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Monday, December 16, 2013

SENATOR SHANK ANNOUNCES A NEW FREEDOM AGENDA



ACTION ALERT



    Calling all ACT-ivists! It's time to get serious and ACT!! We are in for the fight for our lives in 2014. This could be the final battle if we do not get off of our couches, turn off the TV or the XBox or whatever is distracting us, and fight not only to protect our rights, but to take back the rights that have already been taken from us or...that we have foolishly given away. You may think that this message is not for you. Unfortunately those who are act-ivists are usually too humble to consider themselves as such, and many of those who call themselves act-ivists rarely ACT. The most basic definition of an act-ivist is:

Someone who takes part in activities that are intended to achieve political or social change.  (see http://www.macmillandictionary.com) 

In short, act-ivists ACT and they ACT in an effort to achieve a desired change in their political environment. If you have ever done something as simple as signing a petition, writing a letter,  or making a phone call while hoping to achieve political change...you ACTED and you are an ACT-ivist.  Conversely, if you sit on a board of a large activist organization and you do nothing but show up to board meetings...sorry, not an act-ivist.
    Because this country is currently in critical condition, I am asking everyone who reads this to search themselves to look for that inner act-ivist and ask yourselves 4 simple questions:

1. Do Americans have the freedoms that they had 50 years ago, 10 years ago, or even one year ago and will they have the rights that they have now 50 years from now, 10 years from now, or even next year?

2. Is there something--anything--that I can do?

3. Am I willing?

4. How can I get started?

     I recently attended the Western Maryland state delegation pre-legislative meetings with the Washington County BOE, the county commissioners, the Hagerstown mayor and council, and finally the community. It was a long day, but I stuck it out hoping to be inspired to fight on or at least find something interesting to write about. I was feeling mostly apathetic because the last time that I saw this delegation it was at the post-legislative community meeting and it appeared that we had lost every battle. (See Senator Shank Perceives Two Marylands.) The super-majority Democratic administration had passed over 40 new taxes (including a Rain Tax), brutally infringed on our 2nd Amendment rights by passing SB281, and gerrymandered us out of our solid long-time Conservative representation in the U.S. Congress. So, I spent the entire day waiting for a glimmer of hope that this year would be different. It looked as if it wouldn't come...right up until the last 10 minutes of the day when Senator Shank said:
"It is time to push back..."
Yes, my little act-ivist heart went pitter patter. Suddenly this depressing marathon was worth every minute of lackluster comments and requests coming from those who are supposed to have an enthusiastic vision accompanied by workable plans for our county and city in the coming year. Those four words were the spark that I needed to reignite the act-ivist passion needed to continue to fight. Make no mistake. It will be a fight.
    Senator Shank stated that while he is concerned about the issues of the Rain Tax, Common Core, and the corporate tax climate, he is also interested in a few alternate issues as well. He and Delegate Serafini are creating a Freedom Agenda. This is huge! Yet you did not read about it in the Herald Mail when they reported on these meetings. He only spoke about it briefly. I know he plans to give more details at a later date. He did say that the Freedom Agenda would push back on privacy issues (state laws regarding email, drones, and cell towers) and would also entail creating a Religious Freedom Caucus. He stated that there are two very different world views in Maryland with limited choices. Those who do not feel represented in this state can either relocate, get involved in the secession movement (he believes it is not viable), or get involved in the political process and be prepared to fight. I am very interested in hearing more about the Freedom Agenda from Senator Shank. I have since corresponded with Delegate Parrott as well, and he also is ready to push back (push back is his middle name), and we all believe that the Hagerstown TEA Party (HTP) will play a big role. The HTP's Board of Directors are currently in the process of developing a vision for 2014. We will be meeting with Conservative elected officials, other local Conservative leaders, and our members to get feedback and suggestions about how we can most effectively move forward in the new year.
    I wish that I could say that the fight will only be against Liberal Progressives. Not so. The establishment Republicans, at least at the national level, are publicly declaring war against the TEA Party and other Conservative groups (Libertarians, 912 Groups, Restore America's Mission, Campaign for Liberty, Americans for Prosperity, et al), although the TEA Party seems to be the largest target. I wish that it wasn't so. I have said it many times. If establishment Republicans would stand firmly on their own platform and be willing to fight to defend it, the TEA Party would go to the front lines with them. We would fight with them and for them. But, if they continue to sell out and cheapen the principles of their own platform...we will fight them! I am all for compromise, but a compromise typically results in a 50-50 outcome or at least close to it.  I am tired of the charade of the establishment Republicans at the national level pretending to  take a stand only to inevitably give in and give the Progressives all that they want. There is usually a payoff. It is too predictable. Either these Republicans are the biggest losers ever to exist or it is all theater with a pre-planned outcome that protects a career politician's seat or enriches someone personally or someone's constituency.
So we will be fighting on two fronts. It seems insurrmountable, but always remember that radical ragtag little group that took on the the largest military of its time to form their own country...and won. We will have to unite in order to take on the Progressive machine. It is very important that every single Conservative resist the urge to criticize one another and to only promote their primary issue.This is another whole topic of discussion for a later time.
    Lets consider those four questions that we need to ask ourselves:

1. Do Americans have the freedoms that they had 50 years ago, 10 years ago, or even one year ago and will they have the rights that they have now 50 years from now, 10 years from now, or even next year?
    The answer to that is no, no, no and most likely no, no, and no....unless we ACT.  When I was in elementary school in the 1960s who would have believed that the day would come when it would be illegal to pray in school or to say the Pledge of Allegiance? Who would have thought that in the United States of America the government would be able to take your private property againsts your will for the good of society (eminent domain)? Just a year ago it seemed a ridiculous notion that the government would ever seek to infringe on our 2nd Amendment right to bear arms or the privacy to own the unregistered weapon of our choice for the protection of ourselves and our families...and then it happened. We all know that SB281 is just the beginning of the Progressive plan to disarm every American. Who in their wildest dreams would have thought that the U.S. Supreme Court would protect an unconstitutional law that requires American citizens to purchase a product (health insurance) or be penalized? So what will it be next year? There is no question that at this time our freedoms are more at risk than ever before. We can not let them gain anymore ground. We must take back what they have illegally taken from us.

2. Is there something--anything--that I can do?

    I realize that not everyone has the time, the finances, or even the strength in body to commit to or participate in every aspect of act-ivism every time an opportunity or need arises. Some can. Most of us have some kind of limitations, but there is always something that we can do. Recently I realized that many or even most of who were active in the TEA Party at its inception in 2009 were already retirees. Five years can make a huge difference in the physical capabilities of a senior citizen, so I understand that there are many who feel that they can no longer participate in grassroots act-ivism. I suffer with a painful spinal condition that limits what I am able to do compared to what I want to do, so I get it, but most of us  (not all) can still do something at home. If you can use a telephone or a pen and paper you can still play an important role in this critical defense of our freedoms. I just ask that you search yourself and try to find something that you can do to support the HTP in 2014. We will be reaching out to everyone with a specific plan of action in the next few months and it would mean so much to us to know that we can count on you.

