Thursday, May 30, 2013

Red Maryland Radio: 5/30/2013

Another big episode of Red Maryland Radio  came at you tonight on the Red Maryland Network.

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On tonight's show:
  • Greg and I attended the Anne Arundel County Lincoln Reagan Dinner last night, and there was lots of movement in the race for Governor this week; we talk about the latest political news, including Delegate Ron George's first radio interview since his win at last night's straw poll;
  • I wrote about the fifth anniversary of the Anne Arundel County School Board Nominating Commission this week; we talk about school board selection policy;
  • With discussions (again) about a Third Bay Bridge and with Jim Smith being appointed Secretary of Transportation, we discuss state transportation policy;
  • And Greg and I again talk about "God Stuff" and the Pope's comments about atheists. 
This is why you can't afford to miss Red Maryland Radio each and every Thursday night at 8, on the Red Maryland Network.......and don't forget that you can subscribe to the Red Maryland Network on iTunes.

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Red Maryland Radio Tonight

Join Greg Kline and I on this week's episode of Red Maryland Radio tonight at 8 .

On tonight's show:
  • Greg and I attended the Anne Arundel County Lincoln Reagan Dinner last night, and there was lots of movement in the race for Governor this week; we talk about the latest political news;
  • I wrote about the fifth anniversary of the Anne Arundel County School Board Nominating Commission this week; we talk about school board selection policy;
  • With discussions (again) about a Third Bay Bridge and with jim Smith being appointed Secretary of Transportation, we discuss state transportation policy;
  • And Greg and I again talk about "God Stuff" and the Pope's comments about atheists. 
All that and more tonight. Be sure to tune in tonight at 8, only on the Red Maryland Network.

More below the fold.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Failed Black Olive Hotel Received Millions in State Subsidies

A Baltimore boutique hotel designed to be “a showplace for cutting edge ideas in green architecture,” scheduled to be sold at auction in June, received millions in state aid since 2005.

According to press reports and data from the Maryland Funding and Accountability website, Black Olive Development LLC, which owns the Inn at the Black Olive “Baltimore’s boutique organic hotel”, scheduled for a June auction, received $1.8 million in loans and grants from The Maryland Energy Administration, Department of Business and Economic Development, the and Department of Housing and Community Development between 2005-2011.

That number a $1 million loan guaranty on a $5 million loan from the Department of Business and Economic Development in 2006.

In 2008 and 2009 the Maryland Energy Administration awarded Black Olive LLC over $262,000 in low interest loans. 

A 2011 Solar Energy Services Inc. blog post advocating legislation granting solar water heating systems eligibility state for solar renewable energy credits under Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), featured Black Olive Development LLC partner Dimitris Spiliadis and the solar water heating system he installed on the hotel’s rooftop. 

The legislation granting solar water heating RPS credit eligibility passed, would have allowed Spiliadis to sell the credits generated by his solar heating system to utilities seeking to meet the state RPS mandate.  Studies in several states have shown RPS programs increase utility rates and hamper economic growth.  

However, there are no records of Black Olive LLC registering their solar water heating system as a qualified generator according to PJM-EIS the company, which oversees Maryland’s renewable energy credit trading market.

Spiliadis marketed the Inn at the Black Olive as a green hotel.  In 2009, Spiliadis told the Baltimore Sun that he wanted his hotel to serve as a “model for environmentally sustainable buildings in the area.”  “We don’t want to be an island of green we want to be a sea of green,” he told the Sun.   The hotel website boasts that it is a “beacon for sustainable, high performance, and green building practices in the world, LEEDs Platinum certification, giving our guests the piece of mind that comes with treating the Earth with respect.”

It appears Spiliadis’ business model of relying on taxpayer subsidies to get from government what was elusive to him in the market place turned out to be unsustainable. 

First Mariner Bank foreclosed on Black Olive LLC’s $5.4 million loan in January, and Black Olive LLC’s partners filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, in an attempt to hold off the auction.   

According to the Baltimore Business Journal Black Olive LLC owned by the Spiliadis family listed $0-$50,000 in assets and $1-$10 million in liabilities in it’s bankruptcy filings.  The family also owns the adjacent Black Olive restaurant and Olive Grove Catering.  A creditors meeting revealed interconnected revenue steams for each entity and that revenue from the catering company was diverted to mortgage payments for Black Olive LLC, which apparently had no income source.

