Thursday, November 27, 2014

The 2014 Thanksgiving Blog

Our lives are an accumulation of accidents. Powerful momentums naturally exist, but seemingly miniscule events: a web search for Eastern Shore real estate, a chance graduation announcement in the Dundalk Eagle, can conspire to have an incredibly powerful impact on our lives. Today, on this the annual day formalized for marking our thanks, lets take a moment to be thankful for all those turns, all the lefts and the rights, the u-turns and the dead-ends, that we have taken in our lives that have gotten us where we are today. Some perhaps seem accidental, little more than a moment's consideration, but some of them have had a monumental impact on our lives.

I struggle sometimes to think about where my powerful conservation ethic comes from. I was not one of those young hunters subject to fatherly harangues about taking care of the land, but for some reason an idea took root in those youthful days afield, that this great American outdoor legacy, this earliest and perhaps most important classroom of young boys, deserved the dedication of a lifetime's effort. Seared into my subconscious, unknowingly as I walked the logging roads of Green Ridge State Forest, was the idea that my kids ought to be able to do this, too.   

I'll give thanks for the last minute acceptance to St. Mary's College, when a commuter existence at Towson State was growing ever more inevitable; the admissions office envelope that did it's part to put me in Dorchester 3rd Right, with Niall O'Dougherty freshmen year. To the envelope that saw me in a townhouse senior year with Kent Wilson, a man I am proud to still call a great friend, and one of the 'good guys' in Washington D.C.  I am thankful for giving up on the English major, the switch to Political Science, and the gears that decision got rolling; it seemed inconsequential at the time, it has proven to be anything but.

Thanks to job offers from mortgage companies and investment brokerages that I didn't take, opting instead for an (much less lucrative) internship with Ducks Unlimited's Government Affairs office in Washington, that set the stage for a career that I am incredibly passionate about. At the time it seemed an incredible gamble, but now the choice seems obvious. Instead of cold calling folks to sell mutual funds, I get to work the halls of Congress advocating for waterfowl habitat and sportsmen's access. I get to work with guys like Joel Webster, Ed Arnett, Geoff Mullins, Tim Kizer, and Chris Macaluso, whose collective affection for fine bourbon whiskeys is eclipsed only by their love of wild places, where a man can still come face to face with God and a bull Pintail.

Thanks to Tom Sadler, who gave me my first full-time job in Washington. Just a year and a half later, when he told me he was moving on in his career, to the Trust for Public Land, I thought I was coming to my own personal crossroads; but what I thought was a disaster in the making, provided me with the opportunity to work with Tom Franklin, a legendary sportsmen-conservationist in his own right. I consider both Toms my mentors in this business, veritable lodestars in my career.     

To a simple real estate listing on the web, that led to a visit with an agent, that has since led to five years on the Eastern Shore, and making connections with some of my favorite people on earth, like David Dunmyer and Austin Reed. "Why don't we go take a look at this house?" has become a place to raise a family, to follow the rhythm of the seasons, to welcome back the Canada geese.

To the neighborhood newspaper of my youth, who put my college graduation announcement right next to the graduation announcement of Kimberly Fales, my high school sweetheart. Today, she is my wife, the mother of my children, the light of my life. I cannot but think that the stars had aligned to bring us back together, after years apart and out of touch.

To Thompson Steel's Sparrows Point Plant shutting down in 2000, which at the time was deeply unsettling to the fabric of my being. But ultimately, it allowed my dad to get away from 33 years of swing shifts and to embark on a career that has given him the freedom to move to the Eastern Shore himself, to be closer to his grandchildren. If you would have told me this 15 years ago, I would have called you crazy. 

Like me, you are the sum of similar accidents and spur of the moment choices. Lay your plans carefully, but know that you cannot begin for a moment to plan the surprises and good things that your life has in store for you. Be thankful for not knowing the full course of things. We can all laugh about yesterday's mistakes, shake our heads at what might have been, but know without a doubt that it is those things that have not happened, as much as those that have, that shape us, that comprise the core of our lives. It can be overwhelming to think of how accidental our lives are, but a deep reflection isn't entirely necessary; rather, just smile at the knowing.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.     



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Keystone Pipeline explained, in less than 400 words.

Imagine that you own a 300 acre farm, bordered on the south by a railroad track, and on the north by a large fertilizer plant. Your little paradise lies smack in between these two necessities of rural life: nothing grows without fertilizer, and nothing moves grain more efficiently than the rails. Your farm inevitably benefits from the existence of both the factory and the railroad, as do dozens of other farms across the region.

