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Friday, October 30, 2009

Will Democrats Regain Control of City Hall?

George Wenschhof

The City of Frederick, Maryland general election is now only days away. Voters will be electing their mayor and five member board of alderman on Tuesday, November 3. Along with answering who the new elected officials will be, voters will determine if a Democrat replaces the Republican mayor and if the board maintains the current 3-2 Democratic advantage.

The campaign, on the most part, has been devoid of any strong positions taken by candidates on the issues that would result in awakening a sleeping electorate. Which begs the question "what if they held an election and no one showed up?". In a recent column I predicted the voter turnout to be no higher than 33% or 10,000 of the approximately 32,000 registered voters in the city. Other local pundits have told me they thought I was being generous in my prediction. I hope the voters prove me wrong and they turn out in record numbers on Tuesday.

If not, it is time for the incoming mayor and board to move the city election date to coincide with the presidential election cycle. Democratic candidate for mayor; Jason Judd has consistently supported my suggestion to move the election date from the day I first meet him in November 2008. I asked him then if he would support my proposal, which would also result in a shortened three year term for the incoming mayor and board. He has maintained his position on the issue when he offered his support in my online interview with him on 6-29-2009 and again in the last mayoral forum last Tuesday.

Representative Democracy works best when people vote and Jason's support to more than double voter turnout and reducing the cost of separate elections while shortening the length of one's own elected term in office, is just one of the reasons to vote for him on November 3.

Under the City of Frederick Charter, the mayor is what is known as a "strong mayor" who is the day to day administrator who also controls the gavel and agenda in the mayor and board meetings. As a result, the mayor is considered the prize in the election each political party strives to win.

A young man of thirty-seven, Jason exhibited poise throughout the campaign and has not been drawn into debate on issues not of his choosing. Jason had indicated throughout his campaign, he will lead by developing consensus on the issues. Often consensus is best formed from the bottom up, similar to the experience he gained in "grass roots" development as a community organizer.

This will be important as the new mayor will be overseeing a transformational city grappling with many issues while facing what will surely be a shortage of funds. In addition, the incoming mayor will be working with what promises to be one of the strongest, if not the strongest, board of aldermen to ever hold office in the City of Frederick.

The board of aldermen are the legislative branch under the City of Frederick charter and as such act as a check and balance to the mayor. The aldermen candidates in this election are very strong and it would appear the five chosen by the voters will not be a "rubber stamp" for the mayor.

While the overall election has been quiet, the alderman candidates have been busy with their individual campaigns. As I have stated in previous columns, the incumbent aldermen typically have an advantage in reelection with low voter turnout. The one exception to that notion might be Republican Alan Imhoff, who appears to be in danger of losing his seat. Look to see Republican Paul Smith and Donna Kuzemchak win reelection, with Donna falling back somewhat from the close second she finished in the Democratic primary. This due to her being in office for twelve years. For as much as Donna's experience will be needed in the next board, over twelve years every politician does make some enemies and Donna is no exception.

Democratic aldermen candidates Kelly Russell and Michael O'Connor have worked hard at reaching out to the voters. Both are knowledgeable of the issues facing the city and also know how to navigate city hall; a must for an incoming alderman. Their experience and compassion for the voters will make them competitive on Election Day.

Democrats Carol Krimm and Karen Young have also worked hard during this election and are also sure to compete strongly on Tuesday. While Ms. Krimm's experience as working as a aid to delegates Galen Clagett and Sue Hecht would be of benefit to the city, working for two politicians also brings their negative baggage with you when you face the voters on Election Day.

Unfortunately, Ms. Krimm also has the curse of having served over the last several years on the local Democratic state central committee. Mostly ineffective and dysfunctional over the last eight years, the local Democratic state central committee has not had a member elected to office since 1997 when then chair of the committee; Blaine Young was elected alderman. He later would switch parties and become a Republican. Nonetheless, Ms. Krimm's experience and knowledge of the inner workings of government would be a plus on the board of aldermen.

Karen Young who received the top votes in the Democratic primary, will also have to deal with voters who connect her with her husband; former mayor Ron Young. While Ron fared very well against Mayor Jennifer Dougherty in the Democratic primary four years ago, he lost to a political novice; Republican Jeff Holtzinger in the General Election. However, Karen has campaigned across party lines, has personal experience in working in the community, and will be competitive.

Republican aldermen Shelley Aloi was somewhat of a surprise in the primary and has done very well with fundraising since - she could replace incumbent Republican Alan Imhoff on the board. However a recent email blast to supporters of a column written by Roy Meachum and published on on Tuesday has bought her the ire of some Democrats.

Amanda Haddaway has also run a competitive campaign so look to see her be in the mix as well when the votes are being tallied. Her fundraising efforts lagged behind the other candidates and this will make it tougher for her to win election. While William Huckenpoehler surprised many to advance from the Republican primary, do not look to see another surprise on Tuesday.

Republican candidate for mayor; Randy McClement, a soft spoken man during the campaign, received an influx of cash recently to help his campaign get out the vote. Large donations were received from a variety of sources including; George Delaplaine Jr. - $500, Joe Welty - $1,000, Mark Gaver - $1,000, Earl Mackintosh - $500, Elsie Schildt - $500 and Friends of David Brinkley - $2,500. With this help radio ads have been purchased and are already running. In addition, McClement campaign caps now adorn the roofs of many city cabs.

Registered voters favor Democrats (15,000) in the city over Republicans (10,000) with another 6,000 unaffiliated voters having the ability to weigh in on November 3. While you would think this would favor the Democratic candidates, one would only need to look back one election to see Republican Jeff Holtzinger beat Ron Young; the Democratic candidate for mayor.

In that 2005 election, charges surfaced that former mayor Jennifer Dougherty encouraged her supporters to vote for Jeff Holtzinger. This time around after losing the primary, Ms. Dougherty made a point to issue a press release stating her support for Jason Judd and the Democratic candidates for aldermen.

