Posted tagged ‘Nancy Navarro’

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

06.15.14 Keith Berner’s Biennial Voters Guide/Primary 2014 (for Takoma Park & Silver Spring, MD)

June 15, 2014

Election Day is Tuesday, June 24. Early voting is underway now.

For a summary that lists my endorsements with minimal annotations, see: 06.11.14 Voters Guide 2014/Primary Edition Summary (for Takoma Park & Silver Spring, MD)

The theme this year is disappointment. Dear Reader, you will see in my commentary below just how unenthusiastic I am about most races and candidates this year. Where I think all the candidates in a race are bad news, I recommend voting against all of them by casting a write-in vote. In other races, I don’t actively oppose all the candidates, but can’t make myself recommend any, either. In those cases, I indicate “no endorsement.” I just can’t fathom how our progressive state and county can’t find more noble human beings and solid progressives to run for office.

In each race, I list candidates in my order of preference. An asterisk before the name indicates my endorsements.

For Maryland Governor

Write in “Mickey Mouse.”

It’s hard to believe that Maryland could not produce a single decent candidate for governor this year. Last year, I felt sorry for Virginia, with its choice between 13th-century theocrat Ken Cuccinelli and venal operative Terry McAuliffe. Well, now ’tis the season to pity poor Maryland.

Heather Mizeur, is an ego-driven politician for whom tactics replace principles. She’s a darling to many on the left this year for staking out positions that most of my readers will agree with. Everything Mizeur does is calculated, though (there’s not a genuine bone in her body). If she thought she could get more attention by running as a centrist, she’d do so in a minute (I dare you to ask her about her support for Lockheed-Martin tax breaks). Mizeur’s blind ambition is demonstrated by her twice abandoning her responsibilities as a public official. The first time was when she quit her two-year post as a city councilwoman in Takoma Park after a year. She had only run in the first place to burnish her credentials. She quit as soon as she thought she had gained enough attention to begin planning her next campaign. The second time was the past two years, when she nearly completely stopped showing up at events related to District 20, where she is still officially our delegate. In fact, her former “dream house” (as she called it) is sitting vacant in Takoma Park, while she spends most of her time at her other house on the Eastern Shore. She’s bored with D20, you see, and this little run for governor is just for her own amusement. I mean seriously, she can’t possibly think that a back bencher with few substantive accomplishments and with no executive experience of any kind is ready to run a state. And she has insulted voters by selecting as a running mate a Prince George’s County preacher who is even less qualified than she is. This race is not about anything other than being in the limelight. Don’t reward the insult by giving Mizeur your vote.

Anthony Brown is an empty shirt whose only significant public accomplishment was completely screwing up Maryland’s health care exchange. He has refused to take positions on controversial issues and has run a nearly completely negative campaign against Doug Gansler (who deserves it), while getting an advance coronation from the entire Maryland Democratic establishment. If this man is able to accomplish a single positive thing as governor, I’ll be surprised. He is currently leading both of his opponents by a 2-to-1 margin, so you might as well get used to him.

Doug Gansler is a frat boy who thinks he’s above the law. The Washington Post exposés last year about his abuse of state police and disregard for traffic laws reveal Gansler as a danger to the public interest. If he already behaves this way, who is to say where the impunity would stop if he were to have executive authority over the whole state? Even worse are Gansler’s right-wing policy positions. A fan of the death penalty, Gansler’s main platform plank this year is a tax cut for wealthy corporations and he hammers constantly on current governor Martin O’Malley’s highly responsible fiscal policies that included (gasp!) tax hikes. Who needs the GOP when you have this crap coming from Dems?

See also:

For Maryland Comptroller

Write in “Mickey Mouse.”

Peter Franchot (incumbent), who is running unopposed, is an arrogant man who long ago gave up on his Takoma Park progressive roots.

For Maryland Attorney General

*Brian Frosh is a principled progressive with a long record of accomplishments in the Maryland legislature. I often disagree with the Washington Post on local politics, but their re-endorsement of Frosh yesterday does more justice to Frosh (while highlighting the flaws of his opponents) than I can possible do. I encourage my readers to give it a close look.

Jon Cardin is best known for improperly commandeering a police helicopter to propose to his girlfriend and, more recently, for missing 121 out of 164 committee votes in the just closed 2014 legislative session. If this man’s uncle weren’t a US senator, he would’t be so much as blip on public radar. Because of his name, though, he could win this race, which would be a disaster for Maryland.

