Kevin Earl Dayhoff Art One-half Banana Stems

Kevin Earl Dayhoff Art One-half Banana Stems - www.kevindayhoff.com Runner, writer, artist, fire and police chaplain Mindless ramblings of a runner, journalist & artist: Travel, art, artists, authors, books, newspapers, media, writers and writing, journalists and journalism, reporters and reporting, technology, music, culture, opera... National and International politics www.kevindayhoff.net For community see www.kevindayhoff.org For art, technology, writing, and travel see www.kevindayhoff.com

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

20080121 The Sunday Carroll Eagle

Monday, January 21 We can't understand the kids, but in this case it's a good thing
MOM ON A MISSION

Sometimes my children say things in Spanish. It catches me off guard and (I must admit) I have no idea what they're saying. They were chanting something recently and it occurred to me that they got it from "Dora the Explorer."

This is what I get for letting them watch television...
[Read full story]


Reaching Out
Farm Museum hopes to harvest volunteers

The Carroll County Farm Museum is seeking volunteers as it prepares for its busy season in the spring and summer.

Beginning in April the museum hosts numerous group and school tours and by May the museum is open to the public on weekends, and special event...
[Read full story]


Golden oldies at the golden arches


COMMUNITY SPIRITS

The house is already jumping when Fred Ehrlich starts blasting some New Orleans jazz riffs through his weathered horn.

Singers, one in a tuxedo, another channeling Dean Martin, a third looking like Elvis Presley, start belting out lyrics.

A line of ladies who arrived ...
[Read full story]


Git Along, Little Dogies


It's something akin to a rock concert on Saturday evenings at the Carroll County Agriculture Center in Westminster.

The lights inside the Shipley Arena flash and dim, the loud music echoes over the loudspeakers and boisterous fans, some screaming with excitement, rise from the bleachers.
[Read full story]


January 13, 2008: For 115 years, Westminster's band of brothers ... and sisters EAGLE ARCHIVE by Kevin Dayhoff

Just before the holidays, I had the pleasure of attending the Westminster Municipal Band's end-of-year Christmas party and annual meeting.

The roots of the Westminster Municipal Band are found in 1920, but according to director Sandy Miller in a July 2004 interview, "there are reco...
[Read full story]


More Headlines Education Notes
Beasts and Birthdays
Westminster businesses throw the books at Baltimore middle school
Stair steps in to assist Marriage Resource Center
Snowfall carried friendship, not isolation, in rural Carroll


December 23, 2007: Shedding a little light on early Christmas tree decorations EAGLE ARCHIVE by Kevin Dayhoff


Roll out the yule log ... all the way to the yard
News Briefs
Movie Capsules CE
Mama knows best at the newest Belisimo's
In New Windsor, Santa always comes to town
'Claus' for adoption in Mount Airy
After Christmas, resolve to ring in the New Year as a family
Setting some ground rules before it becomes 'game over'
Memories, and hope, are evergreen at Carroll Hospice
Holiday trains pull into Sykesville, Mount Airy and Pleasant Valley
Going, going ... but not GONE
Garden grows with a spirit of Christmas


December 16, 2007: Christmas reminds us of worry, and glory, of downtown business EAGLE ARCHIVE by Kevin Dayhoff


Bundle up and keep worm for the holidays

_____

The Sunday Carroll Eagle: October 28, 2007 - On October 28th, 2007 the publication for which I write, The Westminster Eagle and The Eldersburg Eagle, (which is published by Patuxent Newspapers and owned by Baltimore Sun); took over the Carroll County section of the Baltimore Sun.

“The Sunday Carroll Eagle ” is inserted into the newspaper for distribution in Carroll County. For more information, please contact:

Mr. Jim Joyner, Editor, The Westminster Eagle

121 East Main Street

Westminster, MD 21157

(410) 386-0334 ext. 5004

Jjoyner AT Patuxent DOT com

For more posts on “Soundtrack” click on: Sunday Carroll Eagle

http://kevindayhoff.blogspot.com/search/label/Sunday%20Carroll%20Eagle

20071028 The Sunday Carroll Eagle introduction

http://kevindayhoff.blogspot.com/2007/10/20071028-sunday-carroll-eagle.html

Also see: Monday, October 22, 2007: 20071021 Baltimore Sun: “To our readers”

http://kevindayhoff.blogspot.com/2007/10/20071021-baltimore-sun-to-our-readers.html

Sunday, January 20, 2008

20080118 Code addition will set stage for police force

Code addition will set stage for police force

Westminster Eagle News briefs

01/18/08

The (Carroll County) Board of Commissioners last week gave the go-ahead for a public hearing on a proposed chapter to the County Code that will lay the groundwork for creation of a new county police department.

The hearing will be at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 31, in Room 003 of the County Office Building, 225 N. Center St., Westminster.

