Friday, August 27, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Enjoy one of the great moments from Tuesday night's debate, which was co-sponsored by the Greater Goshen, Laytonsville and Clarksburg Civic Associations.
Exclusively on the Robert Dyer Channel:
If elected, I will be the advocate for Clarksburg on the County Council.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
I went to Leisure World yesterday afternoon for a candidate forum that was well-attended. It included candidates for County Executive, County Council At-Large and District 4, Clerk of the Circuit Court, Register of Wills, Sheriff and Board of Education.
This was the second debate in a row that had an audience of mostly "real" voters, as opposed to those where the audience was largely staff members of Democratic campaigns.
It was held in the Ballroom which has a huge chandelier. When it was my turn to speak, I focused on the issues important to seniors. I don't believe seniors are so much concerned about how many establishment groups have endorsed a candidate, as they are in knowing that the bus they take to the grocery store won't be eliminated by the council next week. Or that their Pepco bill won't double next month because the council passes an Energy Tax increase. Alas, the council actually did those terrible things. And this November 2nd is the citizen's chance to hold them accountable.
Now it appears to be official that another threat to the safety and well-being of seniors - the dangerous Ambulance Fee - will not be on the ballot this fall. It is now clear that the basic right of the citizen to take direct action through a ballot question has been eliminated. This is a dark turn of events. How can one petition for a recall of a crooked politician if all signatures and petitions will be struck down through an impossible-to-meet criteria? It appears that the political establishment knows that they are going to have to expand their current practice of governing against the will of the citizens. And are taking direct action to protect their radical legislation, massive tax increases and their own "divine right" to their offices from any and all challenges. They reflect a regional and national trend that smugly suggests you the citizen lack the intelligence to know what is best for you, or to understand the issues. Therefore, you should have no direct ability to decide major issues, and that power should reside solely in our wise, and all-knowing elected officials.
That should be of concern to all voters. It's time that we, the citizens, take "direct action" and elect a new County Council on November 2nd.
Voters I spoke to after the forum were concerned about the county's finances and failure to bring jobs to Montgomery County. Fortunately I have a plan for both of those, as you can find on my website at www.RobertDyer.net. The Fiscal Plan is actually in a video form, which you can review at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEyFD3XbOZs
Friday, August 20, 2010
USA Today published the results of a survey of Americans with disabilities this week. It asked participants whether the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law by President George H.W. Bush, had made a difference in their lives. The answer might surprise you.
Is this because the law was ineffective? No, I believe it is because it has not been adequately enforced.
We can find this to be the case here in Montgomery County. I've filed numerous complaints about ADA violations here in the county, some of which related to county facilities. Most recently, I reported here - and brought to Councilmember Mike Knapp's attention - ADA violations at Damascus ES. I was promised that those violations would be corrected this summer, and I guess we'll find out if that was true soon enough!
This is in addition to the county council's reductions in services for the disabled, including transit cuts and a 50% cut in subsidized taxi coupons for the disabled.
And the many violations of the ADA include the county's refusal to clear sidewalks for days or weeks after a snowstorm. This has a tremendous impact on the ability of those in wheelchairs, for example, to get around or to access Metrobus and Ride On at snowed-in stops.
This is why, if I am elected, disabled residents will finally have an advocate on the council, as will those with special needs.
I have promised that, if elected, I will appoint one staff member to specifically handle disability and special needs issues.
These issues extend to the programs offered in public schools, and the current shortcomings in that area call for new leadership on the council.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
You may have read the Gazette article about the Montgomery County Council skipping this week's MACo Conference in beautiful, sunny Ocean City, MD.
The council's cancellation is certainly a smart political move, considering the bills they've racked up at taxpayer expense over the last 3 summers.
This abrupt cancellation may have had, oh, a little bit to do with something I said at this debate a few weeks ago:
I don't know. Maybe. You think?
Oh, and the politicians are not going to party at Seacrets - Jamaica USA - at your $12000 expense again this year. Darn.
So Ike Leggett and Timothy Firestine, Chuck Short, Vicki Buckland, Tom "Keeping Myself Moving Safely... to Ocean City!" Pogue, Jeff Dunckel, Melanie Wenger, Sheila Sprague and R.C. Bates are heading to Ocean City without the council, according to the Gazette.
They'll be working hard at all kinds of boring workshops and seminars, right?
Well, I thought you might like some further details about the trip you're paying for!!
So grab your SPF 15 and check out what you could be enjoying - for FREE - if you were a county official:
"Sea Kayaking Trip" - "The group departs from the West Ocean City Public Boat Ramp, and paddles to the north end of Assateague Island, approximately 1 mile each way. It includes a short hike on Assateague Island to investigate barrier island ecology, seine for fish and aquatic life, and visit ponies."