Then one day, the fertilizer company approaches you about building a fertilizer pipeline across your farm and to the railroad. They want to create a fertilizer rail head to make it easier for them to send their products over the rails, reduce transportation costs, and expand the market for their product. Right now, they happen to be producing more fertilizer than the local market will bear, so they really need to get this stuff out of here, why there is practically a fertilizer glut! The railroad sends you a letter saying they'd like to have the fertilizer pipeline, because more freight means more business. It would be unpatriotic to stand in the way of the pipeline. 

The fertilizer factory promises to use your brother-in-law's construction company to build the pipe, but once it's done being built, they can't promise much. You'll still have to buy your fertilizer on the market, subject to all the same variables as every other farmer; there isn't going to be a fertilizer spigot extending from the pipeline to service your needs. And because the fertilizer that is made right next door to your place is now being shipped further and further away, you are competing with farmers from much further away than ever before for access to that supply. Indeed, instead of a glut of fertilizer at the local place, there might now be a local shortage, as the fertilizer plant has entered into guaranteed minimum freight contracts with the railroad, so the railroad, and not the local retail customer base, is the preferred outlet for the fertilizer. And because traffic has increased on the railroad, freight rates are up as empty cars become harder to find, making it more costly to move your harvest. 

Canada is the fertilizer plant. The Gulf of Mexico is the railroad. The midsection of the United States is your 300 acre farm. The Keystone XL pipeline, explained.

Photo courtesy of NPR

For a very good summation of the salient points of the Keystone XL pipeline issue, please visit this NPR News article.

Monday, September 08, 2014

The Ravens Do Not Have to Repeat Roger Goodell's Mistake

At the time Roger Goodell made his decision to suspend Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for two games for domestic violence, most everyone thought the punishment was too light, too forgiving, particularly as other NFL players were suspended for much longer for much lighter offenses. Now that the video from inside the elevator has been leaked, the fact that Ray Rice is guilty of a brutal assault and that Goodell made an egregious error, have been made absolutely clear.

The Ravens do not have to repeat or perpetuate Goodell's mistake. Baltimore team owner Steve Bisciotti should immediately release Ray Rice from the team. If Ray Rice patrols the Baltimore sideline in two weeks as the Ravens take on the Cleveland Browns, it will be an embarrassment to Bisciotti, to all those associated with the Ravens management, Ravens players, and of course the people of Baltimore, and perhaps most profoundly, an acute insult to every woman who cheers passionately for this team. 

There can be no professional tolerance for domestic violence. This Ravens fan wants to go clearly on the record that I will not buy another piece of Ravens merchandise and will not attend another Ravens game until the Ravens part ways with Ray Rice.

I also believe that if Roger Goodell had access to this video as he determined the Rice punishment, the calls for his resignation should be loud and repetitive, and those calls should resound from the desks of ESPN, the NFL owners, the NFL Players Association, and from NFL fans.

Let's rid the NFL of Ray Rice, and the domestic violence enabler Roger Goodell.

Start with Rice. The ball is in Bisciotti's court. 

Update! As of 2:51PM Eastern on September 8, 2014, the Ravens have indeed released Ray Rice. Kudos to Steve Bisciotti for this decision. Further, the NFL has decided to suspend Rice 'indefinitely.' 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Political Pollution

We, the citizens of Queen Anne's County, have the good fortune to live in a beautiful place, with vistas that seem stolen from postcards and where the wildlife can seem almost ubiquitous. But it seems that every four years, when local elections approach, dozens of those hoping to be elected lose all sense of scale and reason, and litter our county with countless plastic signs. It seems that 2014 has been the worst yet, with signs starting to pop up when voters were still thinking of what Christmas gifts to return. We should not have to be subject to low-grade roadside politicking for ten straight months.

So early on in my campaign for the Board of Education, I made a pledge to myself, never to put a sign in a public place, never to put a sign anywhere I had not secured explicit permission, never to put my signs in a place clustered with many other signs. In short, my promise was only to put yard signs in the yards of my supporters. I never intended to print a large highway sign. Never thought much of putting dozens of signs up at the early voting locations, or at the polling places on Election Day.