Aisha Braveboy is another 13-century theocrat opposed to gay rights, reproductive freedom, etc. She is now pretending never to have held those views. Yeah, right.

For US Congress – Maryland District 8

No endorsement.

Chris Van Hollen (incumbent) used to be my hero. No more. He lost me when he was among the bad guys on a House bill to rein in NSA spying that failed by only eight votes. Civil liberties are more important to me than nearly any other area of public policy. I cannot support anyone who loves the NSA. I know nothing about about Van Hollen’s two opponents in this race. Neither stands a chance, so you and I might as well flip a coin and vote for one of them to protest Van Hollen’s betrayal. Or, there’s always Mickey Mouse.

For Maryland Senate – District 20

*Jamie Raskin (incumbent) is running unopposed, so I don’t have to spill much virtual ink on him. Just the same, it’s fun to write that this budding national progressive hero is our very own. Raskin is a captivating orator, constitutional scholar, and progressive firebrand. He also knows how to reach out to and defang potential opponents (e.g., the very conservative senate majority leader, Mike Miller, with whom Raskin has a strong relationship) making Raskin not only a moral leader, but a highly effective one. Raskin is also just a great guy: accessible, down-to-earth, and humble. What’s not to love about Jamie?

For Maryland House of Delegates – District 20 (select up to three)

*Sheila Hixson (incumbent) used to be my favorite politician whom I didn’t vote for. She had a record of being disappointingly centrist, a go-along-to-get-along Democrat. This began to change with the disappearance of bad influence Ida Reuben and replacement by Jamie Raskin in 2006. Hixson realized just how progressive her constituents were and responded. She has built a powerful partnership with Raskin and they are quite the dynamic duo, helping each other pass progressive milestone legislation in their respective houses of the Maryland legislature. Hixson is one of the most powerful politicians in Maryland, as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, which makes her a rare treasure: How often do progressives get to have not only a representative voice for their views, but one that can deliver? And that partnership with Raskin is so much more than the sum of the parts. Any D20 progressive who doesn’t vote for Raskin and Hixson is a fool and a knave. Why was Hixson always a favorite of mine, even when I wasn’t voting for her? Because she (like Raskin) is another mensch — warm, engaging, and downright fun to be around.

*Jonathan Shurberg and I have known each other since we both worked on Raskin’s 2006 campaign. Talk about smart: Shurberg can discuss articulately the fine points of policy from economic justice, to civil rights, to education. He has spent lots of time in Annapolis writing and promoting legislation. He and his late wife, Rebecca, were major players in the county Democratic Party. My readers know I’m no huge fan of the party, but having elected officials who are plugged in and know everyone is a bonus. Shurberg will balance Will Smith’s inexperience. Last November, I described Shurberg as “the adult in the room” and “a passionate fighter for progressive causes.” I stand by those words.

*Will Smith is a born and bred Montgomery County resident. He is smart as a tack and itching to make a difference in the lives of D20 and Maryland residents. Smith has an impressive record of service in our district, having run Raskin and Hixson’s 2010 campaign, raising substantial funds for local young scholars, and serving with IMPACT Silver Spring and the local chapter of the NAACP. Smith is relatively inexperienced, but the fact that he knows the Annapolis players and has been endorsed by Raskin and Hixson is significant. I expect he’ll be able to hit the ground running, working with his mentors to make a mark in the House. As an African American, officer in the Naval Reserves, and the first in his family to graduate from college (and graduate school), Smith adds much-needed diversity to the D20 delegation. It is high time for this extremely diverse district to send a capable person of color to Annapolis.

Darian Unger was so amateurish at the November D20 forum, that I disregarded him completely in my write up of the event. He has come a long way, baby. I have been blown away by his ability to captivate the public and political observers with a grass-roots, pure elbow-grease campaign. His service as a volunteer firefighter and chair of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board shows his commitment to the community.  I particularly like Unger’s green credentials: an environmental engineer by trade, he lists “sustainable development and environmental protection” as his top priorities, the only candidate to do so.

