Friday, December 29, 2006
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Remember the Post's Ahab-like quest to defeat Hugo Chavez in Venezuela? The latest economic news from Venezuela is positive: consumer spending is up, as is use of consumer credit. Ownership society; the Post can't stand it.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Regional taxes are a new concept supported by liberal Democrats, but surprisingly, also by a Republican leader in the Maryland Senate(!). A handful of states have this new type of tax, and it is simply a new way to rob the taxpayer of more money to funnel to the special interests. Democrats in Virginia have been hinting at such a tax all year. Now the wallet vacuum is heading this way, as Maryland legislators are floating a regional tax trial balloon in their party organ newspapers such as the Post and Gazette.
That trial balloon should burst like the fantasy that Democrats are helping the poor. The regional tax is a horrifically bad idea, and yet another Democratic flat tax on the poor. And the idea that some parts of Maryland don't want to pay for transportation projects in the D.C. and Baltimore areas... If there is a natural disaster in Ocean City or out west, our tax dollars will pay the bills. And I have no problem supporting transportation projects in those counties with our tax dollars. In fact, my transportation plan would have built projects across the state. Everyone needs to realize that we are in this together; that's why we all pay State taxes. So there is no need for a new regional tax. Just a need for budget discipline in Annapolis and Rockville.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
It's been quite a start for the new county and state governments. All indications are that the poor and the middle class will find their cost of living going up over the next four years. Gas taxes are being proposed, in addition to the Democrats' already-proposed bill to raise taxes on the poor for a partial health plan in 2007. In another unbelievable report, Metro is planning to hit the average working person with massive fare increases on bus and subway transit. Up to $2 on the daily Metro fare, when it's already too expensive. This is no way to increase ridership. Metro is out of control and clearly is suffering from poor leadership, operations, and planning. Currently, transit is heading in the opposite direction from the advances I had talked about during my campaign. We need to lower fares and unify our fare system, not force the poor and middle class back into cars.
This and other existing problems, and the apparent worsening of them under our new elected officials, require action on behalf of the citizen. In addition to my work on the Central Committee, I will also be an independent advocate for the issues I campaigned on. More details on that forthcoming.
Other interesting facts: 5 million less people shopped on the day after Thanksgiving, but those who did bought more than last year. That says to me that the rich got richer, in another true cliche. The Washington Post also argued against no-document loans that help people afford homeownership and criticized the Venezuelan government for policies that allow the less wealthy to afford nice automobiles. These absurd attacks both represent a continued assault on the "ownership society" here and abroad by the left. Imagine, the Post criticizing the ability of people in a less-wealthy society to own a car. Extreme arrogance.
The Washington Post continues to boggle the mind. In 48 hours last week, the Post went from celebrating the Baker-Hamilton report as the plan for the future (and a defeat for George W. Bush) to attacking the report and essentially offering weak support for the current Bush position. Then an editorial speaks well of Pinochet's economic legacy and blasts Fidel Castro. Check that masthead. Is this the Post or the Times?
Finally, could that new, conservative Washington Post be any more irrelevant? After felling many a paper-providing tree and much ink to defeat President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, he won in a landslide in a free, fair election. Again. Clearly Chavez is the choice of the majority in Venezuela, and we're just left to wonder why Chavez is such a concern to the Washington Post company and its corporate empire.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
First, Pepco rates are going up. Again. That's not a misprint, Pepco is raising your rates again. There's no competition, and now there certainly won't be with Delegates Bronrott, Lee, and Goldwater back in office.
Second, the health care partial plan that doesn't cover everyone - and raises taxes on the poor to pay for it(!) - is one of the first pieces of legislation that will come before the new General Assembly.
Clearly, the poor and elderly are two of the biggest losers in this election; they now get to pay higher utility bills and higher taxes. Imagine, raising taxes on the poor for a plan that won't cover them. And they say Democrats tax the rich to help the poor? Not in Maryland. Meanwhile, my universal health insurance access plan and other initiatives to help the poor and middle class have been tabled as the status quo emerged temporarily victorious in the election.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
We also found out that this is not the Post we knew. There are serious questions about the editorial and reporting staff at the paper. Quite frankly, I'm surprised that Bob Woodward continues to associate his name with the Post. The reporters do not return voice mails. I'm serious. Ann Marimow alone was contacted by my campaign 5 times since August, and has never once returned a voice mail or email. The Post never covered the unprecedented story of 3 members of the same family running for office on the same ballot. That is simply unbelievable. They didn't even cover the General Assembly races. When you consider the puff pieces and filth that the Metro section is usually comprised of, there is no excuse for the lack of coverage of my campaign.
Then there is the ethical question of the downright lies that were printed in the endorsements. It's one thing to not endorse us, but there is absolutely no reason or justification for lying about us. Specifically, I was lumped together with my Republican running mates as having a "thin agenda." That is a lie. That is preposterous. Visit my website and read my massive agenda, with more details than any other candidate in Maryland ever offered in this election. The Washington Post lied, period. When I called one of the editors, he had no credible explanations, mostly just giggles. So, we are definitely dealing with a new type of editorial and journalistic standard at the Post.
