Repeal the Mobile Home Site Rental Tax

I was not aware that HoCo charges a mobile home site rental tax. In a county that has a policy to encourage affordable housing, it is really unconscionable that such a regressive tax is charged on those with the least amount of money. I read some of the written comments on the bill from those who live in a mobile home park. Their testimony is really poignant. One person wrote:

I support the CB55 Bill because my family is struggling. Not having to pay the rental tax would mean so much to us. Every year everything goes up except our income. We are barely putting food on our table. We watch TV by using rabbit ears because we can’t afford to pay for TV. We have the “pay as you go” cell phones because we can’t afford the contracted ones. We cook on an electric burner because we can’t afford gas to use our stove. We cant always see our doctor when we are sick because we can’t afford our copay. Rental tax may not seem like much, but that money could go towards food every month or copays when we need to see the doctor.

Another person wrote how they did not have any money for car repairs. It is really surprising that this awful tax has quietly existed for so long. Why did it take until 2018 for a bill for repeal to be filed?

However, I feel that the transition in CB55 will cause much confusion for a very vulnerable population. The bill repeals the tax retroactive to July 1, 2018. However, the bill also takes effect in 61 after enactment, which depending upon when the bill is passed, could be a period from the end of September to the beginning of November or December. So before the effective date, the taxes will still be due. However, some people will be saying, “no the tax is repealed from July 1, 2018.” I assume that the Department of Finance will send refunds for the taxes collected after July 1, but some clearer language and attention to a transition plan is needed to notify the owners of the parks and the renters of the mobile home sites. The tax is collected as part of the monthly rent by the mobile park licensee from the renters of the mobile home park sites. How will the tax be refunded to the renters of the mobile home park sites and not become a windfall to the mobile home park licensees?

 

 

 

 

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CB59-2018: Sections of Bill Expanding PSA Cannot be Severable

CB59-2018 “AN ACT amending the General Plan for Howard County (“PlanHoward 2030”) by adjusting the Planned Service Area” has the standard provision in most Council Bills that the sections are severable.  Normally, this section would serve to fulfill the will of the Council to allow the remaining sections of the bill to take effect if one section of the bill were to be declared invalid by a court,  However, in this case, that clause actually undermines the overall intent of the bill, and it must be stricken.

Plausibly, the only section that might be held invalid is Section 2 which protects the County and the community from changes to the PSA if the Erickson Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) is not constructed. It sets a 3-year time limit on Zoning Board action and a 10-year limit on constructing a sewer and water connection.

Section 1 is the operable provision modifying the PSA. If it were stricken, the rest of the sections are effectively moot.

Section 3 amends PlanHoward 2030 and is meaningless if Section 1 is invalid.  Declaring Section 3 invalid would leave a change to the County Plan unamended; this is nonsensical.

Section 4 is the invalidity clause itself.

Section 5 is the standard language that the bill takes effect in 61 days.

Thus, Section 2 is the only section which might logically be declared invalid. At the Planning Board, Erickson’s counsel William Erskine referred to it somewhat inaccurately as “a poison pill.” Whereas a poison pill normally is used by a corporation to protect the status quo and thwart a takeover, the provision is Erskine’s idea to promote a development change in Clarksville and was written to assuage opposition to the PSA expansion; it is really a condition subsequent. This provision which he drafted is necessary to fulfill the overall intent of the bill to authorize construction of a CCRC and CANNOT be severed from the remaining parts of the bill. It would actually serve the intent of the Council and the stated position of Erickson (unless Erskine actually believes this is all game play and that he can have Section 2 declared invalid down the road) to amend Section 4 to state that “it is the intent of the Council that Section 2 is integral to the operation of the bill and if for any reason Section 2 or its operation is declared invalid by any court of competent jurisdiction than the entire bill shall be null and void.”

 

 

 

BREAKING NEWS!! Weinstein Lead Over Walsh Cut to 4 Votes

The Board of Elections completed the canvass of provisional and additional absentee ballots Thursday July 5. In the race of County Council District 1, Liz Walsh received 66 votes to Jon Weinstein’s 33 votes. After last week’s absentee canvass, Weinstein lead by 37 votes. The additional votes for Walsh has cut Weinstein’s lead to just 4 votes.

Weinstein Walsh Provisional Results

There were no over votes and 31 under votes of voters who expressed no preference in this race.

Final absentee canvass is scheduled for Friday morning.

