypocritical for Republicans to now question the proposed spending by the Obama administration. A Stimulus plan and health care for Americans versus eight years of unregulated corporate greed and a misguided foreign policy that put the U.S. on a precipice should be an easy choice for members of Congress.

It's time to pass health care reform now.


To receive "Daily Email Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed' below.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Daily Democratic Wire 7-28-2009

George Wenschhof

Today, President Barack Obama will attend a telephone town hall meeting in D.C. hosted by the AARP - It begins at 1:30 PM ET and will be moderated by the host of AARP "Prime Time Radio" Mike Cuthbert. The organization which represents 50 and older Americans will have a phone in period from their members to ask questions about health care reform. The AARP has more here.


Sotomayor vote today at 10:00 AM ET - the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote to approve and move her confirmation to a full Senate vote. It appears the only Republican on the committee who will vote for Sonia Sotomayor is Lindsay Graham (S.C.) which would make the vote 13-6 in favor of the supreme court justice nominee.


Obama, Gates and Crowley set for Happy Hour Thursday at 6:00 PM ET - heck of a way to get invited to the White House. The highly publicized incident in Cambridge, Mass. has caused many to look at racial profiling that still exists today. President Obama invited Sgt. James Crowley and Professor Gates to join him for a beer at the White House. has more here. I hear Professor Gates does not drink beer, but one would believe the White House Bar is fully stocked.


Vice President Joe Biden to discuss 1 Billion Stimulus fund aid to police today in Philadelphia - he will be joined by Attorney General Eric Holder. The money will be awarded to police departments across the country to help avoid lay-offs. You can read more here.


U.S. - China talks continue today - President Obama addressed the meeting yesterday acknowledging U.S and China relations will shape the future of the world. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are set to resume talks with their Chinese counterparts today. It seems everything is on the table from the economy to the environment. Remember, China holds 800 Billion of U.S. debt. has more here.


To receive "Daily Email Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Wenschhof Interviews City of Frederick, Md. Alderman Candidate Michael O'Connor

George Wenschhof

Today, my guest is Michael O'Connor who is vying for one of the five seats on the Board of Aldermen in The City of Frederick, Maryland. The primary election will be held on September 15. Democratic voters will be choosing five from nine candidates on the ballot to move on to the November 3 general election.

Mr. O'Connor and I are communicating live via computer from different locations in the city and I have not previously shared the questions I will be asking him today.

We will place the link to this conversation in the right hand margin so it can be accessed and read at a convenient time for our readers who may have missed the live discussion.

Michael, it's nice to have you as my guest today. This will be a little bit of a role reversal for you as you previously were the moderator of a local cable TV political discussion show "Pressing Issues". Prior to that, you also were the news anchor for a local cable TV news program that was discontinued years ago. I also remember when you ran for state delegate in district 3-a and lost in the primary back in 2002.

GW - Your background would indicate you have a solid knowledge of the issues facing the voters in the City of Frederick. Let's get started with you telling the voters a little about your family, the work you are doing now and why you are running for alderman.

As a follow up, why do you feel voters should choose you to be one of their five choices on the ballot on September 15?

MOC - Thank you George for this opportunity. I think this is a great way to use technology to get out information and I appreciate your committment to the electoral process.

I am a life-long Frederick County resident, growing up on Schley Avenue, just a few blocks from where I live now on Lee Place, with my wife of 16 years, Tammy, and our two daughters (and two dogs). It has been wonderful to be able to raise my children in the same community I was raised in. And I want this to be a great community for them and their children, as well, if they choose to make Frederick their home.

I currently work as the Business Manager at Saint Katharine Drexel church, on Opossumtown Pike, in Frederick, which involves managing all aspects of a non-profit organization from budget and finance, to human resources. But as you indicated, much of my professional experience has been in media, and it is my church and media experience that I want to put to work for the citizens of the City of Frederick. I have always looked at the work I did in Radio and Television locally, and now with my church, as public service, so I consider running for Alderman, a natural extension.

