County Exec Says 10 percent Firefighter Cuts

In the Washington Examiner, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett said Tuesday about one in 10 county firefighters would lose his or her job if voters reject a new ambulance fee as put on the November ballot as a referendum issue. (That referendum to be on the ballot was court ordered, by the way.)

87 of them at risk of losing their jobs since there are 20 vacancies. Ironically, there is an argument that residents may reconsider dialing 911 if they expect to be charged a fee.

Well, I hate to say it, but everyone had better take a look at this. While it didn’t happen here in Maryland, someone had better ask – will it?

At what cost is it to deny such services, let alone play upon people’s fears? And how much of a loss should citizens suffer due to an arbitrary decision?

Particularly in this time-frame of irresponsible overspending and careless governmental budgeting?

California Stop Sign Cameras

So far, just there???

After assuming that only wild creatures would witness her car roll through a remote stop sign, Wilson was stunned weeks later to get four tickets in the mail totaling $700. A hidden camera had captured her infractions on video.

Get on your guard folks, other states are sure to follow.

Much to our dismay.

UPDATED: Gun Owner Licensing

UPDATE: Ammoland has more details involving these pending bills.


I am replacing this post completely with current information that was received in the email today from Maryland Shall Issue

Maryland General Assembly Introduces Gun Safety Act of 2010
– Or the Scarlet G for Gunowner Bill of 2010

Senator Brian Frosh (D), District 16 Montgomery County and Chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, and Delegate Sandy Rosenberg (D), District 41, Baltimore City have introduced the Gun Safety Act of 2010.

This proposed legislation would fundamentally change the face of gun ownership in the State of Maryland as no bill has in the last 10 years.

Now that the text of the bills have been released, we can give you our full response.

HB820 and SB645

Highlights :

1. An individual with more than one DUI conviction may not purchase a firearm within 5 years after an alcohol-related conviction.

2. Maryland State Police shall inspect each state-licensed gun dealer at least once every two years to ensure compliance with gun law. Cost of inspection shall be covered by licensing fees, which may be increased as necessary.

3. Gun dealers shall provide records of their inventories and sales to aid State Police inspectors.

The records shall include:
(I) the name and address of each person from whom the dealer acquires a firearm and to whom the dealer sells or otherwise disposes of the firearm;
(II) a precise description including the make, model, caliber, and serial number of each firearm acquired; and
(III) the date of each acquisition, sale, or other disposition.

4. Law enforcement officials may use body-wires to collect evidence against gun traffickers and would be traffickers.

5. Penalties for illegal sale or transfer of firearms increased from 1 year, $1,000 to 5 years, $10,000.

6. Ignorance of the requirements to conduct background checks of firearm purchasers shall not be a defense for individuals charged with illegally selling guns.

7. Individuals buying handguns shall secure a handgun purchasing license before acquiring a handgun. Licenses may be issued by local police or Maryland State Police. Police shall secure fingerprints, verify IDs, and conduct background checks. Licensing fees shall be set at a level to cover costs.

(the following is paraphrased in places)

(A) A regulated firearms dealer or person may only sell or transfer a handgun to another person if the purchaser or transferee presents to the seller or transferror a valid Maryland driver’s license with an approved handgun purchase designation or photographic identification card with an approved handgun purchase designation issued to the purchaser or transferee by the Motor Vehicle Administration.

(B) A person may only purchase or receive a handgun if the person:
(1) Possesses a valid Maryland driver’s license or state issued ID as outlined in (A).

(C) The MVA shall issue a driver’s license with an approved handgun purchase designation or photographic ID with an approved handgun purchase designation.

(D) In order to obtain the required driver’s license designation or state issued ID card an applicant must submit the following to a state or local law enforcement agency.

