Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Poll Tax Back: Foer Profits!

Dearest Readers:

The big Ferrar - Trumbauer - Burkhardt debate occurred last night. And the winner was: Paul Foer.

Yes, Mr. Foer made a bundle last night. At least 200 paid $15 to hear a debate of public candidates. That's at least $3,000. For the privilege of hearing public candidates debate public issues.

Observers saw him running around with pockets stuffed with cash. Hitting on everyone who entered for money. With no receipts or accounting.

Will there be a public disclosure of how the monies were spent?


What share will Mr. Marquardt claim of it?

We don't know.

Will he finally clean up his legal problems with the Comptroller's office now that he has money?

Probably not.

Mr. Foer was well known for fashioning his blogging around those who paid him last fall during the citte elections. Those who paid, they got a pass. Those who didn't, they got excoriated.

Mr. Foer has certainly brought traditional pay-to-play politics to a new low level:

His own.

King of George

Monday, August 30, 2010

Summer's Over & Aldermen Attack

Mes Amis:

The summer is almost over and our minds have begun to clarify.

But not completely. Enough latent heat still exists to create some residual fireworks.

This afternoon things got a little hot in the Ancient Citte before the big Trumbauer - Ferrar slugfest. You see most of the Council was at a reception for volunteers of the Boards and Commissions. And words were exchanged about Josh's attack mailing against Chuck Ferrar.


Can you match the hot-head with their comment?

A. "Josh, I have disdain for your mailing."
B. "It was hateful and wrong. You are the Mayor!"
C. "It's OK Mr. Mayor. I'll take care of you."
D. (Snickers)
E. (Silence)

1. Alderman Ross Arnett
2. Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson
3. Alderman Kenny Kirby
4. City Attorney Karen Hardwick
5. Mayor Josh Cohen

If you matched in sequence (A-1, B-2, etc...), then you are correct!

Come by my polo pony's stable at Clagett Farms to collect your prize.

King of George

Trumbauer's Faked Foto

Dearest Readers:

Chris Trumbauer doesn't need Photoshop. He has the Mayor. Who will trade just about anything to get the right people in the shot.

If you see Cohen and Trumbauer with a camera - run.

King of George

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cohen's Kid's Amateur Tricks

Dearest Historics:

The King loves a sophisticated political trick or two. Like the time dear Liz tricked cousin Mary back to Scotland in 1561. And then, somehow, she lost her head.


But, as political tricks go, it has been amateur hour lately. Especially in County Council District 6, where the grizzled veteran and General George S. Patton look-alike Chuck Ferrar is battling Cohen clone Chris Trumbauer (see: Josh's Kids vs. the Veteran, 23 July).

Normally ho hum, what makes this race so note worthy is the personal role being played by Mayor Cohen himself. Exhibit A - the above scans - a letter to the King from the Mayor. He has unwisely decided to put significant portions of his political capital at risk. If Trumbauer loses, then Cohen's political clout will be minuscule.

Given the high schoolish antics of Mssr. Cohen and Trumbauer, that is seemingly more likely than ever:

-- Pictures with Chris. At least one elected official was asked by the Mayor to stop by for the announcement of Trumbauer's candidacy. So he did. And snap. A photo was taken.

Next thing he saw was his face in Trumbauer literature. With others who were there for the announcement but had not made the decision to support Trumbauer.

Then last week, apparently, the Trumbauer campaign announced that he had endorsed him. When, in fact, he had endorsed Chuck Ferrar. Hate blogger Paul Foer, in purported concert with the Trumbauer campaign, picked it up and spread it around even more. And said elected official spent rest of last week denying it.

Not good street cred for Mr. Trumbauer.

-- Don't ask the Mayor for a favor. Or a photo. On Labor Day the Elks Club on Northwest Street have a parade. And every year they ask the City to waive fees. This year, at the same time they made their request, they were asked by the Mayor to pose with Chris for a photo. So they did. And snap. A photo was taken.

Can you guess the rest? A flyer with their picture was in the African American community within days.

Did the Mayor tie the waving of fees to the photo? We don't know.

But at least one member of the Elks Club thinks so.

-- Cynthia who? There once was an Alderwoman who represented the 6th Ward named Cynthia Carter. She is African American and is, to this day, well respected by the community.

In the Mayor's office works one Cynthia Gaines. She also happens to be an African American but is not as well known as Ms. Carter. And Mayor Office Cynthia has been making calls on behalf of Mr. Trumbauer calling herself 'Cynthia'.

A factual statement, to be sure. However, many of those receiving the calls think she is Ms. Carter. And Ms. Carter has endorsed Chuck Ferrar.

