Monday, May 14, 2018

Capital Improvements


Engraving the Stanley Cup in #ALLCAPS is a real possibility this year.

Photo courtesy of the Toronto Star
When the Washington Capitals took the Madison Square Garden ice on October 9, 1974 for the first time in their history—merely two months after President Richard Nixon resigned—few would have ever thought of mentioning the team’s name and Stanley Cup in the same sentence. 

They lost their opening game to the Rangers 6-3, en route to winning only 8 games of 80 in that miserable inaugural season.  It shouldn’t have come as any surprise that the Capitals chose as their number one overall pick in the NHL amateur draft a player by the name of Greg Joly.  

Remarkably, they improved the next year with a whopping 11 wins out of 80 games played.

There was a degree of success in the 1980s as the Caps were frequent visitors to the playoffs and even reached the third round.  It continued through the 1990’s and made their only Stanley Cup finals appearance in 1998 only to be swept by the Detroit Red Wings 4 games to 0.

The early 2000s saw the Caps return to league doormat status, and then the franchise changed dramatically with the signing of Alexander Ovechkin—clearly no Greg Joly who scored a whopping 9 goals in 98 games for the Caps—in 2004.  A lockout cancelled the 2004-2005 Season, and Ovechkin began his storied career with the Caps in 2006.

The Caps had a slew of outstanding players to this point though their post-season even with some dramatic moments did not bear fruit.  Dennis Maruk, Mike Gartner, Peter Bondra, Dino Ciccarelli, Scott Stevens, Kevin Hatcher, Mike Ridley, Bengt Gustafsson and Olie Kolzig, were among the best in the league. But Ovechkin’s addition to the team was a franchise turning point.

Not that any post-season success had been realized by the perennial division champs.  In the 2009-2010 Season, the Capitals won their first President’s Trophy—best record in the NHL—but faltered in the playoffs.  They led the eight-seed Montreal Canadiens 3 games to 1 but couldn’t close it out.

Each year failure in the post-season whether it be the first or second round became a cloud hovering over the team regardless who the general manager or coach may be.  The Pittsburgh Penguins were the quintessential villains for the Capitals having won 9 out of 10 mostly tightly contested playoff series over the years.

All that changed this year as the Caps eliminated the Pens 4 games to 2 in the second series (following a 4-2 series win over the Columbus Blue Jackets) and for only the third time, the Caps qualified for the third round.

Optimism is running rampant among Caps fans as they took the first two games of the third round against Tampa Bay.  Can this be the year the Capitals break through and even take the Cup?

I believe so and here’s why.

Winning on the Road.  The Caps 7-1 record on the road in the playoffs so far is astounding.  They took all 3 in Columbus, 2 out of 3 in Pittsburgh and is 2-0 in Tampa.  To win a Stanley Cup, a team has to win outside their home rink (as well as winning on home ice). 

Defense First. The Capitals defensive style during the post-season is much tighter than the regular season.  Players are more responsible and committed to defense; there is a good structure to their game; and they are bottling up the ice between the blue lines—similar to the style the New Jersey Devils employed over the years to great success.  The Caps have also blocked more shots than any other team in the playoffs this go around.

Goaltending is key. A team cannot capture the Cup unless the goaltending is stout.  Braden Holtby was plagued by injuries and a lack of focus that resulted in a relatively disappointing regular season.  Too many games were lost after having leads in the third period.  Of course, that’s not all attributable to Holtby but some of it was.  Accordingly, Philipp Grubauer, normally the backup goalie, started the first two games of the Columbus series and lost both—at home.

Holtby started game 3 and has not looked back.  His performance during the Penguins series was world class. Most of the few goals that were scored against him were as a result of deflections or shots that changed directions after hitting a player.  He stopped virtually everything else.  His Goals Against Average stands at a stingy 2.04 with a Save Percentage of .926—very impressive numbers. 

Balanced Scoring.  No one seems to talk about it but the balanced scoring in the Capitals attack—should it continue—will likely result in a Cup win. During the regular season, Alex Ovechkin scored 49 goals to earn his 7th Maurice “Rocket” Richard trophy for the most goals scored in the league.  Only Bobby Hull had that many Richard trophies. Ovechkin scored 19 percent of his team’s total goals.

During the playoffs, Ovechkin hit the net 10 times and still accounts for 19 percent of the team’s total goals.  But in only 14 games played so far, the Capitals have 16 players who have scored at least 1 goal with 12 of those scoring at least 2. Moreover, 20 different Capitals have at least a point during the playoffs.

Those statistics are imposing given that teams tend to key on the number 1 line of Kuznetsov-Ovechkin-Wilson line. With so many other players chipping in, opposing coaches will be having nightmares trying to figure out match-ups. 

Intangibles.  The Caps are playing with a chip on their shoulders, which has been well-earned from all their post-season disappointments. The Caps’ incredible edge on odd-man breaks has showcased the team speed and ability to finish. They can still use some improvement in certain areas, however, but their overall performance should overcome them. Though the penalty kill has faltered the past few games after an outstanding start, the power play continues to click. 

