From the Arundel Patriot: Why Did the Capital Endorse Steve Schuh when the facts are…click here
The letters below were written by voters in Anne Arundel County in response to the Capital Gazette Editorial Board’s endorsement of County Executive Schuh. Some of these letters have been printed in the Capital, others have not. Each addresses a specific claim made by the Editorial Board to justify its endorsement. Each points out why this endorsement is erroneous, misguided, and deeply disappointing. Much of the information found in the letters was taken from past reporting of the Capital itself.
The Capital’s endorsement of Steve Schuh, based partially on his “overdue investment” in education, was unjustified and shamefully misleading. After four years in office, Schuh should be judged on his actual track record, not future promises to address “classroom crowding” to which he contributed. Budget data shows that education spending dropped from 47.6 percent to 44 percent of the General Fund between 2013 and 2018, and that Schuh allocated outsized funds to administrative costs, thus doing little to tackle classroom crowding or education quality.
There is a steady stream of great teachers from our schools to Howard, Montgomery and Baltimore Counties, which provide superior starting salaries and benefits, and focus on teaching and teachers. Howard County, for example, spends half of what Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) spends on administrative expenses: 1.60 percent of total budget vs. AACPS’s 3.06 percent in FY 2017. Meanwhile, Schuh gave a zero percent cost of living raise in 2016 and 2017, suggesting that this year’s two percent increase is anything other than an election year ploy. If Schuh had merely maintained the 2013 level of spending, we’d have an additional $54 million to spend on new teachers and teacher compensation.
Under Schuh, AACPS’ ranking dropped from sixth to 11th out of 24 counties. Only one school (South County) makes it into any state ranking of the 20 best schools; we boast only five National Merit semifinalists compared to 153 in Montgomery County and 51 in Howard County. Comparing those counties to ours based on population size, we should have 15-50 semifinalists. From this The Capital decided Schuh “deserved” four more years?
– Keith Moulsdale
On Public Safety
I was very disappointed to read that the Capital has endorsed Steve Schuh’s candidacy based on his public safety record. The Capital cites the new police academy, a central booking facility, new police cars, new fire stations and other physical improvements, while mentioning that salary raises have been “too light and too late”.
By investing in things, rather than people, Mr. Schuh uses the politically expedient strategy of posing for ribbon cuttings rather than investing in the long-term stability and quality of our public safety services. What use are new police cars if our County doesn’t offer competitive salaries and benefits to attract and retain good police officers? What good is a new police academy if all we are doing is training new officers who get better paying positions in other counties? Of what benefit are new fire trucks, if many of our fire halls have half the recommended number of firefighters on duty?
We need politicians who can bravely face their constituents and tell them this inescapable truth: quality public services require not just new equipment and facilities, but a dedicated and motivated workforce. We ask our first responders to risk life and limb for us every day; and Schuh has made it clear that he is also expecting them to sacrifice a decent living wage.
– Moira Buttner-Schnirer
On Taxes and Fiscal Priorities
The Capital’s recent endorsement of Schuh has me scratching my head. As a loyal reader, I was particularly confounded. Do they not read their own reporting? I have been impressed with Capital coverage of Schuh’s exaggerated claims and inexact numbers when it comes to his historic tax cuts. As reported, $59 million of the said tax cuts are actually because of a county property tax cap rate policy that went to effect before Schuh was in office! The water/sewer hookup fees cuts, amounting to $21.6 million in reduced revenue over three fiscal years, is a sweet deal for developers but to date there is no evidence that this fee cut has trickled down to the average buyer. His fiscal priorities are questionable as well. Yes, he gave home owners a 0.2 cent property tax reduction – a savings of about 67 cents a month on a home worth $400,000, but shouldn’t that $1.6 million have gone toward much needed teacher, police and fire fighter raises? Small reductions for movigoers sound nice, but not when the county is unable to attract and recruit public servants because of uncompetitive salaries. (05/30 and 10/20 editions).
