Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Are some MoCo Councilmembers seeking an end-run around term limits? MD House bill could do it

Four Montgomery County Councilmembers will be unable to run for reelection in 2018, thanks to voters overwhelmingly approving term limits in last November's election. Councilmembers Hans Riemer, Nancy Navarro and Craig Rice can only run once more in 2018, and if they win a third term, will have to step down in 2022.

Or will they?

Montgomery County's House delegation in Annapolis has quietly introduced a bill that would stagger terms of the County Council. Some seats would be elected in gubernatorial years, and others in presidential years. Presidential year elections strongly favor incumbents and establishment candidates, which is why municipal incumbents financially-backed by developers and other special interests often press for their towns and cities to move their elections to presidential years.

Voters in presidential years are greater in number, but studies and voting results have shown they are less attuned to local politics than those who turn out in off-year elections. Those pressing for local offices to be elected in presidential years will often turn that fact on its head, and claim that invisible force fields are somehow preventing large numbers of voters from reaching the polls in off-year elections, a farcical claim. 

The fact is, people who don't care about what's going on at the county level, don't vote in off-year elections. Having more low-information voters who literally don't care about the local outcomes deciding our County elections is a terrible idea.

But put that debate aside for a moment.

This bill could be abused by a County Council and political machine still smarting from being totally repudiated by their constituents in the last election in three ways:

First, and most appallingly, the way this bill is written would leave the door open for the County Council itself to extend an American Idol-esque "save" to colleagues of their choice in 2022. Riemer, Navarro and Rice could actually vote themselves a two-year extension in office until 2024. Or would they still get the boot, and whoever runs for the seats that will be voted on in 2024 will only get a two-year term? The problem is, the bill doesn't say.

Second, the bill's language allows the Council to determine which seats would move to presidential year elections. You can be sure, for example, that the all-Democratic County Council would want upcounty District 2 to move to presidential years, as that district has a much higher percentage of Republicans than the others.

Third, County Councilmembers ousted by term limits in 2022 wouldn't have to cool off for four years before running again, as voters clearly said they should. Instead, they could try to get back on in two years.

All three of these abuses would be clear moves to subvert the will of the voters in 2016. Of course, those among the majority who voted against the ambulance fee probably wouldn't be shocked.

There is no mass support or demand from the people for a switch to staggered elections. No meaningful effort has been made by either the Council or the delegation to alert or educate the public that a major change like this is being proposed. It's a change clearly designed to favor incumbents and candidates of the political machine.

This bill should either be edited to give the Council less leeway to abuse the process, or be tabled. In the meantime, watch this effort carefully. A public hearing is scheduled in Annapolis before the Ways and Means Committee on the bill this Thursday, February 16, 2017 at 1:00 PM.

If, like most people, you will be unable to travel to Annapolis midday on a weekday, please use this contact information to tell our delegates and senators (and the members of the Ways and Means Committee) to table House Bill 348.

64 comments:

Anonymous said...

So MoCo County will be Reimerless only from 2023 through 2025? I'm breathing a huge sigh of relief now.

Anonymous said...

"People who don't care about what's going on at the county level, don't vote in off-year elections. Having more low-information voters who literally don't care about the local outcomes deciding our County elections is a terrible idea."

Typical Republican - trying to find some lame pretext to suppress oter turnout.

What next, a poll tax?

Anonymous said...

Great art work Dyer!

Anonymous said...

We'd love to have sensible Hogan Republicans serving locally, including on the County Council.
We're seeing what sustained one party rule looks like and it's bad for residents.

Anonymous said...

"The fact is, people who don't care about what's going on at the county level, don't vote in off-year elections. Having more low-information voters who literally don't care about the local outcomes deciding our County elections is a terrible idea."

Yea, it's terrible that too many people are voting and don't care about the same things you do. That's one of the more fascistic statements I've heard from you. Which part of the Constitution did you find this in?

Now I know why people troll you so badly here.

Anonymous said...