Remember, Niklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson and Andre Burakovsky have missed significant time during the playoffs.  Wilson and Burakovsky have returned, and Backstrom is day-to-day. 

The Caps are playing with poise, confidence, grit and skill.  If they keep their focus, I expect the Cup to be hoisted by players wearing lower-case “capitals” on their jerseys. In these playoffs, it’s been #ALL CAPS.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Sherman Howell Endorses Bob Ford for Howard County Democratic Central Committee


Longtime civil rights activist Sherman Howell has endorsed Bob Ford for the Howard County Democratic Central Committee.  Howell is Vice President of Research & Agenda Planning of the African American Coalition of Howard County and African Americans in Howard County.  #hocopolitics

“Bob, more than many during these moments in time, understands and appreciates the importance broad visions, for the African American Coalition of Howard County has known this of Bob for many years,” said Howell. 

“Moreover, Bob Ford has always volunteered at the African American Coalition of Howard County Political Action Forum.  To boot, Bob has maintained a passionate advocacy for diversity, works hard for Democratic candidates and ideals and is a valuable asset on the Howard County Democratic Central Committee.”  #hocopolitics

He adds, “For these reasons African Americans in Howard County strongly support Bob’s election on June 26.”

Bob Ford expressed his appreciation for the endorsement.

Bob Ford addressing  the African American Coalition
 of Howard County Political Action Forum
“I am honored to receive this special endorsement from Sherman Howell, who has been a leading advocate for civil rights for over a half century. As a young man Sherman recognized the significance of voting rights and its impact on the African American community.” 

Howell’s civil rights activism had its roots in the historic marches to Montgomery, Ala. According to the Baltimore Sun, at age 22, Howell and other bus passengers had traveled to Selma to join in the third march, which succeeded in reaching Montgomery on March 25, 1965.

Along the way, their bus driver made a wrong turn at 5 a.m. and the group was met by white people wielding ax handles and guns, he told the Sun. But they persevered.

“Voting rights were a matter of life and death for black people [on trial] since only voters could serve as jurors. If there were no blacks on the voter rolls, you would end up with an all-white jury,” explained Howell, who grew up in western Tennessee and had participated in demonstrations to integrate public facilities there.

The African American Coalition of Howard County was founded over 20 years ago focusing on social and political awareness of minority communities with special emphasis on research and policy advancement. It is considered a leading advocate of affordable housing, with leadership team members having served on the General Growth Housing Planning Committee and the Howard Hughes Corporation redevelopment committee for downtown Columbia, Md.  Additional areas of focus include the healthcare system (including Medicaid, Medicare) and the development of African American owned businesses for the region.

African Americans in Howard County is the “sister” organization of AACHC.  Its primary purpose is to endorse political candidates for leadership positions and expand the public policy debate to include racial and economic equality. The views are progressive with an arc toward improving the system for democracy, freedom and opportunity for all.

“Sherman has been a trailblazer and an inspiration, and  I am proud to call him a friend,” said Bob Ford.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

When it Comes to Trump, We Can’t Afford to Pace Ourselves


By Bob Ford
One of the major themes in my bid to remain on the Howard County Democratic Central Committee is that as Democrats, we must stand up to Trumpism and all that it entails.    
This is not simply a political issue, and it goes beyond the borders of Howard County.  Our country’s future is at stake, and standing on the sidelines and allowing only California’s representatives to stand up to Trump is unacceptable.

Following the disastrous November 2016 election we were advised to “pace ourselves” by our local leaders when it came to Trump.  At first glance, that may have been considered prudent advice since the next election cycle was four years down the road.  #hocopolitics

But consider this:

►We paced ourselves and we wound up with white Nationalists marching in Charlottesville: “Blood and Soil,” “You Will Not Replace Us” and “Some very fine people on both sides.”

►We paced ourselves and we wound up with a Muslim travel ban.

►We paced ourselves and we wound up losing DACA.

►We paced ourselves and wound up with a ban on transgender service members.

►We paced ourselves and wound up with a spike in hate crimes against minorities since the election.

►We paced ourselves but Trump unilaterally pulled our country out of the Paris Climate accords.

►We paced ourselves and allowed the most damaging and uneven tax cut in our history that will saddle future generations in debt while enriching the wealthy donor class and large corporations.

►We paced ourselves and are witnessing on a daily basis the assault on a free press and the First Amendment.

►We paced ourselves and are witnessing the undermining of the rule of law, law enforcement, the FBI, our Intel agencies, our Justice Department and the American Judicial System.


►We paced ourselves and wound up with the most corrupt, ill-suited and incompetent administration in modern history.

►We paced ourselves and Americans have been subjected to continuous, non-stop lies by the president and his administration.

►Let’s not forget “the Russia thing” either.