So as a resident of Anne Arundel County, I’m requesting the editor of the Capital consider rescinding the endorsement of Steve Schuh. As reported in the Capital itself, Schuh’s policies are not in alignment with the tax cut and fiscal priorities of Anne Arundel county residents. By this logic, Steve Schuh is not deserving of the Capital’s endorsement.
– Pamela Jeter
On Ties to Developers
In his Capital commentary (10/27/18) Steve Schuh tells us he will increase the salaries and numbers of public employees to necessary levels, improve infrastructure and increase mental health services, all without changing the tax structure. In the next breath (and in his mailings), he demonizes Steuart Pittman for supporting the same improvements; falsely claiming that Pittman will raise taxes an exorbitant amount, an amount presumably (and unfairly) calculated by discounting the revenue generated by a growing county. Schuh’s deception and fear-mongering aside, here is the key difference: Steuart Pittman will not sacrifice our county to developers for tax cuts. The Maryland Campaign Reporting Information System shows that during the donation period of January 27 to August 21, 2018, less than three percent of Pittman’s contribution dollars came from development-related businesses and employees thereof. In contrast, the same types of donors are responsible for almost 20 percent of Schuh’s donation dollars. Also in this same time period, 43 percent of Schuh’s donation dollars came from businesses and corporations, where less than one percent of Pittman’s total donation dollars are classified as such. The bottom line is: we need independent local government that will make decisions in the best interest of residents and keep Anne Arundel county a great place to live. In contrast to Steve Schuh, Steuart Pittman’s campaign finance record indicates he will be accountable to the residents of this county.
– Michelle Koul
On Ties to Hogan and Development
Hogan and Schuh – does the shoe fit?
The biggest concern I have regarding Schuh is that Governor Hogan is likely to be re-elected. Hogan profited from his development businesses to the tune of $2.4 million during his first term (Baltimore Sun 10/25/2018). Some of the very same developers, some with proposals before the County, have contributed to both their campaigns. In the current election cycle, 2015-2018, Hogan and Schuh have over 40 development-related contributors in common, who contributed at least $150,000 and $130,000 to Hogan and Schuh, respectively (10/28/2018 MD Campaign database). This does not include donations from other entities with development interests in the County, like the Bayhawks. Bayhawks-related entities have donated $20,000 to Schuh and $28,000 to Hogan. Nor does it include contributions to Schuh from other developers who did not also donate to Hogan. If elected, Governor Hogan will have executive power to clear the way for development projects (like the Bayhawks sports complex and highways) and the County Executive has expansive powers regarding local zoning decisions. And Schuh is poised to work with Hogan at the County level on Schuh’s development agenda to “make Anne Arundel the greatest economic engine.” (Capital, 10/14/18). One way to ensure “they don’t pave Paradise and put up a parking lot” is to vote for Steuart Pittman. Please vote.
– Janet Holbrook
The Capital’s endorsement of Steve Schuh is very disappointing. Schuh has made last minute moves to rebut Steuart Pittman’s legitimate claims, and you are taking that as an indication that he will continue to act that way in the future! Why should we believe that? Schuh looks reasonable on issues, but as soon as you scratch the surface it becomes clear that he supports values that have no business being in our leadership ranks: he has personally and financially supported Michael Peroutka, John Grasso, Roy Moore, and Donald Trump.
Further, the endorsement states that “personal loyalty and strength of conviction” are good character traits. I disagree: personal loyalty is not a leadership quality that encourages acting on behalf of the public good. Rather, it encourages acting on behalf of one’s tribe, right or wrong, and that is exactly what is wrong with Republican politics today. Steuart Pittman’s interest is ALL the citizens of Anne Arundel County, not just those who donate to him or happen to be a member of his political party. In these times it is not acceptable to ignore any political leader’s tendency toward tribalism: it is essential that national Republican political behavior NOT seep into our community here. These characteristics must be recognized with clear eyes in any judgment of a political leader. The Capital is a significant member of the Fourth Estate in this County (the traditional term for the role of journalism in a democracy). Please don’t forget it.
