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Public Service Ads Called Political

Governor

Democrats are questioning a program announced last week by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) that is aimed at notifying state residents by phone whenever a paroled sexual predator moves into their Zip code.

The program, which is being paid for with a $200,000 federal grant, is being promoted in a public service announcement starring first lady Kendel Ehrlich.

In the ad, she tells listeners, "It's your right as a citizen to know if a potentially dangerous sexual predator is living in your neighborhood." She then supplies a phone number to call to sign up for the program.

Democrats said this represents just the latest example of the Ehrlichs using incumbency to get their names out on the airwaves during campaign season. And they were particularly piqued by the decision to use federal funds, distributed to the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention, for what they said was Ehrlich's political benefit.

"That, in particular, strikes me as pretty ironic," state Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery) said.

Ironic because in 2002, it was Ehrlich who decried what he said was the use of federal funds, distributed to the crime control office, to bolster the political aims of his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

Those claims led to charges -- later dropped -- that the office's director improperly used federal grant funds to pay the salaries of more than 40 people, including 10 who worked for Townsend, among them her deputy chief of staff and several speechwriters.

Alan C. Woods III, the current director of the crime control office, said there was no valid comparison between the two situations because the public service ad has no political aim.

"This is a public service," he said.

Asked why the announcement needed to be made by the first lady and put in circulation in the midst of the campaign, Woods replied: "We used the person I believed would be listened to. There was no political agenda."

Matt Mosk

By Phyllis Jordan  |  June 26, 2006; 10:09 AM ET
Categories:  Governor  
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Comments

"It's your right as a citizen to know if a potentially dangerous sexual predator is living in your neighborhood."

Actually, no it's not. It's my "right" only if I can show a good reason for needing the information. (Like, I have kids and live next door.) Otherwise, we open the gates for a witch hunt.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 11:06 AM | Report abuse

"Asked why the announcement needed to be made by the first lady and put in circulation in the midst of the campaign, Woods replied: "We used the person I believed would be listened to. There was no political agenda."

What? Is Mr. Woods saying that the public would not "listen" to anyone else in the Crime Control Office or, for that matter, the Ehrlich Administration? It had to be either Kendel or Bob or there is no need for the commercial otherwise?

I would think that the content of the message is compelling enough (paroled sexual predator living in your Zip Code)that it would get people's attention regardless of messager. Can they honestly say that if they had used the State Police Superintendent in full uniform staring into the camera to deliver the message that it would be any less an effective ad then with Kendel??? Please. Very political agenda.

Posted by: Baltimore voter | June 26, 2006 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Apparently, the Democrat Leadership in Maryland wants to be the party of record in support of sexual predators. This can't come as a surprise to anyone.

Posted by: Rufus | June 26, 2006 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Apparently Rufus, representing Ehrlich's base of support, no doubt, either can't read correctly or is more interested in obscuring the issues. Never been a suprise to me.

Posted by: Baltimore voter | June 26, 2006 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I guess using the Attorney General, who is not seeking re-election , would not have been good enough. And I don't want Rufus or others reminding me that Curran's son-in-law is running for office. They don't share the same last names, unlike Bobby Hairspray and his wife.
The only thing dumber about this is Woods' comment that there was no political agenda. These Maryland republicans have learned the Rove-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Shrub Orwellspeak quite well.

Posted by: jmsbh | June 26, 2006 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm an Ehrlich supporter and I'm not afraid to admit that of course these ads are, in part, political. It's the power of incumbency. All incumbents do it. Almost very action taken by a sitting politician in an election year(including Mr. O'Malley) are done in part with an eye towards the election. So what? It's not a big news story.

If Democrats hope to beat Ehrlich, they should concentrate on real issues. If they want to focus on irrelevancies such as this, I'm glad to say that it will be an easy election for Ehrlich.

Posted by: MK | June 26, 2006 12:29 PM | Report abuse

MK, Speaking of real issues, lets look at the flag burning issue and how important that is to you and me. I believe little george is pushing that on the republicon agenda?

Posted by: Mobad | June 26, 2006 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Mobad, what's your point? The flag burning issue has nothing to do with Ehrlich. Personally, I think it's a stupid issue and I oppose an amendment to ban flag burning. However, it's not an issue in the governor's race, so there's no reason to bring it up here.