3. Am I willing?

    This is where we really need to get honest with ourselves. If you are reading this you must have some interest in current events and Conservative politics. Something in your gut is telling you that this country is in trouble. You may have searched yourself and found that you do have skills, talents, time, or finances that can be used in the upcoming and ongoing battle for our freedoms. But, are you willing? How much does your freedom and the future of our nation mean to you? What are you willing to invest in saving our country from a Socialist Progressive agenda? How much is it worth to you to preserve the freedoms that has made this country the envy of the world for future generations? Will you give up a couple of TV shows so that you have time to participate? Or will you give up one frivolous expense in order to donate money? Or will you have the courage to get out of your comfort zone to ask the hard questions or publicly take a stand in some way? Are you willing? If so, you are  a patriot and an ACT-ivist reporting for duty. Proceed to the final question.


4. How can I get started?

    As I said earlier in this post, the HTP is in the process of developing a vision and an action plan for 2014. We need your input. I will personally be calling our membership because I want to hear your ideas and suggestions. We have close to 700 people on our contact list. Certainly we can get at least 50% of you to commit to some form of act-ivism in the coming year. Can you imagine all that we could accomplish if even 50% of you who placed your information on our contact list were to stand together in the coming year? It would be phenominal! We plan to have a membership meeting, tentatively on January 23rd, to discuss the details. Please plan to be there! Please plan to get involved.

    You do not have to wait for me to call you. If you have something that you would like the board to consider as we develop the vision and action plan, you can email me at lgivensevans@reagan.com or call me at 301-992-6943. If you don't get an answer, leave a message and I will call you back as soon as possible.

Share this blog with someone that you know! Encourage them to get involved!!

Win or lose our children will tell their children that we did all that we could to defend our freedoms!
 






























Thursday, November 21, 2013

UPDATED! CHARLES LOLLAR FOR GOVERNOR SPEAKS ON ISSUES

 
 
   
 
 
* I just added a full length video of a campaign speech made on 3//26/14: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecGJ29kRP1c&feature=share&list=UU8nAHf9dn3neqKHeGgQPs2w

    I first became aware of Charles Lollar on January 13, 2010. I remember it vividly because it was at a TEA Party on a cold night in Annapolis. I think it was the only TEA Party that I have ever attended after dark. Lawyer's Mall was filled to capacity in protest of O'Malley's budget mismanagement and the anticipated new taxes to be proposed in that legislative session. The event had been organized by Americans for Prosperity, but I was there with the Hagerstown TEA Party. There were several dynamic speakers there that were able to tap into the fervor of the crowd, but none better than a man named Charles Lollar. As I heard him speak I began to work my way threw the incredible crowd hoping to see the man behind the charisma. I'm not going to pretend that I wasn't intrigued to see a black man who was a Republican and who seemed to "get" the TEA Party, especially since the movement had been maligned by Liberals and branded as racists. I was fascinated. Beyond that he was able to almost "preach" Conservative principles unscripted, intelligently, and with a passion that I am sure convinced all who were there that he indeed shared our principles, our concerns, and our hopes for going forward. I knew nothing more about him, but I felt right then and there that he would play an important role in the future of Maryland politics. Over 4 years later I have learned that he is not only a charismatic speaker, but that he is highly educated (Political Science, B.A. and an MBA), a decorated Marine (Officers Candidate School), a devoted family man (married 20 years with 4 daughters), and someone with a grasp on Conservative issues like no other.  I attended the Charles Lollar for Governor Meet and Greet last night and I was not disappointed.





Huge Rally in Annapolis in 2010

    The event was held in a trendy setting, where good food and drink were available, and cool music played in the background. It had all of the expected promotional materials like palm cards, signs, and T-shirts and even the expected raffle for a very classy hospitality basket. Team Lollar did a great job of organizing the event. I immediately noticed something different about this candidate's event, and that was that he was actually greeting and meeting with people for at least an hour before the event. I don't mean hobnobbing with Republican elected officials...he was going from table to table talking with regular people. When he came to my table I asked him several of my own questions about issues in addition to some that had been texted to me to ask on other's behalf. His answers were so forthright and succinct that it almost through me off task. I asked him if I could have a chance to talk to him again after he spoke and he said that he would be available. He was not introduced by Republican bigwigs or marched out with pomp and circumstance. He just grabbed a mic and did what Charles Lollar does. He spoke about issues.
    He started by saying that he believes that many people are asking the wrong questions. We are struggling in this state. There is a mad exodus of businesses from the state. People need jobs and they are over taxed and over regulated. Yet people are asking him what he is going to do about social issues. He couldn't have spoken a TEA Party precept more precisely if it had been dictated to him. Many people do not realize--because of the Liberal media smear campaign against the TEA Party--that although individual TP members may feel strongly about certain social issues, in the spirit of compromise and cooperation they have always avoided them as a group or organization. This is what he said:
"I am not running to be your priest. I am running to be your governor. There is a very real difference between those two occupations. If you want me to be your pastor and tell you  how to live then let's get out of the governor business and start a church and I will tell you how to live. My job as your governor, if I am honored enough to serve you, is to be held accountable for every penny that you sent to Annapolis. To make sure it is spent properly and what is not spent properly should go right back to you the taxpayer." 
Can I get an "Amen"?

    As if we needed convincing that this state is struggling, Lollar rattled off some statistics. In the last 5-7 years we've lost 40,000 jobs. We have lost 6,500 small businesses, taking with them $5.5B in revenue. [We historically lose revenue when taxes are excessive.] In one fiscal year the state budget has gone from $34.6B to $36.9B. That is an increase of $2.5B or 7.5%. In that same fiscal year the Consumer Price Index cost of living grew only 1.5%. "That means that your government grows at 5 times the rate of your pocketbooks...and why do we need 74 new taxes over 7 years? There is nothing left to tax!" Lollar then laid out his 5-part plan for economic growth:
  1. Control Spending.
  • Tax Payer's Bill of Rights- Legislatively ensuring that our government no longer grows faster than our CPI. 
  • Return to Zero-based Budgeting- Starting with what we spent last year and not with a wish list for which we increase taxes in order to obtain all that we want.
  • Hiring/Employee Budget Accountability by Department Secretaries..
"The governor of Maryland controls the budget. So whenever the governor decides to, he can make the hard decisions to balance it...whether he does so or not. Yes the legislators vote it up and down and they can propose taxes against it, but the governor controls it."
    2.   Regulation Reform. Create a Citizens Industry Review Board to work in conjunction with the EPA. The board will be made up of volunteers, so there will be no cost to the taxpayer. They will have experience in their respective industries and create common sense solutions that respects the environment, but does not senselessly burden the business owners, farmers, watermen and the economy as a whole.
"No longer will academia regulate any industry without experience."