Ok, just a little bit of hocus pocus.

The larger question may be the time of day Mayor Office Cynthia has been making the calls. Ms. Carter has suggested the impostor calls may be being made during work hours. Furthermore, the 'voluntary' nature of this relationship is suspect. Forget whether it is in any way appropriate for a direct report to the Mayor to be engaged in his political effort at all.

The King would really hope that Candidate Trumbauer and Mayor Cohen could step up their level of chicanery and self dealing. It's embarrassing to be this inept at political perfidy.

We have a reputation to maintain.

King of George

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mr. Marquardt's Dilemma

Dear Readers:

Mr. Marquardt has a problem. The ground has shifted under him and he doesn't know what to do. Except the same old thing.

About three years ago Landmark, the owners of The Capital after the death of Phil Merrill, tried to sell their paper. It was the height of the financing craze and before the market crash of October 2008. With $2 to $3 million in adjusted profits plus being a media property, they expected to get a good price.

A offering memorandum on The Capital was produced and a number of buyers said they looked at the deal. Landmark's expectations were purported to be $25 to $30 million. Yet no one had any interest at that price level and Landmark pulled it off the market.

Then the market crashed. Anything involving print was heavily discounted. The Internet continued to make inroads. And The Capital's operations purportedly began to hemorrhage cash.

Through draconian cuts – foisted on Annapolis by Landmark management in Norfolk - the paper returned to cash flow neutral. Since then, some advertisers have also returned, albeit in a limited way. And a semblance of order has returned to the operations.

The problem is they returned to their old business and editorial model and have hit the ceiling.

Lead by Mr. Marquardt, they have exhausted their aging white male demographic, which will continue to slowly decline. An editorial policy, to cover certain things in certain ways, has also begun to break down while unparalleled negativity has infused its pages. The policies of the paper have actually increased this trend through editorial voices like hate blogger Paul Foer and the vicious news coverage of last year's city elections.

Mr. Marquardt's own self dealing has also fed this. One example is his famous personal editorializing for third span of the Bay Bridge. If that ever came to fruition, then it would certainly significantly raise property values on the Eastern Shore.

A place Mr. Marquardt has much of his net worth tied up in real estate.

Oddly, in the middle of this, The Capital attempted an expansion into four color magazine print pieces. An ill advised attempt to compete with the 'What's Up Annapolis' franchise, it is likely to take years to get to a true break even at its current run rate. This effort is draining important resources and attention away from their core asset, The Capital, and will surely deplete additional value for Landmark.

There is little likelihood the newspaper can regain financial value – even to where it was a few short years ago – with this existing business model and management practices.

Under the leadership of Frank Batten Sr. and now Jr., Landmark has proven itself to be a deft manager of media properties time and again. It's success with creating value and liquidity at The Weather Channel was extraordinary. They get it. And they know how to do it.

Time is getting short. Landmark's manager, Mr. Marquardt, has a nearly impossible task. This, added to his own purported lack of imagination and recent financial challenges, will make the task for Landmark clear.


King of George

Cohen Outsources Annapolis

Fellow Citizens:

It's been said Britain is a nation of shop keepers. If so then Annapolis is a citte of fudge and ice cream purveyors, t-shirt hawkers and gin joint operators. A motley crew.

But they are our motley crew.

Mayor Cohen has said he wants to help them. “Buy Local” he says.

His rhetoric is not keeping up with his actions.

You see, the City has moved many of its purchases out of town. Printing, for example, is now being done in somewhere named “Millersville”. Annapolis still has three independently owned and operated print shops. At least one of which probably go out of business this year. As one did in 2009.

Even attorneys are not immune from the 'off shoring' by the Cohen Administration. The lucky – and connected - multinational law firm of DLA Piper was recently awarded a $50,000 retainer to do legal work on the Markethouse. Over a number of local firms. Including one that relocated out of downtown last year over the harassment it received by the City in trying to operate out of the Historic Core.

And, of course, the $50,000 retainer is just the beginning of the billing.

Mayor Cohen's pushing of work out and off is not limited to the work itself. He has stiffed City payments. This has included holding off owed monies to a number of small business people and sole proprietors who are due in some cases significant funds – tens of thousands. This has created an appearance of non-payment for crass political reasons. Or just incompetence.

Do we need to mention the level playing field provisions of the 2 am bar ordinance? That this Mayor fought. One group of owners had them. And profited. While others were excluded. And lost. (Some have suggested that those without often appeared to be deprived of an equal playing field for reasons of ethnic or religious background. An off chance only I'm sure.)

And now these new license applications are mired in red taped at City Planning and Zoning.

