Dock of the Bay

 Vol. 10, No. 26

June 27 - July 3, 2002

Current Issue

Everyone Loves a Parade

Dock of the Bay
Letters to the Editor
Bay Reflections
Burton on the Bay
Chesapeake Outdoors
Not Just for Kids
Eight Days a Week
What's Playing Where
Curtain Call
Music Notes
Sky Watch
Bay Classifieds
Behind Bay Weekly
Advertising Info
Distribution spots
Contact us
Court-drawn redistricting maps for Anne Arundel and Calvert counties.
Miller: “Owens Won’t Miss Me in Anne Arundel”

Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens won’t have Mike Miller to kick her around any more.

In one of the shifts of fortunes in the new Court of Appeals-drawn legislative map, Senate President Mike Miller’s district has been altered to exclude any portion of Anne Arundel County.

Since Owens defeated Miller’s chosen candidate in the Democratic primary four years ago, the relationship between the two has ranged from frosty to combative.

The two Democrats clashed especially on development issues when Miller interceded with legislation to block a Safeway supermarket in Deale after Owens had seemingly paved the way for construction.

Owens has responded to the remapped departure of her nemesis politely — with the look of the cat that swallowed the canary.

Miller doesn’t expect a going-away gift.

“Janet Owens is not sorry to see me go. I’ve been a thorn in her side for three years,” he said in an interview with Bay Weekly about the new map.

Miller managed a jab on his way out the door. “The people in South County feel neglected, and rightly so. They deserve and need a strong ombudsman,” he said.

Miller’s Anne Arundel County turf will be taken over by Sen. Robert Neall, a Republican-turned-Democrat and a Senate budget wonk. Miller observed that Neall, of Davidsonville, has longtime roots in Anne Arundel, where his mother was postmistress and his children continue to run the family grocery store.

Neall, he said, can be the ombudsman that forgotten reaches of the county crave. But he added that Neall may need some coaching to be the kind of friendly and open senator people want — and he may need some tips on getting elected, too.

“His problem is that he doesn’t campaign and he doesn’t suffer fools gladly,” Miller said. “He doesn’t send campaign literature, so I’ve got to give him a kick in the rear.”

Miller, who endured criticism for his contacts with court representatives examining the redistricting map, had a decidedly mixed view of what the appellate court produced last week.

“In some areas of the state, the plan is an unmitigated disaster,” he said. “In other areas, it improves the governor’s plan. In Anne Arundel County, they did some very unusual things. But I think that the results will be positive for the people of Anne Arundel.”

Miller, who lives now in Calvert County, lamented the redistricting changes that shifted about 8,000 voters from Dunkirk and Huntingtown into a Prince George’s-dominated district. The new map places a broader swath of Calvert in District 27A than did the plan that was declared unconstitutional.

“The Republicans chose Dunkirk because Del. George Owings lives there, and they sought his defeat. Now that the court has adopted their plan, George has to move from his mother’s house to run,” Miller observed, adding that moving to the town of Owings would not be a bad political move for a candidate bearing that name.

Referring to another Calvert County election — the race for the Board of Commissioners — Miller minced no words. “Calvert will have the goofiest commissioners in the state, what with the current ones and the people running for those offices.”


In Season: Black Widow Spiders
by Gary Pendleton

I’ve been thinking about black widow spiders ever since I discovered a nest of them in my strawberry patch last summer. They seem to have a way of working on your psyche. This is especially true if one bites you.

“You are more likely to be struck by lightning than to be bitten by a black widow spider,” Bill McCauliffe asserts with confidence in his book Black Widow Spiders. No numbers back up his confidence.

I don’t happen to know anyone who has been struck by lightning (although I remember seeing on television a man who had been struck some seven times).

On the other hand, I know two people who have been bitten by black widows. In addition to the intensely unpleasant physical symptoms, bite victims experience anxiety and nightmares, so each has stories to tell.

What’s more, all the books and web sites say that black widows are common in 48 states. They inhabit narrow, protected places around houses, barns and sheds. They like woodpiles and gardens. They are pretty much everywhere.

