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Monday, October 13, 2014




     I attended a candidate forum last week that was sponsored by the Hagerstown Chamber of Commerce. The candidates for U.S. Congress for the 6th District were in attendance: Dan Bongino (R), John Delaney (D), and George Gluck (Green Party). I was so excited to see Bongino and Delaney in the same room. I thought that watching an exchange of ideas between these two very intelligent, charismatic, candidates from different sides of the political divide would be an interesting experience. I thought that there would be some in the audience that resented how a Republican representative was gerrymandered out of our area.  I thought with the country, I'd dare say the world, afire the topics would be serious and riveting. Much to my disappointment, this had to be the dullest candidate forum I have ever attended! Before anyone thinks that a room full of business owners is certain to be dull, let me say that I have attended many of the Eggs & Issues events at the Chamber, and I can honestly say that they were never dull, particularly when there has been a political element. For instance, when Lt Governor Anthony Brown was the speaker, just as the campaign season began (wink wink), it was a packed house and the excitement was electrifying (see related link 1). There was a hustle bustle of handshaking and back slapping and the audience was full of expression. At another event where John Delaney was the solo speaker, also at the start the campaign season (wink wink), again it was a packed house and a very energized atmosphere (see related link 2). My favorite event was when the local Delegation was expected to submit to yet another pre-legislative bullying by a roomful of Liberals, and instead they completely took over the discussion and turned it back on the Chamber (see related link 3). Papers were rustling, people were whispering and snickering...I think someone at my table called it a bloodbath. I noticed immediately that this  event was going to be different. It was poorly attended, estimating that about 60 people were seated at tables, and I would guess that some of those people were part of the candidate's team or family members. I didn't see many of the familiar faces of those who normally attend, and the mood in the room was noticeably subdued. There was virtually little to no reaction to anything that was said throughout the entire event. Did they not care? Were they already decided? Maybe they missed Bryan Poffenberger. Even the questions for the candidates did not come from the attendees, being pre-decided by the Chamber, and some were too long with sub-questions. With current events in the news there were much more interesting questions begging to be asked. Dull...damn dull!

    We had three candidates in attendance. This was the first that I had seen or heard from Gluck. This is because apparently he decided to run a campaign without money, so that he would qualify for public money, after every one voted for him having never seen or heard of him. Make sense? It made no sense to me, but Gluck seemed like a decent and intelligent candidate and I enjoyed learning more about the Green Party, even though I disagreed more often than not.
    Dan Bongino was passionate about the issues. He presented as honest and straightforward, giving unrehearsed, unedited, and sometimes hard answers to the questions. John Delaney gave rehearsed answers that I have heard from him before, almost word for word. As usual, he continued to try to brand himself as non-partisan. He was asked 8 questions in less than an hour and he used the word non-partisan 14 times.

Delaney brands himself as nonpartisan.

    The three opening statements were so completely different that it would seem that they were not competing for the same office. Bongino asked who we want to be in control of our businesses, our children's education, and our healthcare, stating that government has gotten too big and intrusive. This was the first time that I finally heard a candidate for any office mention the failure of Obamacare, calling it a "disaster", because it put the decision-making process  into the hands of unelected bureaucrats. Delaney's theme was "I am one of you", claiming to know and understand first-hand their (business owners) challenges. He said he will focus on the competitiveness of Washington County, the 6th District, and the U.S. as a whole because if we can't compete we will not be able to create jobs, have a decent standard of living, or grow the economy. He also claimed that he is someone who gets things done by operating in a non-partisan manner. Gluck explained his journey from the Democratic Party into the Green Party, and asked everyone to vote Democrat, but to make sure it is the one with Green Party next to his name.

1. What is your vision for Western Maryland, and how should Washington County position itself for economic success, and what's your role in helping achieve this vision? I told you the questions were long! I think they got 90 seconds to answer, which means they talked fast. Delaney talked faster than I could take notes. Gluck, in contrast, took his time to use a lot of words, to say very little. I will paraphrase the answers.
    Bongino stated that the economic development problems in Washington County are the government's fault. The Federal corporate tax rate is too high, State taxes and regulations burdensome, and Obamacare a job killer, all causing a mass exodus out of our state, particularly in Washington County, as we are situated in a tri-state area. He would work to lower the corporate tax rate to 17-20 percent, which is closer to the international average, and then he is sure that people would return to the state. He did not indicate, however, what he would do about Obamacare.
    Delaney said that Washington County had some unique assets, naming the I-81 corridor because it runs between the "super-economy from Boston to Richmond", as it directly affects the logistics distribution and transportation industries in our area. However, I recall at his last visit to the Chamber he stated that we would NOT play a role in the economy of the super-region of Boston to Richmond (see related link 2). He plainly stated that we would never be a hub of any great importance in this region, but that we could build on transportation and logistics, in other words, trucking and warehousing. So he would work to get funding to expand I-81, agreed that the Federal corporate tax was too high (did not promise to push his party to lower it), and referred to his bill called the Partnership to Build America Act (HR 2084). This bill attempts to get people to bring their money back into the U.S. from overseas. For every $1.00 that they "invest" in infrastructure they can bring $4.00 back tax free. You can read about the bill at
    Gluck said that he would introduce worker co-ops so that people had  more money in their pockets to support businesses.

2.  Will you support funding for the widening of I-81, and how can you secure that money?
    Bongino said the direct answer is yes. He said that we cannot view I-81 in a vacuum, but we must also look at I-270, which he called "The Big Ugly". He said that the traffic backups on I-270 are productivity hours lost and feeding a smog atmosphere. He referred to Delany's bill, the Partnership to Build America's Act (HR 2084), as "The Crony Bank". He said that those companies had already been taxed and that money should go back into the businesses not infrastructure. He said $1T of stimulus money was to be spent on infrastructure and it was wasted because there was no accountability. The money should be pumped back into businesses and user fees paid by those who use the roads should pay to expand them.
    Delaney would make funding for widening I-81 top priority and claimed to have already been working on it. He said that he would work to get Federal and State funding, but he would also take advantage of his bill HR 2084.
    Gluck said that HR 2084 was a way to bring money into the U.S. barely taxed, which had been allowed to go overseas untaxed. He predicted that not much of the money coming back would be used for infrastructure. He did see the importance of I-81 and would support funding it.

