Kojo speaks with "Speak No Evil" novelist and D.C. native Uzodinma Iweala about his second novel and how his local upbringing affects his storytelling.
Guest Host: Marc Fisher
At-large D.C. Council candidates sprint to the finish line. Virginia lawmakers “take a breather” before finishing their work on redistricting. And Maryland pauses to remember former Governor and Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer. Join us for our weekly review of the politics, policies, and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.
- Marc Fisher Enterprise Editor, The Washington Post
- Tom Sherwood Resident Analyst; NBC 4 reporter; and Columnist for the Current Newspapers
- Martin O'Malley Governor, Maryland (D)
- Sharon Bulova Chairwoman, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (D-Braddock)
Politics Hour Extra
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) talks about William Donald Schaefer, the former Maryland governor, state comptroller, and mayor of Baltimore, who passed away Monday at age 89. O’Malley said Schaefer was a man “who was very, very hard on himself always,” and that he “always had about him a certain genuineness that people were really drawn to.”
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) channels Charlie Sheen and reads some poignant Earth Day-related poetry by Thomas Berry within 60 seconds:
MR. MARC FISHERFrom WAMU at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Politics Hour." I'm Marc Fisher sitting in for Kojo Nnamdi. And today, we are happy to welcome the governor of the great state of Maryland, Martin O'Malley. We’ll also have the chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Sharon Bulova, on a very busy hour, along with our resident analyst, Tom Sherwood. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. And, Tom, I was stunned, stunned to see you arrive this morning at the studios without even the most basic of police escorts from the District of Columbia Police Department.
MR. TOM SHERWOODYou know, I've put in a call to Chief Lanier saying, look, if, you know, if Charlie Sheen can get an escort, I want one.
FISHERAnd what happened?
SHERWOODWell, you know, I talked to Phil Mendelson, the chairman of the judiciary committee, who says he's spoken to the chief, and they're still trying to find out what the hell happened. I mean, this is really stupid. I mean, I hate talking about Charlie Sheen. I mean, the mayor, to his credit, he was asked about Charlie Sheen, and he says I'm a fan of Martin Sheen. And so he just kind of dodged the question, but this is really stupid. If D.C. police officers...
FISHERExplained the judicial...
SHERWOOD...yes. That's true.
SHERWOODIf D.C. police officers were outside the city giving this joke a ride into the city to -- he -- I think even being at Constitutional Hall was a blur and a scar on the Earth. He shouldn't have been there. He should have been at RFK.
FISHEREighty miles an hour on the Dulles Toll Road and tweeting every step of the way Charlie Sheen was, to the eternal embarrassment of the D.C. Police Department, and we're going to banter about some District matters. But I want to bring Governor O'Malley into this for just one second to ask, would this ever happen in Maryland? Would the state police ever escort a celebrity from the airport to, say, a visit with the governor?
GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEYMarc, thank you for asking. We have a...
GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEYWe had a great session. We did a lot of difficult things. We were able to cut our budget about 1.4 billion. We're able to do some tough -- make some tough decisions on balancing our pension system, defend, you know, protecting the defined benefit. We're also able to do the largest single shot -- venture capital that are -- we've ever done as a state for InvestMaryland to prime the pump of those start-ups and the new technologies and new industries of our state. They create jobs and...
SHERWOODWhat about police vehicles with sirens? Do you have more or less of those in Maryland now with the recovering economy? So we can tie anything into Charlie Sheen. So you get a good effort there, but that's not going to work.
O'MALLEYWell, I'm not -- the, you know, I don't have the number of sirened cars in my briefing today. I can tell you that we did have in this budget, though, some dollars for some additional vehicles because the age of our fleet was getting up there, and so we were able to replace some of our police vehicles with new vehicles. And we continued to -- last year, we were able to drive violent crime down. We continue to push violent crime down. Our DNA database and the number of crimes we're solving because of new technologies are all important things to our quality of life.
SHERWOODThat's one of the problems in the city is that, you know, if we have time to send police officers out into Maryland, Virginia, excuse me, Dulles. I know that's in Virginia. You know, we need more police officers on the city streets. We don't need them out in that traffic-snarled Northern Virginia.
FISHERBut, Tom, are you surprised at all that Mayor Gray has not spoken out on this question? Do you think that, say, his predecessor might have in a similar situation?
SHERWOODI think he would. I think -- the part of the problem with the mayor's stumbling out of the starting gate is that he's not aggressive enough on these things that capture the ridiculous attention of the media and the people or sometimes serious issues. I mean, it's an image thing and -- but he hasn't said much. He was asked about it. Again, he kind of joked, but he would say -- I said, you know, I don't think I need police officers in Dulles. I think I need police officers in Anacostia or Chevy Chase or somewhere. I'm surprised he didn't take advantage to say we'll get to the bottom of this. Though Mendelson, the chairman of the judiciary committee, says he's still trying to find out exactly what happened and so is the chief, Chief Lanier, who was surprised by this.
FISHERAnd apparently, the police department put together a fact sheet about this and then decided not to release it to the public, which was curious, especially since they're the ones who made it known that they had this fact sheet.
SHERWOODMaybe Mendelson will release that fact sheet.
FISHERWell, perhaps. But perhaps a more serious note, there is a special election coming up on Tuesday in the District for the at-large council seat that was vacated by -- in the last election when Kwame Brown stepped up from the at-large seat to council chairman.
SHERWOODFully-loaded Kwame Brown.
