Sunday, February 11, 2007

Delegate McConkey on Why We Should Kill More People

In the past few weeks I’ve testified before the AA School Board, Annapolis City Council, attended the Environmental Summit, the Green Party Lobby Day, the Bike-Pedestrian Forum/Lobby Day, the NAACP Press Conference and visited the offices of various elected officials to lobby on behalf of bills and issues. Nothing has been as eye-opening and plain old weird as the meeting with Anne Arundel County Delegate Tony McConkey with a small group of Green Party activists. McConkey is a second-term Republican and realtor who has had a few issues of his own that have made headlines, and not always for the best reasons, but I’ll let other media deal with them.

The Green Party folks, about a dozen in all, were making the rounds and a handful of us descended upon McConkey. At first he gave us a variety of reasons as to why he did not favor the Clean Car bill, and he basically seemed to repeat the objections offered by the car dealer’s lobby. We went on to a few other issues and then got to the repeal of the death penalty. McConkey went a little weird on us, questioning why this was an issue of concern to Greens. We must have pushed a button because the lawmaker asked why we though it was wrong to put people to death for committing heinous crimes. He then rhetorically asked, “Why are you people against executing heinous criminals but you think it’s okay to murder babies”? We were a bit dumbfounded.

“Wait a minute” I told the delegate. “That’s a pretty serious leap of faith to make such an accusation.” I went on to explain that I was personally on the fence about the death penalty, but how could he make such a blanket condemnation/accusation to our group? We could have shot back and asked why is it wrong to murder babies but not wrong to have state-sponsored executions?--but we held our breath.

McConkey went on to say, and I am not making this up, “I think we need to kill more people.” Yup-he said it and it did not sink until we regrouped and met later at a local watering hole to figure out what he meant. Perhaps what McConkey was saying that the death penalty, because it is so rarely applied, and is subject to years and years of appeals, is really not a deterrent to crime. If we actually applied it more often (i.e. killed more people), it would become a deterrent to crime, and therefore, would not need to be used, because the incidents of crimes calling for such punishment would go down. Okay--maybe, at least it has some semblance of logic. But then it got even weirder again.

He said that there are offenders who don’t mind and may even like getting a prison sentence because they get a warm bed and meals without having to work. I’m not a criminologist, but I don’t think this argument would hold up.

I don’t like many of the arguments either for or against abortion, or how one side makes you anti-choice if you disagree and the other makes you anti-life if you disagree. I think the bottom line is that our society as well as the individuals within it are responsible for breeding too many babies and for breeding too many criminals. I believe ultimately that individuals have to take responsibility and be held accountable for either making an unwanted baby or committing a violent crime. Maybe that makes me a liberal and a conservative. I don’t want to be labeled either anti-choice or anti-life.

Our society has to take better care of all of our citizens, and especially our youth. Death penalty advocates and so-called pro-lifers ignore the culpability of the greater society. Liberals and others often fail to place blame on the hands of the individuals who ultimately decide to use or not use birth control or who decide to kill or not kill. When I see narrow-minded and ideological lawmakers such as Delegate McConkey, it makes me wonder if the politician-class will ever adequately address such vexing social problems.

The well informed lawmaker also said that more people are murdered in Baltimore than in Baghdad. (Maybe that was intended as a slam against O'Malley??) I called him on that one too!

I will give him credit for one thing. When asked about the Greens interest in holding instant-runoff elections, he came right out and said he would support it.

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Blogger Patrick Weadon said...

Thank you for revealing the nonsensical ravings of Delegate McConkey’s lunatic mind. Due to the now famous book many thoughtful people have been prompted to ask “ “What’s the matter with Kansas?” After reading your post one might also ask, “ What is the matter with Anne Arundel County?

McConkey like so many right wing legislators appears to be devoid of any kind of cogent thought process. His perpetual braying about abortion and capital punishment reminds one of the sheep in Orwell’s Animal House who did nothing all day but bleat “ Four legs good, two legs bad”

I have the misfortune of living in McConkey’s district. During the campaign I had hopes that the revelation of his alleged past run-ins with the law and legal authorities would prompt the electorate to throw the bum out. No chance, once again the good people of my district sent him back to Annapolis to rant and rave about issues that have little to do with the important challenges facing our county and state.

How did this happen? There is a simple answer, taxes. Yes Mr. McConkey in keeping with the philosophy of so many misguided Anne Arundel County Republicans has pledged to “ never raise taxes.”

This “no tax fever” is not limited to the halls of the state house. Many of our school board members and county council members have also come down with a bad case of the disease as well Some of them are so afraid of offending their constituents or departing from their love of " voodoo economics" that they can't bring themselves to even mention the words " tax increase."

The problem is that even though we are the fifth richest county in the state we are only eleventh in the amount of money we spend on our public schools. For too long our schools have had to go without the proper levels of funding due to the inability of far too many right wing nuts to face up to with reality.

Retromingents like McConkey considers any talk of increasing taxes for schools (or anything for that matter) as a “socialist plot.” Typical of this mind-set is Victor Bernson, the newest member of the school board, Benson was appointed by the now ex-governor of Maryland, Bob Ehrlich. He believes that we should reign in spending in the school system before any making any tax increases and that " It's too easy to ask for the moon and stars, say it's all for the children and then force the county executive and the County Council to be the bad guys."

But the fact is that while we pinch pennies, counties like Howard, Montgomery and Prince Georges are investing heavily in their schools and making substantive plans to ensure a bright educational future for their children. If this trend continues it will likely be those jurisdictions and not Anne Arundel that will reap the lion's share of future jobs and economic growth.

Note to Mr. Bernson: Ehrlich is no longer governor because he wasn’t bright enough to understand that while Marylanders (like most people) don't like to pay taxes, they value education, and will under the right circumstances, provide whatever it takes in the way of revenues to ensure a future for their children. Unfortunately there are still far too many citizens of our county who like McConkey have partaken of the “No Tax” Kool-Aid and believe that morons like Bernson are looking out for their best interests.

The fact is that a slight tweaking of the county tax cap would only cost each resident of our county only about 350.00 (the cost of one car payment) and reap an additional 80 million dollars for a school system that is badly in need of additional revenues.

This will never happen as long as we have conservative kooks like Bernson and McConkey running the show. Anne Arundel County has such great potential but we will never get there until we begin to elect people who understand that “ you have to put the hay down where the goats can get it or eventually the goats will starve.”

2/12/2007 06:12:00 PM  
Blogger PAUL said...

Well said and thanks! I think we can see that you're no pal of Tony's and that you are a thinker! No argument from me, with one exception. I don't want to pay another $350 in taxes for schools or for anything, because I think we can put our collective thinking caps on and find another place within the budget to find these funds. If it were as simple as you suggest, we'd never hold the lawmaker's feet to the fire and everytime there was an unmet need, we'd say "Well, tax me more--it's only another t.v. payment, or car payment, or house payment" and pretty soon you're talking real money. There are plenty of overly wealthy Marylanders who are sending their kids to the burgeoning private schools, and for way more than another car payment. We need to find ways to attract them back to the public schools. I wonder where Tony's kids go to school?

2/12/2007 09:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Tony McConkey said...

Wow! I am a lunatic because I am for lower taxes? Over the last 5 years we have increased state spending for public schools by more than $1.5 billion ANNUALLY. Still people like Mr. Weadon feel that no matter how much money is spent it will never be enough.

Money is not the problem. We need more board members like Vic Bernson to stand up and question the status quo at the board of education.

As far as my views on the death penalty and abortion. I am incensed by the righteous indignation of many of the death penalty opponents over the immorality of the state putting 5 (FIVE!) murderers to death over the last 30 years when the same individuals have no objection to the state allowing hundreds of thousands (THOUSANDS!) of babies to be put to death. Call me fickle.

3/04/2007 11:30:00 PM  

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