3.  Do you think that compromise, consensus, or at least finding common ground on issues is a necessary function of governance, and how will your voice change existing dysfunction of the U.S. Congress?
    Bongino said that he will compromise, but not his core values. He referred to himself as a Conservative Libertarian, which was new to me. He said, " I will not ever vote to raise your taxes under any circumstances. If you want me to compromise on that it will never happen." He said that there were issues that he could compromise on, but the toxic atmosphere and outsiders with political leverage would make it impossible. He said that areas of agreement could be corporate tax, school choice, and revisions to Obamamcare. He knows elected Democrats who would agree to make changes to Obamacare, but it would be political suicide. He said it is time to do what's right and not worry about re-election.
    Delaney repeated two statements from previous forums that he says indicate the spirit that he brings to Congress: 1) The best business deals are those when everyone feels a little bad when they are done, and 2) You don't say bad things about people. You can factually correct them, but work in a constructive manner. He said that he would take really good ideas from the Progressive Movement and good ideas from the Conservative Movement--I wish I could have asked him to name one--and forge them together. He avoids the TEA Party like the Ebola Plague that no one mentioned. He would also like to see election reform so that Independents can run and have better representation in government. He just neutralized Bongino and Gluck.
   Gluck stated that there used to be overlap in the Parties, but that's not true anymore. He said that electing him would force compromise because everyone would take note that the voters are fed up.

4. What is your position on issues around immigration?
    Bongino said that this is very personal to him because his wife is a first generation immigrant from Columbia that came here legally as a child. It cost them a lot of money and time for her to become a citizen. Amnesty is not the solution. They have to follow the rules. He said that "amnesty is not benevolent and not compassionate. It inserts people into a black market economy that doesn't benefit us and doesn't benefit them. He would push for mandatory E-verify and work to secure the borders sooner rather than later.
   Delaney's grandfather was born in England, only had one arm, and came here to work in the factories. His other grandparents were from Ireland. He grew up in NJ with all first generation immigrants. He said that there is a bill in the Senate now that addresses every flaw in the system. He called illegal immigrants undocumented immigrants. He said the bill is stuck over ideology.
    Gluck has a green card! He came here from Prague when he was 16 months old. He said the American dream is not to be a millionaire, but only to be part of the middle class. He supports implementing E-verify and securing the borders. He said that we invited them in to work, so we are obligated to make them citizens.

5. Do you support a path to citizenship for immigrants? [The question did not specify legal or illegal.]
    Bongino said we already have a path to citizenship! We have a legal process to come here legally. He said that this is the only crime where it is discussed in terms of sympathy or compassion for the lawbreakers and not for those who suffer the consequences of it. He knows an Ecuadorian business owner who said that his business was being destroyed by illegals undercutting his business. Ignoring the laws provides incentive for others to break our laws. He asked, "How fair is that to my wife? Do we get our $10,000 refunded and compensated for two years of hard work? I don't agree with Obamacare, but I don't get to ignore it. Why do others get to ignore a law and get rewarded for it?" 
    Delany supports amnesty with the conditions contained in the Senate bill. Criminals should not be offered citizenship. He stated that it is our fault that immigrants are here illegally because we did not enforce our immigration laws or secure our borders. Since it is our fault, we must offer them a pathway to amnesty. They can get in the back of the line for approximately 13 years and go through the process. Deporting 11 million people would be immoral and a bad bottom line for the U.S.
    Gluck agrees with Delaney because he believes we invited the illegals here to work, so we must offer amnesty. However, he thinks that E-verify should be strictly enforced.

6.  What proposals do you have on environmental issues related to business and agriculture? 
    Bongino stated that the agriculture community is vital, yet it is being suffocated by over-regulation at the state level. At least at the Federal level he could be a microphone to affect state policy. He said there should be a hard cost benefit analysis for every EPA regulation, with a sunset provision to reevaluate over time. This should be done without social cost using only hard metrics like capital cost.
    Delaney said that Federal and State level regulations overlap making it hard to do business in Western Maryland, and that farmers have not had a sufficient  voice in Annapolis. He is creating a Western Maryland agenda for the next legislative session in Annapolis. He noted that it is not a part of his job, but he can use the position to shine a spotlight on issues. He too thinks a cost benefit analysis would be useful and would ensure that there are no overlapping regulations.
    Gluck is aware of a farm that uses about 200 solar panels to power the entire farm, and he personally uses it to heat his water and half of his electric. He would encourage more of that and the use of wind farms.


7.  What is your opinion on term limits for U.S. Congress?
    Bongino publicly committed to only 3 terms (6 years). After 6 years he has seen that people become tempted with fame and fortune and could sell out to lobbyists. He would support a Constitution amendment.
    Delaney said that when he first ran for Congress he ran on an ethics platform that included term limits for Congress to 6 terms (12 years). He read somewhere that it takes 4 years to become an expert on something, so he believes 12 years would be most efficient and effective.
    Gluck said that we already have term limits in the form of elections. He believes that we need election reform, allowing run-off voting to better enable Independents to be elected.

8.  It has been stated that the proliferation of safe districts, which almost guarantees either Democratic or Republican control in each district has effectively eliminated bi-partisan cooperation and has contributed to the gridlock in Washington. What are your views on this issue?
   Bongino said that Delaney's Open Our Democracy Act is ironically an incumbency protection program. He thinks the Republican Party has been destroyed using gerrymandering, and like the Republican Party or not, we need both parties represented. "We can't operate under a one-party monopoly. This region needs a voice, and you don't have one right now. You are being ruled, not governed, and I intend to change that."
    Delaney agrees that it has contributed to the gridlock and referred to his Open Our Democracy Act, which he claims opens up the primaries for everyone to run and for everyone to vote.
    Gluck again said he would like to institute run-off voting. He believes that Delaney's bill will make it virtually impossible for a third-party candidate to get elected.    