More below the fold.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Five Years and No Fix

This year marks five years of the Anne Arundel County School Board Nominating Commission, something that we have covered at length here on Red Maryland.

The brainchild of disgraced former Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold, the School Board Nominating Commission nominates candidates for the Anne Arundel County Board of Education. The eventual Board Members are selected by the Governor. The Commission is made up mainly of appointees of the Governor, along with an appointee of the County Executive and appointees from various civic and business groups across the county. Sadly, the Commission processed replaced the Convention process, which allowed for a greater range of public participation. 

Over the five years of the Commission's existence, we have noted various follies of the Commission. Their inability to understand their mandate, their inability to control the process, changing the rules midstreamabsentee members, and general incompetence have been documented here.

Tomorrow, the Commission will hold the first of two public hearings this week to vet the candidates to be selected by the Commission on June 5th, and then passed along to the Governor. Of course, you haven't heard anything about that. The Commission website tells you only that there are meetings and that only two candidates filed for the process, both incumbents.

What made me reminisce somewhat about this process is that five years ago we learned how much of a Democratic disaster this process was going to be. One of the first nominees sent forth (and selected over a much more qualified applicant) by the Commission, and eventually selected by the Governor and retained by the voters, was Teresa Milio Birge. Birge was, at the time of her appointment, an unregistered Democratic lobbyist, something that was reported on and confirmed by Ms. Birge here on Red Maryland (and generally ignored elsewhere). Birge eventually stopped being an unregistered Democratic lobbyist (at least according to her resume) and is now a paid O'Malley apparatchik in the Department of Budget and Management. 

Since she is the only applicant in District 32, Birge will be selected by the Commission, reappointed by the Governor, and likely re-elected by the voters, since voters only get a "yes" or "no" choice in an election to retain the nominees and in 2008, 2010, and 2012 no candidate got fewer than 73% of the "yes" votes. 

When Leopold championed this idea, Leopold said "For the first time in Anne Arundel County, the public has the chance to provide direct input into the selection of school board members." Yet we now find ourselves in a situation where candidates are nominated virtually unopposed, the Commission is veiled in a cloak of near secrecy, and candidates are re-elected in elections where the candidates aren't even discussed, to say nothing of their positions on important educational issues. Yet, over 50% of Anne Arundel County's operating budget is dedicated to Education funding.

I ask the same question now that I asked five years ago; is this any way to select a school board?

Five years into the Anne Arundel County School Board Nomination Commission process, the process is a complete and catastrophic failure for taxpayers and parents, providing successes only for Democratic politicians and education insiders who want to continue their stranglehold on the reins of power without any input from outsiders. We are long past the time where it is necessary and proper to repeal this ridiculous process, and provide for fair and open elections for the Board of Education. Anne Arundel County parents, students, teachers, and taxpayers deserve nothing less. 

More below the fold.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Tonight on Red Maryland Radio 8pm

I am flying solo tonight as Brian Griffiths in on vacation and had a great installment of Red Maryland Radio on tap.

Talked about "God Stuff" namely a head of the Episcopal Church stating that Christianity is really about Diversity.

And as we approach the anniversary of the Red Maryland All-Star broadcast on WBAL of the "Ronald Reagan Morning Zoo" with special guest Mike O'Meara, we were joined by our friend Marcus Certa, host of Omearacast on the MORE Entertainment Network.

You can download all the great Red Maryland programming on iTunes and support Red Maryland by clicking through our page when you do your Amazon shopping.

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Baltimore, PG Schools Misuse Federal Stimulus Funds

Baltimore City and Prince George’s County schools misused, hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds intended for educational purposes.

Fox 45 Baltimore first reported on the 67-page U.S. Department of Education Inspector General's audit of AARA grant expenditures to the Maryland State Department of Education from 2009 and 2010.

Federal auditors found that Baltimore and Prince George’s County schools spent nearly $750,000 stimulus funds (including Title 1 funds for disadvantaged students) on on unallowable, unsupported, or inadequately supported expenditures. 

Some of the misuse of funds included:

  • $4,352 of Title I funds by Baltimore schools for two dinner cruises in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

  • $2,413 by Baltimore schools on food for a PTA meeting that only 28 parents attended.

  • $1,425 by Baltimore schools for food for 100 people at an event that only 17 people attended.

