Volume 12, Issue 30 ~ July 22-28, 2004
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Dock of the Bay

Expect no surprises but plenty of shouting

Annapolis lawyer Joseph Alden will join 123 other Marylanders representing the Free State at the Democratic National Convention.

“There is something about a national convention that makes it as fascinating as a revival or a hanging. It is vulgar, it is ugly, it is stupid, it is tedious, it’s hard on both the cerebral centers and the geluteus maximus, and yet it is somehow charming.”
—Maryland political observer

H.L. Mencken in 1924

Twenty-nine-year-old Annapolis lawyer Joseph Alden will be right in the middle of the 4,353 delegates, 611 alternates, 15,000 guests and 15,000 reporters packed in Boston’s Fleet Center for the Democratic National Convention opening Monday, July 26. Like Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, Alden had to shake hands and kiss babies to get there.

“To get my name out,” said Alden who has lived in the First Congressional District for almost 20 years, “I attended local Democratic functions and actively went out to solicit the support of other registered Democrats in the district.”
Unlike Kerry, who will be front and center on stage, Alden will be with the other 123 Maryland delegates waving Kerry/Edwards signs, cheering and rallying the troops for the last four and a half months of an increasingly contentious presidential election.

“I believe that campaigning toward electing Sen. Kerry as our next president will be key toward improving the economic climate, quality of health care and opportunities available for the residents of Maryland,” said Alden, who’s packing his bag for his first convention.

Alden is new to conventioneering, but he’s no newcomer to the Kerry team. Since his undergraduate and law school days at Boston College, he’s been a Kerry man.

“My history of supporting Sen. Kerry dates back to his senatorial reelection bid in 1996,” Alden said. His loyalty was rewarded this spring, when Kerry’s team asked Alden to put his name on the ballot to win a seat at the convention.

Winning election as a delegate is a fortune to which many are called but few are chosen. Success depends in part on backing the right candidate to win the primary, in part on getting backed by that candidate and in part on the number of votes you get. In Alden’s district, 35 would-bes — representing six candidates — offered themselves to voters. Only six — five regulars and one alternate — were chosen. All had committed themselves to either Kerry or Edwards.

Among Maryland’s 123 delegates, 71 were elected at the polls and 52 were appointed by the party in recognition of their service.

Joining Alden and the Maryland delegates at the 43rd Democratic National Convention will be grizzled political veteran Bill Burlison, Anne Arundel County councilman and former Missouri congressman, elected from the Third District.

“In modern time,” says the veteran of over 35 years in politics, “the convention really doesn’t leave much to be decided. The parties gather to garner attention and interest and to generate enthusiasm and activate Democrats.”

Taking advantage of the momentum from the week-long party is exactly what Democrats intend to do.

“We believe in an America that is stronger at home, respected in the world,” said the convention chairman, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, in announcing this year’s theme. “This convention will showcase the team that Americans can trust to always be on their side.”

Showcasing his own skills on his party’s national stage, Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley — once a supporter of Vermont Gov. Howard Dean — will speak for urban mayors, joining Richardson and retired Marine Lt. Col. Steve Brozak in explaining the Kerry-Edwards plan on homeland security Wednesday July 28.

“Kerry and Edwards understand that America’s cities are on the frontline of homeland security,” O’Malley told Bay Weekly. O’Malley, who serves as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Mayor Task Force on Homeland Security, added that “there is only one goal coming out of the convention: elect John Kerry president.”

Among other Marylanders in the spotlight, Sen. Barbara Mikulski will speak on opening night, Monday July 26, on behalf of the nine Democratic women senators.

Her speech will be a brief stop in a whirlwind week that will keep her — and the other delegates — running political Boston marathons. Mikulski will attend breakfasts with the Maryland Delegation, give speeches at the Fleet Center and around the city, stop at luncheons, receptions and parties as well as spend time talking to the media and hobnobbing with the powerful of the Democratic Party.

But this year’s convention is a far cry from the smoke-filled back rooms that chose presidential nominees until the middle of the 20th century. Back then, the business of conventions was king-making. Candidates lobbied and traded support among favorite sons in behind-the-scenes contention.

“Before primary elections,” said Burlison, “delegates were selected by state and central committee, which just doesn’t work today because of our primary by popular votes.”

But foregone conclusions won’t dampen the enthusiasm of the sign-waving, cheering Maryland convention delegates proclaiming that Maryland’s votes go to “the next president of the United States, John Kerry.”

—Louis Llovio

Editor’s note: The Republican National Convention convenes September 6 in New York. We’ll preview it in the issue of September 2.

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So. Maryland, So Good and So Fresh

uy-local campaign proves that a long-distance peach doesn’t taste as sweet

“Tobacco farmers never had to market their wares,” says Jim Bourne of Sandy Hill Farm in Calvert County. “You’d never stroll down Rt. 4 and see a roll-your-own cigarette stand.”

But times have changed, and Maryland’s surviving farmers are going to market with peaches, petunias, poultry, parsley and potatoes. Ninety-four percent of Southern Maryland tobacco growers — 869 farmers — will have bought-out of tobacco by January 2005. Because the state-funded $77-million buyout requires each taker to farm the former tobacco fields for at least a decade, hundreds of farmers are now growing genuine Southern Maryland products — from persimmons to pumpkins — anything but tobacco.