This does not surprise me. Remember this is the County Council that overruled the wills of the voters in the past. At referendum, MoCo voters voted against the ambulance tax. Then, Leggett and crew passed it anyway, claiming voters were misinformed when they voted against it.

Yeah, who cares what the voters think?

H Miller said...

"If, like most people, you will be unable to travel to Annapolis midday on a weekday, please use this contact information to tell our delegates and senators (and the members of the Ways and Means Committee) to table House Bill 348."

As someone who has worked on The Hill and at the White House I can assure you that directly contacting your representatives absolutely works. It can make the difference on how they vote. I encourage all who read this blog to stop complaining and pick up the phone and call their representative if they really want to see change!

Thank you, Robert, for alerting us to this issue.

Anonymous said...

"We'd love to have sensible Republicans serving locally"

Then the MoCo GOP needs to stop running idiots like Dyer and Ficker. You don't have the Electoral College to distort the vote in your favor, like you do at the national level.

Anonymous said...

The days of sane Republicans like Mac Mathias, Gilbert Gude and Connie Morella have long since passed. It's all insane birdbrains like Trump, Palin and Dyer nowadays.

Anonymous said...

How come no mention of the Canadian engineering firm EXP relocating from Toronto to Chicago? MoCo loses again, but Dyer is #Scooped

Anonymous said...

I agree and will contact my reps in Annapolis.

FWIW, I support staggered terms so that all institutional memory is not lost at once. BUT I agree that Riemer, Navarro et al should be held to the requirements of the term limits referendum, and support rewriting the bill to that effect.

Anonymous said...

"Montgomery County's House delegation in Annapolis has quietly introduced a bill..."

Who, precisely?

And, how "quietly"?

Anonymous said...

Dyer only opposes this because it benefits Democrats (who would win anyway). He doesn't care about "special interests" etc.

Robert Dyer said...

10:46: Al Carr is the sponsor. Quietly, in that the public didn't ask for staggered terms, and there was no public campaign by the delegation. This is obviously coming from a special interest, a.k.a. the County Council.

Robert Dyer said...

11:20: Wrong! It benefits candidates who have name recognition through the relentless, obsequious media coverage they get. Pretend it's a "Republican" interest if you wish, but Democrats like Beth Daly or others in the vein of Marc Elrich would be hurt by staggered terms as much as the GOP.

Having said that, the decline of our county and MCPS just happens to track exactly with the change to one-party monopoly leadership. How's that working for you? One-party rule has created a cancer that is now devouring the bones of our county.

Anonymous said...

"A special interest, a.k.a. the County Council."

Dyerism of the Day!

Anonymous said...

The Democrats didn't nefariously cause "a change to monopoly one-party leadership". What happened was that the GOP ceased to be a viable second party for Montgomery County, as it drifted further and further right, and became in increasingly detatched from reality.

Anonymous said...

12:57 PM What is considered "far right" for Council candidates?
Robert Dyer's platform around transportation, education (Universal Pre-K) and affordable housing weren't really left or right issues.

Anonymous said...

What exactly is Dyer's "education policy"? I see a lot of hand-wringing over overcrowding and poor performance, but little or nothing in terms of concrete proposals to remedy those issues. "Vote for me instead of those bums" does not count as a policy position.

Robert Dyer said...

12:57: Wrong again - Howard Denis, Connie Morella, Nancy Dacek, etc. NEVER "drifted further and further right." They got gerrymandered out of office as Democrats redrew Council and congressional districts to be less favorable to Republicans. Your description is causing the BS-O-Meter to short circuit.

Anonymous said...

Pathetically lame straw man, Dyer. No one said that Denis, Dacek or Morella (or Mathias or Gude) "drifted right". It was the GOP that moved right, leaving those moderates stranded, and MoCo voters alienated.

Robert Dyer said...

3:03: Universal Pre-K has been the major policy change I have advocated. I was the only candidate talking about it in 2014 and 2010. In recent weeks, the Council has scheduled a briefing on the viability of universal Pre-K, once again showing how far ahead of the curve I am compared to the idiocracy and kleptocracy we have in office now.