David Moon matches Shurberg for smarts, knowledge, and probably has even greater encyclopedic knowledge of county and state politics. Moon is also a fighter — absolutely fearless about speaking truth to power. (I also know Moon from that first, magical Raskin campaign — as campaign manager, Moon gets credit for creating the strategy to beat Ida Reuben by a two-to-one margin.) There may be some concern that Moon’s record of truth telling would make it hard for him to work with the powers that be in Annapolis, but endorsements by Raskin and Hixson provide him with needed cover. If elected, Moon will make his presence felt very quickly.
So, why haven’t I ranked Moon second, just behind Sheila Hixson? Because of his longstanding ties to Valerie Ervin, perhaps the most destructive force in county politics. I believe Moon when he tells me that he won’t let Ervin tell him what to do if he’s elected. But the fact that his first campaign brochure put her picture and quote front and center, concerns me, as does his recent declaration to me that he considers Ervin among the most important local politicians. Make no mistake, Ervin plans to run for county executive, governor, or congress. I would hate to see one of my elected delegates endorsing her pursuit of power. Just the same, Moon looks likes like a winner in this race and I would shed no tears over this result.

Will Jawando deserved the apology I recently issued. He is not a bad guy, by any means. He’s smart, articulate, experienced with (federal) legislation, and — just like everyone else in the race — a solid progressive. But my strongest criticism of him remains valid: though he was born here, he has not provided any direct service to our district, unlike his fellow native Will Smith. If there weren’t so many more captivating choices, I could see getting really enthusiastic about Jawando. But in this fine field, he just doesn’t rise to the top.

See also:

For Montgomery County Executive

No endorsement.

Phil Andrews wins the integrity race easily. He is a class act of the boy scout variety, a politician who is in it for all the right reasons and cannot be bought. Sadly, Andrews has tacked right in the past four years. He was the lone council vote against raising he minimum wage and remains steadfast against indexing the wage to mitigate the impact of inflation. Some of my environmentalist friends are backing Andrews, but insiders tell me he has been less cooperative on land-use issues than he used to be. I had sent “dear neighbor” letters to my precinct in support of Andrews, but have come to regret it because I disagree with Andrews so strongly on key issues.

Ike Leggett (incumbent) is, at best, a big disappointment. I was an enthusiastic supporter when he first ran for executive in 2006, but his opposition to progressive state taxation on millionaires lost me a couple years later. Among the list of Leggett “foibles” is, of course, the misbegotten Silver Spring Transit Center, millions over budget, already more than two years late, and a potential danger to all who use it. Other items include tax breaks for Lockheed Martin, subsidies for Costco, and joyfully accepting bribes contributions from the development industry.

Doug Duncan’s toxic legacy from his tenure as county executive remains with us, in a county woefully short of infrastructure to match growth-without-thought and in our poisonous personal politics. While serving as front-man for the development industry, Duncan also oversaw unsustainable giveaways to MoCo’s public employee unions that worsened the fiscal crisis of 2008-12. Why return to office someone whose dream is to pave everything and enrich the powerful?

For Montgomery County Council – At Large (select up to four)

Marc Elrich and Beth Daly (vote for only two)If you cast a vote for any other candidates, you risk knocking Elrich or Daly into fifth place. That’s why I recommend “bullet voting” (selecting fewer than candidates than there are seats).

I recommend highly Bill Turque’s recent analysis of the MoCo at-large race in the Washington Post. Turque does an excellent job of showing who is in the developers’ pockets and who isn’t.

*Marc Elrich (incumbent) has been serving the public interest and society’s underdogs for decades. He has been the county council’s lone voice against unrestrained development, pointing out that what the other incumbents call “smart growth” is just rhetoric for more traffic on the roads, more school trailers, and more environmentally hazardous runoff from impervious surfaces. What is truly astounding is how Elrich has traveled from being the radical whose very name the Washington Post refused to mention to getting the Post’s endorsement for the second time in a row. Why? Because Elrich is more smart than ideological. His plan for bus rapid transit has won over the Post and even many developers (even while he refuses to accept the developers’ bribes contributions). Elrich is that rare politician who is 100% about public service, not personal glory. Even while he has enough respect to have come in first in the 2010 at-large race, though, he can’t get any respect from the rest of the council incumbents, who not only block him from formal leadership, but also prevent him from forcing discussion about their pave-it-all politics. If only there were some means to throw the rest of the incumbents out. Sadly, the best we can do is to toss one out (please, let it be Hans Riemer!) by putting Beth Daly in office.

*Beth Daly is the real deal: smarts, values, articulateness, and genuine warmth. Daly is as committed as Elrich to sensible land-use policies and protecting the environment. She promises a high level of transparency including (can you believe it?!) voting the same way on final legislation as she does in committee. She also promises to be a second when Elrich raises topics the other council incumbents want to bury and to champion a term for Elrich as president of the council. Daly is the most exciting newcomer to MoCo political campaigns since Jamie Raskin appeared in 2006. But she is no novice, having been an engaged and effective civic activist and creator of legislation for years (see her experience list).

