December 8, 2009

Analysis: Who’s in the room, and who’s not?

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There are always familiar faces at the holiday party of Davis, Agnor, Rappaport & Skalny, the lakeside Columbia law firm that represents MarylandReporter.com. Delegates, senators, County Council members, old friends, new acquaintances. But who was that couple at the elevator? The Salahis are in the room, Tareq in tux, and Michaele in sari, as they were wearing the night they crashed the White House. Lots of us got our picture taken with the famous-for-being-famous couple, including Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, dressing down for the occasion.

Not in the room, Part II: Outgoing Montgomery County Council President Phil Andrews had some interesting observations as he left the gavel behind last week.

“It is just as important for the Council to think about who is not in the room, who is not at the table, as who is. We have to look out for and represent their interests as well.

“So who is typically not seated at the table of government? Who do not have lobbyists to represent them?

“Very few people who are poor testify before the County Council. Very few people who work two or three jobs so they are not poor testify before the County Council. Very few people with severe disabilities …. very few young people …. Very few new immigrants…. And very few people who are primarily concerned about the cost of government testify before the Council. We need to remember all of these people as we make decisions that affect them.”

Some of that last group not in the room, people “primarily concerned about the cost of government” may include MoCo’s 123,000 Republicans (and 110,000 unaffiliated), who now hold no local or state offices in Maryland’s largest county.

Not in the room, Part III: Ex-Gov. Bob Ehrlich was making a joke at the expense Senate Minority Leader Allan Kittleman at a fundraiser for Kyle Lorton, an ex-Terp football player hoping to challenge Democratic Sen. Jim Robey.

Ehrlich was talking about the need to gain the five seats in the State Senate to bring Republicans to the magic 19, the number needed to maintain a filibuster in the 47-member senate. With only 14 Republicans now, “Allan is not just outside the room, he doesn’t know where the room is,” Ehrlich quipped. “Nineteen gets Allan in the room.”

Republicans are predicting that come 2011, after next year’s election, there will be another round of tax increases. “They can’t do any of it if 19 show up,” Ehrlich said. “Nineteen makes [Senate President] Mike Miller invite Allan Kittleman into the room.”