All posts by David Lublin

Mike Miller Has Passed Away

Statement from the Miller Family

At 4:25PM this afternoon, Maryland Senate President Emeritus Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. passed away peacefully at his home, surrounded by loved ones. He was 78 years old. 

He’s survived by his wife, Patti, son Tommy, daughters, Amanda, Michelle, Melissa, and Melanie, sisters Susan, Cynthia, Melinda, Nancy, and Kim, brothers, Jonathan, David, and Mark, and his fifteen grandchildren, and was predeceased by his sister Judith.

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Andy Harris Skips Out on Voting on Impeachment

Andy Harris seems to have a penchant for going full-blown Trump but always doing it a slightly different way. If he had a tinfoil hat, he’d fold it using a different origami pattern. At any rate, he issued a sanctimonious statement about why he didn’t deign to vote on impeaching Trump after the insurrection at the White House:

The imperative of being in the operating room rings hollow because, thanks to COVID-19, the House is currently allowing members to cast proxy votes. If you watched the proceedings yesterday, you would have seen that many members on both sides of the aisle did just that. Perhaps Harris didn’t want to be there because this mask-skeptic physician would have had to wear one.

Notice that, even as he issues the now standard drive-by call for unity after months of claiming that Biden stole the election, Harris has to insult the Democrats and cannot bring himself to even use “Democratic majority” in place of the childishly denigrating “Democrat majority.”

While he condemns the Democrats, he says nothing about the violent mob, Trump’s encouragement of it, and failure to act to suppress it once it got out of control. Nor have his press releases included a word of criticism for Trump. Instead, Harris followed him in equating this attempt to overthrow the government and kill public officials with this past summer’s protests.

One might contrast Harris’s lack of concern over violent white supremacist seditious Republicans and condemnation of a “hasty” impeachment as “politically motivated” with his support for endless investigations into the facially absurd idea that Hillary Clinton wanted American diplomats dead in Benghazi and his willingness to support rushing through the appointment of Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court.

While Gov. Larry Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford stood firm for democracy even as the crisis unfolded, Rep. Andy Harris has joined Del. Dan Cox in the sedition caucus.

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Free DC

The District of Columbia owes its existence to fear that a Jacobin mob might overwhelm the federal government and that a state government might be unwilling to protect it. Pennsylvania’s failure to act during against a mutiny by soldiers who wanted more pay propelled the creation of the federal enclave.

For all their efforts to prevent against authoritarianism though the separation of powers and robust federalism, the Founders never anticipated that the true danger might come from a president seeking to exert authority over Congress. Until Wednesday, it had never happened in the history of our country.

The encouragement by the president of this insurrection and attack on the federal legislature and then his failure to act protect Congress against this attack upended the narrative with the District, Maryland and Virginia coming to the aid of the besieged Capitol. America is fortunate the leaders of the District and neighboring states are committed small-d democrats and small-r republicans.

No people or place should have to earn their freedom. But the District surely did once again in coming to Congress’s aid. It’s time to end the bizarre situation in which the roughly 700,000 citizens in the District are denied democratic representation. The Maryland General Assembly should pass a resolution relinquishing its claim to the District, and Congress should admit the state of New Columbia to the Union.

Republican dress up their objections in a variety of cloaks but they all boil down to opposing statehood because its citizens vote Democratic. The even less appetizing rationale is that too many District citizens are Black. Either way, it’s an extension of the unacceptable efforts of voter suppression that we’ve seen around the country.

Republicans might also remember that partisan shifts can occur quickly. Hawaii was expected to be a Republican bastion when admitted to the Union. California and West Virginia both altered their partisan allegiances more recently.

All other federations that have emulated the U.S. in establishing federal enclaves give them representation. It’s time we up our democratic game and do the same.