The Judd campaign has consistently been sending out email blasts to his supporters whenever an endorsement is issued, but not one from Ms. Dougherty. I asked Jennifer about this at the FCC Mayoral Forum on Tuesday. She indicated she and Jason had exchanged emails following the primary trying to set up times to meet and had been unable to find a time that worked in their busy schedules.

I find this interesting as a few of her closest supporters have indicated to me they were going to vote for Randy McClement. I asked if Jennifer had suggested this and they said absolutely not. Instead, they said they had not been convinced by Mr. Judd to vote for him. In what could be another close mayoral race, the die-hard Dougherty supporters could make a difference. It's not too late for Jason and Jennifer to meet and for the Judd campaign to send out a email blast and issue a press release that includes Dougherty's endorsement. Why not reach out and help build consensus?

The voters would be well advised to vote for the Democrats on the ballot this year in The City of Frederick election. From Mayor through every one of the aldermen candidates, the Democrats on the ballot have the best interests of all the voters in the City of Frederick in mind and would serve them well.

Make sure you vote on November 3!


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The Political Schedule


Friday, October 30

    • 10:30 am
    • President Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office
    • 11:50 am
    • President Obama signs the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009 at the Diplomatic Reception Room
    • 12:30 pm
    • Robert Gibbs delivers the daily press briefing at the White House
    • 1:30 pm
    • President Obama meets with the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Afghanistan and Pakistan in the Situation Room

    Thursday, October 29, 2009

    The Political Report


    Thursday, October 29

      • 11:50 am
      • President Obama delivers remarks on the Administration's plan to help small businesses at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building
    • 1:45 pm
    • President Obama meets with Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore in the Oval Office
    • 2:40 pm
    • President Obama meets with Senator Patrick Leahy in the Oval Office
    • 3:15 pm
    • President Obama signs the Girl Scouts USA Centennial Commemorative Coin Act in the Oval Office
    • 3:45 pm
    • President Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office
    • 5:05 pm
    • President Obama meets with representatives of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus in the Roosevelt Room

    Wednesday, October 28, 2009

    Wenschhof Interviews Katherine Heerbrandt

    George Wenschhof

    Today, on "Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof", my guest is Katherine Heerbrandt. Ms. Heerbrandt is currently a columnist with the Frederick News Post and hosts "Frederick's Forum" on WFMD AM Radio 930. She is known to be at times controversial in her opinion and to also be a staunch supporter of Democratic candidates while writing in a county still dominated by Republicans.

    She previously worked as a reporter with the Frederick Gazette and Frederick News Post before she began writing commentary. Married, she has spent part of her life in Thurmont, Maryland. Today, I'll be asking her a little more about her background and what led to her present career in journalism.

    We are communicating via computer from different locations and this is a live online discussion. So, remember to click "Refresh" on your computer every ten minutes or so to see the latest question and answer. The link to the entire conversation will be conveniently placed in the right hand margin of my home page so it can be read easily at a later date.

    So let's go ahead and get started. Welcome Katherine, I am pleased to have you as my guest. You told me Monday when I ran into you on the street, you had forgotten a previously scheduled massage session when we scheduled this interview and you ended up having to give it to a friend. You went on to say you actually were trained in giving massages and did so for a number of years. I am envious as I have never received a professional massage.

    GW - Since many of us know little about your background, please share with us a little more about yourself, your family, where you grew up, attended college, some of your hobbies and interests and why you entered the journalism field.

    KH - Hi George! Thanks for having me on today. Computer's running a bit wonky today, so I might be a little slow. Ok - the boring stuff first! B.A. from James Madison University, double major in English and Political Science with a minor in Russian studies; Teacher certification at Old Dominion University; English graduate study also at ODU; two years of graduate classes at University of Baltimore in Publication Design. By that time, I'd moved on in my job and got tired of going to Baltimore, so never got that M.A.

    Born and raised in Maryland. The family moved from PG county to Frederick county in 1971 when I was 12. Graduated from Catoctin High School - go Cougars! - in 1977. I wont bore you with my activities in high school as they are so dusty and as Frank Zappa said, high school's just a state of mind anyway. Lived in Tidewater for five years before moving back to Thurmont in 1986 to raise my family.

    Always been a writer, and have always wanted to be a writer, thus the major in college. I am part of what is known as the Watergate generation of journalists, even though I got sidetracked with careers in higher education. Journalists, I thought in my idealistic youth, could change the world by exposing corruption and all manner of bad behavior.

    Hobbies? Work is my hobby now. Over the years, I've dabbled in all kinds of things. Consistently I like being in the woods - camping or hiking or just hanging out.

    GW - I have found it humorous when I have heard some readers say a writer should state it is their opinion when they write commentary. Reporting the news and writing commentary are two different styles of writing. It is obviously a writer's opinion when they pen a commentary on an issue. You have been a reporter and a commentator. Do you have a preference and why?

    KH - Yea, I find that a little silly myself, especially when folks say I am biased. Duh - I am on the opinion page. Of course I am biased! But I also say I am just one woman with one opinion and just because I get paid to do it doesnt make my opinion any more valid than the average informed person. We view issues through the filter of our own experiences. My experiences lead me one way, yours another.

    But, you ask a good question George, one I've heard before and one I dont have to give much consideration before I answer. Reporting!

    Working an ongoing story, like the one I did about problems at the local Dept. of Social Services was incredibly satisfying. Moreso because it ended in the firing of an incompetent and lazy director and a controlling micromanager asst. director. I worked that beat for nearly a year. Even the Black Book fiasco, where I tag teamed with another reporter, Michelle Yoffee Beard, was fun because we had boxes and boxes of documents to review. In the end, my then-editor Doug Tallman told me I’d written the single most important story on that whole mess. That story made the entire process anticlimactic because after waiting several years for the release of the documents, I discovered that the most critical stuff – the list of local clients – had been returned to the madam of the escort service by the IRS. The IRS never gave the info back to the Frederick City Police and nobody noticed! We ended up winning some big-time award for that, the name of which escapes me at the moment. Last year, I was so proud to receive the Journalist of the Year Award from Grandfamilies of America for the work I did on the Dept of Social Services.

