Dock of the Bay

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 Vol. 10, No. 31

August 1-7, 2002

     
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This Week's Articles
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One Door at a Time for Green Council Candidate George Law
story & photos by Brent Seabrook

George Law, a Green Party candidate for Anne Arundel County Council, canvases District 2 voters to sign a petition to put him on November’s ballot. With a margin for safety, he needs around 500 registered voters.
George Law stands amidst the potholes in the parking lot of his hardware store. The store’s been in Law’s family since 1936, and at the same location — a busy stretch of Baltimore & Annapolis Blvd., across from a light rail station and the Ferndale Volunteer Fire Department. Yellow paint peels from the walls.

“Home Depot and Lowe’s have taken a huge chunk of my revenue,” Law says. Surviving the ensuing debt has been a challenge. “It gave me a lot of the impetus for doing this.”

‘This’ is running for Anne Arundel County Council. Law is running in the northern Second District as a member of the Green Party.

Law’s affiliation with the six-year-old Green Party, which jumped the Atlantic after successes in Europe, is a marriage of convenience. It might not work out in the long run, but it gives him something he needs. That something is a way to act on a conversion he received in the pews of Unity by the Bay, a congregation unified more by positive thinking than by theology.

Unity encourages introspection and self-realization. “I realized my true purpose is peace and harmony,” Law says. His candidacy is a step toward that purpose.

“The Green Party stands for a certain set of values,” he says. “Community, sustainable development and environmental responsibility.”

“It’s an identity,” adds campaign worker Rob Tufts.

But running as a Green has a downside.

“We have to get 10,000 valid signatures from registered voters in Maryland every two years,” says Dave Gross, another of the six Green Party candidates running in Maryland. He’s trying to unseat one of the ABC Team of Dick D’Amato, Michael Busch and Virginia Clagett sent by District 30 [Vol. X. No. 11, March 14] to the House of Delegates.

“We have to do this until we have one percent of the voters registered as Green.” explains Gross. This year is their second effort.

In addition to the state petition drive, party organizer Erik Michelsen adds, “candidates are required to get the signatures of one percent of registered voters in the district in which they are running in order to get on the ballot.”

For George Law, the state requirement translates to about 400 valid signatures (500 to be safe). For Dave Gross it means about 800 signatures (safely 1,000).

Volunteer Rob Tufts explains the petition to Elaine Rudolph.
The Green Party has filed suit to make Maryland lower the high hurdles it sets for third parties, but for now those are the rules they must play by.

Redistricting hit Law a second blow. He’d collected hundreds of signatures in his longtime District 1, when redistricting made him a resident of District 2.

Despite the extra work, he now looks at redistricting as a blessing in disguise, since he numbers more friends and associates amongst District 2 voters.

To get on District 2’s ballot he needs 380 signatures before the August 5 filing deadline. He has 440. Still, he wants 50 more.

“I’ve been turned down very few times,” he says, claiming 90 percent of the people he approaches sign his petition. But approaching voters isn’t easy nowadays. “In Elmhurst, for example” he says, “the first person didn’t answer the door until the 11th house.”

Law’s campaign manager, Julie Stankovic, says a valid signature can only come from a registered voter whose address matches that on the voter roll. Stankovic’s only experience comes from her own failed — but close, she claims — run for a seat on the Annapolis city council as an Independent.

“I’m not a Green. I vote for the person, not the party,” she says. “I believe in George. He’s not a traditional politician.”

Every weekend and most nights, Law and his supporters are out collecting signatures.

This hot Sunday, he parks his maroon Toyota Corolla on the shoulder of a quiet residential street off Pleasant Point, across from the Double Eagle Saloon. It’s much cooler here, thanks to the trees. Law tugs his window up and wedges it in place with a bit of folded cardboard. His bumper is festooned with stickers advertising the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, Amnesty International and — of course — himself.

Brow creased and back bent, Law stands quietly while Stankovic reads from a clipboard the house numbers of registered voters. Law and Tufts take one side of the street, Stankovic and Elizabeth Richardson the other.

“We usually have half a dozen people out walking,” Stankovic says, but several are recovering from a national Green Party convention last week in Philadelphia.

“I’m all for diversity,” said Randy Orme, far right with wife Pam, when Law came knocking.
Randy Orme answers the third door Law knocks on. Orme’s hair isn’t long, and he doesn’t sport any tattoos. He could easily pass for a staunch Democrat or a devoted Republican, but he doesn’t blink before he invites Law in off his porch and agrees to sign his petition.

