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Monday, March 25, 2013

Prince Street Principal Arrested For DUI

Chris Nunzio was arrested for a DUI on Friday by a Wicomico County Sheriff's Deputy.

Nunzio refused a breath test and sobriety test.

13 Things You Need To Know For Passover 2013

1. When does Passover 2013 begin and how long does it last?

Passover 2013 begins at sundown on Monday, March 25th. That is the date, this year, which corresponds to the 15th of Nissan, the day according to the Bible, on which the first Passover occurred and on which all subsequent Passovers always begin.

The holiday lasts for 7 days in Israel and 8 days everywhere else, reflecting a long-held custom honoring the fact that maintaining an accurate liturgical calendar far from Israel, where Jewish religious authority was centered in ancient times, was not so simple. It’s a “belt and suspenders approach”, designed to make sure nobody fails to observe the holiday on the appropriate day. 

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Towers To Close In April

In a bid to save money, the Federal Aviation Administration is closing 149 air traffic control towers starting in April. The towers are located throughout the United States. Most are at small airports. FAA must cut its 2013 spending by $637 million under sequestration. That means furlough days for 47,000 controllers. The affected airports will remain open. Pilots will have to coordinate among themselves on radio to land safely. Airlines haven't said whether they'll keep scheduled service to tower-less airports. FAA administrator Michael Huerta said the agency is considering ending overnight shifts at larger airports such as Chicago Midway.

Snow Hill Kindergarten Teacher Honored With County Prize

OCEAN CITY -- The 2013 and 26th annual Worcester County Teacher of the Year (TOY) is Karen Eure, a kindergarten teacher at Snow Hill Elementary School (SHES).

“I am stunned and amazed to be here to represent the most wonderful group of teachers anywhere in the country,” said Eure after the award was announced Friday. “You are the ones who make our job the best job in the world.”

Eure has been teaching at SHES since 1987 and has “enjoyed the ever-changing world of kindergarten for 25 years.” She has a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Language and Literature with a minor in Early Childhood Education from Mary Washington College. Eure earned her Masters of Education with a concentration in reading from Salisbury University.

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3,500 Prison Staffers Won't Face Furloughs

More than 3,500 federal prison staffers won't face furloughs after all. Attorney General Eric Holder says he has moved $150 million to the Bureau of Prisons from other Justice Department accounts. That means no guard has to take a day off from work unpaid. Council of Prison Locals president Dale Deshotel told us the planned furloughs were causing panic among guards who feared for their safety. Inmates outnumber guards in federal facilities by more than four to one. Holder cautions staff, the spending bill Congress passed last week does not roll back budget cuts.

Study Considers 3rd Span for Chesapeake Bay Bridge

Every year, 38 million vehicles drive over its spans: They are tractor trailer drivers ensuring food gets to the grocery store, minivans packed with brightly colored towels and antsy kids who want to know if they are there yet.

They trust that the aging spans of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge are well cared for and will get them safely to where they are going.

Within the next few years, to ensure that promise is kept, transportation officials in Maryland will begin determining how much longer the Chesapeake Bay Bridge can wait until a third span is built.

“We’re putting the Bay Bridge ahead of the queue for a life cycle cost analysis,” said Harold Bartlett, executive secretary of the Maryland Transportation Authority.

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32 New Taxes And Fees - And Counting

Annapolis - Change Maryland released today an updated list of tax, fee and toll increases enacted under the O'Malley Administration. This latest report shows 32 increases that remove $2.3 billion out of the economy annually. As final passage in the legislature of yet more record-high taxes and fees appear imminent, the list is a reminder of the ever-increasing amount struggling Marylander's are being asked to pay for the big-government ambitions of politicians.

Fully sourced using Department of Legislative Services analysis, executive branch budget documents and fiscal notes from bills, the list is the only comprehensive analysis of what Marylander's are paying in levies over and above existing taxes and fees since 2007.

"This will not be a slide in the Governor's power point presentations," said Change Maryland Chairman Larry Hogan. "We're finding yet again, it's time to pull the curtain back on this Administration. Elected officials and bureaucrats don't want their tax, fee and toll increases to be public and understandable, so we did it for them in the interest of promoting fiscal responsibility and transparency."