The proposed chapter specifies the procedure the board must follow to appoint a chief and what the chief's powers and responsibilities will be. It also stipulates duties that county officers will have.

Friday, January 18, 2008

20080113 Westminster Municipal Band: For 115 years, Westminster's band of brothers ... and sisters

Sunday Carroll Eagle

01/11/08 by Kevin E. Dayhoff

EAGLE ARCHIVE

Below please find the long – unedited version of the column…

Just before the holidays got into full swing, I had the pleasure of attending the Westminster Municipal Band’s end of the year Christmas party and annual meeting.

It is certainly not a very well kept secret that this former Westminster Mayor and his family are madly in love with the Westminster Municipal Band. And it's not just because I'm a washed-up trumpet player.

Usually when one thinks of the Westminster Municipal Band, visions of “Mom, Country, and Apple Pie” come to mind.

The purpose of leadership today is to build community. Certainly one of the chief builders of our community has been the Westminster Municipal Band.

However, the rich history of the band includes being part of rapid deployment force to hotspots around the globe, a machine gun section, and a rumored reputation of being a heavy metal grudge-garage band. Who knew?

If a Greek mythologist were to write the history of the Westminster Municipal Band, they would write the Band's Mother is the history and tradition of the Westminster Community and the Father is the 29th Division National Guard Regimental Band. That Greek mythologist would also want to write that the band's ancestral home is Belle Grove Square and that it's midwife was Mayor Joseph L. Mathias.

The roots of the present Westminster Municipal Band are found in 1920, but “there are records of a Westminster Band dating back as far as 1860,” according to the band’s director, Sandy Miller, in a July 2004 interview.

However, to the best of our knowledge, it was 1893 when it was first incorporated as the Westminster City Band of Carroll County.

It was around this time that Company H First Infantry Maryland National Guard was organized in Frizzleburg in 1898. This unit later evolved into the famous 29th Division of the Maryland National Guard. Part of the Westminster Municipal Band's lineage can be traced back to the First Maryland Infantry Band consisting of the Westminster Units of the Maryland National Guard.

Around 1900, there were a number of bands in the Carroll County community that played a prominent role in the development and maintenance of the community's character and depth.

Between 1857 and 1952 there were 40 bands incorporated in Carroll County. Names such as the “Carroll County Concert Band”, the “Warfieldsburg Brass Band” and the “Double Creek Cornet Band” to name just a few. Of all those community bands, The Westminster Municipal Band is the one band that marches on.

Ms. Miller explained that in 1916, “many members of the band went into the Maryland National Guard under the heading ‘First Regimental Band of Maryland National Guard,” and shortly after that they were deployed to the Mexican border to participate in an undeclared war between the United States and Mexico.

United States Army Center of Military History officially refers to the conflict as the “Mexican Expedition,” with the “official” beginning and ending dates of March 14, 1916 to February 7, 1917.

In 1918, the band was deployed to France for World War I. After the members of the band returned home from France, the returning veteran band members, those who had remained stateside and folks from a “Boy Scouts band” formed “The Westminster Band, Inc.” in 1920. In 1950, the name was changed to “The Westminster Municipal Band” when Westminster Mayor Joseph L. Mathias took a particular interest in the band and the band re-organized.

At the event last December, there was no mention as to whether or not the Westminster Band still maintains a “rapid deployment” force. If anyone has that information, please be in touch.

According to a November 18, 1921 newspaper article, the Westminster Band led the community in a parade and subsequent daylong celebration of “Armistice Day.” The festivities included Western Maryland College Military students and Westminster Fire Department and machine gun demonstration on Liberty Street. Yes, you read that correctly. I’m not making this up.

The article says, “A demonstration was given with machine guns on Liberty street extended which was interesting to the crowd that watched the machines in action. A target was placed on the hill below Dr. Fitzhugh's which was riddled by bullets from the guns, showing the good marksmanship of the men.”

To the best of my knowledge, the current band does not have a “machine gun” section. Or do they?

At last December’s event, Westminster Band president Greg Wantz gave an extensive year in review in which he noted that several members of the Westminster Common Council were in attendance and Mayor Ferguson shared a few words of appreciation.

President Wantz said the band participated in 32 engagements in 2007 with an average of 38 members participating in each event. Years of Service awards were handed out to several band members, including Karen Wantz for 5 years, Rob Rollins for 20, Charlie Simpson for 25, Ron Charnigo and Jim Mora for 30, and Ray Shipley and Delbert Myerly for 45.

The President’s top ten awards were given to the members that attended the most jobs and they were as follows, making 42 total appearances – Dan Carl. Dan received a gift certificate from Harry’s Main Street Grill. Also making 42 – Sue Mora, who received a certificate from Frisco Pub.

Making 44 – Eric Utermahlen, who received a certificate from Applebee’s.

Coming in at #8, with 44, it was Bette Shepherd, who received a certificate from Frisco Pub.

#7 with 45 appearances, it was Mike Buffington, who received a certificate from Stu’s Music.