FISHERFully-loaded SUV. And it's a nine-way race for an election that probably would draw maybe 10, 15 percent of the electorate out to vote. Is it anybody's race?
SHERWOODYou know, it's kind of hard to tell. In a race like this, because it's so small, the turnout is so small, you don't know. Vincent Orange, the veteran councilmember who's ran for mayor and council chairman last year and wants to get back on the council, now, he has a lot of labor support. You know, if labor, you know, turns out, they can get enough people to vote to get him to win, but I don't know if labor is going to show its mettle here or not.
FISHERAnd labor is split between...
FISHER...Sekou Biddle and Vincent Orange.
SHERWOODService Employees Union is -- has supported Sekou Biddle. He's the interim councilmember who was appointed with Kwame Brown's help to fill the seat to this election. Some people have criticized him as being a little too bland and acting like an incumbent councilmember rather than a challenger. Pat Mara, you know, got The Washington Post endorsement.
SHERWOODThe Republican. And he says he'll be -- he's a progressive Republican. He's not a Republican except in name only.
FISHERAlthough I was interested to see that on the last flyer he's now sent out to D.C. residents, he actually uses the word Republican, which has got to be a first for a D.C. Republican.
SHERWOODWell, you know, some of the people who do regularly vote, if you analyze -- the Republicans -- what -- 30,000 of them there are in this city, they do fact -- in fact vote. So if he gets them to vote, he can win. I think he only needs 7 to 10, 15,000 votes maybe that much even to win. Josh Lopez, the young man who's making a first already hardcore run for public office. He's been impressive, and Bryan Weaver from Adams Morgan, very popular ANC commissioner at the time. And some people say he could win it, but he just doesn't have enough support to get the vote out. We'll see Tuesday night.
FISHERWe'll see. That's Tom Sherwood from NBC 4 and the Current Newspapers. You can join our conversation with Governor Martin O'Malley by calling 1-800-433-8850 or make a comment on our website at kojoshow.org. You can also send us a tweet @kojoshow. Well, Governor O'Malley, on Monday, there will be a solemn procession from Annapolis through much of Baltimore, much of the city that William Donald Schaefer called home, that he reshaped in many important ways. It's a rather extraordinary outpouring of emotion and nostalgia for a man who was a kind of politician we perhaps will not see again. And I wondered if you had any thoughts about that particular mix of passion and willingness to act without massaging every message or worrying every utterance. It --was there a kind of freedom that William Donald Schaefer brought to politics, a kind of joy and -- of expression that maybe is a thing of the past?
O'MALLEYWell, the -- I got to know William Donald Schaefer when I -- I got to know him first when I ran for mayor. He was very, very helpful to me in that first race, ultimately, put me through the...
O'MALLEY...put me through the ringer, along with interviews with other candidates, but what I found remarkable about the guy, even though -- and with nostalgia, we look back and we say, well, he was such a free spirit. He was a man who was very, very hard on himself always. He was a man who was always, always pushing himself and always pushing those around him very, very hard. What I found to be his unique gift was his ability to balance in one persona an impatient do-it-now, I-don't-want-any-excuses sort of personality as a boss with a man who every citizen felt comfortable approaching directly on a street or at a lunch counter or wherever they would encounter him with the biggest or the smallest or the most personal or most neighborhood problems.
SHERWOODAnd he would give the most direct answer. I mean, I think it's just too bad that he came along before YouTube and Twitter. I mean, it would just be great if you were covering the statehouse with him and you had the chance to put stuff on YouTube. You only get to see a little bit of him on video. And then, Twitter, the things he would say, it would just be terrific.
FISHERWell, or it would have been his downfall. I mean...
O'MALLEYIt could have been his downfall.
O'MALLEYI mean there is a certain thing. I mean, you guys have a way, over time, I've noticed, and the rules change without any warning. There's a certain amount of, shall we say, screen that in the old days was courteously provided to our more colorful of leaders, and mayors in particular seemed to be given much greater leeway than a governor, and then we wonder why governors become so gray compared to our colorful mayors.
SHERWOODHe's gone now.
FISHERBut he managed to maintain that colorful character when he...
O'MALLEYOh, he did.
FISHER...made the shift from mayor to governor.
FISHERAnd is that no longer possible?
O'MALLEYAlthough it was not always to his benefit.
FISHERNo, no. It was much to his detriment in later years.
O'MALLEYBut it was a much broader -- it was a much broader audience, if you will, and one of the fascinating things I've noticed about this, our state of Maryland is that, you know, when you're in Baltimore, it's very easy to speak very, very clearly and plainly, and everyone understands exactly what you're saying. When you get on a larger stage, sometimes you feel like you're speaking the same way you did when you were mayor, but it's being heard differently depending on what corner of the state it's being heard from. But William Donald Schaefer always had about him a certain genuineness that people really were drawn to. It was the notion that, hey, this guy is my neighbor. He's as fed up with excuses from city hall as I am, and every day, he goes to work with that impatience, filing up the tank, pushing people to do a better job of delivering city services, and he did some remarkable things.
O'MALLEYYou know, when we think back about it, gentlemen, especially in these times, when it appears our country has lost the will to even attempt to build and do big things, you think about the many things that William Donald Schaefer was able to do as mayor and also as governor whether -- the Inner Harbor itself almost failed. People forget there was a referendum passed only by one point that William Donald Schaefer came out in favor of for this condemnation of the downtown properties and the big investment. The light rail that he was able to do. Camden Yards, that Baseball stadium itself. He was a person who had not only -- was not only able to envision, you know, these projects, he was able to see them through to completion, and that's a rare thing as we struggle forward today.
