Montgomery County Councilman Hans Riemer (At-Large) has been embellishing his record ever since he declared for council in 2006 (before the paint was dry in his first-ever Maryland domicile). He came to us with specious claims about his importance as a savior of Social Security as we know it. More recently, he tied himself closely to Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign victory even though he had disappeared from the campaign many months earlier, without an explanation. Riemer’s colleagues on County Council complain behind closed doors that he regularly tries to take credit for others’ work.
All of this is distasteful, creating a general impression of sleazy self-service. But has this been outright dishonest? Not clear. Now, however, Riemer has crossed the line.
Hans Riemer is lying about his support for the minimum wage bill that just passed in Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties.
Marc Elrich (At-Large) led the effort to get a decent minimum wage ($11.50/hour) on the books and to reach it in a reasonable amount of time (2016). He put together an agreement with PG and DC legislators to pass equivalent measures, so that the employment impact of higher wages in our county would be mitigated. When I began following the issue closely a few weeks ago, I was delighted to see that Elrich had support from George Leventhal (At-Large), Nancy Navarro (D-2), and Valerie Ervin (D-5): four of the necessary five votes on the nine-member council.
I reached out to Phil Andrews (D-1; disclosure: he is a personal friend) and Riemer to see if I could help move either to be that fifth vote. Andrews confirmed his opposition (and, indeed, he was the lone dissenter when the final bill passed 8-1 on November 26). You can count on Andrews to own his positions and be honest about them, even when you may disagree with him.
Not the case with Riemer. What ensued in response to my inquiry were several rounds of squirrely emails in which he kept claiming credit for being philosophically in favor of a better minimum wage and leading the effort to get a bill passed:
• “I came out very clearly for an increase in the minimum wage weeks ago” (Riemer, 11/18/13).
• “. . . my support for raising the wage is bringing other council members along” (Riemer, 11/19/13).
Meanwhile, Riemer’s real position was that any new minimum wage not be enacted until the state took action, be substantially lower than Elrich’s bill (even lower than $10, depending on what Maryland ended up doing), and take much longer to implement (as late as 2020) – see Riemer’s blog.
Because of Riemer’s opposition to the progressive bill, Elrich and his cohort eventually had to settle for a one-year extension on full implementation, to 2017, but they beat back Riemer’s attempt to gut the wage itself – the final bill included the $11.50 rate. Notwithstanding Riemer’s argument that Elrich’s measure should be opposed because PG and DC wouldn’t pass such a progressive bill, PG did indeed pass a nearly identical measure the following week and as of this writing, the DC council appears poised to pass it unanimously.
Here’s the comical part: If you watch the final vote on the bill (30 seconds), you can see five hands go up immediately. Riemer (on the far left [ironically]) is so opposed to the measure that he is the waits to raise his hand until he sees that he can’t stop it. Then, he jumps on the speeding bandwagon just in time to claim that he was the one driving it all along.
Hans Riemer worked hard to kill a decent minimum wage in Montgomery County, but that didn’t stop him from claiming credit for its passage. This is from his self-congratulatory blast email on November 27:
“I am proud that I helped deliver an 8-1 council vote for this hugely important progressive priority. . . . I worked hard to strengthen the county proposal. My work fighting to protect Social Security taught me that the broadest policies have the best impact.”
So, Social Security’s Savior was a fighter for the workers of Montgomery County? Give me a break. Propaganda is far more important to Hans Riemer than progress. He can call himself “progressive” from now ‘til kingdom come, but the word is utterly meaningless when he utters it.
I have been a harsh critic of Riemer ever since he magically appeared in our county claiming to be our next progressive hero, without ever having done a shred of work in the region and without having even bothered to hold a single conversation with our real, live progressive fighters.
I have tried the past couple of years to go easy on the poor lad, hoping that he would ditch the false claims and fulfill his progressive promises. I don’t maintain that he’s always wrong or dishonest. But this recent bit is just too much.
Everyone paying attention to local politics gets this. And we have between now and the June 24th primary to educate everyone else.
PS. It’s typical that Riemer has endorsed White House Darling Will Jawando for the open state delegate seat in D-20, who – as I have written – is clearly the worst candidate in the race. Maybe Riemer hopes to create an empty-ambition caucus.