Will Ike Leggett's bodyguards (you're paying $1366 for them to go, too!) row for him? Do they wear Hawaiian shirts?
This morning at 10:30 am: "Oyster Shuckers - demonstration and free samples"
Yes, that same old business trip Continental breakfast like us average citizens have, right?
12:00 – 1:30 pm Steel drum band - “Caiso”
Now, how did these guys end up getting scheduled right at the same time as Ben Cardin is going to be giving one of his inspiring, motivating, powerful and entertaining speeches? By the powers vested in me as an elected official, I'm calling on the PSC to investigate!
"Sunrise Yoga and Ice-Cream Break" - "There's no better way to start a day at the Conference at a Sunrise Yoga class on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 6:00 am outside on the pavillion facing the Bay at the Convention Center. Yoga will be provided compliments of MAC Wellness. And, the Thursday afternoon ice cream break has been transformed to a Health Break, featuring yummy and healthy beverages and snacks. Not to worry, ice-cream lovers, you'll have an opportunity later."
Never believe a politician when he or she promises you'll have anything "later."
"Public Safety Reception on Thursday afternoon in the Bayside Sunset Room. There's a live band, and a Mystery Celebrity Guest planned, with a photographer on hand to capture your picture with him (or her!)"
I just have to know who the Mystery Celebrity Guest is!!
6:30 pm—8:30 pm President’s Reception - “Groovy Sixties” theme. Music by the Charlie Parker Band
Forget Step Up 3-D, can they keep the photographer on hand for this?
Now, how about tomorrow. I mean, after the sunrise yoga?
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm "Clowns, Snacks, Goody Bags"
[insert your own joke here]
3:15 pm - 4:15 pm Governor’s Cabinet Reception (by invitation only)
Did Peter Franchot get an invitation? Just wondering.
5:00 pm - 8:00 pm Crab Feast - Music by The Klassix (rain or shine)
By the way, don't forget to sign up for the Golf Tournament!
Here's what you get, if you're ready to take on 18 holes even when we're in a budget hole:
"FORMAT Scramble! Check In 7:30 a.m. Shotgun Start 9:00 a.m.
FOOD AND BEVERAGES Included in your golf registration are continental breakfast and beverages and snacks from two golf carts circulating on the course that day.
PRIZES First, second and third team prizes and Closest to the Pin and Longest Drive for both men and women. Great giveaways at the Awards Ceremony."
Finally, you might expect that RobertDyer.net would also let you know who your elected officials will be clinking champagne glasses with...
AFSCME/MD Public Employees/Council 67
Well, there's a shock.
U.S. Reps Cummings, Ruppersberger,
U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski
U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin
(sorry, I can't hear you! Steel drum band "Caiso" is playing!)
Pepco Energy Services, Inc.
Oh, my. Hmm.
Wait a minute... Is that Rodney the Lifeguard in downtown Rockville?
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Last night I participated in a Montgomery County Council At-Large candidate forum, sponsored by 17 Asian-American organizations at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville. The debate focused on issues of interest to the Asian American community in Montgomery County.
This debate had the best turnout of the 3 I've been in so far. More actual voters than campaign staff in the audience. It was also the first to cover the issues of education and transportation, although I did not get the transportation question. However, you can read about my transportation plan at www.RobertDyer.net.
I did answer questions about education (I'm the only candidate who supports full Maintenance of Effort funding for MCPS), after school programs, language accessibility, public safety, and was asked to give an example of when I have interacted with the Asian-American community in the county.
The best example, as I discussed in response, was in my advocacy against the attempt by developers to "redevelop" downtown Wheaton. There are many successful small businesses there - many owned by Asian-Americans - and they could be forced out by construction and high rents. Replacing them will be the usual national-chain suspects, of course. I'll talk more about the specifics of this issue in the coming days. But I got some applause when I promised that, if elected, I will ensure that any "redevelopment" benefits those who live and own businesses there now. The benefits should not all go to the developers and some hypothetical group of future residents. The response showed that attendees really did come from all over the county, as opposed to just Rockville. The Wheaton Sector Plan is a huge issue, and it will be decided by the next county council. That makes this a crucial vote for those who live in the Wheaton area (much like those who live in Long Branch, Damascus and the Westbard Sector).
I talked to a lot of voters afterward, and even ran in to a former teacher from high school. The debate was very well organized -they even put a tablecloth on the cafeteria table the candidates sat at. I think those who turned out were able to learn a lot about where the candidates stand, and what we will do if elected. It's great to see 17 groups getting involved in the process, and giving their members a chance to question and hear from those competing to represent them on the council. I strongly encourage other community groups around the county to hold these type of events, so that their voices and concerns can be heard before Election Day.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
It's interesting, with the local media only covering the private, Democrat-only Montgomery County Council At-Large debates, that your taxpayer dollars are now being used to promote yet another private, Democrat-only debate!