(1) A completed application on a form provided by the Secretary (of the Maryland State Police)
(2) A non-refundable fee set by the Secretary
(3) Proof of satisfactory completion of a firearms safety training course approved by the Secretary
(4) A complete set of the applicant’s legible fingerprints to be taken by a state or local law enforcement agency
(5) Any other identification or documentation required by the secretary
(6) A statement made by the applicant under the penalty of perjury that the applicant is not prohibited under federal or state law from possessing a handgun

(G) Provides for the revocation of the handgun approval designation and the surrender of the driver’s license or state issued photographic ID if the Secretary determines that the licensee no longer meets the qualifications set forth in the rest of the bill.

8. Felons illegally possessing any firearms shall be subject to a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.


Our analysis, corresponds to items under “Highlights”above:

1. The penalties for the DUI convictions are not usually as harsh as the 5-year prohibition on firearms ownership proposed by this bill.

2. An obvious ploy to drive up dealer costs and force them to bear the financial burden for a new level of bureaucracy in the hopes of bankrupting them. The open-ended fees are blatantly punitive. This provision of the bill will also create opportunities to revoke or suspend dealers’ licenses for minor record keeping errors.

3. Obtaining dealers’ records of sales will allow the Maryland State Police to create de facto registration lists of all firearms sold in Maryland. They can then start cross referencing your purchases of ammunition and gun supplies against their registration list and use them to continue their midnight raids. We saw this with the ammunition logs in the past that we have all but eliminated. There’s no indication that they will not continue to abuse their power with this either. The Maryland State Police has demonstrated that they can not be trusted with this sort of power.

4. “Would-be traffickers”. That is you. In their eyes, every gun owner in this state is a “would-be” trafficker. Do you relish the thought of there being state agents tapping your gun club meetings, gun shops and shooting ranges? This will give them basically unlimited license to use a wire to record your conversations if you fit their definition of a “would-be” trafficker. The section of Maryland code where this provision is contained lumps us in with murderers, rapists, sex offenders, pornographers and kidnappers. Furthermore, let’s also not forget that the Maryland State Police has already been implicated in illegal surveillance of peace activists and death penalty opponents.

5. This sounds great, except that provision #6 above would lump the citizen who accidentally runs afoul of the law in with the hardened criminal who deliberately seeks to circumvent the law. Case in point: A person moves to Maryland from another state where face to face sales of all firearms are permitted and decides to sell part of their lawfully purchased handgun or Maryland regulated long gun collection after moving here. This person, unaware of our convoluted laws, now faces 5 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine just as a person actively engaged in the deliberately illegal sale of guns would be. While ignorance of the law is never an absolute defense, this provision would seemingly prohibit it from even being used as a mitigating factor in a defense.

6. See preceding comment.

7. This is the nuclear option in this bill. It essentially brands all purchasers of handguns (and we would presume regulated long guns) with a Scarlet G for Gun Owner on their drivers license. You will have to jump through an entirely new set of hoops just to be approved for jumping through the hoops that we already have to navigate in order to purchase a handgun. We would expect this to also be applied to regulated long guns.

Where to start on this aspect of the bill?

This is proposing that anyone wishing to purchase a handgun actually have a designation added to their driver’s license that labels them as being licensed to purchase that firearm. This means that you have essentially been branded for being a gun owner.

This should be an outrageous affront to any civil liberty minded citizen even aside from the gun issue.

There have been numerous times in the history of the world where citizens have been singled-out for what they thought, what they believed, what God they prayed to or didn’t pray to, or who they associated with and it has never ended well. Whether it be a yellow star, a tattoo or a special designation on a government-issued ID, governments have time and time again demonstrated that they simply can not be trusted when it comes to singling out designated undesirables from the general population.

All rhetoric aside, this bill is fraught with pragmatic dangers for the gun owners of Maryland as it increases not only the bureaucratic difficulties of lawfully purchasing a handgun, but also increases the financial burden for these citizens. How many Maryland Families will be deprived of their right to protect themselves because they do not possess the means to meet this new financial burden?

In response to item (D) above, we raise the following specific concerns:

Section D will be a de facto handgun ban for huge swaths of the Maryland population. The Maryland State Police are only accepting fingerprints done on the LiveScan system that can, with one exception in Baltimore, only be done at a few privately-owned locations across the state. Citizens without the means to access one of those locations, either due to geographic distance, financial hardship, disability or a combination of the above would be out of luck. Not clearly defining either the forms required or the costs associated with the applications gives the Secretary free reign to make the process as expensive as possible and gives the Secretary unlimited power to dissect our personal lives as they see fit.


