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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

ACTIVIST OVERNIGHT BUS TRIP AND
PRIVATE VIEWING OF ATLAS SHRUGGED PT 2!
 
 
WHAT: Door knocking and phone bank, fun and fellowship, and movie.

WHEN: Overnight Trip -Saturday November 3rd to Sunday November 4th

COST: $10 (Cost includes your hotel room, transportation, meals, T-shirt, and a private viewing of Atlas Shrugged Pt 2.) ONLY $10!!!!

HOTEL: Hampton Inn Cascades in Sterling, VA

BUS #2:
STOP 1-- Hagerstown, Sharpsburg Pike Park & Ride at 8am
STOP 2--Frederick, Park n Ride Rt70 and New Design Road (Exit 54) at 8:30 AM

LINK: To register click on http://prosperityknocksnova.eventbrite.com/.

CONTACT INFO: Nick Loffer at Nick@AFPMaryland.com or 410-603-1836, or Lynda Givens Evans at justlynda59@yahoo.com or 301-992-6943.

I AM NOT ASKING ANYONE TO STOP WHAT THEY ARE DOING IN MD!I appreciate all of the hard work that everyone is doing in our state.
 
BUT VIRGINIA COULD GIVE BHO'S FAILED POLICIES ANOTHER FOUR YEARS BECAUSE IT IS A CRITICAL SWING STATE.
If you have the time and feel led to join us in educating the citizens of Virginia on the differences between European-style Socialism and a free market system...join us and lets have some fun too!
 
 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Not AWOL and Definitely Not Defeated!

