Josh Kurtz Raising Money for New Media Venture

By Adam Pagnucco.

Legendary Maryland politics writer Josh Kurtz is raising money for a new independent media venture.  He has partners and he has an angel investor, so this could be for real, folks!

Kurtz, whose statehouse and local political reporting led to the Gazette’s Politics and Business edition twenty years ago, is regarded by many as Maryland’s best political columnist.  Over the last few years, his columns have been published weekly by Center Maryland.  But Kurtz is not content with his current gig.  Like many in the state, he has identified a void in state and local news coverage as we described in our Politics After the Gazette series.  And now Kurtz and a team of supporters are actually doing something about that: they are starting a new independent news site called Maryland Matters.

The concept of Maryland Matters is to have a lean, online news operation that would provide objective reporting and, eventually, commentary.  Kurtz would like to have five full-time reporters, a couple of editors and a few business and technology people when the site is fully built out.  Revenue would come from contributions that would be matched by a family foundation (more below).  Other journalists who are connected to the project include former Post reporter Miranda Spivack, Bethesda Magazine reporter Lou Peck, former editor of Charles County’s Maryland Independent Angela Breck and University of Maryland journalism professor Adrianne Flynn.  One or more of these folks might eventually provide content to the site.  Kurtz has a steering committee featuring MANY prominent names from Maryland political circles.

Kurtz is holding a fundraiser in Annapolis on October 24 featuring the Post’s superstar national political analyst Chris Cillizza.  If you follow Maryland news and politics, you should consider supporting this venture.  Josh Kurtz’s credentials are beyond question and if this new site succeeds, it could be a turning point for state news coverage.

Following is the blast email promoting the fundraiser.



Dear [ ]:

Want to hear from one of the nation’s premier political prognosticators just two weeks before Election Day — and support a great cause at the same time?

Then you’ll want to join us at a fundraiser in Annapolis on Monday, October 24 for Maryland Matters, an independent news website intended to be a one-stop shop for government and political coverage in Annapolis and in local jurisdictions around the Free State. Chris Cillizza, author of “The Fix” column at The Washington Post, will be our special guest.

For the past year, several journalists, as well as concerned citizens from business, communications, law and the public sector, have been working to launch Maryland Matters. It’s modeled on other excellent nonprofit online publications — from California and Texas to Connecticut and Vermont — created to ensure the survival of the type of “accountability journalism” that, for more than a century, was largely the province of the nation’s newspapers.

I don’t have to tell you that the resources devoted to state and local coverage by such institutions as the Post and The Baltimore Sun have shrunk dramatically in recent years. Other publications that once did an excellent job covering the State House, like The Gazette and The Examiner, are gone completely.

We aspire to fill this void by establishing the largest news bureau in Annapolis during the three months of the year when the General Assembly is in session, as well as providing year-round coverage of the executive branch and state regulatory agencies, major local jurisdictions, and the Maryland congressional delegation in Washington. Our plan is to launch Maryland Matters in 2017.

We’re happy to say that our idea has met with overwhelmingly positive reviews. The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region has created a fund for Maryland Matters, which enables us to solicit and collect tax-deductible contributions. Needless to say, it will cost a significant amount of money to pull this off.

But as we say in the news business, I’m burying the lede here: Just a couple of weeks ago, we got a financial angel — a family foundation has informed us that if we can raise $250,000, they will match it. This is exciting news and puts a lot of wind at our backs. Every contribution we receive is now essentially doubled.

So we are inviting you to our first Annapolis fundraiser, to be held from 5-7 p.m. onMonday, October 24, in the upstairs room at Stan & Joe’s, at 37 West Street. We’re honored to have Chris Cillizza joining us. We can’t think of a better person to talk about this crazy election year — and we hope you’ll take advantage of the opportunity to chat with him.

The suggested contribution is $250. We welcome donations both larger and smaller. Checks may be made out to: Maryland Matters Fund/Community Foundation. They can be brought to the event at Stan & Joe’s or mailed to the community foundation at 1201 15th St. NW, Suite 420, Washington, DC 20005.

We hope to see you on the 24th, so you can be more fully informed about our plans and spread the word to others. If you are not able to make it, I hope you can send along a contribution anyway — and tell your friends and colleagues about what we’re trying to do.

