Tag Archives: Peter Franchot

Franchot Endorses Blair

By Adam Pagnucco.

Comptroller Peter Franchot has endorsed County Executive candidate David Blair.  Franchot is popular with moderate, anti-establishment and pro-business Democrats and this could help Blair consolidate those groups.  We reprint Franchot’s blast email below.



As a proud Montgomery Countian who has lived in Takoma Park for nearly 40 years, I’m proud of the caliber of the candidates who are running to succeed my friend, the great Ike Leggett, as our County Executive. When we head to the polls on June 26, or during the early voting period, we will have the privilege of choosing one of several talented public servants with records of true accomplishment in both local and state government.

As your Comptroller and Maryland’s Chief Fiscal Officer, I believe we must elect the candidate with the right blend of values, experience and vision to ensure our County’s long-term competitiveness and economic prosperity. For me, that candidate is David Blair.

David is a lifelong Montgomery Countian who built one of America’s most successful health care companies right here in the county – one that began in a single room and went on to sustain thousands of family-supporting jobs. There is nobody who has a clearer understanding than David of the pressures facing Montgomery County’s working, middle-class families – far too many of whom have seen the size of their paychecks stagnate while the costs of living continue to rise.

There is also nobody who knows better than David that Montgomery County simply cannot sustain necessary investments in exceptional public schools, gridlock relief, safer communities and community reinvestment if we do not act immediately to create a stronger and more competitive business climate. The priorities that we all share are essential, but none of them are free.

That is why it is so essential that we create an environment where the government is more responsive to the entrepreneurs and small business owners who are the backbone of our economy. That’s why it’s so vital to send the message that in Montgomery County, economic development and social justice are complementary values, and that one cannot occur in the absence of the other. And it’s why we must embrace policies that allow the innovation of the free market to thrive – beginning with an end to the government liquor monopoly that has done such a profound disservice to our consumers, small business owners and the Montgomery County economy. This is the change that David Blair will bring to Montgomery County.

David has the vision and the experience of a leader. As someone who has given so much back to our community through his work to end homelessness and poverty, create better early childhood learning opportunities and improve the lives of people with disabilities, he also has the values of a true public servant.  David Blair is my choice for Montgomery County Executive, and I respectfully ask that you consider his candidacy.

To learn more about David and his campaign, please visit www.blairformontgomery.com.

Thank you, as always, for your continued friendship and support.



Four More Years for Franchot

By Adam Pagnucco.

For many months, rumors have abounded about the Democratic establishment seeking to find a primary challenger to its hated nemesis, Comptroller Peter Franchot.  But at the close of candidate filing, it became clear that the effort to oust Franchot had failed.  The Comptroller has no Democratic opponent, and with only an unknown Republican running against him, Franchot is certain to get four more years in office.

Among the statehouse’s leadership, Governor Larry Hogan is regarded as a rival but not a bitter enemy.  That’s because since the Governor is a Republican, a certain amount of political competition is expected.  Franchot, on the other hand, is despised by the Annapolis Democratic ruling class.  As a Democrat and a former twenty-year Delegate, someone in Franchot’s position would normally be expected to be a loyal player on Team Dem.  Instead, the Comptroller is the leader of Team Franchot – a team with different interests and tactics than Team Dem – and the leaders revile him as an apostate.

Understanding Franchot requires breaking out of the conventional political box – something the Comptroller specializes in.  Here are four facts about Franchot that players in state politics should recognize.

He Has Built a Thirty-Year Career on Rebellion Against Authority

Let’s go back to 1986.  District 20 State Senator Stewart Bainum was leaving his seat to run for Congress.  Two Delegates, Ida Ruben and Diane Kirchenbauer, ran for the open Senate seat.  But Ruben was not content to go to the Senate – she wanted to control the entire district.  So Ruben put together a slate including incumbent Delegate Sheila Hixson, MoCo Democrat of the Year Robert Berger and former Takoma Park City Council Member Lou D’Ovidio.  Franchot, then a young aide to Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey, was having none of it.  He launched an aggressive door-knocking campaign for Delegate running against lobbyists, greedy banks, insurance companies and “special interests” of all kinds.  Franchot finished first in the Delegate race, surpassing even Hixson, and learned an early lesson: revolting against the establishment, both political and economic, could be electorally rewarding.

Franchot targets special interests in a 1986 mailer.