    3.  Transparency.
  • No appointed boards or commissions with the power to raise taxes and fees.
  • No raiding the Transportation Trust Fund to balance the budget.
  • This governor will understand that I work for you and you do not work for me.
"We will not allow non-legislative non-elected bodies or commission boards to increase your fees or your taxes going forward. That should be left to those who are elected, and not to those who are appointed."
    4.  Education.
  • School Choice so that children are not trapped in a school that is operating below standards just because of where they live. Wherever the child goes to school his parent's tax dollars will follow, either by voucher or tax credit. Schools will be competing for your children!
  • Internships in high school especially for those seeking a trade instead of a degree.
  • Teacher training out of their districts and maybe even out of the country in order to expand their teaching experiences and perspectives.
"The often touted No.1 ranking in education is not based on standardized test scores. It is based on dollars spent per student as well as the number of teachers affiliated with or a part of our public union. They know that! What we need is less and less students needing remedial courses in order to get into college." 
  5.  Repeal taxes.
  • Rain Tax
  • Progressive Gas Tax
  • Taxes on pensions of First Responders
"With the Rain Tax we are the laughing stock of our region."
    The following is a Q & A exchange with the audience (only parts appear on the video due to technical difficulties) and also from my interview. The answers are mostly paraphrased.

1. Q [Audience]: What will you do to make a college education affordable?
    A: Overall the cost of in-state tuition is quite affordable at just under $9,000 a year. Two things that can help:
  • Educational Trust Funds. Start early saving for your children and grandchildren.
  • Repeal or amend the Dream Act. You cantnot have one group of people paying into the system and another group not paying into the system (illegal immigrants) and then have both groups receive the same benefits. Somebody has to pay the difference between the in-state ($9,000) and the out-of-state ($28,000) tuition and it is the taxpayer. This has nothing to do with racism. It has to do with fairness and this act could lead us into financial trouble. We can't afford it.
2. Q [Audience]: How exactly do you propose to cut taxes?
    A: Poor spending decisions and wish-list budgeting has led to this tax burden. We plan to:
  • Create a board to look at each one of the 74 taxes to determine how many we can eradicate.
  • Enact a flat 5% tax rate across the board.
  • Look at casinos for future tax revenue (when asked by the audience).
3a. Q: Do you feel as do some establishment Republicans that you need to distance yourself from the TEA Party?
      A. No. I have always identified with the TEA Party on issues. I have presented TEA Party principles to some very tough audiences...as you might imagine.
3b. Q: Why do you think establishment Republicans do not embrace the TEA Party?
      A: I think it threatens their status as career politicians. Politics was never meant to be a career. The founding fathers intended for elected officials to work jobs. They were to serve from January to March and then go home and work their jobs.
4.  Q: Do you think that Plan Maryland has adversely affected farmers?
     A: Yes. Plan Maryland seeks to target growth and resources towards an urban environment making it hard or in some cases impossible for farmers to sell their property or to get a loan against their property. I do not think that rural Maryland is being served by this administration.
5. Q: Where do you stand on fracking? Do you think that technology has now made this a safe industry?
    A:  "It is time!" We do not need to spend anymore taxpayer money on research and studies. It is being done successfully and safely in our neighboring states, and they are horizontally fracking and taking our resources and revenue. This could bring major economic growth to Western Maryland.
6. Q: Do you think that SB281 went too far?
    A: Absolutely. They have no right to define what kind of firearms our citizens may own. The 2nd Amendment is the right of every citizen to protect themselves with whatever firearm they choose to purchase.
7. Q: Hagerstown is a dying city. How can the state help revitalize our downtown?
    A: This administration does not want to help Hagerstown in a big way or they would have enabled fracking in Western Maryland, improved I-81, and created the highway by-pass that has been discussed for years. [I wish that I had been able to ask him to explain this further.] They are putting more state resources into the larger urban centers of the state and giving the rest of the state little to nothing.
8. Q: Hagerstown had been negotiating with a minor league baseball team to build a new stadium. The team has since decided to leave town, but the possibility of building a new stadium is still being considered. Do you think that public funds should be used to build stadiums?
    A: Absolutely not. "The day is over for taxpayer money for stadiums. The Governor is in charge of the budget. You will not see a stadium in my budget."
9. Q [Audience]: Would your administration make any changes to the pension plans of First Responders?
    A: I think that we can find ways to make a better life for our First Responders. I think that their pensions should be like my combat pay was in Kosovo...tax free.
10. Q: Where to you stand on increasing the minimum wage?
      A: I think that it inflates the whole system and winds up costing the wager earner and consumers more in taxes and increased costs that are passed down to the consumer. I think that lower taxes and smarter budgeting are the answers.
11. Q: What do you think of Common Core?
      A: "It is unconstitutional."  For a video of the full answer on Common Core go to http://youtu.be/F1rnB_e_NsQ.

   In the end, he asked for volunteers but only if they could be committed to sticking to the issues and resisting the urge for bickering and nasty campaign tactics. He admonished everyone to stick to the issues.  Privately I asked him about the rumors that his campaign team was "falling apart." He said that he cannot control every word that comes out of the mouths of 100 or more volunteers, but that once he was informed that one volunteer had used terms degrading to the developmentally challenged he took care of it and that person is no longer with the campaign. He said that his team is united and focused and moving forward. Based on the event that evening...I would have to agree with him.

You can see the video of his speech by going to http://youtu.be/CqPm_WP0r9E.

Visit the Charles Lollar for Governor website at http://www.lollar4governor.com/.

