Posted by: Mike P. | May 23, 2011

Maryland SB 167 – Part 1

There has been a huge brouhaha in the State of Maryland over the passage of SB 167. Supposedly, this bill allows Illegal Aliens to pay in-state tuition rates at Maryland colleges.

This isn’t exactly the case. But, first I thought it would be interesting to look at the tactics being employed by those against the bill.

First, why is any one against this bill? Well, quite obviously it benefits certain communities and will help obtain votes for the next election. Decrying the bill is not likely to sway many voters away from O’Malley, but if the bill is over-turned, it would tend to make the Democrats look weak and ineffectual. There are many talking points being employed – taxpayer money going to support illegal aliens, illegal aliens are criminals – why are we helping criminals, etc. Of course, few actually bother to READ the bill, and this is the next point I want to address.

There is a petition being circulated with the intention of adding a referendum to revoke the bill. Signatures must be gathered to add the referendum to the ballot. The text of the bill must be presented on the back of the petition. The text, as presented, is essentially unreadable. I tried to read it on a huge monitor in a large font and could barely follow it. What is the trick? Use long, long lines of text, of course. The eye does not track lines of text over about 5.5″ inches. Make long lines, and you can pretty much guarantee no one can read what you wrote. I have stored a copy of the Petition Signature Page here. See if you can read the bill as presented on the back of the petition.

It gets even better. When the petition is printed, the lines showing the actual bill are nearly eleven inches long. This pretty much makes the bill unreadable.Try it for yourself. Can you read this? This leaves the potential signer completed at the mercy of the talking points being espoused by the volunteer.

Instead, why not take a look at the actual bill. This is not very easy to read, either, but this is the nature of law and format our laws are generated in. At least the line length is readable and your head won’t explode while trying.

The petition’s presentation is nothing more than a deliberate attempt to glaze over the eyes of whoever is targeted to sign the petition so they listen volunteer’s talking points, and not read what the law actually says.

Hopefully, in the next few days, I will get a chance to either generate a fully readable copy of the law, or find a link to someone who has already done this work. Additionally, I will want to define some terms referenced in the document, with the intention of coming up with the truth on what this bill actually does.
Then we can come up with some actual talking points, including the costs and benefits to society, and, if you actually read the bill, how those costs will be monitored by the state and the legislature.

The petition and talking points are being managed by, c/o Neil Parrott/. At this time, the site seems to be targeted at this just this issue.

A technical analysis of the fiscal impact the bill is likely to have was prepared.

This is a copy of an email I received urging me to sign the petition.

From lxxxxxu Sun May 22 19:xxxxxxxx1
Date: Sun, 22 May 2011 19:xxxxx -0400
From: "Bxxxxxxxxx."
To: Undisclosed recipients: ;
Subject: Petition Drive to Overturn In-State Tuition for Illegal Immigrants

Petition Drive to Overturn In-State Tuition for Illegal Immigrants

The just-ended 2011 Legislative Session was a difficult one for believers in limited government, lower taxes and the rule of law. Among the more objectionable pieces of legislation passed by the General Assembly was the "Dream Act" (SB 167). Under the Dream Act, illegal immigrants will be given the privilege of paying only the heavily-discounted (and taxpayer subsidized) in-state tuition rate at public universities, colleges and community colleges rather than the out-of-state tuition rate. Previously, only Maryland citizens had access to the in-state rate of tuition. Thus, Maryland taxpayers will pay approximately $11,000 in subsidies per illegal immigrant per year for each year in a Maryland public university or college.
Many Maryland taxpayers cannot even afford to pay for their own children to attend college, and yet we are now being FORCED to pay for illegal immigrants to attend a Maryland college.
This legislation, forced through by Governor O'Malley and Speaker Busch, is an insult to Maryland citizens and to the many legal immigrants who respected our laws, played by the rules, and came to our Country legally. The Dream Act grants yet another State benefit to illegal immigrants and, in my judgment, is part of an ongoing effort by the political leadership of our State to make Maryland a sanctuary for illegal immigrants.
And, remember, this new benefit is in addition to the $1.5 billion Maryland taxpayers already pay for services offered to illegal immigrants, including free health care, pre-k through 12th public education, welfare, and other entitlements previously reserved for U.S. citizens.

But, we can still stop this new law from being enacted.