Commentary:

The Scarlet G for Gun Owner aspect of the bill alone, if passed, would most likely bring about a landmark lawsuit against the State of Maryland because of the blatant effort to create so much financial and administrative hardship for citizens to exercise a Constitutional right that it equates with a government led effort to ban the individual possession of handguns. Per the usual modus operandi of the anti-gun wing of the Maryland General Assembly, we can expect that they will expand this to first include all firearms and then all ammunition.

In a time of an unprecedented financial crisis for governments and citizens alike, Senator Frosh is proposing a monstrous addition to the Maryland State Police’s workload and then asking cash strapped citizens to back it so that they can be granted the privilege of exercising a fundamental right. In addition, such a law, if passed, would certainly be challenged in court, forcing the state to spend even more of its limited resources trying to defend indefensible regulations. Given that Senator Frosh is rumored to have his eye on the Senate Presidency, we have to question the judgment of an elected official who ignores the budgetary exigencies of both the State and citizenry in the name advancing a personal radical anti-gun agenda.

We must unleash a response to this abomination unlike any in the history of our community. The damage resulting from the passage of this bill will set back our efforts for decades. We must flood their emails, their snail mail boxes, their fax machines and shut down their phone service. MSI can only provide you with the information and the tools that you need to stop this. It is up to each of us as individuals to take the fight to them and stop this before it ever gets heard in committee.

Snail mail letters are best and can easily be done with the Activist’s Tools.
Phone calls are good.
Emails are easy and a good follow up to the above actions.


Here’s what we need you to do :
•Contact your Senator and let them know that you oppose SB645.
•Contact the members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and let them know that you oppose SB645.
•Contact your delegates and let them know that you oppose HB820.
•Contact the members of the House Judiciary Committee and let them know that you oppose HB820.
•Contact the press. Here is one resource.
•All of the information you need in order to easily make mail contacts can be found in the Activist’s Tools below.
•Remember to stick to the facts when making your contacts. Avoid over emotional rhetoric that only fuels their stereotypes of our community.


Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Phone Numbers
1-800-492-7122 (toll free)

ext. 3124 Brian Frosh – Chair
ext. 3697 Lisa Gladden – Vice Chair
ext. 3648 Jim Brochin
ext. 3134 Jennie Forehand
ext. 3683 Larry Haines
ext. 3158 Nancy Jacobs
ext. 3575 Alex Mooney
ext. 3092 Anthony Muse
ext. 3634 Jamie Raskin
ext. 3658 Bryan Simonaire
ext. 3587 Norman Stone

House Judiciary Committee Phone Numbers
(410) 841-3488,Delegate Joseph Vallario – Chairman (D-27A)
(410) 841-3297 Delegate Sandy Rosenberg – Co-Chair (D-41) Lead sponsor of HB820
(410) 841-3291 Delegate Curtis Anderson (D-43)
(410) 841-3046 Delegate Benjamin Barnes (D-21)
(410) 841-3283 Delegate Jill Carter (D-41)
(410) 841-3189 Delegate Frank Conaway Jr. (D-40)
(410) 841-3052 Delegate Kathleen Dumais (D-15)
(410) 841-3047 Delegate Don Dwyer Jr. (D-31)
(410) 841-3793 Delegate William Frank (R-42)
(410) 841-3698 Delegate J.B. Jennings (R-7)
(410) 841-3404 Delegate Kevin Kelly (D-1B)
(410) 841-3485 Delegate Benjamin Kramer (D-19)
(410) 841-3649 Delegate Susan Lee (D-16)
(410) 841-3101 Delegate Gerron Levi (D-23A)
(410) 841-3272 Delegate Susan McComas (R-35B)
(410) 841-3406 Delegate Tony McConkey (R-33A)
(410) 841-3340 Delegate Victor Ramirez (D-47)
(410) 841-3526 Delegate Todd Schuler (D-8)
(410) 841-3037 Delegate Luiz Simmons (D-17)
(410) 841-3555 Delegate Michael Smigiel Sr. (R-36)
(410) 841-3210 Delegate Kriselda Valderrama (D-26)
(410) 841-3130 Delegate Jeffrey Waldstreicher (D-18)


