Bemoaning Rick Weldon's Farewell
The legislative process, state or federal, frequently invokes the image of grass growing; it is generally long and tedious, unmemorable. The real trick for a journalist comes from watching out for "moles," the bills that work slightly undercover, like the fuzzy critters.
In stints down I-270, I was sometimes sent by Washington Post or television editors to march up Capitol Hill; coming down was equally abrupt.
The only time I can recall when the congressional press gallery assumed aspects of a semi-permanent assignment was during a debate over Home Rule for the District of Columbia. My coverage garnered a Peabody Awards nomination; somebody else won.
In the 25 years since my first mortgage in Frederick, I have frequently admired, more than anything else, the tenacity displayed by reporters on the legislative aspects of city, county and state. The admiration did not cause me to read every report's thoroughly.
It was certainly no fault of any individual; it was, as I said, tedious and only frequently exciting. By journalism's mandate, reporters are required to keep their accounts balanced. Readers would like to think they're objective, but that seldom happens.
Practitioners of the reporting profession are no less human than legislators; they are subject to flattery and invective. They all too often respond to both. Everything printed in news columns falls into the category of interpretation; that's where columnists come in.
Above all, women and men in this trade are never objective. We gather public attention by reasons of writing and our point of view, pro or con. Readers who whole-heartedly disagree might enjoy catharsis by venting their spleen.
Their venting turns out sometimes more interesting than the column that agitates their spleen.
My fellow TheTentacle.com columnist, Delegate Rick Weldon writes with no pretension. The Brunswick man is what he is: a devout Republican who veers between moderation and all-out conservatism.
His veers have landed him occasionally in the state GOP's dog-house. Rick is a highly principled individual; sometimes his party's leaders or majority propose a position above or beyond his comfort level.
On the whole, however, the delegate-columnists must be considered a faithful Republican. Faithful but not robotic. Colleagues can be generally described as not just liberal, but tree-hugging and suspected socialists.
In any case, Rick Weldon's accounts of life in the General Assembly transform the antique body into a very lively scene. As for his prejudices, well, they generally reflect the voters that sent him to Annapolis.
TheTentacle.com readers are well aware the delegate-columnist decided, on his own and without public pressure, to surrender his pass for the frequent trips to the Severn River, demanded by his elected state.
In brief, Monday's column marked more than simply a milestone, in his life and the public's insight into the General Assembly. 2010 will mark his last commentary on the day the legislature adjourns "sine die" – without day. The Latin really translates: We not meeting tomorrow.
In a column that should be read by all students of Maryland politics, Rick Weldon wrote about the give and take: The Yin and the Yang of Annapolis, his headline put it. He introduces the need for balance to a first-time visitor to State House:
"What will immediately become obvious is the influence of partisan politics on the legislative process. Democrats control most aspects of the process, and Republicans have mastered the art of dissension."
The GOP delegate and columnist notes:
"A legislative session brings out the best and worst of the political process. Strong-arm tactics, threats, pork barrel payoffs for votes, and strict partisan positions just because the "Party" says so are the Yin."
He further defines:
"Where is the Yang? Where is the cooperation? It exists in a hopeful example for the future of the Maryland General Assembly in the form of the Health & Government Operations (HGO) Committee."
He adds his gratitude that his six years in Annapolis have passed with his membership on the HGO committee.
Much of Sunday's cloudy, sprinkled day passed in reading my colleague's writings since September. As I said, he's capable of being very partisan at times, but his intelligence and the need for fair play outweigh his occasional right-wing allegations. (The writings are available on TheTentacle.com.)
At his core, Rick Weldon possesses an intellectual's soul that disdains partisanship, if that's all involved. His personal Yin and Yang endow this human being with qualities that must be respected.
As long-time readers expect the Brunswick man's presence evokes a Shakespearean sonnet:
"When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate...
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising
Happily I think on thee, and then...
...I scorn to change my state to kings."
Put otherwise, Rick Weldon's observations on Maryland and its politics make me proud to be a columnist and his colleague on TheTentacle.com.
Frederick and Annapolis may not see his like again. Pity!