    So yes, my first love is reporting. I think that’s fairly obvious in my columns. Some accuse me of being more of a reporter than a columnist and that’s probably an accurate characterization. When you’ve been a reporter who has to cover one, two, three or more sides of a particular issue, it’s incumbent upon you to present the story with no detectable bias. As an opinion writer, it’s the opposite. It hasn’t always been easy, making that transition.

    GW - I grew up here in Frederick County, Maryland; one of the few counties in the state that has maintained a majority of registered Republican voters and a conservative view on many issues. Have you found it to be a challenge to be a liberal woman writer in a predominantly conservative community?

    KH - George, you and I probably know better than anyone how that feels right now. But I've never been uncomfortable expressing my opinion, no matter how outnumbered I am. Here's a funny example for you. In eighth grade at Thurmont Middle School, I was one of two in my class who voted for George McGovern in our mock election. Yep, just me and the school pothead. Things got ugly when a few classmates ripped my McGovern stickers off my locker, including my best friend at the time. That just made me more determined to speak up.

    I campaigned in Thurmont by dragging my little sister up and down the street in a wagon bedecked with McGovern stickers. Some people yelled and cursed at us from their cars. I must've traumatized her for a while because she later became a Young Republican and Reagonite. Today, I can proudly say that she's over that phase!

    GW - One issue that pops up periodically among local readers and one I am sure you have heard, pertains to where you live and work. You currently reside in Pennsylvania and are the featured columnist in the only daily newspaper in Frederick, Maryland. Some wonder how you can write commentary for an area in which you do not reside. How do you respond to those who ask this question?

    KH - While it’s tempting to go on the defensive when I hear this question, I will admit that my job would be easier if I lived in Frederick. How that affects my perspective remains to be seen, but it’s been my experience that those few who have a problem with where I lay my head at night are those who don’t like my positions on certain issues.

    Obviously I am not alone, thus the whole Live Here, Work Here movement. The FNP’s last three managing editors have lived in West Virginia, Owings Mills, and West Virginia respectively. Most working age people who live in my community work in Frederick; some even commute to Montgomery County and further south. It’s the nature of the area we live in. If people actually lived where they worked, Frederick County housing wouldn’t be so prohibitively expensive.

    Interestingly, my predecessors initially had to deal with criticism that they were newcomers to the community, both having moved up from the D.C. area shortly before they began working as columnists for the Frederick News Post. My story is different because I grew up in Frederick County from the age of 12 and have worked in the city for the better part of 22 years, amassing a network of contacts and relationships that is unmatched by anyone writing in the mainstream local media today.

    I wrote a column about this in 2007 and if anyone’s really all that fascinated with the whys and wherefores, I’d be happy to email it ( But as a police officer said on The Blaine Young Show recently – if you are dedicated to your job, who cares where you live?

    GW - I was laughing earlier when you talked about supporting McGovern. I voted absentee for him while attending college. The voting age had been reduced to 18 and I was so proud of being able to vote!

    Writing three columns a week is not as easy as one might think. Share with us how you determine the topics for your columns and whether your editor ever suggests topics to you. Have you ever had a column rejected by an editor and if so, why?

    KH - Nope, it's not easy. Sometimes topics flow naturally, other times the process is like swallowing a sponge. I get started on one thing and think, ugh, I dont know where this is going because I am not particularly passionate about this subject. I think you can probably identify those columns easily!

    Since I was furloughed from 12 columns to 10 - and that will change when the economy bucks up again - I find that I have too many ideas and not enough space to accomodate them. Especially during an election season. I really wanted to write about the importance of choosing a team to represent the City of Frederick, instead of voting for individual people. I wanted to explore the idea of "matchmaking," because too many times, personalties get in the way of progress and it's essential to look at the body as a whole.

    Having a column "spiked" as we call it in the business isn't uncommon, but yes, I have. Twice in fact. Twice in a row about the same topic! We had just gotten a new editor who didnt like anonymous sources. Since I had used these same sources previously in stories about the city buyout, I didnt see an issue, but he's more cautious and that's his right as managing editor. And no, nobody ever tells me what to write or how to write it.

    GW - In addition to writing columns, you host "Frederick's Forum" Saturday mornings from 9:00 - 11:00 AM on WFMD AM Radio 930. What led you to this and what is it like being the only liberal talk show host on a conservative radio station? Who have been some of your guests and what have been some of your favorite shows and topics to date?

    KH - Both my current jobs were basically handed to me. I never sought them out, but I am extremely grateful for both opportunities. I'd never done radio, though I have done television. I was a wreck about it and didnt feel entirely comfortable for several months. I kept asking myself, what the heck have you gotten yourself into??

    As for WFMD, yes, I am surrounded! I borrow a phrase from one of my sponsors when I say I am "an isle of blue in a sea of red!" But even though Bob, Blaine and I come from different perspectives, there is common ground. They've been very supportive of me. All local talk is good for the community because it's so rare these days.

    I've had the usual spectrum of local politicos on my show, but was most moved by a few women no one's ever heard of. The author of A Game Called Justice, the widow of Zach Sowers, and two women from Hope Alive were among my favorite guests. Donna Kuzemchak and Jennifer Dougherty are always good for a little straight talk and they've been on a few times each. John Ashbury is my go-to guy and can talk about anything. I liked the one where you and he were on and we got a little riled up!

    Among my favorite shows lately is one we did on national politics on Sept. 12 with Ron Young and Dan Rupli. If you missed it, you can find it in the vault at The callers were informed and intelligent and we had a pretty lively exchange. I also liked the show with BOE member Daryl Boffman and teacher association president Gary Brennan.

    GW - The City of Frederick election this year has been, on the most part, void of any overly controversial issues. The candidates have also been civil while conducting their campaigns. You have been closely following this election which will have the voters weigh in on November 3.