SHERWOODAnd the state is going to give him a good sendoff in the coming week. What -- just briefly tell us...
SHERWOOD...Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, I think is the whole thing.
O'MALLEYYeah. Monday -- and I'm told by our state archivist, Mr. Papenfuse, unprecedented William Donald Schaefer, I think, will be the first governor ever to lay in state at the statehouse, and I'll be greeting his body there, the casket there on Monday, and he will lay in state in Annapolis for about four hours. And then, he will be -- the body will go to Baltimore, and we'll be doing kind of an old-time neighborhood tour kind of a best of motorcade by some of the spots that were so very important to Governor Schaefer, Mayor Schaefer and will lay at state at the -- for 36 hours, I believe, in city hall, where he put so much of his energy and life's time.
FISHERWas he able to be as forceful as he was simply because of his personality and character or because there was such a one-party dominance in the city and the state that he could -- kind of put together, you know, an old-fashioned machine.
O'MALLEYI don't think it was the one-party dominance. I mean, in fact, when you have one party, Marc, the so-called one-party, it very quickly breaks down into at least two.
O'MALLEYAt least, you know, sort of the pro-mayor loyalists...
O'MALLEY...and the pro-council president or, as you say, Tom, more especially a city of neighborhoods and ethnic enclaves like Baltimore. So I don't think that was it. I don't think it was the one party thing, Marc. I think it really was his force of personality. And there's something in the DNA of the city of Baltimore that is drawn towards, I think, strong-willed individuals who kind of say bedamn the odds and continue to forge ahead.
SHERWOODAnd he showed it on his face too. It wasn't he was like measured and polite saying, well, I may disagree with you, but I really -- he was, are you a fool? I mean, he was -- I love the way he ...
FISHERHe's kind of an Earl Weaver of politics exactly, right?
SHERWOODYes, an Earl Weaver, that's correct.
FISHERWell, speaking of that kind of forceful personality, you, Gov. O'Malley, have been out there as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, out on the campaign hostings around the country, being very strongly spoken, talking, most recently about how some House Republicans have let their hate for government hurt millions of people. It seems to be a much stronger kind of rhetoric than you tend to use here at home. Is there a difference between the rhetoric of Gov. O'Malley in Maryland and that of the governor who's out there being the campaign spokesman for the party around the country?
O'MALLEYWell, I think so. I think the battles that are going on in Congress are sadly pretty starkly drawn. In Maryland, we have had greater success at arriving at that precious consensus necessary to maintain our AAA bond rating, to cut our budget, to reform our pension systems and yet, to make investments. This year, an all-time high record level of investment in public education, four years in a row without a penny's increase in college tuition. We are not only balancing our budget. We're bringing people together to protect the investments that move our state forward in terms of rebuilding, reinvesting, harnessing innovation and doing a better job at educating more of our people.
O'MALLEYOn the national level, I have -- I've had the honor to be able to serve as the -- in some leadership position or another with the Democratic Governors Association for the last three years -- four years now. This year, I am the chair of the Democratic Governors Association. During the session, I was very careful not to travel around the country. But in this day and age, you don't I need to. I did travel to a JJ in Virginia and a JJ dinner, a Democratic dinner, in New Jersey. But, by and large, I believe that you can't expect people nationally to make the right decisions if you're not informing the public of the options.
O'MALLEYAnd as chair of the Democratic Governors Association, I do feel a very strong responsibility to articulate as best as I can in this changing world with its changing vocabulary, the choices before us as a country. And I do believe that at the end of this road of hate for government is a second-class nation, and I believe that we are very, very poorly served by those who would wanna slam the brakes on President Obama's recovery, all in the name of retiring a deficit that they gave a blind eye to during the eight years that George W. Bush ran it up with a series of words charged to our children's credit cards, with tax cuts that benefitted primarily the wealthiest one or 2 percent of our nation when, in fact, the next generation needed those investments far more.
O'MALLEYSo I am going to be very strong, and I'm going to lean forward very hard. If you notice a softer style at home here in Maryland, it's probably because I'm blessed by people that understand the connection between the investments today and the opportunities and jobs tomorrow.
SHERWOODAnd you have to get the votes to get -- to do things in Maryland. What I wanna see is Gov. McDonnell in Virginia a Republican, he's head of -- the head or some job with the Republican Governors Association?
O'MALLEYI think he's the number two guy.
SHERWOODNumber two guy.
O'MALLEYNext year, he will be the chair.
SHERWOODI think we need to have a debate with you guys.
O'MALLEYOh, we've had a few.
SHERWOODBut I wasn't present.
O'MALLEYTherefore, it didn't happen.
SHERWOODSo it didn't happen.
O'MALLEYNo, we've done two of them, in all seriousness, Tom.
SHERWOODIt would be cool.
O'MALLEYIt was -- and I have a tremendous amount of respect for Gov. McDonnell. We work together on a number of things.
O'MALLEYChesapeake Bay and transportation issues.
SHERWOODBut would that be good to talk about the direction of the country with the two governors of Maryland and Virginia?
O'MALLEYYes, and we've done it...
SHERWOODWhere did you do it?
O'MALLEYWe did it on the issue of education here in Washington about a month ago. It was on C-SPAN. And the two of us were on the same panel talking about education.