That was just the beginning.  Two years later, Franchot ran a tough and occasionally negative race against the new darling of moderates in MoCo, Congresswoman Connie Morella.  (This is the only race Franchot would lose.)  In 1992, Franchot backed an ill-fated coup attempt against House Speaker Clay Mitchell.  Mitchell’s rival, Nancy Kopp, would go on to be rehabilitated, but Franchot was sent so far to the back of the bench that he could have been sitting in a Bay Bridge toll booth.  After the 2002 election, Franchot began running against Mister Maryland, Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, and even took out a $750,000 loan on his house to do it.  After winning an upset victory, Franchot then fought with Governor Martin O’Malley and the legislature’s presiding officers over slots and other issues all the way through Hogan’s election.  And the fight goes on over craft beer.

Here is a partial list of all the establishment figures Franchot has taken on in the last thirty years: two incumbent Delegates in his home district, a popular Congresswoman, multiple House Speakers and the Senate President, a sitting Democratic Governor and one of Maryland’s most influential all-time political figures in Schaefer.  No other politician has assembled such a list and survived.  And yet here is Franchot, more than thirty years later, with no primary opponent.

He Champions Non-Partisan Issues

Think of some of the issues Franchot has taken on in the last decade: opposition to slots, cracking down on fraudulent tax returns, getting air conditioning in Baltimore County schools, opposing MoCo’s liquor monopoly, moving the start of school until after Labor Day and liberalizing state laws on craft beer.  These issues seem like an eclectic set but they have two things in common.  First, none of them are partisan or ideological issues.  Folks in the left, right and middle can agree on many of them.  And second, the constituencies in opposition are attractive opponents to have: casino conglomerates, tax cheaters, corporate mega-beer producers and incompetent bureaucrats.  To quote former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, from a political perspective this is [expletive deleted] golden.  Franchot has picked up allies and admirers in all these fights who range all over the political spectrum and will never desert him.  How many Maryland politicians can make that claim?

Moreover, despite the contempt that the establishment holds for Franchot, he has had his share of wins.  Pressure from Franchot and Hogan has helped accelerate Baltimore County’s school construction program.  Hogan’s executive order on school openings after Labor Day, a Franchot idea, has gone unchallenged.  Last year, Franchot got a major tax fraud bill passed through the General Assembly.  And the current efforts to put slots money in a lockbox for education is a big vindication for Franchot, who has argued for a decade that gambling money was not used for schools as promised but has instead been poured into the general fund.  We will see how his current craft beer crusade turns out.

He Lacks Ambition and Fear

Most politicians are driven by ambition and fear.  Ambition, typically manifesting as a drive for higher office, causes politicians to take risks, stand out and appeal to critical interest groups.  Fear can be healthy when it aids self-preservation, including fear of being disliked, embarrassed, ostracized or losing an election.  The behavior of most politicians involves a competition and balance between these two competing traits.  In a sense, Franchot has neither of them.

Franchot’s absence of fear is obvious.  The scathing denunciations of Franchot by O’Malley, the legislature’s presiding officers, the Baltimore Sun editorial page and various dukes and barons of Annapolis would scare the living daylights out of most politicians.  Not Franchot.  He not only doesn’t care; the confrontations actually energize him.  Your author has seen him grin and rub his hands together in glee at the prospect of taking on folks whom he would call “bullies and bosses.”  No other influential figure in state politics acts like this.

But here’s the thing: Franchot also lacks any ambition for higher office.  He figured out some time ago that Comptroller is a great job.  Franchot doesn’t have to vote on controversial bills, draft budgets, raise taxes or say no to constituents.  He gets to travel around the state, hand out awards to small businesses, get involved with issues of his choice and, as long as tax refunds go out quickly and efficiently, he can do all of the above as long as he likes.  So he isn’t going to run for Governor, Congress or anything else.  That frees up Franchot from having to compete for all of the Democratic interest group support he would need in a competitive primary with quality opponents.  That means he gets to set his own agenda in a way other politicians can’t.  And boy, that has been a major asset to him.

The Establishment Handles Him Terribly

If you’re a leader in the Democratic establishment, there are only two ways to deal with the occasional and inevitable Franchot eruptions.  You can ignore them.  You can co-opt them.  Sometimes you can do both.  But whatever you do, don’t take on Franchot directly.  Then he gets to fight “bullies and bosses,” and either gets his way or he gets to be martyred in front of legions of adoring supporters.  Either way, he wins.

