Thursday, February 25, 2010


Montgomery County's historic budget shortfall is now up to $761M.

Council President Nancy Floreen says the county "has a very serious problem."

Gee, you think?

It has a very serious SPENDING problem, one created by Councilmember Floreen and her equally freespending colleagues over the last 8 years.

As I've told you time and again, we have a structural deficit, and will for years to come.

One reason for that was officially acknowledged by the county yesterday: 39% of millionaires have moved out of the county since 2007, when Gov. Martin O'Malley (with hefty support from the Montgomery County Council and county delegation to Annapolis) slapped a "millionaire tax" on... ...millionaires. You know, the people who hire people. And create "jobs."


"Houston, we have a ________."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Average Citizen Being Priced Out of
"Public" Transit in Montgomery County

Another Exclusive!!!

How did a "modern transit triumph" come to this? And, importantly, who is to blame? According to a vocal elite, it's us! And now the punishment is being handed down: you are going to pay higher and higher fares for worse and worse service.

Or will you? Eventually, you'll get back into your car again. Or, even more eventually, you'll leave the DC area altogether, unable to afford the costs of transportation, housing, groceries, and - most of all - your Draconian tax bill.

And it's clear that that is the idea here.

We've just had several fare increases, and service and safety on Metro are worse than ever. Interestingly, the Metro "bailout" figures cited by the elite are quite modest compared to the 8 billion here, 8 billion there that the Obama administration doles out in the back pages of the papers each day. So, why doesn't the President - who says he is a supporter of mass transit - simply cut the check to bail out Metro?

It seems that Metro is the WSSC on wheels. A once highly-regarded system is mysteriously mismanaged into ruins, even as greater and greater sums are forked over by the region's weary taxpayers. Questions are raised. But no one investigates and holds the mismanagers responsible. A lofty bailout figure is announced. But, in both cases, it is one of the few bailouts not granted by the Obama administration. With billions and billions flying off the presses, we could have a working water AND working subway system flowing underground.

So, where's the bailout?

I've been a rider of Metro since the 90s, and the system was not this dysfunctional back then. It has always been overpriced, even though the fares are supposedly subsidized.

But now the fares threaten to make the entire subway irrelevant, especially if you don't just zip from Bethesda or Dupont Circle to Judiciary Square or Union Station each morning and evening.

Now, if you have a hybrid or electric vehicle, you will actually save money by driving rather than using Metro. Take away the deliberately-planned scarcity of parking downtown (and the punishment and monthly cost if you were to dare to try to park downtown!) and there is really no legitimate reason to pay Metro fares. And in your high MPG car, you set the schedule, and, let's face it, you're probably safer on the roads than on the Metro these days.

It's sort of a throwback to the 1970s, when a critic pointed out that the taxpayer-subsidized Amtrak ticket would buy a plane ticket and a hotel room for the same price. (I am the world's biggest supporter of passenger and commuter rail, before you start questioning me).

But high fares will not increase ridership, which stands at about 15% as it is.

It seems that these non-elected boards, councils, and other extragovernmental organizations are focused on efficient service for those who live along the underground portion of the Red Line, and other high-income areas. This vocal minority, which seems to get the only media coverage (or perhaps the rest of us are too busy working to attend hearings), trumpets an acceptable level of service and frequency at any cost. At any cost to the rider. "Raise our fares!"

It's great that that elite can continue to pay. And planners are planning for a future where demographics in the region will match those along the wealthiest Metro corridors.

Those who live out in the exurbs, or in low-income areas do not seem to factor into the decisions being made.

How did Metro get into this mess? Who is responsible?

I'll tell you, it's not us, the riders.

Here in the county, financial mismanagement by the county council has led to hikes in Ride On fares, cuts in Ride On routes, and severe cuts in bus and subsidized taxi service for the disabled.

The very people for whom public transportation is most needed are being shut out of the system.

Moreover, I've heard no radical restructuring plans, and the only man I've heard of so far who could turn this around (David Gunn) is only a temporary advisor.

Just funneling more taxpayer money (of which there isn't much left, thanks to local governments) into a mismanaged system is no answer.

What's needed is either a Federal bailout, a radical new structure for Metro, or even the privatization of the subway.

Whether it's a 5 cent grocery tax, a $10 increase in the monthly water bill, a health insurance "mandate," or a whopping subway fare, the working man and woman in the DC area is being nickeled and dimed to death by Big Government.

Action is now needed, not at the farecard machine, but at the voting machine this November.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Washington Post says "Obama is Right to
Boost the Nuclear Energy Industry;" Says "Post is Wrong to
Not Disclose its Energy Conflict of Interest,
Health Risks of Nuclear Facilities"

Another Exclusive!!!

Imagine a car company launching a new vehicle that doesn't have airbags. Or a water company announcing it will install lead pipes throughout its system.

The reality is, America has forgotten the Three Mile Island disaster, and has yet to confront the facts about the less-dramatic effects of nuclear power and radioactive waste on our environment and our bodies.

Before you buy into what's being pushed by the politicians who get fat checks from the nuclear industry, I suggest you review my report from December 6, 2007:

My research revealed not only the Washington Post's financial interest in energy, but the effects of the nuclear facilities in our own region on the environment. Especially, the very ill Chesapeake Bay.

You hear much about farmers polluting the Bay, and the claim that there are no crabs or oysters left.

Equally strange, then, that we don't hear much about the 11 nuclear plants that discharge into the Chesapeake Bay watershed. These discharges not only affect aquatic life, but can also lead to birth defects in children of mothers who come into contact with that water, as well as to cancer.