George Leventhal (incumbent) is by far the second best of the incumbents. His constituent service is incredible and he has an admirable commitment to the disadvantaged. I keep wanting to endorse and vote for Leventhal, but I just can’t get there. This year, he’s attacking Marc Elrich and Beth Daly as he continues to serve the developers. Even if he weren’t playing this actively destructive role, it’s just far more important to have Elrich and Daly on the council than to keep Leventhal, so I cannot risk having my vote for him doom the others.

Nancy Floreen (incumbent) is 100% pro-developer, pro-chamber of commerce. At least what you see is what you get with Floreen, which can’t be said of . . .

. . . Hans Riemer (incumbent), who is a perpetual liar and deceiver, a carpetbagger who never belonged in our region’s politics to start with. He lives on taking credit for others’ work and claiming to support policies he doesn’t. The most egregious example of this was when he worked hard to kill last year’s minimum wage bill and then claimed to have led the fight for it. (Watch this must-see 30-second video showing Riemer holding back on the final vote for the minimum wage until he sees that it has the five votes necessary to pass.) He also says he’s an environmentalist, even while he gleefully takes money from the developers. Hans Riemer wins my 2014 award for Most Despicable Politician. This year’s MoCo voters owe future generations a service: stop Riemer’s political career right now, before rises through the ranks to become a lying empty shirt with actual power.

See also:

For Montgomery County Council – District 5

What hope I had when Destructive Force Valerie Ervin got bored with her seat on MoCo council and quit last winter! Sadly, my hopes have been dashed. This race is almost as bad as the one for governor, providing little hope at all for progressives who want good government.

*Terrill North is the only really good human being in the race. He is a solid progressive with experience in almost every area of policy we care about, from serving the poor, to environmentalism, to civil liberties. So why am I not more excited as I repeat my endorsement of North? Because his campaign has never seemed to get off the ground. He has no significant endorsements, beyond Progressive Neighbors (who also endorsed Tom Hucker for the seat). North is not going to win, so voting for him is more of a protest against the others than a practical choice. Sigh.

Tom Hucker is a bully and dirty campaigner. He has voted the correct way on nearly everything while serving as D20 delegate in Annapolis, but he is going to be wrong on everything involving public-employee unions if he serves on MoCo council. Just as most of the other council incumbents would be nowhere without developer money, the same goes for Hucker and the unions. My main concern about Hucker, though, is not about policy (again, he has a voting record any progressive would be proud of). Rather, it is that his bad temper and drive for dominance will eventually make him our very own Chris Christie, imploding and bringing his agenda (and ours) down with him. Hucker will win this race. I can only hope that the few of us speaking out about his flaws will bring about some introspection and humility on his part. If Hucker were to tame his demons, he could be an excellent progressive leader for years to come.

Evan Glass seemed to be the other good guy in the race (in addition to North) until his horrific mailer this week in which he granted himself magical powers to cure all that ails us. He has now shown himself to be just another ball of arrogance, willing to lie to his potential constituents to get a job. What’s amazing is that Glass slipped and revealed his inner truth when he had absolutely no reason do to so. He had already secured some plum endorsements and was running a solid campaign.

Chris Barclay is a petty thief who didn’t even live in the district until the past few weeks. He wouldn’t be wasting our ink and oxygen if Valerie Ervin and her Coalition that Only Cares about Color (Cherri Branson, Nancy Navarro, and Craig Rice) hadn’t foisted him upon us. (See my discussion of race in this race in my original endorsement of Terrill North, who is African American.) After being caught with his hand in the cookie jar, Barclay lost the endorsements of the two largest MoCo public employee unions, so I can’t believe he remains a factor.

See also:

Other Races

In races I don’t follow closely, I’ll let Progressive Neighbors be my guide.