All they need now are customers to buy the foods that are replacing tobacco as Maryland farmers’ cash crop.

“We did a study and found that what local farmers needed most was a market,” said Christine Bergmark, of the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission, who created So. Maryland, So Good. The resultant buy-local campaign aims to improve the farm-to-market link with what Bergmark calls “a value-added label to encourage consumers to support local farms.”

The So. Maryland, So Good logo captures the transition from a past built by tobacco into a present sustained by produce. All of the familiar features of rural Southern Maryland are portrayed. Amid a backdrop of Chesapeake waterways, green fields and a wooden tobacco barn, a farm girl heads to market with a basket full of freshly picked produce. Like many of the farmers who have taken the buyout, she turns her back on tobacco and ventures forth into southern Maryland’s new agricultural era.

From Sandy Hill Farm in Owings, Jim Bourne offers local beef, eggs and turkeys. His parents used the same lands to grow tobacco that he has adapted to raising livestock and poultry. Since his farm has replaced the green leaves of tobacco with cows and chickens, he hopes the new program will show that “Southern Maryland is more than just tobacco.”

It’s not only farmers who benefit. Consumers who pay attention to labels will be able to tell at a glance that the fruits, veggies, meats and dairy products they enjoy are field fresh, not road weary from traveling across the nation. Produce travels an average of 1,500 miles before reaching customer palates, according to Bergmark. Freshness, taste and overall quality suffer along the long journey.

Should you expect to see the So. Maryland, So Good label sharing space beside out-of-towners in the produce aisle at your local Safeway or Giant? “I hope so,” said Bergmark. “But after 9/11, they were not encouraging their local stores to buy local produce.” Bergmark is, however, courting a relationship with Whole Foods in Annapolis.
You can, however, buy local at almost 20 grocers and farmers’ markets in Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s counties. Try Calvert Country Market, Graul’s Market in Annapolis or McKay’s Foodland in Lexington Park. And you can eat local at nearly a dozen restaurants spread thin throughout the five counties. Find a complete listing at www.somarylandsogood.com.

The new buy-local campaign not only feeds local appetites but also the local economy. “If every household in the five southern counties bought $8 of locally grown products for 12 weeks,” said Bergmark, “that’s $54 million back into our farm economy.”
If support rises anywhere near that level, farmers will be doing well as we eat well.

So Taste Southern Maryland for yourself, and discover that a long-distance peach doesn’t taste as sweet.

—Lauren Silver

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Ask the Plant Professor

Battling Bugs without Poison

What can I use to treat my vegetables for disease and pests so that I won’t have to wait two weeks after application in order to eat what I grew?

A First step is to identify the problem pest: What disease? What insect? For soft-bodied insects, insecticidal soap and horticultural oil protect plants with no threat to people who later consume treated produce. Other insects can be trapped, hand-picked, or slammed with a strong stream of water from a hose. For a fungicide, add two tablespoons baking soda per diluted gallon of horticultural oil spray. We have more non-toxic methods on our website under Publications and Plant Diagnostics.

Q Fuzzy bugs are hopping off my flowers and leaving cottony stuff on the stems. Is this a danger?

A The citrus flatid planthopper is having a banner year. We are getting lots of reports, but this wedge-shaped insect usually requires no controls. You can blast it with water from a hose if you like. Their white waxy nesting material will decompose harmlessly.

Ask the Plant and Pest Professor is compiled from questions sent to the website of the Home and Garden Information Center, part of Maryland Cooperative Extension, an educational outreach of the University of Maryland. Ask a home gardening or pest control question and find other help: 800-342-2507 (Mon.-Fri. 8am-1pm) • www.hgic.umd.edu.

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Way Downstream …

In Virginia, “dead zones” of oxygen-deprived water caused by nitrogen pollution are showing up in the Rappahannock River. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality found oxygen in quantities as low as .8 milligrams per liter last week; aquatic life needs at least five milligrams to survive …

In Florida, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists Andrew Eller had the guts to stand up to Interior Secretary Gale Norton and challenge the government’s flawed studies about the endangered Florida panther being used in decisions about development. Last week, Eller received notice that his agency plans to fire him …

In Los Angeles, the Natural Resources Defense Council declared last week that it plans to sue the Navy over the use of sonar believed to be causing mass whale strandings and internal bleeding to the mammals. The Navy responded by saying it has several programs to protect whales from its high-intensity, mid-frequency sonar …

Our Creature Feature comes from Spain, where farmers near the town of Riodeva in the central Spanish region of Aragon have been tossing aside rocks from their almond orchards for many years. But when two paleontologists took a closer look, they knew that the farmers had been handling something else: dinosaur bones.

That was a year ago, and what those bones have added up to is a remarkable discovery: the remains of a previously unknown dinosaur estimated at more than 110 feet long and more than 80,000 pounds. Astounded scientists believe the massive reptile roamed the Spanish hills 130 million years ago when the region was a tropical paradise. “To find such a big animal is extraordinary, and to find it in Europe is extra-terrestrial,” remarked researcher Alberto Cobos.

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