Looking back, I am glad that I made (and kept) this pledge. Because the county has been turned into a trash  heap of political signs. Gas stations, off-ramps, business parks, and most notably, the Kramer Center in Centreville and the Kent Island Library, both of which have been turned into embarrassing displays of political pollution. Any individual candidate gets lost in the crowd of literally hundreds of signs.

Now some local politicians and political hopefuls have heard the outcries of the voters who are dismayed with what they've seen our county become, and they are suggesting discretion when it comes to placing political signs. That is really great of them, and I would suggest that it is about time.

The voters deserve to know that some candidates, including this one, opted not to plaster political signs on every grassy surface. I find political signs to be the equivalent of shouting into a bullhorn. Effective? Perhaps. Annoying? Almost certainly. Much like you, I've never made a single voting decision based on who had the most signs. And while I am a candidate, I am a voter and a citizen first, and I felt the same way about all those signs on the roadside and at the polling place as you do, which compelled me to keep my signs where they belong.

Typical politicians think that political signs are a key part of a campaign, they are just something that has to be done in order to win. Now that the public reaction has soured, those candidates will agree to remove some of those signs. Sometimes leadership requires you to do something before everyone else thinks of it, I am proud of the fact you won't see a single Steven Kline for Board of Education sign on the side of a highway, at a gas station,  on public property, or at a polling place. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Reasonable People Should Not Applaud Cantor's Defeat

On February 11, 2014, Eric Cantor voted yes. He joined John Boehner, and only 26 other of his Republican cohorts in the House to raise the debt ceiling without condition, ending years of debt ceiling brinksmanship. Eric Cantor, as of this morning still the Majority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, is not a moderate. He is a conservative, which rankles some, but he is reasonable. He is the kind of Republican who, under the right circumstances, can vote for a Farm Bill, for a bipartisan budget deal, for a Highway Bill, can even entertain discussions about immigration reform (indeed The Hill newspaper is already reporting that immigration reform is likely dead with Cantor's defeat).

So it is dismaying to see so many reasonable people take to social media to celebrate Eric Cantor's demise. Regardless of what happens in Virginia's 7th Congressional district come November and Election Day, the Republicans will almost certainly retain control of the House, which means that Eric Cantor will be replaced as Majority Leader, likely by someone like Kevin McCarthy (CA) or Paul Ryan (WI).  And for their efforts yesterday, Virginia's 7th District voters will be represented by someone with astoundingly less clout.

Mike Simpson and Mitch McConnell, a member of the House from Idaho and the Minority Leader of the Senate from Kentucky, respectively, are establishment Republicans who fended off strong Tea Party primary challengers just a few weeks ago. At the time, I thought that was a good sign, because it could begin to make reasonable Republicans once again feel comfortable that they could indeed be reasonable, with less fear of opposition from an extremist wing of the Republican base. In short, they wouldn't have to defend their flank with extremism.

But the Cantor race is a monumental setback in the effort to restore a sensible Republican Party. Now, every member of the Republican Party who is up for reelection, anywhere and at virtually every level of government, will be compelled to steer inevitably to the right. Towards hardened, inflexible positions that steel them from substantive primary challengers and accusations of being "too liberal." Eric Cantor is not even a shade liberal, he has been stubbornly unwilling to deal on many issues, has been an obstructionist at times. On the surface, to the untrained eye, his removal from the helm of the GOP ship means that his strain of political obstructionism is on the wane. That would be a mistake. His loss means that government shutdowns, bond rating reductions and general stasis will become more likely, not less. In short, his strain of obstructionism has been replaced by a more virulent strain.         

Monday, June 09, 2014

A Hat Tip to Hard Work

There is a stronger than normal force pulling me incessantly back to Elm Street these days. The photos of my two kids and my wife that sit on my desk in Washington, the photos Kim texts me of the kids being silly throughout the day that appear regularly on my phone. For the five years we've lived on the Eastern Shore, I generally get home around 7, leave the house around 6. It's a long day, and a long commute, but I love what I get to do for a living, and I love getting to call the Eastern Shore home, so it is all part of the bargain. But having a new family has made my desire to be home much more pressing and profound.

Perhaps it makes sense then, that as I thought about running for the Board of Education I thought of the time a proper campaign would inevitably consume, the time away from Kim, Alex, and Emily. Stepping in to the race would mean missing putting the kids to bed some nights, and weekend afternoons spent out on the campaign trail and not with the family. I am not unique, every candidate who enters any race understands the sacrifices that are necessary to run a credible campaign.