As a journalist, I’m not used to asking others for contributions. But all of us involved in this venture believe that nothing less than an informed public — elected officials, political activists, and voters at large — is at stake. So please be as generous as you can.

All the best,

Josh Kurtz


Maryland Matters Steering Committee Includes:

Hon. Michael Barnes

Angela Breck

Hon. Bill Bronrott

Bonnie Casper

Thomas Dennison

Adrianne Flynn

Andrew Friedson

Keith Haller

Ed Holzinger

Curtis Johnson

Hamza Khan

Joel Kirkland

Josh Kurtz

Hon. Terry Lierman

Len Lucchi

Hon. Connie Morella

Tyler Patton

Lou Peck

Hon. Steve Silverman

Hon. Jeffrey Slavin

Miranda Spivack

Hon. Chris Trumbauer


More Banana Republicans

Two more Republican delegates continue to hug Trump tightly. Let’s start with Neil Parrott:


Del. Parrott is best known for his hysterical advocacy of the “bathroom bill” because he really thought that men dressing up as women to enter the women’s bathroom would become a thing once we passed transgender equality legislation.

These concerns do not extend to candidates that Parrott supports. He remains enthusiastically behind Donald Trump–the candidate who the Washington Post reported today has entered rooms with naked underage girls in it during the Miss Teen USA Pageant who were then forced to fawn all over him while nude:

To have the owner come waltzing in, when we’re naked, or half naked, in a very physically vulnerable position and then to have the pressure of the people that worked for him telling us to go fawn all over him, go walk up to him, talk to him, get his attention.

So the same man who wanted to use fear of a small vulnerable minority to criminalize their use of bathrooms over a nonexistent problem has no issue when the presidential candidate of his own party preys on underage girls.

Moving on to Del. Warren Miller. He rationalized his support for Trump by claiming that “her campaign hates Christians” in a tweeted reply to Dylan Goldberg, who formerly worked for Sen. Guy Guzzone:

dylan1Miller clearly lives in the right-wing delusional alternative universe in which American Christians are persecuted and there is a “War on Christmas.” It would seem that the only Christian being persecuted here is Hillary Clinton.

One might add the weirdness of sending this particular tweet to Dylan Goldberg during Yom Kippur. While Miller’s belief about Clinton supporting Christian persecution is a work of fiction, Trump’s invocation of anti-Semitic tropes is on tape and he admitted to similar statements over the past 25 years.

As is well known, Trump retweets material, including the infamous anti-Semitic “sheriff’s star” attack, from right-wing white nationalist websites. His supporters have no problem attacking Trump critics, such as Anne Applebaum, for being Jewish.

In short, no one has done more to reawaken anti-Semitism in the U.S. in decades than Donald Trump. And this hardly compares to his routine demonization of Latinos, Muslims, and Blacks. Apparently, Miller is also fine with Trump’s anti-democratic threat to jail his opponent, undermining of NATO, and cozying up to Putin.

Folks, this is the norm in today’s Maryland Republican Party.


Does Larry Hogan Really Care About Jobs?

By Adam Pagnucco.

Larry Hogan has worked hard to portray himself as a Jobs Governor.  In nearly every one of his public appearances, speeches and press statements, he talks about jobs, jobs, jobs.  Here’s a quote from his inaugural address that has set the tone for his administration.

“Maryland has an educated workforce, world-class universities and colleges, great community colleges, and public schools. We have our beautiful Chesapeake Bay, the Port of Baltimore, and a great location in the heart of the Mid-Atlantic region. We must leverage these amazing assets to transform Maryland into a place where businesses can flourish and create more jobs and opportunities for our citizens. Starting today let me say loudly and clearly: Maryland is open for business.”  Governor Hogan, Inaugural Address, 1/21/15

The statement above deserves a big asterisk.  In practice, Hogan’s enthusiasm for jobs depends on where they are.  When jobs are located at a Northrop Grumman facility in Anne Arundel County, the Governor proposes tens of millions of dollars in state subsidies for them.  When employment growth lags in the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland, Hogan promises a new jobs initiative.  But when the Red Line was projected to add billions of dollars in economic activity and over 15,000 badly needed jobs to the City of Baltimore, Hogan cancelled it.  And last week, he sent another large public works project into limbo: Montgomery County’s Corridor Cities Transitway.  What do Montgomery County and the City of Baltimore have in common?  You guessed it – they voted for Hogan’s opponent in the last election.