Not My District: Brief Comments on Races Beyond My Neighborhood

  • For Maryland Senate – District 18: *Dana Beyer is not shy. We can count on her to stand up and be counted in Annapolis. I have known and been fond of Beyer for a long time, but still wondered why she — as a transgender woman — was taking on Sen. Rich Madaleno, who championed passage of Maryland’s marriage equality law. The answer? Because Madaleno might as well be a Republican on fiscal policy. Beyer will be a progressive hero in Annapolis, showing us what has been missing from D18 up until now.
  • For Montgomery County Council – District 1: *Roger Berliner (incumbent). I’m not a big Berliner fan; though, he is better than most of the other council incumbents. What compels me to endorse him is just how bad Duchy Trachtenberg is. Her pursuit of personal attention has led her to ditch principle entirely this year, flip-flopping on issues that were previously central to her politics: standing up to developers and public employee unions. If you are still tempted to vote for Trachtenberg, see my recent post about her.
  • For Montgomery County Council – District 3: Marc Erlich’s choice in the race to succeed Phil Andrews is *Ryan Spiegel. Progressive Neighbors has endorsed Tom Moore, but I’m more inclined to follow Elrich’s determination of who can best support his agenda on council than I am any outside observers.

See also: 05.30.14 How your blogger chooses candidates to love (and hate)

©2014 Keith Berner

05.29.14 Chris Barclay brings a little PG to MoCo

May 29, 2014

Thanks to WJLA-TV and the Washington Post for revealing that Montgomery County School Board Chair and County Council D5 candidate Christopher Barclay has repeatedly used his School Board credit card for personal expenses. Yeah, Barclay has paid back the money, but (of course) didn’t do so until he got caught.

We’re familiar with venal politics in Prince George’s County and DC. So far, we have been spared this kind of financial scandal in MoCo (at least in recent memory). For me, stealing public money is an unpardonable offense, even for an otherwise worthy candidate. But, there is really nothing redeeming about Barclay’s campaign, even looking beyond petty theft. From his campaign manager’s being caught snooping in opponent Tom Hucker’s office to the fact that Barclay hasn’t even been living in D5, where’s the case for him? (As I have previously written, MD law requires residency only by election day. Do any readers know if Barclay now has an address that qualifies? Has anyone actually seen him living there?) If Valerie Ervin and her Coalition that Only Cares about Color (Cherri Branson, Nancy Navarro, and Craig Rice) weren’t backing Barclay, would he be even be on our radar screens?

Don’t vote for Christopher Barclay. Let’s keep MoCo (somewhat) clean.

©2014 Keith Berner

 

12.15.13 Hans Riemer: Embellishments and lies

December 15, 2013

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.

©2013 Keith Berner

09.09.10 Biennial Voter Guide

September 9, 2010

Quick Guide

  • Governor write in Mickey Mouse
  • US Senator write in Mickey Mouse
  • US Congress-District 4 Donna Edwards
  • US Congress-District 8 Chris Van Hollen write in Mickey Mouse
  • Maryland Senate-District 20 Jamie Raskin
  • Maryland Delegates-District 20 Sheila Hixson, Tom Hucker, Heather Mizeur (select up to 3)
  • Maryland Delegate-District 18 Dana Beyer
  • County Executive write in Mickey Mouse
  • County Council – At Large Marc Elrich & Duchy Trachtenberg only (select up to 4)
  • County Council – District 1 Roger Berliner
  • County Council – District 2 Sharon Dooley
  • County Council – District 3 Phil Andrews
  • County Council – District 4 no recommendation
  • County Council – District 5 Write in Mickey Mouse
  • Other Races: see Progressive Neighbors


Governor

How can any progressive vote for a guy who loves slots and the ICC and wants to provide tax cuts to the wealthy in support of religious schools (the infamous BOAST bill)?  I guess we’ll have to vote for Martin O’Malley in November, but we don’t have to in September.

Recommendation: Write in Mickey Mouse

(There are two unknowns running against O’Malley, but I never recommend voting for an unknown, because one has no idea what he/she stands for!)

US Senator

Barbara Mikulski is the classic go-along-to-get-along machine Democrat. She’s also famous for horrendous treatment of her staff.  Send the same message to her as to O’Malley.

Recommendation: Write in Mickey Mouse

US Congress – Maryland District 4

You have such a progressive gem in Donna Edwards. Vote for her with utter joy in your heart!

US Congress – Maryland District 8

Some in the progressive community blast the incumbent for not being as pure as the driven snow.  I say that Chris Van Hollen is the closest thing to a true progressive in the national Democratic leadership.  We may not agree with every vote he casts, but it is essential to have someone like him in the central power circles.  Vote for him!

With the news that Chris Van Hollen is considering a deal with the GOP to extend Bush tax cuts for the rich, I am withdrawing my endorsement and urging a write in to express opposition.  I am also I urging all Van Hollen constituents to contact the congressman and express outrage over his comments.