I was upset about the lies and lack of coverage at the time, and wrote a letter to the Editor. Which they didn't print. I knew they wouldn't. But after the results came in, I realized there's not any reason to be upset - the Post is irrelevant. Irrelevant. And the Gazette is irrelevant. Irrelevant. It serves them right for trying to change the outcome of the election.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
It is notable that many of the new Democrats who won nationally were relatively moderate or even conservative. So our base is still there. The Reagan Democrats are still there. Where we didn't win, people have to admit that they didn't get out the vote, and didn't make the case for why Democrats should cross over. With zero help from our state Party, I was able to do this on a very small scale. Here is the latest article about a Republican who did this on a very large scale, who I've been referring to all year, and who Republicans in Maryland could learn a lot from:
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger - a Republican - Wins
Thursday, November 09, 2006
We had only our most diehard precinct chairs at their posts. Democrats were laughing at me all day, when the subject of Republican volunteers at the polls came up. Angry, determined Democrats were passing me all day as they stomped into the polling places. I managed to obtain a Democratic sample ballot. Paid for by the state Democratic party, these easy to use guides were handed out at the polls and had an edition for each district. The bad news is, Republicans weren't handing out sample ballots. The even worse news is, we had a sample ballot but never utilized it! I know because my brother created it! The state Party never stepped up to the plate. All funds were directed to Ehrlich, Steele, and favored candidates. All of whom lost, by the way. I find the approval of even the most nonsensical ballot questions followed the answers given in that Democratic sample ballot. So obviously, those ballots affected the outcome. The psychological effect alone of not having someone at least handing out a ballot at each polling place was clearly demonstrated. I'm skeptical of the benefit of literature at the polling place; rarely does anyone stop at those now-disappearing tables and most have made up their mind already. I think it would be sufficient to have the information neatly summarized on a sample ballot. It seemed to work well for the Democrats. We need to have at least one person handing out such a ballot at each polling place.
Besides microtargeting, we heard much about volunteers and volunteers who would sweep into Montgomery County on Election Day from out-of-state. And they would "bring out the base!" Anytime now, guys.
The Republican Party is now totally irrelevant in Montgomery County until 2010. I can't think of a more compelling argument for a new direction. It will be days or weeks before the full data can be analyzed as to who came out to vote, but I can tell you a bit about one of a number of groups supporting me. They are comprised of Republicans, Reagan Democrats, and Independents. People who, when you mention the Republican Party, think of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan. Leaders who knew what was great about this country and this Party. Who were more concerned with breaking down walls than building new ones. Who knew that everyone had to have stake in the outcome in order to preserve our nation. The divisive tactics of recent years have been an utter failure. The number of Latinos voting for Republicans was essentially halved in this election. Ironically, Latinos, African-Americans, Asians, and other ethnic groups share the essence of our true Republican values of family, ownership societies, and market economics. We must return to those values. Without, importantly, sacrificing other values such as the defense of life and our Constitutional rights, as some desperate opportunists are recommending in recent days. We've got to respectfully make the case that we represent a majority in this county and this state, however hard that may be to believe after Tuesday.
I was able to bring out small numbers of this group and many other groups through my own hard work. Often they were not touched -and certainly not motivated - by party efforts. What could we have accomplished had the state and national parties used a real strategy and, most importantly, not sacrificed the rest of us for the financial benefit of a few campaigns?
"We were hit by a tidal wave!" "It's all Bush's fault!" Hogwash. If so, how were Tom Davis, Frank Wolf, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and other Republicans reelected? It's time for the leaders of this debacle, this catastrophe, to stop the excuses, be accountable, and step down.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Thursday, October 26, 2006
The Gazette lost credibility by endorsing Ms. Goldwater for reelection. They understated her legislative and campaign absences. They said she has assured voters that she won't be absent during the next session. How did she assure voters when she never appears in public? Why does the Gazette accept her word as fact, when those of us who have actively campaigned know that she has been missing all year? That says a lot about the editorial standards of the Gazette. If a politician is accused of a crime, will the Gazette accept his or her word as well? Without corroborating evidence, or interviewing other sources?
The Gazette's endorsement of Ms. Goldwater has stained its journalistic and civic credentials, and is an insult to our community's intelligence. The community should also know that the Gazette did not interview any of Ms. Goldwater's Republican challengers for possible endorsement. They don't know the candidates or what they stand for. When you don't know the candidates in the race, you can't make an authoritative, credible endorsement. Their endorsements are based on some other arbitrary criteria. Consider that after Knapp's Clarksburg, and yet another recent Knapp scandal just weeks ago, they endorsed Mike Knapp over Scott in District 2. They did not interview Scott for possible endorsement either. Much like my opponents, Mr. Knapp's votes relate directly to his financial contributors. It boggles the mind. Now it is revealed that Mr. Knapp, and others, pay the teachers union to get on the apple ballot. Imagine, politicians buying an endorsement and then claiming it represents teachers. Outrageous. What an insult to hard working, underpaid teachers in our county.
This all shows why you, the voter, should take time to read the voters guides and websites to make your own decisions. So many "endorsements" are a sham and a farce, and represent the special interests that work behind the scenes. Whatever your choice, please do vote on November 7. This is an historic election that will change our future.
Keep that copy of the editorial page from this week's Gazette. If Marilyn Goldwater is reelected and we end up with only 2 of our 3 votes until 2010, the Gazette will be a national laughingstock, like our transportation system. And Jack Palance wants a copy too. It will be on display in the Ripley's Believe It or Not! museum.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
"DISTRICT 16: Of five Democratic candidates, we recommend two energetic and
knowledgeable incumbents, William A. Bronrott and Susan C. Lee . For the third seat, now held by veteran Marilyn R. Goldwater, we endorse Regina "Reggie" Oldak. Over the years, Ms. Goldwater has served admirably, especially on health-care issues, but in the last year she was unable to engage in key legislative activities and in this campaign appears to have lost some of her longtime supporters."
Vote for the first name on your ballot: Robert F. Dyer!
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
When we went in, there were 12 members around the large table, easily the largest panel I've sat before in this campaign. There is a spectacular view of downtown Bethesda from the 12th floor, and towering construction cranes swung around in the near distance. So it was quite an appropriate backdrop to discuss the issues with the Chamber PAC panel.
The new Gazette is out today too, and has a profile of my father for the State Senate race. Strangely, events are few these weeks, but I've been too busy on my campaign anyway. Aside from my strategy in the final weeks, I'm waiting to read what the Post and Gazette will do with their District 16 delegate endorsements given the Goldwater situation. Their decisions will be quite revealing in regards to their civic role in the community and to their journalistic integrity precisely because of that Goldwater reality and its implications for our District for the next four years. Vote for Robert Dyer!
