Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"Soup with Santa" to Benefit Local 11 Year Old with Brain Cancer

MAUGANSVILLE, MD - Modern Woodmen of America Chapter 6118 members from Hagerstown, MD and Martinsburg, WV will sponsor their 2nd Soup with Santa fundraiser on December 6th, 2014 to benefit Joseph Henson, a local 11 year old who is fighting brain cancer.
Joe Henson is a local 11 year old boy fighting brain cancer. Joe and his mother Angela have been at Johns Hopkins hospital since June 26 when he was airlifted from Meritus Hospital. Joe had surgery just three days later to remove as much of the tumor as they could. He has undergone six weeks of radiation therapy and currently continues chemotherapy. Joe has had a really hard time post-op and still has not regained many functions you and I take for granted. Joe misses his brother and sisters, who are staying with his grandmother in Williamsport. It's been a tough road the past few years, as Joe lost his father Chris 3 years ago to a car accident.

Plans for the fundraiser include: Soups (by Dustin Dumire), a sandwich, chips, a dessert, a drink, and a visit and e-photo with Santa Claus (with your camera or by Photographer Mike Frevert). The Modern Woodmen will also have Silent Auction items to bid on, and Raffle ticket sales.

The event will run from 1 AM to 3PM, on Saturday, December 6th at the Maugansville Ruritan Club located at 180 7 Maugans Ave., Maugansville, MD 21740.

For more information, please visit the Facebook event page.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"Giving Tuesday" - A New Holiday Tradition

HAGERSTOWN, MD - You know the drill. Every holiday season, Thanksgiving kicks off an extended weekend of eating, sleeping, and shopping.

  • Thursday - eat, watch Football.
  • Friday - go shopping!
  • Saturday - go shopping at local businesses!
  • Sunday - rest!
  • Monday - go shopping online!

But this year, why not start a new holiday tradition?

On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

The event is called #GivingTuesday. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Join us and be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity.

If you're looking for a suggestion on where to give, giving local is best. One recommended charity is the Discovery Station in Hagerstown, MD. The Discovery Station is a local non-profit dedicated to science and technology education.

What other local charities are you interested in donating to this #GivingTuesday? Please feel free to share!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Governor Candidate, Shawn Quinn Interviews Pre-Election Day for Maryland Citizens

Maryland Libertarian Governor Candidate, Shawn Quinn (Left)
with 2012 Libertarian Presidential Candidate, Gary Johnson (Right)
The following is a guest post/interview conducted by David Malekar, who regularly contributes content to the WashCo Chronicle. The interviewee, Shawn Quinn, is the Libertarian candidate for Governor of Maryland.  You can contact Shawn through the website, citizen4quinn.org.

A very big thank you to Shawn for participating in this interview so close to election time.

DM:  Thank you Mr. Quinn for taking the time during your very busy schedule to agree to another interview so close to Election Day, November 4th.  We have seen the frustration of Maryland voters over the last couple of months expressing their frustration on the candidate selection given by the Democrats and Republicans.  How do you feel this will affect the election on Tuesday?
SQ:  David, there is really no way to know what voters will end up doing once they are face to face with the voting machine. The two parties have been ruling with fear tactics for a long time. If I had a dime for every time I have heard that we must vote for the lesser of two evils or that somehow Hogan owns republican votes and I am stealing them.  Their nonsense just never stops. I personally don’t think anything will change if Brown or Hogan should win this election. I continue to be the only candidate that is talking issues with a plan. I continue to be the only candidate giving honest answers and putting the people first. I guess we will all find out two things on Tuesday; will people come out to vote in force, and have people truly had enough of the crap we have been getting from two party corporate crones.

