Monday, March 16, 2009

If You’re Gonna Fight, Do It Right

As reported last week in an article entitled “Turf Valley referendum halted after review of signatures” by Derek Simmonsen in The Columbia Flier, the petition drive to overturn CB58 has been put in limbo. For those of you just now joining the conversation, CB58 basically allows the developer of Town Square at Turf Valley to include a 55,000 square foot grocery store in the development as opposed to an 18,000 square foot grocery store allowed under the previous zoning. It is widely assumed that the larger grocery store will be Harris Teeter.

Harris Teeter is a non union grocery store. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union has launched an all out campaign to keep Harris Teeter and another non union store, Wegmans, from encroaching on the union stores turf (pun intended) in Howard County. Union members were instrumental in helping Marc Normans group, Howard County Citizens for Open Government, gather the requisite 5,000 signatures on a petition to put CB58 up to referendum. Judging from my own experience, they reached this benchmark by subterfuge.

It now appears that the petition takers failed to take proper measures when they secured signatures for their petition.

“Voters now must sign their names on the petition form using the exact name that is on their voter registration; variations on a name will no longer be accepted”

That sounds pretty reasonable to me. Apparently it was problematic for Marc Norman.

“Norman said his own signature on the petition form may be invalid because he did not use his middle name, which is part of his voter registration.”

Geez, you would think a guy would be a little more diligent with his own petition.


Anonymous said...

The board of elections fully reviewed the 2,600+ signatures and validated them.

Later, they decided to invalidate those same signatures. This amounts to changing the rules mid-stream.

This is not good for anyone and is far-reaching in impact. Regardless of your position on the grocery, our local government changing the rules to prevent first amendment rights is not ever a step in the right direction.

Maybe we can at least agree it's much easier to give up rights than to gain them.

PZGURU said...

Dennis - you are up to your usual bullcrap again, so I'm gonna have to call you out on it.

For the record, I am not opposed to a larger store there, so you scratch off calling me a "nimby", which is usually your first rebuttal.

I think government decisions and actions should be challenged, and the verdict should be based on the laws, not some stupid technicality about how the name was printed and signed. Every time this happens it breed more contempt and suspicion of the government officials. Of course, people like you contribute $$$ to those people in the hopes of getting the government on your side, but the government is not supposed to be taking sides so to speak. The government is supposed to set up rules and laws and the follow those laws in the same manner for everyone.

As the first commenter stated, very appropriately, the courts and the government should not be changing the rules in mid-stream. Of course, I doubt you'd see it that way since that wouldn't fit into your personal agenda. I really would like to know what the F your problem is that you believe in courts playing games with the law and with citizens' rights? What are you, some kind of anarchist fascist? You only believe in laws when it suits your f'in fancy?

I mean I believe in property owner's rights, but I also believe in the right of citizens to have a means of legal recourse if they think the government is being arbitrary or capricious. You apparently don't believe in both sides, or at least not when you support the project being challenged. How very short-sighted and sad. You apparently haven't heard of something called the Constitution.

I hope someone builds a sewage treatment plant right next to your house, and you try to take it referendum, and you get shot down over a stupid technicality, and then maybe you'd understand why having moving targets for a legal system is BAD.

Anonymous said...

PZGURU - why do you choose to politicize everything and with such venom?

Choose planning over politics and choose civility while your at it.

Anonymous said...

This entire blog sounds like a paid advertisement from Dick Talkin. Are you kidding me: "Sounds reasonable to me"? It is ridiculous that every signature be the exact same, just because someone forgets to put their middle initial or something so trivial. I think this blog would be better off siding with residents than trying to give a false sense of impartiality when it is obvious it is a whore for the developers and Talkin.

Lotsabogeys said...

Nothing was changed midstream. The requirement for the full name is a law, Maryland Election law section 6-203.

If Marc Norman was indeed helped by the food workers union this is a fitting end. If those “volunteers” were paid they were breaking the law. Marc Norman pulled a Sergeant Schultz routine “I know nothing…..nothing” when asked if his volunteers were being paid.

Anonymous said...

Lotsacrap: that is a complete unabashed fabrication. No one disputes the change mid stream except you.

PZ is right on target. We have people who want to line their pockets with a shredded US Constitution just because money is intermingled.

Lotsabogeys said...

Anon 8:18,
Can't you make a civil and intelligent arguement? Read the law. How can you say it did changed midstream when it is a law that previously existed? The HC Board of Elections was not enforcing the requirement. If they didn't stop the petition now the developer's suit would continue with the Court of Appeals decision to use in their arguements.

I refuse to be paranoid and believe there is some big conspiracy. Is the state involved also? As the article stated the county was notified by the state and consulted with them before stopping the petition.

Anonymous said...

Passing on fabrications is hardly civil, and ridiculing the basis of our civilzation with your 'name' is hardly civilzed.

The case that the Bd of Elects decision was based on was not even an issue until AFTER the signatures were approved. Get your fact straight.

If seeing truth makes you scared of your own shadow then stay out of the sun, son.

Lotsabogeys said...