Mr. Berliner, in a contrast to his search for Common Ground on public access TV, emphasized his Democratic credentials. Mr. Denis spoke of his bipartisan cooperation and impressive voting record on the council. As I have previously noted here, Mr. Denis finished his latest term in strong fashion. It seemed that every significant action by the council was associated with his name, from mansionization to the successful resolution of the Seven Locks episode.
This year, Howard Denis has been the east coast version of Gov. Schwarzenegger, focusing on getting things done instead of partisan politics. This gave great weight to his arguments Monday night, along with a slew of endorsements by organizations that don't usually endorse Republicans. As he said, "Roger, all of the groups that endorsed you last time, have endorsed me!"
Mr. Berliner got some jabs in regarding developer contributions and those George Bush arguments popular with Democrats this year. But Mr. Denis was at the top of his game, in front of his home crowd, and was able to counter with his Neighbors PAC endorsement frequently. Able to list his accomplishments for Friendship Heights, including the reopening of the new Giant, Mr. Denis made a strong case for his record and reelection. He also had some jabs of his own, in return for what he referred to as Berliner's "sleazy" attacks. Mr. Denis recalled his previous collaboration with Ike Leggett on the council, and potential to work with him as County Executive, and then pointed out that Mr. Berliner had backed Leggett's opponent, Steve Silverman. And that Berliner had contributed $500 to Republican Roy Blunt. Mr. Berliner did a good job himself, but was unable to compete with a reinvigorated Howard Denis, passionate about his public service on the council and his accomplishments.
I congratulated Mr. Denis on his debate victory afterward, and he said "good luck to you" on my campaign. In the corridor, one man said to me, "I know who you are, I've read all about you." Hopefully it was positive! I was puzzled by newspaper editorials criticizing Mr. Denis for his focus on constituent service. Is that a bad thing? Anytime I've ever contacted his office about a problem, I've received a phone call in response within 24 hours. That's what officials should do, and I certainly would follow the Howard Denis example if I am elected.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Fortunately, we had future U.S. President, and current U.S. Senate candidate, Lt. Gov. Michael Steele. But before he arrived, I headed over to Chevy Chase Cars for the Come Back to Bethesda car show. And to take advantage of the heated showroom. They had some of the greatest cars of all time there. (Skip ahead to the next paragraph if you find cars boring). Including a 2002 Camaro SS, which was the best Camaro since the 80s. It was red with the white stripes and "nostrils" on the hood, Corvette engine, and with the convertible top. Directly in front of it was a classic Camaro SS, also a red convertible. The great-grandfather and
great grandson, so to speak, which made for a clever display. Other standouts were the underrated 70s Caprice, a Buick Grand National, and a Fiero GT. The Pontiac Fiero was the exotic sports car with the engine behind the driver and a rather infamous habit of spontaneously bursting into flames in the 1980s. So what car did I vote for as best in show?
Sorry, but I have a soft spot for Monte Carlos. This one was a circa 1976 model in pea green. With whitewall tires, and white vinyl roof. The picture was sharper on my phone. But what a great car, a true classic. I have to say that the most exciting car on the premises wasn't an entry in the show but a brand new, black Corvette. This has to be the ultimate car you can buy besides the Dodge Viper. But far more luxurious, sophisticated, and civilized than the Viper. It has four, count them, four tailpipes and is a veritable artwork of automotive sculpture. But, as Ronald Reagan would say, "OK, back to work!"
I headed back over to the Taste of Bethesda and suddenly found that my fingers had black ink on them. And it was raining again. So I managed to get a lot of the ink off with a hand wipe, and looking like a fingerprinted escapee, I opened my umbrella. Angela was on her way back to the car show, where she was volunteering, and she said that Michael Steele would be there at 1:45.
Realizing that my inky bag would get on everything, and that my fliers were a lost cause in the rain, I decided to make the long, cold walk back to the garage to drop them off. Then my umbrella blew inside-out. At the garage by this time, people are circling, uttering that classic parking mantra, "Are you leaving?" Then I went back over to wait for Michael Steele.
Back at Chevy Chase Cars, Katie Parsley of the Steele campaign and State Senate candidate Dave Stegmaier were out front. I went back in to warm up and when I came back out, there was a crowd forming. With a Steele sticker on my shirt, I crossed the street with the group and the Steele campaign bus appeared southbound on Wisconsin Avenue. The crowd began chanting, and soon enough, Michael Steele himself emerged from the bus, wearing a Weather Channel-style jacket with a Steele logo instead. He greeted everyone, and we began to walk towards the Taste of Bethesda. Pointing to the words on my shirt, he said, "Vote Dyer... I love it!!," and clapped me on the back.
I was already as big of a supporter of Michael Steele as is humanly possible, but it was exciting to see the enthusiasm of people as he made his way around the event. I've never witnessed a Republican with this level of popularity in our Democratic state of Maryland. People of all ages and races were stepping forward to express their support and ask him to sign autographs and pose for pictures. Everyone wants to know where the puppy from the ads is, and a lot of people with O'Malley and other Democratic stickers were Steele supporters as well. Steele Democrats, as they say. Speaking of Democrats, we encountered Ben Cardin, O'Malley, and Chris Van Hollen who all greeted Lt. Gov. Steele cordially.
The walk went for quite a while, and I even forgot I was freezing. We stopped in an art studio, where the Haitian owner praised Lt. Gov. Steele and said "we all support you. You have all of our votes! We need to have black people in positions of power in this country." There was another woman selling a Haitian cookbook; I think it was actually a book signing going on. It was interesting to stop in there, with my background in Latin American and Carribean history. Many events in the history of Haiti are quite violent and sad, but the culture and literature are fascinating.
Eventually we were back at the bus again, and after a group photo, it was off to Annapolis for Mr. Steele. The bus made a U-turn and started north, chased by a secret-service type of SUV, black with flashing lights and siren. It left the bystander with the sense that a true celebrity had just left downtown Bethesda. And perhaps foreshadowed the future, in which I believe Michael Steele will be elected President. But first there's a Senate race to be won November 7, and my feeling is that Ben Cardin will be soundly defeated.