Sorted by date, the revenue measures chronicle the state’s emergence as a national leader in imposing broad levies either through either traditional forms, or more recently, in novel ways such as to advance narrow policy agendas. The General Assembly's presiding officers and the Governor are making a unified push in 2013 to raise motor fuel taxes and to pay for offshore wind by increasing utility bills to customers. Change Maryland will footnote those proposals as they work through the legislative process and add those in another list to be released separately.

In 2012, increases centered on raising revenues on individuals in the form of new tax brackets for those making just $100,000 - taking the class warfare argument down to an entire new income level. That year also saw the creation of a new role for state government in local land use decisions - in the form of a stormwater management fee that essentially taxes rainwater and that is expected to collect over $300 million annually for government coffers.

The year 2011 was noted for record toll increases - $90 million extra to pay for using tunnels, bridges and toll roads. Together with 2012, this was also the years of fee increases on literally all aspects of human life including additional levies to buy alcohol, obtain a birth certificate, a death certificate, a contractor's license, a license plate, to stay in a hospital and use indoor plumbing.

In 2009 and 2010, Marylanders were forced to pay more to fish and drive a car thanks to additional fees for licensing and a speed camera system that doesn't work and that elected officials are now trying to distance themselves from.

The Change Maryland analysis includes the extraordinary special session of 2007, a year that saw the ill-conceived computer services tax and massive revenue generators including increases in the individual income, sales and corporate income taxes. All told, legislation of the special session of 2007 adds nearly $1 billion in revenues to the state each year. The computer services and millionaire's taxes, two measures that caused Maryland to be a
national embarrassment in the eyes of the business community, are listed but not included in the revenue that is generated as these measures are no longer in effect.

The grassroots organization periodically updates this list based on newly-discovered measures often buried in legislation and counts separate revenue-raising components individually when they are rolled into omnibus legislation.

"It's hard to believe but they're not done yet", said Hogan. "The Governor and his enablers in the legislature are asking for even more tax increases in the next few weeks. This may very well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. One-party monopoly rule is just too expensive. We need balance and a healthy and competitive two-party system. The taxpayers of Maryland have had enough."

32 for $2.3 Billion

Change Maryland has updated it's list of taxes and fees enacted by Governor O'Malley's.

Since taking office O'Malley has implemented 32 tax and fee increases, removing $2.3 billion annually from the pockets of Marylanders.

"This will not be a slide in the Governor's power point presentations," said Change Maryland Chairman Larry Hogan. "We're finding yet again, it's time to pull the curtain back on this Administration. Elected officials and bureaucrats don't want their tax, fee and toll increases to be public and understandable, so we did it for them in the interest of promoting fiscal responsibility and transparency."

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Communism For Children!

A Department of Education children’s website featured a quote Friday from none other than deceased Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong.

The quote, still up as of Friday afternoon, was on the “Kids’ Zone” portion of the National Center for Education Statistics website [UPDATE, 3:30 p.m.: ​The quote has been removed]. The NCES “is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations” and is located within the Department of Education.

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Major U.S. Automakers Come To The Aid Of Destitute Detroit

U.S. automakers joined other Michigan businesses on Monday in donating $8 million for new ambulances and police cars to Detroit as state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr took over running the destitute city.

General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co, Chrysler Group LLC, which have their headquarters in the Detroit area, joined Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Quicken Loans and other area companies in the effort, Mayor Dave Bing announced.

"This is an unprecedented collaboration between the business community and the mayor's office," said Bing.

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Snow Bunny

SNOW BUNNY: 3 year old Mackenzie Kincaid in 
Lowell, IN is ready for Easter. 

2nd Amendment Town Hall Meeting

More than 500 people in attendance 2nd amendment town hall meeting at civic center.

At 8, Getting Used To Marriage

Getting used to married life: Boy, 8, who wed 61-year-old woman on orders of dead ancestors, enjoys a meal with his new wife
Sanele Masilela said that he feels like a proper husband now
Married 61-year-old friend Helen Shabangu in an extravagant white wedding

His dead grandfather asked him to wed from beyond the grave

His family insists it was just a ritual to appease ancestral spirits

By JAYMI MCCANN

With his feet dangling above the floor and his child's portion of food, it looks like he's having dinner at his grandma's.

In fact Sanele Masilela, 8, is enjoying dinner with his wife, following his marriage to her two weeks ago, and said he is now beginning to feel like a proper husband.