Too many local Democratic office holders and candidates have been frustratingly reticent to criticize Trump, and as a member of the Central Committee, I intend to hold elected Democratic officials accountable to those who elected them.  There’s too much at stake here and “pacing ourselves” is not the answer.

Vote for Bob Ford for Howard County Democratic Central Committee on June 26.

Authority: Bob Ford, 5912 Trotter Rd. 21029

Friday, April 27, 2018

Byron Macfarlane Endorses Bob Ford for Howard County Democratic Central Committee

Bob Ford and Byron Macfarlane

Howard County Register of Wills Byron Macfarlane  endorsed Bob Ford on April 27 for Howard County Democratic Central Committee.  This is the third major endorsement Bob Ford has received this month—the other endorsements came from former Howard County Executive and State Senator Jim Robey and Senator Guy Guzzone #hocopolitics

“Bob Ford has been a friend and supporter for over 10 years. I’ve seen first-hand his strong work ethic, progressive principles, and dedication to the mission of electing more Democrats to office. I’ve also seen his leadership as an advocate for LGBTQ equality,” Macfarlane said in a statement released on April 27 to coincide with the national Day of Silence. On this day, students take a vow of silence to highlight that LGBTQ children are bullied and silenced by bullies at school as well as online.

Macfarlane wants “to stress how important it is to have LGBTQ representation on the Central Committee because bullying is still a problem and we need to stand up for kids.” (Bob Ford wrote his own essay as to why there needs to be LGBT representation on the Central Committee.)

Macfarlane adds, “As we confront a wave of hate and bigotry coming from Donald Trump and the Republican Party and as the Democratic Party charts its future in these trying times, having diverse voices at the table is more important than ever before. Bob is the only openly LGBTQ candidate running for this office and I hope my fellow Democrats will join me in electing him to the Howard County Democratic Central Committee.”

Bob Ford is grateful for Byron Macfarlane’s support and endorsement.

“Byron has been a good friend through the years,” said Ford in response. “His journey in the political arena drives home the point that anyone who works hard can succeed regardless of their race, gender, national origin, religion, age, sexual orientation or gender identity.  I am thankful for his endorsement and that he recognizes, as I do, that there are still LGBTQ issues that need to be resolved.”

Macfarlane was elected as Register of Wills in 2010, narrowly defeating the six-term Republican incumbent Kay Hartleb. He won re-election in 2014 running unopposed.

Holding the distinction of being Howard County’s first LGBTQ elected official and the first LGBTQ Register of Wills in Maryland, in 2012 Macfarlane used his experience as Register of Wills to advocate for marriage equality and educate legislators on the end-of-life protections denied same-sex couples. He’s prevented the Registers of Wills from implementing discriminatory policies and helped educate same-sex couples about how to take advantage of the inheritance tax exemption for domestic partners. Macfarlane hired the first LGBT employee in the 172-year history of his office.

His tenure at that position has been marked by a technological overhaul of his office and legislative initiatives aimed at making the probate process more streamlined and less expensive for Maryland families.  Macfarlane is currently seeking a third term.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Is America Ready for an LGBT Idol?

Contestants Ada Vox and Jurnee (Image courtesy of TVLine)
To be sure, there have been a number of LGBT and non-binary contestants on American Idol over the course of 16 seasons.  Some came out during the preliminary rounds and didn’t advance, so not much was made of it.  Some were clearly LGBT but didn’t come out until after the competition.

Notable 2nd place finishers Clay Aiken and Adam Lambert who had launched successful recording careers after the show, in my view, were the most talented among their respective competitors.  But Aiken lost to Ruben Studdard and the flamboyant and charismatic Lambert was defeated in the fan voting by low-key Christian Arkansan country singer Kris Allen in Season 8, which had been described by the Huffington Post as a “seismic upset.”  

Lambert hadn’t officially come out during the competition until a tabloid displayed photos of Lambert kissing his boyfriend.  Apparently, that plus his eyeliner, black fingernails and high-pitch notes were too much for America to take. I wrote about the Lambert defeat here.

This year is different with two open LGBT contestants in the Top 10.  Has America moved forward culturally over these years to allow such a phenomenon?  The jury is still out but lesbian singer Jurnee and drag queen Ada Vox (Adam Sanders) did not make the Top 10 voting on April 23 despite an abundance of talent for each.

But one of the judges, Katy Perry, a stout LGBT ally broke the show’s rules. “I do think we know talent when we see it,” Perry said after Ada Vox’ magnificent performance which drew the loudest ovation by the studio audience. “So I say we would like to make an executive decision right now” and gestured for Ada Vox to move to the Top 10 group on stage. Later Perry told People, “Enough was enough and you put your foot down when it’s real,” Perry later told reporters, per People. “We stand for truth and for justice.”

Silk smooth singer Jurnee, whose wife is in the military, was also added by the judges to the Top 10 area.  The point is that America did not vote to allow these two talents to advance, and I suspect, as I have before with talented contestants not receiving the requisite votes to move on, homophobia played a role.