The Corridor Cities Transitway (CCT) is one of the state’s preeminent transportation projects, and one that has an awful lot of job growth tied to it.  The CCT, a 15-mile Bus Rapid Transit Line from the Shady Grove Metro Station to the southern part of Clarksburg, has been planned since the 1970s.  It would link some of Montgomery County’s fastest-growing places, including Gaithersburg, Germantown, Clarksburg, the Life Sciences Center and the federal government’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, in an area that has few transit options.  A 2011 economic impact analysis by Parsons Brinckerhoff estimated that the project would create $2.2 billion of economic activity through 2050 and would create over 6,000 jobs during its construction phase.  Those jobs would go to craft employees like carpenters, laborers, operating engineers, cement masons, iron workers and electricians – blue-collar workers whom the Governor cultivates.

“The government needs to do everything it possibly can to help people provide for themselves and get a job.”  Larry Hogan, candidate for Governor, 10/9/14

But the CCT is far more than just a transportation project.  It is tied to the massive Great Seneca Science Corridor Master Plan passed by the Montgomery County Council in 2010.  The plan leverages the CCT to allow new development including 10.6 million additional square feet of commercial space, 5,700 more residential units and 31,300 new jobs.  This would be one of the biggest developments in the state, comparable to Baltimore’s Port Covington project.  Many of the Great Seneca plan’s jobs would be professional and high-paying, including scientists, doctors and engineers.  All of this is worth countless billions to the State of Maryland.  But because the area’s existing infrastructure can’t handle the traffic volume created by this level of development, the plan is contingent on the CCT’s construction.  In other words, no CCT – no jobs.  As Council Member George Leventhal has said, “By deferring this project, Governor Hogan is deferring our high-tech economy.”

“The primary focus of our administration is economic development, growing our private sector and creating more jobs.”  Governor Hogan, MACo conference, 8/22/16

Governor Hogan is uniquely qualified to understand the ties between growth, development and jobs.  He is, after all, a real estate developer who has made a fortune building projects not so different from those that would be located near the CCT.  He requires no education on the economic merits of this issue.  But the politics are a totally different matter.  The Governor’s political play is obvious: he gets to kill (or at least indefinitely delay) a transit project in a blue county so that he can spread highway money around to the red counties who will presumably vote for him.  And because he (barely!) allowed a stripped-down version of the Purple Line to proceed, he can ax the CCT and still raise money from his friends in the real estate industry.

“The primary focus of my administration is to get Maryland open for business once again and create jobs for our citizens.”  Governor Hogan, 5/12/15

In economic terms, the CCT and its associated development would be a huge win for everyone around the state.  That’s because the state government is the primary recipient of income tax revenues from new residents, and it’s the only recipient of sales taxes and corporate income taxes from new businesses.  Because of how Maryland’s wealth formulas work, the huge majority of those state revenues would not stay in MoCo – they would go to the poorer counties of the state, many of whom are in rural areas that vote in huge numbers for Hogan.  In his effort to score points with his supporters, the Governor is actually damaging their economic interests.

So what does the Governor really care about?  Is it jobs?

Or politics?


Dan Cox Goes Full Giuliani on Trump

If you needed more motivation to work to make sure Democrat Jamie Raskin defeats Republican Dan Cox for the open Eighth Congressional District, Cox is doing his best to give it to you (h/t Will Roberts). Not only did Cox not condemn the Trump’s pride in sexual assault but is angry at Republicans for any criticism of it:

cox4Cox’s twitter feed is a cornucopia of pathetic efforts to reinforce Trump’s tawdry pre-debate presser.

coxcox2Cox even supports turning America into a third-rate dictatorship where the winner of a presidential election locks up the loser:


Cox thinks this is winning. We get a chance to explain it’s not with our votes on November 8th.


