February 6, 2008
“To moratorium or not to moratorium…”
Recently I had the opportunity to attend opening night of the Maryland Shakespeare Theater’s fast-paced, hilarious two hour production of the Bard’s complete works (abridged).
May 1, 2007
Ever wonder about the effects on government of our consumption of things?
The current budget cycle most local governmental entities find themselves in
can illustrate to some degree what I am writing about.
May 10, 2006
Do we face an economic downturn?
For some time we have heard that "this event" or "that change in policy" or "an interest rate hike" will cause the economy to falter. As yet, most of
those concerns have yet to materialize.
March 23, 2006
Two down, 45 to go.
While I do not possess the prestige of my colleague's working in the
Maryland legislature for 90 days every spring, I do share that unique
metamorphous of going from private citizen to elected official.
February 7, 2006
Last week there was the usual reaction to a process designed to protect us
from ourselves. The Frederick County Health Department, following the
current interpretation of its rules and regulations, determined that shop
owners serving food and drink during a popular monthly event in downtown
Frederick were required to purchase a one-day license to do so.
January 2, 2006
Sign of the Times
In a drive recently heading east on Liberty Road (MD 26) that I do with some regularity, I was approaching the village of Mount Pleasant to stop by my favorite bakery. As I cleared the horse farms, at the bottom of the first hill, a sign was posted that I had never seen before - anywhere.
December 7, 2005
Affordable Housing: An Oxymoron?
Since before moving to Frederick 22 years ago, I have been involved in the county government through a number positions that have given me an
opportunity to understand some of the fundamental economic forces that have driven - and are continuing to drive - many people out of the county in order to be able to afford housing.
December 2, 2005
One Man's Meat Is Another's Potatoes
Recently I had the good fortune to have a positive result at the local level
of politics in the greatest land for democracy in the world, an overnight
success after a decade and a half of attempts.
August 31, 2005
Peak Oil and Shifts in Incentives
On September 26th at Frederick Community College an event will take place that will provide some information on a growing issue that is finally getting some attention, albeit belatedly.
July 26, 2005
What shade of rose are our glasses?
Recently a fellow columnist wrote an article about the rising costs of commercial rents in downtown Frederick and the potential it has to scare away the very businesses that have built the greater Square Corner area into what it is today.
June 22, 2005
A Certain Sameness
With the official announcement and filing for mayor of the City of Frederick
by former Mayor Ron Young, let the fun begin. It would seem from recent news
articles that he is the only one running, at least by the number of column
inches and photographs leading up to and during this prolonged period of
"announcing." From some viewpoints one would wonder if there is another race
for mayor, besides that of the Democrats.
June 8, 2005
"Automatic Inflation" - or Passing The Buck
A recent article in one of our newspapers had about 10 column inches on this "automatic inflation," in essence a passing footnote in the news of the day.
June 1, 2005
Pay Attention to the Rest of the Story
Recently there was an article here on The Tentacle by one of my fellow contributors explaining the potential harm, a seemingly innocuous new national identification card might cause.
May 11, 2005
Statistically The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Recently I dusted off some old information to update for an appearance on a
local political television show. Unfortunately that evening the panelists
did not get to that agenda item.
April 27, 2005
It’s that time again! Time for what seems to be the annual battle between the forces of growth and the forces of “managed,” “controlled,” “smart,” etc., etc., growth. Again the argument centers on the question: Does housing “pay for itself?”
April 21, 2005
Our Changing World Here and Abroad
This past week I had two experiences that demonstrate that change and growth are not just local phenomenon. One involved the theoretical effects of changing workplace demographics on a global scale, the other a practical way to address some of those changes.
April 14, 2005
Government's Perpetual Crawl
As an observer and occasional participant in the political scene here in Frederick, I often hear those who promote what seems to be a "great
accomplishment." In fact it is often nothing more than the continuum of government.
April 7, 2005
How to Spend a Windfall!