    With election day so close, I have to ask you a few questions; First, is there an issue you feel that has not received enough attention by the candidates? As a follow up, what do you feel is the most important issue in this election? Finally, who do you feel will win (not necessarily who you might support) as mayor and who will make up the next board of alderman?

    KH - I have to admit that after covering so many elections, they all seem to follow a similar and predictable formula. The candidates answer pretty much the same type questions about growth, budget, vision, taxes and economic development. And interestingly, they mostly give similar answers so it's difficult for the average voter to make distinctions. Last night's forum is a good example though of what I'd like to see more of: head to head debating. This format gives people a deeper understanding of the candidates' differences and personalities and how well they might or might not mesh with each other. It also allows candidates to call out their challengers, to push them on misinformation or to grill them on their plans.

    I also liked the format employed by the Neighborhood Advisory Councils because it allowed candidates to mingle with people face to face.

    I didn't hear as much as we should about the single most important issue facing Frederick: Budget! Yea, we heard plenty of questions, answers, etc, but we never pressed candidates for details and therefore dont have a keen sense of how much homework they've actually done and how much time they've spent in looking at all angles. (As an aside, I did ask one candidate to focus on this and will present that in Friday's column.) It's critical to have officials who can look ahead to the major budget problems facing the city and there will be plenty. This affects every project they want to undertake.

    As for a key question or issue missing from the election season as a whole, I dont think there's been enough emphasis on law enforcement and crime. Frederick's changing. It's not the same place we grew up in, George. We will continue to see the growth of gangs and gang related violence because of where it is geographically. Sorry, I can't stop at one. We also havent heard anything at all about the homeless in Frederick. With the economy in the tank, more and more people are dependent on government services and charities for food, shelter and job assistance. And those who donate are hard pressed these days to give as much as they have before.

    "As a follow up, what do you feel is the most important issue in this election?"

    Guess I skipped ahead and answered this above: Budget! From which all blessings flow!

    "Finally, who do you feel will win (not necessarily who you might support) as mayor and who will make up the next board of alderman?"

    Yikes. Sigh. Dang it. Why do you ask me this?? Frederick voters are as unpredictable as the election seasons are predictable!

    But for you, I will take a stab at it as long as there's no money riding on it. I think it's pretty clear that I support all the Democratic aldermanic candidates, and not because they are Democrat. I also like Aloi and Haddaway and not because they are women. But to have to choose who I think will sway the voters is a different story. Yes, I am equivocating! Like a politician no less.

    Ok, predictions: Aldermen: Michael O'Connor, Carol Krimm, Paul Smith, Donna Kuzemchak, Karen Young. Mayor: That's more difficult to call, but since you are making me do it, I'd say Jason Judd. But don't be surprised if, like in 2005, the underdog wins the day!

    GW - The time has flown by and we are coming to the end of our scheduled time so I want to thank you for being my guest today on "Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof". I have enjoyed our conversation. I hope you come back as there is so much to talk about.

    KH - Thanks so much for the opportunity, George. You do a great job filling us in on all things Democrat!

    GW - I want to close by asking you who are your favorite reporters and journalists? Has there been one or more that have had an influence on you and how you write?

    KH - Oh, my. So many I read regularly and some I visit once in a while. But first and foremost, my favorite columnist is Mike Royko of Chicago. I miss his voice and often wonder what he would make of all that goes on today. A blue-collar guy with Chicago roots who could move, incite, incense and pulverize better than anyone I've seen.

    Among the living, I regularly read Maureen Dowd. Elegant prose, innovative style and can cut to the core of an issue like nobody's business. I also like Frank Rich of the NY Times, Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone, and believe or not George Will. Whether or not I agree with him, he's solid stuff. I dont think I'll miss William Safire.

    As for reporters, there's Laurie Garrett, a science reporter who used to write for news magazines. Best investigative journalism -

    And George, I cannot let this question go without paying homage to Mr. Roy Meachum, our very own living legend. No one locally can touch him.


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    The Political Report


    Wednesday, October 28

      • 11:00 am
      • President Obama delivers remarks at the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony in honor of former Senator Edward William Brooke
    • 12:00 pm
    • President Obama and Vice President Biden have lunch in the Oval Office
    • Robert Gibbs delivers his daily briefing at the White House
    • 1:20 pm
    • President Obama and Vice President Biden host meeting with the co-chairmen of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board and the senior leadership of the intelligence community in the Cabinet Room
    • 2:30 pm
    • President Obama signs the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 in the Rose Garden
    • 3:10 pm
    • President Obama and Vice President Biden meet with Secretary of Defense Gates in the Oval Office
    • 4:00 pm
    • President Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office
    • 5:30 pm
    • President Obama attends commemorative tree planting at the North Portico
    • 6:05 pm
    • President Obama delivers remarks at reception commemorating the enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in the East Room
    • 7:57 pm
    • Michelle Obama and Jill Biden attend Game One of the 2009 World Series in New York City

    Tuesday, October 27, 2009

    The Political Schedule


    Tuesday, October 27

      • 10:30 am
      • Vice President Biden makes a major announcement about the future of the former General Motors Boxwood Plant
    • 10:50 am
    • President Obama arrives in Sarasota, Florida
    • 12:10 pm
    • President Obama tours DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Arcadia, Florida
    • 12:25 pm
    • President Obama delivers remarks at the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center
    • 2:05 pm
    • President Obama departs Sarasota, Florida en route Norfolk, Virginia
    • 3:50 pm
    • President Obama arrives in Norfolk, Virginia
    • 4:55 pm
    • President Obama delivers remarks at rally for Creigh Deeds
    • 6:05 pm
    • President Obama departs Norfolk, Virginia en route Andrews Air Force Base
    • 6:50 pm
    • President Obama arrives at Andrews Air Force Base
    • 7:05 pm
    • President Obama arrives at The White House

    Monday, October 26, 2009

    Last City of Frederick Mayoral Forum to be Held Tomorrow

    George Wenschhof

    Tomorrow night, Frederick Community College at the Jack B. Kussmaul Theather will co-host the last mayoral forum prior to the election on November 3. The other co-sponsors include the Frederick News Post, WFMD 930 Radio and the Frederick County League of Women Voters. It will begin at 7:00 PM and consist of two one hour segments.