Not since the days of Mayor John '10%' Apostal has government said one thing and done another quite at this level. While shaking down and damaging businesses in Annapolis.

Yet all of this leads us to agree with the Mayor. It is a long held objective of many of us to take commerce out of the Ancient Citte. Return the streets to sheep grazing and illegal games of chance run by street corner entrepreneurs.

This capitalism thing has gone too far.

King of George

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Capital Hates You

Dearest Readers:

The good old days of the press in Annapolis are past. Jonas Green's type setting in the front room on Charles Street. After his untimely death, his wife Kathy's efforts to maintain and stabilize the ship. The Gazette was a lively publication that bound Annapolis with the scatterings of knowledge in the Atlantic world.

Yet the current crew of the The Capital, nee Gazette, are lost at sea.

They have a story line they will not deviate from: Crime in North County. Political shenanigans in Annapolis. African Americans who create social unrest. Women who are unfit to lead.

They hate her. They hate him. And, ultimately, they hate you.

Aided by incessant turnover of staff, the current crew might be 12 months thick. Reporter Josh Stewart, with a shallow knowledge of Annapolis, sees only what he is told to see. And then some. Eric Hartley cannot compensate in intellect for his grafted attitudes. They have created no network of sources or trust with those they 'interview'.

And then comes columnist and hate blogger Paul Foer. Need we say more?

They want transparency, but do nothing to create it. Closed meetings of the City Council don't deserve a notice from them. And the attempts of Former CAO Doug Smith to create a shadow government this spring never received even a note.

They are against self dealing - but this last week printed a screed from Trudy McFall advocating privatizing public housing. Ehhh, and who would have the most to gain from said privatization? Perhaps the President of Homes for America, Ms. Trudy herself?

The newspaper is now published by Mr. Tom Marquardt. Of the Eastern Shore. Not a resident of Annapolis. Or even Anne Arundel County.

Bully for him. I won't want to live in the mess he has created either.

Former Mayor Ellen Moyer returned from a tour of the US this Spring with one singular impression. The local papers she saw were not negative and bound up trying to make enemies and vilify their own communities, neighbors and readers.

In the longer run The Capital and its current owner, Landmark, have a problem. The market for hate mongering and fear is finite. Conservative white males 50+ that live in the County are getting older. And may still buy papers. But not forever.

The current staff will have moved on. Tom Marquardt will have wisely moved out of state. And The Capital itself will become another relic of the Ancient Citte.

King of George

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Got A Leak? Call 1-800-COHEN

Dearest Historics:

The King has never really concerned himself with items of a domestic nature. These include maintenance of the estate, the plantation of gardens and silencing those who need to be silenced.

So word of Mayor Cohen and City Attorney Karen Hardwick trying to stop leaks has him perplexed.

At first they took the right tack. Paying senior people to remain silent as part of a 'consulting' provision of their employment contract (see: Silence Can be Golden, April 5). Cash is so clean.

Now, the King has disclosed their closed City Council Meeting where the Mayor's inside dealing was discussed (see - Council Goes Rogue: Citizens Kicked Out, August 17). Mayor Cohen and Attorney Hardwick have decided there must be a leak. So they are trying to plug it. Including threatening one sitting Alderman.

It does not appear to have dawned on this brain trust that they have created the 'leaks' themselves. The act of firing 33 senior City employees would create some backwash. Not to mention vengefulness or ill will toward this Mayor.

Plus the crass way it was done by then CAO Doug Smith who inhabited his position in the bureaucracy illegally. And Herr Smith's continuing personal animus toward government in general. And then, gosh, it turning out the firings didn't need to be done in the first place.

So some people know some fairly specific things. And are spilling the beans.

The Mayor and Attorney Hardwick can chase Aldermen through the streets. Or threaten City employees. Or hold secret meetings to discuss the Mayor's actions.

It won't clear up the Mayor's track record. Hiring virtually his entire campaign team without the posting of jobs or interviews. Making up entirely new insider positions without following the process set out in the City Charter. And now secret meetings of the Council to discuss issues where he is personally compromised.

Mister Mayor: all the information is already out there. You want to find the ultimate source of the leak? A mirror might help you find it.

If a leak cannot be stopped then it is no longer a leak. Its water over the dam.

King of George

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pristopp Wastes an Evening

Dearest Friends:

I have always had the privilege of beating the heat in the summer. During the time of the British Raj while serving dear Aunt Vicki, the Empresses of India, I would take a short spell to an Indian hill station. For 3 to 4 months. Usually Kangala in Maharashtra or sometimes Darjeeling in West Bengal.

