Tuesday, October 25, 2005

It's not citizenship, it's partisanship

"Can't pay for college? Do what I did--get a football scholarship!"
- Gov. Jockstrap

Though Maryland’s Republican Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele plans to make a “special announcement” this morning at Prince George’s Community College in Largo, Steele and Governor Ehrlich’s commitment to higher education has been far from special.

“Higher education should be the foundation for a strong and prosperous future,” said Terry Lierman, Chair of the Maryland Democratic Party. “Unfortunately, under Michael Steele and Robert Ehrlich, the doors to higher education have closed for thousands of Marylanders who can no longer afford to go to college.”

Since Steele and Ehrlich were elected in November of 2002, college tuition rates at Maryland’s public colleges and universities have increased by nearly 40%. The administration cut $120 million from the state’s support of higher education during its first two years – only seven states have cut their higher education investments by a greater margin during that time.

“This Governor and Lieutenant Governor talk about creating opportunity,” said Lierman, “but Maryland’s hard-working middle class families know the real deal – college tuition is increasing faster than their incomes, and the Ehrlich/Steele tax hikes put college further from reach.”Attempts to address the tuition hikes have fallen on deaf ears at the State House.

Two years ago, when a group of Maryland students came to Annapolis to protest the tuition issue, Steele flatly refused their repeated requests to discuss the matter with him. Last year, the Ehrlich/Steele administration vetoed a bill passed by the Maryland General Assembly that would cap future tuition increases.

“Maryland can’t afford to send Michael Steele to the Senate,” said Lierman, adding that President Bush and other national Republican leaders who are working tirelessly to elect Steele are also “working hard to cut Pell Grants and reduce federal investments in financial aid.”

A tip o’ the mortarboard to Derek Walker
Communications Director
Maryland Democratic Party

Monday, October 17, 2005

Who's your (sugar) daddy?

If you can brush aside her nostalgia angle, Michelle Dyson offers a troubling glimpse of a post-2006 Maryland where patrons rule the land and we small-d democrats are merely gnats on the limosine windshield.

The Candidates' Show of Commercial Enterprise
By Michele Dyson
Washington Post
Sunday, October 16, 2005; Page B08

. . . In 1998, when Parris N. Glendening ran against Ellen R. Sauerbrey (R), each raised about $6 million -- a record at the time. Four years later, when Ehrlich ran against Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, he raised $10.4 million and she about $8.5 million -- a new record. In those same elections, candidates for the Maryland General Assembly spent more than $28 million.

In 2004 the U.S. Senate election cost Democratic incumbent Barbara Mikulski's campaign $4 million and Republican E. J. Pipkin's $2.7 million -- again, a record.

The 2006 elections will blow all of these high-water marks away. With all the political races factored in -- national, state and local -- the $100 million threshold will be breached.

Two questions need asking here: Where will this tenth of a billion dollars in campaign cash come from, and how do the campaigns plan to spend it?" . . .

Read more
Of course there are more questions that "need asking." What kind of political debts will Maryland's office holders be saddled with? How will this level of financial indebtedness limit political access by us mere mortals? What do the fat cat patrons expect in exchange for $100 million?

Tens of millions is a lot of dough to contribute for a governor's job that pays only $135K (The Book of States, 2004). That kind of ratio puts any government official at risk of "an offer he can't refuse."

What's truly crazy about spending this kind of money on a small state's gubernatorial race--I'll bet the majority of the contributors do so to fend off taxation.

Think for a moment of the kinds of public benefit that $100 million in taxes would buy for Maryland. To these contributors I say: if you hate taxation so much, make a donation to charity instead.

Let Them Eat Cake - Chapter 3249

Delphi's hourly workers were told to take a 50 percent cut or take a hike. Meantime, the Delphi bosses are asked for 10 to 20 percent cuts in "salaries" already bloated to the point of obscenity. Sigh . . . that's what BushCo means for America.

Delphi to reduce salaries of top execs amid criticism;
cuts to be 10% to 20%

By Terry Kosdrosky
Oct. 17, 2005 8:24 AM

Delphi Corp. has pulled back the salaries of some of its top executives after facing criticism for boosting their pay while asking hourly workers for steep wage cuts.

CEO Steve Miller will reduce his salary to $1 from $1.5 million, effective Jan. 1 and continuing until the company is out of bankruptcy, according to a statement released early Monday morning.

Officers who were at Delphi when Miller arrived will take a 10 percent cut in their base salary, while President and COO Rodney O’Neal will take a 20 percent cut. Those also are effective Jan. 1.

Miller received a $3 million signing bonus and a base salary of $1.5 million when he was hired in June.

Before filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Delphi boosted the severance package for executives if they are laid off. Under that plan, they can receive up to 18 months of pay and some of their bonus, up from a cap of 12 months.

After filing for bankruptcy, Delphi filed a key-executive compensation program, which offered bonuses to encourage people to stay.

Both moves were harshly criticized by the United Auto Workers, which faces the prospect of its Delphi members taking huge wage and benefit cuts.

Others have defended the programs, saying a bankrupt company can find its good employees raided by competitors if it doesn’t offer them something extra.

More horrific news here.

Apparently, Chapter 11 bankruptcy means economic protection for positively every stakeholder in Delphi EXCEPT the wage earner.

Sure it's Photoshop

But one day . . .