SHERWOODOh, I know C-SPAN, that's that league of women voters polite, oh, you have 10 minutes, you have 10 seconds. I'm taking about a knockdown drag out fight over the budget and the 2012 election.
O'MALLEYWell, and then we have another forum up the road for a big bio pharma convention that was held in New Jersey, and the two of us were both on the panel there, talking about and are offering two alternative views of the importance of investments and basic research and an FCA research.
SHERWOODWell, see, you're being serious again. I'm talking about something that would have like boxing ring style accoutrement.
O'MALLEYWhat? See that? Sadly, that's the easier things to cover, isn't it?
SHERWOODYes, it is.
FISHERWe -- one of the things that you're able to talk about in a debate like that is transportation, and we have Jean on the line from Silver Spring with a question about transportation. Go ahead, Jean.
FISHERJean, are you on -- you're on the air.
JEANOh, hi. Thank you very much. Good afternoon, governor.
JEANAnd thanks for taking my call. I wanted to ask the governor to look into a community impact issue associated with the construction of the ICC for my neighborhood. The public involvement plan that's on the website has four goals, and just for the benefit of those of us who were not involved in this ICC every day, it's supposed to provide a single point of contact between the public and the ICC project team and proactively inform property owners adjacent to the ICC what's going on, offer project stakeholders the opportunity to provide input to certain decisions, especially those that affect particular properties, and then to use outreach mechanisms to give the most up-to-date information available.
JEANI wanna tell you that I'm -- I'm sorry to tell you that our community's experience has never conformed to the stated goals of this plan. And I would really like it, governor, if you could look into the latest situation that's arisen for our community, and I'll briefly describe that. On Monday, we received an e-mail from the community liaison, and we were informed for the first time that a toll gantry was going to be placed in the stretch of the ICC that borders our neighborhood and our property. And it will be extremely visible from our property.
FISHERThat a what? I'm sorry.
JEANA toll gantry.
FISHERA toll gantry. What is a gantry?
JEANThat's the automatic reader for the E-Z Pass.
SHERWOODAnd which community -- where are you on the ICC? When you talk about your community, what community are you talking about so we'll know?
JEANWell, this is the Old Stone Road community, and we are located in Contract B between New Hampshire Avenue and Layhill Road. We're actually right near the place where it enters the...
FISHEROkay. Jean, let's give the governor a chance to respond. Thanks. And, Jean, if you could hang on, we'll take your particulars and a governor's staff will get in touch with you as well.
O'MALLEYYeah, Jean, let me follow up with you, and I asked Marc to, you know, he'll get your phone number. The -- this is a new one on me on the toll gantry, and I will have to follow up with you after the show here. A person in my office, her name is Linda, and that number, just in case we should get disconnected is 410-974-5041. And we will follow up with you after the show about the issue of the toll gantry in Old Stone -- what was the last, Old Stone?
FISHERLayhill Road, was it?
SHERWOODOld Stone Road, New Hampshire and Layhill.
O'MALLEYOn Contract B.
FISHERBut are you satisfied with the progress on the ICC and do you have any indication of whether it is going to fulfill the promise that had been made about relieving traffic on the Beltway and elsewhere?
O'MALLEYOh, I think, to a degree, it will relieve traffic on the Beltway, but it's -- let me take a run and go with this. The ICC alone is not going to ease the traffic that affects our region. We have big route pressures in this Chesapeake Bay, Greater Washington area. And it's going to require investments in mass transit and it's going to require things like the purple line. It's going to require transit oriented development around all of those currently fallow stretches of land around Metro stops in Prince George's County.
O'MALLEYIt's going to require rebuilding our older areas inside the Beltway. And, you know, it's going to require many things. Having said that, the ICC was on the books for 30 or 40 years. It needed to be built. I am pleased with the engineering progress of it. I'm pleased with the environmental standards. I know, by saying the word environment and ICC together, that your phone board's going to light up. There are many who said we shouldn't build any new roads ever because that only encourages people to drive more, and there is some merit to a degree to that argument.
O'MALLEYBut I do believe that on balance, opening up, having an east-west route, which the ICC is, that connects us better from the western side of the state to things like Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall Airport and also to the Port of Baltimore, it's a positive thing overall for our state's economy and also will ease congestion somewhat, but again, the underscore here is somewhat.
SHERWOODVery quickly, how are you doing in terms of number of riders and number of people who are paying to use it? Is it -- is it up? Is it holding steady? I know you don't know the exact...
O'MALLEYIt's about where we thought it would be. This question came up the other day as we announced our ability to finally conclude a public-private partnership with the developers of Kontera to build that last segment of it. This question was asked and our secretary of transportation tells us that our ridership numbers are about where we thought they would be at this point. We expect them to increase greatly once it is connected to 95.
SHERWOODThat's initial of resistance. People don't really wanna pay it, but then they realized paying that, well, it's $8 or something for the ride is actually -- will save them time, they'll pay it.
O'MALLEYYeah, I don't know that it's $8. I think it's less than that. But...
SHERWOODUp to $8.
O'MALLEY...up to $8. But even, you know, if it's four or five and you're running an hour behind and you're looking at a parking lot in front of you, 95 and 495...
O'MALLEYYeah. I mean, you think about it, it's...
FISHERYou're listening to the Politics Hour...
O'MALLEY...(word?) up here.