The altitude would do wonders. Cool aires. Cavorting with my fellow elite. Catching up on last month's news from London. Quite a relief from the heat of the plains and the vexing urban life on the Sub Continent.

Heat can be so oppressive.

Thus, I worry about the Ancient Citte.

You see it seems some residents have decided to take to the streets. And do damage to APD vehicles. Right in their own neighborhood.

So far, three vehicles have been damaged in the Newtowne 20 community alone. Windows broken, vehicles damaged. We're not sure why this is.

Chief Pristoop paid a visit to the neighborhood Tuesday night to try to find out. Unfortunately for him it involves something between Woodside Gardens and Newtowne 20. We're not sure exactly what. Nor did anyone else have an idea.

It must be the heat. So I recommend we found our own hill station for all Annapolitans.

Ferry Farms would do quite well. There's a big white house with a fantastic view that could be seized through the eminent domain powers of citte. Although slightly outside the citte, we could then annex it once seized. Like we did to those Eastporters 50 years ago when they, too, stepped out of line.

It's almost 100 feet above Bay level. Sure to get a good breeze off that.

To cool some people off.

King of George

Council Goes Rogue: Citizens Kicked Out

Fellow Historics:

Back room dealings. Smoke filled rooms. Closed Council sessions. The King is in his element. Bully!

Last night's closed City Council session was supposed to discuss the Markethouse. And it really was discussed.

But wait, there's more!

Unannounced, Mayor Josh Cohen's purported influence peddling scandal involving Eastern Waterproofing was discussed as well.

Some background is in order.

Under Ellen Moyer's tenure, the renovation of the APD Headquarters floundered. Lawsuits were threatened and contractors were told they had to make good on their contracts before they would get paid. With our public monies.

Former Central Services Director Rob Schuetz was working to come to an agreement with subcontractors. One of them, Eastern Waterproofing, purportedly agreed to submit only one more 'change order' and was rumored to owe the City approximately $500,000.

Steve Kling, the City Attorney at the time, is said to have had lawsuits ready to go just in case. So, Eastern Waterproofing hired an Attorney too, Mr. Alan Hyatt, Esq.

And, perhaps more significantly, Josh Cohen was elected Mayor.

Soon after Eastern Waterproofing was said to come back with 11 or 12 'change orders' that added close to $1,000,000 to what they claimed they are owed. Former Central Services Director Rob Schuetz is said to have disagreed with them. It violated their agreement he felt.

One of the principals on the City's side says Eastern Waterproofing purportedly told the other subcontractors to "stick with them" after Cohen's swearing in. That Rob Schuetz would be fired. That they would be free to pursue other claims against the City and split the difference for amounts they might be claiming above the original contracted for price (e.g., additional billings against the city).

This specific information was purportedly told to this City principal by one of the other APD contractors -- in front of witnesses.

And, as purportedly promised, Former Central Services Director Schuetz was fired.

Unfortunately, in January Attorney Alan Hyatt agreed with the City on the change orders and on the terms of a global settlement. The very next day Hyatt was said to be fired by Eastern Waterproofing. They then hired Garcete's (the general contractor on the job) attorney Larry Prosen.

The Cohen Administration then makes the decision - acknowledged by Mayor Cohen himself - to not pursue the ~$500,000 owed to the City but to 'no pay' the change orders. So needed cash is siphoned off the City's coffers. And Eastern Waterproofing still pursues additional claims through Attorney Prosen worth $1,000,000.

Oh, and Project Manager Doug Massengale is let go 1 July. A trifling detail and another wagging mouth closed.

You see, one of the owners of Eastern Waterproofing, Jeff Gray, the brother of a life long school chum of the Mayor's. The Mayor has never denied this connection. But he claims this life long friend had no special influence with him.


The issue really is: what is the true story?

On one side you have three people with inside knowledge, some of whom are talking, about what went seriously wrong and the swagged hundreds of thousands of dollars to Mayor Cohen's chum. These folks are: Former Central Services Director Rob Schuetz, Former City Attorney Steve Kling and Former City Project Manager Doug Massengale. (Note the frequent use of the word "Former"?)

And on the other side you have a story from the Mayor. Which we cannot report since it was told in closed session last night to Council members only.

The City has a process. To discuss the ethical - or unethical - behavior of the Mayor in closed session is not only wrong. It is illegal.

The City has an Ethics Board. The City Council does not, nor should it, have the power to investigate ethics charges against one of its own, even the Mayor. Especially in closed session.

The Council strayed way off course last night.

But, you see, the King approves. This is simply how things are done in the Ancient Citte. After 350 years, our ways are too stuck in the past to let anything change our behavior.

It is good to go! Rogue that is.