Recommendation: Write in Mickey Mouse

Maryland Senate and Delegates – District 20

(Select one senator and up to three delegates.)

In Senator Jamie Raskin and Delegates Sheila Hixson, Tom Hucker and Heather Mizeur, the most progressive district in the state has the most progressive – and effective – legislative team.  Let’s count our blessings every day for their leadership and let’s give them another four years.

I have heard some progressives criticize Hixson for not being as left as we are.  I previously held this view myself and still disagree with the delegate’s support for slots and the ICC.  But I have also come to appreciate how much behind-the-scenes work she has done to stop the cesspool in Annapolis from being worse than it is and to increase Raskin/Hucker/Mizeur’s effectiveness.  Sure, Sheila Hixson is a bit to the right of her district, but we need her right where she is as chair of Ways and Means.

Other Maryland Senate and Delegate Races in Montgomery County

I recommend following the endorsements of Progressive Neighbors.

One candidate deserves special mention, though:  Dr. Dana Beyer, a challenger for delegate in District 18.  Beyer is the clear pick here in a field that includes two incumbents (Carr and Waldstreicher) who oppose the Purple Line.  More important, Beyer is about as committed, passionate, and articulate a fighter for progressive causes you’ll ever find.  Send her to Annapolis and she’s guaranteed to shake things up.

County Executive – Montgomery County

Ike Leggett, who is running unopposed, is a great disappointment.  He opposes progressive taxation, has behaved with utter malfeasance in the Live Nation debacle, and endorses nonprogressive candidates like Craig Rice.  Send him a message:

Recommendation: Write in Mickey Mouse

Montgomery County Council – At-Large

(Select up to four candidates.)

Marc Elrich is the most innovative and consistently progressive member of the county council.  His knowledge of (seemingly) everything, coupled with his willingness to talk with everybody, results in sound public policy.  We couldn’t ask for a better representative in government.

+++

Duchy Trachtenberg aligns with the good guys on the council in terns of good land-use policies and separation from the development industry.  She can be a schemer along with the worst of politicians, but she is also a champion on health issues and gender equality.

+++

As I have written previously, I am ambivalent about George Leventhal.  His temperament seems to be improving (he had been described as the most disruptive force on dysfunctional council), and he is a leader on issues like homelessness and health care.  But he is too tied to the development industry and too much in the Duncan/Silverman mold to merit a vote of support.  His cardinal sin?  Helping lead last Decembers “coup” that knocked off next-in-line Roger Berliner for council president in favor of Development Queen Nancy Floreen.

+++

Hans Riemer wants to be an elected official more than he wants to do anything with that privilege.  He has run a campaign of bromides and exaggerated tales of accomplishments that aren’t relevant to the county, anyway.  It’s impossible to tell what he would do — and whom he would follow — if elected and that might be reason enough to oppose him.  See my longer post on the Riemer campaign.

+++

The other viable at-large candidates, Nancy Floreen (incumbent) and Becky Wagner are classic End-Gridlock, chamber-of-commerce, big-business-at-the-expense-of-everything-else politicians.  Please don’t help put them on the council!

+++

Recommendation:  Bullet vote Marc Elrich and Duchy Trachtenberg. Bullet voting is when you select fewer than the number of candidates you are allowed to.  In this case, your votes for Elrich and Trachtenberg – and no one else – will assure that our two best county public servants are not knocked off by any of the others.  Remember, you don’t have to vote for four candidates in this race and I urge you not to.

Montgomery County Council – District 1

Roger Berliner is a common-sense progressive who supports the Purple Line and has been a close ally of good-guy Marc Elrich.  His opponent, Ilaya Hopkins, wasn’t even a Democrat until two years ago and opposes the Purple Line.

Montgomery County Council – District 2

This cliff-hanger of a race pits three known Montgomery County names against each other: community activist Sharon Dooley (who got 36% of the vote when she tried for the seat four years ago); Craig Rice, current state delegate for D-15; and Royce Hanson, former Park & Planning chair Royce Hanson.

Dooley is an environmentalist and health care advocate who will align with the other council progressives.

Though I’m told Rice is a nice guy and “not as bad as” outgoing councilman Mike Knapp, the company Rice keeps shows which side he would be on: the entire big-business bloc of the county council has endorsed him.

Roy Hanson is heartily disliked by several current council members, having fought many battles against them. He would be an ideal guardian of the Ag Reserve, which he founded years ago, but the price for him seems to be to accept sprawl everywhere else.

