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BY COLUMNISTS

| Joe Charlebois | Guest Columnist | Harry M. Covert | Norman M. Covert | Jason Miller | Ken Kellar | Patricia A. Kelly | Edward Lulie III | Tom McLaughlin | Patricia Price | Cindy A. Rose | Richard B. Weldon Jr. |

DOCUMENTS


The Tentacle


December 3, 2007

Christmas Cash & A Potpourri

Richard B. Weldon Jr.

Once again, the powers-to-be at Clear Channel Radio’s WFMD held their annual radiothon for Frederick County’s children. Christmas Cash for Kids consumed large chunks of air normally reserved for political, social, and financial chit-chat.

The good they do in this week of radio work for the benefit of others eclipses similar efforts in both scope and purpose. The regular cast of radio characters is supplemented by dozens of others, and they make the most of their annual radio spotlight.

Bob Miller, Frederick’s most popular radio personality, rules the roost throughout the week. Bob is like a circus ringmaster, orchestrating the hi-jinks in a sort of controlled chaos that makes it all the more entertaining.

Kemosabe Joe drives back from the Ocean City beaches to his old home west of Frederick to add his lovable basso profundo to the mix, and his stories of past Christmas Cash efforts make today’s work seem simple by comparison.

Another personal favorite is national radio personality Jim Bohannon, who also travels up I-270 to share his immense talent to help make the phones light up. Jimbo has a great voice, but an even more appealing personality, and the show always picks up during his visits.

The Ross’s, the real and unspoken heroes behind this annual charity event, hover over it all. Ron shares hours with Bob on the air, while Mrs. Ross negotiates, cajoles, and guilts toy retailers into offering her one-of-a-kind deals to stretch her donated dollars.

I made a visit late in the week to the top of Grove Hill Road to witness the madness first-hand. From the hustle and bustle of the normally staid and professional reception area, to the back studio hallway stacked floor to ceiling with new and unwrapped toys, the station seems filled with an air of love, generosity, and the true spirit of Christmas.

This year, fundraiser extraordinaire Debbie Williams was also involved in a companion event to raise money for the Patty Pollatos Fund. It all just seemed to work seamlessly. I stopped by to see Bob, sitting alone in the studio, surrounded by toys. I really like this guy, in spite of the hard time I frequently get from him on the air.

The Maryland House of Delegates said goodbye to a member this week. Del. Jane Lawton (D., Montgomery) died suddenly on Thursday, following a presentation she made to a federal agency regarding affordable housing.

No one who knew her would be surprised at what she was doing. It just seemed like Jane, advocating on behalf of people who could not negotiate the corridors of power on their own.

Jane was a dignified, graceful, and articulate member of the raucous and rambunctious House. She always had a smile, a warm hello, and a pat on the shoulder during long hours of work on the House floor. My last interaction with her was during the special session. One very late night found us both in the House Lounge, rooting through hot cocoa and tea packets together. She was frustrated over the slots issue, and feeling some pressure, so we had a moment of mutual sympathy.

She became a diligent and effective advocate for the environment in her too-short tenure in the General Assembly. She helped craft and pass major legislation, but never employed the muscle tactics. She possessed the intellect to use knowledge and facts as her weapons.

I will miss saying hello to her every day during session. It’s times like this that I wonder about my colleagues “other” lives, the things they do every day that they’re not in Annapolis. I do know that Montgomery County citizens were well and truly represented by Jane Lawton.

I did something I’ve never done before. This week, I filed to run as a delegate to the Republican National Convention next year, which will be held in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN. The way this works is you decide that you want to run, then you affiliate with a candidate.

The risk is that if you fail to affiliate, and the Republican candidates don’t affirm you on the ballot, you’ll be dropped. Presumably an embarrassing outcome.

I have chosen to affiliate with the Giuliani campaign, and obtained their approval before filing. It also serves as an interesting way to test your name recognition throughout a Congressional District without really risking anything.

So, the GOP primary ballot will include my name under the Convention Delegate selection in the Sixth Congressional District. We’ll see how that works out.

A funny thought stuck me when I read recently that former Frederick Mayor Jennifer Dougherty had filed to run as a Democratic candidate for the 6th Congressional District seat held by Republican Dr. Roscoe Bartlett.

It dawns on me that her filing produced the following result: The saddest man in the district is Brunswick Democrat Andrew Duck, who has already been in this race for almost three years. Mr. Duck has done all of the things a candidate has to do. Now he faces a well-known opponent with less than three months before the primary.

The happiest man is Roscoe Bartlett. The Democrats will now be divided even more so in the primary, and Ms. Dougherty has shown herself to have a divisive impact in her own party’s primary. Also, the 6th District is VERY conservative, likely way too conservative for the likes of either of these two. Whoever runs will run against President Bush and the War in Iraq, but not against Representative Bartlett. He’ll cruise in February, and again in November.

The county commissioners delivered their 2008 Legislative Package to the delegation Saturday. There are only six items, and only three of those could actually be considered delegation bills. The bills that impact statewide policy will have to be submitted by individual members, since only bills that impact Frederick County are sponsored by the delegation. Past legislative packages contained as many as 17 bills; this year’s is slim by comparison.


1.) Solid Waste Franchising – Maybe the third time will be a charm for this proposal to create a county-controlled collection system. The last two efforts were shot down by the delegation, the first because no one understood it; and the second because everyone did!
2.) Beverage Container Excise Tax – If you’re older than 45, you might remember the days of collecting bottles for the nickel return. This bill would enable a similar situation in Frederick County. The difference over last year’s unsuccessful bill is that it would only go into affect if other surrounding jurisdictions also adopt a similar program. The odds don’t look too good for this one.
3.) Date Change for the Financial Report – The county is obligated to make an annual financial report submission to the state before it receives input from the Board of Education and Frederick Community College, two of their bigger reporting entities. They’re forced to ask for regular extensions. This one’s a no-brainer.
4.) Eminent Domain – The Board of County Commissioners is requesting a statewide constitutional amendment to ban the practice of condemnation for the purpose of economic development. This one won’t go anywhere, mostly because it’s a statewide policy change, not something within the purview of the commissioners or the delegation alone.
5.) Disclosure of out-of-state corporate income tax returns – This bill would require companies organized in other states to report on their taxes paid if they seek loans, grants, or benefits for economic development purposes.
6.) Constitutional Convention to address illegal immigration – Since the bill offered by Commissioners Charles Jenkins and John “Lennie” Thompson died, the commissioners felt community heat to do something. This bill is a part of the legislative package. While one might debate what this actually does, it would clearly create a stir in Annapolis. The state would be calling on Congress for a Constitutional Convention to do what the Congress has so far failed to do, which is to address the problem in some way. I think this one is DOA, since the legislature that passed tuition assistance for illegal immigrants is unlikely to embrace shining such a spotlight on the problem.



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