Tom Moore Will Not Seek Reelection in Rockville

Here is the statement he posted on Facebook:

After much soul-searching, I have decided not to run for re-election to the Rockville City Council this fall. I have cherished the privilege of serving the people of Rockville on their Council. But my family has paid a high price while I have campaigned and governed virtually nonstop over the past six years, and it is time for me to turn my attentions homeward.

Though I am keenly disappointed that my elected service must draw to a close for the time being, I take great satisfaction in what I have helped accomplish in office:

• We ended our downtown’s disastrous decade-long building moratorium;

• We saved an entire affordable neighborhood from developers who would have priced hundreds of working families out of their homes;

• We adopted a tough City ethics law; and

• We protected Rockville residents’ privacy by placing sharp limits on the data the government keeps on our movements.

My hard-won victories on these and other issues leave the City in a much better place than when I joined the Council. We can better protect our existing neighborhoods and better create great new ones. We can better compete with neighboring jurisdictions for residents and businesses and investment. The tough decisions I made on budgets and utility rates will maintain our infrastructure and strong City services for years to come.

I am surpassingly grateful for the efforts of Rockville’s superb City staff, whose round-the-clock efforts have made my job significantly easier every moment I have served in office.

You should know that I am very excited about some good folks who are preparing to run for office in Rockville this year. You will be hearing much more from them in the coming weeks. Keeping Rockville such a wonderful place to live, work, and enjoy life requires dynamic, experienced, and forward-looking leadership. We will have the chance for just that this fall. Stay tuned!

Finally, I am deeply grateful to the hundreds of friends and neighbors who have worked so hard over the years to send me to office so I could help fulfill our shared vision for a progressive, efficient, fair, safe, and neighborly Rockville. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to make our great City even better.

With warmest regards,


I can understand him calling it a day after six years–the same amount of time before I made the same decision. Tom was most recently in the news on this blog regarding Rockville’s debate over the removal of a statue of a Confederate soldier.


MCGEO’s Ridiculous Claim that the Department of Liquor Control Saves Consumers Money

Yesterday, I published a reply by MCGEO’s Gino Renne to Adam Pagnucco’s guest blog on Montgomery’s Liquor Control Regime. In his reply, Renne attacks Pagnucco’s claim that the Department of Liquor Control (DLC) raises prices:

In his first false claim, Mr. Pagnucco claims that DLC’s operations increase costs for the consumer. Across all categories except special order beer, costs are 2-10 percent cheaper than neighboring jurisdictions.

This claim struck me as incredible, so I decided to do a sampling of wine prices at a Montgomery County Liquor Store and Total Wine in McLean, Virginia. I focused on comparatively affordable wines and picked out some first at the DLC store and others from Total Wine, and did not know the price of the wine at the other store when I selected it (i.e. no cherry picking).

The results are presented in the following table:


Among the 26 wines, DLC doesn’t carry seven–I checked with the cashier who searched the computer. Only one wine was cheaper at the DLC store and another at the same price, and these two bottles were on sale.

Looking only at the 12 wines currently offered at a discount at Montgomery DLC stores revealed that even their sales tend to be lousy deals. The discounted prices on these wines were an average of 21.9% higher than at Total Wine. When this same set of wines is not on sale, the difference rises to 44.0%.

Examining the larger basket of 19 wines available at both stores shows that regular prices in DLC stores average 36.4% higher that at Total Wine across the river. Put another way, it would cost you an extra $89.04 (plus tax) to buy them in Maryland.

If Gino Renne begins his argument for maintaining the status quo with an obvious, easily disproved falsehood, why should anyone believe anything else he or MCGEO has to say on the subject?

Here is the real capper: Total Wine has its headquarters in Montgomery County but it cannot open one of its (nicer than DLC) stores and offer the same prices here. If you want to know why, look no further than MCGEO and the County Council.


