Posted tagged ‘Hans Riemer’

02.11.17 Slippery Hans does it again (re fossil fuel divestment; and he’s not the only bad guy)

February 11, 2017

On February 6, I posted about the Montgomery County bill to divest from fossil fuels (#44-16). I forwarded that post to all nine of council members – for most of them, it was at least the second time I had contacted them about this matter.

Two days later, I still hadn’t received any response from Tom Hucker, Nancy Floreen, and Hans Reimer, so I re-sent it to them, with this line on top:

“Where do you stand on this? Your silence is not acceptable.”

This time Riemer chose to respond:

If you watch the work session you may see my views . . . on this complicated legislation.” [emphasis added]

So, I wrote to him again:

“Hans—

Are you really telling me that if I want to know where you stand on a piece of public legislation, I need to sit through a Council work session? If I have misunderstood you, please set me straight.

—Keith”

What did I hear back? Nothing.

Hans Riemer has a long and shameful record* of trying to have it both ways, wanting to appear “progressive” (his favorite campaign word), while actually opposing progressive policy. The most egregious case was three years ago, when he fought long and hard to stop a minimum-wage increase and, when the final vote came, he kept his hand on the table until he counted five other hands in the air (meaning the bill would pass). Only then did he get on the bandwagon so that he could claim later to have helped the winning side. See the shameful (30-second) video here. (To be fair, Riemer was one of the good guys in the most recent effort to raise the wage. Even bad guys aren’t always wrong.)

Riemer has reached a new low in refusing to share where he stands with me, a constituent who has asked for him to state his position. His directive that I should sit through hours of discussion for the privilege of learning his positon is obnoxious.

Guess what, Hans Riemer? You work for me – I pay your salary!

So, Riemer is being his slippery self. But is that any worse than Nancy Floreen’s and Tom Hucker’s refusal to respond at all? Riemer is just dumber, because he has handed me more slimy rope with which to hang him. Give Floreen and Hucker credit for being more clever. But don’t give them too much credit, because their silence is also obnoxious.

Guess what, Nancy Floreen and Tom Hucker? You work for me – I pay your salary.

Meanwhile, George Leventhal – maintaining his record as THE most responsive member of County Council responded to me a second time about this issue. I respect Leventhal because of his forthrightness, but he is simply wrong on the issue. He wrote:

“There is no question that climate change is as great a challenge as any our planet and our species faces, but must we also divest from food and beverage companies because of the health risks posed by obesity? Must we divest from bank stocks because of risky investments in mortgage securities that brought on the Great Recession? Must we divest from Treasury bonds because we do not want to finance Donald Trump’s deficit spending to build a Wall on the Mexican border? How are we to respond when activist movements ask us to divest from these securities?”

Slippery-slope arguments like this are impossible to contest, because they rely on some mythical greater harm to be caused in the future by someone(s) who might — in misguided pursuit of purity – push too far. A slippery slope is fear mongering: in this case Leventhal is basically saying that we can’t trust the small minds on county council to distinguish between one policy with clear justification and a different policy with less (or none at all). Perhaps he’s right about the small minds, though.

I note that none of the councilmembers, Slippery Hans, Silent Nancy & Tom, or Leventhal disputed my math: a worst-case impact of fossil fuel divestment on the overall county portfolio would come to a 0.008% reduction in the rate of return.

Even if this measure were purely symbolic (as Leventhal claims), it is a no-brainer because it couldn’t do any more than infinitesimal harm. In fact, fossil-fuel divestment is not only symbolic: if enough pension funds and other investors pull out of these funds, their values will drop. When their values drop, other investors will pull out or not opt in. And a large enough value drop will punish the largest owners of the mega oil and gas firms in the one part of their beings that has feeling: their wallets. Less spending money for these evil-doers means less money for them to invest in purchasing more climate-change deniers for Congress.

It appears right now that Bill 44-16 has support only from its sponsors, Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich, and Nancy Navarro. With a likely veto from blindly pro-business county executive, Ike Leggett, we need a mass effort to turn three more votes on the Council.

+++++

*Here’s a Hall of Shame of previous posts about Riemer:

It is early for me to target Riemer, given that his inevitable campaign for reelection won’t heat up for many months. Don’t worry, Dear Readers: I’ll be prepared to repost all of this when the time is right.

+++++

As for Nancy Floreen, she has nothing to fear from progressive criticism, since (1) she has a long record as the least progressive member of Council and industry pals have kept her afloat, regardless, and (2) she is term-limited and will stand zero chance in a race for county executive.