# 6 was Chris Crofoot with 45 appearances. He received a certificate from Rafael’s.

# 5 was Mike McQuay with 50 appearances. Mike received a certificate from Applebee’s.

#4 was Brandy Simpson with 51 appearances. She received a certificate from House of Liquors. #3 was Tony LaRose making 52 appearances. Tony received a certificate from Time Out sports grille.

#2 was Larry Myers with 53 appearances. Larry received a certificate from Bullock’s Beef house.

#1 was Dave Miller making 56 appearances. Dave received a certificate from Baugher’s restaurant. The #1 Color Guard attendee was Raymond Bankert, who received a certificate from Davids Jewelers.

The officers for the 2008-09 were introduced and they are as follows, President - Greg Wantz, Vice President – Scott Flohr, Secretary – Chris Crofoot, Asst. Secretary – Mike Buffington, Treasurer – Delbert Myerly, Asst. Treasurer – Larry Myers, Director – Sandy Miller, Asst. Directors – Ellen Martin and Paul Ricci, Drum Major – Steve Wantz, Asst. Drum Majors – Dave Miller, Scott Flohr.

The band serves as an ambassador of the citizens of Westminster in concerts and parades all over the mid-Atlantic region. And once again, the band represented Westminster at the annual Maryland State Firemen's Convention in Ocean City last summer.

A lengthy July 17, 1931 newspaper article describes the band and the Westminster Fire Department arriving home from participating in the convention earlier that July; “in a jubilant mood, as the band brought home the bacon, $100, for the best band in line of parade.”

The parade extended over 2 miles long that year. The band also gave concerts on the boardwalk and at the Del-Mar-Va Hotel and Hastings Hotel. The article also mentions “a pajama parade by the Westminster Band at 11 o'clock at night which was followed by several hundred people cheering as they passed down the board walk.”

A February 15, 1946 newspaper article gives us a great deal of insight into the names of many of the community leaders who participated in the band in the mid-1900s with its detailed description of the band holding its “first ladies' night since the war.”

At the time, John Schweigart was the director of the band. Other names mentioned are James Earp, John W. Peltz, J. Daniel Smith, Orville Earhart, Samuel P. Calrider, Walter Bell, Raymond H. Bennighof, Glenn A. Miller and Edgar Weigle, Francis Keefer, and J. Pearre Wantz, Jr.

For over 100 years the Westminster Municipal Band has truly been a part of the fabric of our close-knit village we call Westminster. The band was important 100 years ago, and it is even more valuable today as they serve as our city's ambassadors, and cheerleader as they share their music not only here in our community but throughout Maryland and our neighboring states.

Indeed, Westminster is not the only community to experience that thrill as the Band marches down their streets.

In order for a community an individual or an organization to remain meaningful, relevant and vibrant it must constantly re-invent itself and adapt to the context in which it serves. Hardly any organization in our community epitomizes this more than the Westminster Band. They are certainly the pride of our community. We are very proud of the Westminster Municipal Band.

The Westminster Municipal Band is always looking for new members to join during its Monday night rehearsals at 40 John Street. You can check the band out at its website, www.westminsterband.com.

_____

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster Maryland USA.

www.kevindayhoff.net

E-mail him at: kdayhoff AT carr.org or kevindayhoff AT gmail.com

His columns and articles appear in The Tentacle - www.thetentacle.com; Westminster Eagle Opinion; www.thewestminstereagle.com, Winchester Report and The Sunday Carroll Eagle – in the Sunday Carroll County section of the Baltimore Sun. Get Westminster Eagle RSS Feed

20080118 Westminster Eagle column: Dr. Martin Luther King's enduring words

Dr. Martin Luther King's enduring words

Westminster Eagle

01/18/08 By Kevin E. Dayhoff

American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., wrote in a book, "Strength to Love," published in 1963:

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction. ..."

Those words are as enduring today as when written 45 years ago.

The year 1963 was a long time ago and we, as a society, have come along way toward social justice since the days of legally-sanctioned segregation.

And yet we must be constantly vigilant, as new challenges are always on the horizon.

This is especially true today as our nation continues to wallow in a political tar pit like some bellowing mastodon with a hangover. It seems these days that all issues of community, race relations, the environment and public policy quickly deteriorate into a "red versus blue" coarsening of dialogue promoted by a lack of humanity and the intellectually challenged.

Here's a well-kept secret for you -- the red versus blue thing isn't real, except as promoted by pundits and cable television stations that wish to have their way with you.

Leadership is about bringing folks together -- not promoting division.

We could use a few national leaders like Dr. King these days and it's only appropriate that we set aside time every year to attempt to reacquaint ourselves with the practice of solving our problems by cultivating nonviolence and compassion.

Because I haven't taken enough abuse recently, I'll venture to share my view that the recent discussion about Taneytown not being a "Sanctuary City" would be boring if it didn't give us a massive headache.