    During the first hour, Democrat Jason Judd and Republican Randy McClemment will answer questions asked from a three member panel. The panel will include Cliff Cumber; Assistant City editor of the Frederick News Post, Dr. Mike Powell of Frederick Community College, and Kevin McManus from WFMD 930 Radio.

    The second hour will be moderated by Cliff Cumber and include a portion where the candidates can ask each other questions. Cliff asked me the other day if this was a first for the city election and I have to say I do not ever remember a local candidate forum allowing questions to be asked by the candidates.

    This could be interesting as so far the election has failed to capture the attention of the voters will only 17% of the registered Democrats and Republicans casting their ballots in the primary held on September 15. Will Jason Judd continue to play it safe by playing it close to the vest and not clearly taking positions on controversial issues? Or will Randy McClement take a swipe at Jason by pointing out his lack of local work experience and his history with the Services Employees International Union?

    If voters cast their ballots along political party lines, Democratic candidate Jason Judd would be heavily favored as registered Democrats in the city are around 15,000 and Republicans are around 10,000. In addition, approximately 6,000 unaffiliated voters will have the opportunity at the polls so a heavy turnout among this group could influence a close election.

    Unfortunately, it is predictable that less than 33% of the registered city voters will turn out on November 3. With the election so far being void of any controversy or clear distinction between the two mayoral candidates, this forum will be the last live public opportunity for Jason Judd and Randy McClement to show the voters why they should cast their ballot for them.

    Make sure you attend and more importantly vote on November 3!


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

    The Political Schedule


    Monday, October 26

      • Morning
      • Vice President Biden travels to Cleveland, Ohio, for an event with Reps. Space and Boccieri
    • 10:30 am
    • President Obama meets with senior advisers
    • 11:30 am
    • President Obama and Vice President Biden meet with his national security team on Afghanistan and Pakistan
    • 12:45 pm
    • President Obama departs The White House en route Andrews Air Force Base
    • 1:00 pm
    • President Obama departs Andrews Air Force Base en route Jacksonville, Florida
    • 2:00 pm
    • Vice President Biden holds an event on the Recovery Act at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport with Sen. Brown and Mayor Jackson
    • 2:45 pm
    • President Obama arrives in Jacksonville, Florida
    • 3:15 pm
    • President Obama delivers remarks to servicemen and women at Naval Air Station Jacksonville
    • 4:00 pm
    • President Obama meets with personnel from the Navy and Marine Corps at Naval Air Station Jacksonville
    • 4:25 pm
    • President Obama departs Jacksonville, Florida en route Miami, Florida
    • 5:30 pm
    • Vice President Biden attends the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund ceremony at the Capitol Visitor Center
    • 5:35 pm
    • President Obama arrives in Miami, Florida
    • 7:25 pm
    • President Obama delivers remarks at DSCC/DCCC reception
    • 7:50 pm
    • President Obama delivers remarks at DSCC/DCCC dinner

    Saturday, October 24, 2009

    Obama Weekly Address 10-24-2009

    George Wenschhof

    Today, President Barack Obama talks about how important the success of small business is to the economic recovery of the United States and what he is doing to help small business grow.

    download .mp3 download .mp4 (125 MB) read the transcript


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    Friday, October 23, 2009

    City of Frederick NACs Host Candidates

    George Wenschhof

    I was glad I went to the Joint Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC) meeting held at the new Bernard Brown Community Center on North Market Street in downtown Frederick. The meeting provided the opportunity to hear what the NACs had been doing and an opportunity for the candidates for mayor and alderman to answer questions they posed.

    The first half of the two hour meeting consisted of reports from representatives of the 12 NACs. These reports which were also available in a hand-out to guests provided information as to the neighborhoods they served, some of their accomplishments, their top three issues and a wish list. All valuable information for candidates seeking office.

    The second half of the meeting had the candidates answering in a three minute period, a randomly selected question previously written by the NACs.

    About 50 people attended the forum, of which 15 were candidates for office, members of the press and Police Chief Kim Dine. It was obvious, as NAC leaders delivered their reports, Chief Dine had their full support. Dine also had available as a handout a brochure pertaining to citizen and police partnerships.

    Only incumbent Republican alderman Alan Imhoff did not attend. His run for reelection has been characterized as a stealth campaign by many who feel he has done little to encourage voters to support his reelection. Incumbents generally have the advantage due to name recognition and the predictable low voter turnout in the City of Frederick election. However, incumbent Democratic alderman David "Kip' Koontz was eliminated in the primary showing voters may take a different approach to this election.

    Does this mean Imhoff is also in trouble? We'll see in ten days when voters take to the polls on November 3. Republican aldermen candidates Amanda Haddaway and Shelley Aloi came across well as they answered their randomly chosen question posed by the NACs. I also noticed they both worked the room prior to the start, during the break and following the meeting and several Democrats attending the meeting made a point to mention their names to me. Look to see both of them be competitive on November 3.

    The other Republican incumbent alderman Paul Smith did well with his answer pertaining to traffic issues bringing up the need to coordinate with the state the timing of certain traffic lights at various intersections throughout the city. Republican alderman candidate William Huckenpoehler was present for the first half of the meeting but due to a family issue had to leave prior to answering his question.

    I was late getting back to the meeting after the break and missed the statement by Republican Randy McClement who had led off and most of what Democratic candidate Jason Judd had to say in regard to his question.

    All of the Democratic candidates for aldermen performed well with their question with Kelly Russell talking about how she would support continued funds for the NACs. Carol Krimm discussed public safety with bringing up the idea of combining law enforcement agencies as well as looking at new technology available to help officers such as "pocket cop" currently being used in Baltimore County and Annapolis.