DM:  As stated in my last interview with your running mate for Lt. Governor, Lorenzo Gaztanaga, you have the only party platform in Maryland that will support the full legalization of Marijuana, at a low state tax.  Can you stress again how this will benefit Maryland in revenue, combat the black market, help those with marijuana related records get back into the work force, and many of the other points?
SQ:  Let’s hit these one at a time. Revenue has been proven by the two states that have already legalized Marijuana. I want to take that revenue and use it to fight addiction. Addiction is really the big problem. Of course if we keep using jails to combat addiction we are not even in the fight.
Combat the black market: Human nature is that some folks will always try to profit by giving people things that the government decides should be against the law. By legalizing and keeping the tax low, we will take in revenue without making it easy for those folks to undercut prices and create a black market.
Felony charges: This is the greatest insult to our African American community. They are the target of most non-violent, drug arrest. We fill our jails up with these folks for years, where we teach them to become criminals. Is it surprising that these folks can’t get a living wage job when they are released?  I will work to get these non-violent folks out of the jails and clean up their records so they will have a chance to make a living. Getting these folks out of our jails will free up major assets in revenue.

DM:  During our last interview, you had stated your intentions to revise and cut Many of Maryland’s taxes and regulations.  Can you also elaborate again your stance on the Second Amendment for Maryland and your plan with taxes, such as cutting the State Tax to 3%?
SQ:  I think I have made it pretty clear that by cutting the sales tax to 3%, we keep citizens shopping in Maryland and we put an average of $3,000.00 a year back in the pockets of the working poor and those in poverty.  We will need to get term limits put in place and end the pension system for elected office holders. This will offset lost revenue from lowering the sales tax.

The second Amendment is just one of many rights we have as citizens. It amazes me that so called 2nd Amendment defenders throw their money at candidates who want to take away their 2A rights. I am the only candidate running who is pro bill of rights and would fix the permit issue. I am the only candidate that is willing to try and repeal SB-281. I have to think these organizations are trying to keep this a problem to steal money from their members. The NRA did not even respond to the many e-mails I sent them. I was not even permitted to have their questionnaire to be rated.

DM:  A lot of your campaign has been a in your face, one vote at a time approach versus high cost commercials and famous endorsements.  Do you feel your hands on approach, is more effective on a personal level to gaining voter’s confidence and vote?
SQ:  Look David, I would love to put out a couple of closed caption commerce’s. People watch TV and it reaches a lot of folks. With that said, I know people are hurting. I chose not to do fund raisers because of that. I have told people if they wanted to donate, that $5.00 was plenty. I also made a point of going to every event that I could. This wasn’t always easy and some days I did 3 or 4 events. I left my parties national convention to make an event in Frederick. I traveled many miles so I could attend a civil rights march. I showed up in Annapolis for gerrymandering event. I showed up in Howard County for an addiction awareness event. I have had my head shaved for cancer and addressed high schools and colleges. We have been to over 100 events since January. I wanted people to understand that I will be there for them. They are the ones who are important. So yes, more money for TV would have been nice; but I would not trade that for one single person that I was able to meet and talk too. TV may be more effective, but I am much more blessed and have a far better understanding of what is happening in Maryland. I will leave it to the citizens for where they want to place their confidence.

DM:  Leo Wayne Dymowski, the Libertarian candidate for Attorney General of Maryland has been gaining a lot of momentum in Eastern Maryland.  We have seen you co-headline events with him during this campaign run.  Do you have any plans upon being elected by working together to help improve Maryland together?
SQ:  Mr. Dymowski and I have not sat down and made a plan. We do see a lot of things eye to eye. I will work with anyone who wants to make a better Maryland. I think Leo Dymowski will be a great Attorney General. I cannot see any reason why we would not work together.

DM:  Many Maryland voters feel that their vote is not being heard during this election.  What are the numbers needed to ensure a Libertarian winning for Governor?
SQ:  Here is a simple truth. If you feel you are not being heard, vote Libertarian on the 4th. You will turn more than just heads in Maryland. I think if we take 35 percent, we will be taking office in January. The people have the power to make this happen or they can simply vote for more of the same and stop complaining. You can’t ask to be heard and then vote for the folks who are not listening.

DM:  Now that we are so close to the election, has any of your stances changed for your platform, or can you confidently say that you have been consistent and honest to the citizens of Maryland since the start of your campaign run?
SQ:  David, I can say for a fact that I have always given honest answers to everyone. I have also made it clear that we are not going to lock into one course of action. When something is not working we will adjust. I also have strongly advocated that citizens must stay involved after the election. I will have an open door period every day for citizens. I can say that I have become open to bike paths after going to the disabilities forum. We must be open to talking and learning from each other.

