Guest speaker Sumeet is a politically active resident of Montgomery County, MD and local attorney. He is also a delegate to the MCCPTA for his children’s elementary school. Topics discussed on today’s podcast include:
“Policy vs. personality” when it comes to President Trump and other politicians;
Government’s role in community development and economic revitalization; and
A brief overview of the MoCo Board of Education’s overreach of authority over the last two years.
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.
Montgomery County is a one-party county. The County Executive, County Council, and Senators and Delegates to the General Assembly are all registered Democrats. Not one single Republican or any other party member among them!
Consequently, there is no diversity of thought, the economy and educational system are in trouble, and many people feel disenfranchised.
Part of the reason for this lopsided picture is the fact that Council and Delegate districts are so gerrymandered in Maryland in general, particularly in Montgomery County.
There are a couple of ways this can be remedied:
First, by changing the structure of the County Council to nine individual districts (Vote YES to Question D and NO to Question C).
Second, by ensuring that district lines are drawn fairly, no matter what the Council structure ends up being. District lines are updated once every 10 years, based on the latest census figures, and will begin in 2021.
October 26th is the deadline for applying to be on the Redistricting Commission, which will start work in February. Below is the county press release which describes the role of the Redistricting Commission and the application procedures.
Don’t just complain about how things are run in the county. Do something about it. Apply and help ensure that everyone is represented fairly!
Phase One: Submit Over 10,000 Certified Voters’ Signatures (COMPLETE)
The bi-partisan fight for nine council districts in Montgomery County (MoCo) successfully concluded Phase One of the effort by getting over 10,000 certified voters’ signatures to qualify getting the proposal on the ballot this coming November. This led the effort’s organizers to initiate Phase Two – getting the voters educated on the Nine Council Districts initiative and how to mark the ballot when they vote. Ballot marking became more critical when the County Council, in an effort to kill the Nine Districts proposal and in a most un-Democratic fashion, entered their own proposal; there was no public debate on the Council’s proposal, just nine council members happy with the status quo looking to thwart the interests of the county’s residents. So, Phase Two now requires us to educate voters on how to cast their vote.
Phase Two: Educate The Voters (Vote YES on D and NO on C)
The ballot will offer two Questions. Question “C” is the Council’s proposal to retain the 4 “At-Large” members and add two (2) more district seats, thereby increasing the Council’s participation to a total of 11 with all of the associated costs, which is estimated to be well over $2,000,000.00 in additional budget requirements. Question “D,” the Nine Council Districts proposal, will also be on the ballot. Voters need to know that if they do not want “C” and they do want “D” they must mark their ballot – against “C” AND for “D.” Should both questions receive the same number of votes, they will “cancel” each other out and the status quo remains.
Phase Three: Equitable Redistricting For Equal Representation
During Phase Two the education of the MoCo voter will continue as early voting approaches. Phase Two must inevitably lead to Phase Three of the effort: the redistricting of the County in a fair and equitable manner that will finally make available on the Council the voices of county residents who have been systematically ignored by the County Council( except when its time for re-election, of course). Councilmember Evan Glass tipped his hand on a Zoom Call with county residents in attendance when he made it clear that if Question “D” passes there is still the process of redrawing the district lines- a process that will be done by a Committee of county residents using Census data to help guide this Committee through their efforts.
Having lived in MoCo for some 30 years, my expectation is that this Committee will be stacked in a manner that insures the gerrymandering of the County is consistent in a way that guarantees not a single dissenting voice will ever make it to a council seat – ever.
If the Phase One and Phase Two efforts are to have any chance of successful implementation, it will be critical to understand:
Who gets appointed to this Committee;
Political affiliation must count and be represented fairly;
There cannot be any overt interference from either the Council or the County Executive as the Committee goes about its work; and
The Committee’s work cannot be nullified by the Council or the County Executive.
A true effort must be made by this Committee to apportion the representation on the Council in a fair and equitable manner, drawing boundary lines consistent with county residents’ needs, so that the voices of all the county residents can be heard, even when those voices do not agree with the longstanding single party rule that has dominated MoCo for so long.
Kimblyn Persaud is Chair of Nine Districts for MoCo.
Congratulations! We have been officially notified by the Board of Elections that Nine Districts for MoCo has been certified with more than the necessary 10,000 signatures, and will be Question D on the General Election ballot.