    Bongino's said in his closing statement that he has knocked on thousands of doors and the most common theme was "I'm moving". He said that for sale signs out-number campaign signs and Halloween decorations. You have no voice in this state. There was a time when Marylanders would never leave their homes, but this one-party state is driving you out. "If you want to change that there is only one way to vote."

   Delaney said that two years ago he promised to represent this district and stand up against special interests in Annapolis and work in a bipartisan way to get things done. He said that he has done all of these things and has been honest and transparent. His focus will be on jobs and growing the economy.
    Gluck said that he will sit with the Progressive Caucus. He will be a catalyst for change as the first Green Party member of Congress.

    As soon as the meeting ended Delaney quickly ran out the nearest exit, giving no one a chance to speak to him one-on-one.

Bongino hung around to answer questions.

 I too ran for the exit.

Related Links:

1. Democratic Candidate for Governor, Lt Governor Brown, Speaks to the Chamber,

2.  Congressman Delaney: First Impression

3.  Washington County Delegation Rebukes Chamber of Commerce,  

4. Herald Mail Editorial, Delaney’s voting record shows strong partisanship,

5. Hey Delaney: Don't Call Us...We'll Call You!


Tuesday, October 7, 2014


     I just watched the Hogan-Brown Gubernatorial Debate sponsored by Baltimore news station WJZ-TV and the Baltimore Sun newspaper. To be honest, I thought that Hogan may choke, being in the bowels of O'Malley-Brown territory. I have not been a fan of Hogan's because I simply did not think he was electable. I didn't think that he could possibly win the voters of Baltimore City, Montgomery County, and Prince George's County, which everyone knows are key to winning this race. Larry Hogan convinced me tonight that he can win this race! 
   Larry Hogan's presentation was flawless. He appeared calm, honest, prepared, confident, and ready to rumble, while never coming off as aggressive or arrogant. He answered all accusations emphatically and without hesitation. He was not phased at all by being in "enemy territory." He is not one of those guys who only feels comfortable talking to a crowd of supporters. 
    While I was impressed with how he presented himself, I was even more impressed with what he had to say and not just how he said it. He answered each question without avoiding any topic, only going off topic once briefly to defend himself against a Brown accusation that was not allowed a rebuttal. 


     It began with Anthony Brown's opening statement where he immediately talked about he and O'Malley's accomplishments ("we've accomplished"). He did not shy away from his connection to the governor and the policies of that administration, mentioning specifically that Maryland is leading the nation in Education and also the states' AAA bond rating. He then quickly veered away from O'Malley saying that he is not looking to the past, but wants rather to talk about the future. He mentioned his military experience and then said that he was "on a different mission." He finished with what seemed to be his mantra for the evening: He will get up every morning and fight for working families and middle class values, claiming that Hogan was for favoring a small group of the wealthy and large corporations. This was repeated word-for-word several times. Hogan was not having it.
     Hogan's opening statement was about why he was running and it basically was a list of what he called "the failures" of the O'Malley-Brown administration. He said that he was fed up with the politicians in Annapolis, stating that he is not a politician, but rather a small business owner. He mentioned the over-40 tax hikes, $10B out of the pockets of working families, the 8,000 businesses that left the state, the high unemployment rate compared to the rest of the country, and the "mass exodus" of people leaving the state to relocate elsewhere with less regulations and taxes. He got my attention. BAM!


    Brown said, "Let me be clear [where have we heard that before?], there will be no new taxes." He stated that everything that the administration has done has been to attract businesses. He said that his tax relief will start with the middle class, while he accused Hogan of planning to give $300M in tax giveaways to wealthy corporations. He again stated that he will be fighting for working middle-class families. 
    Hogan said, "It sounds good, but it is the opposite of your record of failure." He again pointed to the over-40 tax hikes "crushing the middle class, especially those at the lower end of the scale." He stated that 71percent of Marylanders think taxes are too high. He said, "You did that! Are you going to roll them back?" He accused Brown of giving tax credits only to specific corporations [crony Capitalism]. He reminded Brown that he said he was going to reform taxes in 2007 and did the exact opposite. BAM!

     Brown's rebuttal was to warn voters not to "go back" to raised college tuition and congested streets, implying that Hogan was somehow responsible for these problems, which he and O'Malley corrected. He then named one success story, Armor All, which he claimed is now second in the world in their industry thanks to he and O'Malley's business policies.  


    Hogan conceded that they were doing a "good job" in building schools, but said that they doubled the spending with mixed results. He said we may have the best schools, but we are the lowest in performance, with the performance gap between blacks and whites still too large. He said he would like to push money down to the local level, and to also have the decision-making at the local level. He said that he would put a pause on Common Core, calling it an abject failure. He would push for more charter schools. BAM!

    Brown repeated his ad statement that every child deserves a good education. He said that they have made progress in closing the achievement gap. He asked Hogan what resources he is willing to invest? Brown is promising a free pre-K education for every child. He accused Hogan of opposing that, and also of opposing new school construction, claiming Hogan will cut $450M in construction funding. He warns the voters that Hogan will take them backwards. 

     Hogan said that he is for a pre-K education, but not free, not for everyone. He accused Brown of not telling the truth about this issue in his ads. He said that he is for free pre-K only for those who are 300-percent above poverty level (roughly $75,000 family income) or below. He stated that Brown's plan would not be instituted until 2022, and that he has no viable plan to pay for it. He said that Brown already increased spending by $10M and that we
can not afford it. He said the issue was an election ploy. BAM!


    Brown does not agree with Franchot, and again stated that he will not raise taxes. Instead he will give targeted tax credits to small businesses, he will look at spending, vehicle fee management, and Medicaid savings. He accused Hogan of planning to raise property taxes by $300M. 

    Hogan said that everything Brown said in that answer was not true. He said that Brown does not want to talk about almost 8 years of failure including increased spending and increased taxes."You said that during the last election and you raised taxes! He wants a promotion, but doesn't want us to look at his record." BAM!