District 3

Phil Andrews is a model of integrity and advocate of good government. He’s unopposed, but deserves your showing up at the polls as thanks for he service.

District 4

Nancy Navarro is running unopposed.

District 5

Valerie Ervin is a purposely deceptive politician with contempt for the down-county progressive community. In a world of self-interested politicians, Ervin is a leader.  She’s running unopposed but is badly in need of a message that she is not universally loved.

Recommendation: write in Mickey Mouse

School Board

I recommend following the endorsements of Progressive Neighbors.

Other Races

It’s my practice not to pretend to know what I don’t know.  And I don’t know anything about the other races.  I must leave you here, dear Voter — henceforth, you are on your own.

©2010 Keith Berner

08.02.10 Riemer Battered at Election Forum

August 2, 2010

Last Thursday, Progressive Neighbors and the Silver Spring Democratic Club sponsored a forum for the Montgomery County Democratic at-large candidates.  All the serious contenders took part:

  • Incumbents: Marc Elrich, Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal, and Duchy Trachtenberg
  • Challengers: Jane de Winter, Hans Riemer, Becky Wagner

The most interesting take-away of this lively and engaging forum was the shellacking Hans Riemer took from all the others on the stage.

Early on, Riemer beamed with pride as he announced a his shiny new innovation: six-year budgeting.  One after another, the incumbents pounced, pointing out that the council adopted this approach some time ago. Elrich scowled at Riemer and said, “You are not allowed to reinvent history.”  Riemer’s come-back amounted to: Well no one told me you guys were already doing this, so it still counts as my idea.

On public-employee union contracts, all the candidates pretty much took the same line: I’m pro-labor, but we just don’t have the money to promise full funding.  Riemer – who claims he will bring a fresh fiscal responsibility to the county and explicitly blames the incumbents for profligacy – joined this chorus. He described how intimidating it was to sit with union leaders and how he’d gathered the courage to stand up and tell them that budget reality might require contract adjustments.

Hearing that, Leventhal said:  “That’s not what you wrote in your response to the AFL-CIO questionnaire.”  Leventhal was right: it turns out that Riemer answered “yes” to the AFL-CIO’s question about full funding (see question 23).  Riemer, back on his heels, tried to take refuge behind the AFL-CIO’s yes-no question format: “there was no room for ‘yes, buts,’” he pleaded.  Elrich made clear that no one is forced by format to provide facile responses: he used another spot in the survey to communicate a commitment to honoring contracts, in principle, while stating explicitly that the money for full funding just isn’t there (see question 16). (This jibes with Elrich’s almost unique ability among county politicians to communicate nuance and avoid either-or conflicts. More on that in another post.)

Adding insult to injury, de Winter piped in: “I met with the same union leaders Hans did and didn’t find them so scary,” drawing laughs from the room.  Finally, Leventhal went after Riemer’s hypocrisy in riffing on a county that is out of control and mismanaged, while making unsustainable promises to the unions.  Riemer’s retort?  “Well, I was endorsed by the Post, nyah, nyah, nyah!”[“nyahs” inserted by blogger to properly convey the tone].  Leventhal — whose non-endorsement is clearly smarting — blustered, “That’s a right-wing, anti-union rag!”

What good theatre!

Every candidate on stage, incumbent and challenger alike, treated Riemer with open derision. Afterwards, one of them joked with me about Riemer’s claims to have “organized the opposition” to W’s social security privatization scheme, as if it were his finger in the dike that saved us.  It all makes me wonder about another of Riemer’s constant themes: that he has the power to “change the chemistry” on the council.  For some reason, I lack confidence in that outcome.

It has to be noted that Wagner is the other hypocrite on union contracts.  She, too, is running against the current council’s financial mismanagement and she, too, told the AFL-CIO she would commit to full funding.  What sets her apart from Riemer is that she is sophisticated enough not to highlight her disingenuousness in a public forum.  Riemer – notwithstanding his claimed deep involvement in politics – is clearly learning on the job here: he still doesn’t get that contradictory public statements not only can be compared, but inevitably will be.  If you’re going to pander to every audience, you have to know who’s watching.  Very amusing.

Here are a couple of other highlights of the forum. . .

Elrich has become is everyone’s best friend. Both of his erstwhile enemies, Leventhal and Floreen cited him in their opening statements.  And, when the topic turned to transportation, there was pushing and shoving to be first aboard Elrich’s acclaimed bus rapid transit plan for the county.