Recently the Board of County Commissioners were given, what may be, a second
"once in a lifetime gift" of excess tax revenue. The first one was the
unexpected amount generated by the sale of Frederick Cablevision several
March 16, 2005
“We Have Met The Enemy and He Is Us:” Walt Kelly
Have the two major political parties created a growing aristocracy of professional politicians?
February 16, 2005
Magic Wand Creates Another Headache
A wave of the magic wand and poof, another school becomes overcrowded even
though not one new student was added to the attendance roll.
February 8, 2005
Why Not Other Alternatives?
What a way to start off a new year in the City of Frederick, a polarizing
show of political posturing over what in essence is a minor matter - the
residency requirements to be allowed to run for office.
January 21, 2005
School Enrollment: Have A Dog In This Hunt?
Back in my August 23, 2004, article entitled "School Daze, Dear Old Golden Rue Daze," I gave a quick background on the annual projections for the
Frederick County Public Schools enrollment. In the article I mentioned that assumptions used by any entity would heavily influence their projection
January 10, 2005
A Plethora of Topics
What started out as an occasional piece to help out a friend on this Website has now surpassed 60 articles over two full years. As I begin this third year I thought I would go back over those articles and briefly "classify"
what I wrote about.
January 3, 2005
Color This System Confusing
Since before our latest presidential election, everyone seemed to take to the "color code" of political parties. Please don't paint all Democrats with the broad brush of "liberal," just as many Republicans would prefer not to be branded as "ultra-right."
December 22, 2004
I Remember Christmases Past and. ...
The holiday season brings many fond memories of Christmases past that are
often sparked by quick comments at a family gathering, or seeing something
at a store that jars the memory of a special gift from years ago.
December 10, 2004
Serving As A Federal Juror - Part II
Now that we the jury had heard the case, we were literally locked in the jury room with a federal marshal outside the door and began our deliberations.
December 9, 2004
Serving As A Federal Juror - Part 1
"Sex, lies and videotapes" that's what my recent experience serving on a
jury for the U.S. District Court in Baltimore seemed like.
October 19, 2004
How-To Vote and What To Expect on November 2nd
Two weeks from today many of us will take about a half hour out of our busy
schedules to exercise one of the fundamental rights of living in a
democracy, we will vote for the next President of the United States.
October 12, 2004
To Be Or Not To Be Three Years - More or Less!
I watch with fascination as the current administration of the City of
Frederick wrestles with the political football of just what constitutes
adequate residency requirements for the office of mayor and for alderman.
October 5, 2004
Get Ready! Get Set! Go Pay!
This coming January the Maryland State Department of Assessments and
Taxation will grace approximately one third of our homes with their new
assessments. This third includes the City of Frederick and surrounding
September 14, 2004
Numbers, Numbers! What's in a number?
As we enter the final stages of the Presidential Election, polls are taken
to see who is ahead, to see who is winning the numbers game this week.
Numbers rise and numbers fall; it is a toss up when you factor in the margin
of error used in most polls.
September 7, 2004
Change in Elections Laws in Frederick
As was reported recently, the City of Frederick is taking a look, long
overdue in my opinion, at revising its elections laws.
August 31, 2004
Time To Make It "Our Way"
Like many of you I am becoming more and more disillusioned with the manner in which politicians, nationally, statewide or locally, seem to be more interested in posturing for the "party" than for the well-being of all.
August 25, 2004
An Open Letter for Transportation Secretary Robert Flanagan
Normally one would write this letter first and then publish it in the newspapers. That still may be done, but first I would like to try the idea
out on you.
August 23, 2004
School Daze, Dear Old Golden Rue Daze
Frederick County Public Schools has begun another school year and shortly after September 30th, Ray Barnes, executive director of Facilities Services,
will release the annual report of how many students are in each school.
August 12, 2004
A Fitting Tribute for a City Watchdog
For those of us who have been active in Frederick City, the recent passing
of the "Watchdog of City Hall," a.k.a. Clagett Jones, comes at a time when
more of his like are needed are needed in the world.
