Saturday, September 6, 2008

Not cool

I am not a supporter of John McCain or Barack Obama. I seriously dislike them both as political figures. Therefore, I am far less biased than most with respect to statements made about them. With that in mind, I don't think that the Howard County Government has an appropriate statement about John McCain on their website in this recent news blurb.

The piece starts out by discussing the press conference held my O'Malley, Cardin and Ulman at the site of a former landfill owned by the county. (I have a whole lot of questions about the plans that were announced for this site, but that is a topic for another post.) The three called for bipartisan support of federal tax credits that subsidize solar energy. I am not a fan of this idea, but I am fine with the press release so far. However, things got weird and took a twist. The press release concludes with the following sentence:

On July 30 the renewable energy bill was defeated for the eighth time. John McCain missed that critical vote – in fact, he has missed all eight votes on the legislation.

That rubbed me the wrong way. Being an election year, I would expect our politicians to be extra careful about how they use the county website and other county owned resources. They could have provided a hyperlink to a site where the public could see how everyone voted on this legislation and not just one candidate, or they could have left that part out entirely.

If a politician wants to publicly endorse or attack a certain presidential candidate, I think they should be free to do so. I recall that Ulman endorsed Obama early on, and O'Malley "courageously" endorsed Obama after it became clear that Hillary was out of the running. That said, I would hope that these politicians would make their partisan statements on their personal time and with their personal resources.

It is wildly inappropriate to use the county website for partisan attacks, even if the partisan statement was factual on its face. The intent as a political hit job was quite clear.

Update: Based on a comment, I checked here to see how the US Senate voted on this bill. Based on the innuendo on the county press release, I just assumed that Obama voted in favor of the bill, but in fact he did not vote at all. That was not mentioned in the press release.


Anonymous said...

This action is not much different than using government buildings and taxpayer money to fund primary elections that exclude the fastest growing voter registration group.

17 states allow everyone to vote in primary elections. Partisan politics in Maryland is very strong, and until the non-partisan voters organize and press for rights, partisanship will aggressively self-preserve.

Freemarket said...

I agree that taxpayers should not have to fund any part of primary elections (at least closed primaries anyway), but I don't understand why someone would want to vote in a primary if they are not a member of a Party. And I say that as a registered independent. What is the benefit of open primaries?

Anonymous said...

Isn't this illegal? Does it constitute politicking using government resources?

I'm letting Kevin Enright know how I feel about it as well as several media outlets. Someone should lose their job over this.

Anonymous said...

If you want to email Kevin Enright about this, his email address is

I just checked and the sainted one wasn't there to vote either. I wonder why that was not stated.

Skink said...

I read about this in Thomas Friedman columns over the past several weeks. Of the eight votes to renew the tax credit - McCain did not vote for any. Obama voted for three of the eight and did not vote on the other five. They are both running for President so I think no votes CAN be excused, but Obama made a trip back to DC to vote on one of these specifically because they thought they might get to 60. That was, I believe, the same one where McCain was in DC (at his office) but specifically refused to come out of his office to vote on this.

On the whole "was this illegal" silliness - to me, this is clearly lobbying, not politicking. That's something state and local governments do all the time. Just ask Governor Palin.

FreeMarket said...

Skink- thanks for that history on the vote.

I doubt that the press release is illegal, but it is nevertheless inappropriate. The particular statement about McCain is not lobbying, it is a partisan attack. I have no problem with the lobbying tone of the press release but for the last sentence.

It is very cowardly of John McCain and Obama to keep missing this vote. They both come across as pretty spineless to me.

PZGURU said...

Gee - the press and democratic politicians being selective in how they present the "facts" on an issue. What a shock. They might not have lied, but they certainly hid some of the truth, which is just as bad in my book. That whole group of politicians are the most partisan hacks in the State. But, with one-party domination in MD (or at least in 3 of the 26 jurisdictions) what do you expect?

Maybe Ulman should focus on making some more sweethaert deals with developers by reducing their required parking (illegally) like he did on the Meridian project over in VOM.

What a tool (actually, in his case he's a complete toolbox!).

Anonymous said...

So FM, are you going to say something about the bailing out of Bear Stearns, Freddie, Fannie, and now the ridiculous auto industry asking for 25 billion US taxpayer dollars to bail out their sorry butts, who produced Hummers when people were asking for natural gas?

THAT's the kind of thing government should not do , and what the free market is good at handling.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to disagree on the not illegal. Suppose, instead, Ken Ullman was having the emergency robo-caller call everyone in the county and tell them about this vote? You don't think that's a misuse of county government resources?

Freemarket said...

A misuse of county resources vs. illegal are two separate issues, one of which is for lawyers to determine.

I don't think that this can be pinned to Ken Ulman. I'd be surprised if he reviews and approves of press releases as standard practice (although I am sure he has influence, and that sentence looks like an Ulman fingerprint to me.)

Skink said...

Look at that, my first comment ever and it gets a pzguru tirade in response. Well it's a minor tirade and technically not aimed at me but still I'm kind of proud for my first swing of the bat. Also, did anyone else know that pzguru hates Ken Ulman? I must have missed something in his previous messages because I did NOT see that coming.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand - Thomas Friedman was on npr a couple days ago and talked about this very issue. The bill I mentioned where Obama flew into DC for the vote and McCain was already there but wouldn't come out of his office to vote: got 59 votes in favor. As I'm sure you know, that is one short of the votes needed to overtake a filibuster. So McCain can single handedly get this passed, plus he is likely to bring along other wavering Republicans. I'm hardly an expert, but it seems to me like "the most partisan hacks in the State" picked exactly the right target.

PZGURU said...


Your first comment? Maybe under that name.

I would hardly call my first comment a "tirade". I'm just dishing it out to the dems in this State the same way the dish it out.

I've made it pretty clear that I dislike Ulman for his nasty, partisan, dishonest, and ethically questionable behavior, now and in the past.

He has done a LOT of unquestionable, and in my opinion, illegal things as a councilperson and as the CE. He's a dispicable human being and an even worse politician.

In contrast, you hate me because I merely have the guts to call him to task for his misdeeds. Oh, that's right, it's because I didn't say my part in sweet and sugar coated platitudes. So, because my style is direct and blunt, that obviously outweighs the facts that support my assertions. SOP for dems and libs - value style over substance.

I love the hypocrisy of people like you who support a person like Ulman, who accuse other politicians of questionable behavior and smear other politicians (who happen to be from the republican side of the aisle) but you stand by people like Ulman in your party who have plenty of skeletons in their own closet. And then, you all pontificate about "setting aside partisan differences" and preach about how "we need change", but you don't walk the walk, you only talk the talk (just like Obama). Very sad.