Volume 15, Issue 2 ~ January 11 - January 17, 2007

Way Downstream

In Maryland bars and restaurants, smoking may be on the way out, as it is in all other Maryland workplaces. Lawmakers from Calvert County, where through the last century tobacco was the king of crops, predict smoking will be voted down in this year’s General Assembly, which began work January 10. Calvert lawmakers planning to support a statewide ban are Sen. Roy Dyson and Del. Sue Kullen.

“I promised every school kid in Calvert County to vote for the ban,” said Kullen, who was absent on votes in the last two sessions.

Even opponent Del. Tony O’Donnell, new minority leader in the House, predicts passage for the ban, which he blasts as likely to hurt “little mom and pop businesses.” O’Donnell expects private clubs like the Elks to seek exemptions, upping the pressure by adding smoking alternatives …

Expect slot machines to resurface in this Assembly, as well. “I’m still for slots. It’s going to happen one way or another,” Senate president Mike Miller told members of the Calvert County Chamber of Commerce hours before the Assembly convened for the new year. Slots are an issue Miller and Gov.-elect Martin O’Malley are likely to agree on …

On other issues, Annapolis’ two most powerful Democrats, Miller and O’Malley, may reprise the famously bickering Car Talk brothers Click and Clack. Miller started the new legislative year by lambasting O’Malley for a lackadaisical “work ethic.”

“I’m disappointed that he has not rolled up his sleeves and gotten down to business.” Miller said, noting only two department heads had been named. “I’m from a retail background, used to getting things done.”

One more proof that Calvert and Anne Arundel counties carry clout in the General Assembly: Calvert Del. Sue Kullen, elected for the first time in November, has already moved into Democratic House leadership. After coming from nowhere as an appointed delegate two years ago, she mounted a near-perfect campaign, besting a well-known Calvert County commissioner to keep her seat. She’s been rewarded by House Speaker Michael Busch, of Anne Arundel County, by an appointment to the staff of the House Whip. Her likely title as mother hen of freshman Democrats is chief deputy whip …

Our Creature Feature comes from Berlin, where the Germans — who first decorated Christmas trees in the 16th century — have devised a suitable way to dispose of them: at the zoo.

Camels and other animals are dining happily this month on loads of ex-Xmas trees, valued because of their essential oils. Berlin Zoo spokesman Ragnar Kuehne told Reuters that no creature enjoys holiday leftovers more than elephants, who devour five trees in one serving.

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