Under the Maryland Constitution, voters have the right to overturn legislation. To do so, the first step is to get the legislation onto the ballot. This will require obtaining 55,000 confirmed signatures by the end of June. My colleague in the House of Delegates, Neil Parrott, is taking the lead in organizing a drive to gather these signatures and to put the Dream Act on the ballot for the 2012 election.

To succeed, we will need your help. We need folks to gather signatures beginning immediately. Here's what you can do:
1. Click on the following link to learn more about the petition process, to sign the petition, and to obtain the necessary documents:

2. Sign the Petition: On the web site, select "Sign the Petition" for you and your family to sign the petition.

3. Print Out the Forms Needed to Gather Signatures: On the web site, click on "Volunteer to Collect Signatures" and print out the Petition and instructions. Once printed, ask your family, friends, work colleagues and others for their signatures. You do not need permission to gather signatures - doing so is your Constitutional right.

IMPORTANT: The petition must be TWO SIDED with SB 167 on the back. After printing the first side of the Statewide Referendum Petition, return the page to your printer and print the second page on the back side of the first page. Or make your own copies.
PLEASE NOTE: Election officials require that information written on a petition form be clear and complete . It is IMPERATIVE that:
- all information be very clearly written;
- all information on the form be filled in, including the name of the County and your contact information;
- signers fill in their name AS IT APPEARS ON THEIR VOTER CARD or, if the voter card format is unknown, using their FULL NAME, including middle name;
- all information be entered into the correct space on the form (e.g., street address and name of city are separate spaces).
4. Mail your completed form or forms to:, c/o Neil Parrott, PO Box 32, Funkstown, MD 21734
5. Forward this email to your friends and colleagues.

Constitutionally Yours,

Don H. Dwyer, Jr.

Posted by: Mike P. | April 5, 2011

U.N. Workers Murder in Afghanistan

Recently, a pastor urged his followers to burn copies of the Koran, which they did. This resulted in a group of three mullahs urging their followers to demonstrate against the pastor and urge for his arrest.

When this group of imbeciles couldn’t find anything better to do, they broke into the U.N. Compound in Mazar-I-Sharif and killed 12 workers, both international and 5 Afghans.

Let’s talk about the pastor for a minute. Oh, wait, how about this. Let’s not. Who gives a fuck. The guy is a moron. Ignore him. Ignore the idiots who follow him, and his church. I’ve given you links in case you are not familiar with the event, but I will not name him here.

The Afghans. Yes, I called these murderers imbeciles. They murdered people who gave up their lives to help them and the people in their country because of an insult offered by someone else far away. I’m sure it was perceived as a stinging insult. But, honestly, people of Afghanistan, if you want people in the west to help you and not simply flush your country down the toilet of that is our oil based economy, then get some control over yourselves. You are embarrass yourselves and your country when you allow this sort of behavior to occur.

Let me clear here. The murderers are imbeciles and should be treated as such. However, the citizens of Afghanistan are not. It is to you that I address this posting. Not the simple minded who murder because they are told to.

Your mullahs called for the arrest of the pastor. Who burned a book. I call upon you to arrest the mullahs whose actions resulted in the deaths of human beings. I call for the people of Afghanistan to make this happen. Otherwise, take your sorrows elsewhere. How can we take your lives and your well being as something worth caring about when you act like animals?

There is no excuse. The Koran and it’s sacredness to you is not excuse. It’s as simple as that.

And as for the pastor who burned the book? That is legal in the US. We are not going to do anything about it.

Some insights on the event can be found here.

Posted by: Mike P. | February 3, 2011

Sanity in an Insane Place and Time

I kid you not. A group of us are practicing baseball with the stones they're throwing. Bats and all. Fun revolution :) #Tahrir

<A HREF="">I kid you not. A group of us are practicing baseball with the stones they're throwing. Bats and all. Fun revolution ūüôā #Tahrir</A>

Posted by: Mike P. | January 27, 2011

Brave, Armed Citizens of AZ. Where Were You?

OK, remember the Virginia Tech shooting? I am reminded at least once a month when we test our alert system. According to guns rights advocates, that problem would have been neatly solved if Virginians had been allowed to carry.

Apparently, a well-organized resistance would have developed and the shooter taken out. I am not sure what TV show people who believe this watch, but they should attend some of my boat club meetings. We can’t even decide what soda to offer at parties, let alone beer. Forming an armed group to shoot someone holed up in a tower? Uh, yeah, right.