DM:  Shawn, I want to thank you again for taking the time for this interview.  In closing, what would you like to let Maryland voters know as this may be your final interview in Western Maryland before Tuesday?  What are your final thoughts for voters who are still on the fence voting for Shawn Quinn as Maryland’s next Governor?
SQ:  As I do this interview I am making a trip across Maryland. I did the eastern shore on Saturday. Tomorrow morning, we will go west and south. I have tried to meet as many people as possible. Although I did find it insulting and un-American being kept out of the debates considering that I have been on the ballot since January. I would think the citizens should be even more insulted.  Just more of the two party agenda controlling what they allow you to hear. If you think I have earned a chance to work for you, please step up and vote for me. I know how hard it is to do something new and untested. I have spent a life time doing it, and I have always landed on my feet. Most times it was grand, sometimes it was a lesson, every time it was worth it. This is supposed to be your government. I will see that it is yours once again. Power to the people, because it has to be about people.

WashCo Chronicle encourages discussion of current political issues and candidates, regardless of viewpoints. Please keep comments polite, and on topic.

Photo courtesy of citizen4quinn.org.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Comptroller of Maryland Candidate Interview with Anjali Phukan, Write-In

The following is a guest post/interview conducted by David Malekar, who regularly contributes content to the WashCo Chronicle. The interviewee, Anjali Phukan, is the write-in candidate for Comptroller of Maryland. You can contact Anjali through the website, anjali4md.weebly.com.

A very big thank you to Anjali for participating in this interview.

DM: Thank you Anjali for the opportunity to take the time for this interview.  What would you like to readers to know about your background and desire to run as Comptroller of Maryland?
 I graduated from Trinity in DC Summa Cum Laude. I then passed the CPA exam and received an MBA from American in DC. I also have a recent Masters in Information systems with a 4.0 GPA from UMBC, and years of experience in auditing/compliance of both accounting records and

I want to make Maryland a safer and more secure place, free from hardships as the result of inefficient and wasteful spending – at the state and federal level. I also want to help re-create our middle class, while helping the “rich elite” recover from money addiction and the poor become employed in living wage jobs.
DM:  What would you say is the most critical changes and ideas you are bringing to the table as Comptroller of Maryland.
 I have a long list of changes and ideas, but the top 5 are:

Remove tolls and interest assessments.

Increase audits of agencies and contracts, as well as personal,
business, and non-profits taxes.

Increase accessibility of the Comptroller's office on line and at
satellite offices.

Only give universal tax breaks to all, instead of just select big businesses.

Start using different types of funds to protect emergency management,
pensions and education.
DM:  Determination has been a huge factor in your campaign during this election year.  With such positive energy, what do plan on doing day one as Comptroller of Maryland?
AP:  In-processing, a building tour, and icebreakers / team building activities with new and returning workers.
DM:  Long term, what would you like to see put into place, especially any specifics that would only be made possible with you, Anjali Phukan as Comptroller of Maryland?
AP:  I am offering the deputy comptroller position to the 2nd place candidate, and an assistant comptroller position to the 3nd place candidate, as the 2nd and 3rd most qualified person. This also should build cooperative leadership, from which the bi-partisan arguments seem to deviate. I think it would be great if we could all learn to be humble to our defects, tolerant of others, and simply get along and get things done. I would like good-will to be a long term sentiment in the comptroller's office.
DM:  Would you mind describing what voters would need to do to ensure their vote for you was counted accurately?
AP:  I plan on doing a ballot audit with some other write-in and 3rd party candidates, and other interested people. I think it will be a great experience – I've already heard from some supporters who spelled my name slightly wrong, so I look forward to learning if the election office will uphold their statement that minor misspellings are ok – and what defines “minor” to them.


“Any abbreviation, misspelling, or minor variation in the form of the
name of a candidate shall be disregarded in determining the validity
of the write-in vote as long as the intended candidate can be

DM:  I want to thank you again for your time during this very busy week.  In closing, what would you personally like to say to the readers and voters?
AP:  Thank you for your support and time. Peace be with you and us all.

WashCo Chronicle encourages discussion of current political issues and candidates, regardless of viewpoints. Please keep comments polite, and on topic.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Divided we are Weak, Together we are Strong

The following is an Editorial from Ken Buckler.