Also see: http://liberatedconservativewoman.blogspot.com/2014/03/meet-candidates-for-governor-of-maryland.html


Saturday, October 19, 2013

OBAMACARE HAS REVEALED THE WOLVES IN REPUBLICAN'S CLOTHING AND SEPARATED THE SHEEP FROM THE GOATS

     


      If nothing else, Obamacare has separated the sheep from the goats (Republicans from the RINOS) and revealed who the self-serving wolves are in the Republican Party. It couldn't be more clear that many of the Republicans in D.C. are as implicit in passing and PROTECTING this unwanted, unconstitutional, poorly planned, and too expensive entitlement as the Liberals. I am no longer buying their insincere attempts and deceptive show of support of the Conservative principles outlined in the Republican platform.  I am no longer buying their contrived deals that they regretfully make at the end of every battle. They are either the biggest losers or it is intentional! The Kentucky Kickback is the last slap in the face that I need to come to my senses and get off of this merry-go-round.
     This wasn't an easy conclusion for me to come to and admit.  I lived for 16 years in the most Conservative area in Maryland, and I was blessed with Republican representation at almost every level. Most of them have stood valiantly and firmly on Republican/Conservative principles.  I know that my Republican friends, especially those running for office, will say that I am wrong and that I am hurting the Party. I guess they need a few more slaps in the face or maybe they are even RINOs in training. The Republicans in D.C. have once again caved to the demands of the Progressive Liberals. If the RINOS want to blame the TEA Party for the shutdown, I want to blame establishment Republicans for their embarrassing but predictable surrender where they gave away everything and then some. Ted Cruz is not the "laughing stock." The RINOs are a joke who while the world watched they once again sold out the best interest of the people for personal financial gain or political career-building capital.
     The Liberals (politicians and media) are probably quite pleased with themselves for creating, encouraging, and nurturing the rift between the RINOs and the Tea Party. That is just what Liberals do. I am not nearly as offended by them as I am by those in my own Party who denounce, degrade, and distance themselves from the Tea Party. Instead they should look up and see the cavalry coming! The Tea Party are the soldiers in this political fight who will volunteer to go to the front lines for them if they are not willing or able to go! The Tea Party would have their backs! They are stiff-arming their greatest defense! Why would they do that for any other reason than self-interest? They are just as smug and just as elitist as the Left.
     I am more determined than ever after this last cowardly and costly surrender to vote for principles over party. I will promote principles over party.  I will campaign for principles over Party. I will debate issues not Party lines. If and when the RINOs decide to really put up a fight for the principles in their own platform...I will run to the front lines and I will get their back.  Until then....I would not be against a third party. There. I said it.

 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

THE REPUBLICANS HAVE SOLD THEIR SOUL TO PROGRESSIVE POLITICS...NOT THE TEA PARTY

     I am writing in response to two things: The Herald Mail, Oct 6
Op-ed, entitled  "Republicans have sold their souls to the TEA Party", written by Rodney A. Guessford (http://www.heraldmailmedia.com/opinion/letters/letters-to-the-editor---oct/article_a8b1f28a-2d39-11e3-aff7-001a4bcf6878.html#user-comment-area); and to an email that I received from a respected, elected local Republican. The first is just a hysterical Liberal and I will address his rant, and the second was a call for a concerted response from local Republicans against Senator Cardin's email where he blames the Republican Party for the government shutdown.

The Republican platform is no longer solid ground to stand on. It is a shifting, weakened structure providing no security for those who wish to defend its ideals.

    Mr. Guessford begins by confessing that he was a registered Republican until Ford pardoned Nixon. Well I guess we can thank him for the disaster named Jimmy Carter. In the spirit of full disclosure, I have been a registered Republican since Reagan's 2nd election. Yes, you can also thank me for Jimmy Carter. I was a kid; what did I know? I do appreciate his statement that the Republican Party is no longer Republican. I agree. I agree in the sense that the Republican platform used to mean something. It used to be that you could read down the list of Republican platform issues and by the time you got to the end you knew if you were a Republican or not. Not so anymore. The Republican platform is no longer solid ground to stand on. It is a shifting, weakened structure providing no security for those who wish to defend its ideals. Those who try to defend it are ostracized by many (not all) of the establishment Rs. They will turn on you,  join the Ds against you, and try to demean you, marginalize you, and ruin you if they can.


THE TEA PARTY WAS A GIFT TO THE REPUBLICAN PARTY

    Mr. Guessford, the TEA Party was a gift to the Republican Party. They would not have the majority in the House without them. The TEA Party are the true Republicans who stand firmly on the Conservative principles that define the Republican platform. You either do not understand the TEA Party or you are deliberately lying about them. The TP wants fair, clean elections where we know that those who are voting are who they say they are and that they legally have a right to vote. This means cleaning up the voter rolls and requiring a free easy-to-obtain photo ID. If that scares you sir I would suggest that you never try to cash a check because they will ask for your ID to make sure that you are who you say you are and that you are not trying to obtain money that does not belong to you. The TP has an "all of the above" approach to energy. The more that we depend on our own resources and not those of our enemies the more secure we will be. If that scares you sir take a trip down memory lane to the Oil Crisis in the 70s and those same enemies have become alot more sophisticated in their hatred toward us. The TP does not take a stand on abortion or any social issue, although as individuals many are against abortion at any time for any reason. However, no TP person wants to see starving children (hysteria or hyperbole). They also do not want to see generations of families dependent on government handouts. The TP wants to create jobs so that these individuals can support themselves and climb out of the safety net called Food Stamps and Welfare. Does that idea scare you? Why?

WHY WOULD THEY REJECT THE VERY MOVEMENT THAT RESCUED THEM IN THE 2010 ELECTION? I CAN ONLY SPECULATE, BUT MY BET IS PROGRESSIVISM.
 
    From what I have observed studying nationally and locally-grown Republicans, the reasons for stiff-arming the TEA Party are varied. Many fear losing control of the message. For some it's all about power. Some fear being personally attacked because the Liberals carry out ruthless attacks that no one but the very brave can withstand.  I think that many Rs would rather defend their standing, their celebrity, their salaries, or perceived power rather than the Republican principles that they were elected to defend. Of course there are those that never had principles and only want to be politicians in the limelight. I think for the most part they have been infected with Progressivism, which is typically a part of the Democratic/Socialist political philosophy, but there are also Republicans who try to stand stand with one foot in Progressivism and the other on the Republican platform. It doesn't work. It becomes messy, and it's embarrassing to watch.  If establishment Rs had embraced the TEA Party they would have regained control of the Senate and the presidency. They did not, so they only have the House, which the TEA Party gave to them on the proverbial silver platter.
 
THE TEA PARTY ARE THE REAGAN REPUBLICANS!

     Mr. Guessford, the TEA Party are the Reagan Republicans in principle (actually it also consists of registered Democrats, Libertarians, and Independents). They are the ones who bravely defend the Republican Platform and its Conservative principles. Locally, we are blessed with a Republican delegation that stands courageously against a one-party state government that is taxing and regulating us out of business, oppressing our rural counties, and infringing on our 2nd Amendment rights. Our county commissioners are all Republicans. A few stand firmly on Conservative principles. Some not so much.
     As I said to the the local elected Republican concerned about Senator Cardin's email:  For sure he is spouting the divisive rhetoric of this administration. They follow Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals" religiously. This claim that Republicans change the rules, etc...is quite rich considering the questionable actions that were needed in order to pass this bad law against the will of the people. But the uninformed, including the Republicans, gobble this stuff up. It is like water off of a duck's back to me. He is a Progressive Liberal acting like a Progressive Liberal. No shocker here. What does bother me are the Republicans who do not stand up to them or support those that do. I have been a loyal Republican most of my adult life, but I feel completely alienated by my party. Cardin is being true to his Party. I understand that, but who will be true to ours and fight for our principles? Or does it even matter anymore?
