We are facing challenging times ahead, but I think that also means we have great opportunities. I think the voters should consider me to be one their five choices on September 15th because I have held a unique front row seat on City and County operations over the last nearly 20 years. I have had the great priviledge to watch government in way most people have never seen. That experience has taught me ask the right questions and challenge assumptions. And I will continue to do so once elected.

I am looking forward to having the tables turned, so to speak, so let's get started.


GW - One of the more controversial decisions made by mayor Jeff Holtzinger and the board of aldermen during this past term was the approval of the early buy-out retirement plan. Some city staff, including the Mayor's executive assistant Ron Tobin, took the two year buy-out only to be hired back by the city. These hire backs along with a generous two-year buy out has angered many city voters.

Voters wonder why aldermen did not question this dubious retirement plan. One of the challenges facing aldermen in office is being able to reach consensus and move forward on issues while at the same time being watchful as to what is in the best interests of the residents of the city without coming across as an obstructionist.

How will you convince voters, that if elected, you will not just be a rubber stamp on the issues that come before you?

MOC - Let me address the question both specifically and more broadly. The buyout is exactly the kind of issue my experience would have let me address more effectively, I think. The problem was not that the buyout was proposed, though two years was extraordinarily generous, and I would not have supported it. It was that no one ever asked the simple question, "what if an overwhelming majority of elegible employees take it?" The Mayor & Board worked on faulty assumptions that no one challenged. And we'll be paying for that mistake for years.

The job of the Alderman is to work on behalf of the citizens, not the Mayor, and not the rest of the Board. My track record on the Board's on which I've served, such as 10 years on the Frederick County Workforce Development Board, and 10 years ago, as the Co-Chair of Aspire Frederick, is to ask questions with the goal towards building consensus. I think if you have a Mayor and Board, truly committed to working on behalf of the City, who don't view information as proprietary, and who are more concerned with getting things done than getting credit, we'll have progress. I won't be either a rubber stamp or an obstructionist. Neither is my style.


GW - Another controversial decision on the horizon for the current mayor and board is the annexation of three properties known as the Crum, Thatcher and Summers farms.

It appears obvious Mayor Holtzinger is pushing these annexations forward for approval prior to the next mayor and board taking office.

Do you feel these annexations are premature at this point and do you feel this decision should be left for the next mayor and board to decide? In addition, rumors abound a petition drive will take place if approval is granted to force this decision to a referendum. Would you support a petition drive, if started?

MOC - We, the candidates, had the opportunity to share our thoughts on this with the Frederick News-Post, and this is what I told them: While annexation is the only way for the City to guarantee it controls what happens at its borders, I believe the higher priority today should be infill and redevelopment, particularly the Route 40 West corridor and east Frederick. I do not believe that the City can adequately fund needed infrastructure improvements, even with developer participation, that must accompany the pending annexations. The next administration should be given the opportunity to work with our citizens, Frederick County, and the applicants and not have this very important issue rushed before an election.

So yes, premature is a good word. I understand the annexation of these properties is in the City's Comprehensive Plan. I understand that development of these properties was discussed as part of of the Potomac River pipeline agreement, but our residents have more questions. Either way these annexations have become political, so it would be my preference to wait. If the current administration chooses not to, I would support the petition drive.

I think eventually these properties will be part of the City of Frederick, but I don't think that time is now, in light of the infrastructure challenges, and the general lack of support from the residents I have talked to. We have great infill and redevelopment opportunities, our priority should be there.


GW - With the national economy suffering, it is highly likely management of the financial resources of the city will be a priority for the next mayor and board of aldermen.

The current city administration will be leaving 120 million in bonded infrastructure debt to the incoming mayor and board. Balancing the budget with reduced revenues from property taxes due to lower assessments will not be easy.

If elected, are there specific budget areas you would suggest to the next mayor and board which would help to reduce current spending?