Please re-read the first two paragraphs.

The resolution of Taneytown is a stick in the eye for those of us who are trying to promote Carroll County as a welcoming community and family-friendly place to live and prosper.

It does little, if nothing, to address the problems of illegal immigration.

The societal and economic cost of illegal immigration is certainly a fair discussion. I mean, what part of illegal is not understood?

Nevertheless, the overall solution needs to occur in Congress, a body politic that, unfortunately, gives new meaning to "pathological dysfunctia."

Furthermore, the resolution coming at a time of the year when we celebrate Dr. King could not be more ironic.

Take a memo: xenophobia as an approach to solving complicated immigration problems is interesting in the way a septic truck running off the road, through your front flower bed and ending up on your front porch is interesting.

The resulting rhetoric, gnashing of teeth and collective hand-wringing only promotes myths and misinformation that distort meaningful debate and mute the questions that demand carefully thought-out solutions.

At this point, the only "sanctuary" I'm interested in is a sanctuary from stories like this one that will only go down as indictments of community leaders who have spent years offering solutions in search of a problem in an attempt to gain political advantage by populism.

This year we commemorate the life and work of Dr. King on Jan. 21, but he was born in Atlanta on Jan. 15, 1929.

Much of our community will come together to celebrate him this Saturday when the Carroll County NAACP will hold the fifth annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast at Martin's Westminster at 8 a.m. (If you'd like to go, call the NAACP office at 410-751-7667.)

Meanwhile, what I really wanted to write about is a persistent and perennial question from many young readers and new folks in our community:

"Who was Robert Moton?"

If you have any memories about the old Robert Moton School in Carroll County, please share them with me, so that I may include them in a future column.

Considering how angry and passionate folks are about the sanctuary city discussion, my next column may very well be written from an undisclosed location.

Hopefully it is a place that serves grits and has a good stereo system so that I can play Led Zeppelin's remake of Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie's "When the Levee Breaks."

Anybody know what that song has to do with Robert Moton?

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. E-mail him at kdayhoff@carr.org.

http://news.mywebpal.com/news_tool_v2.cfm?show=localnews&pnpID=978&NewsID=869869&CategoryID=18317&on=1

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Courthouse history seems to match theatrical flair of current case
The eyes of Maryland were on the Carroll County Courthouse last Friday as oral arguments were heard in the case of Michael D. Smigiel Sr., et al, v. Peter Franchot, et al.

This, of course, is the historic constitutional test case pertaining to alleged constitutional and procedural irregularities i...
[Read full story]


Something we really must talk about
On Christmas Eve, while many friends and families were preparing to get together and celebrate the holidays, the friends, colleagues and loved ones of Smithsburg police officer Christopher Nicholson, 25, gathered to bury him.

On Dec. 19, Officer Nicholson and the stranger he tried to help, Alison ...
[Read full story]

Thursday, January 17, 2008

20080109 Westminster Eagle: Districting plan faces hearing in January by Bob Allen

Westminster Eagle: Districting plan faces hearing in January by Bob Allen

Posted January 17, 2008

01/09/08 By Bob Allen

http://news.mywebpal.com/news_tool_v2.cfm?show=localnews&pnpID=978&NewsID=867252&CategoryID=17320&on=1


Bill would create four districts, one at-large

The latest proposal to expand the Board of County Commissioners from three to five members will be open for public comment at a hearing set for Jan. 19 in Westminster.

State Del. Donald Elliott (R-Dist. 4B) said he co-created the plan with State Sen. Allan Kittleman (R-Dist. 9). It calls for four commissioners to be elected by districts with a fifth elected at-large, or county-wide.

The at-large commissioner would serve as president of the Board of Commissioners.

Under the plan, Carroll voters would vote for two commissioner candidates, one running in their district and one at-large.

On the eve of the General Assembly opening in Annapolis this week, Elliott said he believes his proposal has enough bipartisan support to get it through the assembly. A similar plan failed to make it to the floor in 2006, mostly because of disagreement over how and where district lines should be drawn.

"Last (time) a lot of people felt the (commissioner) districts should align with state legislative districts," Elliott said. "This time, that has been done to the extent that it could be done."

The failed proposal also differed in that it called for five commissioners, all elected by district. That's what voters selected in a 2004 referendum.

Elliott said his four-district plan is a compromise that carves out districts as equitably as possible, based on population, a per capita balance between registered Republicans, Democrats and independents and geography.

"The bottom line is, we are trying to make a compromise with this," Elliott said. "I feel very strongly that with this county growing the way it is, a change in governance is in order."

Skeptics have said the new proposal should not go forward because it differs from the five-district plan chosen in the 2004 referendum -- and as a result may eventually be overturned in court.

Elliott says his proposal does not need to go to referendum and is on solid legal ground.