The school boy married Helen Shabangu after his grandfather contacted him from beyond the grave telling him that he needed to wed.

As Casinos Struggle, Tribes Seek More Federal Aid

LEDYARD, Conn. (AP) -- Once the envy of Indian Country for its billion-dollar casino empire, the tribe that owns the Foxwoods Resort Casino has been struggling through a financial crisis and pursuing more revenue from an unlikely source: U.S. government grants.

The money provided annually to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation through the Interior Department and the Department of Health and Human Services has risen over the last five years to more than $4.5 million, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act. One former tribal employee says department leaders were encouraged to offset dwindling resources by seeking more federal grants.

The Pequots, who once distributed stipends exceeding $100,000 annually to adult members, are not alone among gaming tribes seeking more federal aid. Several, including the owner of Foxwoods' rival Connecticut casino, the Mohegan Sun, say they have been pursuing more grants — a trend that critics find galling because the law that gave rise to Indian casinos was intended to help tribes become financially self-sufficient. 

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True American heroes: Stunning photographs of U.S. military's bravest among the Defense Department's best images of the year

By DAMIAN GHIGLIOTTY

The Defense Department has released its top picks for the most memorable images of 2012.

The more than 40 images include U.S. soldiers, jets and other military machinery, amputees, citizens in foreign countries and stray dogs. While some of the images call for laughter and awe, others call for sorrow and solemn reflection.

The images were chosen as winners, runners up and honorable mentions for the department’s Visual Information Awards Program in seven categories: Operational Combat, Combat Training, Hardware, News Photography, Pictorial, Portrait and Sports.

The program is ‘designed to recognize, reward and promote excellence among military photographers, videographers, journalists, broadcasters, photojournalists, graphic artists and mass communication specialists for their achievements in furthering the objectives of military photography, videography, and graphic arts,’ according to a Defense Department release.

Below are 20 select photos from the department’s picks for last years’ most visually striking military moments (not in order of ranking).

Week Twelve: Crossover Deadline & Hearings On Agenda

With just two weeks left in the 2013 Maryland General Assembly session, lawmakers face "Crossover Day" today.

By tonight, legislation has to pass at least one chamber of the legislature, if it has any chance of becoming law before the session ends on April 8.

Nearly 1,100 bills have been introduced this year in the Maryland Senate. More than 1,500 bills were introduced this year in the House of Delegates.

Only a handful of bills have passed both chambers so far.

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Dog Found 3-25-13

Hi Mr. Albero, 

Today I arrived home from work with this sweet dog sitting on my door step. She has been here all day long from what my neighbors have told me. She is very gentle but seems scared. I'm located near the city park/civic center in Salisbury. I can not keep her long bc I have 2 dogs of my own.I have set up shelter for her in my garage with food/water/blankets. I do plan on calling humane society tomorrow, but hoping her owners see this or someone who knows who the dog belongs too tonight. 

My contact info is: Courtney Culver 410.251.8594 CourtCulver511@yahoo.com

Not Funny


Michael Moore: 90% Of Guns Owned By “Scared White People”

US Ambassador Chris Stevens May Have Been Linked To Jihadist Rebels In Syria

The official position is that the US has refused to allow heavy weapons into Syria.
But there's growing evidence that U.S. agents—particularly murdered ambassador Chris Stevens—were at least aware of heavy weapons moving from Libya to jihadist Syrian rebels.

In March 2011 Stevens became the official U.S. liaison to the al-Qaeda-linked Libyan opposition, working directly with Abdelhakim Belhadj of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group—a group that has now disbanded, with some fighters reportedly participating in the attack that took Stevens' life.

In November 2011 The Telegraph reported that Belhadj, acting as head of the Tripoli Military Council, "met with Free Syrian Army [FSA] leaders in Istanbul and on the border with Turkey" in an effort by the new Libyan government to provide money and weapons to the growing insurgency in Syria.

Troopers Indicted After Roadside Cavity Search Of Two Women

DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - CBS-11 has learned two state troopers involved in a controversial roadside cavity search of two North Texas women have been indicted on criminal charges by a Dallas County Grand Jury.

CBS-11 has learned that one of the troopers, Kelley Helleson, who left the courthouse after testifying Friday, is charged with two counts of sexual assault and two counts of official oppression.

