Sunday, November 04, 2012

Our Contrarian Comptroller

Last year when Peter Franchot joined us on “and then there’s that…” for the first time, he was decidedly more formal. It was obvious that the Comptroller was uncertain of, not only what to expect, but also of what exactly our show was all about. He had a healthy skepticism of who would actually listen to us. Even his physical appearance telegraphed caution. He wore a suit and tie.

On the other hand, so did Paul and I, but mostly out of respect. In Maryland, our comptrollers are legendary political figures. In all my years in the Free State we've had ten different people serve as governors but only three comptrollers. Actually there were four but one guy, Robert Swann only served for five months following the death of Louis Goldstein who held the office for thirty nine years. Peter succeeded William Donald Schaefer who held the job for eight years after first serving two terms as governor and sixteen years as Mayor of Baltimore.

It kind of makes you wonder why he’d want to be governor, but that’s something Peter Franchot is seriously considering which is why he’s willing to once again spend a little time with an unproven media outlet like a hyper local news podcast in Howard County. Governor’s races in Maryland are won in the stretch of counties along I-95 from Washington to Baltimore and we’re right smack dab in the middle of that mix.

This time around, we got a much more relaxed Peter. In fact he seemed energized by being a leading voice in the opposition to Question 7, relishing his role in bucking the Dem establishment. It’s not that he opposes gambling it’s the backroom deals that crafted this legislation that he finds abhorrent. While you might expect the states chief revenue collector to welcome the purported millions that will flow into the state with expanded gambling, he sees it as detrimental. Expanded gambling will not fix the structural deficit problem with our state budget. Maryland simply spends more than it takes in and that is not sustainable. New revenues from gambling he posits, will only allow state lawmakers to kick the can further down the road.

When asked about other three big statewide questions he didn't hesitate, “Yes on four (undocumented immigrant tuition measure), no on five (congressional redistricting) and yes on six (marriage equality).”

“In five years people will be wondering why Question 6 was ever an issue.”

You can listen to the 77th episode of “and then there’s that…” here.
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