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May 20, 2010

The End

After a few aborted attempts at it over the past few years and for multiple reasons, I have made the decision to essentially stop doing anything with the “Looking At Howard County” website. In about a week, the URL for this website will redirect to the main national Hedgehog Report website.

Just a quick history, when I started the original Hedgehog Report site over seven years ago, before I ever got involved as much as I did in the local political world, one of my main goals was to create a local blog about Howard County that did not yet exist at the time. As I got into it, I would put up posts about local things as well as national items and was having a grand old time. I would get a comment every few days, some on the local stuff from a local person and some on the national stuff. It even got me a few profile pieces in local newspaper. As those early months went by, the site started to get linked by others and my comments grew. When the 2006 election rolled around, the local stuff was getting quite a bit of traffic and comments. Of course, 2006 was also a big national election year and while the local political audience for my site grew and discussion grew on the local content, so did the national audience and the comments on the national content. I liked doing both, but it was getting harder and harder to keep the two worlds separate on a single site. I did my best, but it quickly was apparent the local stuff was getting lost in the national stuff.

After the election, I decided to subdivide the site and make the local stuff appear as sub pages of the main site. One could go directly to the local stuff without getting lost on the main page if they wished. In reverse, my national audience didn’t have to get caught up reading posts about local material as it did not appear on the main page. Of course, whenever a new site is started, getting people to go to it is a struggle. When that got to be too cumbersome due to the limitations of the software I use for this site, I actually created a fully Independent site that was completely separate from the main site, which is what I have now.

The reasons for stopping are two-fold. One is my responsibility. In the early days, I was not really a part of the Republican Party in any capacity, so I could spout off however I wanted. Any information I had was stuff I had gotten on my own and had no compunction about slapping it up on the website and dissecting it and giving my two cents. Some people in the Republican Party were upset by it or something that I said that went against a candidate or the party, but I didn’t care. I saw myself as this independent voice. It was my website, my opinion, and I didn’t care who it might affect.

Gettign involved with the Party in a more official capacity and with local campaigns, there is a lot of information I am privy too that is handed to me that I could easily slap up here and look like I am this great source of information and/or “in-the-know”. There have been many times that I have wanted to respond to another local blogger about a political issue or candidate, but have restrained myself knowing that it could come back on more than just me. So I have restrained. The truth is, being associated in any capacity with a political party or a candidate (officially or unofficially) does carry some responsibility of discretion. I know in the past that there have been members of the Democratic Party in Howard County who have attempted to use my website and something that appeared here as a way to attack the Republican Party in Howard County as a whole by feeding stuff to reporters and trying to smear me and the Party. Again, I might not agree with everything that is being done by the Party or a candidate, but anything I say can be used against other people in a negative way and that would be skirting my responsibility I have to those people that have entrusted me with information and knowledge they would not otherwise.

Second, while this is just a hobby at heart, my national site and it has grown beyond my wildest imaginations when I started this seven years ago and has been making me some pretty good money each year on the side. It takes some real effort of time to keep it up to date and current. That, and my upcoming wedding, leaves me little time to focus on the local stuff the way I would want to. It goes against why I originally started this whole blogging exercise and part of my reason for trying to create the local site was to allow me to keep giving my opinion on local matters without it getting lost in the national stuff. I still like the local stuff and follow it, but there is just not enough time to really keep an active local blog going the way I would want to. And, to be honest, this site has never gotten the attention it needed from me to really make it worthwhile. In this day of blogging, you really do need to keep a blog active on a daily basis to keep people coming back.

For truly local stuff and debate, I think we have a great crop of bloggers out there doing the job (and I would suggest a better and more diverse) than we had even a short four years ago. While I may not agree with some of what they say, Wordbones and HoCoRising have really filled a great void for commentary on local issues and events, both political and non-political. Plus there are plenty of others to be found at HoCoBlogs.com. I will read them daily and comment occasionally.

And of course, while this site is ending as a separate entity, I guarantee there still will be the occasionally post about local political events at the main Hedgehog Report website. I won’t be able to help it. Maybe after the elections, if I happen to lose my re-election race for Central Committee (knowing we are going to have 18 candidates running and me being a man and at the end of the alphabet is not going to help my chances if history is a guide), I can start spouting off about local political issues again and restart this website….

May 11, 2010

HoCoGOP Lincoln Day Dinner

Just got back from a very entertaining Howard County Republican Lincoln Day Dinner at Turf Valley tonight. The main speaker for the evening was Rick Santorum, the former US Senator from Pennsylvania.