But where I do believe I am unique, is the level of effort I have put into this campaign. I have attended every candidate forum, sign waved across the county, knocked on doors, and attended far more Board of Education meetings than any other candidate. I have talked to county commissioners about education, I have talked to commissioner candidates about their views on education. And after the public aspect of the campaign ends for the day, I have spent countless hours researching the county's education budget, Common Core standards, and a whole bevy of other education issues.

The only promise my campaign has made is one that I know I can keep: no other candidate for the Board of Education will work harder on behalf of our county's students and taxpayers than I will.

I believe strongly that those who seek to hold public office must work hard to earn the trust of those they hope to represent. They owe the voters, in short, a glimpse of the kind of elected official they will be. Candidates who pledge hard work and effort, but don't illustrate that pledge with vigor on the campaign trail, are unlikely to keep their promises if they are trusted with elected office. Work ethic isn't a light switch.

It has been tough to leave the family, but I know that if by my effort, I can improve the education available to my children, and moreover to all the children of Queen Anne's County, both today and in the future, then that time away from home will not have been spent in vain. As your member of the Board of Education, I will bring the same commitment to the Board as I have brought to the campaign.  I would be honored by your confidence on Election Day.


Thursday, May 08, 2014

A Board of Ed Candidate at a Sewer Hearing?

Lately, nothing in Queen Anne's County has been as controversial as the debate about a sewer pipe. Many county citizens, elected officials, and political hopefuls, are involved in the discussion about whether or not to connect the communities of Southern Kent Island to a sewer line that would largely preclude the need for outdated and outmoded septic tanks that pose a threat to human health and environmental safety.

One of the major issues raised by a Southern Kent Island sewer is anticipating the new residential development that might accompany such a sewer line. Growth impacts the county's public schools in a profound way. Growth impacts our physical education infrastructure (school buildings and buses are asked to accommodate more children) and of course, residential growth impacts class size, and perhaps most profoundly, the school budget. Of course, growth can certainly be beneficial to the school system, bringing new teachers to the area, and adding to the diversity of views in our classrooms.  

It is not the job of the Board of Education to manage growth or even to judge growth. But how can the Board efficiently and effectively manage the school system for today and for the future, if it is completely in the dark on issues related to growth that will impact the system? How would a sewer line alter Matapeake Elementary and Middle and Kent Island High School? Our Board of Education needs to know enough about what is happening to get out in front of these challenges. 

Being a member of the Board of Education is more complicated and detail oriented than most candidates assume or expect. The Board is tasked with the job of running a system with an $80 million annual budget, educating more than 7,000 children, and serving in some way, shape, or form, each of the county's 50,000 citizens. In that role, I think candidates for the Board, and members of the Board, have an obligation to the citizens to be as informed as possible about what is going on in the county.

I am the only candidate in district 2 who knows the language that the county uses to talk about growth. I have read our comprehensive plan, I have worked at length on the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, and grow frustrated when it becomes clear that even current members of the Board of Education have at best a fumbling knowledge of the APFO, an important policy for mitigating the impact of growth on our schools and on our taxpayers.

The Board of Education is no place for a growth-related agenda one way or the other. But knowing and understanding the projects being considered, and understanding their many complexities, prepares me better than any of my opponents for being a productive member of the Board of Education, one that can make decisions that are wise for what the county looks like today, and what it might look like tomorrow.

I hope I can earn your vote, and thank you for your support.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Centreville resident Kline files to run for Queen Anne’s County Board of Education

News for Immediate Release
February10, 2014
Contact 443-988-8632

Centreville resident Kline files to run for Queen Anne’s County Board of Education

Centreville, Maryland – Today Steven Kline announced his candidacy for the Queen Anne’s County Board of Education, where he will seek to represent the county’s second district.

“I am excited to enter the race for the Queen Anne’s County Board of Education. Public schools represent our most important investment in the future, and as a member of the Board of Education, I will be committed to keeping Queen Anne’s County public schools at the top of the pack; making sure our schools work for our students, parents, teachers, and taxpayers,” said Kline.

“As a member of the board, I will do all I can to prioritize science, math, and technology in our schools, while also making sure our students have access to quality art and music education, both of which are essential. I think there is value in moving beyond measuring success simply by a test score, and beginning to focus more on the comprehensive development of our children into members of society who are not only productive, but possess the skills to be happy,” said Kline. 