August 4, 2004
"Déjà vu, All Over Again," Is A Waste of Time
Several years ago, County Commissioners' President John "Lennie" Thompson made a statement in a meeting I attended to the effect that ".what do we not need is another study for we already have plenty sitting on the shelfgathering dust?"
July 26, 2004
Unintended Consequences of Revenue Enhancements
At what point does a good thing become a bad thing?
July 14, 2004
End of the Line Approaching! So Pay Attention!
Recently I attended a City of Frederick Planning Commission workshop on a small section of the proposed draft of the new Comprehensive Plan. What I experienced leaves me wondering if the city will ever get through the process and how many citizens will be involved.
June 25, 2004
This Family Feud Is No Game
In one of my previous articles I related how government suffers from a lack of institutional memory, primarily for two reasons. The first is the opportunity to change those at the helm every four years. The second is the ever-increasing turnover of governmental staff that provides those at the helm with the information to make decisions.
June 8, 2004
Another Opportunity on the Horizon
It is that time of year again when another class of high school graduates
goes through their rite of passage. Leaving the comfortable folds of being a
"child" and now, all of a sudden, they become "adults," granted young
adults, but adults never the less.
June 1, 2004
The Ill Effect of Big Corporations
Several decades ago there was a popular song entitled "Where have all
flowers gone." It was about a certain circle of life dealing with war.
rephrase that title, I would like to suggest, "Where have all the
May 17, 2004
Change in Life Plans Number 99
Since my former employer gave me an option to retire six years ago (Change in Life Plan Number 95), I have had an opportunity not afforded to many people in today's world. To retire with full benefits at age 51 after 32 years of working for one company is something most of my friends and
acquaintances find hard to believe.
May 10, 2004
Backwards or Forwards! It's Your Choice!
I read recently where the City of Frederick was compared to other
municipalities around the State for some of its quality of life amenities.
These other municipalities had maybe one or two of these identified "perks."
April 27, 2004
Take Gardening Principles to The Budget
Working outside in the garden recently clearing out the last of the leaves
brought from hither and yon with the winds of winter and then picking up all
the dead branches from trees many of which do not even grow on or near my
property, I started to think how appropriate that this type of activity is
to another annual rite of spring - the budget process of local and state
April 19, 2004
Let's Eliminate One Level of Government
Every day in the news we seem to hear about the latest "mega-merger" of two
huge oligopolies in a particular industry. The American - and now world -
way of getting better pricing is through more and more control by fewer and
fewer companies; also the more efficient use of scarce resources.
April 7, 2004
Out With The New, In With The Old
Recently Robert Flanagan, the State Secretary of Transportation, was in town
to address a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce. His briefing gave a little
overview of where things stand today and a little about what Frederick
County might expect for the future with regards to road projects.
March 30, 2004
At a recent neighborhood gathering the subject of the "trash fee" found its way into the discussion of the evening. A lively discussion at that, with
the serious interlaced with the ridiculous. The main tenet of the conversation evolved into the right of a city resident to opt out of being
assessed the fee.
March 23, 2004
Nickel and Dimeing Taxpayers v. Exploding Bureaucracy
A series of letters to the editor in our local newspapers have been
illustrating the "nickel and dime" approach to the government's handling of
the budget crisis. Seems the City of Frederick has chosen this approach as
their main source of new revenue since another property tax hike might not
sit well with the voters next year.
March 16, 2004
The Decline and Fall Of The American Voter
What is so wrong with being an "undeclared" voter? As always, recent columns in several of the local newspapers berated those individuals who made a conscious choice not to be affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican parties.
March 2, 2004
Genesis: The Beginning or The End?
Over the past several weeks quite a few column inches of newsprint have been expended on describing what the press believes is a controversial subject. Granted there are at least two sides to every story and, in all fairness, each side does not fully understand the other's point of view.