"We're not violating the public's wishes," he said. "We have checked with the Attorney General's office and we have a written opinion from them that this is not in violation of the referendum and that we are not doing anything illegal.

"For some of these people (who oppose his plan), they are using that (argument) as a way to try to kill this bill, as in the past," he added. "There are still people who want three commissioners and others who still want five at-large commissioners.

Janet Jump, former president of the Board of Elections who also served on the committee that drew up the initial districting plan, likes Elliott's revised plan and thinks a commissioner-by-district system is long overdue.

"Carroll County is very diverse; South Carroll is a world away from North Carroll," Jump said. "These (sectional) differences deserve to be honored and recognized in running the county government, and the present system doesn't do this."

"I think creating districts is the only way we can recognize these differences," she said.

Elliott said his plan is modeled after Charles County and it works effectively there.

"I've talked to people in Charles County and other counties (where the board of commissioners has been expanded) and they told me it does make a difference," he said.

The new five-commissioner plan has been submitted to members of Carroll's delegation to Annapolis. The delegation will vote on it sometime after taking public comment at the Jan. 19 hearing.

"If approved by the delegation, it will be dropped in the hopper and be voted on by the Maryland General Assembly," he said. "Hopefully this time we have bipartisan support we need."

The public hearing on the proposed five-commissioner plan and other local bills proposed for the 2008 General Assembly is scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Jan. 19, in Room 003 of the County Office Building, 225 N. Center St., Westminster.

####

20080116 Carroll County Times columnist will be missed


Carroll County Times columnist will be missed

Letters to the Editor for Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Carroll County Times

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Editor:

I was sad to read in the Neighbors of Central Carroll section of the paper on January 11 that Ruth Seitler has discontinued her column for health reasons.

Seitler has delighted readers, historians and fellow writers for almost 20 years with her column, "Of Times Past."

Charles Caleb Colton wrote in 1825: "Our admiration of fine writing will always be in proportion to its real difficulty and its apparent ease."

Seitler always made fine writing look easy and many readers were delighted with her insights and experiences.

Her column was comforting, and comfortable, and best read curled up on the couch with a warm cup of tea and honey. She always gave her readers a break from the hecticness of today as she took us on a journey back to times past.

Her son, Jim Seitler wrote the last column in which he noted that his mom "loved writing (the) column every week. She would often read it to me and tell me about the letters or calls she had received from 'her readers.'"

He wrote poignantly: "As children we think that time stands still and as adults we realize that it moves faster than we want."

Ruth Seitler wrote for so many years that many of us took it for granted that she would write forever. Obviously, time moves faster than we want.

It was apparent that she loved writing, and as one of her many dedicated readers I loved reading her writing. Her column will be missed. Our hearts and prayers go out to her and her family. Thank you for sharing the last 20 years.

Kevin Dayhoff

Westminster

http://www.carrollcountytimes.com/articles/2008/01/16/news/opinion/letters/letters762.txt


Friday, January 11, 2008

20080111 I am exercising - Blogging is hard work.

I am exercising - Blogging is hard work
True Geek!

January 11, 2008

Will someone please tell my well-intentioned sister-in-law, that I am exercising? Blogging is hard work.

Can someone run to the frig and get me another Arizona Green Tea with ginseng and honey so that I may have my beauty and taste revived. I’m kinda exhausted over here…

####

20080111 Ozzy brings us this week’s Thank Goodness It’s Friday

Ozzy brings us this week’s Thank Goodness It’s Friday

January 11, 2008

It’s been a long week. Turn up the volume and settle back and enjoy. Whatever inference to current events may very well be up to your imagination… “Your lips are so cold I don’t what else to say.”

Ozzy Osbourne - No More Tears

Oh what the heck. A big thanks to Don Surber.

The light from Obama is a jolt of despair
He’s the first black candidate who has a prayer
Your levee of tears taught the people you might not come back
The Audacious Hope will bring another attack.

Your Billy told you that you’re not supposed to lose to strangers
Look in the mirror tell me do you think your life’s in danger here?
No more tears

Another vote passes and you lost big time
The deadline approacheth and you’re falling behind
You see Barack is gaining, will you lose the presidency?
You close your eyes as the pressure rises and you run out of money
No more tears

So now is it over? Will we just say good-bye?
I’d like to move on and make the most of the night
Maybe the Senate is not so bad a place
Your lips are so cold, what can you do to save face?
I never wanted it to end this way, before November
Believe me when I say the lesson is one to remember:
No more tears

Now play this and go back to work.