Lasaro Arbos, a contestant from Season 12, was notable for his profound stuttering problem, which is not evident when he sings.  He recalled how in school he was shunned by his classmates—a form of bullying—and inspired a nation of kids  who are similarly bullied.

Arbos saw the rejection  of Ada Vox by America’s voters as an indication that “haters” still dominate the voting on American Idol and tweeted the following in support .



Is America ready for an LGBT Idol?  We’ll have to see as the few remaining weeks progress.

UPDATE: On April 29, America voted...and it was a split decision.  Ada Vox' "Circle of Life" failed to capture the voters' hearts while Jurnee's "How Far I'll Go" got her into the Top 7.  Good-bye Ada for now..you are inspirational.

UPDATE: On May 6, America voted...and Jurnee's journey on American Idol ended as she failed to crack the Top 5 despite two superb performances.

So for this year, America was not ready for an LGBT American Idol, but Jurnee will included in the national tour with the other Top 7 performers.















Monday, April 23, 2018

Olney Theatre Presents an Actual Witch Hunt in 'The Crucible'

Photo: Stan Barouh

For over a year, we’ve been subject to the incessant accusations of “witch hunt” from our president referring to the ongoing Russia probe.  Whether or not there is validity to those claims is under debate.   #hocoarts

There were, however, unquestioned witch hunts in our history, such as the McCarthy accusations of Communism against those within the State Department and beyond, and until the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the expulsion of gays and lesbians from the military. 

In Arthur Miller’s classic, The Crucible, currently being presented at the Olney Theatre Center, an actual witch hunt is portrayed.  Loosely based on historical facts, Miller had crafted a four-act play (separated by one intermission) depicting the infamous Salem witch trials of 1692 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  He had written this play as a parallel to the aforementioned McCarthy era of the early 1950’s, and it captured a Tony Award for Best Play in 1953.

Though the setting for The Crucible occurred centuries ago, today’s culture can be examined through the lens of the play. Baseless suspicion and the spreading of rumors on social media, for example, can have devastating consequences. 

Miller captures the horrors of that period in a Puritanical society where the Christian Bible and state laws were one of the same.  Paranoia and hysteria were prevalent.  Grudges were commonplace and seemingly irreconcilable. Morality ruled the day and everyone’s religious activities were under intense scrutiny. There was no tolerance for anyone deviating from moral laws.  And many in Salem were fearful of guilt by association, which could damage their reputation—a major theme throughout. 

Then there is the absolute necessity for self-preservation where people would say anything and fabricate stories to protect their own interests.  In other words, throwing people under the bus to save their own hide was a way of life, which directly led to the tragic imprisonment and executions that was the outcome of the witch trials. 

Under Eleanor Holdridge’s meticulous, first-rate direction, the ensemble cast of 19 talented actors leaves nothing on the stage, and they perform like it was the last thing they were ever going to do.  The actors demonstrate enormous levels of energy and passion and are clearly invested emotionally in their roles.  And they do it with tremendous skill.

The plot is a labyrinth of moving parts with twists galore, and it’s pure frightening at times.  Accordingly, I will not divulge much to detract from the dramatic effect for those who are fortunate enough to see this presentation.

It all starts when the Reverend Samuel Parris, played forcefully by Michael Russotto, is tending to his 10 year-old daughter, Betty (Caroline Rilette/Mia Rilette), lying lifeless in her bed.  Earlier he had discovered Betty and a bunch of girls performing some suspicious ritual in a nearby forest though the ringleader, Abigail Williams (played by Dani Stoller), maintain they were merely dancing.  They fall ill with no ostensible explanation.  The hysteria among the townspeople develops whereby many are convinced witchcraft has enveloped the town and the arrests, trials and punishment of those suspected ensue.

Chris Genebach is exceptional in the role of the main protagonist, John Proctor.  It was John’s affair with Abigail prior to when the play begins that led to Abigail’s jealousy of his wife, Elizabeth Proctor (Rachel Zampelli). Elizabeth fired Abigail as the family servant once she discovered the affair.  Mr. Genebach’s final dramatic scene is superb.

Abigail, the play’s villain, uses this jealousy as a trigger that sets in motion the hysterical witch hunt with her lies and ability to manipulate people. Ms. Stoller is truly effective in this role.    

As virtuous Elizabeth Proctor, Ms. Zampelli conveys an earnest down-to-earth quality.   Her poignant interactions with Mr. Genebach in Acts II and III represent one of the play’s highlights.

Scott Parkinson is convincing in playing the role of young Reverend John Hale from Beverly, Massachusetts.  An intelligent man, Hale was considered an expert on witchcraft. His determinations resulted in the prosecutions of many suspected witches.  Later, he regretted his actions and tried to save the lives of the suspects by persuading them to confess.