Activist Tools
Quick Email Tool
Find Your Delegate
Pre-formatted Mailing Labels for House Judiciary Committee
How to create mail merge letters using above labels

UPDATE: Traffic Cameras

This is just an FYI for any interested on this topic and what is happening throughout the country. Let’s look at L.A. for right now.


L.A. County red-light violation fines have jumped 65% to $446, Times review finds
February 4, 2010 | 7:14 am
In less than eight years, fines for red-light traffic violations in Los Angeles County have jumped nearly 65% from an average of $271 to $446.

With traffic school fees, the total now exceeds $500. Ever-vigilant photo enforcement programs run by nearly 30 agencies across the county have added a new degree of efficiency to catching violators and capturing revenue to fund a variety of government programs.

In November alone, Los Angeles County’s Superior Court system processed payments on an estimated 13,000 red-light camera tickets. And local agencies with camera systems generated nearly $1.6 million in revenue, with an even larger portion of the red-light camera fines going to a combination of state and judicial programs, according to the estimates obtained by The Times.

Critics say the fines have become excessive and mainly a means for camera companies and cities to raise money. But some police and traffic officials, as well as motorists, contend the penalties properly reflect the serious injuries, death and property damage that can result from drivers running red lights.

Los Angeles’ red-light traffic camera program, which officials report netted more than $6 million last year after expenses, could be significantly expanded under a new contract to be negotiated over the next 14 months.

Although adding more cameras could offer a welcome boost to city revenue in the midst of a fiscal crisis, officials say any expansion will be based on safety considerations.

No goal has been set, but internal City Hall discussions have included the possibility of adding cameras to blocks of eight intersections at a time and eventually doubling the overall reach of the program to 64 intersections, Los Angeles Police Department officials told The Times.


Still think it isn’t about the revenue?


UPDATE: A Tennessee town has to get rid of its red light cameras because they aren’t making money. How about that.


David Davis
Managing Editor
Sunday, Feb 07, 2010

The Red Light Enforcement Program will end March 31. Traffipax notified the city of Cleveland it would decommission five cameras such as this one at Raider Drive and Keith Street because it was losing money.

In a letter, Traffipax has announced plans to terminate its agreement with the city of Cleveland to operate the Red Light Enforcement Program. The cameras will be deactivated by March 31, according to a letter to City Manager Janice Casteel.
According to the letter dated Jan. 29, both the city of Cleveland and Traffipax have operated the sites at a financial loss. The plan is to decommission the five traffic cameras before March 31. Citation data will continue to be delivered to the city in order to continue collecting unpaid fines.

UPDATED*2: Expense is EZ

Today is the day (That was July 1st.)

MTA starts charging customers a monthly fee of $1.50, $40 for replacement transponders if lost or broken, and a $25 deposit for new customers.

If you have a toll violation – that administrative fee goes up from $15 to $25.

Wow. Don’t speed through the toll booths now.

Update: According to Fox 45’s Jeff Abell, in the past two weeks 11,000 subscribers have dropped their subscriptions. Yet, the Authority claims they have more subscribers than they ever had.

But, didn’t they say before that they were instituting these new fees because they were losing toll revenues?

And guess who doesn’t pay tolls? All elected officials apparently get their transponders for free and pay nothing in the way of tolls. So what pot of money does pay for these instances??

Say what? Just how is the Authority losing revenues? Explain this again?? Sheesh.

Update*2:
We knew it. Here’s the results of July’s accounts.

Money Back If Not Satisfied

Think that will be the case if your application is turned down?

Ask the Baltimore Fire Department.

Can you afford to lose $10 or $30? In this economy?