Now, doesn't that sound familiar? Remember the "confused gender" fish in the rivers and Bay? And, wait a minute, we just happen to have a 50/50 chance of developing cancer in the state of Maryland according to several studies.

Of course, the causes of cancer go beyond nuclear power. My point is that the claim of nuclear power having no health impact is preposterous.

Furthermore, the politicians are telling us there is no chance of a Three Mile Island meltdown. Okay, so why was it, that when I stayed in a hotel in a city with a nuclear plant, there were instructions in the front of the phone book regarding the "evacuation plan" if the plant were to melt down? That's a real confidence builder!

I guess I'd rather have a nuclear plant than those horrific wind farms and offshore "turbines" that kill and maim wildlife and sea life, close down valuable fishing areas (Martin O'Malley & Co. would probably support that! "Hey you - the taxpayer with the chicken bait on a string catching a crab - you're under arrest!!!") and absolutely, positively wreck, mar, and destroy our priceless coastal views.

But then there is one more issue: the future of energy, and how it impacts American jobs and the American people. There are drawbacks to coal and oil, but - especially now that we know global warming is a hoax, as I and others have said for years - like it or not, they are the near future in energy.

Coal and oil (especially if we finally start drilling our own vast supplies) create and maintain American jobs.

Nuclear reactors may end up being built with Chinese steel. I'll stick with coal.

Coal employs many Americans, in regions where there is little else to work at. Some of those Americans live right here in Maryland, and next door in Virginia and West Virginia. Cut back coal, and you put not only the miners out of work, but the railroaders, too.

Coal, oil, and natural gas offer the most bang for the buck, create the most jobs, and power more homes, businesses, and vehicles than all alternatives combined. Wind and nuclear cannot match that. And coal and natural gas directly decrease our dependence on foreign sources (although some plants do import coal by sea).

Also, you've never heard of a whole city being devastated by a coal or natural gas plant accident, as could happen with a nuclear meltdown.

We in this area are affected by the pollution from coal-fired plants in Alexandria, Dickerson, and Chalk Point most directly. That certainly has a health impact. But I would not suggest we rush into nuclear expansion without fully and cautiously considering all of the negatives.

What do you do with the toxic waste? The Nevada storage facility was canceled, so where does it go?

We need to move beyond the tired, failed "alternatives" like biofuel, ethanol, wind, and turbine power. Solar, hydroelectric, and geothermal all are promising, with far less environmental impact.

But there are future fuels and energies no one is talking about yet in the mass media. That's what we should be working on. In the meantime, our traditional energy sources remain the most affordable and - in very relative terms - safest bet.

Monday, February 22, 2010



Another Exclusive!!!

Watch an exclusive video of the abandoned Safeway grocery store in Damascus on the Robert Dyer Channel:

As you can see, the store had been stripped of all signage. But the building is still there, and it is an example of classic supermarket architecture. The impressive new Safeway is just across the parking lot. In fact, you can see it in the distance.

These classic buildings are now being targeted for redevelopment by developers, just like the venerable strip malls in your neighborhood and mine across the county.

This one is preserved on video for your enjoyment. A classic building in a classic American town.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Congressman Postpones Town Hall Meeting,
No Explanation Given

Another Exclusive!!!

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D - 8th District) has postponed a scheduled town hall meeting with constituents.

The following bulletin has been issued from Montgomery County's Office of Community Partnerships, but has not been reported by the media:

The following meeting with Congressman Van Hollen has been
postponed. The new date will be announced at a later

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD-08) will convene a
town hall meeting for residents of the Eighth Congressional District. The Congressman will report to residents about the activities of the 111th Congress and the important issues facing the nation.

No explanation was given for the postponement in the county's message, nor on Mr. Van Hollen's official web site.

Friday, February 19, 2010


Snowgate 2010 Continues as
County Council Leadership's Attempt at
Coverup Lessens Credibility

You know, I've said that our elected officials think the people of Montgomery County are too dumb to figure out what's going on. And then those same officials just keep making my point for me.

As overnight snow removal operations enter Day 3 to clean up the mess created by the collapse of county government after the first blizzard...

The same two leaders of that government - who, unbelievably, congratulated themselves after another failed snow cleanup last December - are now at it again!!

Everyone reading this in Montgomery County, who lives in the real world, knows that the last two weeks have been a miserable catastrophe, thanks to an utter failure to execute the basic functions of government by our county council and executive.

You know - from reading this blog, if nothing else - that the council and executive failed to plan ahead for the very real possibility that became reality: back to back blizzards.

Then, in an attempt to save money for what they felt were more politically-sensitive budget "priorities," they tried to wait out the storm, idling what equipment they had and failing to add additional equipment that should have been on hand in the first place.

Until you, the citizen started speaking out online, going over the mainstream TV and print media that were giving you official propaganda ("We're all in this together; neighbors helping neighbors; bringing out our best"), and changing the narrative.

Then government was forced into action, but the mess was so colossal by then, it will take us months to dig out at a massive cost to the taxpayer and county businesses (which lost millions, thanks to the council and executive).

So you know how bad it was, right?

Now read Council President Nancy Floreen's, and Council Vice-President Valerie Ervin's assessment of their response to the storms:

Councilmember Ervin says she gives the county government a
"very good grade"
for its snow cleanup effort. She added that government
"did a very good job."

Nancy Floreen said,
"I don't know what more could have been done."