Brigid Cleary does an excellent job portraying Rebecca Nurse, an elderly respected woman who was sentenced to death after being accused of witchcraft by the wealthy Thomas Putnam (Bolton Marsh) and his wife, Ann Putnim (Jessica Lefkow) and refused to confess.

While he has many other credits, Olney Theatre-goers are familiar with Paul Morella from his wonderful annual one-man performances in A Christmas Carol.  In The Crucible, Mr. Morella exhibits his strong acting gifts as Deputy Governor Danforth—another of the play’s villains.  He doesn’t appear until Act III but his impact on the overall production cannot be overstated.

Danforth is the presiding judge at the witch trials and is commanding and inflexible in his beliefs.  Mr. Morella’s tour de force performance is something to behold.

Photo: Stan Barouh
Lilian Oben as Tituba, an enslaved black woman from Barbados belonging to the Parris family, is convincing displaying anguish towards her accusers.  She was the first person accused of witchcraft when she admitted to creating love potions for Abigail and her friends.

Other notable performances include Miranda Rizzolo as Mary Warren, a Proctor family servant and one of Abigail’s friends, and Craig Macdonald as Giles Corey, an elderly farmer who along with his wife was accused of witchcraft and sentenced to death.  However, the entire cast worked together flawlessly thanks to the guiding hand of Director Holdridge.

Andrew R. Cohen designed a primarily rustic set that captures the 17th century locale. Vertical wooden boards form the walls with rows of shelves for the first two acts. Two trap doors on the stage floor allowed the actors to ascend to and descend from the bedroom scene in Act I.  A more quasi-modernistic set representing the vestry room of the Salem Meeting House is used in Act III and the Salem jail in Act IV. The set also features striking clusters of wooden boards in random criss-cross formations that framed the stage from the sides and above. It conjured up stakes where witches were burned. 

Nancy Shertler’s creative lighting design amplified the anxiety and fear that permeated throughout.  Patrick Calhoun’s sound design delivered well-timed background music adding to the mood.  And Sarah Cubbage did an excellent job in fitting the cast in period costumes.

The Crucible is by no means a feel-good play.  It’s serious to the core with a few clever chuckles sprinkled among the dialogue. Though not entirely historically accurate as far as individual characters’ ages and other details are concerned, it still presents a grim portrait of this shameful period in history and alarmingly shows that human foibles of that era exist even today.

This American classic that denotes the actual witch hunt is recommended for the historical benefit of the story and especially to witness an extraordinary cast giving it their all.  

Running time. Two hours and 45 minutes with an intermission.

Advisory: The Crucible contains adult themes and is not recommended for children under age 13.
The Crucible runs through May 20 at the Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, MD 20832. Tickets may be purchased by calling 301-924-3400 or by visiting online



Saturday, April 21, 2018

Guy Guzzone Endorses Bob Ford for Howard County Democratic Central Committee

Sen. Guy Guzzone

Maryland State Senator Guy Guzzone endorsed Bob Ford on April 20 for Howard County Democratic Central Committee.  This is the second major endorsement Bob Ford has received this month—the other endorsement  came from former Howard County Executive and State Senator Jim Robey.  #h
ocopolitics
“Bob Ford has been a friend and supporter for many years,” Guzzone said.  “He has worked hard and contributed to my campaigns as well as many other Democrats in Howard County. In doing so, the county has shifted from ‘red’ to ‘blue’ over these years.” 

He adds, “Bob shares and represents the values we as progressive Democrats hold dear.  His work on marriage equality is notable as he helped elected officials better understand the issues involved and helped gain support in the legislature and in the county.  Bob has been a terrific asset to the Howard County Democratic Central Committee and I wholeheartedly endorse his election in June.”

Bob Ford
Bob Ford is extremely appreciative of Guy Guzzone’s endorsement.

“I am very grateful for Guy’s support of my candidacy,” Bob Ford said in response.  “Not only do I consider Guy to be a friend, he’s been a progressive leader both in Howard County and in Maryland as a whole. Guy exemplifies what public service should be—doing the most good for the people he serves with their interests first and foremost.  I can’t thank him enough.”

Guy Guzzone has been the State Senator representing District 13 since January 2015. He is a member of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, Health & Human Services Subcommittee, Pensions Subcommittee, and Senate Chairman of the Joint Audit Committee. 

Prior to that, he was a member of the House of Delegates since January 10, 2007, where he served as Deputy Majority Whip, Chair of the Howard County Delegation, Chair of the Joint Audit Committee, and on the House Appropriations Committee.  From 1998 to 2006, he served as a Howard County Councilman. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Jim Robey Endorses Bob Ford for Howard County Democratic Central Committee

Sen. James N. Robey

On April 11, former Howard County Executive and State Senator James N. Robey endorsed Bob Ford’s bid to remain on the Howard County Democratic Central Committee. #hocopolitics

“I have known Bob Ford for many years and have seen how hard he has worked to elect Democrats in Howard County,” Robey said.  “During the battle for marriage equality, Bob was persuasive in arguing that the time has come for loving same-sex couples to receive the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as other married couples have always enjoyed.  I was happy to support the effort and was one of the principal advocates in the state.”
 