MOC - I have had the great pleasure to visit nearly all of the city's Neighborhood Advisory Councils over the last several months, and from those meetings and in other conversations with residents, I can tell you two areas that I would not consider for spending reductions, police, and code enforcement. Everything else needs to be on the table. And the reality is that in government, when you start talking about reduced spending, you are talking about people's jobs. That is a issue I will not take lightly.

One specific area I think we can look at is trash collection. Since the large blue bin recycling program began I have found I put my trash out about once every two weeks, just like the recyclables. But the garbage trucks still come twice a week. I think we can reduce trash collection. Additionally, offering recycling to businesses might generate savings by reducing the city's tipping fees. Such proposals may not reduce the budget by millions, but they do represent an effort to better align the available resources with the services the city requires. I think that's what our taxpayes expect.

Putting our economic development focus on small business and infill and redevelopment possibilities will also allow us to look at expanding our business tax base, without the infrastructure cost associated with residential expansion.


GW - I read with interest on your campaign website; , you acknowledge while the financial timing may have been bad, the condemnation of the property known as the "Hargett farm" for use of a city park was preferable over the construction of more homes in that area of the city.

While the acquisition cost has been budgeted, the funds needed for build out and the development time frame for the park has not been determined.

You indicate as the future park is a regional park in the sense county residents are sure to use it as well, the county government should partner with the city and share in the development costs. Tell the voters a little more about this proposal.

MOC - Thanks for plugging the website, George. There is additional information there about many of the policy issues we are talking about, in addition to information about how citizens can get involved.

The Hargett property represents an interesting challenge. The city has purchased it to the great relief of residents throughout the west end who don't need more cars on already overtaxed roadways of Butterfly Lane, McCain Drive, and Hillcrest Drive, not to mention the interchange aat 180 and 351. But as you indicated, there is no funding for development. The residential development of this property was also in the discussion regarding Potomac River water. Could it's removal from that pipeline, so to speak, be what's pushing Crum, Thatcher, & Summers now?

Mayor Holtzinger campaigned on getting a park in the west end. Mission accomplished to the extent that we have the land. But now what? I want to reach out to the County, which will benefit from a park in that area, and talk about how development moves forward. Perhaps that is something that should have been done prior to the acquisition. I have been struck in this instance, as well as with the annexation process, and recently in conversations about improvements to Route 15/I-270, how little it appears the City and County talk about our common interests. I have no idea where the fault lies, and frankly I don't care, but I'd like to work at improving cooperation.


GW - You also note on your campaign website your desire to increase economic development in all areas of the city.

Typically, commercial development is a plus-plus for municipal governments as it is less strain on the infrastructure than residential development and it creates local jobs.

Share with the voters some of your thoughts in this area.

MOC - There is no question that the vitality and health of Frederick as a whole is dependent on the success of business in our Downtown, but while our focus has been on the downtown, some of our outlying areas have rightfully felt neglected. The Golden Mile tax credits passed during the Dougherty Administration were a great start, but I think we need to look at whether or not there is more we can do to accelerate redevelopment of this corridor. There has been some discussion of Small Area Plans as part of the Comprehensive Plan rewrite. This area is prime candidate for such a plan.

Additionally, the East Street Extension, and now the groundbreaking for the middle section of Monocacy Boulevard, are opening up hundreds of acres of property for development. I attended one of the East Frederick Rising visioning meetings, and we have many talented and creative minds ready and willing to make exciting things happen. The city needs to rely on these resources and others like them.

I think an important component of helping business, especially small ones, get going is the need to have an ongoing reviews and rewrites of our Land Management Code and Historical Preservation Commission guidelines. These documents must be living, breathing tools for the city that can be modified as conditions warrant. We have tremendous opportunities with the Route 40 corridor and east Frederick to build interesting, sustainable, mixed use communities that will enhance the quality of life for all Frederick residents.


