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Messages - MarcNelsonJr

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1
Local Politics / Re: Commissioners subsidizing baseball?
« on: April 17, 2014, 10:30:30 PM »
Here's the portion of today's work session pertaining to the stadium plan:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKmM_oQFa4Q

Everyone makes sure to say repeatedly that all they want to do is fund a study, not a stadium. When you look at the numbers that show the public will inevitably foot the bill, the only question is whether they are being dishonest with themselves, or dishonest with us.

The commissioners will vote to fund the study in two weeks, on May 1.

2
What I find most interesting is that the reputations of the counties are so inaccurate, according to these measures.

When we look at the DC suburbs, it's said how awful Prince George's County is, but how great Montgomery County is. People have been using that for decades to move out of the county, to avoid doing business there, and the county has suffered for it.

Yet looking at these numbers, Montgomery County isn't represented at all outside of Takoma Park (and they fought to leave Prince George's County because of that reputation). And Prince George's County is represented more than any other county on here.

Glenarden, Bowie, New Carrollton, District Heights, Cheverly, Riverdale Park, Laurel (mostly), Greenbelt, Mount Rainier, Hyattsville and Bladensburg are all in PG County.

While an issue beyond our local scope, it does suggest the reputation of Prince George's County may have less to do with actual crime and more to do with the demographics of the people who predominantly live there, and unfair stereotypes of minorities.

It seems like they only looked at municipalities. Looking at the 2013 murder map, murders (and presumably other violent crimes) are clustered in the non-incorporated areas of PG County bordering DC.

3
National Politics / Re: Pandering to Criminals
« on: April 17, 2014, 01:57:43 PM »
If this type of armed aggressive stand would have taken place in a place like South Central LA, I think the outcome would have been different. That is just speculation.

Ask the folks at Waco or Ruby Ridge how far their "white privilege" got them.  ;)

What in the world does race have to do with federal land management, anyway? I know we've tried our damndest to stigmatize disagreement with a black president as racist... Does sympathizing with a white rancher make you racist now, too?

This sort of crap is the reason why the cry "RACIST!" has become a punchline.

Maybe. 

But if someone in urban federally-owned public housing was evicted, refused to leave or pay for 10 years, and got a bunch of his friends to bring guns to help him defend where he was squatting, something tells me that the conservative media would look at that entirely differently.

As would the Team Blue media.

We could game out what we think partisans would say about a hypothetical case involving different actors and different circumstances, and then using the predicted reactions to that hypothetical case to accuse the other guy of being a racist... Or we could discuss the actual issue at hand.

4
Local Politics / Re: Commissioners subsidizing baseball?
« on: April 17, 2014, 10:50:33 AM »
And if you have any doubt that a stadium will be funded by we taxpayers, take a look at this. It's a slide from a presentation that B&D Venues gave recently to Columbia, South Carolina:



The presentation also shows that I've actually been underestimating the cost of a stadium. The average cost of even a Class A ballpark built in the past 10 years is $38 million - or about one high school.

5
Local Politics / Re: Commissioners subsidizing baseball?
« on: April 17, 2014, 10:15:51 AM »
I think a small baseball stadium and a healthy minor league tenant sounds wonderful for Cumberland. 

So do I! But 'healthy' is the operative word here. If $7500 is a stumbling block, then the effort is already proving not economically viable. To cross the streams to another thread, I also think an Aldi would be wonderful for our area. But that doesn't mean the taxpayers should be paying for Aldi's market research and building them a free facility.

Minor league franchises aren't shoestring operations owned by the local car dealer any more. They are big business - in many cases owned by the same billionaires who own major league franchises. I can't think of any good reason why the taxpayers of an impoverished rural county should allow the politicians to take money out of our pockets and give it to the likes of Robert Rich or Peter Guber. Does anyone believe that those guys couldn't scrape together $7500?

But, I also think Marc is correct, that this idea is further down the road than the official description of the work concedes. There is some type of support already committed at the staff level, since the scope of work is being presented as a staff recommendation.

It is certainly looking that way. The commissioners are trying to play down this spending with the cover that "it's just a study." You have to understand the economics of subsidized sports to understand what this study actually means.

The feasibility study isn't mean to discover feasibility; its purpose is to create it. For the wealthy franchise owners, the economics don't work without a "free" facility to locate the team in. They aren't interested in the economic climate here, but the political climate - whether we are dumb enough to give them a stadium. The feasibility study indicates that the politicians are willing to spend public money for private good, and it helps shape public opinion towards spending even more of it.

6
Local Politics / Re: Is the county hurting education?
« on: April 17, 2014, 09:41:02 AM »
"Ballooning teachers salaries"??  Really?  I guess I'd better go home and recheck my Allegany County Teachers Federal Credit Union account.....I must be rich!  I'm going to go quit the second job I have that supplements my salary!!  Yay!! Thanks for letting me know!