   Brown said that his record will show that he created $40,000 jobs, and through a private-public partnership (P3) created 5,000 jobs at the port. Again, accused Hogan of wanting to cut $450M in school construction and increase the tax base by $300M in property tax. 


    Hogan said that the Bay is a valued asset and top priority, but he would not blame the farmers or the rain. He stated that no one has looked at management of sediment (43-percent) from the Conowingo Dam. He would look to the Federal government, the EPA, and Army Core of Engineers, along with the states of Pennsylvania and New York to pay their share of the cleanup. He then accused Brown of raiding $460M out of the Open Space Fund along with $1.3B from a trust fund meant for the Bay cleanup. He promised not to raid these trust funds. He said that Marylanders hate the Rain Tax and are disgusted with them for passing it. BAM!

    Brown said that Maryland has a tradition of a "balanced approach" to environmental issues. He said that Hogan shouldn't blame other states, and said that he would work with local governments on these issues and also on reducing new septic systems. 


    Hogan said that was nonsense, because Brown robbed the money that they could have used to clean up the bay, and that he blamed it on the recession. He said that Brown did not cut spending, but that he had increased spending and taxes. "You are making things up! We are not recovering." BAM!


   Brown said that his ads are a conversation with the voters. Voters have a right to know where Hogan stands on important issues. He said it is fair to show the contrast in issues. He specifically named SB 281 and said that he opposed the bill in total and each piece of the bill including the banning of "assault weapons," limiting magazine size, background checks, and fingerprinting. He accused Hogan of secretly planning to overturn or not enforce SB 281 and called it dangerous. 

    Hogan said that he will not repeal SB 281. He actually felt that the bill didn't go far enough concerning mental illness and Federal background checks. It is set into law. He said that Brown has been running untrue ads trying to scare the public and as a distraction from his own record. "The ad shows an assault weapon on a playground! It is 100-percent false." He said that Brown keeps referring to Hogan's "long record" when he has no long record. He is not a politician. He also said that abortion is set into law and he does not intend to revisit that issue. He said that Brown ran more untrue ads about abortion meant to scare women into voting for Brown. 


    Brown spoke about "extreme gun owners" and again claimed that Hogan plans to not enforce SB 281. He said that Hogan has been a "political operative."


    Hogan first went off topic to rebut the accusation in Brown's last rebuttal. "I don't have a record. You are using an article from decades ago that was actually about my dad. You should apologize to women for trying to scare them." BAM!
    About immigration, my wife is a first generation immigrant from South Korean. I am obviously welcoming to immigrants, but we are a nation of laws. I actually blame the president and both the Republicans and the Democrats in Congress and the Senate for the situation at the border. BAM!

    Brown said, "I am a first generation American, my parents came here from Jamaica. This is a land of immigrants." He blamed the Republicans in Congress for the situation at the border, but stated that we can't fix that in Maryland. He feels we are obligated to protect the children at the border. He feels that we should reunite them with their family here in the states and return them to their country of origin "eventually, if possible." He said that the Federal government should reimburse us for our foster care services. 


    Hogan said that the issue is a humanitarian issue and that we should feed, clothe, house and give them a medical exam. He does not think that we should take more immigrants per capita than other states, especially since they have to be bused hundreds of miles to get them here. 

    Brown said again that he lost a cousin to gun crime and that he supported SB 281. He said that crime is at an all time low, but there is more to do. He said we must not rollback or not enforce SB 281. We need to build on the success of our new gun safety laws. 

    Hogan said that we have some of the toughest gun laws in the country, but we are in the top ten in violent crime. He stated that our number one problem is heroin. It is an epidemic all over the state no matter how small the community. Yet, there has been no action. Hogan would call a state of emergency and address the heroin problem immediately.


    Brown claimed that they have driven down crime rates and also recidivism. He said that Hogan just doesn't understand the problem.


    Hogan said that he is nonpartisan and offered proof by pointing to his organization, Change Maryland, which he claims is half Democrats and Independents. He said that we need to take the redistricting out of the hands of the monopoly Party in Annapolis and let it be handled by a nonpartisan independent commission. 

    Brown said that he agrees with Hogan, however, he blames the extreme Right in Congress for the problem. He thinks it ought to be handled at the Federal level with an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.


     Hogan said, "You just refuse to take responsibility! Your administration did this and it was the worst in the nation." He agreed that there is dysfunction in DC on both sides of the aisle with rabid partisanship. 


    Brown stated that when he is elected his first strategic act will be to move that goal to position one. He said it is debatable that the state is actually hostile to business, so he doesn't want to discuss it. He would rather talk about successes and then he named  4 or 5 businesses that are expanding. 

    Hogan asked, "Then why haven't you? You have had 8 years to do this." He said that Brown needs to take responsibility for driving 8,000 businesses out of our state. He said he has lost 200,000 jobs, and our unemployment rate is higher than the national average.  He said that we have 3 problems: 1) we are 41st out of 50 in business friendliness, 2) the burdensome regulation environment created by Brown-O'Malley, and 3) we have the fourth highest corporate tax in the country. BAM!

     Brown again accused Hogan of planning to give huge tax breaks to large corporations, even some that are out of state. "I support tax relief to small businesses." 


    Brown  said that the average person on minimum wage is a 33 year old woman, and she cannot raise a family on it. Raising the minimum wage would help to raise her out of poverty. He said that he led the effort to reduce domestic violence, and that he would find a way to increase education opportunities. 

   Hogan conceded that they did a good job regarding domestic violence. He said that woman are worried about the economy. Women typically do the budgeting. The over-40 tax hikes are crushing them. Raising the minimum wage will do nothing, but there will be drawbacks. The minimum wage was never meant to support a family. "It was meant for kids! If you have a better economy it becomes a non-issue." BAM! He believes in unfettered birth control available over the counter. He will not revisit abortion, and again, states that Brown's ads regarding abortion are nothing but lies.

   In closing, both candidates restated their opening statement. 

