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April 22, 2004

Random Thoughts in No Particular Order

John P. Snyder

The House side of the Maryland General Assembly squashed this year's slots initiative in what seemed like record time.

The real record, of course, was how quickly the $1 billion tax Speaker Michael Busch (D., Anne Arundel) wanted to replace the slots' bill passed the House with little or no debate.

So, the modern day Professor Henry Hill of Music Man fame (Oh! We got trouble ... right here in River City!), and those with over developed consciences, like Del. Joe Bartlett R., Frederick), can rest easy for another year.

Here in Maryland, you can abort your fetus at just about any juncture you choose. Slots? We are not that kind of state, don't you know.

* I wonder if anyone in the Ehrlich administration regrets not taking the slots' issue to a referendum. Polls indicate that it has widespread popularity. Had they done it last year, it could have been on the ballot this November. On the other hand, no doubt Generalissimo Busch would have bottled it up in conference committee forever.

* Andrew Beyer, horse racing editor for The Washington Post, suggested that the owners of Pimlico Race Track move the Preakness to California for the foreseeable future. This would illustrate the economic impact of horse racing in the state. Not a bad idea.

* Governor Ehrlich continues to confound the Democratic establishment, try as they might. He did not back down from campaign promises not to raise taxes and to fight for slots. This may change as painful budget cuts become needed. Led by Speaker Busch, the Democrats haven't expanded beyond the "Glendening Triangle" - Montgomery, P.G and Baltimore City. Should a Republican occupy the Statehouse during redistricting (2011) a fairer, balanced legislature will emerge, one that reflects the true sentiments of Maryland citizens.

*Either Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley is a genius or has a tremendous political death wish. By refusing the states help in bailing out the shockingly bankrupt Baltimore city schools, he has undertaken to solve the deficit "in-house."

His list of proposed tax increases on everything from cell phones to payrolls looks like a potential Republican campaign ad. Should he have to eliminate positions, his stature will be diminished. By refusing the state's help, he has taken a big risk that may pan out for him, but more likely won't. Apparently, administrators of the Baltimore City schools were somewhat concerned about the financial mess that was unfolding before them, but, according to The Sun, they fully expected money from The Thornton Plan to bail them out.

* It's hard to believe that our Frederick Keys began their 16th season here in Frederick. It seems like yesterday that the Keys began play at McCurdy field for the 1988 season. Dressed that day for the Keys were David Segui and Ricky Guttierez. Both have fashioned respectable Major League careers, most recently with the O's and the Mets respectively.

I've always been a sore head about the Keys. They do business in the most lucrative ad market that could be imagined for any minor league team in the country. Despite promises, Frederick remains a Single A franchise, which means that on any given day the Keys may field a team with 3 or 4 legitimate prospects, the rest facing futures as Fed Ex deliverymen or high school coaches.

A winning team matters little to the Keys as long as all promotional and signage opportunities are sold. They want state and local money to upgrade Grove Stadium. Fair enough. But let's put some stings on that money to insure Frederick doesn't get taken for a chump much longer. Hagerstown is Double A. Why can't Frederick? They can threaten to move to Loudon County all they want. Let's get something in return rather than bad baseball.

* Presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. John F. Kerry (a.k.a. Thurston B. Howe ll) made a swing through selected college campuses last week. His camp was impressed by the warm response he got.

Democrats always get teary-eyed recalling the intense political activism in college campus in the '60s. How did Mr. Kerry stir up the crowds? By promising free tuition relief for overburdened students. He suggested the government should provide free tuition.

What's one more entitlement, anyway?

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