Montgomery County Government is promoting an August 23, 2010 debate featuring only the Democratic candidates for the council at-large! And, it is going to be broadcast at further taxpayer expense on MC10, the Montgomery College Channel.
That sounds fair and ethical, doesn't it?
Whatever questions this particular debate and its promotion raise, the critical question ahead of us is (aside from when are the TV, internet and print local media going to start covering the debates when Republicans are included?!), will the League of Women Voters, the Montgomery County Civic Federation, Montgomery College Alumni Association and MC-10 sponsor and televise an equivalent debate - moderated by Lon Anderson of AAA, no less! - for the 8 General Election candidates for County Council At-Large before November 2nd?
There's a debate tonight, in Rockville, at Richard Montgomery HS at 7:00pm. The Republican candidates for council at-large have been graciously invited to participate. I, in turn, invite the Washington Post, Gazette, Sentinel, etc., to attend and publish stories about this debate.
Monday, August 16, 2010
If you tune in to CCM 6 on a regular basis, you are probably familiar with the Director of the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection, Eric Friedman. He is one of several "stars" of Channel 6 who receive quite a bit of screen time - but nobody can beat the screen time that our County Council and Executive get on this, and half-a-dozen other taxpayer-funded channels.
In a time of reduced revenues, Mr. Friedman and other departments have tried to appeal to the taxpayers via television, to make the case for the importance of what they provide to the community. Such a department can play a useful role, if that role is defined. For example, this office can help bring various local consumer scams to the attention of residents. At the same time, simply announcing recalls is duplicative of Federal product recall announcements, which anyone can easily subscribe to online.
But in a time of tight budgets, I was surprised to hear about a new role for the OCP: assisting domestic workers in court cases against their employers. This particular case was hastily brought forward, after the Gazette published an article revealing that no one had ever filed a complaint using the county's domestic worker protection law. After all of the taxpayer expense of legislating and promoting the law, it turned out that it was yet another County Council Solution-in-Search-of-a-Problem Law.
So now they've rounded up a customer. Let's allow the legal process to play out before passing judgement on the complaintant. Having said that, it is interesting to note that, according to the Gazette, the Montgomery County Police Department and the U.S. Justice Department both investigated the case, and declined to bring charges against the accused family. Again, I'm not here to defend the accused without having the case files in front of me. But what does it tell you about a case, when the highest law enforcement authorities in the county and the nation both say there's nothing there to pursue in court?
The real issue here is, what does a domestic worker complaint - a labor issue - have to do with an Office of Consumer Protection at any level? Who is the "consumer?" What was the "product" sold?
This makes no sense at all.
If the OCP has this much time, energy and financial resources to put toward non-consumer-protection related pursuits, is it not an indication that there are more budget cuts to be found in this department? This is a time to narrow activities to the most essential, not branch out on a pro-incumbent councilmember political quest at taxpayer expense. Such a case should be left to the appropriate authorities to investigate.
So when a puff piece featuring Mr. Friedman and Channel 4 consumer reporter Liz Crenshaw appeared the same week as this Gazette story... ...I just had to ask, regarding an Office of Consumer Protection entering into labor disputes, "Does it really do that?"
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Yesterday morning, I attended a continental breakfast hosted by the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce.
It was an easier than usual trip on East West Highway. Until I tried to park at the AFI Silver Theatre, that is. As you know, there are a couple of county garages that are fairly convenient to the Downtown Silver Spring shopping and dining areas. But none are convenient to the Theatre. Maybe there's a secret garage where you pull up and give the attendant the secret handshake. I'm a Republican, so we don't get those kind of perks in Montgomery County.
Anyway, I tried to get to the garage near the Macaroni Grill, the fountain, etc. You know what I'm talking about. But some big truck and a bus forced me into the wrong lane on Colesville, and there was so much traffic, and no way to turn off safely, that I was carried out of town. Then I had to fight my way back into town in a traffic jam.
So just after 8, I finally got there. But, fortunately, it was just getting started. Fellow Republican At-Large candidate Brandon Rippeon was there, as well as Kurt Osuch (State Senate, Dist.18), Pat Fenati (State House, Dist.14), and some other Republican candidates who I had not met before. I saw former Rockville Mayor Susan Hoffmann (who is in charge of Downtown Silver Spring as a county employee), almost all of the incumbent councilmembers, the District 18 General Assembly delegation, and a couple of their Democratic challengers. The only one of the challengers I recognized was Vanessa Atterbeary, who is running for the House of Delegates.