While he is more known for his positions on social issues, he pretty much ignored that in the speech and spent most of the speech talking about the Growth of Government in the United States and comparing it to Western Europe and the what is happening over there. Not being a big social conservative myself and fearing he might talk about social issues, it was a great speech. After Santorum, we had a special appearance from the former Governor of Maryland, Bob Ehrlich.

Martin O’Malley is coming on Thursday to speak to the Democrats in Howard County at their annual dinner. I am sure it won;t be close to the last time we see both of them visiting Howard County over the next six months. One local note, the Lifetime Award was given to the current candidate for County Executive, Trent Kittleman, who was introduced by her daughter.

Very emotional moment as the award itself is named after the late Robert Kittleman. On a political side, just about every candidate running for office was in attendance including a challenger for Kyle Lorton in the District 13 State Senate race. We also heard a third Republican, Chuck Coles, has jumped into the Judge for the Orphans’ Court race, giving the GOP a full slate. Finally, since HoCoRising asked and said he was going to be checking out my site, TPI, I think, stands for Taxpayer Protection Initiative, which is the petition drive being organized by the Howard County Republican Club and some of the candidates to require a super majority for passing tax increases in the county. Honestly, I was in the back of the room trying to get a picture with Governor Ehrlich when it was being discussed, so I might have the actual name somewhat wrong.

Anyway, a very successful event with a full crowd. The real kudos should go to Flora Betro, who is a member of the Central committee and also the President of the Howard County Republican Women, who chaired the event and, i am sure, put in a lot of work.

May 1, 2010

Maryland Republican Convention, Day One

Well the first day of the Maryland Republican Convention is in the books. Technically it opened at 1pm yesterday, however we did not get down here until almost 4:30. After a minor hiccup at the registration table where they did not have a record of me paying, which was quickly resolved, I immediately proceeded to skip the reception and executive session in order to go down to the Boardwalk. We ate at The Embers Restaurant, which gave you an all-you-can-eat buffet for $20. Yum. We did get back in time for the Hospitality Suites. They were hosted by Eric Wargotz for Senate, Charles Lollar for Congress, Andy Harris for Congress, the Worcester Republican party, and the State Senate Republican Slate (I believe that is all of them). All the rooms spilled out into a courtyard so in reality, it was just one big party in the middle with the chance to go into the rooms to get the food and drinks offered by the respective rooms. A glorified Happy Hour if you will. Since this is my third convention, the novelty has somewhat worn off for me. I did meet the former Governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson, who apparently will be speaking at the lunch later today, but other than that, there were really no people of note. Even elected officials tend to avoid this event as the only elected official I saw from Howard County was Allan Kittleman.

Just one newsy item, the consensus from a few quotes from random people I got about Carmen Amedori’s leaving the Brian Murphy ticket was that she “came to her senses”. I will say, the Brian Murphy crowd supporters were out in full force last night at the Hospitality Suites. They sort of remind me of Ron Paul supporters from two years ago in that no matter what the event, they manage to get a group of people there and make it seem like they are much more popular then they really may be. In the first ten minutes we were at the Hospitality suite, I was approached not less than three times by one of his people thrusting some sort of Murphy for Governor paraphernalia into my hands.

Anyway, today is a day of training sessions, the main convention session, and a banquet. The one problem you have when you schedule a convention in Ocean City is you hope for good weather. However, if the weather is too nice, like it is supposed to be today, chances are the attendees are going to spend a lot more time outside than in a hotel at a bunch of training sessions. Me personally, I will be attending a session first thing this morning, but after 9:30, I am not going to be hanging around too long and instead am going to be enjoying the beautiful weather outside with my fiance. Of course, I will be back by 2pm for the main convention session and the banquet tonight.

More later….

April 21, 2010

From The Way-Back Machine

The fiance and I were going through our old photos to put in frames around our house and as I was going through an old box of pictures my Mom had given to me to sift through, I found these relics from the past.

Quite a bit different from the new CA cards….

April 16, 2010

That About Sums Up My Feeling

April 5, 2010

Weekend In DC

I hope everyone was able to enjoy the fantastic weather this weekend. We started out Saturday morning with a private tour of the Holocaust Museum.