    I feel like I've been AWOL for almost three weeks. It seems I've actually been missed by those who love me, those who hate me, and those who love to hate me. I don't think I have gone a day without thinking about politics and issues, attending meetings, or at least posting on social media for at least the last four years. I have to admit that after the so-called open-forum community meeting on the proposed new Suns stadium on October 9th, I was feeling a little jaded. I think my final posting afterwards was, "Pollyanna has left Hagerstown." At the time I didn't know that circumstances would actually cause me to leave Hagerstown and politics for a short time.
   I took an unexpected trip to Texas for a week for work. The night that I returned I went directly to the hospital in Glen Burnie, MD where my aunt was not expected to make it through the night. She died at 9:15am the next morning. Of course there was a viewing and funeral to follow. I rushed home to prepare for the traditional Mummer's Parade party at my house that my family and friends look forward to every year while working from home. These three weeks have been a blur. So while I was feeling disillusioned with obnoxious liberals, self-important conservatives, my city, my local elected officials, the local media and myself to name a few...I have not nor will I ever give up!
   I want to go back to that community meeting that was to be a forum where we could get "the facts" concerning the stadium and not the negative assumptions of us neurotic naysayers. The facts were going to be provided on tables according to subject (i.e., traffic). We had from 3:00pm-6:00pm to review these facts and then city staff would present them in the form of a video and oral presentations from our local experts for about 30 minutes. Then we would have all the time we needed to ask city staff and elected officials questions and get the much awaited answers. Well not all the time we needed. We each were allowed 3 minutes. We had an official timer. They got six months, and on our day they got 3.5 hours with no counter presentation allowed and we got 3 minutes.
   Let's just take a look at the one information table on traffic as related to the stadium. You would have thought that the traffic and parking issues were all addressed and ironed out. We do not have to worry about traffic flow or parking for those visiting or for those who live around the proposed site. Maybe unicorn driven carriages would deliver people to the front door of the stadium! I found this so remarkable because I am on the Board of Traffic and Parking for Hagerstown and I haven't seen anything regarding the stadium come across our table. Yet, the implication was that this has already been proven not to be a problem. This bothered me.
   Then the Q&A began. The elected officials and city staff sat upon a platform with skirted tables. The citizens, for and against, had to approach a podium and look up at this very impressive  panel with a timer flashing green, then yellow, then red. Do you get the feeling? Am I describing it in enough detail so that you feel what I saw and felt as I sat in the audience. This bothered me.
   I guess this is where I must talk about Suns minority owner Anthony Dhabura. [Hi Tony! Mr. D told me that he reads this blog when he coincidentally found himself outside of my humble abode on the parade route on the South End last night.] First let me be clear that I have no problem whatsoever with the owners demanding a new stadium. If you can do it and get away with it more power to you! What I have a problem with is the absolute refusal of the city staff, our elected officials, our community leaders (usually self-proclaimed) and our local media to report that they are demanding a new stadium. They have instead colluded to base this proposal for a new stadium on the false claims that Municipal Stadium cannot be upgraded and/or that the Washington Nationals are requiring a new stadium. If I had not attended the one City Council meeting where Councilman Metzner said openly that it was the Suns owners who were demanding a new stadium I would have never known it. Metzner said that when they first met with the owners they went into the meeting with the understanding that the Washington Nationals would work with an upgrade, only to find out that the owners would not. He said, "it was as if the right hand wasn't talking to the left hand." So why can't the public know this? Why the big effort to make it look like something else? I think it is because they know that the people of Hagerstown do not take very kindly to being bullied. If the people know the truth they may reject the proposal. This bothers me.