She was seen on dashcam video searching the body cavities — front and back — of the two women along an exit ramp of the Bush Turnpike in Irving last summer.

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Meanwhile, 350 Miles Away From The Border

UN to Define Pregnancy Without Access to Abortion as “Torture”


Quick question. If we replaced the United Nations with the population of an insane asylum would anyone even notice, and if so how?

In a new report by the special rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, to the United Nations General Assembly, he broadens the term “torture” to mean any obstacle to lefty social policies.
 
“The Committee against Torture has repeatedly expressed concerns about restrictions on access to abortion and about absolute abortion bans as violating the prohibition on torture and ill treatment.”
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Mosquito Invasions

Yay!! It's Spring!! Time to get ready for Mosquito invasions.

Here's an easy & pleasant repellent recipe you can make at home:

Combine in a 16 oz bottle:
...15 drops lavender oil
3-4 Tbsp of vanilla extract
1/4 Cup lemon juice.
Fill bottle with water.
Shake.

Ready to use. Make some extra to gift to your neighbors, family & friends.

State Rep. Reynolds, 7 Other Attorneys Charged In Alleged Kickback Scheme

HOUSTON -- Dozens of law enforcement officers simultaneously raided multiple law offices and two chiropractic clinics Monday morning for their alleged involvement in a kickback scheme to sign up clients, according to an I-Team review of court records.

In all, arrest warrants were issued for eight Houston-area lawyers, including State Representative Ron Reynolds. They are charged with barratry, commonly known as “ambulance chasing,” a third degree felony punishable by up to ten years in prison a $10,000 fine.

Reynolds and the other attorneys are accused of paying kickbacks to Robert Valdez, the alleged ringleader of the operation. Prosecutors said Valdez routinely scour accident reports, then approach and aggressively persuade crash victims to sign contracts for legal representation.

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SPD Bank Robbery Update

Click to enlarge

$81,204 to Answer the Phone. Fed Gov Posts 4600 New Job Listings

Now that the Sequester left small children vulnerable to the Black Plague, ended White House tours for the next century, shot firefighters out of a giant cannon into space and broke down the Washington Monument for use as kindling… the Federal Government appears to be cranking along as usual.
In one week alone this month, nearly 2,200 job listings available to the public were posted on USAJobs.gov, the federal government’s recruiting site. Add in new postings open only to current or former federal workers, including those laid off, and the number of new openings jumps to more than 4,600.

Critics say the posting of thousands of new jobs this month is proof that agencies have ignored the OMB and continue with unnecessary spending. But some employment experts say it’s not that simple, and agencies have valid reasons to post jobs that may — or may not — be filled.
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500 Million Dollars

The United States has quietly unblocked almost $500 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority which had been frozen by Congress for months, a top US official said Friday.
The news that the funds had finally been freed up came after US President Barack Obama met top Israeli and Palestinian leaders in a landmark visit to Israel and the West Bank earlier this week.
"To date, we have moved $295.7 million in fiscal year 2012 money… and $200 million in fiscal year 2013 assistance," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.
The Obama administration also notified Congress in late February that it was seeking a further $200 million to fund US Agency for International Development (USAID) programs for the Palestinians, she said.
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Worcester County Sheriff's Office Press Release 3-25-13

On Saturday, March 23, 2013, at approximately 0100 hours, the Worcester County Emergency Services dispatch center received multiple 911 calls stating that there was a large fight involving gunfire at 2350 Old Snow Hill Road, Pocomoke, Maryland, “PJ’s Pub”. 

Worcester County Sheriff's Office, Maryland State Police, and Pocomoke City Police Officers encountered a large disorderly crowd. In an attempt to restore the safety of the remaining patrons and staff and to identify and treat the victims, several participants were taken into custody and charged with “disorderly conduct” after failing to obey the officers’ instructions. Order was again restored, and the victims were identified and the crime scene was secured. Two victims were treated at the hospital. One was treated for several lacerations to their head and the other for a gunshot wound to their foot. Detectives from the Worcester County Bureau of Investigation and Crime Scene Technicians from the Maryland State Police arrived and processed the scene. The investigation is on going.

Anyone with information on this incident is asked to contact Detective Corporal Alex Kagan of the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office at (410) 632-1111.

Maryland House Passes Medical Marijuana Measure

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Maryland House of Delegates has passed a measure to allow medical marijuana in the state.