I won’t say much about the museum other than to say it was very sobering. I’ve been to a former Concentration Camp in Dachau years ago, and just going through the museum reminded me about overwhelming learning about this entire sorry episode can be. One thing it reminds me of though is no matter what is happening in my life or how bad things may be, there were people who went through a lot worse than I could ever imagine. But that was just a precursor to the day outside and the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

I took a crap load of pictures, but this was my favorite with the Jefferson memorial in the background.

The trees themselves run around the Tidal Basin.

We had originally planned to walk around the basin but the number of people made that almost impossible and we abandoned it but we got too far. Here is a shot of the people just sitting in front of the Jefferson Memorial.

Just another shot of the Blossoms with the Washington Monument in the background.

One side note – to show how current things can be, I saw this stump as we were walking part the way around the Tidal basin.

While it may look like an ordinary stump, the sign on the stump said the following:

Not exactly Howard County related, but I am sure that many Howard County citizens made their way down….

March 31, 2010

“Backwards”

Well since Bob Ehrlich announced he will jump into the gubernatorial race in Maryland, it is clear the message Maryland Democrats are going to use, at least in the short term. I got an email from the Maryland Democratic party with the subject “Backwards” which had this paragraph within the email.

Ehrlich wants to take Maryland back to the days when he increased college tuition by 40 percent, increased spending by more than 30 percent and put special interests ahead of working families.

We can’t move back. Please click here to contribute $100, $50 or $25 now so we can start defending our progress today!

Then about two hours later, I get an email from Martin O’Malley himself.

He says he wants to “Take Back Maryland,” but what he really wants is to take us back – back to the days when special interests always got their way. Back to the days of record spending with zero accountability. Back to the days when middle class families took a backseat to giant corporations.

Clearly the Democrats are jumping directly to the negative campaigning before the campaign even begins. I am sure I will be getting a similar email from the Howard County Democrats before not too long with the exact same message….

March 18, 2010

John Bailey To Switch Parties

HoCoRising beat me to it, but I got the same email he did regarding John Bailey’s switching parties to the Democrats for his run against Liz Bobo.

I serve for a very brief time with John on the Republican Central Committee until he resigned in order to run for Delegate. I like John a lot and I have been driving around Columbia for months with a John Bailey for State Delegate sticker on my car. In fact, numerous people have come up to me to ask who he is and surprisingly (for Columbia at least), a lot of people who I know are Democrats are glad to see someone challenging Bobo and willing to give him a good look. Now they have an earlier chance to show their disapproval of Bobo in the Democratic primary if they so desire. At a minimum, it may force Bobo to spend more money in a primary race, thereby preventing her from spending money elsewhere or in a General Election against a Republican candidate that gets the nomination.

A truly interesting development….

March 6, 2010

Peg Browning Passes Away

It was around 11:15 this morning when I heard the sad news that one of my fellow colleagues on the Howard County Republican Central Committee, Peg Browning, had passed away. Now clearly she had a lot more to life than politics and reading through many of the statements from a wide variety of people on Facebook today, she touched a lot of people in many different ways for the better. However, my contact with her was strictly in the political world.

I did not know Peg as well as others, but one thing that came to mind when I heard the news this morning was that Peg Browning was basically the first person in Howard County Republican Party I met in that context. It was about ten years ago when I showed up at a meeting in the basement of the church on Route 108 across from Centennial Park (I forget the name of it). Before I even could introduce myself to anyone, this older women was thrusting a “Paul Rappaport for US Senate” button at me telling me to put it on. I didn’t know who she was at the time, but she was damn persistent. She also was very vocal in her way pushing the Republican party and how we need to work for them despite long odds. This was two years before anyone had thought a Republican could become Governor in this state.

Through the years as I got to know her, I found her to be a tireless worker for the Republican party despite her physical limitations. I’ve been an active part of the Republican Party ever since that first meeting in 2000 and when it came time to select a person to fill an open Central Committee seat last year, she was one of those who gave me her vote. I felt honored.

For a number of years, the Howard County Republican Party has awarded the Peg Browning Award each year to the women who is considered the top woman volunteer of the year annually at the Lincoln Day Dinner. We all hope to match her tireless volunteering and devotion….

March 5, 2010

HCRC To Get Happy

It’s that time of the month again where a bunch of Republicans in Howard County get together to be happy. It’s the First Friday Happy Hour from the Howard County Republican Club, so feel free to stop by at Mangia Italian Grill and Sports Cafe in Woodstock, MD. Yes, the HCRC has completely outgrown every bar in Columbia and Ellicott City and needs to move out west…and we are still eight months away from the election. Soon they are going to have to start renting out ballrooms to fit everyone in….