February 17, 2004
Beware of the "Primary" of March
Unless there is a ground swell of political party commitment, the presidential primary will come and go here in Frederick County without much fanfare.
February 11, 2004
When Is Enough, Enough?
The City of Frederick is experiencing hard times financially, according to some in the administration. In what seems to be a weekly litany, it might cost taxpayers 9.5 cents more for this, or several cents more for that and the State is not being cooperative with money it doesn't have, or the federal government is cutting back on this special program.
January 29, 2004
Repeating History Faster Than Usual
One year ago on February 7th, The Tentacle published one of my first articles here. It was entitled "Oh, My! The Cry Will Go Up! We Can't Do That!" It was on the annual exercise all governments go through to find the revenue to meet expenses.
January 16, 2004
Where Are They Now?
It seems like eons ago, but about five years ago, the howl and cry went up - "Frederick County needs an elected school board." Hundreds, if not thousands, took up the mantra to get away from the "old political game" of having the governor appoint individuals to the Board of Education.
January 5, 2004
The Rising Tide of Home Assessments
Frederick County continues its march toward becoming one of the area's more exclusive places to own a home. Information provided by the State Department of Assessments and Taxation places the most recent round of county assessments up by 11.2 percent.
December 17, 2003
Weinberg’s Ad-libbed Play Is Redundant
Recently while doing one of favorite pastimes, channel surfing at the dinner hour, I chanced upon a meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen of the City of Frederick on our local cable system.
December 1, 2003
“Through A Glass, Darkly…”
Have you ever wondered whether or not you are being told the truth by those in a position of authority, or are just being spoon-fed enough to make it seem real?
November 19, 2003
“Divine Right Of Succession?”
Recently an article was printed in a local newspaper about the interesting challenge in the Republican Party for the 6th Congressional District. The party faithful line up for the incumbent, while another member of the GOP dares to challenge the individual who has held the seat for nearly 11 years.
November 13, 2003
With A Rosy Picture, Don’t Throw Caution To The Wind!
Recently at Hood College there was a half day symposium on the economic future for the region, county and the City of Frederick. The event was well attended and brought to light a number of opportunities, as well as concerns for the financial well being of our area.
November 5, 2003
Dwindling Funds, Same Old Needs
As we enter the newest round of budget hand wringing over too many requests and not enough funds, especially for new school construction, perhaps it is time to dust off the Future Growth and School Scheduling Advisory Committee Report, published May 2, 1995, for which I was a co-chair with Marti Rice.
October 28, 2003
The Emperor's New Clothes - Frederick County Style
The Board of County Commissioners will soon parade down the street to Annapolis to get a new suit of clothes (fashioned by Excise Tax) and according to conventional wisdom they will come back empty handed.
October 16, 2003
How Soon Will Student Enrollment Begin To Drop?
Back on August 19th, I wrote an article for The Tentacle entitled "A Critical, Yet Inexact, Science" that related to the science of projecting the increase in enrollment for the Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS).
September 26, 2003
Using The System To One's Advantage
As voters, have we been asleep at the switch yet again?
September 17, 2003
Do Short-Term Solutions Solve Long-Term Problems?
The fiscal year ended on June 30th for the county and in another month or so we will have the audited year-end numbers for its operational and capital budgets.
September 9, 2003
Back To Square One! So Much For Progress!
The Board of Education has done it again with what could become the elusive "D" letter grade.
September 4, 2003
Reinventing The Wheel
How far down the slippery slope have we traveled since July 4, 1776? Founded under extremely stressful times and taking on the mightiest power bordering the Atlantic Ocean, 13 independent and sovereign colonies made a fateful decision to band together and stand up for what they felt was right.
August 27, 2003
Why Not An 8% Increase In Property Taxes?
Here we go again, the price of gasoline rises "to new highs" due to a pipeline break in Arizona, low inventories, and a one day power outage over 25% of the U. S. Sort of makes you wonder what we have gotten ourselves into.