    In summary, Hogan won the debate, my vote, and I think the vote of my 80-year-old mother who is Democrat. With the condition of this state, and with the complete dissatisfaction with the tax and spend O'Malley-Brown administration, voters are more open to listen to another perspective. Larry Hogan delivers a message that makes sense with an honesty that can't be denied.  
    I think he needs to iron out where he stands on SB 281 and courageously declare the truth of his intent...whatever that is. Making a firm statement and sticking to it will mean more than a wink and a nod to either side. Somebody is going to  be mad or disappointed. I think he needs to realize that and accept it. This election is about the economy first. His strengths are in fiscal financial policies, so in my opinion, he should stick to those.  I personally am disappointed that he isn't more forthright about gun rights, but I will take the 95 percent that we agree on instead of the maybe 9 percent I might agree on with Brown...just so I can stick it to Hogan for the gun issue. It doesn't make sense and I'm not going to do it. 
    I wonder if anyone noticed that there was no mention, from either side, of the failed ACA website and the huge loss of taxpayer money?





Saturday, July 12, 2014


As I hung up the phone with Congressman Delaney's campaign manager, Liz Jaff, I realized that after 3 months of telephone conversations and emails attempting to negotiate a date for a public forum with Incumbent Rep. John Delaney and Republican candidate Dan Bongino, I was being told in so many words, Don't call us...we'll call you.
     Many may not know that besides writing this blog,  I am also the president and events organizer for the Hagerstown TEA Party (HTP). I have been attempting to organize a Meet the Candidates forum for candidates running for US Congress in Maryland's District 6. The HTP has hosted several such events in 2012 and also during the 2014 primary season, building a reputation for providing well-organized forums for a fair exchange of ideas among those with widely different opinions. Likewise, this event would be non-partisan, so we would be inviting the Democratic and Republican candidates, along with the two Green Party and unaffiliated candidates. It would be a monitored Q&A forum, with each candidate having equal time to answer the same questions. There is time before and after to mingle with the candidates. This is a public service to our community, providing an opportunity to meet with and learn about the candidates, and unlike other candidate forums in the area...our events are always free of charge. The HTP Board of Directors were particularly excited about the probable interest and attendance for such a rare opportunity for the citizens of Washington County to meet their Congressman in person and to hear first hand where he stands on issues that are important to them. It would be double the value to be able to see him compete with those who also want to represent them. Western Maryland deserves this opportunity!


      It all started the first week in April when I reached out to Congressman Delaney by a contact link on his website, by email, and by sending him a formal invitation via U.S. Mail. I received an email 14 days later from his campaign manager, Liz Jaff, stating that Delaney would not be able to attend. She offered no reason, but did tell me to "feel free to call with any questions." I instead responded to her email asking if there was a scheduling conflict for the tentative date of July 10th. I stated that we had started planning so far in advance (3 months), that we "have enough time for adjustments." She responded by email stating that "May is packed on the official side" (apparently not realizing that all three invitations clearly stated July 10th), but said she should be able to work something out and "would be happy to chat next week." Great! Right?


     I waited for the following Monday to call Ms. Jaff. I was eager to set a date because I knew that I wanted as much time as possible to promote this event for a fantastic turnout. I shared with her how our candidate forums are conducted. She asked that I email her a preliminary agenda, the forum rules, and a bio on our moderator, Pieter Bickford. She was reluctant to set a date until she received everything and had time to meet with her team. I told her that I would email it that day and she told me to call back the following week. I emailed everything as soon as we hung up, from my iPhone, in my car.
     I called the following week, and the following week, and the following week.


   The primary season was winding down, and it was looking like Dan Bongino could not lose. I ran into him at another campaign event. We didn't know each other. I think we knew of each other. He did attend our candidate forum in 2012 when he ran against Cardin. Incidentally, Delaney did not participate in our candidate forum that year when he ran against Roscoe Bartlett. So I ran into Bongino, and I asked him about a forum with Delaney. Without a moment of hesitation he said that he would, but that I needed to call his campaign manager to set a date. He gave me the phone number. I called Sharon Strine the next day. I  gave her the tentative date of July 10th, and it was done.


Is it the TEA Party?
    It is possible. I know that the media has done a good job branding the TEA Party as a bunch of wild-eyed, racists with pitchforks. Surely by now those who are as well-informed, well-read, and as educated as the Congressman know that is not the true TEA Party. It certainly isn't the HTP. We have a proven record and a great reputation for being inclusive, fair, and respectful of others. If Delaney had attended our forum in 2012 he would have seen that for himself. At that event we had one lone Democrat that participated. At the other forum that year for U.S. Senate we had four Democrats who participated. They were treated with respect. There was not one heckler. There was not one person out of line for either event, nor were there any at our events this year. We even asked that those in attendance wait to clap at the end of the forum after each closing statement. Our moderator, Pieter Bickford, is a professional and beyond reproach. For someone who makes a real effort to brand himself as a moderate non-partisan politician you would think he would be comfortable with the TEA Party. Nothing to fear here.

Is it me [the blogger]?
     I guess it is possible that he saw my blog post entitled Congressman Delaney: First Impression ( and thought he might not be treated fairly. Each of us who belong to the HTP, yes even the board members, are entitled to our individual opinions. I just happen to write about mine. However, when acting as a representative of the HTP it is a different story. We have a mission statement that we must represent. I don't write the opinion of the HTP. If I did I would need to get the approval of the Board of Directors before submitting it to a public forum. So when I wrote about my first impression of Congressman Delaney after attending a $30 breakfast at the Chamber of Commerce, it was just that, my opinion. Considering that Delaney and I are on different sides of most issues, I think that I wrote a fairly positive opinion piece. If you doubt it, read what I wrote about Brown. But even if I had written a scathing opinion piece, it had nothing to do with the HTP and how he would be treated at a HTP-hosted forum. I clearly described our forum rules. Nothing to fear here.
Does he care about Western Maryland?
      I think we are getting closer to the truth here. He was willing to travel to Western Maryland to speak at the Chamber of Commerce breakfast at $30 a plate. These events are usually attended by Democrats and Liberal-leaning Republicans. He would never be challenged or have to work for their votes. He knows this is a Conservative area in our Liberal state and that he does not have to work for our votes because he doesn't need them. It doesn't matter to his campaign. He doesn't have much of a vision for our part of the state either. It was here that I heard him plainly state that we would never be a hub of any great importance in this region, but that we could build on transportation and logistics. Our role would be distribution and fulfillment. In other words, trucking and warehousing. That left me feeling a little cold. 