He adds, “Bob’s hard work and dedication to Democratic, progressive principles make him an outstanding and valuable member of the Howard County Democratic Central Committee, and that is why I am endorsing him in the upcoming election.”

Bob Ford is grateful for Robey’s support. 

Bob Ford
“I am extremely honored to receive this wonderful endorsement from Jim Robey, who has done so much to strengthen the Democratic Party in Howard County through his many years of party building and public service,” Bob Ford said in response. 

“His commitment to fairness and equality was evident as we navigated through the struggle to achieve marriage equality in Maryland.  I can’t thank Jim enough for his friendship and support.”

James Robey’s public service in the county began in 1966 when he joined the Howard County Police Department.  In 1991 he was appointed by then County Executive Charles Ecker to be Chief of Police.  He retired from the police force in 1998 to run for Howard County Executive in 1998.  He was elected in 1998 and re-elected in 2002.


In 2006 Robey ran for State Senator representing District 13 and defeated Republican Sandra Schrader with 56 percent of the vote. In 2010, he was re-elected.  Robey was chosen to replace Robert Garagiola in September 2013 as Senate Majority Leader.  He retired from the Maryland State Senate in January 2015.

According to Vote Smart, an independent non-profit research organization, Robey received a performance evaluation rating of 92 percent in 2011 from Progressive Maryland, a nonprofit, liberal advocacy group that rates legislators based on their positions on social, liberal, and family-related issues.

Monday, March 26, 2018

The MARCH and the Ensuing MADNESS



It is clear that the historic March for Our Lives held around the world on March 24, 2018 was historic. 

Despite’s CBS’ pathetically low-ball estimate of 200,000 in Washington D.C. on Face the Nation, everyone who was there, including me, knows that the organizers’ crowd estimates were north of 800,000.  Whose expertise was CBS employing—Sean Spicer?  #hocopolitics

Nonetheless, the real ugliness in our country had emerged prior to the actual day of the marches and rallies and now, noting the success and the stalwartness of the organizers led in part by Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, Cameron Kasky and dozens of others, the so-called adults—overwhelmingly Trump supporters based on their Twitter accounts—have taken to cyberbullying to condemn the future leaders of the United States.

Here is an example from one of the turdballs on Twitter, Bill Mitchell.



Mr. Hogg has been lambasted before as his profile skyrocketed following the mass murders in Parkland.  They attacked him for being “coached” and now they’re taking to Twitter to insult his physical appearance.  These are so-called adults!!!!

Ms. Gonzalez has been frequently referred to as a “skinhead lesbian,” and the extreme right has been doctoring photos on social media to present her ripping up the Constitution when in fact, it was a paper target. (see image at Right comparing the two.)

And Cameron Kasky was accused of being a crisis actor, which he famously defanged, “I’ve been acting since Kindergarden in Ms. Blakely’s production of The Rainbow People. I was the narrator and since then I’ve been lucky enough to be in Little Shop of Horrors, Fiddler On The Roof and if you’ve seen those you'd know I’m not somebody who deserves any money for acting,” he said on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Further evidence is here.

All these young people want to do is help prevent other kids from being murdered by gunfire in schools and elsewhere. And they are right to threaten lawmakers with voting them out of office if they don’t take the appropriate action. 

For those noble goals, they become victims of “very fine people” who showed their true colors yet again.  America and the world can see quite vividly who the real adults are and who the real children are.

Monday, March 19, 2018

My Case for LGBT Representation on the Howard County Democratic Central Committee


By Bob Ford

I am running to retain my position on the Howard County Democratic Central Committee.  As such, I am the only openly LGBTQ candidate in the race that consists of 30 candidates.  It is vital that the Central Committee, whose principal task among others is to find and support progressive Democrats, have LGBTQ representation.   #hocopolitics

While others may profess their support for LGBTQ rights and equality, being actually LGBTQ and having lived through the journey of coming out and dealing with issues that directly impact the LGBTQ population make me uniquely qualified to represent and promote LGBTQ interests.

I am an active member of PFLAG-Howard County and I serve on the Howard County Human Rights Commission, the #OneHoward steering committee and the county executive’s LGBT Round Table.

To be clear, I am in no way suggesting that I be voted to remain on the Central Committee solely because I’m gay. There’s more to me than that.

In addition to being a hard-working, fair-minded, pragmatic and calming voice of reason on the Central Committee these past four years, I had earned my proven progressive bona fides long before the word “progressive” entered our political lexicon.

I am a pro-labor, pro-civil rights, pro-human rights, pro-LGBT rights, pro-choice, pro-gun reform, pro-environment, pro-universal health care, and pro-economic opportunity Democrat ever since I became active in the political process and have never wavered. And I continue to fight for inclusion, openness and equality, not exclusion.