In regard to the apparently omnipresent black widow, we are fortunate for two things: They are not aggressive, and they are small. When threatened, they typically retreat to a tight little spider hole to hide. This is a good thing because black widow venom is 15 times more poisonous than the venom of a prairie rattlesnake. When a black widow does bite, because of her small size, only a small dose of venom is released.

The widow poison contains four poisonous components, only one of which is toxic to humans. It acts by interfering with the transmission of nervous impulses.

It also brings on anxiety and restlessness, according to the University of Maryland Medical System website. My friends Jeff and Lisa, the bite victims, reported dreaming of spider-like humanoid creatures (spider men?) and web motifs. There was a dismal town with people strewn over a chain link fence and a man wearing a robe made from black pearls, which resemble the black widow.

Female spiders guarding eggs deliver most bites. The actual bite may or may not be painful. As the venom spreads throughout the body, the symptoms begin: muscle ache, nausea, severe cramping, headache, fever, swollen eyelids, restlessness and anxiety. The severity of symptoms depends on the size of the victim and the amount of venom delivered. Bite victims should seek treatment immediately.

Healthy adults usually recover within two to four days, though some symptoms may linger for months. Deaths from black widow bites are usually limited to children and the elderly.

Oh my, it seems that I got a little carried away. I certainly didn’t mean to cause alarm. Like all creatures, black widows have their place in nature. They help maintain a balance in the number of critters, some of whom we consider pests.

For Legislators on the Bay, Report Cards Are Out

If you want to vote for the Bay when you go to the polls for the Primary in September and the General Election in November, you’ll find yourself more often in the column headed D than in the one headed R. At least for our part of Chesapeake Country, that’s the voting pattern that leaps out of the 11th Edition of the General Assembly Scorecard issued by Maryland League of Conservation Voters for state legislators this week.

The annual report card scores senators and delegates on key environmental votes in the General Assembly. Delegates got grades on seven conservation issues this year, and senators on 11. The issues included encouraging smart growth, stopping air pollution, securing drinking water safety, protecting coastal bays and critical areas and the ensuring the right to know about toxic chemicals in our communities.

“Overall, the scores are up slightly in the last two years of this term, but their average grade of ‘D’ is certainly not what the citizens of Maryland expect from their elected officials when it comes to protecting our water, air and open space,” said Susan Brown, executive director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

Most legislators in our Bayside districts score higher than the state average. District 30 leads the region with a perfect 100 percent for Del. Virginia Clagett. Her colleagues Michael Busch and Dick D’Amato each score 86 percent.

More good news is that keeping up with grades of 86 percent are James Proctor and Joseph Vallario, the two Prince George’s County delegates who’ll represent northwestern Calvert County in District 27A under the state’s new redistricting map. About a mile below them was Calvert’s longtime Del. George Owings, whose grade of 38 proves his popularity is based on issues other than the environment.

Making Owings look as green as Kermit the Frog is two-thirds of old District 33. At the bottom of the barrel is Del. Janet Greenip, with a score of zero. Greenip hopes to move to the Senate in November. Scoring a lowly eight percent is Del. Robert Baldwin, who will not run this year. Leading the class is Del. David Boschert, with a score of 63 percent. Of the three, he alone plans to return to the House in 2003.

The green falls along party lines. With the exception of George Owings, all Democrats in the House score 86 percent or, in Clagett’s case, better. The only Republican delegate to reach double digits is Del. Boschert.

In all three districts, senators score lower than delegates. Senators Mike Miller (District 27) and John Astle (District 30) each earn 79 percent, while Sen. Robert Neall (District 33) pales with a grade of 50 percent — 10 percent below the Senate’s average. All three are Democrats, but if you can’t resist a pattern, you’ll remember that Neall was a Republican when he was appointed to the Senate after Sen. John Cade’s death.


Granted, Wishes for Fishes

Paired with Capt. Jerry Grimes of Glen Burnie, Michael McCahan, 6, caught his first fish ever — a 13-inch croaker — during the third annual Wish-A-Fish outing for children with special needs.
“This is his first time fishing,” Diana McCahan said of her six-year-old son, Michael, as the Bowie residents paired up with Jerry Grimes of Glen Burnie. Aboard Grimes’ 22-foot fishing boat, they drifted across from Broomes Island on the Patuxent River in hopes of catching Michael’s first fish.

