Dock of the Bay
Volume VI Number 36
September 10-16, 1998
Signs of the Times: Candidates on Parade
On the road, below left, and at North Beach's BayFest, right, candidates' signs cluster (photo by Darcey Dodd and photo courtesy of Bobby Sturgell).
What's big, bright and cruised past daily? Or small, simple and sitting around your neighbor's yard? Or still yet, 20 feett long and floating above your community?
During this election season political signs are posted on highways and byways, in yards and on bridges and yes, even drifting in the sky. They're everywhere.
It's a race - a battle to see who has the most or maybe the most visible. Though they vary in size and location, political signs have one duty: to grab your vote.
Many voters will go to the polls knowing no more than a name. So politicians spend big bucks on this age-old tactic to achieve name recognition.
Some candidates prefer flashy. Bobby Sturgell, Republican upstart challenger in District 27 to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, flew a 20-foot blimp reading "Bobby Top Gun Sturgell" over the North Beach Bayfest.
"I had it half way blown up when Mike Miller came by, big eyed and shaking his head," explains Sturgell. "He said, 'I can't believe it.'"
"It's a serious race now," says Sturgell. "People aren't laughing."
According to Sturgell, 25 large signs, 20 medium signs and 100 small signs are sending his message throughout Anne Arundel, Calvert and Prince George's counties. Add in three cartop and two metal truck signs and the tab exceeds $5,000.
Sturgell's smaller lawn signs were purchased from nearby South County Signs because, he says, "I'm trying to keep my spending with local businesses."
"My opponent gets his from his brother," says Mike Miller of Sturgell's billboards. Miller, who says his sign expenses are minimal, uses recycled signs. "We put up old signs," says Miller of his modest messages that will be replaced by signs more pleasing to the eye after the primary elections.
Miller's wood signs are posted in private yards and, he says, "We try not to block anyone's view."
Gov. Parris Glendening's camp has the same idea. His 4,000 signs are perched on lawns and in business windows statewide. Unlike Miller, though, Glendening has spent more than $20,000 in hopes of catching your vote.
Many candidates are still putting their bulletins up. Delegate Janet Greenip in District 33 got a late start this election. According to Greenip, her 24 large and 100 small signs did not begin to go up until a week after her opponent's.
"We saved all of our big signs from four years ago," explains Greenip, who has spent $1,000 on new and improved signs. "We've been very frugal and haven't had to spend until last week."
An airborne sign, right, for Top Gun Sturgell. photo courtesy of Bobby Sturgell
If you've not yet observed Anne Arundel County Sheriff George Johnson's signs, you probably will soon. His 75 large, 100 medium and 500 lawn signs are still being planted all over the county. They're valued at nearly $5,000.
Or maybe you've noticed "Diane Definitely" signs around your neighborhood? Anne Arundel County Councilwoman Diane Evans wants you to. Her campaign manager, Maury Chaput, says they've made sure all 950 and $6,000 worth of Evans' signs are lawfully posted on private property. "You'll find 75 percent of candidates don't abide by this law," says Chaput.
Signs posted on state or county right-of-ways and on landowner's yards without permission are illegal. "It's negative publicity when candidates put signs where they're not allowed," says one concerned official.
Evans' primary opponent, Janet Owens, says her 2,750 signs are put wherever she can get permission. "They're a component," explains Owens, "and the campaign's not effective without them."
Many contenders post more than one sign at a single location. Anne Arundel County Executive John Gary has 130 large signs sitting at only 80 nonresidential locations.
At this time Gary's billboards are not as plentiful as most. "We do not have a primary opponent, and we don't want to cause a clutter," says Gary's deputy campaign manager, Andrew Smarick. "There will be more happening as the general election comes along." To accompany the 250 already settled, 100 lawn signs are on the way."
And that you can expect with most primary winners. Political messages will continue to scatter across our land after round one of the elections. That's an upsetting thought to some.
"Because of the nice environment we have down here," says Delegate Virginia Clagett of District 30. "I wish we didn't have signs at all."
Clagett's personal campaign signs - as opposed to the Team 30 signs she shares with state Sen. John Astle and Del. Michael Busch - are few and far between as of yet. Though some are waiting at home, she figures her sign spending to be about $300 so far this election season.
Do bigger and better signs lend a hand at the polls? We shall see.
Who's That Woman? Behind Closed Curtains, A.A. Dems Had Better Get It Right
'Real' Democrats Janet Owens and Louis Goldstein.
What middle-aged woman with a white-bread 10-letter, four-syllable (both equally divided between first and last) name is running on the Democratic ticket to be Anne Arundel county executive?
(Here's a hint: the last name - which she doesn't share with her husband - ends in 's'.)
(Need another? She has hard things to say about John Gary.)
Definitely Diane Evans?
If that's your guess, you're half right.
But you mustn't - many Democratic party big names have learned - forget "a real Democrat," Janet Owens.
Which name springs to your mind?