Wednesday, September 25, 2013

WILL THE REAL MAYOR GYSBERTS PLEASE SIT DOWN?



"Hagerstown Mayor David S. Gysberts said Monday night that he is open to other projects at the downtown site, and that he would consider using eminent domain to acquire or speed up negotiations for any properties needed for redevelopment. Those projects could include other athletic facilities or a community or convention center, Gysberts said."


The Herald Mail
September 23, 2013

It turns out that all is not what it seemed with this candidate-now-mayor.

   I have supported Mayor Gysberts since he began campaigning for mayor in the last election. I know that a referendum was passed during that election to run non-partisan city elections in the future. In a perfect world that sounds like a good and noble idea, but voters will probably still tend to lean toward the candidate who leans towards their political ideals, and the candidates will probably still discreetly tow their party line. So with that said, I am an unlikely supporter of Mayor Gysberts, myself being a true blue Republican for most of my adult life (although not so much now), and having been very involved in the TEA Party movement. Why? Well he seemed so...non-partisan back then. He also seemed to be against building a stadium at the downtown site. He seemed to be against the use of tax payer money without at least equal private funds. It turns out that all is not what it seemed with this candidate-now-mayor. 
    
Skillfully played!

    Candidate Gysberts attended a meeting led by those in opposition to the downtown site. Those hosting the meeting said that the then-current mayor and council had refused to meet with them (although they had not been invited to this particular meeting). Candidate Gysberts skillfully appeared to be in agreement with this group without ever making a definitive statement about it. At least that is what he said after the election when those at the meeting were stunned to find out that he indeed was for the downtown site. Of course there were no audio or video recordings of the meeting. I was there and I can not without a doubt remember if he made a statement against it, but I do remember without a doubt that he did not make a statement for it. I do remember that the implication was that he was against it. It was implied by his very presence, by there not being any definite statement for it, by his commiseration about the incumbents and their lack of consideration for the citizens that were against it, and for his statements against the process. I have to give it to him. It was skillfully played. 
     
Disappointing

     I got over that disappointment pretty quickly because I still considered him to be a thoughtful man who would care about the will of the voters. Even the most liberal of the city council, Council Member Metzner, said that "the voters have spoken and they do not want a stadium at the downtown site." I hate to even have to mention that Council Member Munson, who has since reneged on his promise to oppose the site, claimed to have personally talked to thousands and that no more than 45 people were for that stadium site. So there was no question that the citizens of this town did not and do not want it. Certainly a thoughtful young man like Mayor Gysberts would represent the voters. Not so. Instead, he came out strongly for the site and promised to vote for it if there should be a tied vote. He was quoted many times in the newspaper in support of it, and even wrote a letter to the governor asking for taxpayer funds. Disappointing. 
   
Incredulous!

    Disappointing went to incredulous upon reading that not only would this mayor continue to consider other athletic facilities for that site, but he went so far as to say that he would also consider using eminent domain! In short, eminent domain is the right of a government to take private property for public use, against the will of the property owner, with payment of compensation. He is willing to steal private property away from an individual or business to build a ridiculous baseball field at a site that the voters overwhelmingly do not want. This seemingly non-partisan candidate just revealed himself to be a  Progressive Liberal politician. 


   
So the mayor of this town, in essence, publicly threatens to take the property of a successful business for a venture that no respectable investor would touch?
    
    He made this statement about eminent domain just as a the Zoning Appeals Board voted unanimously to allow a private investor to expand and improve a property that would have been needed for the stadium or a similar project. The stadium project was unable to get the private investment needed to proceed. So the mayor of this town, in essence, threatens to take the property of a successful business for a venture that no respectable investor would touch? In the newspaper? How many would-be small business owners would locate in a town where the mayor publicly makes such a statement? 

     
He was against the process! Right...I mean Left!

     There is a closed-door city council meeting scheduled for October 1st. Council Member Alshire has stated that he would prefer the discussion to be held publicly. Candidate Gysberts raked ex-Mayor Bruchey over the coals for his lack of transparency during the deliberation and planning process concerning the proposed stadium. I don't hear him asking for a public meeting. Why doesn't he govern as openly as he expected and demanded from Mayor Bruchey? It appears that he is quite agreeable to closed doors now that he is at the helm of the process. 

Lets not be naive or dishonest about our expectations for non-partisan politics 
in city elections. 
   
     It also turns out that Mayor Gysberts is not as non-partisan as Candidate Gysberts seemed. He has been active in Democratic politics since being elected. For instance, he has endorsed Democratic candidate for governor Anthony Brown and he belongs to Mayors Against Illegal Guns. MAIG claim to be non-partisan, but one of the stated principles of this group is to "Keep lethal, military-style weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines off our streets." That is the kind of Liberal lingo that was used to pass a mostly Democratic supported, some would say unconstitutional, gun control law (SB-281) in the last legislative session. He is free to do so, but lets not be naive or dishonest about our expectations for non-partisan politics in city elections. Although I voted non-partisan, actually voting for the mayor and three Democrats for council members, I fully expect that politicians will be partisan no matter how they seem during campaign mode. 

KNOW YOUR CANDIDATE!

    I admit it. I was played like a piano. Nothing about Candidate Gysberts was as it seemed. He may be a very nice man, but he is clearly a politician. I learned a valuable lesson. I will be more diligent about getting to know the person and his/her politics before voting for them. I will not go along to get along. I will be more aware of what the candidate did not say, not only what they said. I will ask more direct questions in order to get direct answers. I hope every voter that is reading this vows to do the same. And Hagerstown, for God's sake please don't let this mayor run amok promoting projects and acting against the will of the voters...even to the point of taking private property to do so. This mayor isn't what he seemed. You need to keep your eye on this one. 

























Friday, September 6, 2013

RAY GIVENS FOR MARYLAND STATE DELEGATE, DISTRICT 1C





     Ray Givens is the go-to guy in the tri-state area for gun rights activism, or anything about guns for that matter, and I am delighted that he is running for Maryland State Delegate for District 1-C (Williamsport, Hagerstown west of Rt. 63, Clear Spring, Big Pool, Big Spring, Hancock, Flintstone, Little Orleans, Rocky Gap, and Cumberland). Ray does not hesitate to speak out on gun issues and boldly states his position on 2nd Amendment rights in his campaign literature:
 

“I strongly believe that the 2nd Amendment is the protector of all people, property, and individual rights. I also firmly believe, as did our first president, George Washington, that firearms are second only to the U.S. Constitution in importance.”