None of this would have happened without your support, but it’s not over!
On August 4th, just one day after we delivered our petitions, the Montgomery County Council suspended their rules of procedure and took counter action against us. Rejecting the Charter Review Commission’s recommendation for no action and without holding a public hearing on their proposal, the Council decided to place an alternative question on the ballot. Their referendum expands the Council to 11 members, maintaining the 4 at-large Council seats. The Council, once again, is demonstrating their disconnect from the people.
Montgomery County is experiencing the worst economic crisis in history; businesses have closed their doors, evictions are looming, and people have lost their jobs.
Yet, despite all that, the Council still proposed the addition of two more District Council seats, which will include eight staff members and a need to renovate office space.
Enough is enough! Montgomery County needs a more responsive County Council that we can hold accountable, not more government that we will have to pay for. Nine Districts for MoCo is our opportunity to change this!
We need your help! With a donation today, your contribution will help us reach voters throughout the county with advertising and yard signs.
From a Concerned Citizen in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Throughout history, the world has experienced the practical application of many philosophical theories. From the beginning, mankind has sought to worship various forms of these theories, turning these theories into religions and gods.
In 1848, a German man by the name of Karl Marx gave birth to a document known as the Communist Manifesto. The ideas and theories of Marx became known as Marxism, which were later interpreted into practice and became Communism.
It was Karl Marx’s objective to dethrone God and destroy Capitalism.
Marx upended the definitions of good and evil to mean that the church and family presented obstacles to utopia. The concept of sin changed, from rebellion against God into striving for individual ends opposed to the collective. The institution of property rights represented original sin. The end goal of Communism replaced the Garden of Eden. The new utopia was heaven.
This view, especially under the funding of billionaire Marxist, George Soros, has been absorbed by academia, media, the entertainment industry, and many in government. They promote cultural Marxism in the form of political correctness. Everyone is equal. The reality is, the Bible speaks of God’s justice as measured by adherence to God’s standards, not by shifting goals of secular academics.
No where in scripture does it task government with equalization of wealth. The bible requires work, frugal living, and honest dealings. It mandates impartial justice, sound money management, and property rights. It also endorses liberty and limited government, all essential elements of capitalism.
In a recent television interview, U.S. Attorney General William Barr was asked about Antifa, the black lives matter (BLM) movement, civil unrest, and the media. He began by saying politics has fundamentally changed; where once we were able to have discussion and debate and then vote, it has been replaced by one side’s desire to tear down the system with no compromise.
Mr. Barr said this revolutionary movement has become a new secular religion.
It has become a political pilgrimage to create a progressive utopia.
Barr went on to compare this revolutionary movement to Marxism. During the interview, a June 12, 2020 report published by the Soeren Kern Gatestone Institute was quoted:
“Empirical and anecdotal evidence shows that Antifa is, in fact, highly networked, well-funded, and has a global presence. It has a flat organizational structure with dozens and possibly hundreds of local groups. Antifa’s stated long-term objective, both in America and abroad, is to establish a communist world order. In the United States, Antifa’s immediate aim is to bring about the demise of the Trump administration.”
From day one of President Trump’s administration, radical leftists have made it their goal to shred the norms of the system. BLM is also focused on bringing down this administration. Why?
They desire POWER and want to run the lives of everyone. This lust for power has become their new religion. The urban guerrilla warfare currently taking place in America is Antifa and BLM shielding themselves under the protections afforded to them in the 1st amendment. They hijack these so-called “peaceful” demonstrations and are highly organized in creating riots and civil anarchy. The media does not fully cover these riots because they are funded by billionaire Marxist and globalist, George Soros.
So, who is George Soros? Forbes has listed him as the 46th richest individual in the country with a net worth of 22 billion dollars. Soros has funded pro-abortion, pro-illegal immigration, pro-national health care, pro-drug legalization, pro-big government, anti-Israel, and anti-America movements. He has direct ties to over 30 main stream media outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, CNN, NPR, and ABC. Each of these operations have high-level employees on the Boards of Soros-funded media operations. Soros’ contributions have secured ownership of politicians and have funded Antifa. Many leftist politicians refuse to condemn the anarchy and riots taking place in our country because their very own campaigns are being funded in part by George Soros.
Consequently, Soros is accomplishing his Marxist goal of dismantling America through the use of riots and his manipulation of racism and open anarchy.