The recent craft beer fight is a good example of mishandling Franchot.  Maryland’s alcohol laws are notoriously anti-competitive, although they have very slowly begun to liberalize.  Franchot rightly criticizes the state’s beer franchise laws, which essentially establish state-sanctioned distribution cartels, and he ridiculed a requirement in a bill passed last year that craft breweries send some of their beer to distributors and buy it back before serving it in their tap rooms.  Then he set up a task force to give his proposed beer law reforms legitimacy and had his army of craft beer supporters descend on Annapolis.  What to do?

The rational response would be to ignore and co-opt.  From a strictly political perspective, the establishment should have given Franchot’s bill a polite hearing but otherwise ignored it.  Then they should have extracted pieces from it that the distributors could live with, pass those in a separate bill sponsored by state legislators who could use a bump, and declare victory.  Franchot would declare partial victory too, but who cares?

But this is Franchot so rationality went out the window.  Instead, the leaders put forth two bills: one to retract the improvements the craft breweries won last year and another to form a task force to study whether the Comptroller’s alcohol regulatory authority should be taken away.  The establishment’s reward was an all-day hearing that degenerated into a searing circus featuring angry and sputtering Delegates, militant craft beer advocates, allegations of payoffs through booze industry political contributions and a starring role for Franchot who got to denounce “back room deals.”  They gave Franchot exactly what he wanted: a swarming sea of fans and HUGE press attention.  How exactly is this supposed to encourage him to behave differently in the future?

Franchot preens like a peacock before press and supporters outside the House hearing room where his craft beer bill was discussed.  Credit: Franchot’s Facebook page.

The Bottom Line

There are 188 members of the General Assembly.  The place needs hierarchy to operate.  There must be organization, leadership, direction and consequences for violators.  Otherwise, nothing would get done.  All of this means that if the establishment didn’t exist, we would have to create one.

That said, establishments decay and become obsolete when they go unchallenged.  There’s a valuable role for disrupters like Franchot: they keep the leadership on its toes and make sure issues that do not originate solely within favored interest groups get addressed.  This push and pull keeps the place vibrant and relevant and, over the long run, makes it better.

The leadership may not always like that.  But they’re going to have to deal with it, at least for another four years.

Disclosure: The author has done campaign work for Peter Franchot in the past but has not worked on his current campaign on craft beer.


A Mug Half Full

By Adam Pagnucco.

A General Assembly compromise passed on Sine Die will allow Diageo’s new brewery in Baltimore County to move forward.  But the amended Bill 1283 is a mug half full, with the state’s craft brewers inevitably seeking more in the future.

A brief refresher.  Diageo, owner of the world-famous Guinness brand, announced plans to open its first U.S. brewery in more than sixty years in Baltimore County a few months ago.  Diageo did not ask for a state subsidy, but it did ask for permission to sell 5,000 barrels per year from the brewery’s taproom, up from the state’s current 500 barrel limit (by far the lowest in the country).  A bill passed by the House of Delegates raised the barrel limit to 2,000 (with another 1,000 allowed if bought from a wholesaler), but it also cut back hours of operations and prohibited off-site contract brewing, a major hit on the industry.  After an outcry from brewers, the Senate amended the bill to allow a limited amount of contract brewing and to grandfather the hours of existing breweries and those in the approval process (including Diageo).  The House passed the amended bill on Sine Die.

The deal allows Diageo to come to Maryland, and that’s a good thing.  But it also contains two counter-productive elements.

The Concession to Wholesalers

Brewery taprooms are now allowed to sell 2,000 barrels directly to customers each year.  (The next-lowest state, North Carolina, allows 25,000 barrels.)  Breweries can sell another 1,000 barrels, but to do so, they have to go  through a wholesaler.  That means loading the beer on a wholesaler’s truck, sending the truck to a warehouse where the beer is offloaded, then bringing it back to the brewery to unload it again.  FOLKS, YOU CANNOT MAKE THIS UP.  The graphic below from the Comptroller’s Office illustrates how absurd this is.

Grandfathering of Hours

Existing breweries and those holding on-site consumpion permits and licenses as of April 1, 2017 are allowed to stay open as late as their local jurisdictions permit them, usually between midnight and 2 AM.  All new breweries must close by 10 PM, slamming the door shut on further growth.

