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Winners and Losers

Here are some winners and losers in Maryland politics in recent days.


Homeowners facing foreclosure: Lawmakers passed a sweeping package of laws designed to help control the housing crisis. Property owners currently in foreclosure don't get any relief, but those about to go into foreclosure have a longer timetable to make their case: 150 days, instead of the previous 15 days. A big political winner was Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), who proposed the package -- a splashy regulatory victory in a year in which money is too tight for many new initatives. And he plans to sell it in a media campaign that associates him with help for hard-hit homeowners. Here is Philip Rucker's coverage.


Maryland millionaires: When the computer services industry got whacked with an unexpected sales tax in last year's special session, its executives vowed to fight back. They did, very successfully: The Senate has repealed the tax, and the House is expected to follow suit. But lawmakers had to make up the lost revenue somehow, so they chose to impose a three-year surcharge on millionaires. Other losers were two Montgomery Democratic senators, Rona Kramer and Richard Madaleno. They were outspoken opponents of the surcharge, saying it could drive residents out of Montgomery to D.C. or Virginia. Their stance is unlikely to be forgotten by Democratic leaders. John Wagner explains the repeal.

Fourth Congressional District constituents: There really no good answer to the question of how to replace U.S. Rep. Albert Wynn (D), when he resigns in June to join a prominent law firm. If Gov. Martin O'Malley calls a special primary and election, it will cost $2 million, and the winner will serve only a matter of weeks before the November general election chooses someone to take office in January. If he gets permission from the legislature to forego the primary, the election will still cost $1 million. If he allows the seat to stay vacant until January, constituents will be unrepresented for six months. Payback from Wynn for his defeat in the February Democratic primary? We don't know -- he isn't answering questions from the Post. Here is coverage by Rosalind S. Helderman and Lisa Rein.

By Anne Bartlett  |  April 4, 2008; 9:19 AM ET
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WINNER: Mark Fennel, candidate for County Council in the April 15, May 13 Special election. Fennel sticking to his platform of Property Tax Relief, no matter what. What a pleasant contrast to the other candidates who want to exceed the charter property tax limit that was put in place to protect homeowners from overlarge property tax increases. SAVE OUR HOMES!

LOSER: Mike Miller clone, State Senator Rob Garagiola who has voted to support a 52.63% increase in state income taxes for about 1,000 taxpayers in our district. Before the special session the top rate was 4.75%. Now it will be 6.25%. 6.25% is 52.63% larger than 4.75%. Garagiola who never mentioned his support for any tax increase in 15 or 16 campaign mailings before the 2006 elections has reamed his constituents.

LOSERS: The voters of the Fourth Congressional District are about to be done in by the Donna Edwards Protection Act. The House of Representatives is the People's House, not the central committee's house. The issues in any special election would be completely different because Wynn would not be running. Edwards might actually have to talk about why we are not getting any spoils from our war effort in Iraq and what she would do about illegal immigration. There are 250 precincts. Pay 6 people $100 at each for a day's work. That is $150,000. Use the police to help. They are being paid anyhow. O'Malley is putting protecting Edwards above the voters. He wants to control the election rather than let it play out. Anybody should be allowed to run in this election and there are several who want to.

WINNERS: The people of Baltimore City who get back $1 from the state for every quarter they send there, while Montgomery County gets the reverse. Nobody has suggested cutting aid to Baltimore City to pay for computer tax repeal.

LOSER: The people of the 4th Council District in Montgomery County. The Amish market in Burtonsville moved out because the council seat was vacant for so long. Nobody had an interest in finding a market a new home in the 4th district.

LOSER: People on the edge of facing foreclosure in Montgomery County. They are also facing the biggest property tax increase in 20 years as proposed by the County Executive.

WINNER: People who like to spend time outdoors. Spring has sprung and the blossoms are out.

Posted by: Robin Ficker, Broker Robin Realty | April 4, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Actually, the Montgomery County property tax increase is the smallest (by %) of any municipality in the area...see Prince WIlliam COunty (27%) and Loudon County (19%). MoCo is a real winner when you put things in a non-political perspecitve (just by the actual numbers).