GW - Your last question pertains to the Democratic mayoral candidates. I have written most aldermen candidates will not publicly state their support for a mayoral candidate in a contested primary. Last week, when Alderman Donna Kuzemchak was my guest, she indicated her support for former mayor Jennifer Dougherty while also saying she would be able to work with whoever was elected.

Do you have a favorite candidate for mayor and if so, why?

MOC - I have not been approached by any of the candidates for Mayor for an endorsement. Neither have I sought to align with any of them for one very practical reason, I am concentrating on my campaign and I know they are concentrating on their campaigns. Like Donna, I believe that once elected I can work with any of the candidates. We have a very strong field in the Democratic Primary. I know that my experience and approach to the issues facing the city would be asset and it would be my honor to serve on the Board of Alderman with whomever is elected. If that sounds like weasel-wording, the only defense I can argue is, it's the truth.


GW - Michael, I want to thank you for being my guest today on Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof.

At this time, I would like to give you some time for some closing remarks.

MOC - Once again George, I want to thank you. This has been a lot of fun, and I appreciate what you are doing for the voters in offering this opportunity to the candidates.

You can visit my website, to get more information about my campaign, or to request a yard sign, or to contribute, including an upcoming fundraising Friday, July 31st, at Kidwiler (Rosedale) Park, on Schley Avenue, from 5 to 8 pm. It's a Family Picnic, $25 per adult, so bring the kids for free.

It has been my priviledge over the past nearly 20 years to interact with so many elected officials who really understood, what public service is all about. That's why I am running. In my current professional life, we use the word stewardship. It's not my city, it's our city, and the Mayor and Board of Aldermen have the responsibility to be good stewards of all our resources, from the taxes we collect to the land and buildings we own and operate.

The issues in the campaign are numerous. And I want to hear from you. I make no promises except that when you talk to me, I will listen. And when you elect me Alderman for the City of Frederick, I will work with you and for you to make Frederick the best is can be. Thank you, and I ask for your vote on September 15th.


To receive "Daily Email Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

Daily Democratic Wire 7-27-2009

George Wenschhof

President Barack Obama to travel to Mexico - On August 9-10, he will attend the North American Leaders conference in Guadalajara, Mexico. Obama will meet with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. They will discuss the economy, energy, environment and the H1N1 Flu. The Page.time .com has more here.


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi works to pass health care bill this week - not accepting defeat and determined to garner votes for passage this week. She has scheduled a full Democratic caucus this afternoon to go over line by line the health care reform bill. i would not count out the passage by the House this week. If passed, this would regain the momentum President Obama had hoped for prior to the August recess. The Washington Post has more here.


Who is John Parnell? - the new Governor of Alaska as a result of the resignation of Sarah Palin that went into effect yesterday. The NY Times has more here.

At first, I was disappointed at hearing Palin would step down as I feared she would no longer provide material for the hilarious and sad but true skits performed by Tina Fey. Then I realized Palin will continue to reach out for the spotlight ensuring many more buffoon like statements.


Senate Judiciary Committee to vote on Sotomayor tomorrow - expect Sonia Sotomayor to win support of the committee and to receive a majority of the Senate votes needed later in the week for confirmation as the next Supreme Court Justice.


To receive "Daily Email Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

Democratic Alderman Candidate Michael O'Connor to be Guest Today

George Wenschhof

Last Thursday, City of Frederick, Maryland alderman Donna Kuzemchak was the first of the nine Democratic candidates running for aldermen to appear on Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof. You can read my conversation with her here.

Michael O'Connor will join me between 5:00 - 7:00 PM ET tonight. The link to our discussion will be placed conveniently in the right hand margin of the home page so readers can also access at a time convenient to them.

I previously had all three Democratic mayoral candidates on my website and the links to those interviews can also be found in the right hand margin of the home page. On Thursday July 30 from 2:00 - 4:00 PM ET, Democratic alderman candidate Kelly Russell will be my guest.