So, why didn’t this armed group appear at Gifford’s assassination attempt? Doesn’t AZ have about the most liberal sidearm weapons laws in the country? And yet the attacker was taken out by a couple of normal people. I don’t recall the details. Obviously he was not shot.

I do believe people should be able to own reasonable guns. I like the few I own and enjoy shooting. I have shot a Glock 9mm, and it is a nice gun.

I do not believe most people are remotely qualified to carry concealed hand guns. Anyone that carries a concealed hand gun without qualifications and shoots someone other than an attacker should be charged with murder. Killing a bystander is not any different from driving drunk and killing someone.

But, mention this to a “I want to carry” person, and you get buried by a bunch of so-called statistics. Bottom line – they want to carry a gun, take “action” and avoid consequences. Sorry, but that boat should have sailed along with the days of drunk driving.

Obviously, quite a few people should not be allowed to own any weapon.

This implies gun registration and ownership records, an anathema to many members of the NRA.

And the day that the government comes to take your legally owned gun from your sanely controlled body, you have a legitimate complaint.

Until that actually happens, what you have is a large voting block trivially manipulated by others to achieve their goals. Guns rights advocates are largely tools in their masters hands. They live in fear with their hands tightly wrapped around their guns, which just seems like a terrible way to live.

State of the Union, 2011, Barak Obama, President of the United States:

The President led off with some reflective thoughts on the attempted assassination of Congressperson Gifford.

He then discussed some points that describe our current economic situation. I am only going to dwell on points that I find interesting.

We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s

Oh my. This will show some colors. Presumably this will bring out RWNJs in droves, yammering on about how oil is our biggest export (not true, by the way, but often stated.) According to Boris Yeltsin, the KGB believe that Hunt and various oil billionaires had Kennedy assassinated. Of all the government agencies issuing statements on that murder, I tend to give the KGB quite a bit of credibility. The only serious question is “is that what the KGB really concluded?” Yeltsin’s auto-biography did not contain the source. At any rate, cross the oil pigs at your peril.

Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they’re selling. So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: by 2035, 80% of America’s electricity will come from clean energy sources. Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all ‚ÄĒ and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen.

I really wish he had not listed clean coal and natural gas. Particularly since the newer methods of obtaining natural gas are rather destructive.

We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair; that success is not a function of fame or PR, but of hard work and discipline.

A memorable quote.

Let’s also remember that after parents, the biggest impact on a child’s success comes from the man or woman at the front of the classroom. In South Korea, teachers are known as “nation builders.” Here in America, it’s time we treated the people who educate our children with the same level of respect.

So many districts seem to bog teachers down with unnecessary rules and strictures on what should be taught and precisely how. Many good teachers are not allowed to innovate. Part of that comes from “No Child Left Behind” and the tests that come with it. Part of that comes from the Texas State School Board insanity and the resulting fallout with poor quality textbooks. And part of that comes from plain bad upper level management within the district. And there are some bad teachers.

Our infrastructure used to be the best ‚ÄĒ but our lead has slipped. South Korean homes now have greater internet access than we do

Seriously? Your justice department just passed the Comcast/NBC merger. This is somehow magically going to make broadband in the US better? All that merger will do is limit choice and allow the conglomerate to make more money without delivering any more service. The FCC needs to reverse itself and force provider/producer distinction, and it needs to limit the number of producers owned by any one company. Hey, if you are willing to take on oil companies, what’s a few media conglomerates? Oh, wait, well, hmm. They do control just about everything we see, don’t they? Ooops.

Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying ‚ÄĒ without the pat-down. As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway.

Let’s not forget freight, too. Rail is far more efficient than truck per ton delivered. As for “pat-downs”, not likely. Besides, high speed rail can be attacked relatively easily without requiring suicide bombers. Although it is surprisingly difficult to derail a train. But, of course, there is a video on the internet that covers the topic in detail.

So tonight, I’m asking Democrats and Republicans to simplify the system. Get rid of the loopholes. Level the playing field. And use the savings to lower the corporate tax rate for the first time in 25 years ‚ÄĒ without adding to our deficit.