MCGEO Responds to Pagnucco on Montgomery’s Liquor Control Regime

Gino Renne, President of UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO, Responds to Seventh State’s Guest Blogger Adam Pagnucco on Privatization of Montgomery County’s Department of Liquor Control:

Mr. Pagnucco opens his blog by stating that, “Few issues in county government have received more attention over the past two years than the operations of its Department of Liquor Control (DLC).” What a distraction! There are a lot of issues in Montgomery County’s Government that have received attention over the past two years, only one of which, the privatization of the DLC, seems to be receiving a lot of attention from the privileged elite in the County. Most of the County’s residents see far more pressing issues – the funding of the Purple Line, improving other parts of the County’s transportation infrastructure, increasing affordability of housing, and generally serving the needs of our county’s less-than-privileged with better wages, better economic opportunities and better public services. But since Mr. Pagnucco seems to think that we need to privatize DLC and claims that there are a bunch of “myths” surrounding DLC privatization, and he is using a one-sided platform to promote privatization rather than attend the Ad Hoc committees numerous public hearings and meetings, we’ll bite.

In his first false claim, Mr. Pagnucco claims that DLC’s operations increase costs for the consumer. Across all categories except special order beer, costs are 2-10 percent cheaper than neighboring jurisdictions. Many of the smaller retailers are against privatization primarily for the reason that DLC levels the playing field and keeps costs even.

Myth 1: Mr. Pagnucco claims that the County does not need DLC’s net income to function.

Actually, it does. Montgomery County, MD will owe $165,534,675 from 2015-2034 in debt service of revenue bonds that are currently paid through the revenues generated by the Montgomery County DLC. Additionally, the OLO report states that DLC has generated an average of $25.7 mill per year over past decade. That figure is nearly the entire Recreation Department or Library budget. Not chump change. The OLO report acknowledges potential lost revenue that will need to be made up through various fees, auctioning of licenses or a dedicated sales tax. However, the OLO report factors in no additional costs that would occur under a transition from county control to private enterprise. There would be leases to be paid, buyouts for early retirement, increased costs for enforcement and public health issues, etc.

While it’s easy to agree that the County will find a way to adjust, why should it? It has a guaranteed source of revenue that you propose the County throw away to make it easier for consumers to buy when there’s also no guarantee that consumption would increase. In Washington State, after privatization, sales only increased by 6% in its first year, while the next year data shows no increase. In addition, with increased prices, many consumers near the Oregon border are visiting liquor stores there to bypass the price increases. If privatization here were to follow the trends in Washington State, we’d definitely lose revenue to our neighboring jurisdictions.

Pennsylvania’s public liquor stores, which just beat back efforts to privatize, have reported a record boost in sales that are said to be due to improvements and modernization. A liquor board member said that people living in a border area are returning to shop in Pennsylvania stores because of the improvements.

A better solution is to keep the current public model in place with its fair prices and guaranteed revenue while expanding DLC stores. The resolution passed by the Council last week allows for this solution.

In Myth 2, Mr. Pagnucco claims that DLC monopoly isn’t needed for public safety, quoting decreased DUI and drunk driving arrests in newly privatized Washington State as evidence.

An official with an ALEC-connected think tank in Washington notes that this claim doesn’t really hold water. “Privatization didn’t improve the numbers necessarily but it didn’t make it any worse either.” A Washington state police spokesman adds, “I don’t think you can draw a correlation that because of private sales now we have fewer alcohol related arrests. The number of arrests is much more directly connected to the number of police officers out there actually patrolling.” The state police official notes that there are 80 fewer state troopers than previously, which has led to the decline in arrests. Couple that with legalization of marijuana in that same time period, one can draw the conclusion that arrests could have just as easily declined due to substitution of one drug of choice for another.

Tori Cooke, president of the Montgomery County FOP, testified that privatization would create public health and safety issues that are not easily addressed. And he and his fellow officers are against any efforts to privatize.

Dr. Roland Zullo, a research scientist at the University of Michigan, examined the impact of state ownership of retail alcohol distribution on 23 different crimes grouped in six categories. Dr. Zullo finds that state control of retail alcohol distribution is associated with statistically significant reductions in crimes that have been linked to alcohol consumption, including domestic abuse, assault, and fraud. Control states also had lower rates for vehicle theft and vandalism (using a slightly lower threshold for statistical significance, the 10% rather than the 5% level).

In Myth 3, Mr. Pagnucco claims that privatization would not result in the loss of high paying union jobs.

This is his most egregious of claims, especially for a former union employee. Where’s the evidence that “many private wholesalers” are represented by IBT? Or even evidence that union membership will not suffer a net loss? Mr. Pagnucco needs to explain himself on this one. I don’t know how he sees that transition occurring.

