Anonymous lives in Montgomery County, Maryland.
A David vs. Goliath battle is being waged in Montgomery County over the structure of the County Council. On one side is a non-partisan citizens’ ballot committee that collected over 16,000 signatures during the COVID-19 lock down to get Question D on the ballot. It would change the structure to nine individual districts. On the other side, is the powerful County Council, which at the last minute on the last day of summer session, suspended its public comment rules to put a competing Question C on the ballot to confuse voters.
If both measures win, both fail; it doesn’t matter how many votes each gets. Then it’s back to the status quo, which is the real goal of the County Council.
Currently, seven of the nine County Council members live around the down-county crescent near Silver Spring and Takoma Park, home to the most liberal, progressive, densely populated, and wealthiest part of the County. This is not a fluke, it has been going on for the past three decades. How does that happen?
Montgomery is a “one-party rule” county.
Four of the nine Council positions are elected At-Large. “At-Large” is false advertising. Instead of representing all county residents, the At-Large representatives have demonstrated repeatedly their priorities are those of their neighbors living in Silver Spring and Takoma Park.
The structure is broken. It allows the Council to have a majority of members from the same southeastern corner of the county. Studies have shown that At-Large seats discriminate against women and minority candidates.
Not one elected official in Montgomery County, county or state, is registered Republican or any other party other than Democrat. Sadly, it has also turned into a pay-for-play county. The County gives grants to a long list of non-profit organizations, that in turn exhort its members to vote for the people who will continue to give them taxpayer money.
The unions are in on the game and they have a big influence on the county’s unionized employees (i.e. teachers, police, fire, transportation, and other workers). The teachers’ union even publishes an “Apple Ballot,” exclusively advocating for Democrats, handed out at the polls. Last year, the County Executive negotiated some of the largest raises in the area for union employees, only to find this year there is not enough money to pay them, thanks to the COVID-19 induced shut-downs.
What to do? Raise property taxes, of course!
When families are struggling to make ends meet.
When schools are closed or partially opened and parents and students are both working from home.
When businesses are falling like dominoes.
The beauty of property taxes, from the cynical left’s point of view, is that if they aren’t paid, homes will be seized by the government.
Pay up or we’ll take your home away and sell it to someone else.
Property owners bear the burden of paying taxes for services used by everyone, so it’s not fair to raise taxes just on them. But, for the progressive leftists on the County Council, it’s the path of least resistance.
Interestingly, one Republican saw this coming. Robin Ficker, who Democrat detractors (and even some high-minded Republicans) label a political gadfly, got enough signatures to place another measure on the ballot—Question B—to limit the amount of any property tax increase to the rate of inflation. What to do? Put a competing measure on the ballot—Question A—authored by the County Council. Even if both of these measures win, canceling each other out, the status quo is better than either of them.
The County Charter currently allows property taxes to be raised above the rate of inflation only by unanimous vote of the county Council. Easy enough, since 95 percent of all Council votes this term have been unanimous.
Democrats have pulled out all stops to fight Questions B and D, including enlisting former County officials Ike Leggitt, David Blair, and Connie Morella.
Marilyn Balcombe, a Democrat who lost her bid for At-Large Council member in the last election, is running competing ballot committees to defeat B & D. She’s already on record saying she plans to run for At-Large again, so she has a vested interest in making sure voters don’t approve nine individual districts. Adam Pagnucco, former Council staffer and blogger for Seventh State, has repeatedly and erroneously tried to scare his readers by painting both citizen ballot initiatives as Republican efforts.
Increased taxes won’t really hurt the lifestyle of the wealthy.
“I don’t mind paying higher taxes, I’m sure they’ll be put to good use.”A well-dressed woman leaving a high-end restaurant recently exclaimed this to me.
Compare that to the worried look in a naturalized citizen’s eyes, standing at the door of his modest townhouse, who says he is telling his friends to look at issues, not just party, when voting this year. “It’s not fair to make property owners bear the burden of services used by everyone,” he said.
The people hurt the most by the well-intentioned liberal elite are the people they claim to want to help the most.
Please vote FOR Questions B and D and AGAINST Questions A and C.