By now, you've most likely heard about Mayor Gysberts' recent personal attack against myself as well as a Board of Education candidate.

I've spent a lot of today thinking on how to approach this topic. You see, when an elected official begins publicly attacking local residents, resorting to name calling and bashing, it's a sign of a serious problem. However, while this problem has manifested itself in the form of a personal attack, the underlying problem is not a personal attack at all - the personal attack is merely a symptom of the problem.

Before I continue, I'd like to share a letter which I received I sent in May, and the response I received from Mayor Gysberts.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Teachers' Union Calls Non-Member Teachers "Parasites"

This article is part of a series of looks into the activities of local non-profit and government organizations in Washington County.

UPDATE: WCTA has moved the "parasite" verbiage from their webpage, but refuses to return any requests for comment regarding this issue.

HAGERSTOWN, MD - In an online document published by the Washington County Teachers Association, non-member teachers are referred to as "a parasite living off the commitment of members paying to support a strong organization."

The webpage, titled "Answering The Hard Question About Joining the Association", is currently located at the WCTA website at http://washington.mstanea.org/answeringhardquestions.htm. (Note: This document has been modified since publication of this article. For a view at the original copy, please view this link.) The document is designed to be used by WCTA representatives to get non-member teachers to join the Association.

The webpage also states that "Individuals who do not join are freeloading off members who do. Those in the school system who pay and support negotiation services also pay to support salary gains for non-members."

And in a rather disturbing question, "If non-members don't want to join, would they be willing to turn their salary gains back to WCTA to be distributed to the members who paid the freight?"

Finally, the document also make multiple references to legislators not acting on the letters of voters, and that only lobbying will produce results. "'writing letters to your legislative representatives' does not produce legislation. It takes a powerful legislative lobbying effort, which is provided by WCTA, MSEA and NEA."

The fact that WCTA makes the claim that joining is the only way for teachers' voice to be heard by legislators is very interesting, considering the WCTA IRS filings state that they do not engage in direct or indirect campaigning, and have left blank for the past three years if WCTA participates in lobbying activities.

Excerpt from WCTA IRS form 990 filed in 2013
In 2010 the WCTA donated $430.00 to Karen Harshman's Board of Education campaign, but only after she won the election. Requests for comment from the WCTA have gone unanswered.

Additionally, WCTA president Denise Fry participated in an press conference at WCPS owned site for the future West Elementary school - a press conference which was not authorized or supported by WCPS or the City of Hagerstown, intended to criticize Maryland Governor candidate Larry Hogan's plan for reforming the state's budget.

This year, WCTA is clearly campaigning, as evidenced by president Denise Fry's Facebook post.

WCTA President posting about campaigning activities

Article by Ken Buckler, Editor

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hagerstown TEA Party Member's Meeting - Thursday, Oct 30

WHEN: October 30, 2014 from 7:00-8:30pm

WHERE: Ramada Plaza Hotel, 1718 Underpass Way, Hagerstown, MD 21740

SPEAKER: Stephen C. Coughlin,

TOPIC: Jihad, Sharia, and National Security

COST: Freewill donation

Registration is not required, but strongly recommended, because seating is limited.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Lt. Governor Candidate Interview with Lorenzo Gaztanaga, Libertarian

Lorenzo Gaztanaga (right) with Shawn Quinn (left)
The following is a guest post/interview conducted by David Malekar, who regularly contributes content to the WashCo Chronicle. The interviewee, Lorenzo Gaztanaga, is the Libertarian candidate for Lt. Governor of Maryland (running mate of Shawn Quinn, Governor candidate, Libertarian). You can contact Lorenzo through the website, citizen4quinn.org.

A very big thank you to Lorenzo for participating in this interview.

DM:  Thank you Mr. Gaztanaga for taking the time out of your busy schedule for this interview with your candidacy for Lt. Governor of Maryland.  Let's start off with about your history with the Libertarian party, and what inspired you to run with Shawn Quinn this year?
LG:  I’ve been with the Libertarian Party of Maryland since 1992 and run for various offices a number of times. I’ve known Shawn for four or five years, and had the opportunity to see him in action when he was running for state delegate in 2010. As a candidate, I chose the motto “It’s about people” early on. Shawn has embraced this approach in everything he does, from his website to his campaigning style. He inspired me to join his team and he keeps on inspiring me.