Posted by: Donny | April 4, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse


You wrote:
Loser: ..."The Amish market in Burtonsville moved out because the council seat was vacant for so long. Nobody had an interest in finding a market a new home in the 4th district."

So what are you saying that we should have an appointment? Do you like backroom deals being made like the one Jerry Weast is trying to do? I don't.

Or should we have the election immediately after the funeral service? Tacky. Most of us want a grieving process and chance to see who is capable of being the next Council member. You were posting on what should have been done less twelve hours after her passing. That's in poor taste.

In case you forgot it was Marilyn Praisner who co-authored the legislative that gave us a special election instead of backroom deals. I say let the people can vote.

By saying that the vacancy has gone on too long you are really saying that you want to exclude the voters. Why don't you just say so?

Finally you don't live in District 4. I do. So what is your concern? Please don't lecture District 4 residents.

Posted by: Kevin Gillogly | April 4, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

The Memorial Mass for Marilyn Praisner was on February 9, eight days after her unfortunate death. The Council on Feb 19 selected the April 15 Primary date and May 13 General Election. On Feb 20 the Prince Georges County Council selected a March 31 Primary date for their council special election. Surely, part of the reasoning of the Montgomery County Council in setting the election dates as slowly as they did and putting them as far back as they did was to exclude the new council member from deliberations and votes on the budget. But at the same time they left a vacuum. Nobody was focusing on District 4. In the meantime the Amish market left. If Mark Fennel had been in that seat, he would have been working closely with the Amish market and it would not have left. He shops there frequently.

During the 2006 election for County Executive, I looked at Ike Leggett's record of supporting the biggest tax increase in Montgomery County history when he voted for a 20% increase in the county piggyback income tax and his failure to promise to stick to the charter property tax limit. My TV ads said that "A vote for Ike Leggett is a vote to raise your own taxes," and pointed out that I would not exceed the charter property tax limit which was approved by the voters in 1990 to guard against excessive property tax hikes. Leggett always replied that he had authored the charter property tax limit. And sure enough he now has proposed, THE LARGEST PROPERTY TAX INCREASE IN 20 YEARS which busts way through the charter property tax limit that he says he authored. How is that for hypocrisy?

So along comes Donny, supporter of the recent record state tax increases also supported by Leggett,who reaches out to cite Prince William County as a shining example of local government with its property tax increase. No the standard in our own Charter property tax limit, supposedly authored by Ike Leggett. Is that charter limit now just an inconvenient truth Donny? Leggett can talk about affordable housing. His record setting property tax increase will cause hundreds of foreclosures and price thousands out of the county housing market and cause thousands more to vote with their feet.

You probably like the $4 gallon gasoline too Donny. Not surprisingly, Leggett supports increasing the gas tax to make the price even higher.

Posted by: Robin Ficker, Broker Robin Realty | April 5, 2008 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Ficker, take some oxygen and count to ten, sir. When you start blaming Democrats for $4 gasoline, I really begin to worry if enough oxygen is reaching your noggin. And trying to tie Leggett to gas prices...the man is many things, but petroleum power-broker is not one.

The prices we pay for gas are the sole product of the republican party and their buddies at Exxon/Mobil for whom they shill.

Don't sweat it though - everyone has known this and still GOP folks still manage to get elected.

Posted by: Donny | April 5, 2008 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Donny, when it comes to setting tax rates, Maryland and Virginia jurisdictions are apples and oranges. Maryland has the homestead tax credit, Virginia does not.

Posted by: Alfred Carr | April 5, 2008 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Good point, to be sure, and I agree MD and VA are different. However, they are susceptible to the same economic dangers. VA absorbed over 30,000 home foreclosures last year alone. MD was not hit as hard, but is in danger of much worse.

Additionally, while Marylanders traditionally have paid higher tax rates, it is VA counties that are now finding revenue gaps that must be filled.

There are many other differences and similarities (i.e. personal property tax in VA), but I think both states can learn from each others hurdles and cooperatively help sustain each other on certain projects.

Posted by: Donny | April 5, 2008 9:55 PM | Report abuse

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