Burton on the Bay:
Election year has got me in between ...
and the Deep Blue Sea
Multitudes in the Valley of Decision
-Book of Joel
The Valley of Decision is just over the horizon, but alas there are no multitudes of choices. The Maryland primaries are fast approaching, and what a dismal ballot is on the menu.
Barring the unexpected - like when Harry Hughes tipped over the political apple cart about 16 years back - the ballots for the general election will also give cause for melancholy. What kind of state do we live in anywise?
There's small choice in rotten apples.
Only a miracle can avert a ballot that offers in November this choice: Sauerbrey or Glendening. And government wonders why the electorate stays home on election day.
Dear Reader, forgive me for cynicism, but this has been a day of dismay. During the drive on I-295 to Baltimore this morning, as I approached downtown, there sticking out almost over the interstate was the new home of the Baltimore Ravens, a gift from one Parris Glendening who decided you and I should foot the bill to glorify a team that abandoned its faithful following in Cleveland because the folks there weren't as generous as our governor, you, me and hundreds of thousands of other citizens.
That stadium, certainly no great work of architecture, hogs the view as one enters the city from the south. It tempts one to close the eyes; a fender-bender couldn't be worse.
This Citadel of Opulence could not be overlooked on the way home either, but once back in Riviera Beach, I headed to the Royal Farms for copies of the Post, Times and Wall Street Journal - and my daily scratch-off lottery ticket.
Among the many lottery choices was a new one, complete with colorful illustration, and named Bay Watch. It was my selection, but after purchasing same, I noted the fine print. The proceeds weren't going to our Chesapeake, nor to education or any other worthwhile causes.
I should have known better -- I make it a point to stick with ducats that don't benefit stadiums -- but that Bay scene hoodwinked me. "Proceeds benefit Maryland Stadium Authority." That's what the ticket read.
One saving grace, I won a buck, the cost of the ticket. I got my money back and didn't contribute anything to that castle for pampered athletes, owners and fans who consider a stadium and team top priority.
So of the couple hundred million -- probably more when all cost overruns are admitted -- the haughty Stadium Authority didn't get that particular buck from me. But let's not beat a dead horse this time around; there are other troublesome aspects to this primary and the subsequent general election.
Let's be realistic; one dares not dream of an upset in the primary. It's going to be, on the Democratic ballot, Glendening, versus Sauerbrey on the GOP ticket. The incumbent governor chased away all viable opposition, and now faces token opposition in Dr. Terry McGuire of Davidsonville, whose campaign seems to be focused on an anti-abortion theme. Lawrence K. Freeman, a Catonsville writer, is a follower of Lyndon LaRouche. Some choice.
On the Republican side, it's Ellen Sauerbrey, who still thinks she won the last election, and Howard County Executive Charles L. Ecker, who is the better choice by far but has a snowball's chance in hell. To its credit, the Sun has endorsed Ecker, who has some administrative experience and can't be as business oriented as the weeping lady who from all appearances doesn't even know the Chesapeake Bay exists other than as an avenue for ships of commerce heading to or from the Port of Baltimore.
Sauerbrey makes her opponent in the most recent primary four years ago, one Helen Bentley, look like a liberal, but she has solid ultra-conservative support -- much of it based on Glendening's stance on gun control. Get out in the boondocks, where hunting and gun issues play more than a minor role in choice, and Sauerbrey is the hero, the savior, the queen. You gotta see it to believe it.
The environment is Sauerbrey's most worrisome Achilles heel, yet among hunters as well as those who hold free-wheeling in firearms above all, she's popular. Her record as a legislator is among the worse in memory for environmental affairs.
One might even think she'd pave over the Bay to hasten landings in the Port of Baltimore. Serious Bay watchers refer to her as "Sour Bay." The watchdog Maryland League of Conservation voters reported she slid from a 33 percent to a 10 percent in legislative endeavors during her 16 years in the House of Delegates. One hundred is top score, and she either voted against almost all environmental legislation or didn't bother to vote at all.
When that's taken into consideration, one gets to wondering about all that support from gun control and hunting advocates. Elect Ellen - then you can meander about with everything from a BB gun to an Uzi - but there won't be anything to hunt because everything will be either paved or developed.
Also, one finds it difficult to picture her other than weeping about her 6,000 vote loss four years ago. She shed enough tears to water the crops of drought plagued Maryland farmers.
The governor also has his baggage other than the stadium. His fund-raising efforts, either direct or indirect, cause concern. And now, as we get to the nitty gritty, Sun columnist Dan Rodericks reports the guv wants Bill Clinton to embellish his coffers by attending a fund-raiser. One of those ties, books or other goodies that trafficked between him and Monica Lewinsky might be auctioned off to add even more to his campaign funding. Then there's that dress.
But when you get down to it, you gotta ask yourself, who would you rather have in the hot seat when something like Pfiesteria erupts? Or Chapman's Landing? Or any environmental issue past, current or looming? End of argument - though not of concern.
And in parting, a reminder: County legislators who voted for stadium funding are Senators Philip Jimeno, C. Edward Middlebrooks and Mike Miller, plus Delegates Michael Busch, Joan Cadden, Mary Ann Love and George Owings. Keep that in mind. Enough said.
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VolumeVI Number 34
August 27-September 2, 1998
New Bay Times
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