Hil­lary Clin­ton for pres­i­dent

Baltimore Sun - - FROM PAGE ONE -

Rarely has the choice for pres­i­dent been this clear. Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton brings decades of ex­pe­ri­ence in gov­ern­ment, well-thought-through po­si­tions on the most press­ing is­sues fac­ing the na­tion, a steady tem­per­a­ment and clear com­pas­sion for so­ci­ety’s most vul­ner­a­ble. Repub­li­can Don­ald Trump, by con­trast, has no ex­pe­ri­ence in pub­lic ser­vice and dis­plays a will­ful ig­no­rance of for­eign and do­mes­tic af­fairs. He has used his cam­paign to stoke anger and fear through mock­ery and bul­ly­ing. He rou­tinely den­i­grates women and mi­nori­ties. He is eas­ily pro­voked and mer­cu­rial. To those who con­sider both can­di­dates to be flawed, di­vi­sive fig­ures, we say this: To the ex­tent that Ms. Clin­ton is di­vi­sive, it is a byprod­uct of decades spent in the po­lit­i­cal arena at­tempt­ing to trans­late her val­ues into pol­icy; Mr. Trump courts di­vi­sive­ness as a tac­tic to fur­ther his am­bi­tion. Ween­dorse Ms. Clin­ton.

Van Hollen for Se­nate

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Mont­gomery County Demo­crat, is the clear choice to suc­ceed Sen. Bar­bara Mikul­ski. He was a star in Mary­land’s leg­is­la­ture, and he has quickly moved up the ranks in Congress since he was first elected in 2002. He brings deep ex­pe­ri­ence in both for­eign and do­mes­tic pol­icy, and in par­tic­u­lar on is­sues re­lated to the fed­eral bud­get. His ef­forts to ne­go­ti­ate bud­get deals with the Repub­li­cans have been enor­mously im­por­tant for Mary­land’s econ­omy. His Repub­li­can op­po­nent, Del. Kathy Szeliga, is a tal­ented can­di­date and would bring a valu­able per­spec­tive as a small-busi­ness owner to the Se­nate. But on is­sues like tax pol­icy, the en­vi­ron­ment, pub­lic safety, the econ­omy, ed­u­ca­tion and health care, Mr. Van Hollen’s views align far more closely with Se­na­tor Mikul­ski’s — and with those of most Mary­land vot­ers. We en­dorse Mr. Van Hollen.

For state Ques­tion 1

The lone statewide bal­lot ques­tion this year is a pro­posed amend­ment to Mary­land’s con­sti­tu­tion deal­ing with the re­place­ment of the at­tor­ney gen­eral or comptroller if there is a va­cancy in one of those two of­fices. It does two things. First, it en­sures that if a va­cancy oc­curs early enough in a four-year term, vot­ers will get the chance to elect a new AG or comptroller in a spe­cial elec­tion held con­cur­rently with a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. That gives vot­ers a say in who holds a statewide of­fice with­out the prob­lems of ex­pense and low turnout as­so­ci­ated with off-year elec­tions. Sec­ond, the amend­ment re­quires that the gover­nor make an in­terim ap­point­ment for either of­fice of some­one from the same party as the per­son who left of­fice. Cur­rently, the gover­nor could re­place a Demo­crat with a Repub­li­can or vice versa. The leg­is­la­ture made a cor­re­spond­ing change in how U.S. sen­a­tors are re­placed, but be­cause the rules for re­plac­ing an at­tor­ney gen­eral or comptroller are laid out in the state con­sti­tu­tion, this change re­quires voter ap­proval. We rec­om­mend a vote for Ques­tion 1.

Anne Arun­del bal­lot ques­tions

Ques­tion A elim­i­nates the re­quire­ment to up­date the county code ev­ery 10 years. It is now up­dated con­tin­u­ally as new laws are passed, so the rule is un­nec­es­sary. We rec­om­mend a vote for Ques­tion A.

Ques­tion B speeds up the ef­fec­tive date for ap­pro­pri­a­tions made af­ter the an­nual bud­get is en­acted. It al­lows more flex­i­bil­ity to adapt to chang­ing cir­cum­stances dur­ing a fis­cal year. We rec­om­mend a vote for Ques­tion B.

Ques­tion C would al­low the county to avoid com­pet­i­tive bid­ding on con­tracts for goods or ser­vices ex­pected to cost $100,000 or less. The cur­rent thresh­old is $25,000. Though the change would al­low many con­tracts to be ex­e­cuted more quickly, it would put Arun­del out of line with other Bal­ti­more-area coun­ties and could lead to higher prices, lower com­pe­ti­tion and less trans­parency for gov­ern­ment con­tracts. We rec­om­mend a vote against Ques­tion C.

Ques­tion D would re­quire the county ex­ec­u­tive to hold two pub­lic hear­ings be­fore he or she in­tro­duces the an­nual bud­get bill. We see no down­side to re­quir­ing the ex­ec­u­tive to hear from the tax­pay­ers whose money he or she is propos­ing to spend. We rec­om­mend a vote for Ques­tion D.

Ques­tion E changes the ti­tle of the county’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment chief. It’s a bit of leg­isla­tive house­keep­ing. We rec­om­mend a vote for Ques­tion E.