They said it, not me!

Ladies and gentlemen, you cannot make up quotes better than the ones our elected officials keep putting out there.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Another Exclusive!!!

Don't try to find this on TV or in the newspaper. We're out here live, in 27 degree weather, as Montgomery County vehicles work through the night to remove snow from residential streets.

Never mind that much of this could have been avoided if our elected officials had simply executed the basic functions of government after the first storm. Instead, they forced crews to tackle the accumulation of two blizzards at once, which created the massive piles, walls, and one-lane neighborhood streets we've been dealing with countywide over the last week.

Right now we're focused on the crew hard at work out here at 10:00 PM, not the bumbling politicians who gave them all the wrong directions last week!

The ground is trembling. Stand by! Here they come! One large dump truck. A second. A third. Three dump trucks. Now here comes a large, front loading earth mover. There goes a yellow pickup truck with flashing lights on the roof, and a snow plow attachment.

All set?


Hold on a minute. Okay, here he comes! A tiny Bobcat earth mover makes a late entrance, lagging behind by 30 seconds.

Now the large and small earth movers go to work on the massive snow mountains. They are choreographed in a mechanical ballet, ruling over this windswept, frozen world like father and son.

There goes the snow into the dump truck. Once loaded, it is off to an unknown dumping location, only to return afterward.




Beep. Beep. Beep. The scope of the job countywide is beyond imagination, as these crews work through the night, to try to belatedly right the wrongs of our county council and executive.

This hard-working team only reinforces what could have been done, had our elected officials only done their jobs in executing basic government services, in the county of America's most Draconian taxes.

I was shocked to hear self-proclaimed "Republicans" in the Virginia House and Senate touting and praising an outrageous law that would force the state's residents to pay sales taxes on internet purchases.

I'd like to think I just imagined this. But if true, my hope is that Gov. Bob McDonnell will veto any such bill. I cannot believe any real Republican would ever support a completely unjustified tax like this.

We have our own internet sales tax champion in Maryland, Sen. Richard Madeleno (D-District 18), who last year sought to apply Maryland's ever-increasing sales tax to internet purchases.

Aside from despising taxes in general, I have the facts on my side in opposing internet sales taxes.

That's because a legitimate sales tax applies to purchases made in a state from a business which has a physical presence in the state. Orders from the internet, unless they shipped from a factory, warehouse, or retail location in Maryland, cannot be taxed under the traditional concept of a "sales tax." There is no physical impact on the state from an out-of-state transaction.

Virginia, like Maryland, doesn't need more taxes. It needs less spending. Government in both states has grown beyond its original job description - bigtime!

Gov. McDonnell has impressed so far. I hope he won't let his state down on this issue, especially because such a capitulation to the far left would only increase the energy of pro-tax forces in Annapolis.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I believe Costco should move into the mall I still call Wheaton Plaza. And that many more big box stores should open in Montgomery County along our commercial corridors like 355.

As the year progresses, I will speak more specifically about my own concept of what Rockville Pike should be. But for now, I will say that big box stores are very appropriate for that location and in large malls like Wheaton's.

Finally, I do not believe that the county should hand over $4 million to Costco because, unlike a major high-wage employer, the overall impact on "real" jobs is minimal. And Costco clearly wants to access the customers who live here.

What big box stores can give us is much needed price competition for groceries, clothing, electronics, and even gasoline.

Costco is not really a threat to local business owners, in comparison to the threat they face from our own county government's plans for downtown Wheaton.

We must ensure that local businesses can return to Wheaton after any "redevelopment" is approved.

We have witnessed the failure of Rockville's Town Center. These sorts of developments have also reduced tax revenues for the county. Consider that Rockville and Montgomery County were once collecting revenues from establishments such as Magruder's grocery store and Pier 51 Imports.

Replacing them with many small, niche boutiques has slashed mightily the taxes being paid from business transactions there.

Imagine what the impact on receipts - and the county budget! - if we were to lose all of the popular businesses in Wheaton run by local small business owners.

We already witnessed the difficulties faced by Barry's Magic Shop, which was probably the most highly regarded business in Wheaton before the county government ran it out of town. Fortunately, it was able to reopen in North Bethesda.

But I've always patronized the small shops in Wheaton rather than the national ones.

Many people tell me they are too scared to shop at Wheaton Plaza because of gang violence incidents that occurred there in recent years. That is an issue for another blog entry.

But the businesses I remember are Barry's Magic Shop, the martial arts supply store in the same former shopping center there on Georgia Avenue, a comic book store, and, of course, the countless times I did business with Wheaton Music in the Wheaton Triangle.

Wheaton Music offered rentals and equipment that are simply not available anywhere else in Montgomery County. Where else could you rent 100 watt stacks, or find a vintage hair-metal era Kramer Pacer? Not at Guitar Center.

So citizens need to stay engaged in Wheaton and every other sector on the table right now.

We know that the powers that be would like to replace downtown Wheaton and its residents with a Bethesda Row, Rockville Town Center mixed-use debacle. And new, wealthier residents.

That should not be allowed to happen, and we can make a difference this year working together, and defending residents and small business owners from grandiose, foolish plans that are in the worst interests of the county as a whole.

We can address crime, but as long as business owners keep their shops attractive and profitable, there is no reason to boot them out for "upscale" boutiques, national chains, and vacant luxury condos.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


An Update on
Another Exclusive!!!

You may recall that I broke a story a few months back, when I reported that County Cable Montgomery was frequently showing a slick, campaign-style infomercial featuring Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.