DM:  As Lt. Governor, what is going to be your overall strategy for the state of Maryland?  What key points do you want to focus on the most right away?
LG:  Shawn Quinn and I have one overall approach: putting people first. By “people,” we mean individuals, families, local communities and local, home grown businesses. “Putting them first” means putting them ahead of our own convenience or that of politicians and government officials, ahead of special interests and the large corporations that past administrations have attempted to lure into Maryland with tax breaks and outright subsidies. Specifically, we have four key points, many of which will require collaboration with our state legislators.
1.     First and foremost, we need to set term limits for all elected officials.
2.     We will also work to reduce the current 6% state sales tax to 3%, with a view to eventually eliminating it altogether.
3.     Overhaul the tax system.
4.     Restore all of the freedoms enumerated in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights so that people can live their lives without government interference. No activity that does not harm others, whether smoking marijuana, carrying a weapon or engaging in a consensual relationship with another adult should be a crime in the eyes of the law.

DM:  There is a rising concern on the local level of many cities within Maryland about unemployment, and homelessness is an issue.  Locally in Hagerstown, MD, our homeless shelters are usually at max capacity, having to turn people away.  What changes can we see on a state level that will help combat this problem on the local level, only possible through Quinn/Gaztanaga?
LG:  Reducing the sales tax and eliminating the personal property tax on businesses will lead to more jobs. The homelessness problem is closely linked to the lack of affordable housing and affordable temporary shelter. We need to reexamine our zoning laws and the regulations governing such things as how many people can legally stay in a given space. Currently, you either have to live in what most of the world would consider a palace or you have no home at all. And I cannot emphasize the latter point enough. A lot of regulations and licensing that make homes unaffordable for low income people have nothing to do with the safety of the home, in terms of collapse or potential fire. A lot of it is politically driven by people who don't want certain other people in their neighborhood. In other words, "love your neighbor as yourself" takes a very long and distant walk, no matter what might be said in church on Sunday. Also, we must consider what sometimes, many years ago, was called a hobo. There are people who by inclination, mental condition, etc. like to wander, go about, etc. As long as they do not steal, kill, rape or trash or damage somebody else's property, the same thing applies. We need to love our neighbor as ourselves, and that might entail, sometimes, a personal loss, but it can return more peaceful living in communities. We're all human beings, and we need to treat each other that way.

DM:  As was pointed out in my last interview with Shawn Quinn, there are over 40 state taxes in Maryland.  What kind of changes would you like to personally see happen with them?
LG: Shawn already mentioned the highly unpopular “rain tax,” that is, the tax on nonabsorbent surface area intended to reduce the amount of polluted water running off into our natural waterways. Another tax that I think needs to go is the personal property tax, under which a business owner has to pay a tax every year on equipment and furniture purchased for the business. We also need to reduce registration and licensing fees and reporting fees.

DM:  In Western Maryland, even across Maryland, there are many individuals who have criminal records because of recreational marijuana use.  It is our understanding that you and Shawn are working towards solving this problem in Maryland.  What is your personal strategy with legalization and helping the many citizens of Maryland clear their records, and regain the eligibility in the job market once again?
LG: I personally congratulated then Governor Ehrlich for signing the medical marijuana bill into law. However, as many states that voted to legalize the medical or even recreational use of marijuana have learned to their chagrin, the laws against the use of marijuana and other so-called “controlled substances” are still in force at the federal level and will need to be repealed by our representatives in the U.S. Congress. Our strategy, therefore, will be to exercise our powers as chief executive officers, setting priorities as to where our limited law enforcement resources should be directed. We can use the power of the executive pardon to assist individuals who are having difficulty finding jobs due to drug offenses on their records.

DM:  As Lt. Governor, what other personal plans do you have to help improve Maryland, and putting the state back on track with long term development?
LG: There’s a lot of education or reeducation that needs to happen before we can truly have a government of, by and for the people here in Maryland. People don’t know what district they live in or who their representatives are at any level. They are also pretty hazy on what the true purpose or mission of a government is. I expect my government to maintain the necessary infrastructure (roads, bridges, tunnels, water supply and sewers), ensure public safety, provide emergency services (fire, police and ambulance) and adjudicate disputes. That’s a lot to do right there. I believe that our state will thrive economically and culturally when government limits itself to these functions and works hard to fulfill them completely. I also believe that it will take some work to sell this vision of government to most people.