The House voted 108-28 for the bill on Monday. The measure now goes to the Senate.

The measure would create a commission to oversee a medical marijuana program at academic medical research centers that decide to participate.

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Woman Who Tweeted About Crude Comments Loses Job

SAN JOSE, Calif. — A female developer was fired after tweeting about a group of men she said were making sexual comments at a computer programming conference, fueling an already vigorous debate about gender equality and culture in Silicon Valley.

Adria Richards wrote on her blog, butyouareagirl.com, that she was seated in a ballroom at the Santa Clara conference Sunday when the men behind her started talking about “big dongles.”

A dongle is a device that plugs into a computer, but Richards tweeted that the men made the comment in a sexual way.

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'Get Used To It!'

'We're going to have more visibility and less privacy': Mayor Bloomberg admits soon NYPD surveillance cameras will be on nearly every corner and in the air

'You wait, in five years, the technology is getting better, they’ll be cameras everyplace . . . whether you like it or not,' Bloomberg said Friday. 

'The argument against using automation is just this craziness that 'Oh, it’s Big Brother.' Get used to it!'

Caption This Photo 3-25-13


SASHA, MALIA OBAMA VACATION AT BAHAMAS' 'ATLANTIS' RESORT

Sasha and Malia Obama are quietly vacationing at the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, Breitbart News has learned.

A source tipped Breitbart News off to the First Daughters’ spring vacation, which was not publicly announced or reported.

Breitbart subsequently confirmed President Barack Obama’s daughters’ trip with other sources. Both the White House and the Atlantis resort declined to confirm the report or comment, but another guest provided a photograph of Sasha and Malia at the resort.

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Payroll Firm's Bankruptcy Leads To Legislation

The recent closing and bankruptcy of a Bel Air payroll company has led to legislation in Annapolis.

Harford County Republican State Senator Barry Glassman has introduced a commission to study the regulations of payroll service companies.

Glassman told WBAL News that the state provides no regulation, or bonding requirements of payroll service companies. 

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Senior Cheer!


Meeting of Md. Gas Drilling Panel Postponed

CUMBERLAND, Md. (AP) -- State officials have postponed a meeting of a panel studying natural gas drilling plans in western Maryland.

The panel was to have met Monday in Cumberland to discuss drilling practices employed elsewhere. The meeting was postponed because of predictions of bad weather.

The meeting was to have included a research report that says wells should be closed-loop systems so that any spills can be contained.

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Camp Barnes Orientation Postponed

The Camp Barnes Orientation originally scheduled tonight at Troop 2 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in Newark has been postponed until Wednesday March 27th from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. due to weather and road conditions. Any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact M/Cpl Shawn Hatfield at 302.856.5850 ext. 212 or email james.hatfield@state.de.us

Thank you

123 Shamrock Dogs Abandoned


HELP HELP HELP in Salisbury, MD. 2 or 3 dogs are locked up in a house at 123 Shamrock Drive where nobody lives. The house is empty of furniture. Someone feeds them sometime but the dogs are alone in the house. It must be nasty with poo & pee. Neighbors have complained about it for a long time. No one will do anything to help these abandoned dogs. The Humane Society was called again yesterday & they said it was up to Animal Control. A call was made today to the Wicomico County Police Dept. & they said Animal Control would have to do something. Of course, it is posted on the Humane Society's website no animal control is available on weekends. These dogs are abandoned in an empty house & no one will do anything about it. One HS reply to a complaint by a neighbor was "How do you know they don't come & feed them while you are asleep?" The dogs are alone...no one lives there!!! 123 Shamrock Drive you can hear them whining & barking!!! You can see the back door has not been open in a long time. They must never get outside. I know one is a PitBull because I saw him at the window at the back door whining & barking.

Intoxicated Victim In Machen Attack Goes To Jail For Four Days

The boyfriend and alleged victim in the case of the Ocean City woman charged with assaulting him in the head with a can of beer one day and a can of beans the next day was jailed Wednesday because he was too intoxicated to testify. “

The trial was prevented from occurring,” Judge John L. Norton III said in District Court in Ocean City after finding Joseph Webster in contempt of court. 

Kathleen Theresa Machen, 47, looked angry and horror-stricken as Webster was handcuffed in court before being taken to jail to serve a four-day sentence. 