If you don't, suffice it to say that this is the kind of short film that would be shown at a nominating convention before the candidate makes his or her speech. A lot of cheesy, came-with-the-software background music, I-think-I'm-JFK speechifying, and archived video and photographic materials interspersed.

The more often they play this ad on CCM, the more details you might notice. Like how much campaign advertising there is within this campaign advertisement. Perhaps more than contemporary footage of the governor in action, there are countless instances of those omnipresent, 2006-era "O'Malley-Brown" signs and rallies.

This only reinforces the sense that this is a campaign ad.

Here's the problem: The program was filmed in the County Council chambers, at county taxpayer expense. It is not a news program, it features no county officials, and is not even presented as an in-studio news interview. The cheesy music in the background and endless campaign footage makes it clear to the audience that this is a great man, you should be inspired by him, he's never made a bad decision, he has your best interests at heart, and - most importantly - you oughta vote for this guy in November.

The credits indicate the program was produced "under the auspices of the Montgomery County Council."

It's fantastic that the county council thinks Martin O'Malley is wonderful. But that doesn't mean they can spend our tax dollars spreading their love.

And that's exactly what they are doing: spending taxpayer money promoting a statewide candidate.

This is a highly-questionable action by the County Council and CCM. I do not recall there being a similar program featuring Gov. Bob Ehrlich when he was in office, either.

Also still being shown frequently is an apparently ongoing series about the MTA, which has no relevance to Montgomery County. As someone who is often in Baltimore and Baltimore County, I find there are many familiar locations shown on these MTA programs. But none of them are in Montgomery County!! Aside from MARC trains, which are not emphasized on the program, the MTA has no operations in the county.

One can only conclude that the MTA program, containing no pertinent information for the public in Montgomery County, is simply being run to show the majesty of Martin O'Malley's state government in action.

Again, this is a misuse of county tax dollars for the broadcast time and personnel operating the equipment.

CCM is a publicly-funded channel, and was intended to inform county residents about road conditions, emergency information, county services, and the now-rare county council meeting coverage.

It is not C-SPAN or MSNBC, and therefore should not be broadcasting campaign videos for statewide candidates in an election year!

Stay tuned as we continue to follow this story, which no one else is reporting.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Carr Tax Quietly Moving Towards Passage;
Most Residents Unaware of 5 cent per bag Tax

The Carr Tax, a 5 cent per bag grocery tax, is moving through the General Assembly without the majority of public knowing about it.

This punitive tax falls squarely on lower income residents, senior citizens, and large families. The rich have no problem paying 5 cents per bag, or buying costly reusable bags. So who are the victims here?

It's another case of greedy politicians robbing the poor in the state of Maryland. The entire 5 cents does not even go to cleaning the environment! I've asked the supporters of the Carr Tax to put their money where their mouth is: if you are sincere in your intentions, pay the citizens of Maryland 5 cents for either turning in a plastic bag, or for each resusable bag they use at the checkout.

Who has room to carry multiple, bulky reusable bags on their person all day? Do Al Carr and his wallet vacuuming friends in Annapolis and Montgomery County expect real people in the real world to go all the way home before stopping at the grocery store?

I'd like to hear the average soccer mom's reaction to this tax, and the idea that she must either pay 5 cents per bag, or drive the minivan/suv all the way back home, count out how many bags she needs, and then juggle those with everything else on the grocery trip.

Unfortunately, most soccer moms won't know this tax exists until they arrive at the checkout counter the day it takes effect.

Al Carr and other supporters of the grocery tax do not care about the financial hardship of the poor, or how much their radical policies complicate the already complicated lives of their constituents.

What they want is more money for the special interests. And more government control of your behavior.

Here is a great quote from George Will that directly applies to the motivations and legislators' attitudes behind the Carr Tax (not to mention just about every law passed by the Montgomery County Council over the last 8 years!!):

A century ago, Herbert Croly [was] contemplating with distaste
America's "unregenerate citizens," [and] said that "the average American individual is morally and intellectually inadequate to a serious and consistent conception of his responsibilities." Therefore, Croly said, national life should be a "school" taught by the government: "The exigencies of such schooling frequently demand severe coercive measures, but what schooling does not?" [These methods will be effective] if "the official schoolmasters are wise, and the pupils neither truant nor insubordinate."

Isn't it just like I've been telling you? That your elected officials believe "public service" means that you, the public, serve them.

It's time to show them, whose salaries you pay, who is in charge here. Contact your legislator, and tell them to oppose Bills H.B. 351/ S.B. 462 - or you will vote them out of office this November.

Let me make it super easy for you to avoid paying 5 cents per bag of groceries. Here is the website where you can directly contact your legislators and give them your 5 cents about the Carr Tax:

By the way, if you're a fellow George Orwell fan, check out the doublespeak title they've given the Carr Tax in all of their unlimited wisdom and intellect:

"The Chesapeake Bay Consumer Retail Choice Act"

That's right up there with "peoples' republic" and "democratic republic."

Contact your legislator today! And let them know that if they vote for the Carr Tax, they shouldn't assume their reelection is in the bag!





The same Washington Post columnist expanded upon his criticism of Google Buzz yesterday. It's strange that everyone else seems to be in favor of it. Once again, the article contained no mention that the Post's CEO sits on the corporate board of Buzz's main rival, Facebook.

Well, now you know, and of course, loyal readers already knew about that last week.