The primary will be held on September 15 when voters will determine the five Democratic candidates who will move on to the general election on November 3. Also, please remember the deadline to register to vote prior to the primary is August 17.


To receive "Daily Email Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Daily Democratic Wire 7-26-2009

George Wenschhof

Tomorrow, President Barack Obama will address the start of meetings between U.S. and China - Secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will head the U.S. delegation and Vice premier Wang Qisham and State Councilor Dai Bingguo will head the Chinese delegation. Everything is on the table ranging from differences in currencies, trade gaps, the budget deficit, and nuclear weapon development by North Korea. You can read more here.


Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) wants health care bill passed before recess - an ambitious goal considering the disagreement among Democrats in the House. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) indicated there is a slim chance of approval prior to the recess that begins July 31. However, I would not be surprised if the House did reach approval this week on a health care bill. Stay Tuned. has more here.


Vice President pens op-ed on success of Stimulus bill - he writes about how the 800 Billion Economic Recovery Act has stopped the massive job losses the country had been experiencing, starting thousands of projects and reduced taxes for 95% of Americans. You can track the progress of the bill by going to The NY Times has his op-ed here.


Efforts to clean up anti-trust violations hit many obstacles - pushed by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) this has received support of the Obama administration. It is the same old story of the large companies getting larger at the expense of the consumer. Almost every aspect of industry is affected ranging from airlines, trains, communications, and Agra business. Efforts to control, however, are not easy to enforce. The NY Times has a good read here.


First debate in Virginia Governor race held last night - expect this race to receive lots of attention from the national Democratic and Republican parties. Creigh Deeds (D) will be facing Robert McDonnell (R) for the top seat in the state that turned blue in last year's presidential election. President Obama has promised to campaign next month for deeds and Michael Steele, director of the RNC has promised money and support for McDonnell.

Obviously, both political parties see this race as one that can be exploited for their advantage should they win. The Washington Post has more here.


To receive "Daily Email Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Daily Democratic Wire 7-25-2009

George Wenschhof

Yesterday, President Barack Obama addressed the White House press corps on the incident in Cambridge - during the question and answer period following Obama's nationally televised speech on health care reform Wednesday night, the president said some words he regrets. When asked about a recent arrest of a African-American professor in his home by a white Cambridge, Mass. police sgt., the president had said the "police acted stupidly". The police were responding to a breaking and entering call.

He has called both sgt. Crowley and professor Gates and now says they may have both overreacted to this situation and hoped with the national spotlight this was receiving that racial profiling would continued to be reviewed and examined.

The president invited both Crowley and Gates to the White House. Maybe they will share a beer together. has more here.


First Family plans vacation - I noticed during Wednesday night's press conference, the president looked a little tired and did not deliver his normal inspirational type of speech. For those of you who read this site regularly, you know the president has an extremely hectic daily non-stop schedule.

So the planned family trip to Martha's Vineyard for the last week in August is probably coming at the right time. The Vineyard Gazette has more about the 28.5 acre compound they have rented and their vacation plans here.


House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) says House may stay in session past August 1 recess to pass health care bill - at this point, passage does not seem likely as the bill is stalled in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. You can read more here.


Say Bye-Bye as tomorrow Sarak Palin will exit Governor's Mansion in Alaska - she is having a farewell picnic in Fairbanks. Seems the residents of Alaska are as divided in their opinions of her as the rest of the country. has more here.


To receive "Daily Email Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

Obama Weekly Address 7-25-2009

George Wenschhof

Today, President Barack Obama continues to discuss health care reform. He goes over the impact of reform on small business and asks you for your questions. You can watch his address by clicking on the picture below.


To receive "Daily Email Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

Sunday Morning "Talking Heads" Guests 7-26-2009

George Wenschhof

Remember, to check your local listings for time and channel - Enjoy!

NBC "Meet The Press" - David Gregory snags the headliner of the day as he sits down for the full hour with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She has just returned to the U.S. after a trip to India and Thailand. Plenty of foreign policy issues to discuss ranging from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to Iran, the Middle East, North Korea, and Russia.

