Peter Writes Back To Mike

Got a copy of a letter from Comptroller Peter Franchot today, responding to yesterday’s love note from Senate President Mike Miller.

The tone is intermittently pleasant, nasty, hectoring, and threatening. As before, here’s a series of photos of the whole thing.

My only editorial comment is that after two letters from Franchot and one from Miller, it’s kind of hilariously amusing to read that NOW he “call[s] for an end to this cycle of public correspondence.” What would the rest of us do for entertainment? Not to mention blog traffic.

Anyway, here you go.



EXCLUSIVE: Senator Miller Writes A Letter

Maryland Scramble has been provided with a copy of a blistering letter from Senate President Mike Miller to Comptroller Peter Franchot. And what a letter it is. If ever a letter could leave burn marks on its way to the recipient, this is that letter. 

Miller’s letter is a response to Franchot’s letter to Miller and House Speaker Mike Busch dated December 11, which I found here. The letter, and the first few paragraphs of Miller’s response, is about Franchot’s ongoing battle with Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz over air conditioning in some Baltimore County schools (subtext: word is that both Franchot and Kamenetz are eyeing the 2018 gubernatorial primary with enormous interest).

After a brief response to Franchot on the air conditioning issue, Miller’s letter then turns vastly more hostile (the vitriol between Miller and Franchot is nothing new) and of course entertaining for those of us who are not the target of the Senate President’s wrath. Excerpts don’t do justice to it – it’s like a music album that has to be heard in its entirety to be fully appreciated. Here’s the rest of the letter:

Pass the popcorn, please. The 2016 legislative session is gonna be fun with a capital F. And don’t even get me started on 2018.

Peak Ad Hominem

As attentive readers of this establishment know, there’s a big fight going on over the issue of alcohol distribution in Montgomery County. The chief advocate for change has been Comptroller Peter Franchot, who is advocating for a bill to open up the County’s monopoly on alcohol distribution. Among the many opponents of such a change is MCGEO, the union representing the Department of Liquor Control’s over 300 unionized employees.

There are arguments on both sides of the issue – I’m squarely on the side of retaining the current system, with modifications to allow for private distributors to be part of the special order process. The County Council, the County Council, the union, and others agree. On the other side are several state legislators and the Comptroller who are pushing different versions of a privatization bill in the state legislature, as well as some restaurant and bar owners.

Peter Franchot’s chief of staff, Len Foxwell, decided yesterday that he wasn’t interested in a debate on the issues. He launched an attack on Gino Renne, the head of MCGEO, regarding an incident from more than five years ago that had and has no bearing whatsoever on the alcohol issue.


Ad hominem

An ad hominem (Latin for “to the man” or “to the person”, short for argumentum ad hominem, is an attack on an argument made by attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person making the argument, rather than attacking the argument directly. When used inappropriately, it is a logical fallacy in which a claim or argument is dismissed on the basis of some irrelevant fact or supposition about the author or the person being criticized.

Foxwell’s Facebook post is one of the purest forms of ad hominem attack that I’ve seen in many years of state and county politics.

Let’s note that Foxwell isn’t some guy on the street – he’s Peter Franchot’s chief of staff. So this was an attack authorized by one of Maryland’s four statewide elected officials on the leader of a union who represents more than 300 workers with a personal stake in the outcome of this debate. Foxwell thinks it’s OK to marginalize the interests of workers with good jobs and good pay by scoring cheap and irrelevant political points. Moreover, he clearly believes that discussing the merits of the issue isn’t as important as a good ad hominem assault.

Not sure if Foxwell is a lawyer or not, but I am, and I recognize a guy with a bad argument – and who knows it – when I see one. Old trial lawyer saying: “When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. When the law is on your side, pound the law. And when neither one is on your side, pound the table.”

Len Foxwell pounded the table yesterday. Remember that when you’re told what a great idea alcohol privatization is. If the primary proponent of an idea abandons the merits of that idea when the conversation has barely begun, that ought to tell you something.

Irony Abounds

Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. Submitted without comment.

Montgomery County Del. Peter Franchot launched a campaign for state comptroller yesterday, saying voters should oust incumbent William Donald Schaefer because the former governor and Baltimore mayor has aligned himself too closely with Republicans.

“It is now November. Halloween has come and gone. The time for masks is over. William Donald Schaefer is a Republican,” Franchot said during an announcement speech in Fells Point attended by a handful of supporters. “I am running as the real Democrat in this race.”

A 19-year member of the General Assembly, Franchot, 57, said he hopes to raise $1 million for a primary challenge to Schaefer, who he said has helped steer the state on an unacceptable course by frequently siding with Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to form a majority on the three-member state Board of Public Works.

The board, comprising the comptroller, the governor and the treasurer – who is appointed by the Assembly – authorizes most state spending, buys preservation land and approves contracts.

“For the past three years, Governor Ehrlich and Comptroller Schaefer have taken us in the wrong direction, down the wrong path,” Franchot said. “Now our state is at a crossroads, and we have a decision to make: Do we take the high road, the Democratic road, the road of peace, prosperity and personal freedom? Or do we take the low road, the Republican road, the road of intolerance, inequity and injustice?”