   Back to the community meeting and Mr. D. I was one of the first to sign in before the meeting as present and as interested in speaking. I'm signing in with head down writing and suddenly there is a face looking up into mine and it says hi. Yep, Mr. D. I thought it was a little peculiar since we had never been introduced before and I didn't think he knew me. As I said I was one of the first to sign in, but I was number twenty-something to be invited to the podium. Just saying. I was sitting at the end of a row as was Mr. D and his female guest. We were separated only by an aisle. There was an elderly man speaking at the podium before the impressive panel and the official timer. He seemed oblivious to the timer and went over his allotted three minutes. Everyone started to bristle and sigh and become quite uncomfortable. Just as I look over at Mr. D he says "Time!" and his companion wags her head in agreement. He wasn't the only one who said it, but he said it. This bothered me. This bothered me alot.
   Finally it was my turn to go before the impressive panel and the official timer. I am not a speaker and I am uncomfortable speaking in front of people. I have to admit that I was angry by now because many of the questions went unanswered and because I thought it was unconscionable for the owner to so brashly limit the time of a concerned citizen, not to mention an elderly man, when this community has been patiently waiting for their turn to be heard. So I said so. Then I only had one two-part question, "When did the conversation change from a $9M-$10M "extreme makeover" of Municipal Stadium as reported in the Herald Mail one year ago to a $30M-$40M new stadium, and isn't it true that it is the Suns owners who are demanding a new stadium?" I looked up at this impressive panel and waited for an answer. Not one of them spoke. They all looked like they needed to puke. I stood there awkwardly waiting for someone to answer me, but the official timer flashed red and I sat down without the decency of a response. This bothered me.
   Then I hear Mr. D trying to be recognized to speak. He looked like an elementary school child who needed to be excused to go to the bathroom. Finally he gets called on to speak and I was waiting for a moment of truth. No, I didn't get it. Instead, he in essence publicly called me a liar. He denied calling time to the elderly man who went over his alloted time. I guess I had auditory and visual hallucinations. OK lets say I give him that one. I thought I heard and saw him call time to an elderly gentleman, but I didn't really. The next one was unbelievable. He said that he did not demand a new stadium, that it was in fact the elected officials and community leaders who came to him and convinced him that they needed the new stadium! So either Metzner and myself are lying or Mr. D is lying. It is that simple. I left there, after arguing with an emissary of Mr. D's in the parking lot for a half an hour, thinking that I was pretty sure that Metzner was not a liar. I didn't know if he slipped and said it that once and I'd never get him to admit it again or not. The chances were real good that I was going to be made to be a liar. The effort to cover up this one important fact was so unified and fortified that it seemed hopeless. That is when I posted that Pollyanna has left Hagerstown.
   Mr. Metzner and I serve together on the Board of Traffic and Parking. The board met two days after the community meeting and at the end of the meeting I asked the board about the rosy traffic implications that were presented at the community meeting. I was told that no the board had not yet addressed the stadium and related traffic issues. Mr. Metzner said  he would like to talk to me about the stadium and talk we did directly following the meeting. He started off admitting that he "is a big spending Liberal" and he doesn't deny it. That was refreshing. I told him that I am the VP of the Hagerstown TEA Party and that I voted for him in the last election. I think that threw him a little. We both talked vehemently about government spending, crony capitalism, grant money being tax money, and the general finances related to the new stadium. Then we talked about the process. I asked him straight out if I had heard him right in that meeting when he said that the Suns are demanding a new stadium. Wait for it...YES! I couldn't believe my ears. I then said, Tony Dhabura got up and spoke at the community meeting and...Metzner finished the sentence...lied! Hallellujah! Mr. Metzner and I had a lengthy and sometimes heated discussion and when we were finished we parted friends. He didn't have an answer as to why he let the lie go uncorrected in the meeting, but he promised to let it be known from that day forward. I haven't heard it said...yet. I am still hoping that he will be true to his word. That is all I want is for the people to know the whole truth and for the people to make a decision based on the truth. We elected them to represent us. We didn't crown them as kings and queens. To represent us they have to hear us, respect us, and consider what we want them to do for us as representatives of this community. 
   As I noted earlier, I ran into Mr. D outside of my home at the Mummer's Parade, and as I also noted I have nothing against him demanding a new stadium. I just want him and the powers that be to be honest about that fact. He offered to sit down and talk about everything. If I thought it could be as constructive as my talk with my new liberal friend, Councilman Metzner, I would love to talk to Anthony Dhabura. But that could just be apples and oranges [a favorite saying of Mr. D's.].
  