These are our members; it’s our job to protect them and to protect unions in general. It’s a public policy issue. There are societal costs. How much is it going to cost to put these people on the streets? Where are the high paying jobs that are family supporting and middle class sustaining going to come from for these 400 employees? I doubt we’ll see them at the mom and pop shops that could pop up if privatization were to occur. It’s extremely difficult to organize a union in your workplace these days. Although the NLRB is trying to speed up the process, the length of time from a certification election to a first contract can still take years. Union busters find many successful ways to stop a union campaign, as Mr. Pagnucco well knows.

DLC is able to provide good jobs with benefits while generating tens of millions to county coffers. Meanwhile, privatization will create minimum wage liquor clerk, warehouse and delivery jobs with little-to-no benefits that will exacerbate our economic inequality in this county. Sure, privatization could create union organizing opportunities, but no way it would create net gains in union membership.

In Myth 4, Mr. Pagnucco claims that the DLC is not getting better.

First and foremost, the fraud, waste and abuse in the private liquor industry is as rampant as it is in the public sector, if not more. But, because it’s private industry, it isn’t enforced or prosecuted very often or as publicly. In 2006, eight wholesalers in New York were ordered to pay $1.6 million in fines and costs for a “pay to play” scheme that favored larger retailers and provided discounts and inducements to those willing to pay. Meanwhile, smaller licensees were forced to cope. Under DLC’s structure, small licensees are given the same treatment as larger purchasers. With oversight, the DLC is forced to answer for its practices and it does. Private industry will not be given the same oversight.

Secondly, the DLC was hamstrung by technology purchases that were inappropriate for its needs and a hiring freeze, forcing customer service to suffer. Both of these were county mandates, not DLC-specific. It’s now been given the go ahead to hire and has made significant strides on that front. The ordering system is getting its revamp as well.

Yes, we agree that the system needs to be more nimble – it shouldn’t be forced to follow county-imposed hiring freezes and should be allowed to buy technology that specifically fits its needs, especially since it is a self-funded department.

In Myth 5, Mr. Pagnucco claims that the resolution to allow private wholesalers to fulfill sales of special order items is not “historic reform.”

We agree, it’s not “historic.” That’s hyperbole used for political purposes but it is a significant change for the department. Part of the change should make the DLC more nimble and part of the change should allow for expansion of the DLC’s store base. The “fee” Mr. Pagnucco complains about is paid by the distributor to allow for its participation in the Montgomery County market. Its structure has not yet been determined, just that there will be a fee.

Comparing the County DLC to the USSR’s failed perestroika? Really? I hope all readers realized that this is an absolutely absurd comparison. This resolution came after months of hearings, testimony and input from stakeholders. If you don’t like the way the process was playing out, Mr. Pagnucco, why didn’t you participate in it? Why are you using your friend’s blog to post your opinion without allowing for public input or participating in the public forum?

Again, I will emphasize there are much larger issues facing Montgomery County residents than from whom they can buy their liquor or wine. You need to respect the process and move on from this DLC issue and tackle our real problems.


Explaining Leadership Loyalty Among U.S. House Democrats v. Republicans

As long as I’m focusing on U.S. politics today. . .

Charlie Cook has a set of very interesting analyses of loyalty to leadership among Democrats and Republicans. While Democrats who live in safe districts are more likely to vote with Pelosi than Democrats from marginal districts, the opposite is true among Republicans. Marginal district Republicans are much more likely to vote with Boehner than Republicans from safe districts.

This pattern is likely explained by primaries and the unusual disjuncture between the hardcore Republican base and the House leadership. Members from safe districts in both parties have a huge incentive to pay more attention to their primary rather than general election electorate. While moderation is rewarded in the general election, it’s all about the base in a party primary.

As a result, Democrats from safe districts have no problem casting solid left votes. Notice that the major Democratic defection from President Obama was on trade, where he lost Pelosi’s support and was at odds with the Democratic union and left-wing base.

The Republican conservative base is hostile to efforts by Boehner and McConnell to concede ideological points in order to govern. Ted Cruz’s attack on Mitch McConnell was an applause line at last night’s debate! So Republicans from safe districts are more likely to rebel against their party’s leadership. In contrast, marginal district Republicans want their party to look reasonable and able to make the government function so they vote with Boehner.