During elections I have been a tireless participant for numerous Democratic candidates and causes by burning shoe leather door-knocking on their behalf, literature dropping, phone banking, envelope stuffing, working the polls, sign holding, marching in neighborhood parades for local Democrats, staffing tables at a spectrum of events, participating in Black Lives Matter demonstrations, and contributing a good deal of money towards candidates’ campaigns.

So, I am not just simply wrapping myself in the rainbow flag.  Yet, for way too long, LGBT people have been marginalized and shunned by the major political parties.  It was not until the Obama presidency when the LGBTQ community was finally invited to the table. I am running to fight for our rightful place.

The LGBTQ community is a key and growing component of the Howard County and Maryland Democratic Party. The latest estimates indicate there are at least 9,000 voters in Howard County who identify as LGBTQ.  Adding in our families, friends, co-workers, neighbors and allies, we have emerged as a potent coalition within the party.

Moreover, Howard County was among the leading jurisdictions in Maryland to have defeated Question 6—a referendum that would have undone the Maryland legislature’s passage of a law that legalized same-sex marriage in 2012—by a significant 59% - 41% margin.  I believe that acceptance of LGBTQ people has further increased over the past six years thus strengthening the LGBTQ coalition.

Despite the important gains stemming from marriage quality and gender identity protections, so much work remains to combat bullying in our schools including cyber bullying, fighting discrimination in the foster care and juvenile justice systems and homelessness among LGBTQ youth, to name a few. These tend to impact transgender individuals the most.

For all these reasons it is imperative that there is a voice on the Howard County Democratic Central Committee to represent our LGBTQ citizens.  This is how Howard County can truly move forward.

Note that I am not seeking or accepting contributions.  Please visit and Like my Facebook page for updates on the campaign and vote for me on June 26.



Authority: Bob Ford, 5912 Trotter Rd. 21029

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Preview: Gertrude Stein and a Companion at Fells Point Corner Theatre


Gertrude Stein and a Companion by Win Wells is the bittersweet telling of the love and lives of celebrated writer Gertrude Stein and her life partner Alice Toklas. Winner of Best Play at the Edinburgh Festival, Sydney Theatre Festival, and Vita Award for Best Play in South Africa, this two woman show spans decades and takes on multiple figures in the ladies’ world, from reporters and German soldiers to Hemingway and Picasso.

"The evening is a joy...Brisk, fun and literate." - Gannett Newspapers

"The interplay gives the piece a spark beyond the page. It takes this very specific story and peels off its layers, revealing a fascinating study in human relations, in marriage, in the science of compromise and the art of enduring love." - Chicago Reader

Director Anne Hammontree, along with the talented Marianne Angelella and Andrea Bush, bring Gertrude Stein and a Companion to life. Fells Point Corner Theatre is excited to share this imaginative exploration of love and time, written in homage of Alice’s biting wit, Gertrude’s poetry, and their colorful world that sparked the movement of Modern Art.

Admission: $19 for Sundays, $24 for Fridays/Saturdays.

Dates: Runs through Sunday, March 25th, 2018 at the Fells Point Corner Theatre, 251 S. Ann St., Baltimore, MD 21231 Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. There will be a Saturday Matinee on March 10.

*There will also be a Pay What You Can Thursday performance on March 1, which will be an open dress rehearsal.*

For tickets, visit www.fpct.org.


Monday, March 05, 2018

A ‘Brilliant’ Performance at Olney

Alexander Strain      Photo: Stan Barouh

When one attends the theater with the hope of experiencing some laughter to escape from everyday problems, the last thing you would expect is a play whose underlying theme is depression and suicide.  Yet, Every Brilliant Thing, a play by Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe, manages to pull that off. 

Olney Theatre Center’s artistic director Jason Loewith directed this unusual one-man performance starring Alexander Strain that is currently playing in the black box Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab at Olney.  The intimate theater is set up with four audience seating sections surrounding a small stage that had, inexplicably, a bunch of Oriental rugs spread on the floor.   #hocoarts

But is it really a one-man show as advertised?  Well, it is if you discount the dozens of audience members who, prior to the show, received directly from the lead performer pieces of paper and other items containing a numerical cue and text with which to participate throughout the play.  These folks either shout out an item from a list of brilliant things in the world or briefly play a character. 

That list had been devised by a boy beginning at age seven after learning of his mother’s attempted suicide. Through the narration by Mr. Strain, we find out that the purpose of the list is to demonstrate that with all the wonders and joys in the world enumerated on it, life is worth living. 

It starts out with childish ideas, such as ice cream and staying up past bedtime.  Then as the play progresses, Mr. Strain moves through adolescence and young adulthood where he adds items.  Peeing in the ocean where nobody will know is such an entry.  Falling in love is another.  So is waking up next to someone. Even “The prospect of dressing up as a Mexican wrestler”—my assigned line—was included as number 777,777.