Friday, February 12, 2010


What a week it has been in Montgomery County. We are surrounded by towering walls and mountains of snow, reminding us every time we go outside that government failed to provide the basic services we pay hefty taxes for.

In this episode now known as Snowgate 2010, your elected officials believed they were guaranteed to be reelected. They believed that they could gamble on squeaking by yet again through another mild winter storm season. And should a major storm hit, they could control the narrative through the local television, newspapers, and mainstream media web 1.0 websites.

When Gov. Martin O'Malley lost his cool, and lashed out angrily at the citizens of his own state, it was clear that their plan had failed.

It was you, the citizen, who broke through by speaking out.

Citizens like you, who reported what was really happening during and after the storm on new media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google Buzz.

Who called your county councilmembers, who described you as "irate," which hardly matched the feel-good, we're all in this together, igloo building, schools-closed, snowball-fighting, downhill sledding, we're-willing-to-wait-forever-for-a-plow megamessage the local TV and papers were blasting out there nearly 24 hours a day.

"What's it like out there, Tom?" "Still snow on the ground here. Back to you, Walter!"

Meanwhile, real people in the real world were texting and posting status updates: "no plow here yet" "What's going on?!" No electricity. No groceries. No buses. No trains. Impassable roads.

We pay taxes for this?

"Stop this!!," thundered O'Malley at the citizens of Maryland.

But you didn't stop, and now the truth is slowly emerging.

You're reading this blog right now because you realized you weren't getting the straight story from the local media. You knew government could and should do better in the aftermath of an entirely predictable winter storm event.

The voice of the people is rising in volume each day, becoming richer in tenor and timbre with each passing hour.

One man quoted in the Post said voters will forget this happened by Election Day. I beg to differ.

With so much snow left as a result of the county and state's failure to plow after storm 1, there may still be traces of it on the ground when voters go to the polls in November.

Thank you for making your source of the real story during this storm, and please return to find out, as always, what's really going on in Montgomery County.

Thursday, February 11, 2010



Post Columnist Says O'Malley, Council are
"Losers" After Massive Failure of Government

Our exclusive coverage of Snowgate 2010 continues. You'll hear happy talk on TV. "We're all in this together." "Stay home if you can." "This is unprecedented." "Record-breaking snowfall."

No member of the mainstream media has criticized county or state government yet for the complete disaster caused by Snowgate 2010: a deliberate failure to plan ahead for a likely storm scenario, and a deliberate choice to idle personnel and equipment during and after the first storm in some bizarre hope of saving money for other, favored government programs in a tight budget year.

Until now.

It's a small step for man, but when it comes to rare media criticism of the ineffectual elected leadership we have, Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney's few negative remarks are a giant leap for man/woman-kind. But before I get to those remarks, I'd like to make a few about you and I, and the real world we've been living in over the last week.

You, living in the real world, know that Storm 1 was about 2' of snow. And that Storm 2 put less than that on top because county and state government failed to allow its personnel to clean up Storm 1. Ergo, you recognize that this was not a "record-breaking" single storm.

You, being intelligent, recognize it was not the 72" Snowpocalypse the government, local and national media started crowing about yesterday. Being smart, you know that figure combines every snowfall since December and presents it as a single storm total. Wouldn't suggest any of these folks take a lie detector test; they're just not that good at it.

And you know, when you hear Gov. Martin O'Malley tell you to shut up and "Stop this!!!," that he not only is making a political blunder, but clearly hears the footsteps of his Democratic primary opponent and former Gov. Bob Ehrlich. And the angry voices of his constituents, who broke through the mainstream media lapdog's SnowTV lovefest, using new media like Facebook, Twitter, and Google Buzz. And told the real story the government, papers and TV prayed you'd never piece together.

But you were smarter than that, and you kept turning to for the real coverage of Snowgate 2010!

So now that one member of the mainstream media has now entered the real world and spoken out, however briefly, I leave you with his quotes:

McCartney said elected officials were "losers" in the aftermath of the storms:

"[They did] a pretty lame job overall of clearing the streets and getting
the area ready to resume business before the second storm hit... ...[A] lot of residential streets hadn't seen a plow by Tuesday afternoon, three days after the first storm ended...Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda [was] only partially usable."

Man, when a liberal columnist in the Washington Post is criticizing the Montgomery County council and Martin O'Malley, you know they've really blown it.

They always ask, what happens when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force?

Well, we just found out what happens when Big Snow meets Big Government:

Snowgate 2010.

Another Exclusive!!!

They're at it again! The Washington Post's Rob Pegararo gave a thumbs-down to the new Google Buzz social network in yesterday's edition.

He said he didn't think it had much chance of beating Facebook in the social network wars.

Just one problem: The piece failed to note that the Washington Post's CEO, Donald Graham, sits on the board of Facebook!

This doesn't mean that the reporter's comments were not his honest opinion. It only means that in order to avoid the appearance of favoring a company with ties to the Washington Post, that these ties must be disclosed in the body of the article, or at the end.

Considering that the overall "buzz" about Buzz has been positive, a negative assessment in the Washington Post - minus a disclaimer - certainly raises questions.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


In Montgomery County, our county council and executive give the WSSC the kid glove treatment, turn the other way from questionable operating decisions, and sign off on big increases in residents' water bills.

In Prince Georges County, County Executive Jack Johnson tells it like it is: WSSC got their money from taxpayers over the years, but apparently made the wrong decisions about how to spend it.

Likewise, as Montgomery County stands paralyzed in the face of two snowstorms it did not prepare or budget for, its leaders have failed to take command of a dire situation.