August 19, 2003
A Critical, Yet Inexact, Science
Next Monday I get back to retirement, back from playing taxi driver all summer for my two teenagers. Between swim team practices and swim meets, then each with their own jobs, but no drivers licenses yet, I had little time off.
August 12, 2003
When The Bubble Bursts Where Will We Be?
Welcome to the world of the "unreal". Others just call it supply and demand.
July 24, 2003
Going Forward Or Standing Still?
Why are we headed so fast to get to where we have already been? Sound like a "Back to the Future" scenario?
July 14, 2003
Is The County's Tax Rate Where It Should Be?
On July 1st we began a new Fiscal Year for the county, the school system, all the municipalities and the State of Maryland. Everyone can breathe a
sigh of relief, or can we?
July 7, 2003
Opportunities Abound To Help Your Neighbors
Two hundred and twenty seven years ago last week, 13 small colonies became one independent nation.
June 27, 2003
County Taxpayers Falling For The Same Old Trap
While the City of Frederick continues in it's saga of the Weinberg Follies, the county government is going to "re-classify" many of its upper managers in order to secure up to a 9 percent pay raise. Both cases seem to track a common theme, in order to attract and retain qualified people we must _________. You can fill in the blank.
June 12, 2003
Think Outside The Box At This Forum
What do you want for public education? On Monday June 16th at Frederick Community College in the Conference Center Room E-126 State Delegate Richard Weldon (R., 3B) and County Commissioner Jan Gardner (D.) will moderate a Community Forum on Public Education.
April 30, 2003
School System Growth Can Be Accommodated! Think About It!
The biggest area of concern about growth is enrollment in our public school system. Each year more students will be enrolled than the
previous one. The only exception in recent memory was 1979, when 23,665 students fell over five years to 23,435 before rebounding. Since
1985 the system has added 14,952 students (as of Sept. 30, 2002) or an 18-year average of 831.
April 24, 2003
Growth! Are We Doomed To Repeat The Past?
What is growth? For some it seems to be a “dirty” word, to be avoided at all costs. For others, it is opportunity to grow their hamburger franchise from one to three locations. For most of us growth is something we know happens, but we generally do not want it to happen too fast.
April 3, 2003
Does Government Suffer From "Senior Moments, Too?"
Having passed the "double-nickel" milestone in my life, I sometimes go through a period of trying to remember something, but cannot just quite get it. Or worse still, really forgetting.
March 20, 2003
Whither Water? Or Are We Doomed To Repeat Ourselves
The continuing saga of water, whether in The City of Frederick or around the county, continues to play to the how-did-we-get-in-this-mess mentality. For one thing, this is not a new problem, nor are some of the solutions. Anyone involved in this issue here in the city or county 20 years ago is either laughing privately or just plain shaking their head.
March 11, 2003
The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same
Fiscal Year '04 looms before us with a not-so-pretty picture of financial stability in the local, state and national governmental coffers. According to most published national reports, the economy has been supported in large measure by home buying and refinancing. Will this last and, if not, what will it mean to Frederick County?
February 7, 2003
Oh, My! The Cry Will Go Up! We Can’t Do That!
The time for the annual "Oh! Woe is me!" syndrome is now playing itself out across all
levels of government. If we don’t get enough money we are going to have to cut………
January 23, 2003
Under Which Shell Is The Pea?
The numbers game here in the state is usually about lotteries, slot machines and gambling. But there is another form of numbers game we should look at a little more closely. They are governmental budgets, school enrollment projections, and over-capacity issues at those schools.
January 9, 2003
Thinking Outside The Box
A new beginning for a new era, or just the same old problems wrapped up in a different package. Frederick County continues on its roll to become the leading bastion of the Grand Old Party here in Maryland, as Republicans take flight from Montgomery and Prince George’s counties joining the already existing party members from among the "first families."