It's great to have a candidate like Michael Steele who you can be genuinely pumped up about supporting. For me, the number of candidates like that in my lifetime can be counted on one hand. And it's great to attend an event like this in Bethesda, the Athens of the modern world. We've entered the final month of the campaign, and this is what it's all about.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
But it wasn't deja vu about that. It was from having this same meeting, about the same street, five years ago. And the same engineer from the County government, Tracy Wroe, was there to make the presentation and answer questions. Five years' worth of technological advances replaced the xerox maps with a blown-up satellite photo of part of the neighborhood, and one of those County channel-type TV programs about traffic calming shown on a TV wheeled into the room.
An informal vote showed a very slight majority opposed to bumps. Of course, the room did not contain all of the residents who will actually sign or reject any petition for installing the bumps. They will make the final decision. But it did make for another lively discussion that didn't get quite as heated as the previous meeting. What did emerge is a consensus that the No Right Turn on Westbard from River Road has created a problem with cut-through traffic. Both sides agree on that. But there doesn't seem to be much optimism about reversing it. And one neighbor brought up something even I don't remember, that there was once a dead-end at the Westbard/Ridgefield intersection.
Obviously, the concern is for the residential end of Westbard. But I've never quite understood why it was changed because the Giant 18-wheel trucks used to turn right onto Westbard at River. Since the change, those drivers have had to turn right at Ridgefield. If you've been at the light when they make that manuever, you really feel bad for them. It's far too tight of a turn for the truck, and dangerous for the Giant driver and other drivers. On rare occasions, they've struck the pole, and honestly, sometimes it looks like the truck is going to tip over and land on cars waiting at the light. Scary.
So I've long believed we should start by giving Giant access to Westbard again. The root cause of regular cut-through traffic is the poorly timed lights all along River Road and at Little Falls/Massachusetts Ave. We can improve that, and my proposed Express Bus along River Road will reduce some traffic there.
We need to find additional solutions, and quickly.
If I am elected, my plans for photo radar are far broader than our current delegates'. I am quite dissatisfied with the current photo radar law passed by the legislature. Furthermore, we can rotate cameras if necessary, while signage will suggest that a camera is always present.
Secondly, the County should add more police officers and set up rotating speed traps in residential neighborhoods during the worst hours. It's part of what I mean by priorities and values. When spending money, we need to address the critical issues of basic needs of citizens and public safety. Housing, health care, employment, utilities, transportation, and crime. After reading my web site, I am confident you'll find my priorities and values are more in line with yours than our current delegates'. By voting for Robert Dyer on November 7, you can finally have your priorities and values represented in Annapolis.
But we should encourage public officials to propose new ideas about transportation. The problem we've had is government doing nothing on rail transit for about 10 years. I have an ambitious plan for transportation, as you can read about on my website. And if I am elected, we will have new funds at the state and federal levels to help pay for them. So vote for Robert Dyer on November 7.
Monday, October 02, 2006
The results disprove the skeptics who say there is no potential ridership for projects such as the Purple Line. In fact, this study reveals the opposite. Note that there was a double digit surge in ridership on the DART system in Dallas. Why is that relevant? Because the light rail in Dallas is exactly the type proposed for the Purple Line: at-grade, and at times sharing roadways with vehicles. The report also echoes the need to lower fares for frequent riders and to unify the system into one farecard system. I have also proposed that fares be available to purchase through cellphones. We are far behind Asia in the concept of your phone being your wallet.
Finally, another report this week is bad news: the Federal Government is cracking down on so-called "exotic" mortgages. What this means is that fewer people will be able to afford to buy homes. This action is discriminatory, and hurts young people buying their first homes, as well as African-American and Latino homebuyers. This is an outrage. Elect Robert Dyer, so that I can work in Annapolis and make homeownership affordable for people of all ages, races, and income levels. It's time to stop discriminatory practices, and for the Federal Government to fulfill its obligations and be a full partner with state and local governments in making homeownership accessible to all.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
This is a great example of what we could do here in Maryland if I am elected. And we must also pass legislation that will notify parents and students when criminals are in the classroom. Our current delegates have done zero to protect students from violent criminals in our public schools. The results have been frightening. Elect me, so that I can introduce legislation to keep children safe and parents fully informed.
Speaking of great examples, Governor Schwarzenegger and Democratic leaders in the California Assembly have shown what can be done when partisan politics are put aside, by passing many significant bills this year. This is the exact opposite of the current situation in Annapolis. We can change that on November 7, with your help and your vote for Robert Dyer!
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Right click here for our Feature Presentation
I also commend the organizers for all of the free stuff they put out. They even had those plastic rulers that turn into a safety armband when you slap it against your arm, as the gentleman from the D.C. Government demonstrated with an "Ouch!" He was only joking, he assured us.
I work in Friendship Heights, but Howard Denis (County Council - District 1) actually lives there, a few yardsticks from the Center. So he was appropriately asked to take the podium to begin the evening. He did commit a faux pas when he recognized Duchy Trachtenberg and said that he was certain that she would wake up on November 8 as a member of the Montgomery County Council. Wait a minute. Hold the phone. The only new female member of the County Council on Nov. 8 will be Amber Gnemi. Gee whiz, let's be a little more supportive of our Republican candidates.
So, anyway, then the panel began its presentations. In contrast to the affordable housing and Westbard debates, there were actually a lot of specifics in the discussions, so I applaud that. Statistics, results of current programs, and future plans were detailed by the panel, which also included Lt. Smith from the Bethesda District of the Montgomery County Police, and traffic experts from the MDSHA, Washington D.C., and Montgomery County. Then it was time for questions from the audience, and it was all downhill from there.