Again, if this is the way Democrats are going to try and attack Ehrlich, it's going to be an easy campaign season for the GOP in Maryland.

Posted by: MK | June 26, 2006 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Easy campaign season for Ehrlich?

latest poll: O'Malley 53%, Ehrlich 39%.

More like: easy 4 years for Ehrlich after November, playing golf full time.

Posted by: James | June 26, 2006 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully these issues will not be decided by the manufacterers of the fraudulent touchscreen voting system that have been installed throughout the state.
As for packaging of news broadcasts the following excerpt from Center for Media and Democracy, "although they've done their best to keep their spinning from public scrutiny, several major incidents have exposed the Bush administration's manipulation of news media: The "sell job" for the invasion of Iraq. Payola pundits Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher and Michael McManus. Stooge "reporter" Jeff Gannon / James Guckert. Video news releases determined to be covert propaganda by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO)."
This practice is not limited to one party but both Democratic and Republican as the following excerpt from the same article demostrates, "Each time, concerned citizens, media critics and watchdog groups like the Center for Media and Democracy have called for a full accounting of the government's use (and misuse) of public relations techniques and contractors. And, slowly, more information has surfaced -- though nothing approaching the transparency a healthy democracy requires. During the second Clinton term (calendar years 1997 through the end of 2000), government PR contracts averaged $32 million per year. Over the first Bush term (calendar years 2001 through 2004), PR spending averaged $62.5 million annually. From fiscal year 2003 to mid-fiscal year 2005, an average of $78.8 million went to private PR firms per year -- from just seven federal departments."

Posted by: Pravda.or.consequences | June 27, 2006 9:46 AM | Report abuse

I pledge that, when elected county executive of Montgomery County, never to use any taxpayer funds for radio, television or imternet ads, that use my name or image.

Posted by: Robin Ficker, Independent for County Executive | June 27, 2006 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Great, now with O'Malley, we've offered up a candidate under whose watch Baltimore's murder rate is five times greater than Los Angeles and three times greater than New York. Those figures and many, many, many others Ehrlich will use to club O'Malley and define him as incompetent and unfit for statewide office. Is it too late for Duncan to reenter???

Posted by: james | June 27, 2006 11:35 AM | Report abuse

So what are our third-party options looking like?

Posted by: Rufus | June 27, 2006 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Ed Boyd, of the Green Party looks like the best option.

Posted by: MDGreen | June 27, 2006 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Boyd, huh? Guess it couldn't hurt.

Posted by: Rufus | June 27, 2006 3:00 PM | Report abuse

As a democrat, I am so turned off by the liberal anti-ehrlich propoganda in this election.
Stop turning this issue into a partisan thing. Any incumbent, republican or democrat, would use the same exact tactics. It's simply a part of the political process. Democrats need to stop playing reactionary politics off of Ehrlich and start proposing their own solutions over real issues that matter to the public.
This coming from a democrat who's voting for Ehrlich.

Posted by: Matt | June 27, 2006 4:16 PM | Report abuse

"Apparently, the Democrat Leadership in Maryland wants to be the party of record in support of sexual predators. This can't come as a surprise to anyone."

That's quite an inflammatory statement, but it's lacking in substance--something that seems to be more and more common these days with regard to the hot-button issue of protecting our children from sex offenders/sexual predators (incidentally, they're not always one and the same.) Not everyone on the registry is a sexual predator. Not only does this water down the registry (in Maryland, at this time, there is no tier system for risk assessment) but valuable time and resources are being spent on people for whom Megan's Law et al. were not originally intended.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg--there are people on the registries who have NEVER been convicted of a sex crime but must still register as offenders. It's absurd.

Posted by: Julie | June 29, 2006 2:29 AM | Report abuse

you can blindly vote the company line, or you could get outside the box and vote your heart. both of the two major parties have taken the working class for granted. we in the green party say"enough". i will not take money from big business,or pacs, martin and bob can (and wont) say that. they both received money from BGE/Constellation energy, and refuse to return it, yet they both say they are for the working class. both are against a living wage, they instead say alittle raise in the minimum wage, even though inflation has incresed twice as much as ewages have. we still have many without healthcare insurance. the Green party can do more.

Posted by: Eddie Boyd | July 12, 2006 11:22 AM | Report abuse

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