As the latest storm enters day 2, I've neither heard nor seen a plow in this area.

One talking point has it that this was an unprecedented weather event. Hogwash. We had only 2 feet of snow and a high of 30" in Damascus and Burtonsville. Hardly a "snowpocalypse."

Yet neither the county nor the state can rise to the challenge. Rockville Pike had the road conditions of a side street at 11PM last night. There's simply no excuse.

But the excuses keep coming, and the local media flatly refuses to even question our government's paralysis.

How bad is it? How clear is the failure to clear roads and sidewalks in a timely fashion?

Well, it's so bad that the county emailed residents a list of frostbite symptoms during the night. I'm not making this up!

Translation: You're on your own comrade.

No Ride On, no Metrobus.

What's next, they're going to email us a field guide on gathering berries and acorns?

While residents in Montgomery wait for leadership in the dark cold air of night, over in "Gorgeous Prince Georges," Jack Johnson is taking action.

Mr. Johnson announced last evening that every road in his county was to be plowed by midnight last night.

Once again, Jack Johnson has provided something lacking here: leadership.


In the last 12 months, Maryland lost 35,700 jobs under Martin O'Malley's leadership.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


We now begin day 5 of the blizzard and its aftermath, and Montgomery County's elected officials have failed to respond to yet another crisis.

The new mantra is that the county has an "unprecedented 800 pieces of equipment on the street." Note it doesn't say those 800 pieces are moving. By my calculation, the number of miles of county road, 4128, divided by 800, would = 5.16 miles per plow. In other words, the streets should have been clear by Sunday night or Monday morning, at worst.

This is only the latest example of failed leadership by this council and executive, but it's the one voters may remember most when they go to the polls this November.

They'll remember paying the highest taxes in the nation, and getting poor quality service in return. Not only was the county unprepared to respond to a storm of this size, but it appears that the county and state are so strapped for cash that they are literally waiting out the storm.
Based upon the poor road conditions, and failure to keep plowing through the storm, one can only assume trucks were idled, and road treatments kept in storage to save money.

They'll remember being trapped in freezing homes without power for days, and being told their high taxes entitled them to a comfy cot in one of 4 high school gymnasiums. Gee, thanks, guys!

They'll remember the scandal of uncleared sidewalks 4 days later, pedestrians walking in the road to reach grocery stores, and the elderly and disabled being unable to move freely around their neighborhoods.

They'll remember that unplowed roads brought our bus systems to a halt, and placed residents in danger, as emergency vehicles were slowed in reaching residents. Poor road conditions also put our police officers and firefighters at risk as they tried to do their jobs.

Councilmember Roger Berliner has been frank about the situation, compared to his colleagues who declare, "the system worked." Mr. Berliner himself is snowed in without power, and has at least emailed a "snow emergency" message to his constituents. The other councilmembers haven't been heard from at all.

He acknowledges citizens are "irate," in perhaps the understatement of the year, and that O'Malley's state roads are in poor condition (see my theory above).

And that some residents, unbelievably given the temperature, may be without power through the weekend.

My own street only got plowed last night. One pass, and it basically just smoothed down the icy snow. Great for training for cross-country skiing, but not so great for driving.

And how about those sidewalks? You had to walk in the street on Westbard! This is the same county that spent millions on an infantile pedestrian safety campaign?

The next storm is on its way. I can only say, get your groceries and supplies if you can today, try for groceries if you are snowed in, and don't overdo it with the shoveling.

Monday, February 08, 2010


Decades Behind in Highway, Transit Projects,
Greedy Lawmakers Scheme to Raid MDOT Cookie Jar

You might not be surprised at this point, but another tax fraud is being perpetrated on the taxpayers of Maryland. Remember the O'Malley tax increases of 2007? (The Washington Post rarely does, as it executes its "Reelect O'Malley" campaign). We were told that this completely immoral and unnecessary 1% sales tax increase had a silver lining. That 6.5% of the revenue generated would go into an Al Gore Lockbox for transportation funding.

Strapped for cash they need to funnel to the special interests that got them elected, lawmakers - hiding behind their "budget analysts" - are quietly plotting to jimmy the lock on the lockbox. About $120 million dollars would be taken from transportation and put into the General Fund in 2013-14 alone..

Many of the same legislators are pushing bills that will exempt the Montgomery County Council from its $20 million fine for failing to fully fund schools for FY2010, and - unbelievably - seek to reduce MCPS funding in future years.

This comes at the same time as the county's decision to effectively dismantle its Ride On bus system.

And its apparent lack of funds for snow removal, because councilmembers had other political priorities.

The end result is that we are paying higher taxes and receiving less of the basic services we pay taxes for!

It's outrageous.

Call your legislators and tell them they're ripping you off. If 6.5 percent of the O'Malley sales tax isn't going to highway and transit projects, that 6.5% should be returned to us - the taxpayers - IMMEDIATELY. IMMEDIATELY! Failure to do so is a simple act of fraud that would make Bernie Madoff proud.

And if the Post and other organizations endorse these lawmakers again, you'll know their constant whining about transportation was a fraud, too.

Thursday, February 04, 2010


Another Exclusive!!!

I had an Indiana Jones moment last Friday. In Lutherville. At Johns Hopkins Green Spring Station, I found the falls from which Falls Road gets its name.

It was about 20 degrees, and my ears, jaw and neck weren't just frozen - they were hurting. It was the kind of weather when even the tough and fashionable are forced to wear hoods. You know it's bad when you see people with hoods up.