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Maryland Rep. Andy Harris Incites Violence on U.S. House Floor

After a day in which a mob of domestic terrorists committed insurrection at the behest of the sitting president, Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) attempted unsuccessfully to start a brawl on the floor of the U.S. House chamber according to the AP pool reporter:

Maryland Republicans must expel Harris and other proud sedition caucus members from their party if they want to align themselves with Larry Hogan and Boyd Rutherford rather than anti-democratic insurrectionists like Donald Trump and Andy Harris.

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Del. Cox Calls Pence “a Traitor.” Gov. Aids Police. Lt. Gov. Calls Trump’s Incitement Impeachable.

Even as rioters break into the U.S. Capitol and trash our democracy, Del. Dan Cox (R-Frederick) continues to foment lies regarding fraud. He’s attacked Vice President as “a traitor” for refusing to join in a seditious attempt to illegally overturn the results of the election.

The Governor and Lt. Governor are acting far more responsibly. Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford stated that Trump committed “an impeachable offense” by inciting violence.

Gov. Larry Hogan is aiding the DC Metropolitan Police and U.S. Capitol Police restore order and to protect our democracy against this “heinous and violent assault.”

As I write this, President Trump has just said “we love you” about the rioters breaking into the U.S. Capitol and continues to lie shamelessly about fraud even as he calls for these “protestors” to go home.

Republicans now need to choose between Trump and democracy. Will Republicans in the Maryland General Assembly continue to allow Del. Cox to be a member of their caucus and associate themselves with a vocal supporter of sedition? Or will they they stand with Gov. Larry Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford on the side of democracy?

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Klacik Didn’t File Required Financial Disclosure

Like Members of the U.S. House, congressional candidates are required to file financial disclosure forms. Kim Klacik, who made quite a splash as the Republican sacrificial lamb against Rep. Kweisi Mfume, never filed one according to the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.

According to the Clerk’s office:

Financial Disclosure Reports include information about the source, type, amount, or value of the incomes of Members, officers, certain employees of the U.S. House of Representatives and related offices, and candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives.

These reports are filed with the Clerk of the House as required by Title I of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, as amended. 5 U.S.C. app. § 101 et seq.

Klacik touts herself as a “Republican strategist” and the founder of a nonprofit, Potential Me, but her sources of income remain unknown and vague. Her failure to file the legally required report tends to confirm the impression that she intends to remain in the limelight and earn a living based on her failed campaign.

Campaign finance watchdogs will also want to watch carefully where the nearly $1 million in unspent funds in her campaign account goes. Unusually for a serious congressional challenger, not all of her impressive fundraising went to the campaign.

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Council Overrides Veto, Attacks Elrich, Cuts Revenue for School Buildings

The Montgomery County Council unanimously overrode County Executive Marc Elrich’s veto of their bill to lower impact taxes on development in wide areas around public transit.

The press releases title sets the tone with the strange claim that the override reaffirms the Council’s “commitment to investing in Montgomery County’s future.” Except that by reducing the impact taxes collected, the county will now have less money to invest in school buildings and other capital projects.

It’s a commitment to disinvesting in public infrastructure. The language is especially telling because Democrats normally tout public spending as investment, but they’ve adopted Republican-style talking points on cutting taxes. Knowing this is the case, the press release is at pains to hide just how much they’ve reduced taxes on developers. It just says that the new tax rate will “more accurately” reflect the actual cost of school facilities.

The individual comments are little better. Sponsor Hans Riemer attacks Elrich because that is what he does. He also lauds the policy as “balanc[ing] the competing needs to address school enrollment” and “make our transportation system safer.” Except lowering impact taxes that help build new school buildings hurts rather than helps schools. I imagine this also reflects Hans’s magical thinking that everyone wants to live near transit but that they won’t have many kids—somehow families with kids don’t need housing too.

Councilmember Nancy Navarro refers to this legislation as “bold” which is the same word she used previously for lauding her support for the last tax cut on devleopers.

Overclaiming that this will lead to more “affordable housing” and “environmental sustainability,” Councilmember Andrew Friedson says the bill makes the county “more attractive to new businesses.” Once again, he conflates development with business as the Council continues to do nothing to attract the non-development related business it needs.