The State of Maryland is effectively telling the craft beer industry the following: We don’t like you.  We will tolerate those of you who are already here, but we don’t want any more of you.

Contrast this with Virginia.  The Commonwealth’s Governor, Terry McAuliffe, is a joyous deal-maker, back-slapper and salesman who loves bringing employers to his state – especially craft breweries.  McAuliffe promotes the industry every chance he gets, including the creation of Stone Brewing’s special beer in honor of Virginia, Give Me Stout or Give Me Death.  His term has seen almost 100 new breweries open in the state.  Perhaps his greatest achievement was a successful four-year campaign to entice Oregon’s Deschutes to open near Roanoke.

Virginia’s Beer Drinker in Chief.  Photo credit: Richmond’s Style Weekly.

Here is McAuliffe bragging about Virginia’s booming beer industry to Hampton Roads’ WAVY TV just last week.

Governor Terry McAuliffe spoke to the National Craft Breweries Association in Washington D.C. Tuesday evening to give his best sales pitch to attract new beer businesses to Virginia.

“We got Stone to move here, and we got Deschutes to move here, we’ve got Ballast Point to move here, Green Flash, I mean, no one has had the success we’ve had the last two years recruiting major known craft breweries,” McAuliffe told 8News Reporter Jonathan Costen, pointing out that the booming beer industry has brought hundreds of jobs to the area. “We have 190-craft breweries in Virginia today. It’s a billion dollar industry for us, so I believe it really helps our tourism.

“Folks come, they love to come to our craft breweries, but in addition to that, these craft breweries are all buying locally produced products, it is great for our farmers. We can’t produce enough hops here, so I tell people go out and start a hop farm here in Virginia,” McAuliffe added.

McAuliffe’s message is the polar opposite of Maryland’s.

One elected official who understands the economic and cultural potential of craft beer is Comptroller Peter Franchot, who aggressively defended the industry during the debate over Bill 1283.  The Comptroller is now convening a task force to study the state’s beer laws from top to bottom with the goal of producing model legislation next year.  An interesting question is whether Governor Larry Hogan will come on board.  The Governor has allied with Franchot on more than one of his ideas in the past, including school air conditioning and starting school after Labor Day.  Craft brewing is a natural issue for Hogan, given its potential for job creation and the Democrats’ near-fumbling of the issue this year.

Just two guys enjoying some great Maryland craft beer.  Photo Credit: Peter Franchot.

Maryland’s iron cartel of manufacturers, wholesalers, licensees and supportive politicians has kept in place a stable, profitable system for a long time.  The just-concluded brewery bill is only the most recent manifestation of their control of Annapolis.  So opening up the beer industry is an uphill battle.  But if Franchot, the craft industry, its customers and maybe Hogan can make this a signature issue in an election year…?  Well, pull up a stool, grab a mug and get ready for the show!

Disclosure: Your author has done campaign-related work for Peter Franchot in the past.  His positions on issues like this one, including Montgomery County’s liquor monopoly, have earned my support.


BREAKING: Brookeville to Open Montgomery’s First Casino

brookeville-acadBrookeville Academy

Comptroller Peter Franchot’s discovery that the Town of Brookeville owes $7.2 million to the State of Maryland due to his office’s miscalculation of municipal tax receipts for many years placed the Town in quite a bind, as the municipality of just 134 souls had no idea how it could repay the debt.

Today, Brookeville Commission President Katherine Farquhar announced that, after working on the issue with the County and the State, Brookeville will open a casino in historic Brookeville Academy (pictured above), which is owned by the Town, to raise monies to pay off the debt to the State.

Franchot praised the decision, stating that he “appreciates the Town’s gratitude to my office for finding the errors” and plans to award the Town the Comptroller’s Medal for its “creative solution” to the Town’s financial difficulties.

Members of the County Council had initially expressed concerns regarding the project. But Council President Roger Berliner (D-1) has now announced that the casino will be the first recipient of the microloan program he has advertised on Facebook in anticipation of his 2018 County Executive bid.

In a press release, Berliner said “I’m so pleased that the microloan program will make the casino possible. It will help jump start Federal Realty’s development of the outbuildings for future expansion, showing the importance of partnerships like these.”