For Tom Hucker, it’s another story. His seat is comfortable only as long has he is able to keep a progressive label. Hucker’s record is good overall, but it won’t be helped by ignoring constituents or siding with the fossil-fuel industry.

+++++

Please contact your members (district, plus four at-large):

Councilmember.Berliner@montgomerycountymd.gov (D1) – co-sponsor

Councilmember.Elrich@montgomerycountymd.gov (At-Large) – co-sponsor

Councilmember.Floreen@montgomerycountymd.gov (At-Large) – silent

Councilmember.Hucker@montgomerycountymd.gov (D5) – silent

Councilmember.Katz@montgomerycountymd.gov (D3) – ?

Councilmember.Leventhal@montgomerycountymd.gov (At-Large) – opposed

Councilmember.Navarro@montgomerycountymd.gov (D4) – co-sponsor

Councilmember.Rice@montgomerycountymd.gov (D2) – ?

Councilmember.Riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov (At-Large) – slippery

©2017 Keith Berner

02.06.17 Montgomery County must divest from fossil fuels (support Bill 44-16)

February 6, 2017

Bill 44-16 before the Montgomery County (MD) Council would require the country to divest from the fossil fuel industry. Credit goes to Roger Berliner (he’s not ALL bad), Marc Elrich, and Nancy Navarro for co-sponsoring this important legislation. I have already written to all my councilmembers about this. George Leventhal continued his record of being the only councilmember who responds to (my) constituent inquiries, but he is wishy-washy on this issue, writing to me, “This is not an easy call. I understand its symbolic value but I am concerned about anything that may put at risk the county’s ability to keep its promise to retirees.”

I have heard nothing from Nancy Floreen, Hans Riemer, or Tom Hucker, my other reps.

Supporting divestment should be a no-brainer. According to the Washington Post, fossil-fuel investments constitute $65 million, out of a $4-billion MoCo portfolio, or 1.65%.  So if we assume that moving those investments elsewhere would produce a rate of return 0.5% lower than leaving them where they are (this is a pessimistic assumption, since there are plenty of well-performing investments outside this industry), the overall impact would come to a 0.008% reduction in the portfolio’s rate of return. Bottom line: even under a pessimistic assumption, the impact would be negligible.

Those arguing against divestment either haven’t done the math, are climate-change deniers, or have a personal stake in the fossil fuel-industry.
Please contact your members (district, plus four at-large):
Councilmember.Berliner@montgomerycountymd.gov
Councilmember.Elrich@montgomerycountymd.gov
Councilmember.Floreen@montgomerycountymd.gov
Councilmember.Hucker@montgomerycountymd.gov
Councilmember.Katz@montgomerycountymd.gov
Councilmember.Leventhal@montgomerycountymd.gov
Councilmember.Navarro@montgomerycountymd.gov
Councilmember.Rice@montgomerycountymd.gov
Councilmember.Riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov
Probably a bit less effective, but still worthwhile would be to use either use 350moco.org’s petition or to write to all councilmembers at once using the Council website.
©2017 Keith Berner

12.07.16 County Council disses Marc Elrich, as usual

December 7, 2016

At the bottom, you’ll see Nancy Floreen’s celebration of the council’s great new leadership: Roger Berliner and Hans Riemer. Above it you’ll see my letter to the councilmembers. Please remember this when all of them run for county executive (against Marc) in 2018.

Subject: MoCoCo new leadership announcement
Date: December 6, 2016 at 21:00:41 EST

This new leadership is another deliberate exclusion of the most popular and nearly longest serving councilmember: Marc Elrich.Marc beat you other at-large members twice in a row and has now served 10 years on the Council. I’m sure Marc is a big boy and can withstand the evident enmity from his council colleagues, but *I* am insulted. All of you who have conspired to keep Marc out of leadership have betrayed me and thousands of other Moco voters who support him more than they do you. I and others will have a long memory.

©2016 Keith Berner
nancy_floreen_s_montgomery_in_focus__december_2016_-_inbox

07.02.16 County Council repeals employee benefits for domestic partners

July 2, 2016

An open letter to regressive Montgomery County Council members. . .

To: George Leventhal, Nancy Floreen & Hans Riemer:

I am extremely disappointed that you voted (and George led the effort) to strip county employees’ domestic partner benefits. In order to save about $1.98, you have placed MoCo firmly on the side of regressive social policy. Sure, domestic-partner benefits were often created to get around discrimination against same-sex couples. But these benefits also took government out of any role in judging the shapes of love and families. As for some of the where-do-you-draw-the-line/where-does-does-it-ever-stop complains I’ve seen on Facebook, this is not rocket science. My nonprofit employers allows staff to designate one domestic partner, without any demand to see a marriage certificate. The fact that Marty Ittner and I live at the same address is good enough for them — why shouldn’t it be good enough for the county?

