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Jeannie Haddaway: A Peek beneath the Pork and the Promises

While it’s obvious to most fiscally-sane Marylanders that their families, wallets and small businesses can’t possibly endure a gubernatorial clone of the current office holder, it is becoming increasingly evident that just such a scenario is menacing the political horizon.
If it weren’t disheartening enough to witness Gov. Martin O’Malley’s tax-and-spend machine lining up behind the gubernatorial campaign of Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, it is even more demoralizing for those hoping to break the one-party stranglehold currently enjoyed by this state’s cash-squandering Democrats.

And yet, it may be both easy and appropriate to bash the elected officials on the thriftless ‘Blue Team’ but you may want to save some of that ire for state Republicans – especially those who cast ‘yea’ votes on the governor’s annual budget; support a large percentage of liberal social issues; and belly up to the bond bill trough while bemoaning the burden state government is placing on the taxpayer.

Last week, Republican gubernatorial candidate David Craig chose Talbot County delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio as his running mate, leading everyone connected to the campaign to pronounce her as the final piece of a winning puzzle.

The state’s other 92 Republicans hailed the selection as “exciting” and “important,” and gushed about Haddaway-Riccio’s ‘legislative leadership,’ ‘understanding of rural Maryland,’ her connection with ‘forgotten Marylanders’ (must be friends with Kendel), and because – best of all – she isn’t an old white dude.

Appointed by then-governor Robert Ehrlich (red flag, red flag!), Haddaway-Riccio has served in the legislature for the past decade and ascended to the position of minority whip before being ceremoniously dumped during this year’s post-session Red Team shake-up.
Kinda makes one wonder about that whole ‘legislative leadership’ thing, huh?

The delegate, who represents portions of Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot and Caroline counties, was also touted for the “wide-ranging policy background” she brings to the Craig ticket.
“The Lt. Governor is too important a position,” the Harford County Executive/Guv’nuh-seeker said during Haddaway-Riccio’s coming out party, “to tell them to go in a corner for eight years and dabble on public policy experiments.”
Hmmmm…

“She is a person who is capable of being governor on the very first day she takes the oath,” Craig offered, unwittingly serving up the most salient point of the day… more on said point in a moment.

Much hay has been made in conservative circles regarding Haddaway-Riccio’s spotlight-bright hypocrisy when, during the 2011 General Assembly session, the then-Minority Whip joined with her House Republican Caucus mates and fired off a letter to House leadership claiming abstention from filing bond bills.

Bond bills, by the way, are the state equivalent of the federal government’s ‘pork projects,’ wherein your elected elites pump your cash back to their districts – or, as Pappy O’Daniel would say: to their ‘con-stitch-ew-ints” – to either suck-up to the voting block or trade a vote on important legislation for a seat at the greed buffet.
Prior to sending the aforementioned letter, however, Haddaway-Riccio – along with colleague Adelaide Eckardt – had filed over $3 million in bond bills.

According to Red Maryland, from 2007 to the sending of the no-pork letter, that duo proposed more than $10 million in bond bills – for such significant state ventures as a replica light house and an atrium entrance for the Dorchester Center for the Arts.
Bond bills – as that same Red Maryland post points out – are but a trickle in the Chesapeake when compared to the massive spending cascades responsible for the current state of our underwater economy, but they are “a gateway drug to the big ticket items that fuel Maryland’s tax and spend addiction.”

Let’s be clear: Delegate Haddaway-Riccio is a dedicated, hardworking legislator, and she is certainly not the only Republican supping from the taxpayer vat.
The uproar and outrage is coming – and should be coming – thanks to yet another politician failing to practice what they preach.

Don’t stand on the stump and tell potential voters that one is fully supportive of fiscal conservatism then go to the sty in Annapolis and wrestle the other piglets for one of the available teats.
Even more contemptible is the spin and spew once said politician is called out for such duplicity.

In the delegate’s case she responded by saying she had committed to a couple of bond bills prior to seeing the governor’s proposed budget for that year.
“I think all of us would love to have projects funded,” Haddaway-Riccio told The Baltimore Sun. “It is not a responsible thing to do given the capital budget situation.”
The Lt. Governor candidate co-sponsored two more bills after O’Malley unveiled his budget proposal.

Again, Haddaway is not alone in having to defend the type of wasteful state spending that they campaigned against during the last election cycle.

Sen. Allen Kittleman stated at a Howard County Delegation hearing that he opposed any bond bills but since the Democrats would still be hauling the bacon back to the home districts he didn’t feel his constituents should be penalized.
Then there’s Fredrick County delegate Kathy Afzali, who took her share of heat this year thanks to her vote for the pork-packed, tax-heavy O’Malley budget.
Afzali, when confronted (particularly through social media), told WFMD Radio, “I fought against every increase in fees. I have fought against every tax increase. It’s been me and the Republicans holding the line. “But there is a time to fight, there is a time wage war, and there is a time to make peace.”
One of the ‘peace-offerings’ apparently was a $50,000 funding of a concession stand at a high school in her district.

In all, the 2013 Maryland General Assembly evaluated 135 bond bill requests totaling some $39 million. Of those, the House and Senate each funded $7.5 million in legislative projects. Everyone has their favorites, but this columnist is particularly proud of the 150-grand taxpayers contributed to a skatepark in Baltimore City and a miniature golf course in Montgomery County (both gifts to Democrats).

Yet, as disturbing as the pork abuse may be, an even more troubling statistic comes courtesy of the hardworking researchers – led by Elizabeth Myers – at Maryland Legislative Watch (MLW).

In some of the analysis of the voting patterns of state legislators, MLW found that there was a total of 690 bills that passed both houses and were signed into law by the governor.
Of those 690 (a staggering number in its own right), 522 of them were passed unanimously by the state senate. In the house, 510 were passed without a single dissenting vote.
In all, nearly 74-percent of House bills were unopposed and in the senate the number was just under 76-percent.

Perhaps, then, this was the Haddaway-Riccio qualification touted by County Executive Craig when he not only welcomed her to the ticket, but proclaimed her competent enough to hold the highest office on ‘day one.’
In yet another MLW analysis – one broken down by vote on each bill by each legislator – Haddaway-Riccio’s dissenting votes on signed bills was similar to those of her House compatriots.

Full disclosure, however: I stopped counting when the number of ‘yea’ votes she cast for bills Gov. O’Malley had signed topped the 450 mark… and there were dozens more on the list.
To hear the media and the Democrat Party tell it, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown’s main qualification for the governorship is his near-100-percent track record when it comes to supporting O’Malley’s policies and initiatives.

Apparently, the David Craig campaign thinks that supporting those same policies and initiatives 75-percent of the time will also suffice.

Categories: Bond Bills, Budget and Finance, Elections, Must Read, Opinion, Policy
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