Dock of the Bay

Volume VI Number 42
October 22-28, 1998


  • Giving From the Grave: Goldstein Fund Blesses Maryland Democrats
  • Darned If You Don't
  • International Exchange Jump-starts 21st Century Planning
  • Done Deal: Franklin Point Is Ours
  • Update: Congress Sets Sights on Nibbling Nutria
  • Way Downstream ...

  • Giving From the Grave: Goldstein Fund Blesses Maryland Democrats

    A few months before he died, Maryland's legendary Comptroller Louis Goldstein lectured Democrats at their annual Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner about failing to prepare for the '98 elections.

    Goldstein died July 3 at age 84 but his assistance lives on - in the form of nearly $140,000 dispersed to Democratic organizations across Maryland.

    "He's not here to go out and campaign, but this is his way of helping," said Betty Weems, Goldstein's long-time secretary in Prince Frederick.

    "He's up there smiling down."

    Weems, treasurer of Goldstein's political committee, signed the checks in recent days to the Democratic state central committee, to Democratic committees in Maryland's 23 counties and to the Democratic organization in Baltimore. The committee kept $100 and will be shut down soon, she said.

    Most of the contributions were $2,000 to $3,000, but larger organizations received more, Weems said. The contributions are legal under Maryland law.

    Senate President Mike Miller said he understood that Goldstein's home county, Calvert, received $6,000 for its badly depleted fund. "It was good for Democrats across Maryland," Miller said.

    Kathleen Skullney, executive director of Common Cause in Maryland, said she knew of no similar instance of political giving but did not regard it as extraordinary. Skullney said she would not rank the Goldstein contributions with Democratic fundraising methods that exploit some new campaign finance loopholes.

    Under a new Maryland law that went into effect Oct. 1, Goldstein's committee ultimately would have had to give away its money and disband. That law was intended to prevent former candidates from using their campaign funds in unscrupulous ways.

    Maryland's law specifies how campaign money can be spent: It can be returned to donors or given to tax-exempt organizations and to certain schools. Or it can end up like Goldstein's fund - dispersed among the party faithful.

    Weems said that she entertained suggestions to distribute the money otherwise, but never seriously.

    "I've worked for him so long I knew what he wanted. This was a good finishing touch, made with the approval of Mr. Goldstein's children," she said.

    Goldstein's daughter, Louisa, an assistant attorney general in Maryland, agreed. "He would have been glad with what we did, disbursing his unused campaign funds locally," she said.


    Darned If You Don't

    photo by Liz Shay Collaborators at rest: the South Arundel International Exchange team and their hosts.

    Maybe it's the name: "Small Area Planning Committee" doesn't have much grab to it. Yet behind those nine uninspiring syllables is your best and closest chance to keep your neighborhood a place in which you're living happily.

    Small Area Planning Committees are the hands-on part of Anne Arundel County's 21st century general development plan. In debate a year ago, the committees flamed like a bonfire; the issue, you may remember, was who - county executive, county council or forces nearer to home - got the power of choosing the members. Even now, Small Area Planning Committees inspire planners with hope because of the power they give to the people.

    In each of the county's 16 committees, citizens spend a year listening, planning, and finally detailing the shape their communities will take - the values they'll retain or lose - in the next decade. Over the past year, hard at work have been six committees, from Severna Park through Crownsville to Crofton to the Broadneck and Annapolis Neck peninsulas to Edgewater-Mayo.

    Six more committees are about to be formed, with power to shape the future in South County, Deale-Shady Side, Severn, Odenton, BWI/Linthicum, and Jessup/

    Maryland City. With 18 citizens to sit on each committee, 108 are needed. The application deadline is October 30. For two months, the call has been trumpeted on the pages of New Bay Times, and we are not alone.

    Yet this week, for all those powerseats on all those committees, only 29 applications had been received. With 10 applications, Deale-Shayd Side is the farthest along. Five people have applied for South County, and only one for BWI/Linthicum.

    Maybe County Executive John Gary is right. "People are busy trying to run their own lives," he told us in an exclusive interview you'll read this week in NBT.

    Most of us are too busy to get up and to go the bathroom until nature insists. But when a cement mixer moves in across the street and the juvenile detention center opens next door, you'll be darned that you didn't when you could.


    International Exchange Jump-starts 21st Century Planning

    "If we could but see ourselves as others see us," wrote Scotland's poet laureate, Bobbie Burns.

    Two centuries after Burns penned his wry poem, a countrywoman has lent her eyes to help Southern Anne Arundel County better see itself. One of an international team of eight, Scotswoman Patricia Hamilton joined four Britishers - a Welshman and woman, an Englishman and a Canadian - and Americans from Massachusetts, New York and Vermont in a week-long fact-finding tour of Southern Anne Arundel County.

    By car and van, bus, boat and airplane, the team covered the territory, reading the many chapters of Southern Anne Arundel life, from a dog show to an overview by air.

    "We've been listening to you all week, hearing a lot of different opinions and views," East Anglian Tim De Keyzer told 150 citizens and a sprinkling of county planners gathered to hear the departing team's preliminary impressions. "What we're going to try to do is give you a feel of how we think you can take all these thoughts and contributions forward."

    The agricultural cash crop is now new homes.