“The surest way to have successful students is to create a space where teachers can be successful. I’ll emphasize improving teacher morale, and seek to work with other members of the Board of Education to enact policies that help to retain our best teachers and attract the best teachers in the world to Queen Anne’s County,” said Kline
Kline is an Eagle Scout who attended Maryland’s great public schools. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and a Master’s Degree in Government from Johns Hopkins University. Kline and his wife Kimberly have made their home in Centreville since 2009. He is the father of two children. 

Monday, February 03, 2014

Phillip Seymour Hoffman

I am no fan of popular culture. Even before having young children provided a good excuse not to go to the movies, I didn't find myself shelling out 8 or 10 dollars for a ticket and 15 dollars for a soda with too much ice and a bag of popcorn very often. My movie philosophy was summed up nicely by Gene Wilder recently, in an interview on AMC that I caught accidentally; when asked why he wasn't doing much film acting these days, Wilder looked pained, as if he was letting the interviewer in on some unfortunate secret that could no longer be kept from him: "Because most of them" The audience laughed, but Wilder just shrugged, perhaps frustrated by their laughter.

I am sure there are lots of great movies being produced, but the ones that I am told are going to be great, never are. I recently saw American Hustle. The theater was packed and yet the movie was just...okay. It  was too long, there were entire segments I thought could have been left out, that forwarded the story in no meaningful way, and yet here we were on the wrong side of two hours invested in a movie that was blowing no one's socks off. I thought to myself, and probably said out loud, if this is on the short list for Best Film, the competition must be incredibly weak.

But there are a few actors who can make me want to buy a ticket. Daniel Day Lewis leads a short list. Leonardo DiCaprio. And increasingly, Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I thought Hoffman's performance of Truman Capote in the film Capote was truly masterful. Hoffman immersed himself in that role the way Day-Lewis did in Lincoln, and the result was just as astounding. One forgets where the actor ends and the role begins. I am no film critic, nor what anyone would call a movie buff, and perhaps there are better, more technically sound, ways to describe Hoffman's performance in Capote, but I will leave it at exceptional.

I tried, although maybe halfheartedly, to see Hoffman perform on the Broadway stage as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, a role he was said to have mastered on the live stage. But traveling to Manhattan for painfully white collar entertainment wasn't in the cards. I find myself wishing it had been.    

I am no fan of popular culture. So much of it is vapid, empty, and temporary, that it is just not worth paying attention. But such as Mr. Hoffman's work was popular, it was worth paying attention to, it was none of those things. A man whose extraordinary talent came at the cost of an extraordinary vulnerability has left this planet far too soon with far too much left to do. I found myself unexpectedly moved at the news of his passing and pledged to recommit myself to my own writing, for one day, there will be nothing more to write.     


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Endings, Beginnings, and Who Knows What...

Earlier this week, I hope that you had a chance to read this post, a press release announcing that my dear friend David Dunmyer will not be seeking a second term on the Queen Anne's County Board of Commissioners.  This is the story of how I came to help Dave write that press release.

I met Dave about four years ago. In fact, now that I think about it, it might have been exactly four years ago this week, as the ironies and coincidences of life are to have it. We were both in the process of engaging in a fight to stave off the construction of a State Department training facility just a mile or so from where Dave lives. I was fighting because of what I wanted this new place for me and Kim to continue being, rural and close. Dave was fighting for something so much more important.

I did a lot of writing about the issue here at the blog, traded a lot of barbs with various people on social media (God that was fun), attended a lot of meetings, and lobbied folks in Washington DC against the facility. There were certainly a couple of people more involved than me, but not many more involved than Dave. He was a relentless, no holds barred champion for the people of Ruthsburg.

Kim and I had moved to Centreville in the late fall of 2009, and were neck-deep in the facility fight by January. I can say that there is no better way to find friends in a new place than to stand next to them during a good old fashioned dust up. I still count Mike and Tina Naumann, Mike Weddell, Jay Falstad, Bonnie Roschy, and of course, Dave and Rhonda Dunmyer, as good friends that I might have never met if not for FASTC. 