  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Citizen Think Tank on the Proposed New Stadium

     Tonight I was invited to attend an impromptu meeting of community leaders and candidates for mayor and city council who are concerned about the proposed new Suns stadium...for whatever reason. Since the community meeting tomorrow night is a presentation by the current elected city officials who have already decided that a new stadium is the best path for the Hagerstown community and taxpayers, I wanted to attend a pre-meeting where I could actually have a voice. I was told that the media would be there. I had my doubts that they would show, but they did. I am anxious to see if it was covered adequately and fairly.
     Those running for office who were in attendance were David Gysperts (D) for mayor and five candidates for city council: Penny Nigh (D), Jonathan Burrs (R), Kristin B. Aleshire (D), Jeffrey Coney (R), and Chris Kelly (R). County Commissioner Terry Baker (R) was in attendance but left early. Also in attendance was myself representing the Hagerstown TEA Party; three residents of the C.W. Brooks Building, which is a 60-unit building for seniors located at 45 W. Washington Street; three long-time residents/homeowners on Summit Avenue; petition creators Barbara Hovermill and Julie Rivett; and four relatively shorter-term residents of the area.
   Ms. Rivett led the meeting and she started off by saying that this was a place to have our voices heard. She referred to Jonathan Burrs' description of the group as a "citizen think tank." It was a very informal and relaxed atmosphere. She asked that the meeting begin with going around the table and everyone introducing themselves and saying something about why they were there and that we end with the candidates each having time to share final thoughts on the stadium and also what they would recommend to revitalize downtown. I will combine the candidate's beginning and ending statements together. I did not have time after the meeting to confirm the names of residents that spoke, so I put in brackets the names that I heard.
   The residents from the C.W. Brooks Building said that 50 out of 60 units are against the location for the new stadium. They feel that the current elected officials are not listening to them and that their mind is set. They feel that they do not care about seniors. 
   One long-term resident [Marsha Toder] thinks that it is odd that so many people are against the location for a variety of reasons and yet they proceed. Another long-term resident [Harold Wells], who has lived on Summit Avenue for 67 years was very passionate about what he calls "ground zero." Harold feels that it will be the final destruction of his beloved Hagerstown. He remembers the city as a thriving hub to surrounding areas that "had everything." His beloved YMCA and the hospital where many of our citizens were born have been destroyed. He feels that the town is dead. He is terrified to open his door after dark. There is already garbage, dead animals, and defecation between the houses there on Summit Avenue and he wonders what new horror this will bring. He is encouraged to see people in opposition meeting and getting active because he said, "I thought I was alone."
   One resident [Chris Coleman] stated that he is concerned about the fireworks and finances. He joked that there are already two questionable real estate deals that were recently made public. Why shouldn't he be suspicious of their insistence on this site? 
   Another man [Doug Zeruba] moved to Summit Avenue from Frederick. He spoke as a business owner stating that the Suns team is a business. Baseball is a business. It is a private business and he can't see why they are getting help from local government. He said, "It is like saying that I want to bring my jewelry business to town and asking them to build me a mall!" He said that for the price of the new stadium the city could give free rent to every empty store front for 10 years. This is a windfall for the team owners. Why don't we buy the team and upgrade the stadium? He claims that he wanted to bring his high-end jewelry business to Hagerstown and that the city kept trying to push him to open in the north end. He made the group laugh when he stated that he is a very liberal Democrat and yet he finds himself voting for a Republican and even agreeing with a TEA party person (I had just given my take on the project). I introduced myself briefly after the meeting to show him that I didn't have any devil horns growing out of my head. 
   Barbara Hovermill said that she has lived in the county since 1960, and she is often asked what is her stake in this issue. She said that she simply is a taxpayer. She feels that government has no place in this. If you can't afford it you shouldn't do it. Governments at every level from local to federal are not listening to the people. At the proposed site there are streams and rocks that will require blasting, yet they can't handle a little rock in the field and a little water? She says, and I concur, that the city has not kept up Municipal Stadium. It's a mess! She said that if we can put a man on the moon we can upgrade Municipal Stadium.
   Candidate Jeff Coney said that he does not see retail ever being a part of revitalization. He thinks those days are over and that it isn't the life cycle of American cities. He thinks that we need to draw professional service businesses, such as engineering and architectural ("white collar") services, and that some retail may rise up to support them. He thinks that the placement of the new stadium is inappropriate and not financially sound and that they "probably should stick to the current site." He said that if they do build a multi-use facility that it should include an exhibit hall for trade shows.
   Candidate Chris Kelly stated that the city should give grants to start-up businesses in the same way that they would secure a loan from a bank. He has concerns about the location of the proposed new stadium, and in particular, that the old church cemetery may still have bodies that weren't moved  because they were too decomposed when a past construction project necessitated relocating the cemetery. He thinks that Municipal Stadium should be refurbished instead. He also would support a small charge on the water bill to help pay for sidewalks. He thinks something should be done about the new recycle containers should not be allowed to sit out all week.