BIG MEDIA was born with Soros money.
George Soros discovered he had enough money and know-how to buy options in floundering publishers and individual reporters. He controls the narrativeused by the media, which in turn controls the Democrat party and prevents Americans from hearing the truth. Democrats don’t talk about big media because they are the ones who benefit from it. Each of the most influential big media outlets, with the exception of Fox, are campaigning for far-left causes and radical, liberal candidates.
The deep state is not a conspiracy theory. The corruption within the FBI, CIA, IRS, Congress, and NSA is real and openly evident.
Justice is a word of the past. The Left’s lust for power places them into the category of Marxist. Sadly, most Americans are too naïve and have accepted the narrativeof the media without fully understanding who is creating and funding the narrative. I can only pray Americans will learn to think for themselves and understand how they are being deceived by the narrative.
The November election will shape the direction of America and the world. If Biden is elected it may well be the last president America will see.
The shadow government and deep state will have achieved victory. Our form of government may become history, replaced by the Marxist agenda of Communism. Please, America, wake up. We are one election away from losing the freedoms we have taken for granted. Everything is on the line.
Sadly, on our local Montgomery County, Maryland level we have a Marxist in power as County Executive (Marc Elrich) and a surrounding cast of cronies who live in and support the Marxist agenda of Takoma Park. Your vote to create nine districts is a vote to end this Takoma Park control.
I read with interest your message on Fiscal Responsibility and ask that you please reconsider your stance against the [Montgomery County, MD] Charter Amendments.
These are good, solid Charter Amendments that will be good for the citizens and good for the county!
I am a proud, 30-year resident of Montgomery County [MoCo], and I believe, along with a great many of my neighbors, that a cap on Property Tax is an excellent form of fiscal responsibility. It will help our county search for and eliminate duplicative and wasteful and unneeded programs – of which there are many. It will help the county reevaluate employee compensation and pay raises – these are far higher than the U.S. government pays for comparable jobs. It may force the county to reevaluate the 6% dividends the county guarantees for MoCo employees’ retirement plans: Maintaining such a high dividend must certainly be dragging down the budget since no one in the world, except for Montgomery County, MD employees, can obtain a guaranteed 6% dividend in any one retirement plan.
Approving the cap on property taxes may force the county to stop the county’s hidden payments to a private trash hauler to haul out and dump half of our recyclables because they are unsalable – why are we paying recycling fees in our property tax to have them hauled? We could remove this expensive and illegitimate recycling program and go back to openly hauling trash, which you doing anyway, and save us all some money.
These are only some of the things a property tax cap could accomplish!
As for the 9 districts – what a fabulous idea for each area to have one of their own to represent them. A great many of us are delighted by this prospect!
Think about this Mr. Friedson. If you support these amendments and do not disparage them, we will all support you.
Be strong! Stand up to those bullies on the council and be a true representative of your citizens!
If you like, I can gather a list of citizens for you so you can see how many of us really like these ideas. But wait – you already have a list of 10,000 signatures for each Amendment. You do not need anything more from me, do you?
From an Up-County Resident in Montgomery County, Maryland.
As many of you know, because you signed the petition, there is a ballot initiative underway to restructure the county into 9 distinct council seats each with its own elected council member eliminating the 4 “at large” positions. This is an initiative that was born from a non-partisan effort to try and bring more accountability and responsiveness to that part of MoCo designated “UP-County.” What you may not know is that the representation on the council lives in that part of the county known as the Takoma Park and Silver Spring “triangle,” thereby limiting their ability to live and perhaps work among the constituents they claim to represent.
Below is an article written by Adam Pagnucco, a long-time observer of MoCo politics, and Paul Bessel published in the blog, “Seventh State.” It lays out the case for not changing the current makeup and distribution of the county council. In fact, he takes exception to a move by the council to offer their own alternative to the 9-district solution so that voters might have a choice when voting in November. I think it’s important to look at this article closely to understand what is being proposed and how it might affect the way voters view the recommendations it offers.
“With due respect to the members of the MoCo Council, I believe they made a mistake when they voted to put on the ballot the issue of adding 2 District Council Members. We do not need more Council Members and the voters benefit greatly from the current structure.”