Earlier, she had mouthed, “This is bull ____,” after the judge ordered her to continue to be held in jail pending trial.

Please Get Out And Vote

In the primary election it became extremely evident that ONE vote can sway an election.

You have POWER in your vote. Tens of thousands of people died defending your freedom to get out and vote.

Please encourage your family, friends and neighbors to get out and vote on April 2nd.

Salisbury Needs YOU.

Granting Drivers Licenses To Illegal Immigrants Would Continue Under Senate Bill

Continuing Maryland’s practice of granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants received preliminary approval from state senators Friday, paving the way for a final vote on the legislation.

This Senate legislation was sponsored by Sen. Victor Ramirez, D-Prince George’s, a longtime advocate for Maryland’s immigrant community who sponsored the bill allowing state residents to receive in-state tuition regardless of their immigration status. That bill passed in last year’s referendum.

Ramirez is once again facing resistance for his pro-immigrant policies from Republicans who argue that illegal immigrants should not receive the benefits of citizenship.

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Missing Dog

She lives in the Tyaskin area on Clara RD. She has been missing since Tuesday 19th. You can call Kim or Chad @ 410-873-2620

Annual Payroll Report Town Of Ocean City

Joe, About One Of Your Yard Signs

Sorry to bother you:

While walking with Debbie Campbell in Harbor Point one of your yard signs was found laying down on a corner lot. Didn't look blown over it looked like it was tossed.

I am now displaying the sign in my yard. If you get a report of a stolen sign or someone walking off with it let me know I'll return it.

Thanks and if I haven't told you before if you are in the area the house is always a mess but the door is open to you.

Both Sides Of Gun Debate Make Public Appeals

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Two of the loudest voices in the gun debate say it's up to voters now to make their position known to Congress.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and National Rifle Associate Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre claim their opposing views on guns have the support of the overwhelming number of Americans. They are looking at the next two weeks as critical to the debate, when lawmakers head home to hear from constituents ahead of next month's anticipated Senate vote on gun control.

Bloomberg, a former Republican-turned-independent, has just sunk $12 million for Mayors Against Illegal Guns to run television ads and phone banks in 13 states urging voters to tell their senators to pass legislation requiring universal background checks for gun buyers.

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Tri-County Council – YOUR Tax Dollars at Work

Next week the Tri-County Council will hold its regular meeting.  Where?  The safe assumption would be that the meeting would be held at the organization’s new $10 MILLION facility at the corner of US 50 and Walston Switch Road.
You would be wrong.  The Tri-County Council is holding its meeting at … a brew pub.
130322_TCCMeeting_Evo_(600x380)
Why are YOUR tax dollars – and that’s what funds the Tri-County Council – being used to hold meetings at a brew pub when you have already paid for perfectly good meeting space?
Wicomico County councilwoman Sheree Sample-Hughes is the chairman of the Tri-County Council.  Maybe you should ask her.
G. A. Harrison is a former editor of SBYNews and a regular contributor.  He also writes at the DelMarVa Observer.  This article was originally posted at the DelMarVa Observer.

Go Figure

Snow continues to fall in Salisbury early in the A.M of March 25th, 2013. How about that global warming?

INCYMI: Blair Lee: Your 86 Percent Gas-Tax Increase

"According to public opinion polls, 73 percent of Maryland residents oppose a gas-tax increase. Perhaps that’s because, according to Change Maryland, this will be O’Malley’s 33rd tax or fee increase, adding another $800 million a year to the $2.3 billion a year we’re already paying in new taxes under O’Malley."
Blair Lee: Your 86 percent Gas-Tax Increase

By Blair Lee

We almost made it. We almost got through a General Assembly session without another Martin O’Malley tax increase. But then, at the last moment, O’Malley came out with a new tax that’s larger than any of the other 32 tax hikes he’s put into law during his seven-year tenure.

O’Malley’s bill, as amended by the House Ways and Means Committee, would hike the state’s gas tax from 23.5 cents per gallon to 43.7 cents per gallon by July 2016, an 86 percent increase. It also ties our gas tax to inflation, so it will now automatically increase without any legislative action or blame.

Here’s why O’Malley’s gas tax stinks;

1. Regressive

Once again Maryland’s “progressive” lawmakers slam the poor. A gas tax hits household budgets, immediately cutting into grocery and medical necessities while penalizing low-income motorists driving old gas guzzlers more than yuppies driving hybrid Priuses.

