Questions For Gov. Martin O’Malley (And For All Marylanders)

Posted on December 6, 2009


Martin O'Malley and family on inauguration day in Annapolis, January 2007.

Gov. Martin O’Malley will effectively kick off his 2010 re-election campaign with an online townhall meeting at 8 p.m. Wednesday, and he has asked all Marylanders to submit questions.

Let’s skip the softball questions. Let’s play hardball (apologies to Chris Matthews).

  1. Many Americans hold government and politics in “minimum high regard.” People perceive America’s politics and systems, whether in Washington, Annapolis, or on Wall Street, to be corrupt, dysfunctional, incompetent, and perhaps worst of all, arrogant. The president of the U.S. and the governor of Maryland are limited to two, four-year terms in office. Do you support TERM LIMITS for all members of the General Assembly, and for the Comptroller and Attorney General? (Hint: The Democratic Party in Maryland has a vested interest in protecting the status quo of unlimited tenure for public officials. I believe term limits may be a deciding issue in 2010.)
  2. The Smart Growth environmental concept took hold first in Maryland, and has spread throughout the U.S. Unfortunately, Smart Growth has come off the rails in Maryland. If it were not for the collapse of the housing and credit bubbles, developers would be busy paving over Maryland’s remaining farmland. What will you do to protect Maryland’s farms, especially the farms on the Eastern Shore? (Note: Consumption of locally grown food has become a value for many people.)
  3. We are proud to have elected the first black president in American history. But it would be folly to pretend that a serious racial divide does not remain in America. The racial divide is of particular concern in Maryland, where African-Americans are approximately 30 percent of the population, White-European-Americans are about 65 percent, Hispanic Americans are about six percent, and Asians are about 5 percent. Maryland continues to be largely segregated geographically (by neighborhood and by region). This will not change in the near future. People, both blacks and whites, seem to feel more comfortable choosing to be with people who are similar to themselves in ethnicity, color, and economic status, whether it is in the college cafeteria or in the neighborhood. Fortunately, integration is more the norm in our workplaces. But poverty, unemployment, and failing schools continue to be more prevalent in black neighborhoods than white. I am afraid that there remains a deep well of resentment, distrust, and even anger, on both sides of the racial divide. This is a question that has troubled America, one way or another, throughout our history. What can we do to ease racial tension and promote social justice?
  4. Education is a top priority for most Maryland voters. However, despite all our efforts, public schools continue to provide an inferior education, compared to private schools, and compared to schools in other educated countries. The truth is that many of our young people are falling behind in learning, compared to young people in other countries. This is not acceptable. Do you support merit pay for teachers? (Hint: Not every teacher is doing a good job, but the teachers’ unions have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo of job security and equal pay for all teachers. Is the Democratic Party owned by the teachers’ unions?)
  5. A Baltimore Sun investigation after the 2001 terrorist attacks found security at the Port of Baltimore to be so porous as to be almost nonexistent. Now ownership of the port has changed hands. Has security at the port improved? What will you do to ensure the security of the Port of Baltimore?

I am a Democrat and I strongly support Martin O’Malley. In my opinion, Gov. O’Malley has more talent, ability, and energy than any other two governors in the country. And it’s not only my opinion. Martin O’Malley was named 2009 Governor of the Year by Governing magazine.

From those who have received much talent, much work will be required. And I think Democrats in Maryland need to hold the Democratic Party accountable. It’s not about what’s good for the party. It’s about what’s good for the people of Maryland.

— Bernie Hayden