After initial opposition, Councilmember Tom Hucker (D-5) came on board once the Town agreed to hire MCGEO workers transferred from county liquor stores. “They know as much about gaming as beer, wine and liquor, so this is a great opportunity,” said MCGEO President Gino Renne.

Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Gigi Godwin agreed with the union president, as she commended the County for brushing aside development concerns with the adoption of a special Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) over the objection of the Civic Federation. “We need the County to take a more proactive approach on business.”

Councilmember Hans Riemer (D-AL) also applauded the project, saying that he was happy to learn that Brookeville “is open to serving craft beers” that an official taskforce determined were crucial to revitalizing nightlife in the County.

The sole casino opponent, Councilmember Marc Elrich (D-AL), pointed out that Georgia Ave. is already a parking lot and that the development violated County traffic tests. His statement was interrupted by George Leventhal, who brusquely asked Elrich “Why do you care about people coming from Howard County? Haven’t you figured out we ignore you yet?”

In contrast, Councilmember Nancy Floreen (D-AL) expressed optimism regarding transportation: “SafeTrack has been such a success. We should use the projected savings on Metro to initiate a study on extending the Purple Line to Brookeville.”

The casino will have a War of 1812 theme, reflecting Brookeville’s role as the “U.S. Capital for a Day” in 1814 during the British occupation of Washington. The building’s exterior will be preserved as the interior is redesigned in a “modern Madisionian” style.

(P.S. I think most have figured out by now, but yes, this is satire. Happy New Year.)


Matthews Donated $1000 to Franchot One Day after Endorsement

Matthews Donation History to FranchotMatthews Donates $1000 to Franchot One Day after Endorsement

Definitely nothing illegal but the optics are not good.

On January 11, Eighth Congressional District Candidate Kathleen Matthews announced support from Comptroller Peter Franchot (see below). The very next day she donated $1000 to Friends of Peter Franchot–the Comptroller’s campaign account (see above).

Obviously, the timing looks bad. It just doesn’t look good to donate $1000 the day after receiving a big endorsement. It’s also very strange because Matthews needs every dollar she can raise for her congressional Democratic primary in April. Franchot doesn’t face another election until 2018.

The donation turns a major endorsement that, as Adam Pagnucco pointed out, Matthews should have touted more into one with an awkward appearance that she should avoid. A surprising outcome all around from a very media-savvy candidate.

Matthews Press Release about Franchot

Announcement of Franchot’s Endorsement of Matthews


Franchot Endorses Matthews

From the press release:

“As a proud resident of Maryland’s 8th Congressional District, I am happy to announce my support of my friend, Kathleen Matthews, in her campaign for Congress,” said Peter Franchot.  “Having known Kathleen for many years, I believe she will bring to Congress a fresh perspective, new talent and a sensible approach to the challenges facing our state and country. She is a proven advocate for equality and social justice, and one who is also capable of reaching across the aisle to achieve meaningful results at a time when toxic partisanship has crippled Washington and alienated countless Americans from our political process.”

This is a nice endorsement for Kathleen Matthews. Franchot used to represent the same territory as her leading opponent, Jamie Raskin. He is the probably the most well-known in-state official to endorse Matthews.

Over the years, Franchot has tacked from being seen as one of the stronger progressive leaders to a leading voice for fiscal restraint. This endorsement should help Matthews continue to consolidate support from business and fiscally moderate Democrats.

On the other hand, this endorsement helps set up the primary as one of Jamie Raskin and the progressive wing versus Kathleen Matthews and and more centrist Democrats. As the progressive wing has been increasingly ascendant in Montgomery Democratic primaries, this provides opportunities for Raskin.

Raskin’s current problem, however, is that he will be tied up in Annapolis for the legislative session, while Matthews is free to campaign aggressively. Dels. Kumar Barvé and Ana Sol Gutiérrez, who are also in the mix for this seat, face the same challenge.



Residents Speak Out Against the Liquor Monopoly

Del. Bill Frick Proposes to Allow Voters to Decide

The movement to end the Montgomery County liquor monopoly is gaining momentum. Six legislators plan to introduce legislation to allow voters to decide the question. Comptroller Franchot penned an opinion piece last week arguing for its end. But I suspect that it’s the political potency of the issue with voters that will give it continued forward momentum.

