The new Honda plug-in provides a lot of Clarity

The 2018 Honda Clarity is a midsize plug-in hybrid sedan that can travel 48 miles per electric charge; a gasoline engine kicks in once the range is used up. COURTESY PHOTOThe 2018 Honda Clarity is a midsize plug-in hybrid sedan that can travel 48 miles per electric charge; a gasoline engine kicks in once the range is used up. COURTESY PHOTO  If you’re interested in a compact fuel-saving car, it’s not hard to find one that looks the part. Models like the Toyota Prius hybrid, Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and Nissan Leaf electric car are easily recognizable. They don’t share their styling with ordinary gas-powered vehicles, and are often sculpted to maximize their fuel-saving aerodynamics.
But perhaps you want the extra interior space or smooth, quiet ride of a midsize car. For a number of years, you’ve been able to buy a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of the Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata or Kia Optima sedan. These PHEV vehicles can be charged up with electricity from the grid to deliver some all-electric driving range, and then a gasoline engine kicks in until you’re able to charge up again.
But you’d have to pay close attention to recognize anything special about the PHEV versions of the Fusion, Sonata, or Optima — some subtle badging, and a car-charger port on the front fender. And the all-electric ranges of these models linger in the 20s, meaning, that longer commutes will regularly rely on gasoline.
The new 2018 Honda Clarity solves both problems. This new midsize sedan features aggressively futuristic looks, an aerodynamic body, a spacious and well-finished interior, and an EPA-estimated 48 miles per all-electric charge. And, as with other plug-in vehicles, drivers are eligible for a federal tax credit and can travel solo in Maryland HOV lanes.


Giving credit is necessary when credit is due

for sale sign outside houseIt’s been eleven years since Maryland forced all qualifying homeowners to reapply for the Homestead Property Tax Credit. 

Prior to the change in the application, applying for the Homestead Property Tax Credit was almost automatic for homeowners who claimed a primary residence. 

However, many abused the program to get tax credits on non-principal residences by claiming multiple properties or rental properties as their primary residence. The 2007 change was implemented to reexamine ownership, so as to stop the abuse of the property tax credit program.


The folly of fleeing an accident scene

gavel2Under Maryland law, a person involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident has the duty to stop and remain at the scene, to render aid to the victim, and to report the accident to the police. 

Maryland’s intermediate appellate Court in an unreported opinion last week addressed what other crimes fleeing the scene of a fatal collision may prove, in a case called Richard Curtis v. State of Maryland. 


Elrich, Ficker and Floreen

Elrich Ficker FloreenAnd so it’s over – or is it?
Councilman Marc Elrich apparently survived an attempt by local businessman Donald Trump, I mean David Trone, I mean David Blair to buy the Democratic nomination for county executive. By just 80 votes Elrich emerged victorious from this summer’s primary election only to face a cornucopia of challenges headed into the fall general election.


And now a word about ICE

180606 nr 2Back in 2003 the Department of Homeland Security was established by combining several agencies from other U.S. departments under one overarching umbrella. The thinking was that placing all of these disparate agencies under one department would somehow make such activities related to homeland security, such as intelligence gathering and enforcement of border security, more efficient and effective.
Whether simply placing agencies under the same federal department resulted in any significant improvement in information sharing or a more efficient operation is still a matter for debate. What is not a matter for debate is that one of the agencies created under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), ICE, which stands for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is now under intense scrutiny due to how the agency is implementing White House policy as it relates to immigration via the southern border of the United States.


Taking another close look at Hogan, the governor’s race and much more

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A few weeks ago, my column “Will the real Larry Hogan please stand up?” published June 7, took a look at some key issues that will surely be debated during the Maryland gubernatorial campaign. To say it generated some controversy would be putting it mildly. Like most things in life, there is always more than one side to any issue. To say that the governor’s office, specifically his Director of Communications, Ms. Amelia Chasse, took exception to my portrayal of the governor’s record would be quite the understatement.

As an advocate of the “fairness doctrine,” the purpose of this column is to provide the governor’s office with an opportunity to share their view and provide the reader with a more balanced approach. For space considerations I will have to condense much of their input, but I will make every effort to capture the essence of their responses. I will also take the opportunity to offer my own response to their counterpoints. I’ll leave it to the reader to judge the merits of either side of the debate.


Newly redesigned Ford takes full-size SUV crown

The redesigned 2018 Ford Expedition is the clear leader of the full-size SUV class for its mix of comfort, utility, luxury and relative fuel efficiency. COURTESY PHOTOThe redesigned 2018 Ford Expedition is the clear leader of the full-size SUV class for its mix of comfort, utility, luxury and relative fuel efficiency. COURTESY PHOTO  As SUVs become the default family car for many households, it’s easy to assume that the bigger the family, the bigger the SUV it will need.
That is to say, a small family might be fine in a compact Ford Escape or Toyota RAV4, while a larger one will need to expand to a full-size Ford Expedition or Toyota Sequoia.
But there are some important considerations before you buy the Sequoia or Expedition, or the competing Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon or Nissan Armada.
First things first: While they all offer family-friendly qualities like rear entertainment systems, three rows of seats and plenty of safety equipment, these aren’t purpose-built family cars. These are heavy-duty trucks that are being pressed into family-car duty. While that doesn’t mean they can’t be used as family cars, this situation presents some tradeoffs.


Home ownership is a symbol of our freedom

for sale sign outside houseIn this time of divisiveness, let’s come together to celebrate our independence. Having innate and inalienable liberties is the foundation of this country. The concept of independence is abstract and usually expressed as intangible actions, such as the freedom from the tyranny of others. However, homeownership has become an icon of freedom that is tangible and obtainable. 

Last month I wrote about a few of the benefits of owning a home as part of the recognition of National Homeownership Month. Besides being wealthier, home owners tend to be healthier and happier than their renter counterparts. The history of owning land has been one of wealth and luxury. Renting on the other hand has been associated transition, difficult times, and a hard life. This can be traced back to the middle ages, when serfdom was associated with leasing.


Timing is everything in the housing bubble

for sale sign outside houseTiming, as they say, is “everything.” Predicting the housing market is tricky. Even the best economists can get it wrong. Aptly, however, there is that group of naysayers who always believe the housing market is overpriced and in bubble status. And you know what they say about a broken clock, it’s correct twice a day. 

There’s no way around it, housing market trends are cyclical. Eventually, the housing market will crash and home prices will recede. But, like the phoenix, will again be reborn to go through its life cycle. According to Harvard’s Teo Nicolais (, there are four phases to the housing cycle. The cycles were described in 1876 by economist Henry George and modernized by Glenn R. Mueller to include recovery, expansion, hypersupply, and recession. Nicolais predicts that, aside from the occasional slowdown, there won’t be an honest to goodness housing crash until 2024.


Congratulations to sitting judges

gavel2This week the Republican and Democratic voters of Montgomery County voted to elect to full fifteen year terms seven sitting judges previously appointed by the Governor as Associate Judges of the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. The judges were required to go through an, because under the Maryland Constitution they are required to stand for election in the first general election after their appointment to the bench.