Is he afraid for a stand off with Bongino?
    Bingo! If he isn't, he should be. Bongino is willing to work for your vote! He doesn't just go where his base is and sing Kum Ba Ya. He is everywhere talking about everything. I don't care where I go I see Bongino. It's like he has clones or a superpower that lets him be in multiple locations at the same time. Then you turn on the radio or the TV and there he is. He is working it! He isn't just doing it to win. You can sense the sincerity a mile away. I've attended many events where I have seen him across a large room talking to a regular Joe about what his concerns are for this country, or his business, or his family. If I was Delaney I'd be leery about talking issues in the same room with Bongino. He knows the issues and can talk about them, any of them, without a seconds notice and do it with intelligence and passion. Delaney is a smart man and he can talk a good game, but he can't fake the sincerity or passion for the individual and for this country. Bongino gets it. He has that gut-level feeling and understanding about what is happening to our country from the top down and  could express it in his sleep in a way that anyone can understand. Yes, there is  something for Delaney to fear here.

    I guess fearing Bongino and not caring about Western Maryland made it easy for Team Delaney to say, Don't call us...we'll call you. I hope that the voters of Western Maryland and all of District 6, who surely will have had the pleasure of meeting Bongino by then, say the same to Delaney in the voting booth. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014


Let the reader decide...

   Mike McKay is running for Delegate for MD District 1C. His opposition in the GOP primary is Ray Givens (no relation). Of course I am extremely interested in where GOP candidates stand on the TEA Party, more so since the national Republican Party publicly declared war on us. I have made it my mission to expose those who would distance themselves from us in solidarity with the establishment power brokers in our Party.
    I tried to contact McKay by telephone as soon as he began to campaign. I called several times and left phone messages asking him to please return my call. I got no response.  It was around this time that someone approached me to tell me that McKay had been a speaker at a union event in Hagerstown where he said, when asked about his relationship with the TEA Party,
 " I used to belong to the TEA Party, but I distanced myself from them about 3 years ago."
This peaked my interest and I wanted to hear directly from him the meaning of this statement. I called a few more times before I realized that he was not going to return my call.
    I attended a meeting of the Allegany TEA Party Conservative Caucus, hoping that I would get a chance to talk to their members about the group's relationship with McKay. It wasn't  until after the meeting when several of us went to lunch did I hear about what may have occurred three years ago. I must tell you that I was not in an "interview setting."  I was seated at a long table at the end seat, so I was basically only able to listen to the conversation around the table. I heard feelings of betrayal. Those at the table believed that they were used to get McKay elected as County Commissioner and then dropped like a bad habit just after the election.  As I said, it was not an interview. There was no one on the record. It did make me all the more determined to find out his side of the story...if he would just return my calls.
    As the events organizer for the Hagerstown TEA Party, I invited him along with all Republican and Democratic candidates for MD Districts 1C, 2A, and 2B to a TEA Party-sponsored candidate's forum.  HTP candidate forums are non-partisan and all candidates are invited to participate and are treated with respect. This was proven true during the last election cycle. I sent an email and  I sent a formal invitation by U.S. mail. I did not expect to hear from him since all attempts to contact him had been ignored.  Just in case he would hesitate due to my last name (the same as his opponent), I made it clear that there is no family relation. He was the first to reply! He said that he had to attend an earlier County Council meeting that evening, but that as soon as it was over he would head towards Hagerstown, and he would be arriving late. We had a little rather hurried back and forth about a statement that he wanted to be read to those in attendance. It sounded like a campaign statement, not an explanation for his tardiness. I told him that it wouldn't be fair to the other candidates to allow a statement without his presence and without Q&A.  We finally agreed that it would be just a statement on his tardiness. However, when I finally received the statement it was more than what we agreed on...and he did not show up. Again, a missed attempt to hear his side of his statement to the union crowd and to ask him if he was following the lead of the national Party and distancing himself.
    My last attempt to speak directly with Mike McKay was at the Allegany TEA Party and Conservative Caucus candidate's forum. (You can see the video of  this event with both candidates responding to Q&A at After the forum I found an opportunity to approach him and speak to him privately. He knew who I was before introducing he did know that I was the one that he had seemingly been avoiding for months. Finally, I asked him:
"I am told that you made a statement before a union crowd that you had distanced yourself from the TEA Party about 3 years ago. Is this in solidarity with the national GOP's "war on the TEA Party"?

He answered without hesitation, giving an emphatic "No." I pushed. I told him that some in the group feel that he used them to get elected and then quit. He again, without hesitation, explained that the group was under different leadership at the time. He felt that the leadership back then had become a little "unruly." He said that their president was making public accusations about illegal behavior by public servants from the sheriff's department on up. He felt that it was unfounded and irresponsible. What could I say? I too may have distanced myself under those circumstances. I told him that I would attempt to verify this claim. He assured me that he still wholly espoused TEA Party principles.
    Since then the Allegany group has endorsed Ray Givens as their candidate for Delegate for District 1C. I spoke to two people currently in leadership: one was around when McKay was a member and the other was not. Both believed that there was some truth to his explanation of why he quit the TEA Party three years ago. My nagging concern...
He didn't tell the union crowd why he distanced himself from the TEA Party, or that he still espoused TEA Party principles....and he avoided me for as long as he could.

        I have tried to be fair and give the reader something to think about before voting. I too have since decided to endorse Ray Givens. Why? There has never been a doubt about his friendship with the  TEA Party. I know first hand that he has attended most of our events since its inception in 2009.  If I have a question I can call him and he will answer or get back to me as soon as possible. I don't know, maybe he has more time than McKay for phone calls. After all, Ray Givens is retired while Mike McKay owns and manages 6 dry cleaning stores and I believe he has 8 children at home. Fact is one responds the other does not.
     Ray Givens has been a tireless advocate for the Second Amendment, making the long trip to Annapolis and back many times over the years. He made that trip from Hancock sometimes twice a week during the SB281 debate. He is committed to Conservative causes. He is available to the public.  To me it just makes sense. I support Ray Givens for Delegate for MD District 1C.