 
    We could not find a better candidate to represent Maryland gun owners in Annapolis, where they have overstepped their boundaries and passed an unconstitutional bill (SB 281, entitled The Firearms Safety Act of 2013) that infringes on the rights of law-abiding citizens. As the Legislative Representative for the Western Maryland Sportsman’s Coalition, an unfunded position, he made the long trip to Annapolis two or more times a week at his own expense during the presentation and debate of SB 281. He testified whenever the public was invited to do so.
    When the Hagerstown TEA Party hosted a Western Maryland Day of Resistance in opposition to this bill, he was a great support to me when I organized the event, assisting in reaching out and securing credible, knowledgeable speakers regarding all aspects of gun rights and ownership. He also publicly opposed SB 281 at a town hall meeting held at Fox45 TV in Baltimore where he was invited to be a part of a panel for discussion of the bill, specifically speaking out against the banning of magazines with a capacity of over 10 rounds, stating that time not magazine capacity affects the outcome of a mass shooting.



    That said, Ray Givens is not a one-issue candidate. He has spent a lifetime supporting and promoting core conservative principles of smaller government, lower taxes, less bureaucratic regulations, defense of the U.S. Constitution, and the individual rights and freedoms of all citizens. His background and work experience includes not only a knowledge of firearms and constitutional issues, but also years of legislative experience on behalf of Maryland sportsmen and experience in environmental issues. He retired from both the United States Marine Corps Reserve (USMCR) and United States Army Reserve (USAR) programs. He worked as a correctional officer in Montgomery County and as a Sheriff’s Deputy in Prince George’s County. He also has work experience as an Environmental Investigator, particularly in regards to water, equipping him to argue the environmental issues surrounding the clean-up of the bay that led to a septic tax and costly regulations to home owners in Western Maryland.
    Ray Givens is a member of Responsibly Armed and the National Rifle Association. He is a past president of the Washington County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, and a member of the South Mountain and North American Rod and Gun Club, the Western Maryland Sportsmen’s Club, and the Potomac Fish and Game Club.
    In addition to the organizations related to gun ownership and use, he also belongs to the following community and veteran’s organizations:  

·                 High school coach, JROTC

·                 Optimist International, Washington County Sludge Task Force

·                 Member of the American Legion (45 years)

·                 Member of AMVETS

·                 Lifetime member of Marine Corps League

·                 Former Chair and member of Washington County Republican Club Central

             Committee

·                 Member Washington County Republican Club 
 

For more information about Ray Givens for Delegate of District 1C, go to the campaign Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/RayGivensForMarylandHouseOfDelegatesDistrict1c.
 

He will soon have a website available, and I will post a link to it once it becomes available. If you want to volunteer or donate to his campaign, email Ray at raygivensfordelegate1c@yahoo.com.


DO NOT MISS OUT ON THE GUN RAFFLE...ONLY $5.00...TO HELP SUPPORT THIS VERY IMPORTANT CANDIDATE! (email Ray at the above email address)

 
 

 

 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

DONALD F. MUNSON SUCKER PUNCHES HAGERSTOWN VOTERS

"I’ve been knocking on doors almost every day since December the 21st. I’ve had no more than 45 people tell me they support the stadium. I’ve had thousands of people tell me that they do not support the stadium and that they’re incredibly upset with it. Sometimes you have to work for the people. They pay the bills.”
~Donald F. Munson~
 October 3, 2012

“I took a stand in opposition to the stadium during the campaign; a stadium downtown. I favor revitalization, rebuilding the stadium where it’s (currently) located ... or some place elsewhere if it’s possible.”
and...
“I do not support it downtown. I’m doing my job of representing the people ... and I’m going to stay firm on it. I haven’t lied to my constituency in the past and I’m not going to start now.”

~Donald F. Munson~
The Herald Mail, November 7, 2012
     I clearly remember hearing Don Munson say that he knocked on about 10,000 Hagerstown doors and that only 45 people wanted the stadium downtown. This is why I can not believe that this is the council member who has decided that the voter does not matter and who will single handedly with his vote allow the stadium to be built downtown...that is if the Suns decide to bless us with their presence. (Thought I was gone, didn't you. I still own a home in Hagerstown!) Yes, I feel like I've been sucker punched. 
    I say that I am surprised, but I'm not really. This is the same politician that lost his seat as state senator because he never saw a project that the taxpayer couldn't afford. He never saw a bloated budget that he couldn't vote for. He never saw a Liberal Democrat that he couldn't support. He was finally identified as a Republican In Name Only and ran out of Annapolis by the voters of Washington County. Following that election he was BFFs with Delegate Donoghue, who is a Democrat and the most liberal member of the Western Maryland delegation, and who's district is the city of Hagerstown (Could this have been their plan all along?). Why did the Hagerstown voters believe him? Not only will it be his vote that allows the stadium to be built downtown against the will of the voters, but he will also allow it to be financed almost entirely by the taxpayer. That is Donald Munson! Of course he will!!
   I have always said that I really do not care where the stadium is located. I only care about the financing, but I am furious that those voters who did not want it downtown have been betrayed in this manner. So before I move on to the finances...although my friend Council Member Metzner had been for the downtown stadium during his election campaign, after the election he said, "The voters have spoken and clearly they do not want a stadium downtown." I have to be a bit disappointed that Metzner is also acting without regard for
 the voters.
    I am stunned that not only are they going to ignore the voters regarding the location of the new Suns stadium, they are also going to ignore the risk and unfair burden to the taxpayer. The Herald Mail stated that the mayor and council will proceed with the same funding formula which is almost entirely public funding. Have they not heard that Fredericksburg had the good sense to reject that funding strategy? Have they not heard that when Fredericksburg rejected that funding strategy that the Suns found a private investor to pay for the project? Have they not heard that Fredericksburg would only have to pay for a parking garage? I am sure that they have, so why would they continue down the path of public funding? I will tell you why. It is because investors know that it is too risky to build it in Hagerstown. Investors think that they will lose money. This city council is giving in to the noise of a small group of baseball fans, the Suns who have everything to gain and nothing to lose, and those who consider themselves the movers and shakers (but not investors) in Hagerstown politics. They want what they want.

