Dock of the Bay
Volume VI Number 1
January 8-14, 1998
"Against All Odds":
Evans' Political Gamble
Baysiders can expect a dynamic - and divisive - political season now that County Council Member Diane Evans, of Arnold, has declared plans to challenge County Executive John Gary.
In a New Bay Times interview this week, Evans, 49, who chaired the council until recently, talked about her extraordinary decision to take on Gary in the Republican primary.
NBT - Why are you doing this?
DE - "I want to prove that a Republican can be a fiscal conservative while at the same time being sensitive to social needs and the environment. That's the crux of it."
NBT - Polls show generally that people are pretty satisfied these days. Are you sure this is a good time to take on an incumbent?
DE - "Absolutely. I am convinced - and this is from personal observation - that people are tired of the arrogance of power."
NBT - Are the problems you see with Gary a matter of style or substance?
DE - "I think it's definitely rooted in substance. People are afraid of what could happen in a second term. They are worried about the amount of money he has accumulated and what that could mean as far as the people who have given it."
NBT - Haven't Republicans voiced their worries to you about splitting the party?
DE - "I have talked to a number of Republican officials and people. They have expressed their concerns to me, but I would like to try to encourage them to look at this situation a little bit differently. What I'm trying to do is improve the party."
NBT - What are the principal issues, in your estimation?
DE - "The two main issues in the county are rapid growth and development and how that affects schools. People are concerned that if development continues as it has and schools grow overcrowded, our quality of life will be diminished. I think they are concerned about someone who represents that acceleration of growth."
NBT - In your view, has John Gary demonstrated sufficient interest in protecting the Chesapeake Bay?
DE - "I've always been closely identified with the environment. I'm uneasy about what I've seen [in Gary]. People have reported things that do not follow the law. They don't understand why the county doesn't back up citizens and why so much flexibility is allowed in certain circumstances for certain individuals. I'm talking about developers and citizens who may want to stretch things a bit.
NBT - Do you understand the difficulty of your quest?
DE - "I will have Team Evans, a distinguished group of local Republicans who are willing to do the grassroots work to make this work. I want to prove that someone can be county executive without spending enormous sums of money. I know that what I've decided to do is a difficult proposition. I'm truly running against all odds."
In Annapolis, Mayor Johnson's Big Job
Ten weeks ago, mayoral candidate Dean Johnson said he had a plan to improve the quality of life in Annapolis. In fact, many plans. He promised a transportation master plan, an economic development plan and a regional development plan.
At his inauguration five weeks ago, Johnson used up all his fingers ticking off his goals for "Annapolis city government in the 21st century."
Having talked the talk, Johnson will now have to walk the walk, accepting - or rejecting - the 46-page plan for action presented by his Transition Team.
"We have laid out a challenging agenda," said John H. Cushman, the retired Army lieutenant general who headed the fast-working team. Its 10 members met for the first time two days after the election.
The agenda may challenge Johnson, but it won't surprise him. Topping the plan under the heading "The Mayor's Primary Objectives" is a list of eight results drawn directly from Johnson's inaugural address and approved by him.
The Transition Team's report includes a situation report on each objective, a long list of matched action programs and a shorter list of 90-day goals - plus the person responsible for carrying each out.
For example, under Objective 2: to strengthen and enhance neighborhoods, Annapolis is described as a "city of diverse interests. Occasional residents and visitors at times outnumber the permanent residents. The challenge in the city is to maintain a balance between the needs of the permanent residents and the economic benefit from the occasional residents and visitors."
To meet that "challenge," the plan calls by March 31 for the city's public information coordinator to schedule meetings with "neighborhoods affected by Spring Boat Show and Whitbred and future events."
Each objective is similarly divided, subdivided and set marching toward March 31.
Neither should the short deadline put off Johnson, who characterized himself in his inaugural address as a man driven by time - and by timeliness.
Now only time will tell.
In North Beach, Ruckus Presages Mayoral Race
The election won't happen for 11 months. But the battle lines are drawn at the dawn of the new year between North Beach Mayor Daniel F. Hartley and his likely challenger, Dr. Mark Frazer.
The two are engaged in verbal combat and dueling letters to editors over an audit of North Beach finances that suggests shortcomings in how the town keeps track of its funds.
Hartley accuses Frazer, a Prince Frederick dentist and county commissioner, of triggering the state audit and interfering in North Beach's business.
"There's no doubt he's running for mayor and I don't care. But he doesn't need to be mean, to be sneaky about it and raise the red flag about our town," said Hartley, a Democrat.
He referred to Frazer as "a carpetbagger."
The audit in question found that the town commonly moves money between funds - from the sewer fund to the general fund, for instance - rather than balancing individual accounts. Hartley said that practice was necessary to pay the bills.
"I'm going to run this town with the funds I have available. I borrow money, I don't take it," Hartley said.
Frazer argues that Hartley manipulates accounts in a way that generates higher sewer and water bills. "This is poor fiscal management," he said.
Frazer, 56, a Republican, said that he was merely making inquiries as someone who is keenly interested in North Beach affairs. He has rented a home in North Beach and makes no secret about his mayoral aspirations.
He said: "I care for the town of North Beach. I think it's a very promising town that needs experienced leadership, and I would like to make a contribution toward its development as mayor."
As for Hartley, he says he's not sure he'll run again. He noted his age, 69, and the recent death of Buck Gott, a former mayor who was the town's director of special projects and Hartley's closest adviser.
The absence of Gott's advice may have been reflected in Hartley's decision to attack Frazer in letters to editors, thereby calling attention to the audit findings.
Moreover, Hartley has sparred with Calvert County over his desire to bring high-stakes bingo to North Beach and other issues.
"I don't know if I want to put up with another four years," he told New Bay Times.
In Texas, a wise-acre named John Kelso has started an alleged activist group called SOBER - Slow on Beans, Eat Rice. The Austin American-Statesman reports that Kelso's goal is to reduce methane emissions in Austin by seven percent
Indiana conservationists are mad at the Navy for a plan to incinerate in East Chicago, Ind. the last 23 million pounds of napalm left over from the Vietnam War. Cannisters of napalm - a deadly jellylike mix of gasoline and vasoline - have been stored at a naval facility near San Diego all these years
In Boston, the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine is not so prestigious right now. The venerable journal of science is under attack for allowing a chemical industry executive to review Sandra Steingraber's book, Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment. The journal didn't tell readers where the reviewer worked. As you might imagine, he panned it . . .
Our Creature Feature comes to us from Italy, where tourists face a new prohibition: feeding the pigeons of Venice. Why? because all that pigeon food translates to a problem in the city of canals: 74 tons of pigeon droppings each year that are splashing into the water and piling up on the stone walkways to such an extent that tourists slip and slide through the city.
The ban - which carries an $800 fine for violations - is the latest attempt by city leaders to diminish pigeon piles, the London Daily Telegraph reported. The Italians have hauled away male pigeons and - our favorite - brought in hungry cats.
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VolumeVI Number 1
January 8-14, 1998
New Bay Times
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