FISHER...with resident analyst Tom Sherwood and Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland. You can join the conversation by calling 1-800-433-8850. And Governor, at the recently concluded session of the legislature, this was not a year in which you had huge projects like the ICC. You did not have big victories. In fact, there was the expected passage of single-sex marriage and didn't quite happen. Were you disappointed by the way this session went? I mean, there were certainly some smaller initiatives that went through, but that didn't seem to be one big theme, was there?
O'MALLEYYeah, I would respectfully disagree with that notion that we did not get big things done. The fact of the matter is we got big things done, but we did it without the, sort of, bloodletting, the drama, the lock out, the walk out or the run outs that you saw in places like Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana...
O'MALLEY...and other places. We reduced our structural deficit by some 42 percent in this budget. We were able to provide, nonetheless, record funding for public education. We maintained our AAA bond rating. And we tackled the very immutable and threatening map of our pension system. We decided that we would defend and protect our defined benefit pension system. And that required that we asked public employees to pay more as the state also agreed to pay more. But we did all of those things, while also passing what was the single, largest economic development infusion of venture capital that we've ever done in our state in the form of Invest Maryland.
O'MALLEYAnd all of those, I would argue, are pretty big and significant things as is the 15,000-some jobs supported by our capital budget, AAA bond rated, one of only eight states that still has a AAA bond rating. I think, Marc, in a way that the media was disappointed that there wasn't more gnashing of teeth...
O'MALLEY...and conflict and drama and all of this. I mean, the Invest Maryland bill actually had bipartisan support. We turned back efforts to pull the plug on oyster aquaculture and instead had bills that had bipartisan support for streamlining that and putting it all on the Department of Natural Resources. Couple of -- there were a couple of high-profile things. One that got a lot of attention was the same-sex marriage bill, which we came right up to the verge of passing. And, unfortunately, by my way of looking at things, we were not able to pass. It fell short by a few votes in the House.
O'MALLEYOne bill that some thought perhaps was going to go the same way was the notion of allowing residents of Maryland not yet naturalized to -- but who are paying taxes under residence of Maryland to pay the same instate rate that other naturalized citizens pay. That one passed.
SHERWOODWould you -- I got an e-mail from someone who said, "Please ask the governor if he would allow that matter to go before a referendum."
O'MALLEYOh, it may well if it gets petitioned to that.
SHERWOODWould you encourage that or you think it was a settled issue by the legislature? Obviously people can get it on the ballot.
O'MALLEYYeah, they can get it on the ballot.
O'MALLEYI would -- the only way we have of formatively doing things like that is to put it in the Constitution as we had to, to break the log jam on slots. This one, there was not that, sort of, log jam that caused members to pump, throw up their hands and say, just let the people decide. So I'm prepared and we'll sign that. I believe that the test of residency should be -- and whether a person is paying taxes in the state of Maryland should be residency and whether their families are paying taxes in the state of Maryland. I don't think we should turn either -- I don't think we should turn our college admissions offices into immigration enforcement offices, especially for a broken immigration system like we have in our country.
O'MALLEYCouple of big profile things, high-profile things, Marc, that did not get done this session, one was offshore wind, which we will be working on in the interim and also in next session. And the other had to do with banning the proliferation of major septic housing developments. Both of those are related to big challenges we face, not only as a country, but especially as a state, hugging this fragile estuary, the Chesapeake Bay as we do. The issue of renewable energy and the issue of how we use, as we gather here on Earth Day, how we use the limited resources of this Earth and its land in such a way that allows us to be, you know, a more sustainable and life-giving force in this densely populated area.
O'MALLEYSo both of those, we're going to continue to work on. Some things we got done after three or four or five or six sessions of them being rejected. One was the monitoring of prescription drugs, particularly to combat OxyContin and the abuse of prescription drugs. That one had failed every year, but we managed that it got passed this year.
FISHERYou also got through a 3-cent sales tax increase on alcohol to fund education and bring Prince George's and Baltimore schools up to last year's levels of spending just by drops in enrollment there. Is this, you know, is this how future education and funding is going to have to get done by adding little taxes here and there or, you know, is this the end of the Thornton funding formula as the, sort of, core and admission of how education is funded in the state of Maryland?
O'MALLEYWell, the -- our state has been named three years in a row the best public schools in America by Education Week magazine, I think, two years in a row by CollegeBound. Our kids take AP courses in larger numbers and passed them than any other state in the union. You get what you pay for. And the people of our state understand, I think, better than many other states the connection between the dollars we invest in the education of our people and the jobs that we are able to attract and create here in our state. So this year was a record funding level of funding for education.
O'MALLEYPart of the backfilling restorations, if you will, because in the budget that we submitted, we said that we would submit a budget that was balanced entirely with cuts that necessitated level funding of education. So less than what the school boards were hoping for by the level funding with the prior year, the legislates, by the passage of the alcohol pass, was -- tax, was able to increase that, also able to increase some services provided for people with developmental disabilities and mental health needs.
O'MALLEYBut, Marc, this was not the first new tax that was passed in our state. I mean, we moved our sales tax up three years ago as part of the special session from 5 cents to 6 cents in order, primarily, to fund the fastest growing item in our budget, which was the education of our children.
SHERWOODYou mentioned briefly slots. And I'm just gonna bring up quickly because I know you still trying to get once...
FISHERWe got to...
FISHERWe got to move on, so, yeah.
SHERWOODWe got to move on? Okay. Why not just have a casino at National Harbor and call it a day and corner the market for the whole East Coast over here?
