March 24, 2010

Whig Man to win 'the' for county executive, but will MSBE give him 'h'?

Whig Man to win 'the' for county executive, but will MSBE give him 'h'? ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND – Before Daniel "The Whig Man" Vovak files to run for Montgomery County Executive, he will have to speak before the Maryland State Board of Elections about an unsettled matter regarding a definite article. In 2006, Vovak filed a non-financial lawsuit against the Maryland State Board of Elections when his legal, filed, and certified nickname was mysteriously changed from "The Wig Man" to just "Wig Man." According to The Washington Post, Vovak argued in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court that "the" was not a title, as was claimed by the MSBE, but merely part of his nickname.

Vovak, 37, will formally appear before the Maryland State Board of Elections on Thursday, March 25 (Maryland Day), from 2:30 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. The Board is located at 151 West Street, on the second floor in Annapolis. Vovak will stand before the 5-person Board and argue that the MSBE should follow Judge Silkworth's order from his 2006 opinion on Vovak's lawsuit. Silkworth wrote, "We, like the trial court, are not persuaded that adding 'the' to 'Wig Man' converts a nickname or recognizable name to a title, which is not allowed. 'The' refers to a particular person, nothing more."

Vovak, of Bethesda, will run for Montgomery County Executive against Ike "The Bathroom" Leggett, following Leggett's bizarre declaration that his security detail claimed his short walk to the bathroom exposed him to harm from county workers in the administrative offices. Vovak says, "Leggett has a distinguished Vietnam history and has usually served honorably in his elected position, yet the truth is Montgomery County is almost $800 million in deficit on his watch. I have no doubt Leggett will soon become the 'fall guy' for Governor O'Malley and the Maryland Democratic Party. In the past, it was Baltimore's finances that hurt Maryland; now, it's Montgomery County that drains Maryland's coffers. It's not Leggett's personality that will make him lose; it's just that families can't afford more taxes."

Vovak was listed correctly as "The Whig Man," by Laura Vozzella of Baltimore Sun in 2009. When John DiStaso, Senior Political Reporter of the (Manchester) Union Leader told WBAL that he originally gave Vovak his nickname, what he didn't tell WBAL is that he had a typo when he spelled Vovak's nickname as "wig" instead of "Whig." This week, Jared DeMarinis called Vovak and said Vovak will probably finally win his "the" case, though now the MSBE may challenge the letter 'h.' Thus, Vovak now must plead that he is "The Whig Man" and not "The Wig Man." Against Vovak, Assistant Attorney General Jeff Darcie will defend the Board of Elections, which he is obligated to do.

Vovak says, "I've always been The 'Whig' Man because of my political beliefs that Republicans should be culturally neutral and fiscally conservative, which is what the Whigs believed. Just as some Democrats identify themselves as 'Progressive Democrats' or others as 'Blue Dog Democrats' I am a 'Whig Republican.' In the same way that the tea party now has people all over America wearing wigs, I am the original tea party conservative who coined the term. It is absolutely right that I have the Whig spelling. I never wore the wig as a fashion statement, but always as a political statement."

Vovak says he will have tepid Republican Party support in his election for Montgomery County Executive. He says, "Following protocol, I spoke with Louis Pope, Joyce Terhes, and Connie Morella and I will have their support, though they don't want me using my wig. In fact, Joyce told me I was handsome enough to win without the wig, which made me blush. Regardless, I'm still open to using my wig, though only as a secret campaign weapon, should I need one."

Once elected, Vovak admits one of his first phone calls will be to former Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan. Vovak says, "Doug and I have always had mutual respect for each other, that crossed party lines. In 2006 he reached out to me on his governor-to-be website, devoting an entire question to me. Then I reached out to him, floating a possible endorsement. Even years later, as a movie producer for The Blue Dress, I held a casting event at AFI in Silver Spring, where I thanked Doug because it was his genuine leadership that brought the American Film Institute to Maryland."

A ghostwriter, Vovak's career accomplishments including signing the famous Paula Jones to a movie deal and now writing her biography. He has also been contacted by former Congressman Jim Traficant to potentially write his life story. Vovak graduated from Baldwin-Wallace College at age 20, with 3 majors (business, psychology and communications). Politically, Vovak leans pro-choice and is definitely anti-tax. He adds, "Wig or no wig, I agree with Maryland Politics Watch, that Ike Leggett is vulnerable and will lose in November. Though I do not have any anger against Leggett, the county executive position is definitely above his head. He just isn't the right guy in that job."

In spite of having been just 31 years-old (and constitutionally not eligible to run for President), Vovak first wore the wig when he opposed George W. Bush in 2003 for the Republican nomination, disagreeing with Bush's war aggression. His debut appearance with the wig was during his Iowa book launch for Will You Run for President? when Vovak was the keynote speaker at the annual Big Ten Leadership Conference. He also wore the wig when he opposed Michael Steele in 2006 for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, believing Steele was too haughty for Maryland.

Vovak can be contacted at 202-367-4835 or

Leggett bill to raise money may violate county law, Andrews says

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett might have violated a county law passed last year that requires bills to cover only one subject, according to Councilman Philip M. Andrews. Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg said Tuesday that Leggett included five revenue-generating items under one bill he sent recently to the council. Leggett's bill included a controversial ambulance fee, an energy fee and a shift in county departments — all needed to balance Leggett's proposed fiscal 2011 budget. However, county spokesman Patrick K. Lacefield said the bill did cover one subject: the budget. The council voted 6-3 on Tuesday to split the bill into five separate proposals, which the council will now take up as separate measures. SOURCE: Gazette

March 23, 2010

Maryland small businesses fear future health care costs

Small businesses said Monday they are concerned about added cost and burdens from health care reform, particularly on industries such as indoor tanning. The Senate bill that the U.S. House passed Sunday night would not require small businesses to provide health insurance, but it would penalize employers with 50 or more employees if one of their workers signs up for federally subsidized health coverage. It would open up government-run health care exchanges for the self-employed and those whose employers don’t offer coverage. It also includes a 10 percent tax on indoor tanning salons. Business groups opposed the bill, saying it would strap businesses that are already struggling in the recession with higher health care costs.

SOURCE: Baltimore Business Journal

Meyer Marks hosts announcement party on 3/25 opposing Frosh

BETHESDA, MARYLAND – Maryland's #1 advocate against guns and Jessica's Law now has a Republican challenger. In Maryland's District 16, Meyer Marks, a government affairs consultant for health care and tort reform, will file with the Board of Elections to run against a personal injury lawyer. As a State Senator, Marks' goal is to create a more conducive environment for businesses with greater fiscal accountability and government transparency. Marks is also concerned that Maryland ranks as a violent haven for criminals in the United States.

"Frosh has grown seriously out of touch with the needs of the voters," says Marks. "Probably because of being a personal injury lawyer, he has not adequately addressed crime issues in Maryland, either. Frosh seems more interested in protecting criminals than he is protecting victims of crime."

Frosh has been in the General Assembly since 1994 and has opposed broadly-supported legislation to tighten restrictions on criminals with Jessica's Law, a bill that strengthened sentences for sexual crimes committed against children. For instance, during a hearing on the bill by the Senate Judicial Committee, chaired by Frosh, advocates of the bill were treated so poorly that the President of the Maryland Senate later apologized. When the bill came to a vote by the entire Senate, Frosh was one of only three people to vote against strengthening the sentences. In the Maryland House, the bill was adopted unanimously. In addition, Frosh is an ardent supporter of gun control laws, declaring that anyone who wishes to carry a gun (other than police) is "nuts."

Meyer Marks was raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he received a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Central Arkansas. In addition, he is pursuing a Master's Degree in European Studies from Georgetown University. In 1988, he founded Marks and Associates, a government relations firm that specializes in health care and educational issues. He is also the caregiver for his mother, who has Alzheimer's Disease, sensitizing him to the illness. In 2008, Marks was a candidate for U.S. Congress in Maryland’s Eighth District. For over 25 years, Marks has worked to craft public policy on the state and federal levels. He resides in Bethesda, Maryland.

Marks' event will be on Maryland Day, Thursday, March 25 from 7 to 9 p.m. at 4242 East-West Highway in Chevy Chase. Street parking and public parking is limited. Contact him at 240-476-5533 or or

Hopkins land worth tens of millions if Science City approved

Johns Hopkins University stands to make hundreds of millions of dollars if Montgomery County's leaders approve a huge biotech complex in Gaithersburg, an analysis shows. The university is sitting on 107 acres in the Gaithersburg-Rockville-North Potomac area known as Belward Farm. An assessment of the land reviewed by The Examiner found that the fully developed property could be worth up to $340 million if council members OK the Science City proposal.

That's not a bad return, considering that the university bought the land for $5 million in 1989. Hopkins spokeswoman Robin Ferrier said in an e-mail that the university hasn't looked at the land value "in depth ... as that is not our concern."

SOURCE: Washington Examiner

Claire Funkhouser Named Clerk Of The Year

One of my absolute favorite people in Rockville government, City Clerk Claire Funkhouser, has been honored as Clerk Of The Year by the Maryland Municipal Clerks Association. (Here are the previous winners.) Here’s the release from Our Fair City:

Rockville City Clerk Claire Funkhouser was recently honored by the Maryland Municipal Clerks Association with the Clerk of the Year award. The award, which will be given in June at the Maryland Municipal League annual conference, honors city clerks who have demonstrated extraordinary individual job performance, commitment to professional development and to community involvement and positive on-the-job attitude, and who have brought innovative ideas to the Maryland Municipal Clerks Association, which is a department of the Maryland Municipal League.

“Mrs. Funkhouser brings a quiet, steady calm to a daily routine of stressful events,” Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio wrote in her nomination form for the honor. “She is the poster woman for Municipal Clerks representing the best a city can have taking care of business.”

Marcuccio outlined Funkhouser’s work in developing and implementing an electronic agenda (eGenda) and dedication to her role as City Clerk and as a City of Rockville employee. Marcuccio also pointed to Funkhouser’s volunteer commitment to improve accessibility for people with disabilities and raise public awareness on disability issues. Funkhouser has served as City Clerk for the City of Rockville for the past 11 years. The city clerk provides administrative and clerical staff support for the Mayor and Council, administers the City election and maintains up-to-date records for the City. Funkhouser will retire Aug. 5 from her post at City Clerk. The Maryland Municipal Clerks Association is affiliated with the International Institute of Municipal Clerks, which certifies municipal clerks in municipalities throughout the world. Funkhouser has been certified since 2002.

SOURCE: Rockville Central

Happy ending as snatched Md. puppy reunited with boy owner

The puppy that was stolen from a Montgomery County boy on Saturday was reunited with him on Sunday, authorities said. Montgomery County police said a man in the Montgomery Village area discovered the missing 8-week-old puppy on his porch Sunday morning. The man, who was not identified, recognized the young pit bull from television reports, police said, and he telephoned authorities. According to one of the boy's neighbors, police later brought the dog to the boy's home in the Gaithersburg/Montgomery Village area.

The puppy, whose name is Yeti, was taken about 2 p.m. Saturday. It happened as the boy was walking with his pet in the vicinity of Snouffer School Road and Ridge Heights Drive, police said. Two youths approached. Police said both were strangers to the boy, and they grabbed the puppy and ran.

County Executive overstates cuts to his own budget

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, in making the case for the sweeping cuts in his proposed budget, emphasized that his office was not "spared" and would be reduced 26 percent. But critics charge that Leggett's message of shared sacrifice is undone by the fact that much of those reductions are actually fund shifts and cuts that have already been made. Take those items out, as well as a 33 percent reduction in contracts for outside auditors, and Leggett's office only sees a reduction of about 11 percent in his proposed budget. Leggett is looking to shift four staff members at a cost of nearly $300,000 from his office to a new 311 county information call center that comprises county employees from several departments. Two other shifts to other parts of the county's budget would reduce more than $177,000 from Leggett's own budget.

"If you're showing a cut but it shows up someplace else, it's not a cut," said County Council Vice President Valerie Ervin, D-Silver Spring. "You can play all kinds of games with the budget." Leggett also counted the salary reduction of a retired aide, who was rehired as a contract worker using different funds, as a savings for his office. That budget move was approved in the fall as part of a midyear savings plan that Leggett includes as part of his 26 percent reduction for next year.

"I call it Ike math," said Gino Renne, president of the Municipal & County Government Employees Organization.

SOURCE: Washington Examiner

March 22, 2010

Woman Sentenced to Life for Killing, Freezing 2 Daughters

A Maryland woman has been sentenced to life without parole for killing two adopted special-needs children and storing their bodies in a freezer so she could collect more than $150,000 in subsidies for their care. Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Michael J. Algeo called Renee Bowman's crimes "horrific, reprehensible and despicable" and said they were the worst he had seen during his 25 years as an attorney and a judge. Bowman, who did not testify at her trial, addressed the courtroom today to apologize. "I am very sorry for the abuse of the girls," Bowman said. "It haunts me. It haunts me every day."
Renee Bowman is excorted into court in Prince Frederick, Md., on Jan. 8, 2010.
Ann Heisenfelt, AP
Renee Bowman, here on Jan. 8, abused her three adopted daughters and killed two of them. The third escaped, which led to the discovery of the bodies of the other two.
Bowman, 44, was arrestedin September 2008 after a third adopted child, a 7-year-old girl, escaped her Lusby, Md., home by jumping out of a second-story bedroom window. Half-nude and covered in blood and feces, the girl told a neighbor, "My mother beats me; she just beats me to death." The neighbor called 911 and reported the abuse. When authorities conducted a search of Bowman's home, they were shocked to discover the bodies of two young children inside a large freezer. SOURCE: AOL

Mystery surrounds the burning of a local armored truck

By Phil Speake. Police say they still don't have any idea what caused the fire of an armored truck that caught fire last weekend on Interstate 270 in Montgomery County. "My assumption is some kind of oil leak," said Lt. Iris Click, commander of the Maryland State Police Rockville office. "All we did was handle the car fire…it was fully engulfed in flames." The truck was apparently transporting money to a Frederick depot. Authorities have not said how much.

Maryland State Police responded to the scene and managed to get the fire under control. The United States Secret Service was also called in to assist with the situation. "I know of no reason for us to respond," a secret service spokesman said. "In sixteen years I've never heard of such a case."

Officials survey the scene after the fire was extinguished.

Officials survey the scene after the fire was extinguished.

The truck is owned and operated by Dunbar Armored, but officials with the company have refused to comment on specifics of the incident. State Police say they have no idea how much money was in the truck, or what other cargo there was in the vehicle. They also are unaware of what caused the fire. An eyewitness who was traveling behind the armored truck on I-270 says he saw something dragging on the bottom of the truck. The witness described what looked like a tailpipe, but it was flexible and causing sparks on the road. "After he [the driver of the truck] stopped it erupted quickly," said the eyewitness. Within a few minutes another armored truck pulled up on the shoulder a few hundred feet from the engulfed truck to assist the driver and other passenger of the truck. Dunbar Armored has a depot in Fredrick, which - according to officials - was most likely the intended destination for the truck. The witness says he saw what looked like management personnell looking over the burned truck after the fire was extinguished.

March 21, 2010

'Science city' data fail Montgomery residents' calculator tests

In debates over new development, data are often the most valuable currency, cited to demonstrate a project's value, impact on neighborhoods and effect on traffic. But the Washington area's legions of sophisticated community activists are increasingly reluctant to accept data from local officials, saying the numbers are unreliable. "It's a very serious concern if you can't trust the numbers," said Montgomery County Council member Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville). Andrews represents the area west of Interstate 270 off Shady Grove Road where Johns Hopkins University wants to build as much as 20 million square feet of commercial, retail and residential space in what university officials describe as a world-class "science city." Andrews and other critics say the data being used to support the plan are anything but scientific.

SOURCE: Washington Post