You mean like get rid of the loophole for the company that makes toy arrows that was inserted into the first bailout bill? You mean like all the pork added by congresspeople for the businesses that donate money so they can be re-elected? I’m sorry, but I doubt this has even the slightest chance of working without 100% government paid, no lobbies, no private donations, no corporate donations. But, if we disallow all of those levers, do we invite the essentially insane to try and run?

Now, I’ve heard rumors that a few of you have some concerns about the new health care law.

I should have watched live just to see the expressions.

Still, I’m willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, including one that Republicans suggested last year: medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits.

It will be interesting to see details here. “Frivolous lawsuits” is not really tort reform with award limits. But, I personally have seen such lawsuits, so they certainly exist. But, how much of the total cost is involved?

And because the American people deserve to know that special interests aren’t larding up legislation with pet projects, both parties in Congress should know this: if a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it.

A bold statement. If the media was not so insane, you might even be able to do that and get the message out that whatever super-duper important bill you vetoed was loaded with ear-marks. But, most likely you will be drowned out by however you annoyed by not passing the bill, and the noise will likely be paid for by the ear-mark recipients.

And yet, as contentious and frustrating and messy as our democracy can sometimes be, I know there isn’t a person here who would trade places with any other nation on Earth.

I’ll bite. While I love the US, there are certainly plenty of other countries I could be happy in. Actually, if I parse his sentence closely, I am not really sure what he is saying.

Well, overall, I liked the speech. I will be happy if 1/2 of what is proposed actually happens. I will bet $1 that oil company tax breaks continue. I rarely bet more than $1.

Posted by: Mike P. | January 3, 2011

The Assange Charges

It seems to me that too many people are focusing on the women who made the charges against Assange. They have been accused of being a Honey Pot trap, among other things.

For the most part, none of us are in a position to evaluate the truth of their statements. The best that we can do is look at the police force and judicial system undertaking the investigation. Are they the proper unit within Sweden to be undertaking such an investigation? What is their record? We should carefully watch the trial and see how the evidence is presented and how the cross-examination happens.

In other words, unless we have evidence to suggestion that the current law enforcement official investigating the claim have been co-opted, we should let them do their jobs. They are well aware that the claims could be false, but if they are true law enforcement, they also know how to question and determine if a claim is valid.

Posted by: Mike P. | December 6, 2010

Comcast/NBC, and I Felt Like Writing

So, @GottaLaf (and she does) asks us to “Just Say No to the Comcast/NBC” merger. They have a good form letter there, ready for you to sign. But, I felt like writing my own today. I wrote it pretty quickly, so I think I missed a comma in the opening sentence. Sue me. You will get what a comma is worth.

The main problem with the Comcast/NBC merger is that in reality, Comcast is a utility company.

Not all that long long ago, cable TV was a luxury item for many people. We used to go over to the kid’s house who got MTV. HBO was rare and cool.

However, today, Comcast is the only source for broadband internet access for many homes. Broadband access is becoming increasing necessary for students, workers, and even consumers. Broadband internet access is necessary to stay informed.

Given that broadband is essentially a utility from a single provider for the vast majority of consumers, it becomes necessary to separate content producers from content providers to avoid creating a situation where the content itself comes from a single source.

We can argue technical issues all day long about how Comcast will not limit other information sources. But, for Comcast to not limit other information sources would mean that they are self-imposing limits on their corporate profits. We have placed the corporation in a catch-22 situation, and the loser will be the consumer. Without competition, the quality of the product will diminish, and of course control over the content allows a great deal power to be wielded.

For this reason, I believe that those involved with content distribution or production must choose one path or another. However, the ownership of the two must not be combined.

Michael J. Porter

Well, there you have it. Net neutrality according to Mike.

Posted by: Mike P. | October 18, 2010

Another dog.

We adopted another dog.



We Did!

Posted by: Mike P. | October 6, 2010

5/9s MissedThePoint

@Kellbo0 #MissedThePoint SCOTUS 4 not understanding gving billionaire corporations civil rts automatically usurps the rts of ppl. #P21 #p2

Posted by: Mike P. | September 28, 2010

It Gets Better!

This is an amazing YouTube channel. ¬†I don’t know if there are any kids who are questioning their sexuality and having trouble with bullying in school that read this blog. ¬†But if so, I encourage you to check out this YouTube channel.

I was particularly impressed by Dan and Terry, but I’m sure there are many good videos on the channel to help you get through a rough patch in your life.