It was great to talk to actual businesspeople and members of the Chamber, as opposed to a political PAC. Every businessperson said they are being hit hard by the council's outrageous Energy Tax increase. One representative from a major apartment management company said they are being devastated by the tax, because many of their apartments come with utilities included. So the company has to pick up the tab for every one of those units. And, of course, the council chose to do this just as the heat wave hit. What a disaster!
My main point was to push my detailed Fiscal Plan. We can't accomplish anything until we fix our structural deficit. Don't forget, you can watch a video and "PowerPoint" presentation about my fiscal plan here:
And also don't forget to email the video to all of your friends in Montgomery County!
I also talked quite a bit about my economic development plan, which will make Montgomery County the new space industry capital of the world. It won't be as difficult as it sounds. My plan builds on our existing aerospace firms such as Lockheed, the end of NASA's human spaceflight program, the new need for defense firms to make up for the unwise proposed DOD cuts, and - most importantly - our proximity to Goddard Flight Center, multiple air bases and proving grounds, and the Wallops Island launch facility.
I don't know of any other part of the country that can boast all of those advantages.
The time to act on this visionary plan is now, and we can't rely on the same old failed leadership that has missed opportunities like this in the past.
Visit my website at http://www.robertdyer.net/ for more information and videos on the Robert Dyer Channel, accessible from the Main Menu on the home page!
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
Have you heard about the latest perk the Montgomery County Council is giving county employees? $7,000,000 worth of paid vacations, at taxpayer expense!
You can hear my comments on that by clicking here:
As part of their Oscar-worthy performance as overnight fiscal conservatives, the council is faking it better than Milli Vanilli. There's nothing they can do, it's the executive, they say. Yeah, just like it was Dr. Weast a few months ago. The fact is, with the exception of Duchy Trachtenberg and Phil Andrews, this whole council was just endorsed by the MCEA and/or the unions. Big surprise, then, that they are allowing the $7,000,000 of paid vacations to go forward, right?
Membership has its benefits, as they say.
It's amazing that they could not afford raises for police officers and firefighters in the budget, but can give out free vacations.
That's why I've proposed separating public safety employee compensation packages from those of other government employees. There is a higher level of benefit appropriate and deserved for those who risk their lives each day to keep residents safe.
But for non-public safety employees, there is no reason why they should be exempt from the pay freezes, furloughs, and 401(k)s that the taxpayers are dealing with right now. What the executive and council are suggesting, is that the white collar office worker in the private sector must go without more than he or she is now, to pay for gold-plated compensation packages for government employees doing the same job or lower.
Make no mistake about it. People in Montgomery County are hurting. The worst part, is that much of the pain has been inflicted by our county executive and council. Their historic Energy Tax increase has devastated working families, and is literally driving county businesses into bankruptcy.
They did this, and now they must be held accountable.
If you agree, please email my video to 10 of your friends. Visit my website at www.RobertDyer.net. Request a yard sign for your lawn. Tell everyone you know to get to the polls, or use early voting, or absentee ballot, to vote for Robert Dyer!!!
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Combined with its status as a developer-beholden council, it's no surprise that they've eagerly joined some of those developers in creating a fourth level of taxation for some residents of the county. This is happening in Clarksburg and White Flint now. But the truth is, soon these districts will be created countywide wherever "urban town centers" are built in currently suburban, residential neighborhoods of single family homes. The new surprise twist? Even those who have lived in older housing there for decades will be charged the tax. Don't believe it? Just a few weeks ago, the county revealed that residents of The Forum will have to pay the White Flint development district tax! Are you next?
As you might imagine, I've opposed these development taxing districts from the beginning. Now watch a video as I speak to an audience of the tax district's first victims: the residents of Clarksburg.
If you oppose having to pay a new, fourth level of taxation, please email this video to 10 friends who live in Montgomery County. A vote for Robert Dyer is a vote against development tax districts!
Monday, August 02, 2010
Last week, at a debate in Clarksburg, a question was asked regarding where growth in the county should be located to create jobs.
I am not opposed to development or growth. I'll be glad to support the White Flint and Science City plans when the necessary infrastructure is in place to support those massive developments. And after we have first filled all of the existing, vacant office space we currently have in the county.
I talk about this, and then make some very frank comments regarding the economic development situation under the failed leadership of the Montgomery County Council.
Watch the video right now:
The economic development "authority" passed by the council does not make the changes necessary to attract large corporations. It simply creates another level of costly bureaucracy, and adds new taxes on county businesses (if they haven't gone out of business by then already). It is a phantom economic development plan, much like the phantom "fiscal policy" the council adopted weeks ago. Not surprising, since these are the folks that invented the phantom COLA, right?
If you agree with my comments in the video, please email it to 10 of your friends who live in Montgomery County today!