 

 

#hocopolitics

The Orange-Colored Snake

On her way to vote one morning
Down the path along side the Erie lake
A suburban white woman saw a lyin’ snake
His orange colored skin had been all frosted with the dew
“Poor thing, ” she cried, “I’ll support you always and I’ll vote for you”
“Vote for me suburban white woman
Vote for me, for heaven’s sake
Vote for me white suburban woman, ” sighed the snake
She wrapped him up all cozy in a red ball cap
And retired to his international hotel for the best chocolate cake and a nap
After dinner of the world’s best steaks she realized what she had done
She found that orange colored snake had won
“Vote for me suburban white woman
Vote for me suburban white woman for heaven’s sake
Vote for me suburban white woman, ” sighed the snake
She clutched him to her bosom, “You’re the world’s best, ” she cried
“But if I hadn’t vote for you in by now your campaign would have died”
She stroked his orange colored skin again and kissed and held him tight
Instead of saying thanks, the snake gave her a vicious bite
“Vote for me suburban white woman
Vote for me suburban white woman for heaven’s sake
Vote for me suburban white woman, ” sighed the snake
“I voted for you, ” cried the woman
“And you’ve bitten me, but why?
You know your bite is poisonous and now I’m going to die”
“Oh shut up, silly woman, ” said the reptile with a grin
“You knew damn well I was a snake before you voted me in
“Vote for me suburban white woman
Vote for me suburban white woman for heaven’s sake
Vote for me suburban white woman, ” sighed the snake.
#hocopolitics

John Liao – Local Recruiter for the Cult of Trump?

The Republican Party has become the cult of Donald J. Trump — a vapid party devoid of values or core beliefs run by a narcissistic, xenophobic, child. Local Howard County Republican leaders and candidates who do not condemn the party’s drift into tyranny must be considered full members of the cult.

At a recent candidate forum at HCC, Second District County Council candidate John Liao proudly announced that two of his strongest supports were Democratic District 13 Delegate candidate Larry Pretlow II and School Board Candidate Mavourene Robinson. I told Pretlow that it was confusing for the voters when a Democratic candidate in one primary race is openly supporting a Republican in another race in the same election cycle. He got angry. He gave some non-answer, answer about supporting the best candidates.

Now I am beginning to realize what it really might be, the recruitment of members for a cult — the cult of Trump.

 

Pretlow Venn

 

 

#HoCoPoltics

Dario Broccolino: “MAGLEV Not Going to Happen”

Howard County State’s Attorney and District 12 Delegate Candidate Dario Broccolino said at the League of Women Voters’ Candidate Forum on June 2 that the MAGLEV between New York and Washington is “not going to happen.” Well, the people building it would beg to differ.

I have lots of questions about routes and environmental impacts of the MAGLEV and the competing Hyperloop, but the United States and the mid-Atlantic region in particular need 21st Century transportation options. The United States can’t allow other countries to have high-speed rail while we creep along on 19th Century railroad routes. Because these projects are intended to be privately financed, they should be encouraged by State leaders. These are the modern equivalent of the private roads, canals and railroads of the 19th Century–think Toll House Road and the privately built pikes. If they succeed, then the State and the region benefit. There will be fewer cars on I-95 than there will be without other transportation options. If these MAGLEV and Hyperloop developers go bankrupt, then someone else will be able to buy up the assets at reduced prices. Yet, politicians who don’t see the future, have no future and are not worthy of your support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#hocopolitics

 

ECStrong, Not in the Council Resolution

As Howard County and Ellicott City repeat the recovery from a flood, the County Council is poised to repeat the mistake it made in 2016 with the resolution to extend the State of Emergency.  RESOLUTION NO. 84 – 2018 is entitled “A RESOLUTION extending the State of Emergency declared by Executive Order issued on May 27, 2018, which related to a severe flooding event.” The resolution begins “WHEREAS, the County Executive issued Executive Order 2018-07 on May 27, 2018, related to a severe flooding event that occurred on May 27, 2018.”

Eveyone in the County knows it was a flood in Ellicott City. The local news refers to it as a flood in “Ellicott City.” The national and international news are referring to “Ellicott City.” Ironically, the one place where “Ellicott City” is not referenced is in the formal resolution of the County County Council. It is not just an amorphous “severe flooding event;” it was a flood in “Ellicott City.” Nowhere in the resolution are the words “Ellicott City” used. The people of Ellicott City deserve to be named, the same way that Eddison Hermond deserves to be named and not referred to as “that heroic army guy.”

In addition, the Council is giving the County Executive extraordinary powers and these powers should be restricted to those parts of the County impacted by the flood where the health, safety and welfare require access controls to pedestrians and vehicles.

The Council should amend the bill to put “historic Ellicott City” in the title and refer to “a severe flooding event in historic Ellicott City that occurred on May 27, 2018.”