Once again, It’s about people.

Lorenzo Gaztanaga
Libertarian candidate for Lt. Governor

WashCo Chronicle encourages discussion of current political issues and candidates, regardless of viewpoints. Please keep comments polite, and on topic.

Photo courtesy of citizen4quinn.org.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Candidate Miner Responds to Q&A Re-Usage of Content

Previously it was reported that Board of Education candidate Ryan Miner re-used content from websites without citing his sources. Below is his response.

Thank you for your email. My team and I began research in January to develop a comprehensive education platform for the campaign. I began attending education speeches, forums and other education-related symposiums years before the thought of launching a bid for the Washington County Board of Education was even a remote thought. My platform, ideas and vision for our Washington County Board of Education are exclusively organic and authentic. 
In the research process, my team and I read literally hundreds of pages of white papers, education position papers, education websites and we spoke with education experts, teachers, administrators, school support staff and many others who provided context to build a cohesive education platform. I developed these ideas into sub points and constructed my vision for our school system based upon the research we conducted. 
I recognize some of the parallels from the websites you provided, and based upon the snippets we certainly did agree with the technology segment and incorporated similar ideas into our own platform. When I began exploring Common Core, I read each individual standard and thus began my concerns with what I believe to be inherent flaws within the standards. I found examples during our research process how our exact feelings and sentiments reflected that of many others. We were in contact with many education expects and discussed different ways to present our message about local control as it relates to the formation and implementation of Common Core. But again, my ideas are my own ideas and I have put those ideas to the test since February 25, 2014, when I became a candidate for the Washington County Board of Education. 
Three of my opponents and their henchmen have focused almost entirely on destroying my credibility as a candidate using disgusting and underhanded tactics to degrade me personally and distract from the same issues that my opponents refused to discuss at an open forum. Instead, my opponents hold secret meetings and form dormant closeted agendas that will likely be executed should they be elected. My opponents have no vision for our school system, which is evident by their lackadaisical and sleepy performances during the one forum they actually bothered to show up to and address voters.  The Slate members are the least transparent candidates in the history of school board candidates in Washington County and they are being supported by a special interest group who has ignored their abject failures and clear lack of any coherent vision aside from their manufactured conflict between teachers and administrators. While two other candidates and myself are out in the public discussing our vision with voters, the Slate and their cohorts have been spreading venom and unleashing vile attacks on anyone who even slightly disagrees with whatever message they pretend to purport. 
Washington County is still waiting on what exactly the Slate and their supporters hope to accomplish. Does The Slate attempt to oust the superintendent? Will they ignore the interests of our students and instead push through their skewed personal agendas? Will the directly involve themselves in the day-to-day operations of our school system? What will be their role in the budget process? What business experience do they have that will be used to guide their decisions on the board? Every day, more questions are left unanswered and The Slate is not the least bit interested in working to provide interested voters with the answers. Moreover, the Slate and their social media friends have no interest in actually discussing issues; instead, they are more concerned about highlighting my past indiscretions and spreading misinformation about my character. 
The opposition formed against me has been bordering hysteria and they are clearly grasping at straws. We are focused our GOTV efforts in the next eight days. While my opponents and their echo chambers are obviously still immersed in the inconsequential drama of this race, I am making thousands of phone calls, knocking on doors and bringing my message directly to the voters of Washington County. I would suggest my opponents and their social media warriors actually learn how to a run campaign on ideas and focus on our kids instead of spending so much time and exerting energy to manufacture inane controversies like this one. 
There are eight days until November 4. I hope my opponents are spending their time contributing to the education conversation. For the Slate and their social media friends, this race isn't about what’s best for our students, it’s about satisfying a personal vendetta against me and stooping so low as to target my family, my girlfriend and her two children we are raising. My opponents and their flunkies have no shame in their actions. I pray for them. 
Ryan Miner 

WashCo Chronicle encourages discussion of current political issues and candidates, regardless of viewpoints. Please keep comments polite, and on topic.