    The Herald Mail says this about the funding formula:
"Financing remains a major concern for city officials, who still plan on a funding formula that calls for one-third each coming from local sources, meaning the city and county, as well as the state and the private sector."
This statement couldn't be more vague with the private sector thrown in at the end for those of us who care about the taxpayer. What does this actually mean? It seems to imply that the city and county taxpayers will pay one third, the state taxpayers will pay one third, and the private sector will pay one third. Even at face value that doesn't seem fair. So that means that Hagerstown residents will be paying through their taxes to the city, through their taxes paid to the county, and through their taxes paid to the state?  Who is this private sector that they speak of because as far as I know they have no investors?
    In regard to the county's contribution, the HM reports:
"[Munson] said he would also work to get a recommitment from the Washington County Board of Commissioners, which previously pledged indirect support of about $400,000-a-year over two decades to the project."
This recommitment was not a commitment at all. I was approached at the State of the County presentation by Commissioner Ruth Anne Callaham and she wanted to talk about this so-called commitment. She wanted me to know that the $400,000 a year for 20 years that was being reported as being "indirectly pledged" by the county was not a pledge of actual money. She said that they voted on "the concept" of pledging money in support of the project. She claimed that at the time she thought that she was voting for actual money that would be in the next budget. She said that she later realized that the money would not be in the budget, but that they were voting on a budget that would come after the next election when the next board of commissioners would begin their terms! The next board may not agree with this board's "concept" and choose not to fund it. Weird, huh? I was floored. So, at that very meeting I publicly asked Greg Murray if this was true, without naming names or stating why I was asking, and he said that the money would be in the 2014 budget. Somebody is either misinformed or not telling the truth.
    Now Munson has pledged to do what Munson does:
“I’m going to work and spend a great deal of time in Annapolis during the upcoming General Assembly session to get the state’s share of about $10 million."
Changing his profile picture from that gnarly-looking man with a scowl to the giddy-looking man with a maniacal grin changed nothing about the way that he governs.  He is going to get every cent of the taxpayer's money, regardless of the burden that the taxpayer is already carrying, and he will expect you to thank him for it! That is what he thinks politicians are elected to do...spend money! In fact I would bet that his measure of a good politician is the one who spends the most money on projects. It does not matter to him if we can't afford it. It certainly does not matter to him that the voters do not want it.
 "...sometimes you have to work for the people. They pay the bills.”
Donald F. Munson 
FYI, SUCKER PUNCH, as defined by the Urban Dictionary: 
1. Easily confused with a punch defined as a "bitch move" a true sucker punch is quite a bit more complex than a simple unannounced attack.  It primarily involves a closed fist contacting the soft underbelly of a person (beneath the rib cage) at a high velocity, causing the ensuing force to press upward on the victim's diaphragm, leading to a sudden expulsion of air from the victim's mouth and lungs. This opening blow leaves the victim open to various other attacks, often leading to what would be called "bitch moves" because of the defenseless nature of the victim.
 
2. This occurs when someone hits someone else from behind, usually when the person being hit doesn't know it until afterwards. Usually considered shady or a "bitch move".










      
  
  









Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Goodbye Hagerstown, My Dear Friend...It's Been a Privilege to Know You