O'MALLEYI'm not much in favor of casino gambling. I'd like to think that my -- that the -- what we were able to do in terms of breaking that log jam will strike the right balance for the people of our state between, you know, limited amount of slots to keep the racing industry in our state and to keep discretionary dollars from going to Charleston, W. Va. and Delaware, but, so -- but other people have made that argument, Tom.
FISHERWell, thank you. Gov. Martin O'Malley...
O'MALLEYThat was quick.
FISHER...governor of Maryland. Well, you're always welcome to come back.
O'MALLEYWe didn't have any...
SHERWOODIt's almost as if we had a police sign and a light flashing and we're rushing through the issues.
FISHERThat's winning, duh.
O'MALLEYThat's how we get it.
SHERWOODAnd we're drinking our recyclable cups incidentally. These are recycled cups.
O'MALLEYWe are. We didn't have any inspiring quotes for Earth Day today though, gentlemen, do we?
FISHERI know you brought some poetry. You wanna depart with it?
O'MALLEYIt wasn't really poetry, but where is it...
SHERWOODI like that one slogan from my one of the clean water groups, they used to have a t-shirt that says we all live downstream.
O'MALLEYHere's one -- this was from Thomas Berry who wrote the book, "The Great Work." He said, quote "We need to understand how the human community and the living forms of the Earth might now become a life-giving presence to one another. We need only see that our human technologies can be made coherent with the ever-renewing technologies of the planet itself. Happy Earth Day." Thom Berry.
FISHERThank you very much, Governor. If -- I know Garrison Keillor is retiring. (laugh) If you wanna move in to the poetry reading profession now that you're coming to the end of your time as governor. But thank you very much for coming in.
O'MALLEYMarc, thank you. It's fun to be with you guys -- and you, Tom.
FISHERAnd Tom, we'll have a Sharon Bulova, the chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors joining us in a moment. But first, we mentioned single-sex marriage in Maryland, but now there's apparently some interest on the part of the Republicans in the House of Representatives to move against the District's single-sex marriage law. And John Boehner, the speaker of the House, apparently is considering taking action here. You know, it's become -- it's always a popular move among Republicans to hit the District.
SHERWOODWell, this might be a chance for the president of the United States to show some interest in the city, you know...
SHERWOOD…'cause he hasn't shown any -- except for eating in our restaurants, he hasn't shown any interest.
FISHERHe's shown a considerable interest in using the District as a way to silence his Republican opponents.
SHERWOODWell, that's true. Maybe we'll be fed to the lions one more time. But, you know, just -- I do wish that, you know, this is America and we ought to have, you know, we had the law in the books. It's been working. There's no -- as far as I know, there's been no heterosexual divorces because gay people are allowed to be married. I've heard no scandal or people -- or anything like that. It seems to be working fine. Congress has enough to do working on the budget and maybe to leave us our little town alone.
FISHERWell, I don't know if that's going to happen. Apparently, the House Republicans are not big fans of Vince Gray and -- the mayor of the District, and they're now wondering how they can push him to take a stronger action against using these public funds for abortions.
SHERWOODYeah. They want a clear report that the city is not spending its own dollars or any monies for abortions. There's -- I guess it's letter-writing week 'cause, you know, we had the people, Sharon Pratt Kelley sending the letter to the White House that mayors had signed, and then we had the Republicans sending letter to the mayor. It's, you know, I wish they would just do their job and stop writing these letters.
FISHER(laugh) Well, we are joined now by Sharon Bulova, the chairman of the board of supervisors in Fairfax County. She's a Democrat, and she has certainly had her hands full speaking of transportation as we were earlier in the hour with Gov. O'Malley, the question about the Metro development out to Dulles Airport has been a dominant one in Fairfax of late.
SHERWOODWould Charlie Sheen have taken the Metro if we had the Metro from Dulles?
FISHERAnd would the D.C. police have provided a Metro escort? That would be a whole new line of work for them.
SHERWOODOr maybe Metro police would be there instead of doing the bag check.
FISHERWell, welcome, Ms. Bulova. Thanks for joining us. What have we -- as we watch this debate over whether to place the Metro station at Dulles Airport, in immediate proximity to the airport or perhaps a bit of a walk away, it is a billion-dollar question. Has the airport authority gone off the rails, so to speak, on this one?
MS. SHARON BULOVAI believe, and my board believes, that they have made not the best decision as far as an underground station that is closer to the main terminal. But there is another location that Fairfax County has expressed a preference for, and that is at the existing north garage location. It's a little bit farther, but it's at an existing garage. It's opposite the terminal so that it does not interfere with the view of the terminal. And there is an -- below ground entrance from the north garage to the terminal. And in the underground entrance, we -- you also have a walking -- or a walking -- a moving sidewalk that essentially gets you there pretty conveniently.
SHERWOODIt seems so imminently reasonable -- and I'll look forward to the day I'll go to Dulles 'cause I'm not gonna drive when I have to take the Metro. It just seems imminently reasonable to put it above ground and make that access.
FISHERExcept that you do have people saying look at the example of National Airport where the old National Airport, the Metro station was a good distance away and people did not take public transit nearly as much as they do now when the transit station is really immediately adjacent to the...
BULOVAThere's also the...
SHERWOODBut there's no moving sidewalk at the National.
BULOVAYeah. There's -- the quality of the walk is the issue.
BULOVAAnd at National, the problem was that it was above ground, you were trying to schlep luggage across streets. You were out in the elements...