####

Monday, January 07, 2008

20080107 Smigiel vs Franchot


Photo: Westminster, Md. - Members of the media gather around Owings Mills attorney Irwin Kramer, in front of the historic Carroll County Courthouse after last Friday’s hearing over a lawsuit brought by five Republicans and a businessman from Carroll County, which questions the legitimacy of Maryland's November special session. Behind Kramer are Maryland Senators Brinkley and Kittleman and Maryland Delegates O’Donnell, Smigiel and Shank. Friday, January 4, 2008 photo by Kevin Dayhoff

_____

Smigiel vs Franchot

January 7, 2008 by Kevin Dayhoff

I attended the hearing Friday, January 4th, 2008 in Carroll County Circuit Court for the oral arguments in the special session lawsuit: Case No.: 06-C-07-0496648: Michael D Smigiel Sr, et al vs Peter Franchot, et al., which seeks to invalidate the legislation passed in the Maryland General Assembly’s 22-day special session that ended November 19.

The plaintiffs in the suit are Senate Minority Leader David R. Brinkley (R-Dist. 4) of New Market; Senate Minority Whip Allan H. Kittleman (R-Dist. 9) of West Friendship; House Minority Leader Anthony J. O’Donnell (R-Dist. 29C) of Lusby; House Minority Whip Christopher Shank (R-Dist. 2B) of Hagerstown; Del. Michael D. Smigiel Jr., the House minority parliamentarian; and John Pardoe, the owner of Byte Right Support of Baltimore.

WJZ TV, Channel 13 in Baltimore, had the best video coverage (http://wjz.com/video/?cid=5) of last Friday’s historic oral arguments. To find this and other news videos of breaking Maryland news, go to: http://wjz.com/video/?cid=5.

20080104 WJZ video coverage of MD constitutional test

The suit filed on December 13 was lost in the shuffle for many as the regular season of the National Football League drew to a close; Baltimore Raven’s Coach Brian Billick joined the ranks of Maryland’s 3.5 percent unemployed; and many were getting ready for Christmas or Hanukah.

The Circuit Court case names as one of the defendants Maryland Comptroller Peter V. R. Franchot, who ironically was very vocal in opposition to the special session called by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley on October 15.

Comptroller Franchot, scathingly wrote on October 23, in part, in his ongoing campaign for Maryland governor in the 2010 gubernatorial election; “As Maryland's chief fiscal officer, however, I must question the timing and necessity of this approach. Mindful of the reservations each of you has expressed about a special session, I must underscore the profound - and perhaps unintended - consequences of this undertaking on Maryland's economy, business climate, and quality of life, and to caution against acting in haste.”

In addition to Comptroller Franchot, the other defendants are the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Maryland Health Care Commission, the Health Services Cost Review Commission, acting Secretary of State Dennis C. Schnepfe, the Maryland State Board of Elections, and the Carroll County Board of Elections.

The lawsuit alleges that the General Assembly did not follow constitutional procedure, and therefore, the sales tax, which was expanded to include computer services and the increases to the state’s sales, income, corporate, tobacco and vehicle-titling taxes are invalid:

House Bill 1, Chapter 2: Budget Reconciliation Act; Senate Bill 2, Chapter 3: Tax Reform Act of 2007; Senate Bill 3, Chapter 4: Maryland Education Trust Fund – Video Lottery Terminals; House Bill 4, Chapter 5: Video Lottery Terminals – Authorization and Limitations; House Bill 5, Chapter 6: Transportation and State Investment Act; and Senate Bill 6, Chapter 7: Working Families and Small Business Health Coverage Act.

If you have not had an opportunity to visit the courtroom on the second floor of the 1838 “Greek Revival” courthouse on Court Street in Westminster, please do so at your next opportunity. If it were not for the fact that the room does not have a back balcony, and the wooden floors are now carpeted, one could easily conjure up visions of the courtroom scenes in Harper Lee’s classic Pulitzer Prize winning 1960 southern gothic, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

I went to the hearing with an open mind, however, like many, in December I had my reservations about the strength of the case being brought forward by the plaintiffs when the suit was initially filed. Then as I got away from the coverage of the elite media and began to examine the primary source documents, I began to see the “there - there.”

Actually several dynamics turned me around on the plaintiff’s case. My initial analysis continued to change once the Attorney General’s office began to pitch a fit about deposing the chief clerk of the House of Delegates, Mary Monahan – who has a reputation as a straight-up person. It is my understanding from anecdotal accounts that she was perfectly willing to testify…

Then came the transcript of her testimony, which is a must read for anyone interested in the case.

Concurrently, there were the acidic public comments from some of the main players. For example, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. called the suit ‘‘bungled legal reasoning and frivolous,” according to Doug Tallman, writing for the Gazette.

The next shoe dropped when the Baltimore Sun published the Maryland Democrat Party’s talking points, in a most unfortunate editorial on January 2nd, 2008, “Much ado about nothing.” It was a “Hail Mary” pass in an attempt to replace the law by plebiscite and populism.

It was with that editorial that I realized that Maryland Democrats and the state had resigned themselves that the lawsuit was on firm legal footing as it was anticipated that they will lose. Please read the following excerpt. I did not make it up.