The following is by Adam Pagnucco:

As of this writing, over 900 people have signed the petition asking Montgomery County’s State Senators and Delegates to end the county’s archaic liquor monopoly. Here are a few comments from petition signers that truly say it all.


First of all, I appreciate Roger Berliner’s and the other County leaders’ embrace of this cause. Montgomery County, Maryland’s liquor laws are an embarrassing and harmful anachronism. County sales of alcohol do not serve any public purpose but they do perpetuate an expensive and useless bureaucracy. The County should not be a seller of alcohol but rather should serve as a responsible regulator of private restaurants and stores selling alcohol.

Retaining the current system discourages the entry of businesses into the County and results in a conflict of interest for the County as both a regulator and a vendor selling to and competing with private businesses. Getting the County out of the liquor business would allow private enterprise to offer consumers more choices and more reasonable prices. At the same time, it would allow the County to focus on its regulatory role, while gaining additional tax revenue from businesses to lower individual taxes.

I have lived in this County for more than sixty years. This useless charade cannot be ended too soon.
Kenneth Markison, Chevy Chase, MD

I own 2 restaurants in Montgomery County, both well known for the breadth of their beer, wine and liquor lists. The difficulty in creating and maintaining these lists because of the county controlled system is extraordinary. It adds hours of unnecessary labor to my payroll costs, diminishes the quality of my beverage programs through the inconsistency of stock, unavailability of products and errors in delivery, and drives up the cost of the products we sell – which must either be absorbed by us (therefore diminishing our profits) or passed on to the consumer resulting in higher menu prices. This system causes all but the most intrepid restaurant owners to dumb down their offerings because it’s far far easier and ensures Montgomery County will never compete with DC in terms of the quality and creativity of its restaurants.
Jackie Greenbaum, Washington, DC

[Editor’s note: Ms. Greenbaum is an owner of Jackie’s Restaurant and the legendary Quarry House Tavern in Silver Spring. She has written about the Monopoly before.]

I’m signing because this is 2015, not 1925.
Debra Van Alstyne, Potomac, MD

Ridiculous that this is still in place. Way past time to do away with it.
Deborah Grossman, Takoma Park, MD

I’m signing because I’m sick of being forced to drive out of MoCo to get the wines I want. It causes MoCo restaurants time, money, and frustration. It discourages new restaurants from considering moving to MoCo. The current system is cumbersome, useless, embarrassing, archaic, and typically paternalistic. I don’t need this County to make my buying decisions for me, thank you.
Lezlie Crosswhite, North Potomac, MD

I’m tired of having to go to DC or VA to have a wide choice of wines plus the prices are so much better.
Sandra Satterfield, Rockville, MD

I am an economist, retired from the FTC after over 30 years. I worked exclusively on anti-trust cases. Monopolies hurt consumers.
Russ Parker, Bethesda, MD

According to the Maryland Declaration of Rights “monopolies are odious”. If monopolies are so odious then why does Montgomery County have a monopoly on the sale of alcoholic beverages in Montgomery County?
Justin McInerny, Chevy Chase, MD

… because the monopoly is outdated, stifling, and ridiculous. And annoying.
Diana Conway, Potomac, MD

It has been proven to be a flawed system that restricts the store owner’s ability to maximize sales and be self-reliant on their success. The internal inventory controls have been called into question as of late as well. Time to open it up to the free market!
John Hodges, Rockville, MD

I am tired of County stores with poor quality and customer service. I have to shop with a cart that has a pole on it so I can be tracked through the store, then I have to stand behind a piece of blue tape on the floor to be helped by someone who doesn’t want to be there. The selection is poor and I find myself shopping elsewhere. It’s time to get rid of soviet era liquor stores.
Richard Neimand, Silver Spring, MD

We’re tired of driving to Total Wine in Laurel and Calvert-Woodley in D.C. to find good selections of beer and wine at reasonable prices. We want to spend our money here, but not at the premium we have to pay because of this ridiculous set up. Also, we want to see more restaurants locate here and they need access to good selections of fine wines, craft liquors, etc.
Mike Diegel, Silver Spring, MD

This system no longer (if it ever did) makes sense.
Michael Webb, Germantown, MD

It is time for the free market to work its magic and for the county to cure its addiction to alcohol (revenues). A remarkably inefficient, and at times corrupt, system should not be tolerated by consumers and businesses directly affected by its protection. Let voters decide what happens.
Allen Perper, Silver Spring, MD