On and on it goes with audience members reeling off another item. Ultimately he succeeds to form a list nearing the million mark—verbally skipping hundreds of thousands, of course—since it is only a one-hour play.

Yet, it is Mr. Strain, a multiple Helen Hayes Award nominee and one-time Helen Hayes winner, who works with the audience, partly through improvisational quips, that makes the performance so entertaining and sturdy.  Audience members play such roles as a veterinarian who is asked to euthanize the boy’s dog; a teacher who takes her shoe and sock off to create a sock puppet; his father; and his girlfriend then later wife. 

Mr. Strain’s fast-on-his feet retorts and ad libs along with his entering all four sections of the audience at one time or another create a cabaret atmosphere, what with the in-the-round set and the audience involvement.  He exudes warmth, charm and sincerity to augment his well-timed humorous lines while also exhibiting the sorrow his character feels throughout his life to this point. Adding to the superlative performance is Mr. Strain’s high level of energy that provides much action and movement on the stage.

Sprinkled throughout are bits and pieces of music that had an impact on his life adeptly handled by sound designers Jane Behre and Ryan Gravett.

Let’s hand out praise to those audience members who played these characters the evening the play was reviewed.  They’re not actors but seemed to emit the needed pathos when called upon and were convincing.  The rest of the audience was appreciative. Each performance will bring in a new “supporting cast,” which will add a dimension of unpredictability.

Interwoven with the comical features, however, is the reality of mental illness, depression and suicide attempts and how these can affect a family and one’s view of the world and life itself. 

It is during a conversation with his father (Mr. Strain portrayed the father, and an audience member played him as a seven year-old) whereby through a series of “why” questions, the youngster learns from his father his mother’s unhappiness and eventual attempt to hurt herself.  This segment is the most compelling, emotional, gut-wrenching part of the play. 

Photo: Stan Barouh
Noting the sensitivity of the subject matter, the theater’s program contains a page devoted to suicide prevention including a list of resources to consult if an audience member or someone he or she knows is suffering from suicidal thoughts.

But the heaviness of the subject matter does not linger too long as the list continues to be divulged with Duncan Macmillan’s witty words and Mr. Strain’s frolicking delivery creating the needed balance. 

The short play scampers along at a brisk, somewhat frenetic pace.  It is a unique presentation on many levels, and  it is moving as well as entertaining.  You should definitely put  Every Brilliant Thing on your own list of things to do.

Running Time. One hour with no intermission.

Advisory: Every Brilliant Thing contains adult subject matter and is not suitable for children under age 13.

Every Brilliant Thing runs through April 1 at the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab, Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, MD 20832. Tickets may be purchased by calling 301-924-3400 or by visiting online .  


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Olney Theatre Center’s 2018-19 Season


SOUTH PACIFIC

 Music by Richard Rodgers • Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II • Book by Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan • Adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener • Music Direction by Kristen Rosenfeld • Choreography by Darren Lee • Directed by Alan Muraoka

AUGUST 31 - OCTOBER 7, 2018 • MAINSTAGE

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LABOUR OF LOVE

A comedy by James Graham • Directed by Leora Morris

SEPTEMBER 26 - OCTOBER 28, 2018 • MULITZ-GUDELSKY THEATRE LAB

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ELF THE MUSICAL

 Book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin • Music by Matthew Sklar • Lyrics by Chad Beguelin • Based on the New Line Cinema film by David Berenbaum • Music Direction by Angie Benson • Choreography by Tara Jeanne Vallee • Directed by Michael Bobbitt

NOVEMBER 9, 2018 - JANUARY 6, 2019 • MAINSTAGE

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ONCE

 Book by Enda Walsh • Music and Lyrics by Glen Hansard and Mark√©ta Irglov√° • Based on the motion picture written and directed by John Carney • Music Direction by Christopher Youstra • Directed and Choreographed by Marcia M. Dodge

FEBRUARY 6 - MARCH 10, 2019 • MAINSTAGE

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OIL

 By Ella Hickson • Directed by Tracy Brigden

FEBRUARY 27 - MARCH 31, 2019 • MULITZ-GUDELSKY THEATRE LAB

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A COMEDY OF TENORS

 By Ken Ludwig • Directed by Jason King Jones

APRIL 10 - MAY 12, 2019 • MAINSTAGE

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THE MARY STUART PROJECT

 Based on the play by Friedrich Schiller • Adapted by Jason Loewith and the company • Directed by Jason Loewith

MAY 8 - JUNE 9, 2019 • MULITZ-GUDELSKY THEATRE LAB

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ROALD'S DAHL MATILDA THE MUSICAL

 Book by Dennis Kelly • Music and Lyrics by Tim Minchin

JUNE 21 - JULY 21, 2019 • MAINSTAGE

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TIGER STYLE!

 By Mike Lew

JULY 17 - AUGUST 18, 2019 • MULITZ-GUDELSKY THEATRE LAB