    Donna Kuzemchak spoke of how she felt the NACs, first created in 2002 under the Dougherty administration was what she was proudest of during her 12 years in office. Michael O'Connor acknowledged the need to use all available code enforcement mechanisms to deal with blight created by neglected and vacant buildings within the city. Karen Young spoke of how she had reached out to the Hispanic population by being the first candidate to have Spanish translation of her campaign website. She also felt education was important in furthering communication.

    The growth of the Neighborhood Advisory Councils has been impressive since their creation in 2002. They are a great way for voters to get involved in their community and to work with city hall to solve identified problems. I would encourage city residents to get involved and attend their NAC meetings.

    During the next city administration, I would like to see each aldermen assigned to several NACs as their liaison to city hall. Eventually, I believe the next logical step would be to create aldermanic election districts.


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    The Political Schedule


    Friday, October 23

      • 11:30 am
      • President Obama arrives in Boston, Massachusetts
    • 12:00 pm
    • President Obama tours a research laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    • 12:30 pm
    • President Obama delivers remarks challenging Americans to lead the global economy in clean energy
    • 2:05 pm
    • President Obama delivers remarks at fundraising reception for Governor Patrick
    • 2:45 pm
    • President Obama delivers remarks at fundraising event for Governor Patrick
    • 3:40 pm
    • President Obama departs Boston, Massachusetts en route New York City
    • 4:35 pm
    • President Obama arrives in New York City
    • 5:15 pm
    • President Obama and Senator Dodd tour a small business in Stamford, Connecticut
    • 6:45 pm
    • President Obama delivers remarks at fundraising dinner for Senator Dodd at the Stamford Hilton
    • 8:00 pm
    • President Obama departs New York City en route Andrews Air Force Base
    • 8:55 pm
    • President Obama arrives at Andrews Air Force Base
    • 9:10 pm
    • President Obama arrives at The White House
    • 10:00 pm
    • Michelle Obama does the "Ten @ Ten" Q&A via satellite on "Leno"

    Thursday, October 22, 2009

    The Political Schedule


    Thursday, October 22

      • 11:05 am
      • President Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office
    • 12:30 pm
    • President Obama meets with Speaker Nancy Pelosi for lunch in the Private Dining Room
    • Robert Gibbs delivers the daily press briefing from the White House
    • 2:15 pm
    • President Obama signs the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act in the East Room
    • 3:15 pm
    • President Obama meets with Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner in the Oval Office
    • 3:45 pm
    • President Obama meets with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office
    • 4:30 pm
    • President Obama meets with Senator Webb in the Oval Office
    • 5:00 pm
    • President Obama meets with Senator Leahy in the Oval Office

    Ask Katherine Heerbrandt a Question

    George Wenschhof

    On Wednesday October 28, Katherine Heerbrandt will be my guest on Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof from 2:00 - 4:00 PM. She is currently a columnist with the Frederick News Post and host of WFMD 930 Radio Frederick's Forum on Saturday mornings from 9:00 - 11:00 AM.

    If you have a question you would like to have asked, click on "Comment" at the end of this post and follow the instructions. I will randomly pick several of the questions submitted to ask her next Wednesday.


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    Wednesday, October 21, 2009

    Voter Apathy Continues in City of Frederick, Md. Election

    George Wenschhof

    The readers of my website know I have been a proponent of moving the City of Frederick election to coincide with the Presidential election. This move would save money, remove questions surrounding where polling stations are located and more importantly, more than double voter turnout. My numerous columns on the subject are linked in the right hand margin of my home page.

    This election continues the trend of very few voters participating on primary and general election days. The 17% turnout in the primary on September 15 included about a 20% Democratic vote which was 20% down from the 25% Democratic turnout in 2005. In 2005, it was former mayor Ron Young who successfully challenged incumbent Jennifer Dougherty only to lose in the general election to political unknown Republican Jeff Holtzinger.

    While Jason Judd beat Jennifer Dougherty in the primary 59-35%, he only received 1,672 of the 15,118 registered Democratic voters which is only about 11%. Receiving 11% of the registered Democratic votes is hardly a mandate. It was no better on the Republican side as Randy McClement easily beat Ron Tobin; who had withdrawn prior to the primary, 72-21%. McClement's 1,099 votes were from a total of 9,825 registered Republicans which is also only 11%.

    The mayoral race typically leads the interest of the voters as the mayor is who runs the city government on a day to day basis and the alderman are the elective legislative body. Adding to what is already a predictable low voter turnout are two mayoral candidates that could hardly be described as charismatic. Unfortunately, neither Democrat Jason Judd or Republican Randy McClement have exhibited spirited personalities, taken a strong position on a issue or proposed ideas that will inspire new voters to go to the polls.

    As a result, you can assume no more than 33% or 10,000 of the approximately 31.200 registered voters (pre-primary) will go to the polls on November 3.

    This is no longer acceptable and it is finally time for a change. We must demand from the incoming mayor and board that they take immediate action to change the city election date to coincide with the presidential election cycle. When I interviewed Jason Judd prior to the primary, he said he would support changing the city election date to coincide with the presidential election cycle - you can read that interview here. If elected, we need to hold him to this promise.

    In addition, it is time to have an in depth discussion on the creation of aldermanic election districts which is a logical extension from the existing Neighborhood Advisory Councils (NACs). I also proposed aldermanic election districts in 1997, only to be shot down by the "establishment and staus quo" politicos who warned of Chicago style politics coming to Frederick if aldermen were elected by Districts.

    My argument then is the same as it is today, which is the city boundaries are growing so fast, many voters have trouble identifying with living within a city or even knowing their city elected representatives. Jennifer Dougherty, when she campaigned for mayor in 2001 often pointed out at "House Meet and Greets" she agreed with my idea of aldermanic districts and if elected would propose and implement Neighborhood Advisory Councils. She was elected and she did implement the NACs. The 2009 incoming mayor and board would also be well advised to take the time to discuss the creation of aldermanic districts.