BoE Salaries and Wages, FY06: $53,673,844

BoE Salaries and Wages, FY14: $64,886,100

Interesting choice of years Marc. A person can cherry pick numbers and stats to tell any story he/she would like...just watch the news once.  Try FY10 and FY14 for comparison:

BoE Salaries and Wages, FY10: $68,880,717 (total)  $43,161,565 (Instructional)

BoE Salaries and Wages, FY14: $64,886,100 (total)  $40,159,452 (Instructional)

I took the oldest budget available on the BoE's website, and the newest one.

The BoE did shed some positions through attrition - but as Nathan said, that just indicates how much salaries have increased. Fewer employees are making more money.

7
Local Politics / Re: Commissioners subsidizing baseball?
« on: April 17, 2014, 12:54:16 AM »
Here is the email I sent to the mayor and city council:

Quote
Mayor and Council:

Hello! I have some questions that I am hoping you can answer.

The county commissioners have listed the following agenda item for their work session tomorrow:

Cumberland Baseball Committee Initiative – David Caporale, City Councilman,    Shawn Hershberger, Economic Development Coordinator and Jeffrey S. Barclay, Economic Development Specialist.

My questions are:

- Why are Mr. Caporale and Mr. Hershberger attending tomorrow's work session?

- What is the extent of the city's involvement in the minor league baseball proposal? When did the involvement begin?

- When was the decision made to involve the city?

- Was this decision discussed or voted upon?

- Has the city entered into any contracts, agreements, or MOUs concerning this proposal? Is the city currently engaged in negotiating any of the above?

I won't restate my entire case for staying out of the baseball business, but I think we can agree that there is the potential for large taxpayer expenditures here. It is very important that the citizens of Cumberland be involved at every step of the city's decision-making process and that no deals be made without our knowledge and consent.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to an informed dialogue on this issue.

And the response I received from city administrator Jeff Rhodes:

Quote
Mr. Nelson,

I have been asked to respond to your message sent to the Mayor and City Council relative to the County Baseball Study.  I am aware of the issue and they thought I could be helpful in answering your questions.

First, I do not know if Councilman Caporale or Mr. Hershberger will be attending the work session tomorrow.  While I do not speak for Councilman Caporale, I will say that I am not aware that he plans to attend.   I believe that Mr. Hershberger may be planning to attend….though I am not certain of that.  I can also say that the reason Mr. Hershberger may attend is because he has been asked to attend by the County.   

Second, Mr. Hershberger has attended some meetings that have been held to discuss the matter.  There is a citizens group that has been exploring the idea for quite some time and Mr. Hershberger has been invited to attend some of those meetings.  It is my understanding that the citizens group have been meeting off and on for quite a while but I am not certain how many meetings that Mr. Hershberger has attended.  Additionally, I participated in a brief discussion on the matter last month.  That discussion took place between County and City staff as part of an overall discussion on a number of other subjects. 

Third, I am not sure I would refer to the City as even being involved.  The Mayor, City Council and City Staff are frequently called upon to participate in meetings, discussions and other matters so attendance at such meetings would be considered a routine activity.  In fact, I do not believe the so called “Committee” has even met on the subject…at least not that I am aware of.

Fourth, the matter has not been voted on by the Mayor and City Council and they have not formally discussed the matter. 

Fifth, the City has not entered into any contracts, agreements or MOU’s relative to the study and the City is not engaged in negotiating anything relative to the study.

Lastly, I will simply say that the Mayor and City Council conduct their business in public. 

In summary, while I have no knowledge of your “case for staying out of the baseball business”, I would say that this issue has been around for many years and has a number of supporters.  Further, the particular study being discussed only involves determining whether any specific teams or leagues would have an interest in expanding to Allegany County.  In that regard, the City generally supports the County’s effort at this time.

Please let me know if you have any further questions on the matter.

8
Local Politics / Re: Mark Fisher for City Council
« on: April 16, 2014, 10:36:53 PM »
And yes, non-sanitary sewers (storm drains) take rain run-off from roads and roof downspouts and direct them into the natural waterways. This is targeted by the state to eventually also get treated due to contaminants, salt, etc.

....

Ultimately separation should be done no matter what since the level of treatment for stormwater should be different than biological waste. Running everything through a WWTP simply doesn't make sense.

Ah, you anticipated my next question.  :) I was going to ask, if we would have to treat the stormwater one day, why not just keep everything combined?

So we will eventually have to have two parallel water treatment systems - one for stormwater and one for sewage?

9
Local Politics / Re: Commissioners subsidizing baseball?
« on: April 16, 2014, 06:15:16 PM »
....disappointing that this would be something Dave would hang his hat on.

Another Republican for corporate welfare.

I have an email in to the mayor and council asking them to clarify the city's involvement. No response as of yet, but I'll post what I find out.

10
Local Politics / Re: Mark Fisher for City Council
« on: April 16, 2014, 05:30:15 PM »
I've been spending a lot of time reading about this stuff, but I think what I needed were some pictures. :)





Frostburg is gradually switching to the system on the left, while we still have the system on the right, correct?

So, where Frostburg has untangled its stormwater and sewage, what is it doing with the stormwater? Does it really just go into the streams untreated?