I got a call from Dave one day in the spring of 2010; he knew that my racket was politics, and he was thinking about running for county commissioner. I didn't know much about the county board of commissioners, nor about the political vagaries of the county, but I knew that Dave was a guy worth helping, so I signed on to the effort as a volunteer campaign manager. As Kim can attest, the spring, summer, and fall of 2010, my life was Dunmyer for Commissioner. Together, Dave and I redefined the way you run for commissioner in Queen Anne's County. We worked every weekend, knocking on thousands of doors over the course of the campaign. We worked nights, we worked mornings, we ate breakfast at Batter Up (but apparently not enough times to keep the place in business). We answered more questionnaires then now seems possible. As Theodore Roosevelt would have wanted it, we spent ourselves in a worthwhile effort.

I can say that there is no better way to learn your way around a county, then to help someone run for county commissioner.

Election night 2010 was a supremely weird event. Dave had won his first ever campaign as a candidate, and I had won my first ever campaign as a full-fledged campaign manager. I had counted votes at the Board of Elections until late in the night, and knew that while Dave had won, he and his slow-growth principles would be in the minority 3-2. So while it was a great night, it was also a night with big question marks about the future. We were surprised at the outcome of the election and that Dave would be in the minority; we sensed that it would be a frustrating four years.

It was a cold and rainy Friday near the end of my paternity leave in October 2013 and Dave and I were scheduled to have lunch in Centreville to talk about his ensuing reelection campaign. After we ordered, Dave got to the real special of the day: admitting that he did not think he was going to run again. That, after pouring himself into being a commissioner for four long years, he had had enough, emotionally, intellectually, financially. The job of commissioner, done right, done the way Dave did it, is certainly a full-time job, yet its wages, the wrong side of $20k a year, are hardly enough to call a living. The unavoidable responsibilities of life could not be avoided for four more years.

I let him know that I supported him either way, that I would be there to run another campaign, or that I could help with the drafting of a statement that he would not seek reelection. I warned him that, if he decided to not run for reelection, a lot of people would try to guilt him in to changing his mind. I promised to not be one of those people. But as we traded drafts of the release back and forth, I kept letting him know it was not too late to change his mind. As evidenced by the earlier post, there was no change in his mind on this one.

I don't know how many citizens of Queen Anne's County realize just how great of a commissioner they had in Dave Dunmyer. Here's a guy who literally put more free time into his role as commissioner than he could well afford, and all in the service of making progress on things he thought were important, like cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, and keeping our county a great place to live. When he was stymied by the myopia and recalcitrance of the status quo, he blazed his own path, meeting with US senators, governors, the EPA administrator, cabinet secretaries. When major progress couldn't be made, Dave made incremental progress. He took on issues, big and small, with a doggedness, a heart, and courage that you won't find in many people, let alone politicians, and as a result, Dave has grown into a leader in the field of conservation policy. His advice will be sought by the doers and the thinkers long after the other four members of this board have melded back into the fabric of whatever it is that they do when they aren't sitting in the Liberty Building.  

There is a discussion that needs to happen, about the emotional and intellectual toll of seeking and serving in public offices that keeps good people from running, or in the case of Dunmyer, from running again. There is the constant divisiveness, perhaps pronounced by the still small-town feel of Queen Anne's County, that provides no refuge from sarcasm and negativity. When we, and I think it is incredibly important that we realize that we all do play a role in this, make elected offices attractive only to the retrogrades and the argumentative, then only the retrograde and the argumentative will we get. Our collective need to get the last word, whether in a comment section, a social media forum, a town hall meeting, a radio show, is poisoning the public arena. Negativity is self-perpetuating.  

Dave Dunmyer will be replaced on the Board of Commissioners, and there might be much to say about that race in the days ahead right here on this blog. But I want to offer my most sincere gratitude to my friend Dave for the sacrifices he has made over the past four years to the people of our home county, to the Chesapeake Bay, and in defense of the notion that good people can hold office, and accomplish good things, without every having to raise their voice.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Statement: Dunmyer will not seek reelection in 2014

January 20, 2014
For Immediate Release
Contact: 443-481-0707

Queen Anne's County Commissioner David Dunmyer Announces He Will Not Seek Reelection in 2014

Centreville, MD Today, David Dunmyer, who has represented the First District on the Queen Anne's County Board of County Commissioners since 2011, announced that he will not seek reelection to the Board in 2014. 

Dunmyer, who now serves as the Vice President of the Board of Commissioners, will leave an incredibly strong legacy of leadership when he departs the Board. He serves as the Chairman of the Upper Shore Regional Council, and as an advisory member of the Chesapeake Bay Local Government Advisory Council. Dunmyer also serves as a voting member of the Maryland Association of Counties Legislative Committee, and as a liaison to the Queen Anne's County Council of Governments. Dunmyer has also recently been named to the Local Leaders Council for Smart Growth America. 