  • $1,336 by Baltimore schools for 30 tickets to a theatrical performance in downtown Baltimore, as part of a parent appreciation/awards ceremony for elementary school parents.

  • $500 by Baltimore schools for a mother/daughter makeover day.

  • $2,565 by Prince George’s County schools for 145 imprinted watches and velvet pouches for principals.

  • $3,539 by Prince George’s County schools for custom labeled and printed folders for principals.

  • $222 by Prince George’s County schools for an electric pencil sharpener.

The report also noted that Prince George’s County purchased over 3,900 tablet computers with Title I funds.  Auditors reviewed 30 of 137 tablets distributed to staff at three middle schools, and found that 13 of the 30 machines had inappropriate apps on them in violation of county policy. The auditors report “…we found apps for social networking sites, Internet games, sporting sites, entertainment, music, and religion. These apps did not appear to be educationally related based on the nature of the app and the subject matter the teacher taught.” 

Read the whole audit report below.

More below the fold.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Machine

From our friends at Conservative Victory PAC

More below the fold.

The Broadside 5-20-13

We talked more about the IRS scandal with Amy Kremer from Tea Party Express, and Erik Telford, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Outreach at the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. 

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The Broadside and all Red Maryland Network programs are available on Itunes. 

The music you heard on The Broadside tonight is available on Amazon. Just click the link and we get credit for your purchase.

Opening clip from Kentucky Fried Movie.

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Monday, May 20, 2013

The Broadside,Tonight 8pm

Tonight on The Broadside at 8pm.

We're talking more about the IRS scandal with Amy Kremer from Tea Party Express, and Erik Telford, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Outreach at the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.

Click here to listen to The Broadside tonight at 8pm on The Red Maryland Network

You can support Red Maryland by shopping at Amazon.  Click the banner below or the link on the homepage to go directly to Amazon. There is no cost to you and we get the credit.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Obama Visits Baltimore Firm Owned by Keystone XL Pipeline Supporter

President Obama will visit Ellicott Dredges today Baltimore today as part of his “Middle Class Jobs Opportunity Tour.”

Peter Bowe owns Ellicott Dredges and is a staunch advocate of building the Keystone Pipeline.  The Keystone XL Pipeline is a Canada-Nebraska oil pipeline, which would transport oil from extracted from the Alberta tar sands.

Yesterday, Bowe testified in favor of the pipeline before a House subcommittee on Small Business.  In his testimony, Bowe said building the Keystone XL Pipeline is all about jobs. 

So what does the Keystone pipeline have to do with us, and why do we care? For us, it’s all about jobs, not construction jobs for the pipeline itself, but ongoing jobs every year for decades to come, all related to the production of oil from the Alberta oil sands deposits…
 One way or the other, Canadians will eventually solve their distribution problems, with or without US governmental collaboration. To the extent this process is delayed, the producers will suffer economic loss, and their US suppliers, like Ellicott Dredges will suffer as well…including diminished employment.

Apparently the jobs created by the Keystone XL Pipeline are not high priority for President Obama’s agenda as he has punted on making a decision to approve or deny the project until late this year or early 2014.

Bowe urged approval of Keystone as soon as possible.

We urge you to approve the Keystone pipeline as expeditiously as possible. We should rely on the proposition that the Canadians are fully capable of acting as custodians of their own environment, and that Canadian oil is not only environmentally superior to that from say Venezuela, but certainly more secure politically compared to or other existing options.

Bowe also argued, contra to Obama’s negative rhetoric towards fossil fuels,

I think in terms of how to persuade the administration, for the foreseeable future the transportation industry in this country needs liquid petroleum products of one form or another. They can’t be displaced. They won’t be displaced. And that cost factors into everything that we consume whether you drive a car or not. If you consume any product, there’s transportation costs built into that. So I think we need to acknowledge – call it a ‘dependence’ on liquid fuels and say that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Energy is big part of our economy and our lifestyle.

Last year Bowe was a signatory to a letter to President Obama from the National Association of Manufacturers, which stated:

Dear Mr. President: The undersigned businesses and organizations, which together represent virtually every sector of the entire U.S. economy, share your continued goal of creating jobs and boosting the economy through manufacturing. However, there remains a piece of unfinished business that would harness the power of manufacturing to create jobs: final approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline.  As you and the Congress look to spur the economy and put people to work, there can be no stronger sign of a commitment to economic growth than approving Keystone XL.

More below the fold.