Maryland Republican Trump Tape Reax Summary: Standing by Trump

head_in_sandGovernor Larry Hogan’s Reaction to Trump Tape

This past weekend, 7S spent much time chronicling the reactions of Maryland Republicans to Tapegate. I summarize here in case you sensibly had better things to do this weekend. They run the gamut to everything except a willingness to repudiate Trump:

Full Ostrich: Gov. Larry Hogan continued his perfect record of never criticizing his party’s nominee and disclaiming interest in presidential politics after racing around the country to support Trump lickspittle Chris Christie.

The Szeliga: Kathy Szeliga was “appalled” but Trump still gets her vote. A common approach.

Szeliga Plus: Amie Hoeber upped the weird by utilizing her personal experience of being subjected to sexism to justify her continued support for the sexist candidate. And Hillary bad.

No Apology Necessary: A model for all wingnuts, Sen. Gail Bates excused Trump as she linked to conspiracy theory rants. She holds Allan Kittleman’s former seat in the General Assembly, which shows just how deep the rot has got in the GOP.

Full Trump: Rep. Andy Harris previewed Trump’s tawdry pre-debate presser and invoked Benghazi like the Expelliarmus charm in Harry Potter.

Remember that all of these people opposed marriage equality but there is seemingly no behavior by Trump that cannot be ignored or excused. This is now the Maryland Republican Party.


Harris Goes Full Trump

Here are Andy Harris’s bon mots on Tapegate:

harrisOr restated, the other party has been morally reprehensible for years, so it’s OK that my party is too. This has already been roundly critiqued on Facebook, which saves me from having to do the work:

harris2 harris3 harris4 harris6

The last point deserves more attention. Lost in the flurry over Tapegate, Trump decided to raise the specter of black criminality around the case of five black men exonerated by DNA.

And here is a prototypical Republican response, which blames Tapegate on Hillary Clinton. Because everything bad in the world must be her fault. Of course, even there were an iota of evidence to back up this claim, it would be shocking, yes shocking, for someone to expose Donald Trump in this manner.



Hoeber’s Sad Argument for Sticking with Trump

hoeber1Hoeber is now taking what we could call the Szeliga route on standing by Donald Trump. Like Szeliga, there appears nothing Trump could do to lose Hoeber’s support. Gov. Larry Hogan, who endorsed Hoeber enthusiastically, is remaining #HoganSilent on Hoeber’s support for Trump.

Hoeber’s strange statement raises as many questions as it answers. She says that she “no stranger to being subjected to the attitude he expressed.” So Hoeber is using her past experience with sexism to validate her support of a candidate who thinks sexual assault is all good. What will the other board members on the House of Ruth Maryland think of this?

Second, much of Hoeber’s past experience was in the Reagan administration and working with the Pentagon. Is Hoeber stating that this is a pervasive problem in the Pentagon and among Reagan stalwarts in Republican politics? As far as I can tell, her website makes no mention of addressing these issues but proposes a 40% increase in Pentagon funding.

Hoeber touts Trump as a safer choice than Clinton for the country even as she highlights her own national security credentials. Does Hoeber really think that Trump–the guy who derides NATO and our other alliances, would rip up every trade deal, and is easily baited into conflict by a tweet–is better than Clinton? Or is just terrified of losing Trump supporters? Either reveals astonishinly bad judgment and the latter a lack of political leadership.

Red Maryland has derided “ignorant” Hoeber for not being as wacky as Don Bongino, who has now lost congressional races in Maryland and Florida. Normally, this would be a good sign that Hoeber is a more centrist Republican. But even as Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) across the river very belatedly rejects Trump, Hoeber reveals that there is nothing Trump could do to lose her support. There is no reason to believe she’d act differently if he becomes President.


Wingnut Watch: Bates Already Over Trump Tape

This is your Maryland Republican Party:


In fact, Bates didn’t even think that Trump needed to apologize:


Sen. Bates’s Facebook page also links to a rant from wingnut Allen West that blames tapegate on Hillary Clinton and the “crappy, liberal progressive media” and refers to President Obama as “the disaffected and disinterested boy king.”

So it’s full steam ahead on right-wing bubble conspiracy theories but time to move on from Trump’s constant abuse of women.