    Representative Democracy is a wonderful way to govern. However, it works best when citizens vote. It is past time for elected city officials to take the necessary actions to improve democracy in the City of Frederick.


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    The Political Schedule

    Wednesday, October 21

      • 10:30 am
      • President Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office
    • 11:00 am
    • Hillary Clinton delivers a major policy speech on nonproliferation at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.
    • 12:00 pm
    • Michelle Obama hosts a healthy kids fair with local public school students and their families on the South Lawn of the White House
    • 12:40 pm
    • President Obama meets with Senator John Kerry in the Oval Office
    • 1:50 pm
    • President Obama announces a package of initiatives that will increase credit to small businesses
    • 3:00 pm
    • President Obama attends a Cabinet-level earthquake tabletop exercise at the Treasury Department
    • 3:25 pm
    • President Obama departs The White House en route Andrews Air Force Base
    • 3:40 pm
    • President Obama departs Andrews Air Force Base en route Newark, New Jersey
    • 4:35 pm
    • President Obama arrives in Newark, New Jersey
    • 6:05 pm
    • President Obama delivers remarks at a rally for Governor Corzine at Fairleigh Dickinson University
    • 6:30 pm
    • President Obama interview airs on NBC's "Nightly News"
    • 7:25 pm
    • President Obama departs Newark, New Jersey en route Andrews Air Force Base
    • 8:20 pm
    • President Obama arrives at Andrews Air Force Base
    • 8:35 pm
    • President Obama arrives at The White House

    Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    The Political Schedule


    *all times Eastern

    Tuesday, October 20

      • 10:00 am
      • President Obama receives the economic daily briefing in the Oval Office
    • 10:40 am
    • President Obama meets with Prime Minister Maliki of Iraq in the Oval Office
    • Morning
    • Michelle Obama visits the Department of Veterans Affairs
    • 11:50 am
    • President Obama honors recipients of the Presidential Unit Citation in the Rose Garden
    • 1:10 pm
    • President Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office
    • 2:20 pm
    • President Obama departs The White House en route Andrews Air Force Base
    • 2:35 pm
    • President Obama departs Andrews Air Force Base en route New York City
    • 3:30 pm
    • President Obama arrives in New York City
    • 4:15 pm
    • President Obama tours the Joint Terrorism Task Force Headquarters in New York City
    • 4:30 pm
    • President Obama delivers remarks to staff members at the Joint Terrorism Task Force headquarters in New York City
    • 7:10 pm
    • President Obama delivers remarks at fundraiser for Bill Owens, the Democratic candidate running for New York's 23rd Congressional District at the Mandarin Oriental
    • 8:20 pm
    • President Obama delivers remarks at DNC fundraiser at the Hammerstein Ballroom
    • 9:50 pm
    • President Obama departs New York City en route Andrews Air Force Base
    • 10:40 pm
    • President Obama arrives at Andrews Air Force Base
    • 10:55 pm
    • President Obama arrives at The White House

    City of Frederick, Md. Alderman Forum Tonight

    George Wenschhof

    Only two weeks remain before the general election on November 3. So, plan to attend the forum tonight at Frederick Community College. Moderated by Dr. Ken Kerr, it will begin at 7:00 PM and last until 9:00 PM.

    All ten of the alderman candidates (5 Democrats and 5 Republicans) will be in attendance. Each will be given the opportunity for a two minute opening statement and a one minute closing statement.

    The candidates will be randomly given one of 10 issues which are: annexations, taxes, traffic, economic development, police;crime and public safety, golden mile east and west end, city services, buy-out, budget, and intergovernmental relations. They will have two minutes to answer.

    In addition, each candidate will have five opportunities for a one minute rebuttal which allows for each candidate to have input on up to six of the ten issues.

    The candidates will also be available for you to meet before and after the forum. Typically, they will have a table with information available located in the lobby area of the Jack B. Kussmaul Theater.

    This seems like a good format when you have ten candidates participating in a forum.

    At this point the three incumbent aldermen; Donna Kuzemchak (D), Paul Smith (R) and Alan Imhoff (R) appear to have an edge over the remaining candidates primarily due to name recognition and an anticipated low voter turn out in the general election. I do not expect the voter turn out to exceed 33% or 10,000 voters.

    If incumbency proves to be an advantage, that leaves seven alderman candidates vying for two spots on the board. Look to see the challengers try to make a statement on an issue that will stand out with the media and the voters as few days remain in the contest.

    Democrat Karen Young is a favorite to advance after coming in first in the Democratic primary on September 15. While her last name is helpful in name recognition to the voters (she is married to former mayor Ron Young), Karen has continued to work hard to earn the support of the voters.

    Working just as hard to prove themselves to the voters and show incumbency is not enough of an edge to the voters is Kelly Russell (D), Carol Krimm (D), Michael O'Connor (D), Shelley Aloi (R), Amanda Haddaway (R) and William Huchenpoehler (R).

    Russell, Krimm and O'Connor all impressed me in the primary and continue to have my support. Aloi and Haddaway are certainly campaigning hard. I was impressed when Ms. Haddaway sent me a recent email pointing out her Democratic supporters on her website and asking if I would consider interviewing her live online as I had done for the Democratic candidates prior to the primary.

    Even though I publish a Democratic News and Commentary website, I would have interviewed her if I had the time to also interview the rest of the Republican aldermen prior to the election. I explained the lack of time and the issue of fairness and she understood.

    Next week on Tuesday, the mayoral candidates will face off at the same location also beginning at 7:00 PM. Democrat Jason Judd and Republican Randy McClement will answer questions posed by a three member panel during the first hour. The three members of the panel will be Cliff Cumber - Frederick News Post Assistant City Editor, Dr. Mike Powell - Frederick Community College, and Kevin McManus - WFMD 930 Radio. The second hour will be moderated by Cliff Cumber and will include a portion during which the candidates can ask each other questions. This will be fun to see what they ask each other with only one week left prior to the election.