King of George

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Shrink of George: Du Bist Krank!

Meine Kinder:

I am not King of George.

I am his psychoanalyst. And I have asked for this space from the King to perform an important public service.

We need to talk about your fixation with Herr Paul Foer.


The King provides discourse on political perfidy. And you trash Mr. Foer. The King comments about on the sell out of the city. And you trash Mr. Foer. And now the King discloses Alderman Kirby's plan to send our dogs to war. And you still trash Mr. Foer.

You are clearly sick.

It is clearly a case of projection. Just because Mr. Foer compares Hitler to County Exec Leopold. Or hates African Americans. Or represents Landmark Communications in hate filled emails to others.

It is all really your problem.

So welcome to my virtual psychotherapy session. Costing you nothing. Yet.

It's your turn to talk it out. So close your eyes. Pretend you are in meine office, group therapy, and telling us all about your childhood traumas.

That involve Mr. Paul Foer.

The Shrink of George

Friday, August 6, 2010

Dogs for Afganistan

Fellow Historics:

Word has reached the King's ears today that has him most perturbed.

It appears Aldermen Kenneth A. Kirby is floating a trial balloon. He is suggesting that another indignity be foisted on the suffering residents of the Historic Core. And this one is targeted upon the most vulnerable amongst us: our pets.

You see, Alderman Kirby's bleeding heart has made him aware of something. That US servicemen and women are being put in harm's way. While the rest of us languish in luxury back here in the states.

His solution to this problem is to draft the dogs of Annapolis. But not just any dogs. The dogs of Ward One.

"Why" he explained "should the young people of our nation risk their life and limb when the spoiled and pampered pets of the Ward Oners get a deferment?" He envisions the dogs of Ward One sniffing out car bombs, staffing check points and running needed supplies and ammo through Taliban controlled territory.

And, he stated, if you don't want to volunteer your dog then it will be drafted.

Of course, Alderman Kirby, dream on. The elite of the Core will simply buy up the mongrels of Wards 2 through 8 and send them over in dear Fido's place. Like we did during the War of Northern Aggression when we paid others to fight for us.

The dogs of Ward One shall remain pampered and well tended to.

Now, as far as the cats of the Core are concerned...

King of George

Monday, August 2, 2010

Elliott Out: City's Future Uncertain

Dearest Friends:

Shocking news in the Ancient Citte. M. Elliott has been ousted.

Long know for public service and contributions to the citte in so many ways, the ouster will have a profound impact. In fact, it is not at all clear that the citte can sustain another body blow of this nature.

Diane Elliott served on the Recreation Advisory Board and was well known to all. She oversaw the opening of the Roger 'Pip' Moyer Center and the growth in many rec programs cherished by all Annapolitans. Her resignation was announced over the weekend.

In a related item, her husband Tim has also resigned as the citte's Finance Director. A replacement is expected to be quickly named with no interruption to city business.

King of George

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Wingnuts Invade City Hall. Again.

Fellow Historics:

Last Thursday night all the usual suspects were out. Crazy as ever.

Of course the King likes a few court jesters. It lubricates the proceedings and makes clear to all that, yes indeed, the Ancient Citte is a weird and wonderful place.

So over the bridge from Eatsport and beyond they came. Led by former delegate & perpetual candidate Herb McMillian and treacherous Trudy McFall. Beyond city government, environmental programs and finances in general. They know 'fiscal responsibility' .

Yes, of course.

So let's review their own curriculum vitae.

Mr. McMillian turns out to be the one rumored to have 'fiscal responsibility' in spreading $12,000 around the African American community. One wonders if Republican campaign contributors really know how their monies are being spent. Unfortunately for Mr. McMillian, the person spreading the rumor is the the person on the other end of his phone call. So not much deny ability there.

One wonders if the local Republican ranks have been so decimated that there is no one left to act as bag man. Our own version of disgraced former Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich. Spreading the cash around personally. With no insulation from prosecutors or others who might not want potential elected officials performing payoffs.

Bully for Mr. McMillian!

The other person of 'fiscal responsibility' is treacherous Trudy McFall. Yes, the same Trudy McFall who The Washington Post Reported a few years back spiffed over $300,000 in public monies to a friend. While she was issuing public housing bonds for the State of Maryland. With our monies. [Goto Washingtonpost.com].

Of course dear Trudy took monies from out of state for her run for mayor and then spread money around town like a drunken St. Johnnie in a sad attempt to try to curry favor. [Mr. McMillian - learning anything?] And, while chair of HACA, they failed the HUD inspection. Especially the financial components. And she was forced to resign.


Seems like the crew to take advice on 'fiscal responsibility' from.

King of George