There is no requirement for more affordable housing as a share of new development. Impact taxes have little impact on the overall cost relative to demand and land prices, so the major impact will not be a blossoming of housing or a reduction in its price, but further losses to the county treasury to build schools.

All of Hans Riemer’s many other like-minded bills have similarly failed to do much to bring affordable housing to the county. This one won’t either. It might, however, result in more campaign contributions from developers to the incumbent councilmembers and their allies.

Evan Glass touts how hard the Council worked on the new policy—they did spend a lot of time on it—and that it reflects the Council’s commitment to “inclusivity and diversity.” No doubt the Council believes that to be true. But progressive verbiage doesn’t alter the hard fact that, directly at odds with this claim, the county will deepen the already acute shortfall in funds for public school buildings to serve its diverse student population.

“Council Assures More Portables in MCPS’s Future” would have been a good alternative title for the press release.

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Corporate MoCo Council Adopts Supply-Side Economics

The Montgomery County Council talks a good game when it comes to progressive politics, but their policy choices are straight out of the corporate conservative Republican playbook.

Consider their most recent action to lower impact fees that pay for public services, like schools, on development.

Heeding calls by Empower Montgomery (which advertised being founded by David Blair until he ran for county executive), the Council is eliminating moratoria on development required by law due to the county’s failure to provide public services needed for existing residents in these areas. The Council didn’t solve the problem providing the public services needed to meet legal requirements but by simply eliminating the moratoria.

In the past, councilmembers have argued against moratoria on the grounds that the impact fees from new development are vital to providing these services. No one has trumpeted this line more strongly than the Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee Chair Hans Riemer.

In an October email blast, Riemer justified the Council’s last corporate welfare giveaway (eliminating real estate developments on WMATA property from property taxes for 15 years) by pointing to the impact fees they will generate:

These projects generate more construction jobs and more one-time revenue for the County, such as impact tax revenue that can be used to add school and transportation capacity.

Now, the Council has voted substantial cuts to the impact fees that they touted as the reason to eliminate the moratoria and pass the property tax giveaway for developers. Consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds, but this nevertheless remains an impressive feat of quick dumping down the memory hole.

The Council’s decision sounds like straight supply-side economics. It contends that reducing impact fees will result in more development. If they believe that this will result in an impact tax gusher, it’s the exact same fantasy that fueled massive deficits under Reagan, Bush and Trump, when tax cuts for the wealthy did not swell the nation’s coffers. Otherwise, they are bringing in more people who will require services but leaving the county even less equipped to pay for needed infrastructure.

The Council has conveniently left the decision as to what cuts should be made due to revenue reduction to County Executive Marc Elrich. They’ll lay the blame for the fall in revenue and cuts at his door even though their policies will cause the problem.

Elrich vetoed the bill despite unanimous Council support. As they vote to override it and further starve public infrastructure, the Council will cast Elrich’s fiscally responsible decision simultaneously as far-left crazy and anti-affordable housing.

During his ten years on the Council, Hans Riemer has cast himself as the leader of efforts to provide affordable housing. He vilifies Marc Elrich’s policies as the source of the problem. Yet it’s Riemer and his allies, like two-three-term Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson, who pushed this supply-side legislation, who have long been running the policy show in this area.

That hasn’t stopped them from regularly declaring current policy a failure to justify their latest idea. Obliviously, the Council regularly passes new legislation that Anderson, Riemer and friends claim will address the lack of affordable housing while simultaneously lamenting the continuing decline of affordable housing.

But don’t let the rest of the Council off the hook either. It voted to raise your property taxes while cutting those on favored developers (Councilmembers Hucker and Jawando opposed the latter). And all voted to reduce impact fees even though they all ran on improving public services.

Supported by monied interests, this show has been running for a long time. The Council gift wraps another tranche of money to wealthy interests that lobby for it in the gauzy rhetoric of affordable housing and social justice. The policy failure is then used to justify the next giveaway. Recycle and repeat.

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