2. Hurts Retailers

Thanks to O’Malley’s prior tax increases, the cost of tobacco, alcohol and many other items is greater in Maryland than in neighboring states. Now Maryland’s gasoline tax will become the highest in the region and fifth highest in the nation.

Shoppers aren’t stupid, especially during hard times. They’ll compare Maryland’s 43.7 cents of tax on gas to Virginia’s (10.5 cents), Delaware’s (23 cents), Washington, D.C.’s (23.5 cents), Pennsylvania’s (32.3 cents) and West Virginia’s (34.7 cents).

They’re already crossing state lines to buy cigarettes and booze. Now, they’ll fill up their tank, too, and buy their groceries and other household goods while they’re there.

Maryland is a small state within easy reach of its neighbors. O’Malley’s gas tax is going to kill retailers located near the state’s borders.

3. No “Lockbox”

All our gas taxes, vehicle registration and license fees, etc., go into a special fund (the Transportation Trust Fund), not the state’s general fund.

Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) revenues are dedicated to transportation spending only. But the dirty little secret of state budgeting is that, while the general fund is subject to the state constitution’s balanced budget requirement, the TTF is not.

That’s why state lawmakers raid the TTF to balance the general fund when revenues drop. Also, it’s easier to swipe TTF money rather than actually cut state spending. O’Malley “borrowed” $1.3 billion from the TTF and now complains that the cupboard is bare.

He’s promised to return $500 million to the TTF and never to raid it again. His gas-tax bill puts a “lockbox” on the TTF, but it should be called a “joke box” because it’s no protection whatsoever: The governor can unlock the lockbox and swipe all the new gas-tax revenue if 60 percent of the legislature’s two spending committees approve. Remember, committee membership is controlled by each chamber’s presiding officer and, as we saw with the death penalty and offshore windmills, committee members can be quickly shifted until the desired vote is achieved.

In other words, the fox can’t raid the chicken house, again, until the fox wants to.

The only joke bigger than the “lockbox” is the claim that Virginia’s recent transportation funding increase forced Maryland lawmakers to pass a gas tax to be competitive.

If Maryland lawmakers gave a damn about business competitiveness, we’d copy Virginia’s right-to-work, low-tax and business-friendly policies. Maryland’s sudden concern about Virginia is just Maryland’s excuse for raising another tax.

4. Spending Disparity

Currently only 28 percent of Maryland’s transportation budget is spent on roads and bridges, while 46 percent is spent on mass transit, which is used by only 8.8 percent of Maryland’s commuters.

Most of O’Malley’s new gas tax will, likewise, go to mass transit, where riders only pay 28 percent of the operating cost in Baltimore and 58 percent in the D.C. suburbs. Also, instead of roads and bridges, we’re going to build two new light-rail lines: Baltimore’s Red Line ($2.5 billion) and the D.C. area’s Purple Line ($2.2 billion), whose combined operating costs will be $120 million a year.

O’Malley’s gas-tax bill further skews the spending disparity by eliminating the share of gas-tax revenues that’s supposed to go to local governments for local roads and bridges.

According to public opinion polls, 73 percent of Maryland residents oppose a gas-tax increase. Perhaps that’s because, according to Change Maryland, this will be O’Malley’s 33rd tax or fee increase, adding another $800 million a year to the $2.3 billion a year we’re already paying in new taxes under O’Malley.

So, will this huge, regressive, unpopular, inflation-indexed gas tax pass? Of course. You see, most of the gas-tax increase doesn’t phase in until after next year’s state elections; the gas tax can’t be taken to voter referendum (because it’s a money bill); and O’Malley and the legislative leaders are busy buying off Baltimore and Prince George’s lawmakers with spending handouts.

Baltimore city is trading its gas-tax votes for $20 million a year for the next 30 years in state school construction funds. Prince George’s is trading for a $1 billion state-funded hospital. And Montgomery’s lawmakers are voting for the gas tax, which will hit their county hardest, because it’s the right thing to do!

You see, the dummies from Montgomery honestly believe that the federal and Maryland governments will spend $4.7 billion building two light-rail projects, simultaneously. No way.

And which project do you guess will actually get built and which will get delayed, forever? Wanna make any bets?

Meanwhile, get ready to pay your 86 percent gas-tax increase.