    I am a Hagerstown transplant originally from Baltimore. The locals look at me like I have three heads when I say with absolute conviction, "I love Hagerstown." I don't understand why they don't get it. What I've come to understand and love about Hagerstown is that you can be as bored or as engaged as you want to be. You can be as uninvolved or as busy as you want to be. It is up to you! If you are bored...it's probably because you are a boring person.
   I first came to Hagerstown in 1997 as a renter living on the South End in a first floor apartment of a duplex with a backyard for my dog. I loved that place and so did my three little girls. That apartment had character. It was a downtown environment with a country kitchen and a large bathroom with a claw foot tub. The only hint to passersby that we had a backyard was the tall wooden gate on the front of the house that led to our secret family hideaway where we had cookouts, played cards in the evening, carved pumpkins, dyed Easter eggs, and all of the things that families do together that makes them a family. We grew  tomatoes back there the size of apples and had a beautiful wild flower garden and tall sunflowers lined our fence. We had hummingbirds that visited our feeders. Sometimes late at night I liked to sit back there and quietly listen to the sounds of the city. We had use of the basement as well and it was fixed up for the girls. There were  PJ parties in that basement almost every weekend. We were renters, but we treated that place as if we owned it, and it has a special place in our hearts. We even have a good laugh when we remember the characters, other renters, with whom we shared that building.  It was as special as we wanted to make it and we made many fond memories there.
   That first year I experienced some of the charming annual "events" that were a part of the Hagerstown culture. I know that those who work hard to promote Hagerstown probably would not even want me to mention my first look into the soul of the community because it is not something for which Hagerstown would want to be known. It was--simply put--"trash night," and I'm not referring to the regular weekly trash pickups. Once or twice a year everyone could put large items or boxed smaller items out on the curb and it would be picked up for free by the city and taken to the dump. I watched in utter amazement on tip-toes over my high wooden gate as most of the "trash" that had been piled high on both sides of the street was instead taken in by those who could find a use for it. There weren't city trucks picking up the couches, old mattresses, and the like. It was private citizens with pickup trucks loading up and going to the dump all day long and way into the night, who I assumed were paid by the city in some manner. There was so much activity and I loved how neighbors pretended not to notice their neighbors discreetly taking their things. Besides being a needed community service for an urban neighborhood, it was actually a festive night and I missed it when the city had to stop it due to the economy. 
   The second and much more respectable event that I experienced that first year was the Mummer's Parade. When I first heard of it I wondered why a city would honor Halloween with a parade. I didn't know what day it was to be held until the morning of the parade when I saw rows of chairs lining up in front of my apartment on South Potomac Street. It turned out that I lived on the parade route and I quickly realized that the parade is not so much about Halloween as it is about community. We had a front row seat and did we ever enjoy ourselves. There were marching bands, majorettes, dancers, community groups, fire engines, floats, military equipment, tractors, and everything fun that a person can imagine about a 4-hour parade held at night. This is one night where you saw all of your neighbors and their invited friends and families outside enjoying one another. I never saw one fight. There were peddlers selling parade merchandise and the girls would spend their allowance on a crazy hat, something that glowed, silly string, or until I banned it..."flatulence" spray. The parade ended around 11:00 p.m., and just as the last participant passed by, the city workers swung into action. The street sweepers came through and all of the trash disappeared in no time. In about an hour it looked like there had never been a parade. My girls are all grown up and have moved away, but they always come home for the parade.
   The girls went to Heritage Academy, a private Christian school located west of town. They had been attending since K4 when in 3rd grade I called a family meeting. I said that they could either continue to go to Heritage Academy or they could transfer to a public school and we could try to buy our own house. We took a vote and it was unanimous to try to buy our own home. I was leery of an inner-city public school. That was until I met with a Mr. Abe who served as vice-principal at Bester Elementary School at the time. I met with him and I shared my many concerns. I don't know where he is today, but he was a gifted and inspired administrator of a school that he believed could meet the needs of all three of my girls. After that meeting I was sold on Mr. Abe and Bester school. Again, we could get as little or as much out of that school as we wanted. It was up to us. We jumped in and gave it our all and I had no regrets.
   We noticed a For Sale sign on a half of a duplex a block down from our apartment on South Potomac Street. It looked quite ordinary on the outside. It was empty, so I pressed my face onto the glass of the front door so that I could see inside and I couldn't believe the high ceilings and the open rooms with a  huge stone fireplace that divided the living and dining rooms. There was an open staircase that added to the wow-appeal of the house. I said out loud to myself, "I could live here." My next thought was "...and it's on the parade route." I wanted to see the backyard because I knew it would be an integral part of our family life. It had no rear access so I had to stand on my neighbors property and peek between his house and a very large tree in order to see into the yard. It was another charming hideaway with a covered, but open, back porch. I planted a Pussy Willow sapling back there that first year and now it is as tall as the 2nd story of the house. When the realtor gave me a tour of the house I found that it had a full basement and three floors.  It was 1998 when we bought the house for next to nothing, but even that was a lot for us at the time.  I later researched the history of the house and I found  that it was built in 1888, and that in all of those years it had only been owned by about six different owners. We loved it and we were proud of our "new" home. 
   The second floor of our home had three bedrooms, so it became the girl's territory. It  was always full of girls of all colors, shapes and sizes with their laughter, their music, their loud chatter, and their whispered secrets. Every Friday night they had a sleepover. I was the parent that provided transportation and my car would be packed tight as I dropped off the youngest ones at the skating rink, and the older ones to the movies, school dances, and parties, and then I would pick them all up and bring them to my house for a sleepover. They would walk down to the Locust Point Market for food from the deli and snacks and sodas from the store. Their floor turned into an all-night salon with hair dos, nail polish, and funny face masks that looked like mud. Then they would all get up in the morning and walk to the diner on East Baltimore and South Potomac Streets for breakfast. This was really cool to their friends from the suburbs. They always told me how special our home was to them, and there was at least one girl who had an open door, no-questions-asked arrangement with us when things got uncomfortable for her at home. I loved all of my girls.
    The third floor was my territory with a bedroom and a half-finished attic-like room that I used as a library. It was decorated kind of shabby chic with books that filled a floor-to-ceiling built-in bookcase. The girls referred to it as the pretty room. Later it became known as the bat room after I had an unwanted visitor one night. Besides that one terrifying incident the room was my quiet place and the girls knew that when I was in there they should knock softly, or better yet, wait until I came out on my own. That house had something for all of us and I will never forget the happiest days of my life raising my girls there.
   As we settled into the house we also became more a part of the Hagerstown culture. We attended the Blues Fest downtown, although most years we could only go to the free session on Sunday at City Park. We also enjoyed the Augustoberfest in the big tent downtown every August. The free concerts every weekend in City Park and on Sunday in the Museum of Art were summer staples for family entertainment. When the girls were little the walk to City Park for them to play in the playground areas were evenings that I will  always cherish . We started having an open house party for the Mummer's Parade when the girls started middle school. There are a few "kids" that came every year and still stop by to say hi to "Mom." I think that I cherish most the annual Night of Lights when the Christmas lights on the lake in City Park would turn on for the first time for the Christmas season. We would bundle up for the cold weather and sit by the lake and watch for that instant when the lights would switch on and the lake would come alive with Christmas splendor. The Christmas tree afloat in the lake was breathtakingly beautiful and such a part of our Christmas traditions. We would also attend the lighting of the Christmas tree on the square downtown and the free family Christmas program at the beautiful historic Maryland Theater. Everything was close and we could walk to all of these events.
   Soon after moving into the house, I began to have health problems that over time made my world smaller. Except for activities for my children I barely looked out of my front door. I didn't know my neighbors. I didn't know my neighborhood. I sensed that there were problems, but I felt powerless over my own life much less the well-being of my neighborhood. One day in 2008 there was a post card left in my door about a meeting at Bester Elementary School for those interested in learning about a program called Neighborhoods 1st. Even in my diminished state I knew instantly that I wanted to attend that meeting, and it literally changed my life. In January of 2009 about a half of dozen of us formed the Locust Point Group of the Neighborhoods 1st (N1st) Program, which is a city-sponsored program where the residents and city staff work together to improve their neighborhood. I served as secretary and vice-president the first year, and as president every year since.
   At first our N1st group accomplished things that could be quickly seen by our neighbors in order to build credibility. The attitude in the neighborhood was doubtful to say the least. The residents, mostly renters, felt powerless and unimportant and they were skeptical that city government or staff would care about our needs. I think over time we did begin to build a little credibility. Personally, I met some of the nicest people that I could ever hope to meet. We had a core group that worked together year-after-year and I loved every one of them. Working in N1st gave me an opportunity to use skills that I hadn't used in years and opportunities to network with people who could further the annual goals that the group set for our neighborhood. The harvest party for the children and the block party for the families became popular annual events. I loved the block party because everyone came out for it--regardless of all the things that can separate us on every other day--and have a good time together. Everyone was just one thing for one day...neighbors. We ate together, learned about city services together through speakers and demonstrations, and we danced in the street together. I will miss my friends and neighbors of Locust Point in my beloved city of Hagerstown.
   In 2009 I became involved in the Hagerstown TEA Party and through that involvement was able to not only meet, but come to know, many of the local politicians and Conservative activists. I am sure that the Liberal citizens of my city, county, and state also have their groups and friends of like-mind. I can only speak for myself and the Conservative groups and friends that I came to know and love in Hagerstown. I started out clueless about my elected officials at every level. I found that the key to knowledge and the ability to make a difference comes mostly from acting on one simple principle...keep showing up. Just like everything else in this town, you can be as involved in the political process for as much or as little as you want to invest yourself.
   I just kept showing up at mayor and council meetings. I kept showing up at TEA Party meetings. I kept showing up at the Republican Club meetings. I kept showing up at community meetings. I kept showing up at candidate meet-and-greets. I kept showing up at the Chamber of Commerce breakfast meetings. It didn't take long for me to figure out who the elected officials were, where they placed on the Liberal-Conservative scale (and that it can't be determined solely by the D or the R that they wave in front of them). It didn't take long until I learned where I could make a difference and where I couldn't. In other words, I learned to choose my battles. The most amazing thing that I learned is that in Hagerstown you don't have to be part of a rich elite clique to run for office and win, to serve on boards, or to have a voice. If you keep showing up and people begin to realize that you care about this town, regardless of your politics, they will invite you  in and treat you with respect. That is phenomenal.
   I raised my children in Hagerstown and I found myself in Hagerstown. I never thought that I would leave this town, but I leave a better person for having lived here.

GOOD-BYE HAGERSTOWN, MY DEAR FRIEND...IT'S BEEN A PRIVILEGE TO KNOW YOU.