That has a lot to do with what you've been up to the last couple of years. Personal loyalties aside, it's likely to be Evans if you're a political prize-fighting fan who's enjoyed watching the scrappy county councilwoman pick fights with her late party's county executive, John Gary.
If you're a Democratic regular - not just a voter but a party worker - it's likely to be Owens. Owens, a lifelong Democrat, has, she says, "served the party for many years." Most recently, she's served two years as elected president of Democratic Women of Anne Arundel County.
That's why it's a little strange that Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller - the Democratic party's biggest regional cheese - and many an Anne Arundel Democratic regular not only welcomed life-long Republican Diane Evans into the fold but also anointed her their party's standard bearer against the formidable Gary.
It wasn't that Owens didn't want the job. Though Owens filed after Evans, she's been running all along.
"I wish I knew why," says Owens, careful to note that she's not without the support of her party but only some of its leaders. "I approached and started talking with leadership, including the obvious candidates, and expressed my interest. I tried to touch base with nearly every elected and non-elected Democratic leader. I got virtually no encouragement," she says.
Clearly, Janet Owens is not Diane Evans.
You'll have to hunt a little more doggedly, listen a little harder, to find out who is this Democrat who puts at the top of her list of campaign promises restoring "civility, competence and integrity" to county government.
Owens is "very personable," according to supporter Ann Wood, of Lothian, a zip code shared with the farm that's been in Owens' family over a hundred years. Because of that, says Wood, her candidate has been "criticized as being too nice." But, Wood counters, "one doesn't hold the positions she's had without being tough and knowing where to draw the line and who to hire and fire."
What you learn, as you look closer, is that Owens the candidate is what she's done. Asked her selling point by New Bay Times, Owens answered that she is an administrator.
"I really am a public administrator, and at this point in Anne Arundel County government with Mr. Gary's administration, it's time to have someone who can take a hard look at management issues," Owens said.
That's been the direction of both her education - master's degree and doctoral course work in educational administration at the University of Massachusetts - and her experience.
In Massachusetts, where she was the highest ranking appointed woman in state government, she served as assistant secretary for criminal justice, with responsibility for correction, parole and youth services.
In Maryland, Owens has worked in both the public and private sectors. She has strong county-level experience, having been appointed director of both the Anne Arundel County Office on Aging and Housing Authority. She was elected judge of the Orphan's Court.
Much of her work as been in health care, and she is presently a trustee and officer at Harbor Hospital in South Baltimore.
The quality and safety of the public schools is her main issue.
Education, she explained, is closely linked to economic development. "I feel very strongly about much more technical stuff tied into strength the county has with the Naval Academy, St. Johns, NSA. But we've got to have a first-class public school system to attract those businesses," the candidate said.
Also on her list is controlled growth.
"I view the entire watershed as our gem," Owens said, "and we've got to keep it healthy. If one criterion is traffic, we've got to take a hard look at traffic and our roads and runoff. In every place from Shady Side to Pasadena, the issues are the same. We've gone beyond our infrastructure, and that becomes dangerous for all. We've a history of poor planning in this county."
You've read about scrappy Diane Evans in these pages before.
Civil Janet Owens is someone else: an administrator, maybe even, from what she told us, a peacemaker.
"I'm looking forward to winning and ending schism in [the Democratic] family - hopefully," Owens said.
Drawn to Laughter: Jim Hunt
"I like to draw things better than people. This one of a mule and Model T is seven years old and I still like it," says Hunt.
What he liked best about being a bartender was talking to customers and doodling on cocktail napkins. Then, as a valet in Palm Beach, he got to park and detail some very nice cars. Whatever work he's done, Jim Hunt's always found something to like about it.
But he'd been "working for check and tips and since college" and as a married man with a daughter, Hunt got to thinking about working for himself. That's when he invented Jim Hunt the cartoonist.
It wasn't exactly out of the blue. He'd been drawing all his life, spent his senior year in high school in the art room and on that basis gone to Massachusetts College of Art in his home town, Boston. "But that was just because I liked to draw," said he. "I wasn't serious about it. You're only 18."
Still, when he faced art directors armed with only a couple of drawings, no experience and no printed work, he must have wondered if he could pull his invention off well enough to take "more control over his destiny."
In those days, the strongest thing he had going for him when he met a new customer was "just an interest in doing something for them."
It seems like it must have been taking an interest in people as much as the drawings - though they were pretty good, enough that he still likes some of them - that carried him through. Certainly, he credits his success to his ability to work with people. "Cartooning and money are secondary," says Hunt, "to developing relationships with individuals."
Not that Hunt's taking credit for being the next Dale Carnegie. He's got a head start on winning friends in that, says he, "when you consider most of my clients, when I get together with them, what we're talking about is the lightest part of their whole day. It's very relaxed and doesn't seem like business."
Nor is he quite a Will Rogers, who never met a man he didn't like. Still, Hunt says, "I've been very fortunate in that 95 percent of the jobs I've done, I've enjoyed working with the people."
Job led to job in a town the size of Charlotte, N.C., where Hunt's cartooning career began. He drew for the Charlotte Hornets, the Carolina Panthers, and, most regularly, for Creative Loafing, Charlotte's news, arts and entertainment weekly, where, he says, visibility and regularity gave him "recognition and credibility."