I spend money out of county in an effort to avoid the ridiculous monopoly in Montgomery County. It is insulting to my intelligence.
Stephen Sugg, Rockville, MD

Business is for the private sector, governing is for the government.|
Yovav Sever, Rockville, MD

I buy much of my alcohol outside MoCo. I want a wider selection and to not have to drive!
Laurie Wilner, Potomac, MD

The county should NOT be selling alcohol at all! I always thought that was stupid. The county has anti-drink programs and yet sells the stuff…let’s teach our kids hypocrisy, shall we?
Pat Burton, Gaithersburg, MD

I’m signing because I do purchase all of my beer and wine in Washington, D.C.
Michael Reust, Takoma Park, MD

I live in MoCo and have to go to Frederick County (or Virginia) to get a couple of things that the county won’t allow to be sold. The current system is a total joke.
Victoria Cross, Gaithersburg, MD

I’m signing because I resent the county’s imposing a monopoly on its citizens. We’re grownups. Let us decide who to buy our alcohol from, and what to buy. I love Mo Co except this liquor business is an embarrassment.
David Austin, Bethesda, MD

I don’t believe the county should have a monopoly on the liquor we buy or the choices restaurants have in what they provide customers. Currently, and for MANY years, I’ve purchased all my liquor in DC. Too bad for Maryland and time to smarten up.
Anne Claysmith, Bethesda, MD

I hate having to drive to neighboring counties to find liquor stores with a decent variety to choose from.
Mark Eakin, Silver Spring, MD

I worked at a bar in Silver Spring for 4 years, and during that time we were frequently unable to keep regular beers, liquors, and supplies we relied on in stock due to the County’s apathy towards customer interests
Jennifer Burrell, Laurel, MD

The county should not be allowed to continue its monopoly on alcohol sales to our businesses. I fully support allowing private sellers to compete with DLC in Montgomery County and putting this issue to a referendum so that it is clear how many county citizens desire a private competition approach.
Michael Fetchko, Bethesda, MD

What he said.
Ralph Bennett, Silver Spring, MD


Franchot: DLC is “a Mecca of Anti-Consumerism”

Comptroller Peter Franchot on Montgomery County’s monopoly over retail and wholesale sales of alcohol in the Country:

Montgomery County is the last bastion of a medieval state system.

This is a system that is incredibly slanted against the consumer and the ordinary citizen.

Most people in Montgomery County go to Prince George’s County, or the District or to Virginia to buy their alcohol because it’s such a disgrace.

And these are some of the nicer things he has to say.


Annapolis Top Five Young Guns

Part II in this continuing series of up and comers under 30 around the State.

1. Jake Weissmann. Don’t let Jake’s goofy style fool you: he has been the brains behind Mike Miller’s formable political operation for years. This cycle, he faces the greatest challenge of his career–guiding the Senate Caucus through what’s shaping up to be a 2010 style red wave nationally. Once he finishes law school, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him as one of the top earning lobbyists in the state.

2. Sarah Elfreth is Government Affairs Director for the National Aquarium. The smartest, wittiest lobbyist walking the halls of the Lowe House Office Building, she is also one of the youngest young guns on these lists. Whether she remains behind the scenes or runs for office in the future–a distinct possibility–one thing is for sure: you’ll be sure to hear the name Sarah Elfreth for decades to come:

Anonymous: “Sarah Elfreth, a resident of Annapolis MD, is a true leader and an extraordinary example of a young woman who is both influential and impactful before State and local government.”

3. Cailey Locklair is the Deputy Director of the Baltimore Jewish Council. The following nomination is perhaps the highest praise any lobbyist could receive:

Anonymous: “One of the most persuasive people I’ve ever had a drink with in Annapolis. Completely dedicated to her client.”

4. Geoff Burgan. This guy is sharp and has fantastic people skills. Currently in O’Malley’s comms shop, I wouldn’t be surprised to  see Geoff as a key player in the Brown Administration or on a nascent O’Malley’s presidential campaign.

5. Andrew Friedson. Excepting his longtime handler Len Foxwell, no one is closer to Peter Franchot than Andrew Friedson. He currently serves as Communications Director in the Comptroller’s Office, where he was previously Deputy Chief of Staff. He managed Franchot’s reelection campaign in 2010.

Anonymous: “another no-brainer nominee.”