You can always reach out, too.  Leave a comment here, or even better, on one of the videos.  I am not gay, and can not really understand what you are going through, so I suggest trying the channel or a specific video.  As in many cases, be prepared for negative comments, but look for the positive.  And be careful, right?  This is the Internet.  But, maybe you will find someone who can really help you.

Based on a tweet by TheBloggess.

Some other thoughts…

And this is a pretty good video made from the perspective of a young adult remembering when she was taught to be homophobic by those around her.


Gay or not, life gets better after high school.

Posted by: Mike P. | September 26, 2010

Politicizing the Pulpit

Pastors apparently want to “change the law” and endorse political candidates in church.

What stops a pastor from endorsing a political candidate? ¬†A friend of mine is a “pastor” and endorses candidates all the time. ¬†Is he breaking the law? ¬†Of course not.

The issue here is a simple one.  We, the people, extend a privilege to churches.  They maintain neutrality, do good works, tend to the people equally, and donations made to them are not taxed to the giver or the church.  This is a privilege.

If the church does not wish to maintain this neutrality, then they simply need to give up their IRS tax exemption status.  It is really quite simple.

I demand that the churches remain neutral, or their donors must pay their fair share of income tax and the church itself pay taxes.  If they give up their special privileges, then of course they should be free to say what they wish from the pulpit, subject to the normal rules for public speaking.

Oh, and my friend does not claim any tax exempt status.

Posted by: Mike P. | September 21, 2010

Joe the Plumber

There seems to be a rather misconceived notion about how taxes and small businesses work. ¬†So, I thought we would look at a prototypical business, and see how and what the taxes are. ¬†I wish this site was a Wiki; then we could all participate. ¬†But, it’s not. ¬†So, what I will try to do is add comments back into the main posting. ¬†In other words, if some assumption I have made is incorrect, or I have forgotten some detail, I will edit the post and add or correct the information.

The goal is attempt to find the truth, not to make any particular point – other than those who actually pay taxes on $250,000 of income, outside of expensive to live areas – are relatively few.

That last statement does bring out a major flaw in the tax code. ¬†I make a reasonable salary, for instance, but if I lived in the Bay area, I would make quite a bit more, be in a higher tax bracket, and so pay quite a bit more federal tax. ¬†Is this fair? ¬†Arguable, I suppose. ¬†A lot of federal money most likely goes into the Bay area. ¬†Rebuilding interstates and the like, for instance. ¬†But, is the difference between Maryland and the Bay area accurate? ¬†Well, I don’t know.

Consider that to earn $250,000/year, you have to be paid approximately $125/hour.  Not too many of us make that.

So, let’s start with Joe the Plumber cause we all know who he is. ¬†Lets make him be an S-corp. ¬†Plumbers are not usually C-corps; I do not know enough about LLC, and sole proprietorship¬†would be short and boring.

Around here, a plumber charges, oh, about $150 an hour tops. ¬†That’s a pretty hefty rate, and is only supported by a guy that has employees, advertises, and does quality, guaranteed work. ¬†We’ll assume Joe actually goes out on the job, has people working with him on some jobs, and pays someone to handle the books. ¬†We’ll assume Joe works 5o hours/week, takes 2 weeks in the summer, and 1 week spread around the rest of the year. ¬†Joe is healthy, and never gets sick. ¬†But, he is not an idiot, and buys health insurance for he, and his family. ¬†Joe has one full-time guy, and gets day labors when needed for larger jobs. ¬†He 1099s the day help because he is honest and does not hire illegals. ¬†He runs his business above-board, and so wants to 1099 the day help so he can write off the expense.

So, what’s the gross income: 49*50*150 = $367,500.

Joe always collects, so we’ll ignore the usual deadbeats.

Joe pays him main guy, who only works 40 hours/week, $20/hr, or about $40,000 year. ¬†So, the costs of this employee are: salary, employer portion of FICA, unemployment, and workman’s comp. ¬†Additionally, remember that Joe offers himself healthcare, so I believe he has to offer it to his employees, too. ¬†At any rate, we’ll assume he does because he is a good guy. ¬†I am going to round FICA at 7.5%, and guess at the remaining numbers. ¬†If you have better guesses, please let me know. ¬†So, total cost for Joe’s guy is:

49*40*20 = $39,200. ¬†FICA = $2,940. ¬†Unemployment? ¬†I really don’t know. ¬†$1,000? ¬†Workman’s comp? ¬†$1,000? ¬†Healthcare? ¬†$5,000? ¬†The guy has to kick in some of the cost, so I’ll stick on the $5,000. ¬†So, total cost is:

$39,200 + $2,940 + $1,000 + $1,000 + $5,000 = $49,140.