Ques­tion F will al­low the county to ap­pro­pri­ate funds for cap­i­tal projects im­me­di­ately when a new bud­get year starts. Due to quirks of the coun­cil cal­en­dar and the leg­isla­tive process, such projects are now de­layed for as long as six months. We rec­om­mend a vote for Ques­tion F.

Bal­ti­more City bal­lot ques­tions

Ques­tions A-D are rou­tine bor­row­ing for af­ford­able hous­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton’s ex­pe­ri­ence, tem­per­a­ment, val­ues and ded­i­ca­tion make her the clear choice for pres­i­dent. ef­forts, school con­struc­tion and ren­o­va­tion, parks and recre­ation fa­cil­i­ties and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment ef­forts. They are backed by the full faith and credit of the city and are not to be con­fused with tax in­cre­ment fi­nanc­ing bonds like those re­cently au­tho­rized for the Port Cov­ing­ton de­vel­op­ment. We rec­om­mend a vote for ques­tions A-D.

Ques­tion E calls for three cents of ev­ery $100 in as­sessed value in the city to be placed in the Chil­dren and Youth Fund — cur­rently the equiv­a­lent of about $11 mil­lion a year. That would come on top of the hun­dreds of mil­lions the city al­ready spends on ed­u­ca­tion, be­fore- and af­ter-school pro­grams and recre­ation. We ob­ject on prin­ci­ple to man­dat­ing an ar­bi­trary level of spend­ing for any cause, no mat­ter how worth­while. When the city is in bud­get trou­ble (as oc­curs fre­quently), this re­quire­ment would force cuts from other needs re­gard­less of the rel­a­tive merits of the pro­grams this amend­ment funds. We rec­om­mend a vote against Ques­tion E.

Ques­tion H would al­low the cre­ation of small, lim­ited-ser­vice, sea­sonal out­door cafes in the In­ner Har­bor near the sand vol­ley­ball courts on Rash Field and the Sond­heim Fountain. Such an amenity wouldn’t com­pete mean­ing­fully with ex­ist­ing busi­nesses but would en­cour­age vis­i­tors to spend more time at the har­bor. We rec­om­mend a vote for Ques­tion H.

Ques­tion I im­proves on a 2012 char­ter amend­ment re­quir­ing reg­u­lar city agency au­dits. It makes the au­dits more fre­quent and more in­de­pen­dent by mov­ing them com­pletely un­der the aus­pices of the comptroller rather than the De­part­ment of Fi­nance. It also in­cludes mea­sures to make the process more trans­par­ent and re­spon­sive to res­i­dents’ con­cerns. We rec­om­mend a vote for Ques­tion I.

Ques­tion J also cre­ates a ded­i­cated fund in city gov­ern­ment, this time for af­ford­able hous­ing, but with the key dif­fer­ence that it does not man­date a par­tic­u­lar amount or source of fund­ing. It sim­ply sets up an ac­count where the city can de­posit tax dol­lars, grants, do­na­tions or other rev­enues for use in pro­mot­ing af­ford­able hous­ing. Hun­dreds of other lo­cal ju­ris­dic­tions have such funds, in­clud­ing Mont­gomery and Howard coun­ties, and they have been ef­fec­tive in en­sur­ing the avail­abil­ity of safe hous­ing for low-in­come res­i­dents in a way Bal­ti­more’s cur­rent, tooth­less af­ford­able hous­ing statute doesn’t. We rec­om­mend a vote for Ques­tion J.

Bal­ti­more County bal­lot ques­tions

Ques­tion A would re­quire the county to cre­ate a char­ter re­view com­mis­sion in the sev­enth year of each decade. Other coun­ties have reg­u­lar re­views of their char­ters to en­sure they con­tinue to meet res­i­dents’ needs, but Bal­ti­more County hasn’t done it since 1989. We rec­om­mend a vote for Ques­tion A.

Ques­tions B-J are rou­tine bor­row­ing for school con­struc­tion, parks and recre­ation fa­cil­i­ties, stormwa­ter man­age­ment projects and the like. We rec­om­mend a vote for Ques­tions B-J.

Ques­tion K deals with zon­ing re­lated to a pro­posed out­let mall in White Marsh. Though it re­mains on the bal­lot, it has been ren­dered a moot point by sub­se­quent leg­is­la­tion. We rec­om­mend a vote against Ques­tion K on the grounds that it rep­re­sented bad leg­isla­tive process, but it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter either way.

Howard County bal­lot ques­tions

Ques­tion A would cre­ate the op­tion for fu­ture County Coun­cil and ex­ec­u­tive can­di­dates to fi­nance their cam­paigns pub­licly rather than by re­ly­ing on big donors — which in the case of lo­cal gov­ern­ment typ­i­cally means real es­tate de­vel­op­ers. De­tails of how it would work and how it would be fi­nanced re­main to be de­ter­mined, but it holds the prom­ise of en­sur­ing that lo­cal lead­ers are be­holden to no one but the vot­ers. We rec­om­mend a vote for Ques­tion A.

Ques­tion B pro­vides a small mar­gin of ad­di­tional flex­i­bil­ity for the County Coun­cil in the bud­get process. Cur­rently, when the coun­cil cuts from the ex­ec­u­tive’s bud­get, it can only di­rect the funds to the school sys­tem or to a prop­erty tax cut. This amend­ment would also al­low mem­bers to ded­i­cate the funds to the county’s pen­sion sys­tem or to a re­serve fund. Were­c­om­mend a vote for Ques­tion B.

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