On whether they have established limits on contributions on corporate and developer funding:

  • 0% limit: Elrich, Trachtenberg
  • 30% limit: Riemer
  • No limit: de Winter, Floreen, Leventhal, Wagner

On what they think of Doug Duncan’s legacy:

  • Not a Fan: de Winter, Elrich, Riemer, Trachtenberg
  • Big Duncan Fan: Floreen, Leventhal, Wagner

In answering this question, Riemer said that “anyone could see” that Duncan had put us on an unsustainable spending path.  Leventhal retorted that Riemer only lived a year on MoCo under Duncan and doesn’t know a thing about him.  For my part, I first met Riemer in late 2005 at a meet-n-greet for then-gubernatorial candidate Duncan and Riemer was so publicly and ostentatiously obsequious to Duncan that several of us present remarked on it.

A final note on the substance of the evening.  Though I have been a consistent critic of Leventhal’s actions on the council, his forthrightness impressed me at this forum.  His willingness to takes stands (like support for Duncan) in front of an audience he knew would disagree was impressive and refreshing, especially with Riemer as the contrary example.  I wanted to be able to support Hans Riemer this year, but his performance has gone from disappointing to nauseating and there is not a chance he’ll get my vote.  Leventhal rose in my esteem on Thursday.  As a Progressive Neighbors member put it to me after the forum, many of Leventhal’s positions — especially on policy toward the have-nots — are attractive.  If only he weren’t so angry, divisive, and scheming on the council — if only he weren’t so tied to the developer community — it would be so possible to support him.   I really wish I could.

*     *     *

I have attended one previous at-large candidates forum this year, sponsored by the Kensington Democratic Club in May. Maryland Democratic Party Chair Susan Turnbull gave a truly embarrassing performance in moderating the event.  She attempted to combine, on the fly, multiple questions submitted on cards by audience members, resulting in nearly incomprehensible queries.  She then asked the questions to random selections of candidates, meaning some folks hardly ever got called on and some got passes on the most important issues. This reminded me of another Party-sponsored forum four years earlier where the “moderator” was Windbag-of-the-Night and his sidekick tried to time 45-second answer periods using a wind-up kitchen timer!

It is always wondrous to behold the utter incompetence of the Maryland Democratic Party!

Progressive Neighbors tried to make Q&A fairer by choosing audience questions at random and posing each question to every candidate.  The problem was that about half of the questions were on topics that aren’t under the council’s purview, things like Metro safety, Pepco responsiveness, and alcohol taxes.  This meant that more worthy topics, like growth and environment, factionalism on the council, etc. never got addressed.

I think that sponsors and moderators need to take responsibility for stage managing the questions at these events, rather than choosing completely at random.  But such management has to avoid bias and include coherence.  Sadly, I doubt the Party has the fundamental capacity to be organized and fair – I would never trust their hacks – er, officials – to select questions.  Ideally, third parties (League of Women Voters?) ought to run these things.

*     *     *

Here is how all Democratic County Council candidates (not just at-large) who completed the AFL-CIO’s survey responded on whether they would commit to full funding (question 23):

  • Roger Berliner* (District 1) – no
  • Ilaya Hopkins (District 1) – yes
  • Sharon Dooley (District 2) – yes
  • Craig Rice (District 2) – yes
  • Nancy Navarro* (District 4) – no
  • Valerie Ervin* (District 5) – no
  • Jane de Winter (At-Large) – no
  • Marc Elrich* (At-Large) – yes

Elrich additional explanation under question 16: “I want to comment on the question regarding funding contracts. I believe that if I enter into a contract I have a responsibility to fund it. That said, this recession/depression has left us unable to honor our contracts. We simply do not have the resources for the negotiated agreements. If I answer yes, it’s in contradiction what I, and all my colleagues, did last year will have to do this year. If I answer “no”, then it could be construed that I consider the agreements meaningless and without any weight. I find these budgets and choices very painful. I’m not voting to alter the contracts lightly. I regret that we have been forced to do this.”

  • Nancy Floreen* (At-Large) – no
  • George Leventhal* (At-Large) – no
  • Hans Riemer (At-Large) – yes
  • Becky Wagner (At-Large) – yes

*Asterisks indicate incumbency

If you count Elrich’s reply as “no” (which is the import of his explanation), it is striking that every incumbent refuses to commit to full funding of union contracts. Every challenger except de Winter says “yes.”  Guess who are the ones who have had to make the actual, excruciating budget decisions this past year?

©2010 Keith Berner