On average, they need $10/hour help 20 hours/week.

49*20*10 = $9,800.

Joe pays a bookkeeper to handle payroll taxes and the like. ¬†He also has to pay for his tax returns, someone to file quarterlies, etc. ¬†Again, I’ll have to guess here, too. ¬†If anyone has a better guess, let me know.

Bookkeeper, records, etc: $2,000

Advertising, telephones. ¬†Joe doesn’t need an office – a cell phone works fine. ¬†He’s smart enough to not take a home office deduction because he doesn’t really do anything at home. ¬†If audited, he would probably lose. ¬†Business cell – two phones must be around $100/month. ¬†Advertising has to be at least $200/month.

$100 + $200 * 12 = $3,600.

A truck. ¬†Plumbers have trucks, right? ¬†I am not a CPA, and am not going to read the tax code today. ¬†Let’s make a rough guess. ¬†Joe buys a $25,000 fitted out van. ¬†He pays cash ’cause that how he rolls. ¬†He can depreciate it over five years, most likely. ¬†Maybe less.


So, currently, we are sitting at:

367,500 – 49,140 – 9,800 – 2,000 – 3,600 – 5,000 = $297,960

If Joe can’t manage to find additional deductions, he will pay extra taxes on $47,960 (the amount over $250,000) if Obama has his way.

Help Joe find more deductions! ¬†There must be business taxes to pay. ¬†Additionally, there is state and local taxes to pay. ¬†Can we get Joe under the magic $250,000? ¬†I’ll bet we can. ¬†And if we can, then those against the increase in taxes on the small businessman are going to have to explain why? ¬†I mean here, we have a hard-working guy who really is pulling down a large rate. ¬†I don’t know anyone working 50 hours/week year round pulling in $150/hour. ¬†If he doesn’t, he still has to pay his main guy the salary they agreed on, so Joe’s tax rate will be less since he has less income.


Posted by: Mike P. | September 15, 2010


Has Delaware lost its collective mind? ¬†It’s one thing to not like Castle, and to think a change is needed. ¬†But, really, could ya actually find someone who is not moron if that is what you want? ¬†Someone who is somewhat qualified?

As Seen on Maddow, MSNBC.

Posted by: Mike P. | August 17, 2010

Alex and Our Commitment to Society

A few months ago, the son of a friend made a mistake. It was, as mistakes go, a doozy of one. He committed two armed robberies, getting caught the second time.

A few details. The robberies appeared to be well planned and executed. He did not especially intend to hurt anyone, but he was carrying a gun. He was spotted leaving the second time, and the license tags of the car were obtained. The police converged on his home, where he gave himself up without incident. A small amount of drugs (marijuana) and cash were found. Since he was not yet 18 years old, he could potentially be tried as a juvenile. If tried as a juvenile, he would not serve jail time at a state penitentiary. After posting bail, he started with a live in program designed to help troubled teens. He remains with the program as of now.

The State of Maryland wished to try Alex as an adult since they believe this is an adult crime. The State of Maryland juvenile officers felt that the juvenile system was appropriate for Alex and wrote a recommendation to that effect. Various other professionals evaluated Alex and came to the same conclusion. Only the state prosecutor pushed for trial as adult. I should note that the state prosecutor is up for election in a few months. Many people who do not know Alex or the details of his life felt that he should be tried as adult because of the crime with a gun. These people I am referring to are members of the general public and are not particularly connected with the case.

Alex, A Few Years Ago

Alex Being a Camp Councilor

A hearing in a state court was held a few weeks ago to determine if Alex would be tried as an adult or remanded to the juvenile system. His mother, possibly at the suggestion of their lawyer, asked for a number of people to be prepared to speak. Additional people were asked to write letters, or simply show up in support of Alex at the hearing. The only specific victim in this case, the store owner – Alex robbed the same place both times – is not available and did not testify. The State offered the unsubstantiated assertion that the owner was too afraid to testify, but I suspect that if he had been cross-examined on that statement, he would have explained that the store owner is afraid in his own store, not afraid to testify. These words were said hurriedly and were not too clear.