The trio was part of the third annual Wish-A-Fish outing for children with special needs. Rod Rice created Wish-A-Fish in 2000 to try to provide a little relief from daily stress for families of special needs children.

Children and their families teamed up with a captain and boat. They were dressed for a day on the water in a T-shirt and round-brimmed hat and equipped with a fishing rod and reel before being fitted into a padded orange life jacket and setting off.

In two hours on the water, Michael did not have so much as a nibble, though his hook did snag quite a bit of seaweed. “Let’s put some Reeses Pieces on there. Maybe we’ll catch an ET,” Diana joked.

Discouraged, Michael moved to the captain’s seat to play with the steering wheel and CB radio rather than hold a fishing pole.

Finally, in early afternoon, Michael’s pole bent under the weight of a possible catch. With Grimes at his side, the boy reeled in his first fish, a 13-inch croaker. Not bad for a first catch.

Grimes, who was Wish-a-Fishing for the second time, said he “really enjoys sharing one of his favorite pasttimes.” Sharing that pleasure were about 30 recreational anglers serving as captains for about 30 families.

Afterwards, the day’s Wish-A-Fishers picnicked and shared fish stories. Some families kept their catch, while others caught and released, happy with pictures of proud anglers and the fish they’d caught.

— Katie McLaughlin

Between Acts, It’s All Work and No Play

Rock Around the Dock, Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre’s season-opening, high-energy musical revue, closed its run in front of an enthusiastic, standing-room-only crowd June 22. For most cast members, this was a time to celebrate all the hard work they had put in to make the show successful.

But for stage manager Mike Nichols, the night had just begun. He and his crew would be downtown until 3am tearing down the set and trying to clean things up for the next show, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

Emily Gerbasi, on ladder, and Lauren Kolstad work on a set for Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre.
“It’s a long night for us, but it’s really a hectic week for the new show coming in,” Nichols said. “They’ll be dealing with an absolute mess right up until showtime.”

Only 12 hours after the closing night applause had died down, another crew was hard at work transforming the open-air theater’s highly adaptable stage, which was as busy as a three-ring circus. One sect of these workers, headed by Bill Smith, was constructing a set at Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre as a fundraiser for another local theater group, the Children’s Theater of Annapolis.
Lauren Kolstad, Twelfth Night stage manager, said she and her crew arrived at the theater at 7am Sunday to work steadily in 90 degree heat through to 2am Monday. Hanging up a new set of lights would keep her there “all night long.”

The intensity of the first 24 hours continues for the duration of Tech Week and sometimes even longer. Cast members may rehearse for five or more hours a day, while stage managers, lighting technicians and stage hands toil steadily for 12 or more hours.

Why devote this much time and energy you ask?

It pays off, each stage manager echoes. In the end when you see the finished product, it’s all worth it.

Twelfth Night opens June 28 for the summer’s second round of theater under the stars.

— Amanda Smear

Way Downstream …

In Virginia, the appearance of a huge, rare creature on Sunday could mean that we may be in for a visit in the Chesapeake Bay. Yes, it was a manatee, gamboling about in the James River. Virginians were apparently too busy taking its picture to yell ‘Chessie!’ to see if our tourist is on his way back to visit …

On Poplar Island, the question of piling dredge 30 feet above sea level instead of the intended 24 is being hashed out this week by federal and state officials, The Washington Post reports. One problem: It will delay for years the creation of wetlands and wildlife habitat while more of the materials from Baltimore Harbor are delivered and piled high …

In Australia, they’ve got jellyfish that make the Chesapeake’s variety seem downright friendly. The tiny, almost-invisible Irukandji jellyfish pack venom so toxic that two divers, one of them American, died from this year after being stung …

Our Creature Feature comes from England, where they’ve created something so special in Cornwall that they call it the Garden of Eden. But lo and behold, just like in the Bible, not everything is perfect in the British version.

Thousands of seagulls have been attacking, pecking holes in the giant dome covering the world’s largest greenhouse. The Brits, as they say, have their knickers in a twist after spending $130 million to create a range of temperature-perfect climate zones. But they’ve got a new idea: They’ve begun using a ‘squawker’: Loudspeakers intended to frighten away the birds with seagull distress calls. Stay tuned to see if it works.

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly