Friday, April 4, 2008

thomas hardman, always a few steps ahead (updated)

WHAT'S UP THE PIKE: Blair and Paint Branch bands appear in Russell Crowe movie; Several roundabouts planned for East County; Downtown Wheaton could see new library, apartments.

Part FOUR of our "District 4 Head-to-Head Tour," which seeks to interview all eight candidates running in a special election to replace Councilmember Marilyn Praisner, who passed away in February. A primary will be held April 15, followed by a general election May 13.

County Council candidate Thomas Hardman stands in Downtown Wheaton. Check out Hardman's campaign website and blog.

"If I seem a little disorganized and incoherent," explains Thomas Hardman while we're sitting down at Dunkin' Donuts in Wheaton, "it's because I don't have this [computer] screen in front of me serving as my short-term memory."

Ten years ago, the Aspen Hill resident was making a name for himself online, with a prolific posting streak on Usenet, an early bulletin board system, and a website that you could call an early blog. But today, he's stepping away from the keyboard and onto the campaign trail, running as a Republican for the open District 4 seat on the County Council.

"I'm finally realizing it's more important to do things in the real world than to write and write," Hardman says. "You actually have to go out into the streets, shake hands, talk to people in order to make changes. Writing is just grist for the mill."

Today, Hardman is dismayed by the County's inability to acknowledge the issues affecting many communities, including his own Aspen Hill. "I was going on and on about gangs in my neighborhood for eight years and the County pretended it didn't exist," he says. "Security here is a big issue, and there are huge gaping holes that people ignore here for political reasons."

so much more AFTER THE JUMP . . .

A new townhouse in Wheaton is up for foreclosure. A downturn in the economy has made foreclosures increasingly common throughout Montgomery County.

Overcrowding has changed the place his family moved to forty years ago when it was "pretty much the end of the world," Hardman says. He would see "people that would pave their yards, three to four families a house . . . most of those people were construction workers here to work on the [building] boom," he notes.

And the Department of Permitting Services, who is charged with making sure that homes are legally occupied and meet building codes, hasn't done a thorough job. "If you look at most of the fires in Aspen Hill, they were in homes with excess occupancy . . . if they had been inspected, these problems could have been prevented," he laments. "In some situations you may want to speed up the process for more egregious violations."

With the faltering economy, however, overcrowding isn't the only problem in his neighborhood anymore. "You drive through Aspen Hill now, especially on the main thoroughfares, and it's one For Sale sign after another," he says. "I read about a town in Ohio that has the highest foreclosure rate in the nation, and it's just melted down . . . I could see some of those problems happening here."

Meanwhile, the County budget keeps growing larger and larger, he laments. "I'm trying to think of the right organic metaphor," Hardman says. "You ever see those science fiction movies with the giant amoebas?"

However, raising taxes isn't an option. "We're also gonna have to cut a lot of services," he laments. "You have a lot of these agencies that try to be everything to everyone . . . focus on the core competencies and less money will slip through the cracks," Hardman adds. "The last thing we want to do is tax the middle class into insolvency."

Hardman fears that Montgomery County could be getting too big for its britches. "Stop inviting more growth," he insists. "If you look at living things, the size of an organism is designed for its environment. You're not gonna have an elephant where there isn't enough food for it to eat . . . things are scaled by design."

While the pace of growth may be too high, the quality of the growth isn't nearly high enough, creating a "disconnect" between "here's where people work and here's where people live," he says. "That's where mixed-use zoning comes in. I lived in the District for several years and what I liked the most about it was within two blocks you had a variety of stores."

The addition of high-end housing in Downtown Wheaton allows people to live, work and shop in the same place.

We're outside at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Reedie Drive now, voices fighting the traffic, commenting on the accelerating redevelopment of Downtown Wheaton. Hardman keeps returning to the idea of the 'arcology,' a kind of superstructure in science fiction where a large amount of people can live, work and play without ever leaving. Places like Wheaton could almost be considered arcologies, he says. "If you think of the arcology as the reinvention of the village, you've got places to live, places to shop, places to work and transit," he explains. "All the stuff is there, you just have to build boxes and put people in them."

Hardman says it's possible, but he's skeptical. "This is the city, but it wasn't designed to be . . . other than saying 'this is a commercial area,'" he says. "The roads just weren't designed for this kind of traffic and the transit system is at its breaking point."

"These places will be pretty nice 'cause they're near Metro and shopping," he continues, motioning to a block of apartments and offices rising across the street. "The issue is can the people who work there afford to live across the street . . . can people who live there work at the mall?"

While Hardman supports public transit - he would like to see the Metro augmented with a system of "circulator-type" buses in business districts and longer-distance express buses - he rarely uses it anymore. "It's an increasingly unpleasant experience not because of the character or the quality of the people but because there are so many of them," he says. "It's getting to be more like Japan where they hire people to push you through the door."

Nonetheless, he states that "rail of any kind is the most efficient form of transportation that we have," but further implementing it here wouldn't necessarily be that way. "If we move to an urban planning concept that resurrects the village and have rail connecting them. . . I don't know how well that would work for Montgomery County as it's configured now," he says.

"All of this that runs on oil . . . all of this here will have to be massively downscaled - and sooner rather than later, or we could wind up like squirrels who haven't stored enough nuts for the winter."

Boarding a bus at Briggs Chaney Road and Old Columbia Pike. Hardman feels that creating more mixed-income housing in Briggs Chaney could have a large effect on the surrounding area.

I was flattered when Hardman e-mailed me to say that he'd been so inspired by JUTP's series on Briggs Chaney Road last summer that he drove down it a few days before our interview. The portion west of Old Columbia Pike "looks like a pretty nice neighborhood, the kind of place people would want to stay the same, save for a little less traffic," he says, though the areas east of the Pike were another story.

For their candidate profile, the Gazette asked Hardman if he felt the Planning Board was to blame for low test scores at Paint Branch High School, which serves the square-mile amalgamation of low-rent apartments and townhouses at Briggs Chaney and 29. "Probably concentraing [low-income people] all in one district isn't going to make them happy," says Hardman. "You look at scattered-site housing . . . maybe they could convert some of those high-density areas into luxury condos and have a wider mix of incomes."

Hardman was very disappointed, though, to read that local punk legend and Government Issue lead singer John Stabb was assaulted outside of his Briggs Chaney condo last summer. Twenty-five years ago, he was a fan, he explains. "You probably shouldn't write this, but I was kind of one of the first Goths in town," says Hardman. "I was not really super involved in the hardcore [punk] scene, but I probably drank in the same bars as they did."

Today, however, his musical involvement consists of some very respectable noodling on the guitar, which he's featured on his campaign website. Hardman likes to play guitar on his front porch, adjacent to a bus stop, which earns him both cheers and jeers from passers-by. "Most of the neighbors were like 'hey, great job, keep it up,'" he says. "But the people on the bus were like 'cut that mess down,' so I don't go on the porch anymore."


Thomas Hardman said...

Dan, thanks very much for your kind words!

Yesterday I went for a drive up around "the other part of District 4", you know, scenic Brookeville, up towards Brighton Dam, and then back down New Hampshire. I took lots of pictures and will try to work them into a slideshow for YouTube. I'll put some stills on the Campaign Blog.

Even with the Rural Heritage preservation area, the McMansionization of Montgomery County proceeds apace. Formerly tiny Ashton has significant traffic congestion even at 3:30 in the afternoon. I was almost afraid to imagine what it must be like at the peak of rush hour. I was caught in that one time about five years ago, and my heart feels for the folks who have to deal with it every day. Does Ashton really need more shopping in the form of a fairly large mall, the proposed Ashton Meeting Place? I'm sure that the developer and construction community are all for it. As for the people who live right there in downtown Ashton, I'm not so sure. I'll be hearing from them, and answering their questions, at the Candidate's Forum on Sunday, which is sponsored in part by the Sandy Spring Civic Association and the Sherwood Elementary PTA.

Once again I have to raise the question about the balance between densified housing and "central hub retail centers". That last is generally referred to as "malls" but generally excludes "strip malls".

Look at the townhomes or condos rising above the Wheaton Metrorail station. Right now they're growing above the old taxi stand and "kiss-n-ride". Soon, it seems, they'll be rising above the current bus depot, or certainly there will be pressures to build there if population keeps rising and the housing market returns.

But the real question is more "can the people who work in Westfield Shopping Town (formerly Wheaton Plaza) afford to live in these new townhomes?" I haven't actually checked the asking prices for those residences but frankly I think they are priced for the Young Urban Professional set, even the subset categorized as "Dual Income, No Kids". Perhaps one of the County workers in the office blocks across the street could afford to live there, but what of the store clerks in the discount retail anchors in the mall? I'm skeptical that they could afford it. Rather than expanding affordable housing, once again we may be looking at building more space for the young adults of the elite classes, while failing to provide or maintain the niches for the blue-collar workers and the lower-wage clerical classes.

Developers, like any business, go where the money is. Professionals, of course, go where their profession operates. There's a sort of inherent dilemma, an irony, in that those who can afford luxury townhomes sited right at transit depots are those who can probably also afford McMansions 20 miles north of those transit depots. But what sort of place is affordable to those who work in the businesses that make the transit? They may be commuting for 20 miles, but from another direction. While it's probably a small percentage of income to fill up the gas tank if you're a professional making $100K per year, that 40-mile per day commute may consume most of the low-wage worker's disposable income and prevent them from saving up for a better home.

Obviously these are issues that need consideration, but is it better to mandate that luxury developments have "moderately priced dwelling units" ("MPDU") or is it better to not so much promote the idea of exclusive luxury at exhorbitant price?

Segregating people by race or religion is generally unacceptable in all of the decent parts of this great nation. Is segregating people by income level any better? The rich will generally assure you that it is, or so I am told. There is definitely money to be made with "snob appeal".

I think that the County government and planners really need to find a way for money to be made appealing to the sort of people who live modestly, whether by necessity or by choice.

The working poor, no less than the wealthy, should be able to live close to where they work, and not segregated into any resurrection of the failed "welfare projects" that caused so much urban blight in the latter half of the 20th Century.

retgroclk said...

There are some homes and apartments that are "afordable"- they are older and smaller- but they do exist.

The apartments behind the 7-11 on Amherst are fairly affordable, as are the apartments further down(south) on Georgia Ave, near the Forest Glen Metro.

There are also the small homes along Randolf Road near the Glennmont Metro.

One of the biggest problems, isnt justthe size of newer homes and aprtments- it is the amenities--

Do new homes really need granite counter tops, jacouzzis, tiled kitchens and bathrooms etc.

Growing up in this area- I remember smaller homes with nothing fancy inside.

As the family's income increases, home improvements occur.

If we can go back to this idea of starter homes-- perhaps homes will be a little more affordable.

Sligo said...

Why should anyone be obligated to provide housing in nice apartment buildings for people earning an hourly wage at the mall, just because it happens to be located nearby? If that's the case, then why not expand on this? New York could force developers to subsidize housing in Manhattan so that all the professionals who commute into the city from New Jersey can afford to live near their office. Yeah, sometimes you don't get to live in your ideal place when you are younger and have a low-paying job, but that applies to everyone. That's why you get a roommate. I've been there. Getting a nicer place, etc. is a prime motivation for improving your situation by finding a better job, going back to school, etc. Also, insinuating that these apartments are populated by the "elite" classes is absurd... as if the Rockefellers and Vanderbilts are renting there. A lot of those people have probably held crappy jobs in the past and worked their way up. It's like the Jeffersons - their business was successful so they moved into the "deluxe apartment in the sky". They weren't entitled to a discounted luxury apartment just because their dry cleaners was located nearby.

I know lots of people who have horrible commutes - and have great jobs. Of course the mall is right next to the Metro Station, so it's not like there isn't an alternative to driving and paying for gas. I sure as heck wish my office was next to the Metro.

There was a place once where everyone got to live in the same quality apartments - The Soviet Union.

Thomas Hardman said...


I live in exactly such a "starter home" in Aspen Hill. It's hardly in the original condition as built in 1957. We've made a lot of improvements. We haven't altered the structure much, we've just finished the basement, improved the wiring, replaced various fixtures over time.

Someone right up the street from us took a home with the same floor plan, and ripped out and replaced a lot of the interior, added more garage space, etc. Everyone who has been there offers glowing praise. Apparently they took one entire end of it and tore out the floor between the levels, and made that into a very spacious loft-type space.

I agree with most of what you say. I personally would tend to build homes designed to be as generic as possible, and let the owners finish it, in whatever way best reflects their personality and tastes.

As it is, if some builder finishes their "custom" homes all the same way with all of the same colors and layouts, that tends to attract only buyers who have the exact same tastes. Presumably those tastes derives from commonalities of culture and perhaps of politics.

Imagine the political possibilities: based on the understanding of the builder-supplied fittings and decorations, you could perhaps understand the demographic well enough for targeted marketing of the sort that the marketing and political campaign industries love. But would promoting such homogenized neighborhoods be a positive thing for anyone other than marketers? I'd think that such places would turn into predictable little enclaves of people who all think the same, rather than promoting the old-fashioned sort of community where you have that vibrant discourse and a thriving marketplace of ideas.

Sligo: Wherever did you get the idea that we should subsidize luxury townhomes for the working class?

I very much agree with what "retgroclk" suggests, and extend the idea. Let's develop such housing as "starter homes", with a very basic set of fixtures and amenities, that should be affordable to a much larger swath of the general population.

If the new homeowners can afford to buy it as a "starter" and fix it up into a millionaire's den, let them do that. If they can't afford to upgrade their home to a small palace, they'll already be up to code with perfectly serviceable fixtures and fittings.

What I am objecting to is the idea of building only to the "luxury" market. That inherently denies housing to the less affluent classes. That's just wrong.

The one thing that such proposed facilities need to have is really no luxury at all, but a necessity. That would be good security, for rich and poor alike. See also the US Constitution as amended, "equal protection of the laws". Good design and good police/security service need to be available and effective, regardless of income level. The Constitution demands it, so do I, and so should the voters.

Everyone: I'm running a blog for the better part of my campaign. Stop on by and critique my positions! It is at

I welcome critique and suggestions, ask questions and I'll try to give answers that are as relevant to the questions as the questions are relevant to my campaign positions and proposed policies.

Sligo said...

The inclusion of lower-income units in buildings is frequently incentivized by governments through various tax breaks. If the county is providing tax breaks to developers who include moderate-income units in their buildings, then the lost tax revenue that the county would otherwise have received would have to be considered a subsidy.

I was talking more about apartments, but the idea that an hourly worker at a "discount store" at the mall should be entitled to buy a large, brand new townhouse next to the subway simply because they have an inconvenient commute isn't exactly realistic.

Anyway, the existing MPDU program is a joke. It can easily be abused and the rents/prices for many of these places aren't exactly cheap in the first place.

Thomas Hardman said...


Will it be possible to communicate without resorting to trendy complexspeak? I'm just a harmless little UNIX system administrator and words like "incentivized" make my brain itch. As in the words of Calvin (of "Calvin and Hobbes"), "I like to verb words. Verbing weirds language". As in, "in between xeroxing I googled the other candidates."

It is true that giving tax breaks to developers as an incentive to provide MPDUs reduces the revenue stream to the County and thus effectively increases expenditures. And it is true that there have been reports in major newspapers that the promised MPDUs are frequently never delivered or are not provided at reasonable cost.

Yet if you will look in today's Washington Post, you will see that even County Executive "Ike" Leggett is coming to understand:

It is "easier and cheaper" to hold on to housing than to build affordable units, he said at an annual housing conference.

Leggett (D) also urged officials to provide tax incentives to county employees who are trying to buy homes in Montgomery, speed up county review of developments if they also include affordable units and, in some instances, loosen zoning restrictions on new construction.

If you'll read the article, you'll see that it does point out that the developer buy-outs system isn't working, and in fact it seems that it's a lot less expensive for them to just pay the fines than to set aside MPDU space.

I have to take issue with your tone that implies that " hourly worker at a 'discount store' at the mall should be entitled to buy a large, brand new townhouse" because they don't like their commute.

First, do you think I'm a Democrat or something worse? You've already pretty much implied that I'm a commie. No, what I'm saying is that the developers are catering to only the top-tier income brackets because that's where the money is, and there's no effective regulatory or legislative incentive for them to do otherwise.

I don't think that low-wage people are entitled to anything other than entitlements, among which are equal protection of the laws and to the degree it can be arranged, equal opportunity. But here in Aspen Hill I have seen the social fallout in neighborhoods where the low-wage workers have to crowd into single-family homes that they've converted into worker-barracks while using their yards as parking lots for their fleet and building storage sheds for their equipment in the backyards, with those sheds being themselves about the size of houses and frequently also having people living in them. If storage becomes more accessible to them, and we apply incentive to comply with the code, and stiffen the regulation on the overcrowding, that makes things more orderly and makes the outraged neighbors a lot less upset. But part and parcel of that is that you have to do something about the overcrowding.

One approach is to reprise the errors of Marie Antoinette and say "let them eat cake"; we could say "well, we just don't care if they have no place to live, we just can't have the overcrowding". But the same overcrowding that's intolerable in a small-lot single-family residential homes zone is the accepted standard in an apartment building.

Personally I don't think I have too much of a problem with "spot zoning" or zoning exceptions based on a rate of allowing two older houses per block being rezoned, inspected, and licensed as high-density. I do have a problem with someone saying "okay let's build a whole building and it's only for the poor" because that's just reprising the Welfare Projects.

Furthermore, I have the exact same problem with saying "okay, let's make the poor live in this neighborhood or that one" because that is still just concentrating poverty and effectively it's institutionalizing slums. Whether that's the old US model of concentrating poverty in the urban core, or the old European/Latin model of concentrating poverty in the outskirt suburbs, it's still a bad idea. Simply being removed to a far distance from employment opportunities is one of the best ways known to perpetuate poverty, and we just don't want that.

So, what do we do?

Quite frankly I am tempted to say we should slap a tax on "luxury" but only at the level of the developers. They should be building a lot of units that are bare-bones, modest in size, and if people have the money to fix them up into showcases, they can do that. The whole point isn't to prevent people from spending their money, the whole point is to make sure that even working-poor people can reasonably be "incentivized" to save for a home with a reasonable expectation of actually getting one they can afford without resorting to the sort of hanky-panky of "inventive financing" that got us into this housing bubble.

Basically we make it possible for the working poor and the middle classes to have a roof over their heads that's up to code. It can be a home of very modest proportions and fixtures, but it's a home.

This isn't, as you so disingenuously accuse, installing the impoverished in luxury and taxing the rich to do it. It's just requiring that when developers build a complex that they claim to be "mixed use" and "affordable to a wide spectrum of income", that it actually is.

It's like the difference between certain models of Cadillac and Oldsmobile. Almost every mechanical part is the same, the chassis is the same, their production shares 99-percent of the manufacturing process, but with Cadillac you get a far more attractive and comprehensive level of accessories and trim.

If you want to draw a comparison in the history of homebuilding, think of what might have happened if Levittowns had been built with modern materials and to modern codes. Anyone could afford it, although only the upper middle class could afford to double the size, add another floor, and furnish it like a palace. But even the working poor could live in spartan simplicity in a safe place that will keep them warm and dry.

If you have the nerve to call me a commie for insisting that we need to start realizing that this cheap workforce can't work for so little if they have to spend so much on fuel and commuting that they can't eat or pay rent -- and that we thus ought to work towards the end of helping them knock those commuting expenditures out of the budget -- I will simply decide that you are just here to call people commies.

Anonymous said...

why is there no word on this site about Don Praisner missing the debates? It's been on both the Gazette and Post sites.

retgroclk said...

Let me add one more iron to the fire--Thirty years ago, one working spouse in a department store or a retail store could buy a house, support a family, buy a car and afford to send their child to college.

Over the past thirty years-- the price of houses skyrocketed, tuition skyrocketed, and the price of cars skyrocketed(along with many other items necessary to exist)--yet--salaries have not kept up with these increases.

30 years ago a grocery clerk started off at $5.50/hour- and topped off at $21/hr after thirty years.

Today a clerk starts out at $6.50/hr. and tops off at $16/hr after thirty years.

And these are Union jobs-- and way enough pontificating on my part.

Anonymous said...

This guy Hardman is not serious candidate, although he will surely get his own vote, just as he is his own favorite writer and speaker apparently. Nothing here about meeting the voters or his family.