    Both candidate forums are sponsored by Frederick Community College, Frederick County League of Women Voters, WFMD 930 Radio and the Frederick News Post. Plan to attend both!


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    Saturday, October 17, 2009

    Obama Weekly Address 10-17-2009

    George Wenschhof

    As progress to health care reform is being made with bills in the House and Senate now undergoing reconciliation efforts, the insurance companies have mounted their expected attack on reform.

    Today, President Barack Obama spoke of the consensus which has been reached among doctors, nurses, the drug industry, hospitals and ordinary citizens to finish the job of reforming health care for Americans.

    download .mp3 download .mp4 (212 MB) read the transcript


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    Friday, October 16, 2009

    Will Recent City of Frederick Annexations Impact City Election?

    George Wenschhof

    Doubtful, would be my response to the headline question. The apathy exhibited by the city voters with their low voter turnout combined with a deafening silence in campaigning by any of the mayoral or alderman candidates would indicate the current annexation debate will not impact the November 3 election. However, this is an important issue and city voters and their opinions should be heard.

    Two northern farms (Thatcher and Crum) along with the Summers farm on the west side were approved for annexation by the mayor and board with promises of a increase of jobs, higher taxation revenues which are needed along with other promises from developers to sweeten the pot.

    Frederick County Commissioners have unanimously indicated they will vote to deny the annexations after seeing the results of the recent drive to gather enough signatures (20% of city registered voters) to force the annexation decision to a referendum by city voters. The deadline for obtaining the needed signatures is Sunday. If successful, the signatures would still need to withstand scrutiny and verification by, I am assuming, the City Board of Elections. If the petition for referendum fails or an actual referendum is unsuccessful in reversing the mayor and board decision to annex the three farms, the county vote to deny will prohibit development for five years.

    Much has been said about the escalating of this issue by the city and county officials, speculating much of the argument surrounds "turf" battles. However, the annexation process has been in place for years for the purpose of creating some checks and balances on something as important as the incorporation of property within a municipal limits and the impact of it's subsequent development.

    The review by state agencies is also part of the process and not a new addition or personal vendetta on their part against the city or the county when their comments are added to the record.

    What does change over time is the individuals who are the city and county elected officials. Their opinions certainly impact on decisions such as annexations and have been taken into account when annexation requests were made over the years.

    As one who has worked in the real estate development field in the past, I witnessed many different county boards of commissioners and various municipal officials go through the annexation approval process on numerous occasions.

    One paramount and pivotal review which is always done is does the land in question fall withing the growth boundaries previously agreed upon by the county and municipality and is the planned development consistent with the planned zoning of the property. In this case, the three city annexations do fall within the comprehensively planned growth areas.

    A short look back in time shows the city comprehensive plan update was approved during the last months in the Jennifer Dougherty (D) administration. Many at the time said the process was rushed inferring Dougherty knew she had the favorable aldermen votes to pass the proposed update.

    Nonetheless, it did pass and the county commissioners did not object to this city comprehensive plan update. Today, those in favor of the three approved city annexations point this out and ask "why are the county commissioners objecting now?".

    A good question, yet the planned growth area does not appear to be the question by the current county board of commissioners. The concerns I have read and heard after having spoken to Board President Jan Gardner and Commissioner Kai Hagen are more development detail oriented.

    Gardner is concerned with how school capacity is being calculated and how is the need for a new school is being addressed. Hagen correctly points out the northern annexations do not spell out any agreement with the county to provide needed sewer to the property; without such agreement development will not occur. They also feel the manner to be utilized to mitigate the traffic issues on U.S. 15 are not clearly spelled out. In addition, they had questions surrounding fire and emergency rescue services available for the area.

    The petition drive to move the city approval of the annexations is the first time in my recollection ever being done. However, again the law provides for a 45 day period following an approval of an annexation for a petition to take place.

    Instead of recognizing this is an approved part of the approval process, charges and counter charges have transpired among some voters. The city and county electeds along with even former city mayors have also weighed in on with their views on the annexations, communicating with voters through letters, web pages and even a video with their position.

    The recent passage by the county commissioners 4-1 of a resolution to require a referendum by the residents of the annexed properties is a right by law they have. However, in this case with reportedly only owners and a few tenants residing on the properties, this was indeed an unnecessary move by the commissioners. The vote was more of a tweak of the city, resulting in the minor cost for a very small special referendum election but what will do little else in regard to the outcome of the development of the annexed properties.

    This section of the law is there in the case of larger subdivisions being annexed into a municipality so as to get feedback from those who would be affected. An example would be the Clover Hill subdivisions adjacent to the city.

    Nonetheless, many of the questions being asked by county commissioners are important. Municipal authority is one I will always support. Yet, today the need to plan and cooperate on a regional basis is more important than ever.

    The idea of comprehensive plans for municipalities and counties has been around for quite some time as a means to help plan for future growth and the impact that it has. Perhaps, it is time to review the current process, recognizing the impacts of growth now have effects outside of the city and county and often times even the state in which they are planned. Developing regional planning models for water, sewer, roads and transportation, seems to be worthy of serious consideration by all elected officials.

    Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley does have some effort underway in the state as they recognize the need to work closely with neighboring states of Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

    While it is doubtful the recent annexation of three farms into The City of Frederick will impact the election, I do hope the incoming mayor and board recognize the importance of regional planning. Many issues remain to be resolved before development can take place on these properties and cooperation with county elected officials will be needed in order to move forward.

    If the petition drive fails and the county commissioners vote to deny the city annexations as they have promised, in effect, a five year moratorium will be put on the development of these properties. As commissioner Hagen correctly points out, if the city and county can not reach an agreement on the provision of sewer to the two northern annexations, development will not occur on those properties.

    I would then suspect this would all result in a bigger impact on the 2010 county commissioner election. I would anticipate some candidates backed by pro-grow entities to promise to overturn the previous county board decision and to promise to reach agreement on the extension of sewer services.

    Stay Tuned.


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