   Candidate Kristin B. Aleshire said that this kind of meeting is important and reminded us that he attended many of them when he was in office in times past. He then stated that there is a difference between opinion and fact. So far wherever he has heard discussion on the stadium it has been only opinion or conjecture. He needs to see a lease agreement, an environmental study, a financial plan, and an unbiased feasibility study before he can say if he is for or against it. He needs details. I wasn't clear, so I asked him, "So if these four things were proven favorable you would be for it?" He said "No! I will explain." I got the impression that he thought I was a TEA Party attack dog just for asking the question. I wanted to say, "Dude! I voted for you for county commissioner and I plan to vote for you for city council! Relax!" I just quietly listened to a lengthy explanation to why he voted to purchase the PNC Bank Building when he was previously in office. This was definitely off topic, but it was in the Herald Mail that morning so I just let him go. Like I said, it was lengthy with a convoluted thought process and a long-term plan that never happened because "it didn't make enough of the right people happy." OK. Then he finally tied his vision for an upgraded Municipal Stadium into that vision. In short it was to move the stadium property back further into Hager Park, knock down the electric plant, make the recycle plant pay the money it owes to the city, and move Hagerstown Spring Works to the now-empty electric plant lot. Then he wanted me, I guess the Conservative in the room, to answer for the local state delegation as to why they have been silent on this issue when they were so vocal against a mere $200,000 for the relocation of the Antietam Fire Company. I think they will be plenty vocal once it is presented to them next session. Asking me to speak for them seemed like a deflection from my question to him, but whatever.  My research tonight found  the following excerpt from a December 30, 2011 article in the Herald Mail on the subject: 
Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, attempted to get a $200,000 bond bill. 
But two Republican delegates who represent Washington County — Andrew A. Serafini and LeRoy E. Myers Jr. — lobbied the House's capital budget subcommittee to deny the request. They said Republicans in the delegation were opposed to bond-bill-funded projects because of the state's financial problems.
I am guessing that the local delegation is waiting until it is presented to them in session. We know that Delegate Donaghue is for the new stadium. He is the one local delegate who has no qualms about spending taxpayer money. Senator Shank and Delegate Serafini attended the first joint meeting of the Washington County Commissioners and the Hagerstown Mayor and City Council to discuss the proposed stadium. For my account of that meeting go to http://liberatedconservativewoman.blogspot.com/2012/04/royal-sales-pitch-for-new-hagerstown.html
   Candidate Penny Nigh said that she is a good listener and  troublemaker. She said that we first need to know what money is available. We need to draw people in from outside the city. Developers tell this city what to do. A prospective business owner was told in the past that South Potomac Street "was taken," indicating that the developer in that block was controlling things and that the city likes to pick and choose .There is nothing for the seniors in the city anymore: no grocery store, no drug store, no hospital or urgent care facility, and no senior center. There is no urgent care because the hospital doesn't want one in the city. The city needs a full-time experienced grant writer. 
     Candidate David Gysperts stated that we need to change the way that we do business in Hagerstown because the process affects the product. The people should have more of a voice.  He thinks that it is suspicious and/or stupid not to have one regular citizen on the stadium task force. He wonders how the city can say that we need to build a new stadium at that site in order to revitalize downtown, yet take it from those on the East End. He is for upgrading Municipal Stadium. He said to make the water there an amenity instead of an enemy and that we need a broader vision for the city that isn't limited to downtown.  He thinks that the current administration tries to pick winners and losers with the approval process for new businesses. He said that people have been told that "we aren't interested in that type of business." He feels that the elected leaders are deaf and not listening to the people. The city needs to draw more people with disposable income to live in town. Because Hagerstown only has 42% home ownership, he thinks the city should revisit an old plan to build high-density town homes.  He believes that we need more "urban pioneers" that are professionals, artisans, and manufacturers. He suggested that we bring broadband to downtown and make it an e-hot spot for anyone living, working, or playing downtown. He thinks that city council meetings should be streamed free on-line instead of having to watch it on Antietam Cable.
   Candidate Jonathan Burrs said that the process has lacked logic. He has reached out to economists and none of this makes sense economically. He said he has enough information from economists to make a decision before seeing any report the city may produce. If you've done the research there is enough information. Studies show that there is more economic development potential with a historic upgrade than with a new stadium. A classic ballpark with a classic town theme would be something to build on. It has to be more than baseball. Ashville, NC developed around their proximity to the Appalachian Trail. Even a McDonalds there is a tourist attraction because it is so unique. Towns that take what makes them unique and develop a theme around it are successful. We need a comprehensive plan that is implemented in phases. In 1996 Hagerstown was rated as one of the top safest places in the country. In 1997 it started downward and now it is not even in the top 20 in Maryland. The opportunity is now. We also need to ask for the Marc train to come to Hagerstown for the commuters.
   I stated that I was there to represent the Hagerstown TEA Party and that we do not support public funding for this project. I feel that the Suns team is a private business that is getting preferential treatment. It is crony capitalism. As a homeowner and taxpayer I am outraged at the process that went awry when the Suns owners demanded a new stadium. The community was led to believe that the Washington Nationals would not be satisfied with an upgrade, but in fact they would be. It was the Suns owners who will not discuss the option of an upgrade. They want a new stadium and that changed the conversation from a $9M-$10M upgrade to a $30M-$40M new stadium. It was then that the city went into secret negotiations and came up with the plan to sell the new stadium concept to the community. The Ripken Study was a made-to-order one-sided presentation that was the kick-off to the new stadium campaign. The we-cannot-upgrade-Municipal-Stadium tours were part of that campaign. The city website was designed to promote the new stadium concept. Now tomorrow night they are finally having a community meeting to sell us on what they have already decided or they would allow someone like Jonanthan Burrs to also present the reasons to consider an upgraded Municipal Stadium. It is an insult and a scam on the community. 
   That said, everyone still needs to show up and be heard and make a public record of your questions and concerns. The meeting starts at 6:00pm at Hagar Hall to the rear of the Clarion Hotel at 901 Dual Highway. See you there!