Approximately 12 people were scheduled to speak on Alex’s behalf, and approximately 20 letters were written. About 100 people showed up for the hearing, clogged the hallways of the court-house and over-filling the hearing room when we entered. With the exception of the State’s Attorney, everyone present was there to support Alex.

Alex’s attorney called one person to the stand. The witness is a councilor for the troubled teen program Alex entered. This person stated how he knew Alex through the program, and that Alex was doing very, very well. The witness had himself been a troubled teen and was a “graduate” of the program Alex had entered. The witness spoke very highly of the program and how much it helped the witness.

The attorneys then argued for a bit. The defense found the state’s case “disingenuous” since the state juvenile officials had presented reports stating that Alex was a good candidate for the juvenile system. The state didn’t appreciate being called “disingenuous”, and mostly stipulated to Alex’s character. However, the state’s case rested largely on “adult crime committed in an adult manner should result in an adult punishment.” The defense showed that Alex was not functioning as an adult and therefore should be treated as such.

The judge then deliberated in public for all to hear. I have to say: I’ve often heard that court is boring, long and drawn out. However, this hearing was an absolute nail-biter. You never want your child in this situation. I suspect the judge did not know how he was going to rule until about the last second. In the end, he did rule that Alex should be tried as a juvenile. The judgement came out very low and hard to understand. I wasn’t really certain until I heard the sigh of relief in the courtroom what had been decided. The judge then offered the typical words you might offer to a teen in a situation like this and the hearing adjourned.

My purpose in writing this post is the following. Approximately 100 of us joined in support of Alex that day in court. However, none of us had any clue that he had issues that ran this deep. The day of his arrest completely shocked everyone who knew him. When we supported him in court, we were basically telling society that he is a good person worth saving.

But, furthermore, we now have a commitment to see this through and make sure that Alex does not commit crimes that harm people in the future. We have to involve ourselves in his life, whether he likes it or not, and do what we can to help him. This is what those of us who supported Alex that day must remember, for if we do not, we all bear the moral responsibility for his future actions.

This is the letter I wrote in support of Alex. Had I actually testified, this is what I would have said. These words were also submitted in written form. I have no idea if the judge read them or not. Probably not. I suspect the sheer number of people supporting Alex that day made the point with the judge.

To those involved in the Alexander Luther case:

My Name is Michael Porter. I been a resident of Cecil County for
the past nine years, and live a few a miles south of here. I am a
Systems Programmer for the University of Delaware, where I have
worked for nearly 30 years.

I have known Renee and Alex for about five years.

I have watched Alex grow from a pre-teen to a teen-ager. I have
watched him handle groups of children, including my child, at the
family run summer camps. He has always shown good judgement as well
as a humorous side to life.

I have watched Alex help his mom handle horses with handicapped
riders, and have personally been helped by Alex. He has always
shown a willingness to help, great care and respect for those
who visit the farm.

I watched Alex go through the experience of regaining his father,
and I watched as Alex lost his father again, this time permanently.

I recall the great trip they took together as a family before Carl
died. Since I both drove them to the airport and picked them up
after their return, I was able to see how happy they were as a
family. Considering that Alex was really sick on the way home, that
I could see this means something.

I watched Alex grow after his father died and during and after the
Makeover of their home. During this time, Alex experienced many new
things, but did not have the advantage of a father to guide him.

Alex is reaching out to us for help. The loss of his father and the
fact that he was not able to find someone else to communicate his
feelings to seems apparent.

We, as a society, have a choice to make. Is the Juvenile Justice
system the appropriate place to help him, or the adult system?

I firmly believe that the Juvenile Justice system would be the
best system to help Alex. He needs the sort of guidance and
counseling that can be offered in such a system. I hope that
our Juvenile Justice can find a place for him.

Alex is not yet an adult and should not be tried as one. The adult
system is possibly going to leave him very damaged. No matter the
outcome of an adult case, the adult system is not going to give him
the help he needs and society as a whole could lose the
contributions of a fine human being.

Thank you for the opportunity to express my support and belief in Alex.


Michael J. Porter

Posted by: Mike P. | August 14, 2010

Freedom, Defined By Someone Who Fought For it

My Dad, who flew off an aircraft carrier in WW II, said freedom to have any/all culture centers was part of what he fought for – Twitter, @gwfrink3

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