Yet even as the new rates settle in (changes to most, such as the income tax, are already in effect while the extra penny in the sales tax arrives tomorrow), a bit of uncertainty is still hovering in the air. That's because a lawsuit filed by Republicans seeking to undo the bills approved by the General Assembly during November's special session remains pending before the courts.

It's fair to oppose new taxes - although tax opponents are usually loath to own up to the adverse impacts of such a stance - but there's been ample opportunity to express dissent. There was plenty of debate in the House and Senate. Amendments were offered, some adopted and some not. Votes were taken. Ultimately, Gov. Martin O'Malley signed the various pieces of legislation into law - in front of witnesses, too.

But the lawsuit would seek to scrap all of it for the flimsiest of reasons. The entire case centers on an obscure provision in the state constitution that says lawmakers in one chamber cannot adjourn for more than three days without a vote of assent from those of the other.

Leave aside whether that happened or not in this instance; why is this even a requirement? Here's the historic context: It's meant to prevent members of the Senate or House of Delegates from leaving town before the government's business is done. That was never at issue in this case. It's much ado about nothing. Republicans might as well be litigating the stock of paper used for bills or the Senate's opening prayer.

Reread it. After one digests what the Baltimore Sun wrote, the only conclusion is that so what if the Maryland Constitution was violated, the taxes are a good thing…

As the hearing evolved, the mood of the room seemed to swing in the direction of Irwin Kramer, the Owings Mills attorney representing the plaintiffs, as he as he forcefully articulated his case.

Austin Schlick, head of the Maryland attorney general's civil litigation division, representing the state of Maryland and Irwin Kramer, the Owings Mills attorney representing the five Republicans and a businessman from Carroll County who filed the lawsuit; advocated their client’s positions on what constitutes the “consent” as required by the Constitution.

The State’s case, on the other hand, seemed to falter on the law. The State’s presentation deteriorated and appeared disingenuous, if not circuitous, and ultimately began to fall back upon arrogance and politics – a point of which the judge seemed to have no tolerance. It was not Austin Schlick’s day.

At issue is whether or not the Senate obtained the appropriate consent of the House in order to adjourn for more than three days as required by Article III, Section 25.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. told senators on November 9, they would return to work on Nov. 13; however, it was later decided that the Senate not reconvene until November 15.

As a result all the legislation that followed, in the 22-day session which mercifully ended on November 19, should be ruled legally invalid.

Many of us clearly recalled when Delegate Smigiel (R-Dist. 36) of Elkton rose on the House floor and brought the Senate’s six-day adjournment to the attention of the House Parliamentarian, Del. Kathleen M. Dumais.

Incredibly, the Parliamentarian promptly produced a letter from Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Rowe which said that the work of legislature could proceed. This, in spite of Article III, Section 25, which states clearly: “Neither House shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, at any one time, nor adjourn to any other place, than that in which the House shall be sitting, without the concurrent vote of two-thirds of the members present.”

The state hinged its argumentation on two points, one the legislature may make its own rules and pleaded that the consequences of ruling invalid the increases to the sales, income, corporate, tobacco, and vehicle titling taxes.

Mr. Irvin Kramer responded effectively that the legislatures’ own rules invalidate the subsequent bills enacted after the Maryland Senate took a five-day break, without the appropriate consent from the House.

Furthermore, as was revealed in the deposition of chief clerk of the House of Delegates; the consent never could have occurred because the delegates were never given a chance to debate the consent.

Perhaps now we understand why the Attorney General’s office tried so hard to prevent the chief clerk from being deposed…

At the hearing last Friday, Schlick repeatedly attempted to argue that nullifying the $1.5 billion in increased taxes would place the state in financial peril and cause “extraordinary harm.” The judge sustained Mr. Kramer’s objections to this testimony, not once but twice, saying that matter was not before the court.

Lost in the reporting on the lawsuit by the elite media is the focus of the second constitutional test which contests the General Assembly decision in HB 4, Chapter 5 (Exhibit P) and SB 3, Chapter 4 (Exhibit O), to refer the contentious issue of slots to referendum this coming November in violation of Article XVI, Section 2, of the Maryland constitution.

As an aside, editorializations by elected officials and the elite media “to let the voters decide the issue of slots,” has always been the source of amusement by those of us who have studied the Maryland Constitution. Yes, it’s a great idea. However, in Maryland, there’s only one small problem; it is unconstitutional.

The plaintiff’s December 13 memorandum alleges that the legislation to refer the issue of slots to referendum was an effort “To avoid a lengthy and rancorous debate on slot machines, (in that) the Legislature attempted to shift their work on this controversial revenue plan to the public at large.”

“Though some issues may be referred to voters, the Constitution prohibits the referral of revenue and appropriations bills for maintaining the State Government or other public institutions.”

Article XVI, Section 2 of the Maryland constitution clearly states: “No law making any appropriation for maintaining the State Government, or for maintaining or aiding any public institution, not exceeding the next previous appropriation for the same purpose, shall be subject to rejection or repeal under this Section.”

