Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Referendum Fatigue

Just when you thought you may have heard the last of countywide referendums for awhile, the HoCo GOP has announced a referendum effort to limit the ability of the county council to raise taxes. Dubbed the Taxpayer Protection Initiative, the referendum would amend the county charter to require four votes instead of three to pass any local tax increase.

Is this a case of much ado about nothing?

Despite extreme budget pressures which led to furloughs and hiring freezes, the county hasn’t raised local taxes in the last four years even though there has been a solid Democratic majority on the council.

I suppose it makes for good election year rhetoric though I do think that we are fast approaching referendum fatigue in HoCo. Once again we’ll have claims that some petition gatherers are misrepresenting the issue and that the signature requirements in HoCo are an affront to democracy and mom’s apple pie.


Anonymous said...

AAA bond rating, #1 schools and libraries, no general tax increases, less development, the Council, Executive, and school system working together for our students.

Most normal people are happy with those currently in office! The GOP Council candidates have no issue to run on or against this year. So, they are trying to create one.

Anonymous said...

So, only the republican candidates, including Fox and the 2 swing districts launch a “campaign” during their annual republican dinner in an election year. Doesn’t sound like election year rhetoric to me :-)

Gimme A Break said...

This stunt is straight out of the Karl Rove playbook.

Maybe our learned Republican friends thought we forgot about the (very effective) 2004 Rove strategy of drawing out likely Bush voters by pushing ballot initiatives (ie. gun ownership, abortion, gay marriage) that would ignite the conservative base in over a dozen states.

RightToVote said...

While I completely disagree with this bogus R sham, the current petition mess needs to be corrected so they can exercise their constitutionally protected voting rights.

The fundamental tenets of Democracy demand that the government restore voting rights to ALL Maryland citizens who want to petition an issue or candidate to the ballot.

During this election year, every candidate and party should be asked what their position is on voter/petition rights and "what have you done in the past 15 months to restore those rights to the citizens of MD and Howard County".

Don't accept the probable response of "I never had the chance to vote on this issue". Press ALL candidates and party officials for what they actually did. Who did they write, call, lobby?

We know that Sen. Kasemeyer introduced legislation. What did Team 13 do (Robey, Guzzone, Pendergrass, Turner)? How about Sen. Kittleman?

Most notably, what did the Governor's close friend, Ken Ulman, and our Council members do to restore the rights of their constituents?

Stand up and ask every candidate at each and every public event!

Anonymous said...

I expected as much from the other two yahoos, but Fox seemed, over the last 4 years, to be more focused on service and policy than politics.

number9dream said...

"Gimme A Break said...

This stunt is straight out of the Karl Rove playbook.

Maybe our learned Republican friends thought we forgot about the (very effective) 2004 Rove strategy of drawing out likely Bush voters by pushing ballot initiatives (ie. gun ownership, abortion, gay marriage) that would ignite the conservative base in over a dozen states.
May 12, 2010 11:36 PM"

Perhaps the Columbia and Turf Valley lunatic fringe does recall these Rovian strategies. I fail to see the relevance.

And while their own futile attempts at referenda go down in flames they desperately cite distant "brothers in arms".

As long as sane voters exist in Columbia and Ellicott City, and voters in Elkridge, the southwest, and west, the lunatic fringe will continue to do nothing but howl at the moon.

Anonymous said...

Everyone who is calling for the referrendum regs to be eased... Do you really want qualification of signatures up to the interpretation of the BOE, which is elected by the same government that passed the law you'll be looking to take to the ballot someday? The standard is tough but simple to understand and not open to the interpretation of various humans who will always have their bias. Shouldn't it be hard to take something to referendum anyway? Wasn't that process created to protect the masses from highly unpopular decisions, not as a means for a small faction of the public to create gridlock endless ballot measures that voters are unlikely to understand anyway?

Anonymous said...

Stunt. Is the GOP just admitting that it will never have a Council majority? Maybe some issues that resonate with people and candidates with some appeal will help. My guess is they pick up the Terasa seat and need to live with a 3-2 minority.

Anonymous said...

I'd like a refund on the part of my taxes used to fund Healthy Howard. That program seemed to serve no purpose whatsoever, and the number of people it affected is far outweighed by it's cost. I would have been glad to volunteer my services to do the same thing for free using the internet on a Saturday afternoon, or for...half...of what was actually paid for (I would prefer to be paid, but how can you resist saving fifty percent by using me instead of county resources?).

Truly a shame when local politicians pay so much money for something that is essentially free.

Yes. I'd like my tax money for Healthy Howard back, please.

Anonymous said...

anon 11:55
Have you actually read the budget? Have you studied how many people were affected by Healthy Howard? Are you volunteering your services now? I am sure the answer, based upon your ill-informed response is the same for all of the questions.

Anonymous said...

How much was spent per person served as part of Healthy Howard?

It's simple math, really.

Anonymous said...

It is simple math. For simplicity's sake and so you can understand it, we'll use round numbers. 600 participants. $1 million in funding. $1670 per participant for almost 18 months of health care (less than $100 a month).

This doesn't take into account the 3,000 some folks who were placed in state and federal programs.

Anon 11:55: You can provide health care services for free for 600 people using the internet on a Saturday afternoon? Either you have no idea what you're talking about or you have an amazing and unique talent that you're failing to capitalize on.

Anonymous said...

anon 10:28
Have you used your simple math on the $1,285,000 for Grassroots, the $ 665,000 for Community Action Council, the $461,027 for the Domestic Violence Center, or the $442,114 for arts grants?

Do you have any idea how much medical services may cost?

Sometimes leadership and helping others isn't just about the price per person.

Freemarket said...

Anons 6:52/9:08- how much have you personally donated to HHAP? Is the program good enough for you spend your money on, or only good enough for someone else's money? Just curious.

If HHAP raises its fees by $70 a month for each participant, it will not need $500K from the county. If HHAP members aren't willing to aborb that cost or even some fraction of it (maybe 50% or something), why should the rest of us have to? Times are tough, everyone needs to cut back.

Good points about those other orgs getting tax money, we should look into those as well.

Anonymous said...

Everyone pays taxes, Freemarket. I might even pay more than you. Should have more of a say regarding of where the county spends our tax dollars? If not, it's you who's spending MY money.

Freemarket said...

HHAP is technically a private non-profit which would be more than happy to receive your private donation since you believe so strongly in their mission. Interesting that you continue to evade the question of how much you personally have donated, yet you strongly advocate spending public money on the program.

Anonymous said...

It's important to recognize that more than 22,000 Howard County citizens have signed at least one of the three zoning based referendum petitions since 2005. By any standard, this far exceeds the definition of "lunatic fringe".

Even though each referendum challenge has exceeded the required number of signatures, the people of Howard County have been defrauded and stripped of their guaranteed access to the ballot by the manipulative money and politics that have corrupted the leaders of our local government.

For people like Number9 who question the right of citizens to petition because the BoE didn't like their signature or they were in a rush when asked to sign in the supermarket parking lot, you are correct on one count.

People are mad... mad as hell.

Anonymous said...

Your question stinks of the same simple-minded thinking that says someone can't be concerned our over-reliance on oil because they drive a car to work. I support Grassroots' mission but haven't given them any money.

Freemarket said...

Exactly, you support Grassroots but given your limted resources, you choose to donate to other organizations or spend your money on other things with higher bang for the buck than Grassroots. I am simply asking the county to do the same thing.