11
Local Politics / Re: Mark Fisher for City Council
« on: April 16, 2014, 03:03:19 PM »
This is what Frostburg has been doing, in phases, over the last 15-20 years, pretty successfully. Granted, we are not Frostburg and we have a much larger problem, but they now have a number of main thoroughfares with completely redone infrastructure.

That was what I was wondering about.

Obviously, ripping up the entire city at once is cost-prohibitive. But since roads and water lines and what-not have to be replaced periodically anyway, how successfully can we pursue a piecemeal approach?

Please phrase your answer so that a political science major can understand. :) Thanks, Mark!

12
Local Politics / Re: Is the county hurting education?
« on: April 16, 2014, 02:47:24 PM »
And you call that "ballooning"?

Considering that there was a recession, followed by a very weak recovery - during which real household incomes actually declined?

Considering that the BoE lost a thousand students and one high school over that period?

Considering that turnover at the BoE is close to zero?

Considering that that number does not count pension costs, which have doubled statewide since 2006?

Yes.

13
General / Re: When Men Wore Hats
« on: April 16, 2014, 02:07:47 PM »
Don Draper and his hat are looking increasingly out of place in 1969:


14
Local Politics / Re: Is the county hurting education?
« on: April 16, 2014, 02:00:59 PM »
"Ballooning teachers salaries"??  Really?  I guess I'd better go home and recheck my Allegany County Teachers Federal Credit Union account.....I must be rich!  I'm going to go quit the second job I have that supplements my salary!!  Yay!! Thanks for letting me know!

BoE Salaries and Wages, FY06: $53,673,844

BoE Salaries and Wages, FY14: $64,886,100

15
Local Politics / Re: Is the county hurting education?
« on: April 16, 2014, 01:19:23 PM »
Yes, our bond rating is good news. I have to wonder, however, why we're not using it. Please see my previous comment regarding responsible fiscal management coupled with investment in our community services and infrastructure.

A great bond rating and a gigantic reserve fund that's 1/4 of our general fund budget isn't doing much to make our county the sort of place you want to locate.

Does spending $11.2 million on a new high school count?

16
Local Politics / Re: Is the county hurting education?
« on: April 16, 2014, 01:18:22 PM »
You want to count the teacher pension money - which the state provides the county and the county passes along to the BOE - as a LOCAL increase in education  spending. It's money for pensions - it does not go into the operations budget - and it's not generated by the commissioners. It's pass-through funding from the STATE.

Add all the asterisks you want.

Anyone is free to read the county and BoE budget for themselves and read the cold, hard numbers - without the spin.

Note also the reason for shifting pension costs to the counties - to control ballooning teacher salaries:

Quote
"I have become convinced that some better sharing of that responsibility is in order, mostly because the counties are much closer to the negotiating table than the state is," said O'Malley. "Another way of expressing that is, as contracts are negotiated, if you're not covering most of the costs of pension benefits, you're not motivated to keep them within the meets and bounds and parameters of fiscal responsibility. In fact, one might even be tempted to save on salary concessions at the expense of loading up what is put on the state tab in terms of pension concessions."

Maryland boards of ed are irresponsible by design - all they do is spend money that other units of government have raised. And both counties and the state are starting to demand some responsibility.

When Martin O'Malley says you have a spending problem... you just might have a spending problem. :)

17
Local Politics / Re: Is the county hurting education?
« on: April 16, 2014, 12:07:14 PM »
the efforts of the commissioners to flat fund education

Fact check - the county appropriation to the BoE has increased the past two years. This year's appropriation was up $1.5 million from FY12.

18
National Politics / Re: Pandering to Criminals
« on: April 16, 2014, 11:51:22 AM »
If this type of armed aggressive stand would have taken place in a place like South Central LA, I think the outcome would have been different. That is just speculation.

Ask the folks at Waco or Ruby Ridge how far their "white privilege" got them.  ;)

What in the world does race have to do with federal land management, anyway? I know we've tried our damndest to stigmatize disagreement with a black president as racist... Does sympathizing with a white rancher make you racist now, too?

This sort of crap is the reason why the cry "RACIST!" has become a punchline.

19
National Politics / Re: Is A Basic Income Inevitable?
« on: April 16, 2014, 11:45:06 AM »
Eh... I'm not sold on "end of jobs" idea. We're less than a decade from unemployment rates in the fours. What changed since 2007? iPads? I think a lot of the "end of jobs" talk we're hearing now is just making excuses for poor economic performance under the current president.

But regardless of larger economic trends, a guaranteed minimum income is an excellent replacement for the overgrown welfare and tax bureaucracy. As an addition to it, it is a terrible idea.

20
National Politics / Re: Pandering to Criminals
« on: April 16, 2014, 11:08:13 AM »
Finally, I can’t help but wonder how conservatives would react if these were black farmers—or black anyone—defending “their” land against federal officials. Would Fox News applaud black militiamen aiming their guns at white bureaucrats?

Truce, repeating baseless accusations of racism isn't helping your cause.

Here's an armed black man who stood up to his government:



My guess is that your hypothetical black rancher would, like Otis McDonald, be called a hero.

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