In my last post, I wrote about how Baltimore County Councilman, David Marks, was the only Republican member of the Council to vote the wrong way on Baltimore County’s Rain Tax.
Many of you apparently agree with my stance. MANY of you, from the NUMEROUS people I’ve spoken with about this ongoing nastiness since I wrote my last piece. Well, wouldn’t you know it? My last piece has led to the continuation of this story as it has led to me being multi-forwarded the following exchange between Baltimore County Central Committee Chairman, Al Mendelsohn and the County Councilman from Perry Hall, Mr. Marks (R, Councilmanic District 5) Keep in mind, that Al Mendelsohn says, in the body of his email, he forwarded this entire exchange to all of the members of the Baltimore County GOP Central Committee.
In response to the fact that David Marks voted for the Rain Tax, Baltimore County Style, this following email exchange occurred:
“On 03/03/15, Al Mendelsohn wrote (to David Marks):
You have undercut our argument about how there really is a difference in the two parties. Already I have fielded two calls asking how you can have voted this way.
The vote is cast and the die is stuck. Please write a letter or note explaining your vote because I certainly can’t in any way justify your action but I will forward it to anyone who asks.
To cap it off, you have also doomed your Charter Review support in the Central Committee.
David, you have been a good friend and a model Republican for many years but this was, in my eyes, one of those few crucial votes upon which you will forever be remembered and judged.
From: David Marks
Subject: Re: I’m sure you know how I feel about your vote last night but I am saying it anyway
Over the past week, I had numerous conversations with Councilman Crandell about ways to reduce the tax. Ultimately, he put in the amendment for full repeal.
Councilman Crandell’s amendment required five votes, as the County Executive has promised to veto any change to the legislation he proposed. There were not five votes. In the event the amendment passed, the County Executive would veto the bill, the Council could not override, and I believe the county would be stuck with the current, higher rates.
An all-out repeal takes $64 million out of the surplus over four years. I am also very concerned about what happens when the county negotiates with our labor unions in 2016 and 2017. Should the labor unions and the county not come to an agreement, an arbitrator will make the decision, possibly putting pressure on the county to raise taxes. I do not want to ever be in the position of having to raise property or income taxes.
Al, I have to make difficult decisions all the time. There was an opportunity to amend the speed camera bill in 2011 that would have allowed the three Republican Councilmembers to ban them had it passed. The purists in our party insisted on all-out opposition, and now we have no Councilmanic controls.
The Council’s action lowered the rates. I promised those I talked to at the work session I would work to reduce them as much as I could, and I did that – but ultimately, the votes were not there. I am very happy we were able to amend the bill to “trigger” an automatic review of the county rates should the state make changes.
Regarding the Charter Review Commission, I amended the bill to address some of your concerns. My amendment reduces the number of the County Executive’s appointees. If the central committee chooses to prioritize the defeat of this commission over electing a Republican President and Republican Members of Congress, that is its choice.
As far as my legacy, hopefully I will be remembered as someone who worked to reform government, preserve open space, and improve our communities – without ever voting to raising taxes. I do my best.
From: Al Mendelsohn
To: email@example.com (And to the members of the Baltimore County Central Committee. I redacted all of their email addresses.)
Subject: A response from David Marks and my response.
David, Don’t worry about your legacy worry about your County and your party. You have now given Bevins cover. A straight party line vote would have shown that there is “a dimes worth of difference between the two parties” but you blew it.
I understand that you have hard decisions to take all the time but this was not one of them. The State of Maryland and your Council district yelled out on election day that the rain tax is wrong. This was the easiest vote to cast but you voted against the peoples will. It did not get you a seat at the table as the speed camera bill had passed. There is no reason for you to have voted this way
You have concerns about the future effects of a cut to the rain tax. Frankly, I have no idea why you think that it is worse to raise property or income tax in the out years than to allow the rain tax to stand now. It is bad public policy, bad economics and bad politics. Truly the “hat trick” of a bad vote.
Well, just damn. In my book, if you don’t vote to cut taxes, that’s pretty much the same thing as voting to raise them. This is especially true when it looks more like Governor Hogan may yet get his wish to cancel out the Rain Tax on the State level…which would then leave it up to the individual counties. And, if David Marks gets his way – judging from his actual vote, anyway, would mean as a Baltimore County resident, you have him to thank in part when your taxes go up as a result of some spring showers or summer thunder boomers, or whatever.
Other than that, I’m going to pretty much allow Chairman Mendelsohn’s words speak for themselves as he’s nailed it. For a guy with the reputation of being hyper-cautious, Councilman Marks has indeed etched his legacy in stone with his vote for the Rain Tax.
And, from what I’m hearing, the recruitment efforts to find a viable primary challenger to Mr. Marks keep picking up steam. It seems there’s one Hell of a lot of folks in his District that would like nothing better than to take him out next election and let him start worrying about his legacy after having cast this – how was it put to me by that one guy? –“disastrous” vote.
Talk about blowing a “no brainer.”