Reader, you decide and remember to vote on June 24th!

Saturday, May 31, 2014


(G-rated Version) They called police officers pigs.

The Herald Mail has its favorites. One of these is a Mr. Rodney Guessford. Everything that this man utters, be it in writing or by phone, is published. In my observations, the favorable responses to his utterances are always published and in a timely manner. Opposing feedback will likely not be published. When opposing feedback is published, it is long after his original comment was posted, almost ensuring that it has at least in part been forgotten. Opposition rendered useless.

In contrast, although I am a "top commenter," I rarely get a word printed.  I have a public profile on the Herald Mail on-line version, and it has a section called My Recent Comments. I comment nearly every day on something. My most recent comments listed in this section are from 5 months ago! I don't need the Herald Mail for my opinions to be read. I am just aggravated that their readership (my community) doesn't always get both sides to the inane babblings of Rodney Guessford.

This has to be the most ignorant definition of freedom ever to be uttered.

One of those babblings was titled: Remembering Woodstock. I found this telling to say the least. This has to be the most ignorant definition of freedom ever to be uttered. I wrote a letter to the editor of the HM in response. Of course it was not published. At first I thought maybe it was because it was the week of Memorial Day, but it is actually quite relevant since it was his ilk that spat upon our soldiers when they returned from Viet Nam. The Herald Mail can bite me! Here is the ignorant Feedback comment, followed by my op-ed. Read and SHARE. I believe the Conservative on-line network far outreaches their readership.
Herald Mail, Feedback, May 22, 2014
“I’m sitting here Saturday, I’m reminiscing. I’m playing my ‘Woodstock’ album. To all you tea partiers out there, that’s what freedom was, Woodstock.
That’s freedom, not carrying a gun and being fearful for everybody that walks around you. That’s not freedom. Freedom is enjoying everybody; everybody else’s thoughts. Caring about people, caring about babies and women and children, and the soldiers.

Freedom is not complaining all the time, and wanting your own agenda. That is not freedom.”

— Rodney Guessford, Hagerstown

To the Editor,
I am writing in response to--the HM's premier opinion writer/caller--Rodney Guessford's Feedback entitled Remembering Woodstock. This explains a lot. Rodney is tip-toeing through the tulips defining freedom as being free to drop acid and roll in the mud naked having sex with strangers. Sure that is freedom too. However, that is not what makes people care about people, babies, women, and children. Especially soldiers! These same people spat on our soldiers!

Now, carrying a gun actually is a freedom protected by the Second Amendment. I am not in fear of anyone, but should some drug addict attempt to invade my home, he should be very afraid because I am free to protect myself and my 80-year-old mother. This just happened in Dundalk and the poor woman had nothing with which to protect herself.
I doubt that Mr. Guessford "enjoys everybody else's thoughts."  He pushes his own agenda, and he is constantly complaining here in the HM. Complaining actually is a freedom also, protected by the First Amendment. "Tea partiers" are as free to complain, promote a Conservative agenda, and carry a gun as Rodney is to wallow in the mud. Deal with it.

 Lynda Givens Evans

If you agree...SHARE! The Herald Mail and other Liberal news outlets will find themselves obsolete and powerless. The on-line Conservative network is limitless!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014



Is it just me growing more cynical or is this truly a coincidence? These candidate's profiles for the Board of Education were published two-at-a-time, and the first thing that struck me was that the HM is not exactly known for its investigative work. So what's up? Why this election? Why only the BOE candidates? One of the candidate's told me that when they were interviewed the reporter justified publishing this information because the BOE has a large budget, if not the largest budget, in the county. OK, but what about the dirt that wasn't related to finances? Certainly there is dirt that could be dug up on other candidates for other races; in fact, I know that there is.

The second cynical thought came after reading the first profile that was without dirt. The article did not state that they had investigated this person and was unable to find anything to report. There just wasn't any. In fact, that statement did not appear in any of the profiles without dirt. Intentional?

After reading 6 of the 8 profiles and realizing that there were only 2 so far without dirt, I predicted that there would only be one candidate of the final two profiles to be published that would report a bit of dirt, giving us exactly three "clean" candidates. Guess what? Three clean candidates and three openings...imagine that.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Chance Meeting: Do You Believe In War?

    I was driving home from a meeting in Sykesville, and I had decided to take a different route home. Right away I realize that this was a bad decision because of the many traffic lights and heavy traffic. I stopped at a red light and a man pulls up next to me on my passenger side. He motions for me to roll down my window. He asks, "Do you believe in war?" Right away I think this is because he saw my bumper stickers, although none of them mention war. The most prominent sticker is larger than the rest and is bright yellow with the snake and Don't Tread On Me...the Gadsden flag, also known as the TEA Party flag.

    I wasn't afraid. He was soft spoken with a Spanish accent. He didn't look threatening in any way. He didn't appear angry. I had all of these thoughts, and managed to answer before the light changed, "It depends." He looked perplexed at my answer. The light changed and I drove on.

    I stopped at the next red light and he again motions to me to roll down my window. He asks me, "How old were you in 1970?" I said, "eleven."

    "Have you ever heard of Viet Nam?"


    "Where were you in 1970?"

    "I don't know. I told you I was a child. What is your point sir?"

    "Do you know that when I came home from Nam no one greeted me with tears of gratitude and flowers? They spit at me and called me names." Again, very soft spoken. 

    "I have heard about that. I am sorry."

    He again looks perplexed.

    "Thank you for your service. I am sorry that this happened to you."

    The light changed and someone beeped their horn. He said "Thank you," and waved me on. I lost sight of him in the traffic.

    I have been thinking about him and why he flagged me down. I was a stranger with a bumper sticker that he knew was political but didn't know exactly what it was. He felt like he needed to flag down a stranger and ask her about something that happened to him 44 years ago. Why? Why did I take that route? Why did we have this chance meeting? What am I supposed to learn from this interaction?