Apparently, the status quo didn't want the Friendship Heights citizens to hear from Mr. Bronrott's challenger, Robert Dyer. Let me be clear: I don't have any solid evidence of that, besides some whispers between certain individuals during the Q&A. But moments later it was announced that the question period would be cut short. The self-described "Phil Donahue" (insert your own comment here) in the crowd kept the mic on the other side of the room, while panelists turned on the slow gas for the longest answers you've ever heard. As they ran down the clock NFL-style, I could hardly contain my laughter. And there were too many officials in the crowd asking questions, and going on and on and on, which prevented actual citizens from having a chance to speak. This was a citizens' forum, not a council meeting. Strange, then, that so many senior citizens who had made the effort to attend were not allowed to comment on the issues during the forum.
Well, here's what I was going to say: I work in Friendship Heights, so I'm up there on a daily basis and know the problems unlike the panelists. For example, the "experts" didn't even know the situation with the bus terminal, which led to some justifiable muttering in the crowd. Secondly, some of the most effective solutions are the cheapest: countdown signals, rumble strips, and lighted signage. The fact is that many drivers aren't paying attention, and we can reduce some accidents by getting their attention. The other bad drivers are hardcore speeders and aggressive drivers who require police enforcement. Finally, the County needs to take into account the high percentage of senior citizens in Friendship Heights when setting the timers for crossing signals.
Frankly, I'm not convinced enough has been done on the pedestrian safety issue in Friendship Heights. Given the demographics of the area, it is embarrassing that there are not more pedestrian bridges and other such safe passages to assist residents in getting to and from their homes, shopping, Metro, and restaurants. So if you live in Friendship Heights, and you're dissatisfied with the dangerous conditions, vote for Robert Dyer on Nov. 7! I will actually get something done about it! Then I'll be on the next panel discussion. And I promise to let my opponents speak.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Tuesday started off with total chaos, but I didn't realize the scope of the voting machine debacle until later in the morning. Scott went early to vote up at his polling place and encountered the card problem there. Fortunately, he was able to go back later and cast his ballot on the regular machine. The whole provisional ballot idea was absolutely ridiculous. Some were just scrap paper put into sealed envelopes with voter name and address (!), thereby eliminating the basic concept of a secret ballot. There are all kinds of potential misbehavior that could occur with those paper ballots, and I want to know if there are going to be Democratic and Republican observers as those are counted.
Besides the whole card and electronic polling book disaster, I noticed other questionable behavior by officials. Namely, voting officials coming past my voting station and turning their head as they passed, appearing to read my ballot as I cast votes. The machines are propped up and not adequately shielded, so anyone passing by can know who you're voting for.
Secondly, some voters, including myself, were ordered to take out their cell phone and turn it off by an election judge. Again, that is illegal action by the official. The voting process is spelled out step by step in the materials mailed to voters before the election. Nothing can be left out. Likewise, judges cannot arbitrarily invent new voting procedures. In retrospect, I should have challenged that order. But the level of voter intimidation is so high now, with longtime voters being disenfranchised, ballots that "time-out" to scare people into selecting familiar incumbent names, etc., that I guess I just counted myself lucky to be able to exercise my right to vote. Some people lost that right Tuesday. Now, what is the deal with turning off your cell phone? I've heard rumors that it was to prevent interference with the wireless system that connects the electronic books with the central database. Or would cell phones interfere with some electronic misbehavior that was afoot? When someone asked why they must be turned off, the judge refused to give the reason. Now, in that situation, you can only speculate as to what in the world is going on. Which hardly contributes to voter confidence.
Anyway, I had changed my plan and was waiting to vote around noon, so everything was working by that time at my polling place. I was all over the District, and upset to find that many of our precinct chairs went AWOL, while Democrats had a literature table manned at every polling place. This cannot happen on November 7. I came across my opponents at Bethesda ES around 4. Well, at least the two who are campaigning. (The third incumbent did win, leaving the Democrats with only two Washington Post-endorsed candidates. A recent op-ed feature stated that endorsements are an obligation and public service by the Post, and accepting that as a factual statement would require them to give voters three names for a three-seat race. Hence, they will need to endorse at least one Republican to do so.) Brian Frosh, my dad's opponent, was there too, and they were apparently getting some unequal time on WTTG Channel 5. When I tried to contact the TV crew, they were either hiding in the back of their truck or off the premises. Wait a minute, that's Fox. So much for "fair and balanced." Unequal time, I say. That's illegal. Which was pretty much the theme for voters on Tuesday. Resignations by election officials are sure to follow in the next 48 hours, but the emphasis on unconstitutional early voting by Democrats in Annapolis had the expected consequences yesterday. Marc Fisher, writing in the Post, said Tuesday's events were not predicted. But Governor Bob Ehrlich and other Republicans in Annapolis had warned this would happen months ago. The whole situation is an absolute embarrassment and disgrace. Mexico's recent election was cleaner than this. Both Democratic and Republican voters deserve to have the right to vote in a fair election process.
As it got later, the sun went down, and the lights did not come on in the Westland MS parking lot. Again, this was another attempt to discourage voting by making it appear from the street that the polling place was closed. Gus Alzona's son was working there, eventually turning his car around to illuminate the area with the high beams. Gus Alzona himself was next door at Little Flower, where I picked up my last vote of the night. A voter shook my hand vigorously, took my literature, and said, "Any man who'll stand out in the dark like this has my vote."
Thank you, sir.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Friday night, I was invited to attend Mike Monroe's reception in Pooks Hill. We have a full slate of Republicans in District 16 this year: myself, Mike, and Angela Markelonis. So after the usual traffic jam in Bethesda, I finally got to Pooks Hill. It was a good turnout, and there were even some registered Democrats there supporting Mike. That's the kind of bipartisan support we need to win on Nov. 7. It was also a very intellectual crowd, including some fellow history majors in attendance. So it was a very interesting evening. Candidates Tom Rheinheimer, Mark Uncapher, and Jim Goldberg were there. And we have a new winner for Best Food at a Campaign Event. Wow, I was very impressed. All kinds of cheese, wine, gourmet eggs, ham, even a cake. It must have been a lot of work to put this all together, and thanks again to Mike and his wife for having me as a guest. Also, their condo has quite a spectacular view. There was a full moon, and you can see the Mormon Temple rising over the trees in the distance, and the Bethesda Naval Hospital. Very impressive, more like a resort hotel than a regular condo building.