There were reports out a week ago that Hillary Clinton was upset with the Obama administration with the time being taken on background checks prior to hiring of staff she wanted to bring on board. In addition, rumors have been circulating she was upset because she was not receiving the attention in foreign policy that was being given to the president and vice president. Let's see if David Gregory brings any of this up in his discussion with her.

Also expect her thoughts on the Obama administration efforts for health care reform. She spearheaded the last serious effort at reform during the first term of her husband Bill Clinton. She suffered an embarrassing defeat and certainly knows first hand how tough health care reform is in Congress.

ABC "This Week" - after a week off due to coverage of the British Open, George Stephanopoulos wades into the health care reform debate with Senators Kent Conrad (D-NC) and Jim DeMint (R-SC).

The roundtable discussion will include Donna Brazile, George Will, Paul Krugman, David Brooks and Arriana Huffington.

CBS "Face The Nation" - Bob Schieffer will welcome David Axelrod; White House Senior Adviser, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La) and Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn). Let's see if Schieffer brings up the "police acted stupidly" comments made by President Obama pertaining to the arrest of an African-American professor in his own house by a white police sergeant from Cambridge. President Obama has since invited both the professor and the police sergeant to the White House.

Fox News Sunday - Chris Wallace will have as his guest White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).

The discussion panel will include Bill Kristol, Brit Hume, Mara Liasson and Juan Williams.

CNN "State of The Union" - John King also has White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod. Joining Axelrod as guests will be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calf.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

CNN "Fareed Zakaria GPS" - always an informative hour, this week Fareed Zakaria will have a panel with guests Nouriel Roubini, Niall Ferguson and Mort Zukerman who will discuss the current status of the economy. Zakaria is also expected to discuss the current situation in Iran from someone inside the country.


To receive "Daily Email Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Daily Democratic Wire 7-24-2009

George Wenschhof

Today, President Barack Obama will meet with Senate Leaders Reid and Baucus to discuss health care reform - the president invited Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to the White House. Reid announced last night that the president's timeline of an August approval will not be met. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) who is chair of the Senate Finance Committee has been working on a bi-partisan agreement and the committee now is expected to have a bill moved forward by August. You can read more here.

Later in the day, President Obama will discuss his 5 Billion education program that is part of the Stimulus bill. He will make remarks at the Department of Education explaining how states can access these funds. the Wall Street Journal has more here.

Tonight Barack and Michelle Obama will attend the Marine corps parade at the Marine Corps Barracks.


Minimum Wage increases to 7.25 per hour today - this is the last of a series of increases that were previously approved from when the minimum wage was at 5.15 oer hour. Even with the increase, it is incredible to imagine any family being able to live at 7.25 per hour today. has a read here which includes a little history of how minimum wage came about in the U.S. Seems, it started in Massachusetts back in 1912 and covered women and children.


53% view Alaska Governor Sarah Palin negatively - a pretty steep drop in approval for the woman who was the Republican VP running mate for John McCain's presidential bid last year. The Governor is set to leave office early this coming Sunday. the Washington Post/ ABC News poll showed only 40% viewed Palin in a positive manner. has more here.


Middle East Envoy George Mitchell hopes to engage Syria in peace talks - he will be in Damascus prior to Meeting in Israel on Sunday with Israel and Palestine officials. Talks with Syria by the U.S. had not taken place during the George W. Bush administration. You can read more here.


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asks Zelaya to delay his attempt to return to Honduras - the deposed president is trying for the second time to return to the country since a coup resulted in him being flown out of the country and an interim government put in place. Negotiations between the interim government and Zelaya mediated by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias have broken down. Clinton feared an outbreak of violence could occur and caution against a return at this time. Zelaya is attempting to cross into Honduras by Jeep across the northern boundary from Nicaragua tomorrow. You can read more here.


To receive "Daily Email Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.