I congratulate Marc Elrich, Tom Hucker, and Craig Rice for being on the correct side of this issue. But I’m also disappointed that they didn’t warn their constituents in advance of this misguided action so that public pressure could have been brought to bear. (And I congratulate MD Delegate David Moon for alerting me and many others to the issue on Facebook.)

—Keith

©2016 Keith Berner

 

06.23.14 Vote!

June 23, 2014

In my view, any US citizen who does not vote is betraying the few billion human beings who don’t have the right to. As broken as our political system is, it is the only means we have to change our society. Even if your vote is only one in a hundred million at a presidential level, real change starts locally. It is in our own community where we have the privilege to get to know candidates and office-holders directly and personally. We owe it to ourselves, to our neighbors, and — ultimately — to the world to stand up and be counted.

I’m happy that Maryland affords us the right to vote at our convenience over an extended period. Just the same, I choose to go to my polling place on Election Day. My participation — along with my neighbors — energizes me, makes me feel a part of the community and of something truly important. Because I know so many neighbors and even so many candidates, showing up and waiting in line becomes a unique social experience. I wouldn’t miss it for the world, even when I’m less than thrilled about many of the choices that await me on the ballot.

Please join me tomorrow to make a small difference in our little part of the world.

Now, back to politics. . .

Must-Vote Candidates (my favorites of my favorites)

  • Brian Frosh (Attorney General)
  • Jamie Raskin (D20 Senator)
  • Sheila Hixson (D20 Delegate)
  • Dana Beyer (D18 Senator)
  • Marc Elrich (MoCo Council At-Large)
  • Beth Daly (MoCo Council At-Large)

Don’t-Vote Candidates (the worst of the worst)

  • Doug Gansler (Governor)
  • Jon Cardin (Attorney General)
  • Doug Duncan (MoCo Executive)
  • Hans Riemer (MoCo Council At-Large)
  • Nancy Floreen (MoCo Council At-Large)
  • Chris Barclay (MoCo Council District 5)
  • Duchy Trachtenberg  (MoCo Council District 1)
  • Ben Kramer (D19 Delegate)
  • Charlotte Crutchfield (D19 Delegate)

For a summary of my endorsements.

For my fully annotated endorsements.

See Progressive Neighbors, for races I don’t cover.

PS. Thanks to all who have taken the time to read my musings this political season. From a tiny start six years ago, this blog has really taken off in 2014. By tomorrow, over 600 people will have visited my site in the past week and viewed about 1,600 pages on this site. This pales in comparison to many other blogs, but it’s plenty for me! Your interest is a big honor!

©2014 Keith Berner

06.22.14 Bigotry in MD D19

June 22, 2014

Buckle yourself in, Dear Reader, as I weave a trail of political intrigue in Maryland District 19, as related to me by some insiders there only today. I warn you up front that I am relating the story as I’ve heard it, from people I consider to be highly trustworthy; however, with the election looming on Tuesday, I do not have as much time to research it as I would like. I think this is a story worth telling, just the same, and I invite feedback from anyone who might have more perspective than I.

District 19 has been represented the past four years by Senator Roger Manno (who beat Mike Lenett in 2010 after Lenett invoked anti-Muslim hysteria and Nazi boxcars in the campaign), and delegates Sam Arora, Bonnie Cullison, and Ben Kramer.

This story starts with Arora, who infamously campaigned as a supporter of marriage equality in 2010 and betrayed the voters and human dignity by switching sides after he was elected. Arora’s substantive flip-flop was bad enough. What made things even worse was his lying about the issue. When he switched sides, he first tried to hide from the media and constituents. Then he claimed that he had never seriously thought about the issue before 2011, even though there is abundant evidence that he had — he had backed marriage equality, in writing, more than once. In other words, Sam Arora turned out not only to be a bigot, but also a liar. (See David Moon’s great coverage of this story.) Apparently it was God who told Arora to be a liar and a bigot.