SHERWOODHow far would it be? Do you know how many feet or yards it would be? 'Cause I always -- I love going to the National Gallery of Art, you know, to the east wing, that underground section where all the lights are flashing and stuff.
FISHERYou just like to bounce on that, 'cause that walkway is very bouncy.
SHERWOODIt's really cool. You get a little exercise, but you can really move along quickly even if you have some bags.
SHERWOODBut how far would it be if you're above? Is it 100 yards?
BULOVAIt's a size of, I think, it is about two football fields or something, something...
SHERWOODThat's nearly 200 yards.
BULOVASomething like that.
FISHERYou can join our conversation with Sharon Bulova by calling 1-800-433-8850 or send an email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send us a tweet @kojoshow. And, Sharon Bulova, the -- this is a $300-million question, amazingly enough, the placement of a Metro station. Has this decision that was made some years back to place the authority for building Metro in the hands of the airport authority, has that been a good one? Has it been one that has led to profligate spending? What...
BULOVAI think it's been a good decision. And I think if you take a look at phase one -- of the Dulles rail project is under construction right now -- it is on time, it's within budget, and the safety record is outstanding. The MWAA staff know how to...
SHERWOODThe MWAA staff?
BULOVAThe MWAA, the Metropolitan Airport Authority staff.
BULOVA...know how to build major projects.
SHERWOODI thought you wear clearing your throat.
BULOVAAnd also -- with all the acronysims...
BULOVAYes, between WMATA and MWAA and everything else. But they know how to build a major project. And they've done an outstanding job on phase one, and I expect that they will on phase two as well. It's a matter of making a decision right now as to what is the most cost-effective location and the most convenient location for us to build a station at the airport.
FISHERAnd speaking of huge developments that are dominating both the budget and the future traffic in Fairfax, the redevelopment of Tysons Corner continues to be a source of considerable controversy, and there continues to be strong voices from people who believe that having more people in Tysons will lead to more traffic, and that this is somehow a bad thing. Are you here to tell us it's a good thing?
BULOVAIt is a good thing. And I look at Tysons this way. In the past, we've had growth in Fairfax County. Most of Fairfax County was developed during the '50s, the '60s, '70s and '80s, and the pattern of development was everything was separate from each other. So residential subdivisions were separate from retail, and they were separate from commercial. And then people moved in to those neighborhoods and shopped at those stores and complained about the traffic because you have to get into your car in order to get anywhere.
BULOVAA new pattern of development is what we're building at Tysons Corner, where you've got a more compact, more urban development pattern that can be supported by mass transit. And encouraging that kind of future development pattern is essentially what we're doing. Tysons won't be the only place where we will have future growth, and so places...
SHERWOODFair Oaks has even started to look at being redeveloped. Tripling (unintelligible)
BULOVAIs looking as well. And also the Springfield Mall area that is -- it is served by the Springfield Franconia Metro station. We should have more mixed use, more compact development in those areas to accommodate our future growth in population, and provide more lifestyle choices for people, where you can live in a place where you can walk out the door, get to places for recreation, for shopping...
SHERWOODThe good news is you're a county that is continuing to attract development, and that's also the bad news.
BULOVAYeah. The good news and the bad news. We are a growing county...
SHERWOODFortunately, the Mark Center is that in Arlington or is it -- where's the Mark Center?
BULOVAThe Mark Center is actually located in Alexandria...
BULOVA...but is on the border of Fairfax County...
BULOVA...and we are very much involved and interested in the BRAC question at the Mark Center, BRAC-133 location.
SHERWOODThere was some suggestion you might sue -- be part of a group to sue to stop the peopling of that building until they figure out the traffic. Or what's the latest on that?
FISHERThis is a...
FISHER...move by the Pentagon, essentially to transfer 6,000 or so workers to an office complex in Alexandria later this year.
SHERWOODI should live up to my own rules. BRAC, base realignment -- what the AC stand for whatever it is. But that's what it is.
BULOVAAnd closure. And essentially, it's a whole bunch of workers being relocated from one place to another. The wisdom of some of that that I question, essentially some of these workers are being plucked from places where their location is served by mass transit that are walkable. And new buildings are being constructed like the Mark Center BRAC 133 location, large building, and it is not served very well by any kind of public transportation, much less mass transit.
FISHERLet's go to Eric in Reston. Eric has a comment about the Dulles project. Go ahead.
ERICYeah. I'm actually a user of Dulles. And I think the underground terminal is great. It was actually at the terminal, but it's not. It's like one-third of the way out underground. So if you're a family with luggage and you get off of there, you have to schlep it by foot as opposed to if you -- if there -- if you got off by -- get off by the garage, there's shuttle buses running around. So you have the choice of going underground with the walkways or taking the bus, whereas the underground option is (unintelligible). It's like half or so there. So why would they build $300 million to get it halfway?
BULOVAAll right. The -- there's a lot of confusion about underground, aboveground. Right now, at the north garage location, it is daily parking garage number one. Someone who parks there takes an elevator down, underground, and immediately you are in an enclosed underground location. It's air-conditioned. It's well-lighted and there are walking -- I keep saying walking sidewalks. Moving...
FISHERThere's a whole long series of moving walkways. Right.
BULOVAA series of moving sidewalks. And so even if you have kids, you've got luggage -- I've done it myself with luggage, with my husband -- it's a couple of steps onto the moving sidewalk. And then, within seven minutes, if you're standing still, you arrive at the main terminal and you're right there, being processed. I think that that's a pretty easy way to get to the terminal. What the MWAA board is suggesting is that a brand new station be constructed underground, closer to the terminal.