“I’m all for diversity,” Orme says.

Elaine Rudolph doesn’t wear her politics on her sleeve, either — she hoists them in her yard. There, from a tall pole, flap the stars and stripes and, just below it, a flag bearing a coiled serpent and the warning, “Don’t Tread On Me.” She’s signing the petition that Tufts carries before he’s finished singing Law’s praises.

“I’m a man of the people,” Law says. “A progressive influence in an area that’s grown stale and stagnant. Even if I’m not elected, if a change comes about I’ll be happy. Change is foremost.”

He also believes working families will support him. “I worked six days a week all my life,” he says, “and people appreciate that.”

But, despite the obstacles in his path, Law’s running to win. He counts on 1,000 ballots from voters worried about the environment and another 2,000 votes based on name recognition alone.

“‘Oh, you’re Law Brothers,’” he reports people saying. “‘Sure I’ll sign your petition.’”

George Law’s political integrity may even balance his lack of experience.

“I’m not backed by a large political machine or corporation,” he says. He says he’s handed $500 checks back to supporters, adhering instead to the $100 per individual limit set by the Green Party.

After the primaries, Law plans to use his third-party status to his advantage.

“While the incumbents and the Republican candidate butt heads and sling mud,” he says, “I’ll stay out of it and focus on the issues.”


The Political Scene ~ Will Linda’s Little Pig Help Her Win?

Despite what people say, Calvert County Commissioner Linda Kelley would not kiss a pig to get re-elected.

Commissioner Linda Kelley smooches with her pot-bellied pig, Franklin.
photo by Bill Lambrecht
She’d kiss him for his own sake, said Kelley, before planting a smooch on the hairy snoot of Franklin, her pot-bellied companion, at last week’s Calvert County Farm Tour.

At Anderson’s Farm in Chesapeake Beach, admirers and the curious crowded around the Oriental-style rug Kelley had spread, for Franklin’s comfort or hers, on the sere grass.

The dryness of the grass did not, apparently, matter to Franklin. Neither did the attentions cast upon him. The two-year-old charcoal-gray pig grazed disinterestedly as hands little and big appraised his leathery hide, encountering sparse, two-inch-long black bristles.

“He’s just growing back his winter coat,” his human companion explained. “In winter he’ll be covered with hair.”

Franklin liked grass better than the sno-cone Kelley purchased for him.

“He must not like this flavor,” said Kelley, as Franklin turned away after snouting the varigated frozen confection. “He ate it up last year.”

Last year, too, she’d spoon-fed Franklin his share. This year, without a spoon, she faced the decision of whether to eat after the pig she’d kissed.

Kelley is a well-known pig-lover. She purchased one. Four more she adopted after they were abandoned. It’s gotten so that throughout Calvert County, if you find a pot-bellied pig, you call Kelley. Now she’s swineherd-ing another two, at least, out-of-state pigs to safety.

“Pigs are no different from dogs or cats,” she says. “Our society views animals as disposable and discards them.”

She’s bought a horse trailer to transport a pair of Florida orphans from the Virginia-Carolina border. By the time the rescue is complete, five drivers will have ferried these pigs to their new home in Pittsburgh.

At home, Kelley has fenced in the back yard of her Owings home as a swineyard and brought them a playhouse to sleep in. Leashed, one of her herd regularly accompanies her to events.

As Franklin had today, wearing a bright purple leash and harness, and making Kelley the most sought-after politican in this branch of the Calvert County Farm Tour.

Most incumbents don’t like to criticize one another, even in Primary Season. But is a pig unfair competition?

“Not actually,” says Barbara Stinnett, a Democratic commissioner who, after the primary, will compete against Kelley as well as four more Repubicans and four other Democrats. “Because I go out there. I’ll pet your dog and I will love your cat. I’ve never felt challenged by competition with a pig.

“I’ve never wanted to campaign with any of my three cats, because they’re too darn independent. She travels fastest who travels alone,” Stinnett said. “I travel alone.”

Still, Franklin is charismatic. Perhaps too charismatic?

“They don’t come to see me,” Kelley said. “They come to see the pig.”

— SOM


Even On-Line You Can Save the Bay

With the wonders of technology, you can help save the Bay every time you go on-line.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation partners with Velox Communications, an Internet provider, to bring us Save the Bay Online, a dial-up Internet Service for Foundation members and supporters of their efforts to save the Chesapeake Bay.

Velox says the service offers Internet, savethebay.net e-mail addresses, 24/7 technical support, an effortless way to support the Foundation’s Bay conservation efforts and membership in an on-line community of people with similar interests.