I walked past the shopping mall near the edge of the Johns Hopkins property, and heard the sound of water. I crossed a wooden bridge and discovered a fast-moving stream pouring over many waterfalls.

Naturally, I took out my cellphone and took a video of my discovery to share with you on the Robert Dyer Channel:

This is actually Deer Run stream, or Deer Run Falls, which descends through the western edge of the Green Spring Station development. The water is pretty clear. Regular readers know I've been uncovering environmental catastrophes in the Little Falls watershed, and monitoring others around the county, including Clarksburg, Seneca, Damascus, Rock Creek, and others.

I don't have any data on Deer Run to know whether Baltimore County has done more to protect its streams than Montgomery has. So I can't make an authoritative statement on the water quality.

But I can tell you that Deer Run continues south/southwest, where it meets... ...Jones Falls! (This is where the Jones Falls Expressway got its name). And Jones Falls travels southeast and empties into Lake Roland. Lake Roland eventually sends the water south into Baltimore city.

Streams are fascinating in a different way from rivers. Rivers make a bold statement. I'll never forget seeing the Mississippi River, which makes the Potomac seem like a stream in comparison.

Streams meander and hide, traveling underground, and many times through manmade concrete pipes and drainage systems. You can even see one of those at the beginning of the video. These fabricated additions are usually part of a stormwater management system.

Much like Little Falls, Deer Run and Jones Falls appear and disappear as they make their way toward Lake Roland.

You have to seek them out, but they are there. For now.

We have a lot of work to do to clean up the watersheds in Montgomery County. Stronger enforcement is needed to prosecute those who litter and dump toxic waste and garbage. Better controls are needed to nullify the effects of runoff from development (Beware: Gov. Martin O'Malley and some in the General Assembly are beholden to developers, and are plotting to revoke new rules that would reduce that runoff contamination! Follow those developments in Annapolis, and call your legislator and the Governor's office to protect our waterways). And more funds are needed. I'm working on a new initiative for Montgomery County watersheds, so stay tuned for that and a lot more this year at

For now, enjoy the video!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


Valuable Funds and Rights-of-Way to Go to
Waste Under Administration's "High-Speed" Proposal;
Your Taxes Will Go Up

The non-railroad-specialized media has done a terrible job of reporting the details on President Obama's high speed rail announcement. For those of us who are rail proponents, it has been frustrating to get all kinds of conflicting information on the routes.

Now, rely on to give you the real story.

There is good news and bad news, of course.

The great news is that California will actually receive a genuine high-speed rail line stretching from Sacramento to San Diego. Top speed will be 220 M.P.H. This will be the first real HSR line in the United States, and is fairly competitive with other such lines around the world.

The bad news?

The other lines aren't really high speed rail. Tampa-Orlando will be a decent 168 MPH, Orlando-Miami an even better 186. But those trains can't keep up with HSR speeds in France and China.

Washington D.C. - Charlotte, NC - 90-110 MPH. That's a great development in transportation routewise, but those speeds are not HSR.

Detroit - Chicago? 110. That's not HSR, either.

This is a huge disappointment. Although I disagree with the President on most issues, Candidate Obama promised he would support passenger rail and finally construct a high speed rail system.

Of course, experts estimate that a HSR system rivaling our European and Asian counterparts would require at least $50 billion.

Once in office, however, the President's priorities seem to have changed. Astronomical sums have been spent - over $1.3 trillion for the "stimulus" package alone.

Now here we are, with Amtrak itself inadvertently making the case for its own privatization, and a paltry $8 billion for a handful of kind-of-high-speed rail routes.

To waste most of that on traditional rail certainly fits the theme of high-spending, high-debt economics put forward by this administration.

But this stimulus is really just a "reelect Democrats" scam. The non-high-speed rail dollars are going to track and tunnel upgrades states were going to pay for. This frees up money those states can use to artificially balance their budgets. Thereby postponing coming to grips with their structural deficits. Maryland is not the only state doing this, but Gov. Martin O'Malley is counting on $900 million in stimulus funny money - just for starters - to balance his budget for FY 2011.

What does this do? First, it means we're either never going to have a full HSR network, or we're going to have to build HSR again, making these non-HSR lines a complete waste of money.

And second, that waste of money - along with the devastating levels of debt Obama is bringing to us - is going to hit you and your children with a Triple Whammy of taxes in the near future.

Here's how it works:

Many Democrats - with media help and Obama funny money stimulus funds - may be reelected in 2010. The stimulus will run out (and in 2012, a new Democratic or Republican president may take office). Now those stuctural county and state deficits will be unavoidable.

Montgomery County and Maryland will raise taxes on you at both levels. And then, Uncle Sam - broke from stimulus spending and out-of-control entitlements - will hit you for the Triple Whammy. Because it's your Federal tax money that Obama has been so generously giving to O'Malley and Ike Leggett.

Whether you are talking about fiscal responsibility, or high-speed rail, we are sadly on the wrong track.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Hagerstown, Maryland Groundhog Beats
His Pennsylvania Counterpart to the Punch

Another Exclusive!!!

Is winter over? Find out by watching this exclusive video of a superior groundhog, from the city of Hagerstown, Maryland. Will he see his shadow and go back into his hole? You can only find out by watching this video! While your friends and colleagues are waiting to find out what "Phil" thinks, you'll already know the answer!