This is a position that I believe those who want to see a change can support. The Council’s efforts here are a measure designed to obfuscate the real issue and to try to convince the voters that they are being fairly represented. Further, I agree we do not need two more council members and staff and all the costs that come with such an expansion. But here is were we must part ways with Mr. Pagnucco and Mr. Bessel because they go on to say:
“The item on the ballot by petition, to eliminate At Large Members and have 9 District Members, is even worse for our citizens. The argument that we want to give voters choices is wrong. The vast majority of voters don’t care about the Council structure. They care what the Council does, not its structure.”
Besides the fact that the assumption that “giving voters a choice is wrong” strikes me as not being very supportive of our system of government “by the people”… the notion that “[T]he vast majority of voters don’t care about the Council structure” but rather “what the Council does” are tied together and are not standalone issues to be casually tossed aside. It is by its very nature HOW the Council is structured that ultimately determines what the Council DOES; they cannot be separated.
There is clear evidence that over the years the development of the county has been focused on those areas that are inhabited by the members of the Council (e.g., Silver Spring, Takoma Park, Bethesda) and UP-County has become the place where developers can off-set their Section-8 housing and development requirements; where water run-off requirements can be shifted to and solar panels erected so as not to disrupt the development of “Down-County.”
We can see the results of this disproportionate representation every election cycle… those candidates for the Council At-Large positions will make themselves known in such far corners of the County such as Poolesville, Darnstown, Clarksburg, Beallsville, Boyds, Barnesville, and Damascus. But for the 4 years between elections it is difficult to recall when the council held a “town hall” meeting in Poolesville, Boyds, or Clarksburg. These places just disappear from the radar for all manner of county requirements and interactions. For example, Poolesville has advocated for a new High School that could be combined with a Senior Center and a County Police Substation to service a remote and dispersed section of the County. This has been a long-standing issue with that part of the county.
Pagnucco says: “[E]liminating At Large Members would be even worse. If a citizen lived in a district where her or his District Member didn’t care much about constituent service (it happens!) they would have no one to turn to, while now they have 4 others who represent them.” Well, that appears to be the case with District 1. An ineffective Council Member and nowhere else to turn. Perhaps the size of the District is to expansive or the current Council member is just not interested in what is going on in the Ag Reserve… in either case the problems of Poolesville have persisted for years. This can be verified by speaking to the local government in Poolesville. So it is viable to assume that if District One were to be subdivided into a smaller District and that the citizens of the Poolesville area elected a “local” to the Council it would not be unreasonable that they would at least have a voice — that might possibly be heard. After all what do the residents the Poolesville and the Ag Reserve and the residents of Bethesda and Potomac have in common other then they all live in MoCo.
The blog goes on to address “the issue of Council structure has been studied in detail by 5 separate Charter Review Commissions and ALL recommended that there should continue to be 4 At Large and 5 District Members. That allows each county voter to vote for a majority of the Council Members and to turn to 5 different representatives when they wish.”
But like so many other things that happen in Montgomery County, the demographics change and the needs and the wants of the citizens change right along with the county itself.
I myself have lived in MoCo for 30 years and I have seen the changes and I have recognized the inequity of the way the Council has for years concentrated its attention and dollars to those areas they can most benefit from, even if its just a road that will increase their own property value. This is not an indictment of any one person or member of the Council, but there is no objection to the “Purple Line” but enormous push-back on I-270 improvements that would help to relieve Up-County congestion.
Perhaps a resident of Clarksburg sitting on the Council would see this differently.
Pagnucco tells us that, “[A]dding members to the Council will cost a lot of money: Council Member salaries, staff salaries, reconstruction of the Council building. What would be gained? Nothing. The 9 Council Members do all the work needed”. Again no argument – so if we already have the 9 members with offices and staff and the proposal is to simple redraw some lines on the county map and reapportion the 9 council members in a more equitable and representative manner if that is what the citizens want — what could possibly be the objection.
“There is no need to tinker with the Council structure. There is no need to put any questions about this on the ballot. The current structure works well. Leave it alone.”
No Mr. Pagnucco… over 15,000 citizens of MoCo feel differently. With all due respect you do not get to decide this issue for the citizens of the Montgomery County. It will be on the ballot in November, the electorate will be further educated on the issue and We The People will decide how we want our County Council to be structured and how we want to be represented on the Council… after all I think you would agree — IT’S THE AMERICAN THING TO DO!