This latest lawsuit is yet another in a series of awkward interactions between Maryland’s august legislative branch and Maryland’s judiciary. The two branches of government have been waging a low-grade guerilla war with one another for years, which has usually only been the topic of esoteric scholarly conversations between academics.

The “Wal-Mart bill” which violated the “Employee Retirement Income Security Act,” which governs worker health care plans, led the way. With more than ample case law to support the decision, it was quickly dispatched by a well-respected U. S. District Court judge, who easily understood that federal statute governs employee health care benefits.

Next, in August 2006, another highly respected member of the bench, Anne Arundel Circuit Court Judge Robert Silkworth struck down General Assembly’s (vote early and vote often) “early voting law. Duh, the Maryland Constitution says, in part: “… All general elections in this state shall be held on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November ...” No rocket science here.

One of the strongest judicial rebukes came on September 14, 2006, when the Maryland Court of Appeals, ruled unconstitutional the General Assembly’s legislation to fire the Maryland Public Service Commission. In its ruling the court said that the legislature’s attempt to seize authority otherwise relegated to the executive branch to be “… repugnant to the Maryland constitution.”

Ay caramba. Memo to the Maryland General Assembly, when all else fails, read the constitution. Help is available by any first year law school student – or even a local Boy Scout getting his citizenship and government badge.

Meanwhile, the judge, of whom I have known for many years, is a straight arrow and known to be a Maryland constitutional and historical scholar. After two hours of courtroom deliberations, Carroll County Circuit Court Judge Thomas F. Stansfield announced he would review the entire record in the context of the just-presented oral arguments and issue a written opinion as soon as possible with the understanding that the regular General Assembly session begins January 9th.

I’m not a lawyer, but I do have some insight into the Maryland Constitution, its history and the legislative rules and procedures involved. I walked out of the courthouse with a feeling that the plaintiff’s made their case – and the state did not.

As I wrote earlier in the comment section of He'll Rule the Wrong Way; after reading the Transcript of Deposition of Mary Monahan, Chief Clerk of the House of Delegates of Maryland; and the Memorandum in Support of Plaintiffs' Motions for Emergency Declaratory and Injunctive Relief; [www.kramerslaw.com/special_session.htm] and hearing the oral arguments last Friday; I will hypothecate that the Judge will rule in favor of the plaintiffs.

[Also, be sure to read “Lawsuit Conclusion,” posted Sunday, January 6, 2008 by David K. Kyle on “The Candid Truth.” Mr. Kyle has followed the lawsuit studiously. Click here: GOP Lawsuit, to view his excellent coverage.

Another blog post worthy of your time is, The Candid Truth - Lawsuit Conclusion posted by “Robert” on January 7, 2007 on Anne Arundel Maryland Politics.]

My hypothecation is that the ruling will narrowly confine itself strictly to the matters of law and will not get anywhere near legislating from the bench.

Furthermore, with the understanding that whatever is decided, it will be appealed, comes a greater burden for the Carroll County Circuit Court Judge. It will serve this judge well to concisely and definitively focus the matters of law before it so as to provide the higher courts the foundation with which to work.

This case is a constitutional test that will live in the judicial annals long into the future, and long after the politics of the day are forgotten. The decision at this level of the judiciary needs to be one of the best decisions this judge could possibly write. My guess is that he will not disappoint.

Ultimately, the case will be decided at the state’s highest court – where the Maryland General Assembly has not fared well in recent years.

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster Maryland USA.

www.kevindayhoff.net

E-mail him at: kdayhoff AT carr.org or kevindayhoff AT gmail.com

His columns and articles appear in The Tentacle - www.thetentacle.com; Westminster Eagle Opinion; www.thewestminstereagle.com, Winchester Report and The Sunday Carroll Eagle – in the Sunday Carroll County section of the Baltimore Sun. Get Westminster Eagle RSS Feed

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For good newspaper coverage of the Special Session Lawsuit Case No.: 06-C-07-0496648: Smigiel vs Franchot:

Whatever folks want to say about the mainstream media, Maryland has some great writers out there who call it as they see it and do not write articles based on a pre-determined agenda or ideology. Folks like Doug Tallman with the Gazette (along with several of the other statewide beat writers at the Gazette.)

Or spend sometime with Liam Farrell with the Maryland Gazette or Len Lazarick with The Examiner or Tom LoBianco with the Washington Times.

These are just a few writers that come quickly to mind; perhaps some other bloggers have other writers in mind.

For more information:

Maryland General Assembly Oct. 29 2007 Special Session,

Maryland General Assembly Oct. 29 2007 Special Session Lawsuit Case No.: 06-C-07-0496648: Smigiel vs Franchot

Franchot Peter

Maryland General Assembly Opera

O'Malley Administration

Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

mdga spec session dec 13 2007 lawsuit

20080107 Smigiel vs Franchot