Pre-K, increasing automobile capacity on the Legion Bridge instead of a "transit-only" solution, Flower Branch explosion, 911 system failure, shuttle service to address the "last mile" problem with transit...all policies I advocated which were later copied by the Council when it was too late and/or I was proven correct.

Why not elect the guy who is out in front of these problems, and has the solutions, instead of the very stupid, corrupt clowns we have now?

Robert Dyer said...

4:59: Wrong. They were all the Republicans who were in office. They didn't drift to the right. Arnold Schwarzenegger won in the People's Republic of California long after MoCo's Republican officials were forced out by Democratic gerrymandering.

Anonymous said...

"Flower Branch explosion, 911 failure were policies I advocated"

Wut??!?

Robert Dyer said...

8:18: Which of my "idiot" policies do you disagree with: having a functional transportation system, attracting high-wage employers to Montgomery County, universal Pre-K and a good school in every neighborhood?

You're against jobs? Don't tell me, you also are a big fan of the County liquor monopoly, Barwood Cab and Comcast? For fun, you enjoy spending an afternoon at the MVA?

Anonymous said...

"Universal Pre-K" might be a good idea, but how do you intend to fund it and how would you address the worsening of school overcrowding that it would trigger?

Anonymous said...

"Shuttle service to address the 'last mile' problem with transit"

You mean like between Westbard and the Friendship Heights Metro station?

Anonymous said...

5:31 PM Flashback: Councilman Reimer claims that two Metro stations are walkable from Westbard Avenue.
Fact Check: That is not true.

Anonymous said...

Currently, eligibility for Pre-K is means based. Thus, the poorest families are already eligible. So how would expanding Pre-K to middle-class and wealthy families increase educational opportunities for those who need it the most?

Anonymous said...

@ 6:04 PM - So you agree that a shuttlebus between Westbard and Friendship Heights would make the former more transit-friendly.

Anonymous said...

Schwarzenegger was elected just 11 months after Morella and Dacek lost. He will be the last Republican elected at the state level in California for a long time. And even he is alienated from today's GOP.

Robert Dyer said...

5:31/6:13: You're talking about two different issues. As far as shuttles, what I proposed was a passenger van that would park at the local "town center" or shopping center, and could be summoned by app or phone to the nearby home or apartment building. It would take the resident to either the center, or to the nearest Metro station, and be paid for by developers.

This specific model was not proposed for Westbard, and the more basic Westwood Center-to-Friendship Heights shuttle requirement was deleted from the sector plan by the County Council.

So we're not getting a "last mile" solution even if Equity One funds the simpler version, which they are no longer obligated to. In fact, in their usual generosity with "other peoples' money," council members spoke warmly of the possibility that 3000+ new residents might require them to start the shuttle themselves at taxpayer expense. Nuts.

Second issue: Neither a shuttle, nor a bus, qualifies as "transit-oriented development," which by standard definition would require a rapid transit station within a half-mile of the development.

Robert Dyer said...

6:26: So is John Kasich. So is Charlie Dent. So is John McCain. I don't get your point. They're all getting elected. The Rock could easily run for governor in CA and win. He couldn't win in Morella's district or Howie's District 1 circa 2006.

Robert Dyer said...

5:07: I specifically warned the Council that the Long Branch sector plan as written would result in landlords not maintaining their buildings due to the lure of demolition allowed in the plan. Proven correct when one with "thousands of code violations" exploded, killing 7 of the Council's constituents.

The Council, distracted by bizarre issues like plastic bags (more in use now than before this "behavior modifying" tax), pesticides, vending machines, trans fats, and "feeling safe," failed to execute its oversight and responsibility for providing basic services like 911. Two more constituents died as a result.

That's "WUT."

Robert Dyer said...

6:16: What is stopping the other voters from voting in the off-year elections? Please be specific.

How is someone not caring about an election and staying home the same as the imposition of a racist policy like a poll tax? Even your hero Robert "KKK" Byrd would have a hard time making that argument.

Paul M. Bessel said...