    All I could think was how sad it is that 44 years later a bumper sticker triggered his pain and he wanted to know if I understood it. I can't stop thinking about him. 

    I think that I will remember him again sometime in the future and it will be a significant moment. It will be an ah hah moment and I will understand why. I have always known about the mistreatment of our Vietnam vets. I've read about it and I've heard about it, but this was the first time that I felt it. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014


    I am writing in response to the Apr 2nd Letter to the Editor that was published in the Herald Mail, titled “Of course the tea party is biased against the president” by Rodney Guessford. See . This is just one of the many op-eds, editorials, and Feedback column anti-TEA Party comments that I have had to refute since the campaign season has started to heat up. However, I have only been able to provide rebuttals mostly on-line. The HM either does not print my op-eds or op-eds written by TEA Party members, or they hold them and print them long after they have lost relevance. Not all Feedback column rebuttals make it to print. The editorial columnists do not respond nor do they provide a printed public forum for rebuttals. The number of syndicated editorial columns are equal in number for both sides of the public narrative, but the local columnists are either Liberal or Liberal-leaning Republicans, and of course the HM publishes their own Liberal opinions on a regular basis. If the Herald Mail wanted to be fair, they would provide the local TEA Party a column. Even though the national media is trying to convince us that the TEA Party is dead, it has proven to be--and continues to be--relevant nationally and locally since its inception five years ago. It is time to give us a voice.
“…It’s no more biased than the people in this county, especially the tea partiers. Tea party is so biased on their side that they make up stuff, because they have no ideas and no plans.”

    Mr. Guessford and I started an on-line debate on March 27th when he first made the Feedback statement, “…It’s no more biased than the people in this county, especially the tea partiers. Tea party is so biased on their side that they make up stuff, because they have no ideas and no plans.” I assumed that he was making that accusation against the only TEA Party in this county, the Hagerstown TEA Party (HTP), and I challenged him to provide evidence. He still has not been able to provide any. I don’t think that he has a clear understanding of the movement nor has any knowledge about the local group, but before, I attempt to provide both, I will respond to his letter.

    In his latest Letter to the Editor (HM prints his letters), Mr. G stated that the TEA Party is biased against the president. I personally am 100 percent against his policies. I think it would be safe to say that most Conservatives are against most of his policies. He uses some of the signage at TEA Party rallies as evidence that we are biased against the president personally. He just falls short of saying we are racists. The TEA Party has no control over who wanders into one of their rallies. If you want to find a nut in a crowd you will find one. Depending on how large the crowd is you may find many. Has he ever seen a union rally, a civil rights rally, or a gay pride parade? There are always people there who do not reflect the integrity or the spirit of the group at large. It can’t be helped, but the Liberal media has used it in an effort to discredit the TEA Party.
"Well, the last I looked, Hawaii was still our 50th state."
    He believes that all TEA Party members think BHO is not an American citizen and asks the rhetorical question, Is Hawaii still our 50th state? Yes, Hawaii is a state, but can somebody tell our president that we only have 50 states. See mistakes are also made, but only the TEA Party’s are fodder for a media frenzy. All political parties have their characters and bad actors, and the Democratic Party has had their share, but only the TEA Party’s get the negative press coverage.

"The tea party’s always saying we want our country back. Back from where?"
    We want our country back to a time when our Constitution was the firm foundation that protected our freedoms and made us the envy of the world; when people took responsibility for themselves, their families, and their healthcare; when the church and the community provided “social services;” when the Welfare program was a temporary safety net and not a generational lifestyle of dependency; when our national budget wasn’t burdened with entitlements for almost half of the country, indefinitely, and growing; when you had to earn the privilege to become an American citizen, you didn’t brake our laws by entering our country illegally and then burden the American taxpayer with social services meant for our citizens; when things were made in America by American workers; when corporations were never too big to fail; when the government didn’t pick winners and losers; when you were free to say what you want, own the gun that you want, and your privacy was protected; and when America stood by their allies and were feared and respected by their enemies. It has nothing to do with wanting black segregation and "gays back in the closet."
The truth about the TEA Party

   The TEA Party is NOT a nationwide organization led by some central governing body. It is a nationwide (becoming world-wide) grassroots movement. Each group, actually each member, is independent. For instance, the HTP has a Board of Directors, but they are not managed by a larger entity, nor do they attempt to manage their membership. The board just provides enough structure to provide independent like-minded citizens opportunities to meet and network, participate in political activism (locally, in Annapolis, and in D.C.), and stay informed and educated on current events and the political process. We prefer to call our members Conservatives because they may actually be registered Republicans, Libertarians, Independent Constitutionalists, and yes even Democrats.  We don’t all agree on everything, so we limit our mission to things that we all agree are important: protecting our Constitution and our freedoms, fiscal responsibility, free markets, and Capitalism. As a group, we DO NOT get involved in social issues. Social issues are not addressed or promoted at TEA Party meetings, at our events, or on our social media. Members are free to participate and/or promote social issues as individuals.

    As I have told Mr. G on-line, I will be happy to discuss or debate issues. I hope that I don’t have to waste any more time clearing up misconceptions based on negative stereotypes developed from a hatred of anyone who doesn’t agree with him or others like him. Unfortunately, I think it will be an on-going daily battle. This battle should be fought fairly on a level battleground. E-mail Jake Womer ( and respectfully tell him that the TEA Party deserves a voice. Love us or hate us, many of us are HM customers, we are a part of the community....and we are here to stay.

* I need to aknowledge that the HM article published about our Meet the Candidates for County Commissioner held last night (4/3/14) was positive and fair. It is the first time that there was not one negative implication or something that would make the public wonder if we are a legitimate organization. The attendance was a little understated, but usually the media grossly underestimates the turnout at our events. I don't think it was intentional. I just think it was a wrong guesstimate. We had seating for 100 and there were not many empty seats.

We promote patriotism, capitalism and free markets as well as personal and fiscal responsibility. We believe it is important to preserve and uphold the Constitution of the United States as well as the freedom and liberties granted to us by our Creator.