"As I think many of my fellow citizens know, I have happily poured my heart and soul into this job, serving Queen Anne's County to the best of my abilities. But after much thought, I believe I can better serve the places I love, Queen Anne's County and Maryland's Eastern Shore, as a private citizen." Dunmyer said. "In 2010, I proudly ran on a platform of improving the county's finances and sustaining our rural quality of life, and there is no question that, with the help of the citizens, progress has been made on both of these fronts during my time on the Board, and I step away without regret," Dunmyer continued.

"I have never wanted to turn politics into a career, and never thought that running for reelection was at all inevitable. I have met some great people interested in running across the county, and they deserve a chance to see what they can accomplish," Dunmyer said. "I am not sure exactly what the future holds for me personally, but I am excited about taking a more prominent role in issues related to conservation and smart growth, and perhaps serving the county in other roles," said Dunmyer. 

"I have enjoyed serving the county as a commissioner, and am incredibly grateful to the voters who gave me that opportunity. I look forward to staying engaged in the issues facing our county, and supporting great candidates in 2014." 


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

But What Are you FOR?!

The 2014 Governor's race here in Maryland is shaping up to be underwhelming. As far as I can tell, the Maryland Republicans have one candidate that is remotely viable, David Craig, who as sitting Harford County Executive has the only meaningful executive experience in the GOP bunch. There are rumors that the vaunted Larry Hogan, of Change Maryland "fame" will enter the race, but I suspect what few in the GOP establishment can probably see from being too close, that few outside of that establishment (and probably few of the "75,000 strong Change Maryland army" know who the Hell Larry Hogan is.

I want to support David Craig for Governor. I promise, I really do. Moderate as I am, I find the idea of another Democratic administration coupled with unfettered Democratic control of the state legislature to be anathema to fairness and sensibility. One party rule should be rejected. To express my sincerity about wanting to support Mr. Craig, I plan on reaching out to the campaign in the coming days, because while some of the messaging they are using on social media is just fine for the red meat Republicans of the state, its been a really long time since those red meat Republicans won a statewide election in Maryland. And by really long time, I mean never.  

What I think many ambitious Republicans do not understand is that being against a solution (Obamacare, for instance, or the Stormwater Fee) is all fine and good, but it leaves the underlying problem firmly in place. I am not the first to say this, but for all intents and purposes, Republicans in Maryland come off as the opposition party, as opposed to a party of workable alternatives. As Ted Kennedy said to Republicans opposing No Child Left Behind years ago on the floor of the Senate, "We know what you are against, but tell us, what are you FOR?!" That is one of the chief reasons, in my opinion, the GOP continues to fail in this state, because it does not present itself in a coordinated fashion as a governing party, but merely as an opposition party. The people of Maryland, in election after election, reject the inherent negativity of Republican politics, and I do not see this changing any time in the near future; although my hope is that Mr. Craig could be convinced to see the light on issues like these.

And further to my point, today on his Facebook account, Mr. Craig has asked his followers: "How has the failed rollout of the Maryland Health Exchange affected you?" The question was asked earlier in the day as well (although that post was removed, presumably because no one answered). I wonder if Mr. Craig and his social media consultants are surprised that no one has fessed up to it impacting them personally on the new post, either. And this sort of proves my theory, doesn't it? The failed rollout of the Maryland Health Exchange hasn't affected anyone you are pandering to, Mr. Craig! Aside from being an inherently negative question, guaranteed to garner angered online diatribes, it's not governing, and it isn't serious, and it won't get you elected. A campaign whose stock in trade is torching straw men is bound to end in failure. Instead of making people angry about opposition, bring people together around solutions. One of these things is harder than the other, but the easy one won't get you elected as a Republican in Maryland.

And while opposing the stormwater fee, or the rollout of the Maryland Health Exchange, or the theory of gravity might be very safe ground with the Lincoln Day Dinner circuit, it will come across to millions of other voters in the state as being another negative campaign with no real ideas of its own.  And that is why, Mr. Craig, if you continue down this path, you will not get elected. Like Bob Ehrlich before you (twice). And like every other failed statewide Republican who proceeded you to an electoral Elba.