If anyone thinks this is an effort by the current Council Members to somehow thwart the will of the voters, how do you explain the fact that the County Council voted to oppose this bill in Annapolis? This bill was introduced by a member of the House of Delegates who thought it might be helpful for out county and its citizens to have staggered terms on the County Council just as we already have staggered terms on the Board of Education and the U.S. Senate. When that Delegate came to the County Council for support, the County Council voted against supporting this proposal. Look at the facts. Facts are important. Those who say this is an effort of the Council Members to get around term limits have no facts to support their conspiracy theory.

Delegate Al Carr said...

Robert - how does one "quietly" introduce a bill?

Robert Dyer said...

Delegate Carr, I think when a bill of this magnitude is working its way through the process, and people who try to follow these things are only hearing about it now, it can be described as "quiet." Granted, I am much more focused on legislation at the county level, but I did not recall hearing this being a priority for the delegation this session. This is a major, major change in how we would elect our Council representatives, and I don't think we've had the sort of public discussion and education that the proposal deserves.

Anonymous said...

Dyer, the fact that no Republicans have been elected to any of the at-large seats of the County Council, for many years now disproves your claim that "gerrymandering" is the only reason that Democrats control the Council.

"Plastic bags [are] more in use now than before this "behavior modifying" tax"

I'd love to know the basis for your claim. Also, an explanation of why you believe that our County govermment does not need to make protecting our environment a priority.

Anonymous said...

"specifically warned the Council that the Long Branch sector plan as written would result in landlords not maintaining their buildings due to the lure of demolition allowed in the plan."

How is the wording any different than in other sector plans? Why aren't buildings in Bethesda being allowed to blow up, given the much, much stronger "lure of demolition" there?

Robert Dyer said...

5:30: From The Sentinel newspaper, December 29, 2016:

"Since the bag tax went into effect in February 2012, the monthly use of bags has risen by more than 1 million. According to County data, in the first fiscal year of the law, 2012, 4,340,438 bags were bought at stores per month in the County. Now in fiscal year 2017, the average is 5, 532, 770 bags per month. Both averages are based on a five-month period."

I just dunked on you like Michael Jordan, son.

In short, the law isn't "protecting our environment."

You've got the at-large thing backwards. It's in the original boundaries of District 1, and especially District 2, that Republicans had a clear chance to win. At-large doesn't game the system, it's just the county as a whole.


5:44: It's different because there are few aging garden apartments in downtown Bethesda. High-rises are less likely to be torn down. The code violations compared to the average Bethesda apartment building speak for themselves. Much lower rents, lower income residents, higher code violations. Nobody's confusing Flower Branch with Triangle Towers.

Anonymous said...

"There are few aging garden apartments in downtown Bethesda."

-Robert Dyer

"Boston isn't much of a college town."

-Band manager for Spinal Tap

Delegate Al Carr said...

Sounds like there is a need to educate folks on the process for how local bills are considered and make their way through the delegation and the general assembly.

Anonymous said...

Dyer @ 6:43 AM -

From the same article in The Sentinel:

"According to statistics from the Department of Finance, the number of retailers that have registered with the County has gone up since the bill was first enacted, from 547 registered retailers in February of FY 12 to 1,404 registered retailers in November of FY 17."

So the number of bags counted in the tax program increased by 25%, while the number of merchants registered for the program nearly tripled during the same time period. So this would suggest that the number of bags used has actually fallen, sigificantly.

Anonymous said...

Good luck trying to educate Robert Dyer on anything, Delegate Carr. It's like teaching a pig to sing.

Robert Dyer said...

I know how the process works - we've been through this before with the Independent Transit Authority. I've heard much about authorizing the attorney general to represent us vs. Trump administration, making Maryland a sanctuary state, etc.

But not a peep about a drastic change in how we elect our councilmembers, that would provide advantages for certain factions of one political party. That is not a healthy civic debate and process.

7:25: I was on the Dean's List every semester in college.

7:22: That's your interpretation of the data, but it's only one interpretation. What we know for sure, is that more bags are being counted in use. The tax was supposed to drastically shrink the number of bags, no matter how many retailers sign up.