Subscribers signing on go directly to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s homepage, posting up-to-date Bay conservation news and information. In addition, 10 percent of their monthly $19.95 fee is donated directly to the Foundation.

“We’re excited about this new partnership,” said Foundation President William C. Baker. “It will allow our members and other supporters who subscribe to Save the Bay Online to have regular contact with us, to keep abreast of important and timely Bay issues and to stand ready to take action when we ask them. In addition, CBF will receive revenue which will help us fulfill our mission to protect and restore the Bay.”

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation works in environmental education, protection and restoration. With more than 110,000 active members and a staff of more than 200 full-time employees, the Foundation must work hard to bring in the approximately 95 percent of its $20 million annual budget that is privately raised.

Information? 877/605-6500 • www.cbf.org.

— Katie McLaughlin


Chips off the Old Block: Wye Futures

If you could count the leaves on a tree, you might reach the magnitude of the offspring of our venerable Wye Oak, brought down by lightening this June 6 in its fifth century. “There have to be thousands,” says Dr. Frank Gouin, of Deale, who grew 100 of them at the bicentennial for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

photo by Flo Ormond
Across Chesapeake Country and across the nation, Marylanders and transplanted Marylanders are tending Wye progeny. “I’m always getting e-mails,” Gouin adds, “telling me how vigorous they are.”

A young Wye of about that vintage is proving the vigor of the stock on the banks of the West River’s South Creek at Chalk Point.

Lynn Stearns fell under the spell of the Wye Oak in 1969. When she and her late husband, Charlie, made weekly trips to the Eastern Shore to watch progress on their wooden sailboat at the Dickerson Boatyard in Trappe, they made it part of their routine to visit the Wye Oak.

They brought their seedling home to overlook the new boat tied up at their pier. From a scant 18 inches, it has reached a height of over 60 feet with a trunk circumference over six and one-half feet at one foot above ground. It still has a long way to grow to catch up with its parent’s 50-foot circumference.

Not until their 50th year do white oaks begin to produce acorns. Then they’re capable of producing some 10,000 annually. Those acorns are a dietary mainstay for over 80 species of birds and mammals. Humans have harvested acorns, too. Native Americans ground them into flour and shared this technique with early European settlers.

With their fine, almost watertight grain, white oaks also are prime hardwood, excellent for making barrel staves and boats.

Not far from Stearn’s Wye scion, retired National Geographic writer-adventurer Tom Abecrombie is building a skipjack from the wood from a white oak that fell in his Shady Side yard.

Now the fallen Wye is on the verge of its own transformation. Renee Samuels of Maryland Department of Natural Resources says 99.9 percent of the 718-ton tree has been saved. “Anything that was salvageable they picked up,” she says, including leaves and bark, but only one percent of the tree’s wood — 14,360 pounds or 447 board feet — could be cured for building purposes.

Marylanders are invited to suggest innovative ideas on how to use that wood. E-mail your suggestions to the Department of Natural Resources. Suggestions will be taken until the cured wood is used up: wyeoakideas@dnr.state.md.us.

— Flo Ormond

Way Downstream …

In Maryland, there are now fewer crabs in a bushel. That’s because starting August 1, the minimum size of crabs that can be harvested increased from five inches to five and a quarter. The new Department of Natural Resources specs are part of a region-wide effort to halt the recent decline of the Bay’s most valuable fishery…

In Charles County, the oil spill two years ago that fouled the Patuxent River could have been avoided, the National Transportation Safety Board has found. When investigators examined inspection data, they found that PEPCO’s consultants missed a cracked pipeline …

In Wisconsin, authorities plan to test 50,000 deer killed by hunters this fall tracking the brain-wasting disease that threatens to devastate the state’s hunting economy. The World Health Organization recommends avoiding venison from creatures that are affected with the illness, which is related to mad-cow disease

In India, people north of Calcutta panicked recently when suddenly the sky poured green rain. Then it happened the next day. Turns out that they were being pelted with a mixture of bee feces and honey from massive bee swarms flying overhead …

Our Creature Feature comes from Tasmania, where a giant squid that washed up on a beach last week has Australian scientists believing they had just seen a new species from down deep.

How big was it? The heavily muscled tentacles on the monstrous cephalopod measured as long as 54 feet, and the entire creature weighed in at over one-quarter ton. It was different from other giant squid that have washed up, and as scientists examined it they made a promise: It won’t end up as calamari in local restaurants.


Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly