"You're all wasting your time here today."
That is what the Governor told PlanMaryland rally attendee Michelle Jefferson as he hurriedly departed the Governor's mansion this morning with two members of his security detail in tow. He dashed out of his gate onto Lawyer's Mall at around 9:15 a.m. apparently on his way to a briefing on his recent India adventure just as the first of about 130 Tea Party and other conservative demonstrators arrived to protest his supposedly soon-to-be-approved PlanMaryland.
Jefferson of 'We the People Carroll County' confronted the Governor and asked that he slow the process to give Marylanders more time to understand just what exactly the plan entails and he quipped, "You've had forty years!," a reference, we presume, to the original Land use planning legislation of 1974. Then he said rather undiplomatically, "you all are wasting your time here today!"
LOL! And, speaking of wasting one's time, we learned that O'Malley, in addition to the India briefing this morning (more taxpayer funded trips are planned!) which is where he must have been dashing to after rebuffing Jefferson, was busy tweeting Lady Gaga and inviting her to Maryland to discuss the subject of bullying! I kid you not! Read about it here in the Baltimore Sun blog.
Today's rally at Lawyers Mall was organized by Senator EJ Pipkin who represents several counties on the Eastern Shore. The numbers weren't large—afterall, how many conservatives can just slip on over to Annapolis on a Monday morning when most are busy working and getting children off to school—but it was spirited. As I said, I counted around 130 people which included county leaders and elected officials from at least eleven counties.
Many delegates including: Nic Kipke, Kathy Afzali, Mike Smigiel, Kelly Schultz, Don Dwyer and Gail Bates were there. I spotted Senators, in addition to Sen. Pipkin, Chris Shank, Nancy Jacobs, Ed Reilly, and Barry Glassman. (I'm sorry if I missed someone!)
US Senate candidate Dan Bongino spoke briefly, but no sign of Senator David Brinkley or former Senator Alex Mooney.
I don't know many county commissioners from other counties, but Jeff Cline of Washington County was there—as were leaders on this issue from Frederick County (Blaine Young) and from Carroll (Richard Rothschild and Robin Frasier). A very impressive county commissioner, Cynthia Jones from St. Mary's County gave us a critical piece of information during the afternoon briefing which I'll tell you about shortly.
I wish I could tell you everything we learned in the three hour plus (standing room only) briefing on THE PLAN, but I would have to write a book. So just a couple of highlights for me.
In response to the continuous drum-beat by State Planning Department head honcho Richard Hall (and fellow pro-PLAN panelists) who said that this PLAN really didn't do much that wasn't already legally on the books and that all they were doing was "knitting together" various programs and plans (if I heard the word "knitting" one more time I thought I would scream!), Frederick County Commissioner President Blaine Young asked the question of the day: "If it does nothing, why do it?"
Earlier Young's father, Democrat Senator Ron Young (who unseated Alex Mooney in the last election) got tough on Hall too and asked why the heck did he have to go and stir everyone up across the state when basically what the state planners needed he had helped put in place during the Glendening years (remember Smart Growth) and they needed to only implement what they already had available to them in law. He said Hall (and by extension O'Malley) had "bungled this badly."
Senator Young got a few cheers for his 'Why the heck did you do this?' line of questioning, but the audience was quickly chastised by Committee Chair Joan Carter Conway.
Senator Pipkin stressed that there was indeed an expansion of legal authority in THE PLAN beyond the 1974 plan provisions and Smart Growth, both of which had granted certain authority to state planners by the legislature. He said that THE PLAN's provision for a 'smart growth cabinet' would basically give power to unelected "friends of the governor" to ride roughshod over local elected officials. He called it an "executive fiat." Pipken said several times that this latest incarnation of PlanMaryland should go before the legislature.
County Commissioner Richard Rothschild demonstrated through a power point presentation that the basic assumptions of THE PLAN are false to begin with.
How to manipulate a meeting
And, again since I would be writing a book if I told you everything I learned today (Hey, governor, I sure didn't feel my time was wasted) I'll wrap up with the testimony presented by St. Mary's County Commissioner Cynthia Jones.
State Planner Hall had said several times that the Planning Department had held many meetings across the state on THE PLAN over three years. Never mind the fact that they really had no plan on paper for anyone to really examine until recent months! Commissioner Jones described one such meeting in St. Marys:
She reported that of the assembled group she only saw a few people she knew from her county (were ringers brought in from elsewhere?). But, here is the important part. She says those attending were broken into small groups with a pre-selected facilitator at the helm in each group. They were then presented with a list of "Ten Values" and asked to choose their three top values. Jones reported that the list did not contain any reference to property rights or cost/benefit analysis, both of greatest concern to her.
She asked the facilitator about this, but he did nothing to address her concerns. In her group there were four environmental activists and a consensus was reached more in line with their thinking on PlanMaryland.
What Ms. Jones was experiencing was the Delphi Technique, a well established strategy used regularly (so regularly we should be more ready to combat it and not be surprised every time it happens to us!) by the Left to DIRECT A CONSENSUS TOWARD A PRE-DETERMINED CONCLUSION.
They want it to look like the group has reached a consensus to carry forward in the planning process when all the while it is a strategy to isolate the 'malcontents' and 'troublemakers' who might actually be able to 'poison' (in their minds) the thinking of citizens who really may not have heard all the arguments for and against a proposal. A description by the Virginia Land Rights Coalition of how it works and how to defeat it is here .
Bottomline, do not ever let a government agency, which is holding some hearing or planning session, divide the attendees. Make sure everyone hears everyone's questions and concerns. (There are also a few other strategies to defeat Delphi in that link above, please read it!)
I came away thinking there is some hope that O'Malley could still lose this. All in all, it was not a wasted day!
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