It was a nice start to a busy weekend of campaigning. The issues I've talked about since my campaign started keep coming up in the headlines and on the campaign trail. Transportation, school construction, and criminals in the classroom, to name three.
Then, today, there was a critical development in the District 16 race. The Washington Post declined to endorse one of the three incumbent Democratic Delegates in District 16. They suggested she is unable to serve and has lost support. Instead, they endorsed one of her Democratic primary opponents, who is even more liberal. So, in November, the Democrats will either have a candidate unendorsed by the major newspaper in the area, or have an even more extreme-left candidate who is unknown to the public. Suddenly, the momentum is shifting our way, as we have 3 viable Republican candidates who represent the citizens, not the political extremes. So there is a lot of excitement and enthusiasm as Tuesday's Primary is almost here.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Well, I still live in the neighborhood, so it was a short trip to Westland, which was the location of a County Council Candidates' Forum hosted by a coalition of civic associations. The topic was the Westbard Sector plan, and having lived a few blocks from Westbard all my life (on one side or the other), the future plans for this area are obviously of great concern to me.
I got there just before 8:00 and encountered Roger Berliner in front of the school. Mr. Berliner was cordial as usual and this was a big night for him and Howard Denis who both want to be our next Councilman in District 1.
Inside the All-Purpose room, I ran into two of my Democratic opponents. It was interesting to me, and should be interesting to anyone who lives in the neighborhoods surrounding Westbard, that our current Delegates left before the end of the meeting. Unlike my opponents, I stayed until the end. Remember who is serious about the Westbard Sector plan on Election Day. I've lived in the area my whole life, and I'm not about to let some outside developers come in and destroy the neighborhood. I think it's imperative that we elect a candidate from the neighborhood to represent us at the local and State level during this redevelopment, and I'm the only Delegate candidate from the neighborhood.
Much like last week's low-income housing debate, the evening was mostly a superficial affair. It's not the Council candidates' fault; they don't live here and don't even know what the "Westbard Sector" is. Except for Mr. Leventhal, and Bill Jacobs, who scored mega points for mentioning Farrell's Restaurant. Banana split. Arcade machines. Player piano. Farrell's, not Westland. So how can they really tell us what they're going to do when they have no idea what they are discussing? The result was generalized talk about zoning-text amendments, development, etc. The candidates didn't address the results of the neighborhood survey, in terms of what specific development we do or do not want.
There was a great turnout, and it's good to know that so many people are also concerned about this. In talking to many of my neighbors at the meeting, I think they are in agreement that we want redevelopment that will preserve, and better serve, our neighborhood. I also met Andy Russo, President of our Springfield Civic Association. He's not only working on this, but also the planned expansion by the Fourth Presbyterian Church.
So what should be done in the Westbard Sector? Nobody told us tonight, but here are a few items from my own Westbard plan. The Westwood Shopping Center should be redone and include at least one family restaurant, like we used to have when Farrell's was open. Strike Bethesda is not a family restaurant. Second, we need a full-service, 2006-era grocery store. Whether that is a new type of Super Giant, or Wegman's or Harris-Teeter, isn't something I can answer. People want large product selection, in-store restaurants and more carry-out options. Rite-Aid should stay, although a 24-hour drugstore would be nice. Personally, I want to keep the large, open surface parking. I've heard some rumors about underground parking, which is unsafe and undesirable.
In terms of housing, single-family homes and some townhouses would be acceptable for Westbard, if they retain green space and what tree canopy there is down there. But over my dead body are there going be high-rise commercial and residential buildings on Westbard. Just the fact that it's been proposed is, frankly, outrageous. Are you as concerned about this as I am? Keep in mind on Election Day that our current Delegates get large checks from a Who's Who of developers and developers' attorneys. In the future, I will write in more detail my proposal for Westbard and River Road, which will promote our goal of preserving and better serving our neighborhood.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
30% of Latino students in Montgomery County do not have Internet access. Why can't Verizon, in between writing those fat checks to our current Democratic Delegates' campaigns, donate some of those fancy new phones that can use the Internet to those students? Why can't supplemental, in-class help be available in real-time via such technology to students for whom English is a second language?
I see some parallels to the way politicians approach the poverty issue. Why do we isolate these students, and constantly reinforce in their minds that they are "catching-up" and behind their classmates. By giving them some positive recognition, such as the use of the aforementioned devices, let's communicate that they are equally important and that we are expecting a lot from them.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Everyone promises to build low-income housing. But they don't say what they're going to do to help these people with the other problems that keep them in that housing. First of all, there are many public and private programs that help with housing, employment, health care, education. Our elected officials have done a miserable job of outreach to the poor and non-English speaking communities to make them aware of this assistance.
But we need to do more. I've proposed a variety of initiatives which you can read about on my website. These include short-term, emergency aid for the most needy. I would add $5 million to the State's rental assistance program, far more then my Democratic opponents have offered. That is just one example.
For the long term, we need to better utilize current services that help people find employment and education assistance. Furthermore, my mass transit rail projects will create many well-paying skilled and unskilled jobs across the State. I also want to bring more large employers to Maryland and have some ideas for how to do that. Our current Delegates have tried to chase large employers out of the State -such as Wal-Mart- and they lost our GM plant in Baltimore. They are silent on job creation.
What my opponents have said, is that they will raise taxes on the poor for a health plan that doesn't cover everyone. Furthermore, as our Delegates have done in the past, one has said she will form another commission on health care. Meanwhile, I have a health care plan.
My health plan provides healthcare for every person in the State of Maryland without raising taxes.
Finally, my housing plan treats Marylanders of every age, race, and income level as equal human beings. The goal of my plan is to offer each person the American dream of owning their own home. Whether people are from Maryland, Minnesota, or El Salvador, I would argue that the majority of them want to raise their family in a house. Not a cramped apartment over a Metro stop.