BULOVABut you're only talking about maybe a four-minute difference in time for $330 million that it would cost you to build that underground station. So, already, there's an underground walkway. It exists right now. And so the question is, shouldn't you take advantage of that and build your station at the north garage location?
SHERWOODWhat is the next step for those -- if you're watching it a bit from afar. The decision was made. The board has been urged to reconsider the decision. Is there a way to force the reconsideration? What's next?
BULOVAFairfax County, Loudoun, and the Commonwealth of Virginia all sent a letter to the chairman of the MWAA board and expressed our -- and originally, the letter said disappointment. My board moved to substitute the word outrage by -- you know, for disappointed. We're not just disappointed. We're really unhappy.
SHERWOODBut if the board doesn't reconsider, then it's a done deal?
BULOVAThere will be discussions. And, in fact, next week, I'm going to be meeting with and talking with the chairman of the MWAA board, Charles Snelling, and other members of the MWAA board as well.
SHERWOODBut it's the board's decision, the Metropolitan Airports.
FISHERThey're in charge.
SHERWOODThey make the decision. It's a done deal, and you just pay for it.
BULOVAIt is the MWAA board's decision. There comes a point in time where Loudoun County and Fairfax County could say, we're not happy with phase two. We're not gonna proceed with this project. We don't want to be partners any longer. I would certainly hope that it wouldn't come to that.
SHERWOODYou'd withhold the funding?
BULOVAWe just -- we would just withhold the funding. The tax districts that have been established would be dissolved. That would be the absolute worst case scenario, and I sure don't wanna see that happen.
FISHERSpeaking of multi-billion-dollar price tags, the Fairfax board voted recently to approve a $6 billion budget, which reduces spending slightly and increases some fees here and there. But basically -- I mean, are people going to feel a real diminution of services, or is this kind of a hold-steady budget? And what concerns do you have about this sort of building sense of resentment over public employees that we see around the country? Is it any -- you feel any of that in Fairfax?
BULOVAIn Fairfax County, we are really fortunate to have the kind of public employees who, during this great recession, have rolled up their sleeves and have identified ways to reduce costs, to find reorganizational changes and efficiencies in their budget. During the past two fiscal years, we have found over $200 million worth of reductions and reorganizations. And that's largely thanks, first of all, to our county employees, but then also to our residents of Fairfax County who have come to the table with us and have identified ways to bring down the costs of providing services.
SHERWOODDo you have a union -- I know there's a -- what's the union situation in Fairfax County? They have associations. There are no actual unions that negotiate for...
BULOVAWe have a number of unions, and I talk regularly with members of the unions.
SHERWOODBut in Virginia, are they allowed? They can't negotiate work conditions, right?
BULOVAThey -- we do not have a negotiation...
SHERWOODYou're not Maryland.
BULOVA...process like in Maryland, no.
BULOVAHowever, I can tell you that the unions are there at the table and working with us. And, actually, our unions have been responsible for some of the reorganizational changes and efficiencies and savings that we've been able to identify. So we owe them a lot as far as their helping us to navigate through these difficult times. We've been able to keep taxes steady, and I think that we've been able to maintain the quality that people appreciate in Fairfax County.
FISHERThe governor -- Gov. McDonnell vetoed the redistricting bill the other day and said that the general assembly has been sending him maps that he thinks violates state and federal law, splitting up too many counties and cities and towns. What do you see is the impact on Fairfax of the proposals that are now being considered?
BULOVAIn Fairfax County, we, too, have been going through a redistricting process, and our process has been a little bit different from, I think, what has happened at the general assembly or at the state level. We have established a Citizens Advisory Committee which has brought to the Fairfax County Board a number of options for redistricting. And the committee has been comprised of representatives from each district, member from the Democratic Party, Republican Party and then countywide organizations such as the Fairfax County Chamber, League of Women Voters, Federation of Community Associations.
BULOVAAnd on Tuesday, this coming Tuesday, we will adopt a redistricting plan that I -- that only changes out of the entire Fairfax County precincts only about six or seven precincts in the end. So I think it's been a pretty good process. I think most of the growth that we've seen has been in the North, in the Hunter Mill District and in the South county area, in the Springfield and the Mount Vernon District. And not a whole lot of changes are going to result from the redistricting process.
FISHERSharon Bulova is the chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She's been our guest here on The Politics Hour with Tom Sherwood. And Tom's police escort is waiting him. He's heading off on vacation.
SHERWOODThat's good. I'm going out to the National Arboretum.
SHERWOODGet out of the way, people.
FISHERMs. Bulova, just very quickly, would you allow, in Fairfax, the kind of police escorts for celebrities that we saw for Charlie Sheen?
BULOVAI don't think so, no. I don't get a police escort, nor do I have a driver or a security detail or...
SHERWOODIf you get a police escort, that'd be news 'cause there'll be something bad that's happened.
FISHERAnd that was -- the D.C. police were escorting Charlie Sheen through your county at 80 miles an hour. Don't seem to be a Fairfax issue.
BULOVAI don't think that -- that doesn't sound like Fairfax County.
FISHERThe Politics Hour is produced by Michael Martinez, Brendan Sweeney, Ingalisa Schrobsdorff and Taylor Burnie. Diane Vogel is the managing producer. Dorie Anisman is on the phones. I'm Marc Fisher, sitting in for Kojo Nnamdi. Thanks very much for listening.
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