An online journal of politics, policy, and society with a special focus on Maryland -- Contact: on_background at yahoo.com.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bad Boss

You've probably heard of the internet site where high school students have been rating their teachers -- it's caused a bit of an uproar. And maybe you know that someone started a web site where you can complain about dangerous or rude drivers and post their license plates and info about their offenses.

So I'd been thinking lately that we need a web site where you can paste one on the boss who's be on your butt, mistreating employees, getting away with stuff, and otherwise just being evil. Well, someone at Working America apparently had the same thought and actually did something about it. Check out Bad Boss, where you can tell your story and maybe even win a vacation!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


In an effort to bring some insight into the races that don't always make the headlines, I'm going to try to bring you updates on a few of the candidates running for office in Maryland, specifically in Montgomery and Prince George's counties, this year. First up is Jamie Raskin, candidate for state Senate in District 20.


You may have heard something about the bumper crop of energetic, thoughtful, progressive leaders running for office in Montgomery County this fall. The normally staid, often incumbent-driven politics are being upended as these candidates bring forward new ideas and a willingness to do the hard work to solve the problems we face and improve our community. And the all-too-often passive incumbents are running for their political lives.

Nowhere is this more true than in the heavily Democratic 20th legislative district, encompassing the southeastern corner of Montgomery County (Silver Spring and Takoma Park), where in less than 80 days we’ll have the most exciting election in several cycles. In the most interesting race, long-time incumbent Ida Ruben is being challenged by public advocate and American University professor Jamie Raskin.

In a recent interview, Raskin laid out an ambitious agenda, to "be the State Senator who makes universal health care for Maryland a reality, achieves funding for the Thornton Commission's pre-K mandate, builds an effective state/local/federal coalition to make the Purple Line happen, succeeds in moving to abolish the death penalty in our state, enacts 100% voter registration by making registration a condition for graduation from high school, pushes for Clean Cars legislation and active state involvement in a Mid-Atlantic regional compact to dramatically lower greenhouse gas emissions, and builds a wall of separation between our politics and corporate money by abolishing corporate contributions to candidates for state office."

One of the primary complaints of some of the incumbents is that they and their work are little seen or heard back home. Raskin recognizes that we want something done in Annapolis and plans to team up with members of the community to build a statewide coalition to help make real change possible. He’s already started that process by getting in touch with many by “building the most powerful and far-reaching grassroots campaign for the State Senate that anyone has seen in decades in our district. I'm knocking on thousands of doors and we're mobilizing younger voters, older voters, middle-aged parents like me and my wife, PTA presidents, environmentalists, teachers, students, labor activists, community and civic activists, progressive change agents, and everyone who has been bypassed and ignored by the remnants of the political machine. “

Raskin refused to attack the longtime incumbent for her campaign’s rumored misrepresentations, push polls, and other shenanigans. Instead, he said “But I know from being out there every day that this campaign is not about the last 35 years, it's about the next 35 years.”

And stated his profound dedication to making a difference: “The answer is that the chance to make sweeping changes in our politics and in government is extraordinary right now, and I have three kids that will inherit the future that we create for them. I've got a responsibility to do this. I love Maryland, I love Silver Spring and Takoma Park, and it turns out that I love campaigning too. I hope to represent our community with vigor and vision for the next four years.”

To learn more about Jamie Raskin, take a look at his web site.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Duncan Out

I was going to get on today to write about the huge waste of money the state D party is engaging in by funding glossy mailings for incumbent Senators in tight primaries, but I've got to let you know the big news.

Hotline is reporting that Duncan is quitting the gubernatorial race. Yes, you heard it here! No independent confirmation, but this is a doozie if true.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Elrich out, Ervin In

The Gazette is running a piece that confirms that Valerie Ervin is in the District 5 County Council race (Kensington, Takoma Park and parts of Silver Spring and Wheaton) and that Marc Elrich would be jumping to the at-large Council race. The article mentions that Joy Austin-Lane may be shifting to another race, but doesn’t mention the intentions of Hans Riemer, a long-time progressive leader and Silver Spring activist.

Great analysis of news visuals at http://bagnewsnotes.typepad.com/bagnews/

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Thursday Details

The Post reports that five more applicants have joined the pool of applicants to Chair the Montgomery County Planning Board. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/31/AR2006053102137.html

Persistent rumors that Board of Education member Valerie Ervin would enter the 5th District County Council race appear to be finally coming true as current Council candidate and Takoma Park City Councilmember Joy Austin-Lane acknowledged this morning in an email to supporters. As we watch several great people maneuver for position in the relatively large 5th, I’ve got to wonder how anyone can stand out in a field of 10-20 in the at-large race for Council seats. Seriously, unless you have some base of support from being a municipal officeholder (and there are so few of them) or leader of a local interest or civic group, or unless you’ve got big money to spend on direct mail, how can anyone pick you out of a crowd in a county of almost a million residents?

Yesterday’s Political Junkie has a piece about the late Sen. Lloyd Bentsen that includes a photo of him and MoCo Dem activist Beth Siniawsky from 30 years ago. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5442220

And ChesapeakeBlue today points out that Governor Ehrlich is claiming credit for an air pollution law that he opposed. http://freestatepolitics.blogspot.com/2006/05/steele-disses-his-president-ehrlich-is.html

As the primary race gets heated, this afternoon MoCo Executive Duncan is having an event about gambling – apparently he’s going to challenge his opponents to something. That should help take attention away from other matters his campaign would rather not have us talking about.

And finally, in yesterday’s Baltimore Examiner Peter Franchot goes hard after Comptroller William Donald Schaeffer and even sends a few shots over the bow at Janet Owens. Strong language all around.