I hope we can start having a real discussion on poverty, make real progress, and lift people up instead of treating them as if they somehow are unqualified to participate in the opportunities America has to offer.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
The Republican Party tent was very well organized, and all of the various literature, stickers, etc. were available on the different tables. When I got there, Jim Shalleck (running for State's Attorney in Montgomery County) and Gus Alzona (running for Congress here in District 8) were already hard at work campaigning. So was a volunteer for Michael Steele, who had been handing out Steele stickers since 2:00 on what was a blistering hot day until it started to cloud up at 7:00. Steele was very popular among the crowds at the fair, even moreso than Bob Ehrlich, which is more reason to believe he is going to do very well and be our next Senator. I think any party in any state wishes they had a candidate of the caliber of Michael Steele.
There was an endless stream of people coming past, but it wasn't so great for me. In almost 3 hours, I never encountered even one person from District 16. Needless to say, it was very disappointing in that respect. We just have a lack of events for candidates in District 16, and that prevents voters from getting to know the Republican challengers. But if you're running At-Large or in the upcounty area, you can get a huge number of voters to at least know who you are. Did I mention we have a lack of events in Bethesda? Yes, I'm really frustrated about that.
So while I didn't pick up any votes at the fair, I tried to at least help other candidates. I got about 9 or 10 potential votes for Scott. One man wanted to know who he could vote for in District 14 for Delegate, and I went to the back of the tent and got him the John Austin literature. And when he asked about the school board, I was able to hand him an Arquilla Ridgell bag (those bags were very popular, by the way). So there are two votes. And I think I got three votes for Amber Gnemi, and one or two for Shelly Skolnick, who are both running At-Large for County Council. Eventually, Bill Wittham (Delegate candidate) and his family were out front handing out his stickers. And I helped a mounted police officer get through the parking lot tape before I left. One other great thing about the location of the Republican tent, was that the railroad tracks are a short distance away so you can see trains going by.
I tried to take some pictures around the fair but managed to push the wrong button on some of the photos, meaning they were lost. The others didn't come out too well because I don't have a flash on my phone, and it was getting dark. The fair is probably a lot more fun if you're not there by yourself, and if you are a candidate running County- or Statewide, or in the upcounty area. Just unlimited potential voters. But if you're from District 16... So far, District 16 candidates have been marginalized in the campaign season. Really no events except Taste of Bethesda and Potomac Day, which are trivial compared to the Fair. I can't understand why Bethesda, and the downcounty in general, has so few big events. Besides all the big ones upcounty, Rockville has Hometown Holidays, Silver Spring and Takoma Park have some large events; it's really embarrassing for Bethesda. The Bethesda Urban Partnership Events calendar, the newspaper events calendars, etc., are good for a laugh. We don't even have July 4th anymore. Absolutely ridiculous. Just these dumb little arts and crafts events, where I guess you're supposed to work the crowd like an uninvited door-to-door salesman and feel like a complete moron. It's no wonder Republicans don't get elected here, when the public can't even have a chance to meet the candidates at events! I think that's another reason, besides the larger number of Republicans upcounty, that we've done better in that area: they have so many large events throughout the year up there. Otherwise, people only hear about the incumbents in the media and the spam they mail us at taxpayer expense from Washington, Annapolis, and Rockville.
And my opponents are too chicken to debate. With good reason! And zero candidate forums. Basically, the media, and the Democrats just want to run out the clock on the election. They won't be able to this time.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
In addition to my comments there, the importance of building projects that meet demand and are convenient to use cannot be overstated. Metro is popular. Metrobus is not. But the free Bethesda 8 bus is a great success. Transit needs to take people where they want to go. It needs to get them there quickly and on schedule. The onboard conditions must be pleasant, comfortable, safe, and clean. In some cases, it should be free of charge. And it needs to come to the citizen. If people have to walk far or take more than one bus to access the system, they're not going to use it.
I have higher ridership standards than other mass transit proponents, because I acknowledge that the car is the American form of transportation. We'll never stop driving, no matter how expensive gas is or how long it takes to get there. After 9/11 and the age of terror threat levels, cars have never been more important as a personal transit system. But well thought out projects that meet the above qualifications will get significant numbers of people to utilize them. You might call it MPR, Maximum Possible Ridership. It's the realistic number, and while it's lower than the idealists' number, we have yet to reach it. Not even close. But with my transportation plan, we can.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Robert Dyer in action. Yes, that's me at the Board of Elections office in Twinbrook. And I've got a ways to go because the District 16 ballot isn't on that wall. It's on the other wall. Behind a bush. While trying to confirm my name on the ballot display, I found myself wondering what year it was. 2006 or 1906? There have been many changes to voter registration and voting recently, and it seems that some parts of the process are still in need of an update.
This setup is unnecessarily inconvenient for candidates and voters who want to preview and proofread the ballot before it is finalized. If you live in Bethesda or Clarksburg, it's really out of your way to go to Rockville in a 3 day challenge period. And the letter I received gave the impression that the method in the above photo was the only manner in which one could examine the ballot. Wouldn't it make sense in 2006 for the ballots to be on the internet?
Not only were the ballots not in order, and accessible only by the lawn in front of them, but I was also being accosted by swarms of insects the entire time. And there's a manhole someone could trip over. Now, being 34, and assuming I don't contract West Nile from the bug bites, I managed to survive. But this would be quite a hazard for senior citizens and the disabled. If there was another way for those individuals to check the ballot, it was not advertised in the letter. Which is like having a teletype number for deaf people and not printing it.
So I filed a complaint with the Board and the Montgomery County Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance Officer. Two days later, I received a response from the County's Election Director, Margaret Jurgensen. She agreed that the ballots should be on the internet and that the Board will try to make that possible in the future. Also, she said that there were office hours on Saturday, July 29, during which the ballot was available on the counter inside the board office. Of course, those hours, as well as an apparent viewing opportunity during the Friday, July 28, office hours, were not advertised in the letter. Ms. Jurgensen says that she is directing the staff to update the letter to include this information.