Anon 9:24,

You are a bitter individual. If the Court of Appeals did not hear the case that caused the HC Board of Election to stop the appeal the signatures would have counted like they have in the past. Since the case the Court of Appeals ruled on was in another county it was happening there also.

Get your facts straight. Just because the signatures were accepted doesn't mean the courts couldn't come along after and overturn them. What do you think the Court of Appeals did to the signatures at issue in the case they ruled on. I guess you believe that the Court of Appeals is involved in your fabricated conspiracy.

Anonymous said...

A few items that might offer perspective to this discussion:

** While citizens' rights are an essential cornerstone of our democracy, there is no reason to add venemous characterization or profanity to the discussion.

** County, State and Federal law allows people circulating petitions to be paid. Howard County goes one step further and requires those "circulators" to declare whether they've been paid or not. The County regulation is being challenged in court.

** Media reports indicated that Norman had been in close contact with the County and State Boards of Elections all through the process so as to ensure full compliance with all regulations.

** Contrary to the "Sgt. Schultz" reference, Norman's financial filings with the Board of Elections indicated $0 taken in and $0 paid out.

** Whether or not unions, businesses, or local residents were involved in collecting signatures is COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT. As noted above, any US citizen can circulate the petition.

** Last week's decision by the County Board of Elections was made in the absence of guidelines from the State Board of Elections. In fact, the state posted the "old" rules for signature verification on their website FAQs until March 16.

** Howard County's decision has thrown all Maryland petitions (for both candidates and ballot questions) into turmoil. With an 85% signature rejection ratio, it is virtually impossible to fairly implement ANY petition. It has caused the State Board of Elections to remove all information from their Petition web page.

** Regardless of your politics or agenda, ALL Maryland citizens have suffered because the County Board of Elections, led by their contracted attorney (Gerald Richman) decided they couldn't wait for the State to establish new guidelines to comply with the Court of Appeals December 19 decision.

Ann said...

Lucky for us, it seems that the League of Women Voters is stepping in to investigate this. I've also heard that a bipartisan legislative push is being made in Annapolis to fix this disaster before they go home next month.

Steve said...

FEDERAL LAWSUIT challenges Bd of Elec. Marc Norman placed this on the HCCA website tonight:

Ellicott City resident, Paul Kendall, has filed suit in Federal court seeking to overturn the March 12 Board of Elections decision to nullify the CB 58 referendum. You may recall that the BoE took this action last week after retroactively invoking a new protocol for petition review that resulted in over 85% of the petition signatures being invalidated.

Mr. Kendall’s lawsuit, which names the County/State BoE and Howard County as defendants, seeks reinstatement of the BoE’s January 22 petition certification and asks the court to order the BoE to reinstitute their processing of over 9,300 signatures that was suspended in February.

The lawsuit text and Mr. Kendall’s explanation can be found on the Howard County Issues website (Land Development tab) or by clicking on the following link, . The complaint’s central theme focuses on allegations that the BoE has deprived citizens of their First Amendment constitutional rights as well as denying their right to due process.

On a related note, it is expected that the petition’s sponsor, Howard County Citizens for Open Government, will appeal the March 12 BoE decision later this week.

Anonymous said...

It's good to see there are still some real Republicans out there, PZ. You know, the kind who think we shouldn't spend money we don't have, and we should respect the constitution, and who believe that businesses help the economy so long as they don't ask for taxpayer money or an unDemocratic degree of influence.

PZGURU said...

Anonymous 12:45 a.m. - YOU ARE 100% ON THE MONEY!

I admit that I do get fired up over stuff like this, but that's because government/court behavior like this absolutely undermines legitimacy and it is intolerable. That's why I hold people like Dennis (and Hayduke before him) in such contempt, because they don't believe in treating all people equally before the law. And, not because I say so, but because of their own words and actions!!!

Angie Beltram followed all the rules and requirements during her Comp Lite referendum drive, and similar technicalities were used to derail it.

The fact that Marc Norman was in close contact with the people who oversee the rules to make sure he was following shows that he was doing what he was told. For some stupid judge to come back and toss it all out is bunk. If that's the case, then the "deadline" to file the petition should be extended so that Marc Norman has the chance, at least, to go back and correct the so called "defective" signatures.

I LOVE how Dennis slinks into his hole when challenged on his arbitrary and hypocritical points of view. YELLOW is a good color for you.

As for the commenter who adivsed me to "choose civility" here's my advice to you: "CHOOSE HONESTY, CHOOSE INTEGRITY!"

PZGURU said...

ANON 3:03 p.m. - I am so tempted to expand on your comment because there are just so many inviting nicknames that one could conjure up for our dear blog host with "Dick and whore" or "Dick and friend" as the pairing, but I will refrain from letting my "venomous" side loose. LOL!

Anonymous said...

I’m curious.. are the same people who are claiming the Waverly Village Center plaza can’t survive ecomonically the same people who fought against the proposed gas station at the plaza. If the goal is a viable Village Center, then the gas station would have increased customers/visits to the center. Did anyone care about the Weis during this discussion? Wasn’t the gas station planned from day one and in the initial planning for the plaza?

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:07,

The people I talk with in Waverly don't even know that a gas station is coming.

Why don't residents have this information?