Republican Debate Wrap Up

So I am currently in an undisclosed location with no television, which still did not leave me safe from political debates. Nevertheless, thanks to the inability of the FOX news stream to work, I had to listen to it on the radio feed while watching a picture about 10 seconds off from the talk on the home page.

Right Wing and Angry

I was struck once again how right wing the Republican Party has become. Jeb Bush, probably the most conservative governor of his (now past?) day, was one of the “moderates.” Projecting strength was the order of the day with Paul’s efforts to hearken back to a day when conservatives believed doing less was more falling flat.

Angry too. President Barack Obama isn’t just wrong. He’s a traitor who has perpetrated countless unconstitutional acts, weakened our military, and ruined America. Not many rays of sunny optimism save for the Horatio Alger competition at the end of the debate that would not have been out of place in a Democratic debate.

Good Questions, Some Bias

The three questioners from the right-wing media establishment asked good, tough questions. Their major negative moment was Chris Wallace’s decision to turn “illegals” into a noun, which I guess was shorter than “those brown people.”

The Republicans may be having a bromance with Trump but FOX wants to break them up. The three moderators were gunning for the Donald who repeatedly received questions that one would call “gotcha questions” except they were totally legit.

On the other hand, Marco Rubio received the easy softball about what he’d do to improve small business. Gave him the opportunity to hit the usual Republican erogenous zones. FOX man crush?

El Trumpo

Contempt. This guy has it for everyone. One even had the sense that he had it for the people who let him on the stage. A one man walking self-admiration society. With Trump, the answers may devolve into word salad but it’s all about the attitude.

Bush Part III

Felt like he was serving reheated pablum from the previous Bush administrations only that he’s too bright to believe it, which tended to weaken the delivery. You never quite feel you know where he stands–a problem in an election where “authenticity” (even if from a fake reality TV star!) seems the order of the day. He tried to dog whistle the right at the end with a Terri Schiavo allusion but it didn’t seem like a night for subtlety.

Though he nonetheless came across as one of the adults in the room, Bush’s unavoidable ability to remind us of his brother and complete hogwash of an answer on how he would create 4% economic growth through magical thinking made him look less like a general election winner than before the debate.

Marco Rubio

Has somehow managed to make Republicans forget that he was one of the major sponsors of the much reviled immigration reform bill. Rubio had the most telegenic delivery in the debate. His youth combined with not being Bush made him seem a more likely candidate if the goal is to get the Republicans to nominate someone credible who can get voters to turn the page.

If he does become the nominee, expect Democrats to play the clip unceasingly on his opposition to banning abortion in cases of rape and incest in response to a question from Megyn Kelly. Many Americans are uncomfortable with abortion but this provides a clear distinction that any Democrat would be glad to draw.

Ted Cruz and Rand Paul

Fascinating to see how the Republicans are no longer just that into the two guys who enchanted so much after the 2014 elections. Paul was an object lesson on what not to say to appeal to Republican voters.

Cruz continues to try to win the game of who is the most conservative of them all. But somehow pressing that button isn’t working for him anymore–at least not yet. Completely uncompromising and a good example of how our dysfunctional government could become more so.

And the Rest. . .

Huckabee is extremely comfortable on television. Sorta like an infomercial that leaves me deeply uneasy. Republican commentators thought he did well and he certainly wasn’t gunning for my vote.

Ben Carson’s soft-spoken delivery left me utterly confused as to why he is a Republican phenom. Unless his job is to explain why it’s OK never to talk about race–his big applause line.

Chris Christie’s ongoing problem is that he is the Lucy Ricardo of the Republican candidates–he always has some ‘splainin to do and never sounds altogether convincing doing it. Couldn’t answer why his state’s bond rating has plummeted even though he’s done such a bang up job balancing the books. Loves the blame game–it’s always someone else’s fault. Doesn’t look like Gov. Hogan’s endorsement will pay off for Maryland in future.

John Kasich sounded like a reasonable guy with experience. This leads me to believe he is unelectable in a Republican primary, despite the clear affection from the hometown crowd. But it’s hard to imagine how any nominee would not give serious thought to putting this popular swing-state governor on the ticket.

Scott Walker made no memorable impression on me. No gaffes and nothing off from the Republican script.

Final Note

As @PeterBeinart tweeted, “how on earth does Saturday Night Live parody this?”