Manno, Cullison (and legions of others — the story got national attention) rightly took huge offense at Arora’s actions. (Cullison is married to a woman, for what that’s worth.) They determined then and there that they would not form a slate with Arora in 2014 and that they would seek someone else to slate with in order to knock Arora out of office. Part of the story I learned today is that Kramer, who shows no signs of being anti-gay himself, was lonely in his defense of Arora. As reported by Maryland Politics Watch, D18 Senator Rich Madaleno spoke about Arora’s betrayal in 2011:

“I think Sam Arora distinguished himself as someone not to be trusted, and I don’t think he will have a long career in the House of Delegates,” said Madaleno (D-Dist. 18) of Kensington, the Senate’s only openly homosexual member.” . . .

“When you co-sponsor a bill where the lead sponsor is the majority leader from your county who worked very hard to get you elected and you change your mind on the day of the vote, you damage, potentially fatally damage, your credibility,” he said.

Kramer responded by saying:

“I do think that Sen. Madaleno saying that in a public forum was inappropriate and unnecessary,” he said. “I can understand that Sen. Madaleno has a perspective based on a particular issue, but I don’t think that it is accurate or reflective of Del. Arora’s abilities or potential in the legislature.”

“A particular issue”?!

I got a similar response from Kramer when I spoke with him today. He described Arora as a “big boy” who “made a political decision” and knew there would be political consequences. Kramer said that Arora was reponsible for “some good political initiatives” and that the latter’s position on gay marriage was “his own business.” Three individuals I spoke with today separately remembered Kramer’s saying at the time that Arora’s bigoted vote was just one of 400 that Arora had cast and had been blown out of proportion; however, no one (including me) could find that quote anywhere online.

This is enough, though, for me to consider Kramer to be soft on bigotry. (I absolutely am not calling Kramer a bigot.) For me, bigotry is among the very few human attributes that is always, completely condemnable. I don’t care how much good work you may have done on other issues, if you are a bigot, I not only have no room for you in my life, but I also feel an obligation to name your behavior publicly. Further, I give no pass to0 bigots who claim a religious exemption. I don’t give a shit if your version of god has ordered you to hate or discriminate against gays. I don’t give a shit if you think Muhammad has ordered you to hate Jews or vice versa. I am extremely disturbed that Kramer felt Arora’s actions were mundane.

In any case, Manno and Cullison were determined to find someone willing to run as delegate, whether or not Arora was seeking reelection. As it turns out, Arora dithered on his decision to run until last November 1, when he finally pulled out of the race. Meanwhile, Manno and Cullison settled on Maricé Morales, who had been working as a legislative aide to Manno, to run with them. Morales is very young and did not even live in the district at the time. (She lives there now.) The two incumbents seem to be extremely impressed with Morales, but insiders also say the two had tried and failed to find anyone else willing to take Arora on.

Ben Kramer and others were incensed that a carpetbagger had been selected by his D19 teammates, whom he had already agreed to slate with. I get Kramer’s point — I have been on record opposing both Chris Barclay (running for MoCo Council D5 without living there until recently) and Hans (The Liar) Riemer, who declared his candidacy for MoCo council before the paint was dry on his first East Coast domicile. (See Point 3 of my criteria for evaluating candidates.)

Apparently, quite a feud developed between Kramer, on the one hand, and Manno/Cullison on the other, even though they were still ostensibly campaigning as a team. For what it’s worth, no formal slates (PACs in support of a team of candidates) had been formed as of a few weeks ago. Manno/Cullison were providing assistance to Morales, but their alliance wasn’t formal and neither was their alliance with Kramer. Just within the past few weeks, though, Kramer formed a slate with Charlotte Crutchfield.

My calls today revealed positive feelings about Crutchfield, even on the part of some who are supporting Manno/Cullison/Morales. But, it has also been revealed to me that (1) Crutchfield  considered Arora’s anti-gay vote understandable, on religious grounds and (2) when she had been approached by Manno/Cullison, she refused to run against Arora. She did not enter the race until after Arora declared he would not run. (Again, I have not heard a hint that Crutchfield is anti-gay, herself.)

But wait, it gets even uglier. There is a man named Alec Stone who is widely considered the leader of D19’s large Orthodox Jewish community. Stone took at least as much umbrage at Morales’s presence in the race as Kramer had. After deciding himself not to run this year, Stone became chair of Kramer’s reelection campaign. He began promising people that he would destroy Morales by running another minority candidate against her. Crutchfield (who is African American) was his weapon of choice and Stone became chair of the Kramer/Crutchfield slate. Some suggest that Stone’s level of outrage is largely about his having been accustomed to calling the shots in D19 and that he felt insulted by Manno’s/Cullison’s having rebuffed his efforts to determine outcomes this year.