KatieSilverSpring said...

Very good work, Robert Dyer; you have the usual suspects upset. And, I am loving it. You're a brave man.

Anonymous said...

"KatieInSilverSpring" = "Friends of Woodmont Triangle" = "I Remember Giffords" = "Elm" = "Woodmont"

Robert Dyer said...

8:04: Nope, a real person. You're thinking of the competing website with its resident pro-County Council paid trolls like "josfitz", "upcounty" and Frank weighing in like Charles Brown's teacher on every topic: "WA WA WA WAWAWA."

Anonymous said...

@8:24AM They're ALL real people, dingbat. Or are you claiming they're bots?
Words matter.

Anonymous said...

@7:25 "Good luck trying to educate Robert Dyer on anything, Delegate Carr. It's like teaching a pig to sing."

@7:43 Dyer: I was on the Dean's List every semester in college.

Apples and oranges. Meaningless.

G. Money said...

Dyer, your interpretations of data are always wrong. You clearly did not take any Stat or Econ classes in college.

Anonymous said...

Who is "Charles Brown"?

Richard (Dick) Jurgena said...

Thank you Robert Dyer. I like the fact you are man enough to put your name on your posts. I appreciate your providing the information on this bill.

Anonymous said...

"Richard (Dick) Jurgena" = "KatieInSilverSpring" = "Friends of Woodmont Triangle" = "I Remember Giffords" = "Elm" = "Woodmont"

Elm said...

I'll take it as a compliment to be compared to Dick Jurgena. :)

Anonymous said...

Dyer @ 7:43, 6:43 AM - Are you really that stupid, that you can't figure out that bags coming from merchants who had not yet registered in that program, were not included in that first number?

Robert Dyer said...

12:37: A college education and academic achievement are "meaningless?" You sound like a member of the Montgomery County Board of Education (who need term limits, too, by the way).

Robert Dyer said...

3:24: You're confusing hard data and facts with your subjective interpretation. There's no data showing how many bags came from each individual retailer. I could make an equally subjective assumption that the stores late to sign up were much smaller than the major grocery chains, and that their bag numbers would be more than offset by the fictitious behavior change we were told the tax would spur.

Turns out, it was just another pickpocketing by the crooked Montgomery County Council.

Anonymous said...

Del. Carr's asking how one "quietly introduces a bill" is all the evidence needed to know why 70% of Mont Co voters VOTED FOR Term Limits. Our local elected officials are OUT OF TOUCH with their constituents, and we're sick of it. Enough is enough ! Stop trying to erase the will of the people who have spoken VERY LOUDLY !

Anonymous said...

@5:16PM Are you really that daft? Nowhere did I dismiss education. As much as I push for people to educate themselves, even on this site?

And the unnecessary insult. Wrong again. Not a county employee. Just a long-time county resident who tells it like I see it, and calls you out on ludicrous statements.

I know facts get in the way of you posting a snide tweet.

As usual, the only person looking bad here is you.

Robert Dyer said...

5:46: You're the one who called my academic achievements "meaningless." That makes you look pretty bad, not me.

G. Money said...

@5:21 - you made the original claim that bags are more in use now than before the bag tax. However, you are admitting that the data sets are different and do not show fine-grained, per-retailer usage. Therefore, your original claim is clearly not supported by the "hard facts" of the data. Is it possible that bag usage has gone up? Sure. It is equally possible that bag usage has gone down. You have presented no data to support either position.

Anonymous said...

So thin-skinned. Your comment was meaningless as a response to 7:25. I called you out on it.
One can be intelligent and ignorant at the same time. (That comment WAS about you.)
Grades and honors can be bought. (This comment may or may not be true about you. I have no clue, so I won't hint one way or another, to keep it fair and unbiased reporting.)

The post in question:
"@7:25 "Good luck trying to educate Robert Dyer on anything, Delegate Carr. It's like teaching a pig to sing."
@7:43 Dyer: I was on the Dean's List every semester in college.
Apples and oranges. Meaningless.