Watch now on the Robert Dyer Channel:


Did you know? 33% of millionaires have left Maryland since Gov. Martin O'Malley and his supporters in the General Assembly rammed through a "Millionaires Tax" in November 2007? That'll cut your state's tax revenue.


Montgomery County restauranteurs weary from a regulatory beating delivered by Councilmember George Leventhal over the last 4 years, now are smarting from Leventhal's slap against what he claims is a lack of "high end" restaurants in the county.

Mr. Leventhal's full comments (see previous entry), and loud and proud boasts that he financially supports a rival county's restaurants during this severe recession, are simply despicable.

Monday, February 01, 2010


Councilmember Trashes Montgomery County
Restaurants in Post Column; Dodges His Own
Role in County's Economic Collapse

Another Exclusive!!!

Montgomery County Councilmember George Leventhal (D - At Large) doesn't think much of the county's restaurants, according to a quote in yesterday's Washington Post; he says we in Montgomery are less "sophisticated" than our neighbors in Fairfax County:

"It is certainly true nowadays that if I want to take my wife to a four- or five-star restaurant... there are a lot more of them in Tysons than in Bethesda. Fairfax has become high-end."
- George Leventhal

When was the last time Mr. Leventhal dined in downtown Bethesda? His comment reveals how utterly out of touch this 8-year councilman is with not only the taxpayers, but with the businesses in the very county he governs! Holy smoke, what a bunch of hogwash!

Furthermore, Leventhal used this softball-filled interview to pontificate again on the state of the county's economy and tax rates.

Leventhal's post-McDonnell tactic is on display again: after serving in the same office for 8 years, he is trying to convince us that he was just elected in some kind of special election. And is now here on the scene to tackle a mess others made.

Just one problem: George Leventhal is one of the architects of this mess! George Leventhal voted early and often for the very immoral and Draconian taxes he is now criticizing. Talk about a 180 degree flip flop.

McCartney did not challenge any of Leventhal's assertions, so now, as always, you - the highly-informed, intellectual reader - have turned to, where the only real journalism in town seems to happen these days.

First of all, we've covered the Leventhal record of tax and spend, budget-busting, developer-boosting economics a few weeks ago. He can't dodge that record, and he won't dodge that record.

Leventhal is a tax and spend councilman, period. Examine his record.

Clearly, like many of his colleagues at the county and state levels, Mr. Leventhal is either planning to retire, or is so smugly overconfident of reelection that his hubris has reached sky-high levels.

How else could he make such a statement about Montgomery County restaurants?

Not only is it patently false and about 20 years out of date, but go back to that Leventhal record. One of the reasons top chefs have hesitated to open restaurants in Montgomery is the county's antiquated liquor regulations, which make it difficult to offer the selection and prices of the surrounding jurisdictions.

Leventhal has shown no leadership in 8 years to repeal these restrictive laws. Of course, with this New Leventhal, who knows what his position is on any issue at this point.

Secondly, Mr. Leventhal has spent the last 4 years raising the cost of doing business for restaurant owners in Montgomery County. He personally rammed through the costly trans-fat ban in 2007, and just slammed restaurants again with an expensive "menu reform" law a few months ago.

For taxer-regulator Leventhal, who has personally targeted the restaurant industry with new costs and burdens, it takes some nerve to criticize our restaurant owners. He has done everything in his power to make doing business in Montgomery County more difficult.

It's good he has so many friends in the local media. The bad news is, the voters aren't as dumb as he thinks.

And, unlike Mr. Leventhal, we exist in the real world of Montgomery County, not the rarified air of Elite Montgomery, where 1960s liberals bash their own constituents and businesses, and loudly boast of spending their money in another county.

Here in the real Montgomery County, we know that we have great restaurants from Tom and Ray's in Damascus to the restaurant capital of Maryland, Bethesda.

But what's more, we "unsophisticated" folk whom the Leventhals must get away from in "high-end" Fairfax County (give me a break), know that Mr. Leventhal is absolutely and utterly mistaken.

Contrary to Leventhal's outrageous assertion, Bethesda, in fact, has an astronomically greater number of 4 and 5 star restaurants than Tysons Corner. And more world-renowned chefs.

First, examine a short list of chefs we have in Bethesda:
Jose Andres - Hey, George, ever heard of this guy? He's only got his own PBS show, appeared on Top Chef, has his own cookbooks, and created the tapas fad that went nationwide. His restaurant? Jaleo, right here in... ...Bethesda.
Yannick Cam
Robert Wiedmaier
Geoff Tracy (at Lia's in Friendship Heights)
Michel Laudier - formerly chef at the famous Rive Gauche, now chef at Tragara in Bethesda (have you heard of the Rive Gauche, Councilmember Leventhal?)
And for a time, there was David Craig

Now, secondly, examine the Washingtonian Top 100 Restaurants List:

Montgomery County has 16 restaurants on the list... Addie's, Assaggi, Black Market Bistro, Black's Bar & Kitchen, Cava, Faryab, General Store, Grapeseed, Indique Heights, Jackie's, Nava Thai, Passage to India, Ray's the Classics, Spice Xing, and Sushi Ko.

Tysons has... 1! That's right, one! Inox.

Can you explain that, Mr. Leventhal?

It seems that 8 years of self-serving leadership and a lack of hard-hitting media coverage of this council's mismanagement of the county has produced "leaders" of a singular ego and hubris. So out of touch with reality, that they apparently do not even walk or drive around major cities within the jurisdiction they rule over.

If Fairfax is so much better, and Mr. Leventhal doesn't care to support our local businesses, why doesn't he move over there?