Roger Manno is running unopposed for reelection, so no matter how angry Kramer and Stone may be at him, they saw no point in going after him. But they saw Cullison as vulnerable. Stone — along with other  associates — has been hitting back at Cullison with a whisper campaign accusing the latter of being an anti-Semite.

I mentioned that Cullision is married to a woman. Well, it turns out said woman is Jewish and the two of them were married in a Jewish ceremony. If Cullison is an anti-Semite, she’s an odd one, indeed. In fact, even as Stone has been smearing Cullison as an anti-Semite, one person I spoke with today accused her of the exact opposite: carrying water for the Orthodox Jews in the district.

This past week, Stone made the mistake of putting his smear campaign in writing. Responding to a Cullison campaign email in support of Morales, Stone wrote the following email to Ira Ungar, Cullison’s legislative aide:

On Jun 20, 2014, at 3:23 PM, Alec Stone <alec@alecstone.com> wrote:

For shame, for shame. You should be absolutely ashamed of yourself. You are working for an anti-Semite, but in addition, this proves that Bonnie has no integrity at all with this endorsement [of Morales]. And now we all know that neither do you.

Ungar replied:

From: Ira Ungar
Date: June 20, 2014 at 4:03:43 PM EDT
To: Alec Stone <alec@alecstone.com<mailto:alec@alecstone.com>

Subject: Re: Support Maricé Morales for Delegate in District 19!

I am very proud to support Bonnie and the support she’s given this community. I completely deny your charge of antisemitism against her. It’s absurd.  Be concerned with your own integrity Alec.

Good Shabbos

Ira Ungar

Now, I consider false charges of anti-Semitism to be a form of bigotry. As a Jew, I am very sensitive to anti-Semitism, wherever it rears its ugly head (like in France, where anti-Semitism is sweeping the country). When Jews frivolously toss this accusation around, they not only serve to muddy the real cases of anti-Semitism that abound, they also discredit all Jews, everywhere.

When I spoke to Kramer this afternoon, I had heard about Stone’s libel, but had not yet seen the email. I asked Kramer: “If you knew that Alec Stone were falsely accusing Bonnie Cullison of anti-Semitism, would you be concerned?” Kramer answered, “Absolutely.” I forwarded Stone’s email to Kramer at around 3:30pm this afternoon. It is nearly 10pm now and I have heard nothing back.

Regarding Crutchfield vs. Morales, my feelings are mixed. On the one hand, if I lived in D19, I would be suspicious about someone so new to the district running for office. On the other hand, I’m offended by Crutchfield’s giving Arora a pass on the latter’s bigotry and her refusal to enter the race until he got out (which was, at best, cowardly). I do note that Progressive Neighbors has endorsed Manno, Cullison, and Morales (but not Kramer) and I have been a  Manno fan for years, ever since Jamie Raskin and Marc Elrich sung his praises to me. Were I a D19 voter, those factors would probably sway me Morales’s way.

I do not think it is sufficient for public figures simply not to be active bigots. I think they have a moral responsibility to condemn bigotry wherever it is found. It is clear to me that Ben Kramer has failed this moral test, at least vis-a-vis Sam Arora. It remains to be seen whether Kramer is willing to denounce his own campaign chair in the waning hours of the campaign.

©2014 Keith Berner

06.20.14 Leventhal the Angry (and more about Floreen & Riemer)

June 20, 2014

I received this  YouTube video link (3:33) from a few different people in the reasonable-development community (in contrast to the “pave-it-all, in-the-developers’-pockets community”). I hesitated before posting it, because — as I have written — I respect Leventhal, despite his flaws, and consider him much better than almost all the other council incumbents. I would so much rather see Hans (The Liar) Riemer lose his seat on the council than Leventhal. But, my real goal, Dear Reader, is to convince you not to vote for any of the at-large incumbents, other than Elrich, and it is part of my job to report on Leventhal’s flaws when I get such clear evidence.

The video highlights Leventhal’s temper and ties to developers. That Leventhal has a nasty temper and unleashes it against those who disagree with him is hardly news to those who work closely with him. I’ve been hearing these stories for years.

I don’t know who produced this video so I can’t give credit. (It bothers me that the producer isn’t claiming credit — I think a public discourse is best carried out by people with the courage of their convictions.) The copyright mark below is for my commentary, not for the video itself.

Remember: the only way to assure that Marc Elrich is returned to council and Beth Daly is elected is to “bullet vote” only for the two of them. Any votes you cast for third and fourth choices (be they Leventhal, Floreen, or Riemer) could be the ones that push Elrich or Daly into fifth place and leave the council in developers’ hands.

©2014 Keith Berner