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October 23, 2012

Election Day Questions

Roy Meachum

Congressional Speaker Thomas ‘Tip’ O’Neill once said all politics are local, this year more than usual. In two weeks, on your ballot, you will discover charter’s back.


You will get a chance in a referendum on how the General Assembly carved up the state in congressional districts; the way elected officials can be suspended or fired. There’s a question on how the universities and colleges charge tuition to illegal immigrants. Gambling is due for expansion. And my very favorite item: equality in marriage.


Charter was voted on an off-election year. The 1991 turn-out was miserable. A change in the form of government would have wrecked the political machine running Frederick County; it was too well organized under Del. James E. “Doc” McClellan. He was a conservative Democrat, almost right-wing – so were most county officials. The city did marginally better in boasting differing voices. Galen Clagett was one of them: a heretic in Frederick politics, but he became a county commissioner and then board president.


The real firestorm spun around Galen becoming county executive; the present concern is about Blaine Young, who has publicly announced he’s interested in the governor’s office. Billy Shreve is the noisiest commissioner; in addition to City Hall, I heard he’s running for the top job in Winchester Hall – if the referendum is favored by most voters.


Statewide, the matter of tuition will be decided for new Americans and their children; I sense there is little support locally. You’ll be asked to approve three constitutional amendments that have to do with Prince George’s and Montgomery’s Orphans’ Court judges. Should they be certified lawyers going in? The third amendment deals with the suspension and removal of elected officials. I think it’s on the ballot because of the recent case with Prince George’s county executive and his wife, also elected to office.


Congressional districts as drawn up by Annapolis should be upheld on November 6, considering Maryland is heavily Democratic; registered Republicans are a distinct minority.


There’s been a lot of hurrah about extending gambling. As I have written in several columns, restricting games and slot machines has never made sense to me. It has little to do with growing up in New Orleans. Remember the prohibition during the 1920s? I remember people crippled by quenching thirst for booze years later. Gambling amounts to the same primal urge as alcohol and drugs. Prohibiting marijuana benefits only Latin American cartels. Maryland’s outlawing casinos has benefited the neighboring states, which have pooled money to advertise propaganda demanding the referendum be rejected, alleging all sort of things that are not true.


In front of the yellow door on North Market, woven through the wrought iron that enables anyone to visit the house, there is a sign proclaiming my support for Question 6. I don’t understand how any person could be refused to marry his/her choice. Churches can be stickier, due to theology and doctrine. But the basic question remains: How could any law ban a quest for love and personal contentment?


After all, the Constitution’s preamble states “domestic tranquility” as one of the Founding Fathers’ goals. To stand against equality in marriage strikes me as UnAmerican.



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