What is serious though is Don Praisner's absence. This is a political strategy to put forward a man in very poor health just because he has a last name that might confuse the voters. You run your office the way you run your campaign. Absent from one, absent from the other. We don't need a straw councilman.

Thomas Hardman said...

Anonymous -- how conveniently so -- declares that I'm not a serious candidate. His reasons are that I am not sharing my plans and strategy nor giving details about my family.

You want the details? I never married, and have no children. My ancestry is mostly German-American, of the "old school". We're not Amish but some of us arrived on the same boats at the same time in history, before the American Revolutionary War.

My father started his life on a Kansas farm, where his family suffered through both the Dust Bowl and the Depression. He fought in the Mediterranean theater for the US Navy in an outfit called the "Beachjumpers". Their heroism and effectiveness in the Second World War is well known and something of a legend in the community of Naval historians. After his return to the US, he met and married my mother, an office workers raised in Detroit but born near Lebanon PA of an old established family with roots that include a known fighter in the Revolution.

After they married, kids came along, I am the youngest.

My father worked for years at the Helium Refinery in Shiprock NM and I was born in San Juan County Hospital in Farmington, New Mexico, USA. My mother was working for the Public Health Service. Shortly before I was born, my father was disabled by a heart attack, and when there arose an opportunity for my mother to transfer to a much better-paid job in Rockville, MD, the family relocated here. Over the years, as modernizing medicine improved my father's health, he found work with Montgomery County Public Schools as an audio-visual repair technician, a position from which he retired well.

My mother finished out her career with the Federal government as a high ranking manager at the Environmental Protection Agency, where she was instrumental in promoting the cause of gender equality and equal opportunities. She worked afterwards as a manager for a regional Church organization, traveling widely to help start new congregations all over the Mid-Atlantic region.

My sisters are both retired career government workers.

I attended Montgomery County Public schools from first to twelfth grade, graduating in June 1976 from Robert E Peary HS on Arctic Avenue in Aspen Hill. I have been here for almost my entire life.

My parents split many years ago, after I graduated, and my father is in his nineties, visited daily in his retirement home by his wife. He needs to be there due to his arthritis and heart condition.

My mother is almost as elderly, and much more healthy, thanks to modern medicine and good family heritage. We are old-school German-Americans and where medical needs don't demand it, we don't put our elders out to pasture in retirement communities, though of course they are certainly free to choose it. I am the primary caretaker of my elderly mother, who is very attached to her lovely house which she has scrupulously kept since 1963.

As a family of lifelong career civil servants, and with a long family history of distinguished military service, we are of course a family of modest means, and no debts whatsoever, who believe very strongly in putting and keeping money in the bank and in real-estate.

With two parents who grew up into young adults in the Depression, I have always been taught the benefits of frugality. I have further learned that "if you can't pay cash for it, you must learn to do without". That's a philosophy that will guide me, if elected, on the County Council.

When you borrow money from the bank, actually you're borrowing other people's money. When you don't repay your loans, actually, you are effectively stealing other people's money. That's pretty immoral, don't you think? Should Montgomery County be funding itself on borrowed money? I don't think so! Nor should it regard the taxpayer as a limitless resource who can be shaken down for more and more and more. No, the right thing to do is to tighten the belt, and find waste and inefficiency and trim the fat out of the budget.

Some of my fellow candidate declare that they have sworn to not increase taxes any more than the amount allowed by the Charter. I'll go farther... I'll do my best to not increase property taxes at all, and to see if there's not some way to eliminate wasteful spending or inefficient use of resources so as to try to lower the income taxes as well.

You see, my family background, and our way of life, and the years of experience growing up and living among successful career civil servants gives me deep understanding of how to make government work, how to find where it doesn't work, and how to fix what's broken. My family background and history also teaches me that you can do a lot with next to nothing, and you don't need to borrow money to dress pretentiously and show off your wealth in prideful displays of ostentation. I'm not Amish, but in my attitudes, I'm not far from it.

I don't need to point out that when you see some Amish farmer my age, you may think you see some simple farmer, some rube, some hick with weird ways and strange beliefs. But you are almost certainly actually looking at someone with a deep and abiding love of nature and the land, with a shrewd business sense, lots of land that he owns free and clear, and enough wisdom to thank his maker for all of his blessings, and an understanding that being a Plain Person has every bit much of dignity and worth as can be possessed by any of those who flaunt all of their "stuff" and actually are owned by their bank.

I'm not taking money from developers, I am not taking money from any special interests.

I'm running for County Council because government is what my family does... aside from returning mostly whole from battles where quite frankly we kick much ass. Google the name of Hardman sometime... the military is a tradition to this very day.

I understand frugality. I understand hunger. I understand that the way you keep food in the larder is not spending your income on frivolous things. If elected, I will bring my familial culture of honesty, diligence, savings, persistence to the job, along with a morality that demands that you give people what they've paid for, and deliver a product where the price is right.

pat said...

Man, I knew I liked this guy for some reason. I wish I could play guitar like he can. What's the name of that tune?

Thomas Hardman said...

Pat, I think you're a nice fellah too, and I'll go so far as to not add "for a Democrat".

This might give you and everyone else some idea where I'm coming from, my dad was a lifelong FDR Democrat, not hard to understand when you realize that the Civil Conservation Corps both educated and fed my Dad when times were really rough, and put him to hard work building the infrastructure of our modern nation. See also such things as the Rural Electrification Project and the road-building and tree planting. My dad and thousands of others didn't know it, but everything they learned and every job they did built America's strength against a world that was growing increasingly hostile. When the Second World War started, the rest of the world didn't know how much the US had advanced, and as the Japanese admiral said, "... we have woken a sleeping giant...".

My dad was very conservative but not in the modern way. He truly understood things such as how the greatness of the US wasn't just in its military power, but in the individual liberties guaranteed us by our Constitution. He remained deeply involved in things like Isaac Walton League and various outdoorsman clubs through most of his life, and also in a wide variety of charitable organizations where he donated what he could, his time and caring.

For him, back in the Kansas of his youth, "diversity" mostly consisted of religious differences. His mother was a Jehovah's Witness but was also famed for miles around for being able to play any song you wanted on any stringed instrument. I never knew her. Many of his neighbors were Mennonites, and on one side of "town" there were Lutherans and on another side of "town" there were various other groups. Dad never talked much religion with me and it didn't exactly come from the Bible when he did mention the Creator, but you could tell from his love of nature and the thanksgiving that he gave before digging into some trout, he knew from where our blessings flow. Oh, the other diversity that he knew when he was a young man was the natives. We're just a little bit Cherokee, or maybe Kiowa, the records are kind of sketchy.

I have to admit that I deeply admire your work on the behalf of Veterans, and regardless of where else we might agree to disagree, I agree without reservation that honoring and tending the wounds of those who serve our great nation, and defending the families left behind by those who have fallen, that's an honor and a duty and one we must never forget. I realize that for as lot of the young folks it's just not fashionable to honor the defense of our nation, but I am no slave to fashion and will do as my conscience dictates. If that means saying "anything for a Vet" and doing whatever is in my meager power to make it so, then that's just how it's got to be.

My mother, I guess you figured, is what you'd call a Liberal Republican, and she'd walk a mile through a howling blizzard to vote for Connie Morella, and if I recall correctly, she actually has done so.

And thus we can explain Mr Hardman: right there in the middle, a Conservative Conservationist with a devotion to Vets and Individual Liberty, a genuine tree-hugging pagan who thinks that however you find your higher power in a way that does no harm, you're just doing your own thing in your own way and that's what makes America great. I'm for a strong national defense but I realize that the strength of the nation is the strength of the people. We shall not be overcome, and I do have a dream. But I have to look first to my own family, my own neighborhood, my own district, and my fellow citizens of whatever type or kind.

Where I come in as a Republican is that I shy away from socialism and a whittling away at our civil liberties by the state, and I oppose all efforts to destroy the Middle Class, whether it's by excess taxation or by excess deregulation or outsourcing as a political goal. I think there's a Center and I think it's the nation's "happy place" and I think we need to all go there and re-invent ourselves and our nation. There's too much divisive partisan politicking and I think it's necessary to have cordial input from all sides and a willingness to compromise on anything that doesn't utterly grate on an individual's core ideals.

I do have one thing to say that I believe will disappoint quite a few people who have been following right along so far with my little screed here. I regard the tier of counties right around the District as the front door of the Nation's Capital (where I lived for some years) and I think it needs to be aggressively defended. And I don't think it's giving the highest honor to the achievements of our veterans to collaborate with invasion, or to accede to a one-party government that exercises an arbitrary rule.

It's time for a change, and whether it's replacing Democrats Gone Bad with decent Democrats of good conscience and high honor, or installing some loyal-opposition checks-and-balances to our County Council in the form of a reasonable centrist Republican, it's all the same to me as long as change happens. The current Council isn't quite yet the Politburo but if something isn't done to bring them more in line with the needs of the minority as well as the whims of the fickle majority, we could wind up there. When I heard my poor old dad remark on the state of affairs of the modern USA, and ask me "I'm not sure what I was fighting for, when this is what we got", I determined to pick up the dear old man's fallen sword and soldier on. I want a USA my dad would recognize and could love. You gotta start small and I'm starting here... where I belong.

Thomas Hardman said...

I forgot to mention.

The guitar tune is a cover of "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd, just done up country/rock style.

If you're easily amused you might like this:

Ah, I suppose I should ask a stupid question. Are there any places in District 4 where people can just pull up a guitar and jam with other local guitarists?

I didn't think so... or I'd be there.

Anonymous said...

Thomas Hardman said...

Hardman fears that Montgomery County could be getting too big for its britches. "Stop inviting more growth," he insists. "If you look at living things, the size of an organism is designed for its environment. You're not gonna have an elephant where there isn't enough food for it to eat . . . things are scaled by design."

RE: If you are against More Growth(Housing, Upscale Retail, High Paying Employment, Highway Buiding and Widening), then why do you support More Influx of Illegal Immigration in which it is CONTRIBUTING to the faastes Population Growth in the County...

Thomas Hardman said...

Anonymous accuses me of support Illegal Immigration.

This may be the most insupportable and flatly insane accusation anyone has ever directed at me, and I've been accused of some things that are hard to top. Yet somehow you've managed to top them, by far!

And here's the evidence.

That was posted on Tuesday March 25, 2008, but I've long since been on record as opposing illegal immigration. Indeed, I am on record as the only County Council candidate who pledged to never vote a cent for CASA of Maryland.

Indeed, if you search the records of the Maryland Assembly, you'll have to look hard but you will find that I have on many occasions traveled to testify in opposition to Driver's Licenses for Illegal Aliens. Indeed, that was the centerpiece of my campaign for Delegate, District 19, back in 2006.

See also
"Tide of Illegal Alien Teenagers -- Gang Fodder On the Way?"

See articles also on that page about "Montgomery Long Ignored Gang, Some Say", about the MS-13 violence at Springbrook in 2006.

Remember, I don't much care for gangs or gangsters, and in particular I don't care for transnational criminal organizations such as MS-13 or 18th Street.

What's the matter, "Anonymous", your candidate isn't strong against illegal aliens? Must not be, if you have to come here and make bizarre and unfounded accusations.

Calling me "soft on illegal aliens" is like accusing the Devil of being the Pope.

Thomas Hardman said...

Anonymous goes into berserker mode by conflating things which can't be associated by reasonable people:

RE: If you are against More Growth(Housing, Upscale Retail, High Paying Employment, Highway Buiding and Widening), then why do you support More Influx of Illegal Immigration [...]

Look, only in the minds of people challenging the clearly superior candidate in the race, could my policy of "no more growth until we already have infrastructure" with " being opposed to any of "upscale retail", "highpaying employment", or "highway buiding [sic] and widening".

For my policies on not building too much housing unless the roads to support it are already completed, see:
Roads Should Come Before More Development.

As for the housing, a lot of it sure is coming on the market in a hurry, and prices are falling every day. We've got enough housing, it's just been unaffordable. It's becoming affordable. It will continue to do so. Let it happen, as long as it ultimately means more essential civil servants can live near where they work:
Live Where They Work for Our Civil Servants.

You know, the only way "anonymous" could help my campaign more would be if "anonymous" were to accuse me of not caring about my neighborhood and being soft on gangs. Oh, they could claim I hate anti-gang programs as well.

But, I'll save them the time!

North Gate Park Volunteer Activity.

Neighborhood Initiatives, Citizen Activists, Government Assistance.