More visibility led to more clients outside of Charlotte - among them Variety and Crack magazines - until he, his actor-director wife Fuller and daughters Chelsea, nine, and Isa, two and a half, were confident or well off enough to make the move a little farther north (Hunt is, after all, a Bostonian) to the nice town of Annapolis. Simply because they liked it.
He likes his work, too - even better than bartending or parking cars. "What's not to like?" he wonders. "I draw cartoons: it's fun and easy and doesn't feel like work and I get to watch a little ESPN as I do it."
Not a bad invention, is it?
-See more of Hunt's inventions this week and in weeks to come in the pages of NBT.
Behind the Beautiful Music
Back stage with the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, now under the batton of conductor Leslie Dunner.
Their first date was a smashing success. Fiddles, horns and drums followed conductor Leslie Dunner as if he were the Pied Piper, and happy crowds beamed on the promising courtship. "There was something for every taste," pronounced Donald Shomette, of Dunkirk, who with wife Carol was one of thousands who settled down on the lawn to enjoy a pair of free Labor Day pops concerts at Downs and Quiet Waters parks.
That's a hard act to follow, but that's exactly what the Annapolis Symphony orchestra and its new maestro do this weekend as they move indoors for the first concert of the regular season. No, it won't be quite the same. Out of shirtsleeves, and Dunner, who will be wearing tails instead of his sequined American flag vest, and probably won't arrive by firetruck.
Still, symphony and conductor will make beautiful music together. In case you want to follow the relationship along in a new setting, and since you've already met Dunner, here's a little introduction to how his partner orchestra works:
Just who and how many play depend on what's played. The typical orchestra is about 75 players. About 79 musicians played at the concerts in the park, which were supported in part by the county and in part by a small grant from St. Margaret's Church, left by a parishioner who asked it be given away to community groups.
Each musician is under contract to play a certain number of rehearsals and concerts. Their work at Annapolis Symphony Orchestra is not a full time job. Many "gig" around at a lot of places, from the Baltimore Opera to local churches.
This month, the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra is holding auditions for new members. "This is a transient area. We have a large number of openings. Very often - especially our young musicians who have come out of Peabody Institute - have moved on," says executive director Jane Schorsch. "The maestro will be doing four or five days of straight auditions, so you'll see a lot of new faces on stage."
Old or new, the number of musicians on stage changes with each concert. Their contract says they're asked to play a number of "services" at a certain pay scale. Each service is a two and a half hour period of playing, whether it's a concert or a rehearsal. Before each regular concert, like the pair being played this weekend, orchestra and conductor have rehearsed together five times, usually over the course of about as many days.
But first the music must be chosen.
Where it's to be played helps set the program. For the concerts in the park, for example, the first factor was the setting, and the thinking, according to Schorsch, went like this:
"What kind of music sounds good outdoors? We can't do quiet Mozart music very well outdoors. You need to do shorter selections outside because people are picnicking and talking. You can't have long symphonies very effectively. People are in a holiday frame of mind, so it's a different kind of program.
"Then you ask, what's the sound system like? How long is the concert going to be? What size is the stage? Music just dissipates when you don't have four walls. But music that has lots of brass on it gets out there. Can we fit on an orchestra with triple winds (three trumpets, three trombones) or are we going to be limited to double winds? Then we figure out how many strings we can get on there. It's almost impossible to get a piano on the stage outdoors, so you can't do anything that has piano.
"These things are considered as you're putting together the program."
To meet the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in concert Fri. Sept. 11 or Sat. Sept. 12 - or in classes - call 410/263-0907.
Way Downstream ...
From Hebron on the Eastern Shore, Baltimore Sun columnist Tom Horton is riling supporters of Republican gubernatorial aspirant Ellen Sauerbrey. Horton wrote that Sauerbrey is associated with Frontiers of Freedom, an ultraconservative think-tank in Virginia that calls for policies "profoundly and fundamentally opposed" to most current efforts to protect the Chesapeake Bay ...
In Utah, Mayor Dan Snarr in the town of Murray dropped to the ground recently and kissed the contaminated earth at a refining company to mark the beginning of an $11 million clean-up, the Deseret News reported. He observed: "I always said that when this day came, I would remove the first bit of arsenic from the ground with my own lips." His chief of staff remarked that the mayor's mustache might become a Superfund site ...
Our Creature Feature is a curious case from South Carolina, where authorities have found catfish dead from alcohol abuse. And these fish didn't succumb at a bar.
About 200 of them were found dead in a pond near the stills of moonshiners Tommy and Bobby Ray Arthur, the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle reported. The state Department of Health and Environmental Control said that the mash that drained through a pipe depleted the pond's oxygen. The report didn't say anything about the propriety of the moonshining but noted that the wastes should have been hauled to a wastewater treatment facility.
| Back to Archives |
Volume VI Number 36
September 10-16, 1998
New Bay Times
| Homepage |