 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

HAGERSTOWN STADIUM COMMUNITY SALES PITCH

   

   The community meeting concerning the new Suns stadium is officially scheduled for October 9, 2012 at 6:00 pm, located at the Clarion Hotel on Dual Highway. I am so pleased that the mayor and council changed the time from 5:00 to 6:00 to give people more time to travel from their workplace and participate in this discussion.
   However! Yes, however, I wish that it was more of a discussion rather than a sales pitch. The truth is that the powers that be have already come to a conclusion and now they are merely selling it to the community. The community, also known as the taxpayer and host to this new Suns stadium, has been left pretty much in the dark throughout this process. A community meeting, if it was truly meant to not only get the feedback of the community but also to consider it, should have been held at the beginning of the process. Another meeting halfway through the negotiations with the Suns owners and setting a plan for funding was in order as well. The community should have been told that the Suns owners were demanding a new stadium, not the Washington Nationals. Instead, it was none of our (residents and taxpayers) business! Now that the negotiations have obviously run their course and surveyors are seen on-site, the mayor and council now proceed to sell their deal to the public. It was a sales pitch from the start with the made-to-order Ripken Study and it remains a sales pitch with a salesman at the helm. The process had been flawed from the beginning and consequently has bred suspicion.
   Upgrading the Municipal Stadium...non-negotiable! Building it near an interstate...non-negotiable! Private funding...non-negotiable! The plan, or deal, is going to be "presented" with no counter presentation for upgrading Municipal Stadium, no counter-presentation for another site, and no-counter presentation on funding. It's is a sales pitch. The website is  promotional. It is an insult to the people of Hagerstown and to the taxpayer.
   Personally, as vice-president of the Hagerstown TEA Party, I am only concerned with the funding plan. As president of Neighborhoods 1st Locust Point, I am concerned with how the proposed site will affect my community. As a board member of the Board of Traffic and Parking I am concerned with traffic flow and adequate parking regarding this project. It is as a homeowner and taxpayer of the City of Hagerstown that  I am outraged that myself and others like me have been completely left out of the process.
   I guess we should be grateful that they are giving us their presentation and allowing us to speak. I would really be grateful if someone was allowed to present researched facts, case studies, and statistics that gives the community something else to consider, to weigh, to determine if it is worth the risk to proceed. Someone like Jonathan Burrs who has done the research could give a counter presentation. Then let the community take all of the information and come to a conclusion that they are comfortable with. You may say, "But he is running for City Council!" Yes, and the mayor is running for re-election and so are the incumbent council members! If after hearing both sides, the residents and taxpayers of this city overwhelmingly want to proceed as spelled out for them by mayor and council...so be it. I just think that the public deserves all of the facts and the respect to make a decision based on those facts.
   That said, if you would like a counter-presentation to the City's forgone conclusion based on demands from the Suns owners and dreams of a revitalized downtown (or re-election and a monument to ones self), please write to mayor and council and tell them that you want to hear both sides. They can be emailed at:


City of Hagerstown
One E. Franklin St. Second Floor,
City Hall Hagerstown, MD 21740
Phone: (301) 766-4175  


Thank you! I love Hagerstown and only want the people to be heard!!

 
   

Monday, October 1, 2012


JONATHAN BURRS IS THE VOICE OF REASON CONCERNING THE PROPOSED NEW STADIUM

He is not against baseball, but he is not for a new stadium at any cost! He has done the research on upgrading or even rebuilding old stadiums. He has done the research on the effects of new stadiums on urban economic development. HE HAS DONE THE RESEARCH AND BELIEVES THAT THE COMMUNITY SHOULD HAVE ALL OF THE FACTS AND BE A PART OF THE PROCESS.

"In my opinion, proponents of the proposed multiuse sports and events center in the intended location and who advocate using taxpayer monies to subsidize this project simply are not credible.  They have not done the research, they apparently do not understand the industry, and their positions are in contrast to eighty-six percent of educated working professionals on the economics of sports."

Go to www.jonathanburrs.com for more information!