– John Cullinane
On its own logic
Your endorsement of Steve Schuh for County Executive fails the logic test.
You don’t like his immigration policy and his forays into social issues. You object to his out-of-control forest clearing and development. You say his salary raises for the police are a “little light and a little late”. You say teachers have had raises, but you fail to say that they still earn less than surrounding counties. You say he “has laid out a plan to address classroom crowding”, as if this is a positive, when he has already had four years to address the problem.
You go on to express zero negatives for Steuart Pittman, but you endorse Schuh! This makes no sense!
The two biggest concerns for Anne Arundel County residents are education and the environment and you manage to gloss over Schuh’s record on both. You totally ignore Schuh’s self-serving veto on the styrofoam ban and you make excuses for the over-development of forest land on Schuh’s watch. Our underpaid teachers are leaving for surrounding counties and we only have five National Merit Scholar semifinalists throughout the whole county in 2018. Neighboring Howard County, with 30,00 fewer students, has 51.
Based on your own analysis of the issues, your endorsement of Steve Schuh is baffling. If you weren’t basing your decision on the issues what were your criteria?
– Marilyn Higgs
The Capital’s justification that Schuh’s continued support of known racists and other “out of sync” views is a sign of “loyalty” is extraordinarily dangerous and misguided. Women recently witnessed Schuh’s support for Peroutka’s deplorable resolution to impinge upon our privacy rights. Citizens who want a leader to take a forceful stand against the rampant racism in this county watched as Schuh held a media event and provided the illusion of “Anne Arundel United” – defunct almost as soon as the cameras stopped rolling. The LGBTQ community surely does not feel secure as Schuh advocates unsafe policies for trans students and fought against marriage equality. Do Muslims, people of color, or any minority feel heard and protected by Schuh who supports and endorses politicians like Grasso and Peroutka despite their hateful rhetoric? Immigrants are relegated to living in fear thanks to Schuh’s deal with ICE, putting a price on their heads. Students with mental health needs are neglected by Schuh’s budget (simultaneously blaming mental illness for gun violence, not a surprising mantra given his “A” from the NRA). As for our health and safety, we should all be alarmed that Schuh vetoed the styrofoam ban, stacks his planning committee with developers and supports a President who is systematically dismantling the EPA. “Politically inconvenient” says The Capital. Is discriminating against people, contributing to racists, interfering with Constitutional rights, and deteriorating our well-being “loyal” or “inconvenient”? Most of us do not have the privilege to see it that way.
– Jennifer Haber
The Capital endorsement of other candidates has also raised eyebrows of some readers. Here is one endorsement that spurred a Letter to the Editor.
On Michael Malone
Where is the accountability?
When I read the editorial on July 15th from Rick Hutzell I was in tears. Not just because of the tragedy that occurred in the news room but because he got it. He had had enough and was asking local representatives and our president to make this the last mass shooting.
That is why I was surprised to read of his endorsement of Delegate Michael Malone. Malone has a 93 percent favorable rating from the NRA. He voted against HB0159 in 2017 which would have banned weapons on our higher education campuses making them safer. Three months prior to the Capital Gazette shooting he voted against HB1302 which is designed to temporarily restrict access to guns for individuals that are at high risk to themselves or others. Imagine if this had been in place prior to the shootings in Newtown, Miami, Las Vegas or in your newsroom. Potentially 139 lives could have been saved.
Considering his poor record on gun violence prevention, Malone’s column in the Capital about “looking Wendy in the eyes” is meaningless.
My hope is that in the future the Capital editorial board will endorse not based on words that are said in an election year but on a candidate’s track record. For gun violence prevention I would highly recommend getting in touch with Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence or Moms Demand Action as they know exactly how our representatives have voted.
– Leslie Bigden
These letters were compiled by Monica O’Connor, who is a member of the steering committee of Maryland WISE Women, a group of 600 women who work toward promoting just legislation.