I thank the board for clarifying this. And in the future, when you can examine the ballot online without driving to Twinbrook, remember to thank me.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
There were free hot dogs, chips, and a big cake that I think said, "Election 2006." A lot of people came for the hot dogs. There did turn out to be about 6 GEICO employees in District 16. One said he would definitely vote for me, and I'm hoping that the others will after considering my positions and agenda. I always say that my priorities are those of the community, and the issues people told me they were concerned about were those that my campaign is addressing.
For all of you regular viewers of the Rockville Channel, Bob Dorsey was there. But I should really stick to mentioning Republican candidates! At one point Howard Denis made an appearance, and I have to say that he has really gotten a lot done on major issues this year on the Council. Chuck Floyd was there. Scott Rolle, Amber Gnemi, Moshe Starkman, Jeff Stein, John Austin, John Joaquin, Chris Pilkerton, who am I forgetting? No, the Gecko was not there.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Then, last evening, I attended a lovely reception for Chuck Floyd at the home of Issa and Nahid Khozeimeh. The Khozeimehs have been friends of my family for many years. This was by far the nicest campaign event I've been to, including the best food. Other candidates attending included Moshe Starkman, who was just nominated to run against Albert Wynn for Congress, Jeff Stein (running for Congress in District 8), and Tom Reinheimer (Central Committee chairman running for County Council - At Large). We each had a chance to speak, and there is a lot of optimism for our party's chances this year. It was a very nice evening, and many thanks to the Khozeimehs for hosting this.
Monday, July 17, 2006
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Then on Monday (July 3), I heard that my name had not appeared on the Board's candidates list. But strangely, the names of other candidates who were still signing up when I left the Board office were listed. Hmm. I called the Board, and was transferred to the official who handled the filing on Friday. He told me, understandably, that they were "behind the eight ball," and that my name would appear on a later update.
This made it appear to the public that no one was running for the seat on the Central Committee. Suddenly, two additional candidates for the seat filed on July 3. Now, perhaps they were planning to run all along. But by not listing a candidate for a particular office, it might inspire people to file for what appears to be an open, uncontested seat. In this way, the County Board may have literally changed the dynamic of the race. And if that were the case, that is wrong.
Wait, it gets better. Today (July 5) I checked the State Board's candidate list, and guess what? I'm not on the list. And yet even those who filed at the 11th hour on July 3 are on the list. ?Que esta pasando? What's going on here? I am seeking a logical explanation for how I can be the only candidate who filed by June 30 that is not listed as running. It clearly was not lack of time, because the other names are listed. Someone had plenty of time to type all of those other names.
The important thing is to file and appear on the ballot, that's true. And, apparently, my name is on the County's list today. Great, now that I have opponents. But it seems to me that to leave some names off, and not process them in order of filing, has the real potential to change elections. I don't see why I should be treated as a second class of citizen by the Board, while all other candidates are listed.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
One is a queue jump lane, which is reserved for buses at intersections. These allow the bus to be at the light when it turns green. Anyone who regularly drives through intersections like Colesville Rd and University Blvd. knows that it takes several light cycles to get past there. It was also interesting to see photos from Seattle, where they apparently have underground bus stations and tunnel systems. The fumes would be overwhelming, so I'm going to assume they run on something besides diesel fuel. But these would be great lower-cost options to use in addition to rail projects.
Some of the most impressive drawings were of the trestle that will carry the train over Rock Creek Park. It's not as tall as the former CSX trestle was, but a nice design for one of the very scenic spots along the route. Then there was the Transit Center for Langley Park. Just the idea of such a great facility there is refreshing. The residents there deserve this type of facility; it's long overdue. Some other proposals that stood out were the various bridge that will elevate the track over the Country Club and into downtown Silver Spring. It's important to note that the trail gets equal attention in these drawings, showing how they will coexist.
As a Maryland graduate, I have to say that maybe the UMCP station plans were the most exciting. I did not know previously that the train is going to arrive directly in the center of the campus! If only they had this when I was going there. It's a great example of designing a project that meets demand, and that people will actually want to use.
There's really too much to write about here. There were very informative reading materials given out, a realistic computer generated movie of buses driving from the University of Maryland down University Blvd through Langley Park and Silver Spring. I know the route well! I would have liked to see the animated movie of the train route, but the expert at that display said they didn't have it that night.
So, in conclusion, I am very impressed and I hope the Federal and State governments don't cop out and select the Bus Transitway option. If I'm elected, I will be working to make sure we get this world-class rail system built.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Finally the lightning and rain stopped, and I went in. At the door to the cafeteria were dueling organizations, Action Committee For Transit (who favor the Purple Line), and Save The Trail, who oppose it. I entered the room and signed in. There were many impressive displays and experts to answer questions. There were also people from the country club faction in Chevy Chase who oppose the Purple Line. One older woman gestured wildly at the map, questioning who ever came up with such a crazy plan. "And it's going to cross Connecticut Avenue?! During rush hour?!"
Next: MTA meeting, part 2
Friday, June 23, 2006
Friday, June 16, I drove to Annapolis to file my candidacy with the State Board of Elections. One recurring theme this first week has been gridlock, which is what I found on Military Road. Brilliant idea by the D.C. government to do roadwork during rush hour. On Friday. In summer. As I waited in slow-moving traffic to merge onto Rt. 50, the Amtrak Acela raced past. How appropriate as one of my top priorities, if elected, is to promote new rail projects all over the state. Starting with the Purple Line here.
Anyway, after another jam at the West St. exit, I arrive in Annapolis. There are still lots of car dealerships on West St. Toys r Us is gone. There's a space open near the building. I go up to the second floor and enter the suite. I turn left to go to the front desk and encounter... Tom Perez, Montgomery County Councilman and Attorney General candidate. On the clipboard, I notice that Mr. Perez and I are the only two candidates filing this day. The staff are very nice and it did not take long to file.
Outside again, I thought about the many times I rode down this street as a child. I never imagined I would one day be filing as a candidate here for the House of Delegates.
Next: MTA meeting in downtown Bethesda.