    Upcoming is a detailed report, the kind of handsome log book plus recommendations the International Countryside Stewardship Exchange has produced after each of its 50-odd visits to communities throughout North America and Canada in its mission of helping communities manage change.

    The farewell October 15 at West River Camp was spoken in person-to-person words whose meaning was clear across regions, despite accents.

    I don't want to see all of South County blacktopped.

    After two or three opening sentences, the audience laughed in surprised recognition: 'We're hearing,' they thought, 'our own words!'

    What we need is new directions. We're in a crossroads, but we don't know which way to turn.

    Getting ready for the visit, a local organizing committee of South Arundel citizens had posed two categories: Limits and opportunities of growth; and strategies for community building and advocacy.

    The early answers were both bureaucratic and visionary. At the bureaucratic level, working within the county's evolving General Development Plan, the team encouraged two steps:

    First, put into place a citizen-based planning process to develop the Small Area Plan. Then they addressed individuals: "Apply for positions on the Small Area Planning Committee."

    At the visionary level, the team looked ahead 25 years to see, in part-

    · Villages in Galesville, Deale, Waysons Corner, Davidsonville and Mt. Zion/Lothian with compact, low-scale, pedestrian-oriented, well-landscaped development in a variety of housing types and styles;

    · Community gathering places: ice cream parlors, performance art centers. local businesses, a post office, recreation center and multi-age community center;

    · More open countryside;

    · Linking people, the South County Shuttle, an alternative-fuel mini-bus making connections to the metropolitan centers of the larger region.

    After the whirlwind visit, "People are so excited," according to organizer Liz Shay. "We're starting the South Arundel Exchange, a non-profit for education and community building"

    The exchange's most significant achievement, Shay reflected, "was bringing these diverse sectors of the community together for the first time. I learned more in this one week than ever before."

    When the International Countryside Stewardship Exchange report on Southern Anne Arundel County is out, NBT will let you know where to get your copy.


    Done Deal: Franklin Point Is Ours

    Years of acrimony became a footnote this week when representatives of the state, Anne Arundel County and a Maryland developer sealed the deal to turn 477 acres of Southern Maryland Bayfront into a park.

    "It will protect forest buffers essential to water quality, save wildlife habit, provide opportunities for environmental education and increase public waterfront access to the Chesapeake Bay," Gov. Parris Glendening said.

    Anne Arundel County Executive John Gary noted the many voices that wanted the land preserved. "Our grandchildren will benefit from this cooperative state-county-community work," he said.

    Franklin Point, on the Shady Side peninsula, is one of the largest undeveloped Bayfront tracts in the region. For over a decade, Washington parking magnate Dominic Antonelli fought to turn the pristine land into a subdivision. The most recent plan called for a 152-home development called Baldwin's Choice.

    Glendening disclosed in an interview with New Bay Times this month that he intended to join with Gary in buying the land. Details were completed Tuesday.

    The state and the county will split the $5.725 million purchase price; the state's share will come from the Department of Natural Resources' Program Open Space, which has helped preserve more than 140,000 acres.

    The Franklin Point agreement must be approved by the General Assembly, the Board of Public Works and the Anne Arundel County Council. Senate President Mike Miller pledged his support, saying the purchase would "save Baldwin's Choice from irreversible development and further protect the ecological balance of the Chesapeake Bay."

    Hours after the purchase was announced this week, a delegation of SACReD members went to thank Glendening at a reception in his honor at the South River Seaplane Base in Edgewater. SACReD president Jim Foster declared the signing "the culmination of a 12-year effort by the citizens of Shady Side."

    Joe Browder, the environmental consultant from Fairhaven who engineered the negotiations, flew back early from Florida to join the celebration. Browder got the ball rolling one chilly evening last spring by buttonholing Gary.

    "I think the time was right for this to happen. The governor and John Gary and Mr. Antonelli understood that something else needed to be done and they were ready to do it," he said.

    Browder pronounced the outcome "pretty amazing when you consider the intensity of the dislike people had for each other for such a long time. Maybe it's a model for how people should behave."


    Update: Congress Sets Sights on Nibbling Nutria nutria

    They chew and chomp, nibble and munch until they're full, then have seconds. Now, relief may be near from scoundrel nutria causing chaos in Chesapeake marshes on both shores.

    U.S. Rep. Wayne Gilchrest's nutria eradication plan passed the House in its waning days and awaits approval in the Senate. The legislation calls for spending $2.9 million over the next three years to combat the nutria menace.

    Larger than their muskrat cousins, nutria have prominent teeth and rat-like tails. These South Americans were released on the Eastern Shore in 1943 to boost the fur industry. Because they have no local predators and fur sales have plummeted, the nutria have thrived.

    "These rodents are destroying critical habitat for fish and wildlife and some of the most important wetlands in the United States," Gilchrest said.

    Their gnawing not only kills the vegetation but causes erosion. Then the marsh becomes vulnerable to flooding and tidal currents and, finally, gives way to open water.

    Seven thousand acres of marsh have been lost at Blackwater Wildlife Refuge on the Eastern Shore. But, said assistant refuge manager Elaine Johnson, the marsh can recover if nutria go.

    A joint study by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and Blackwater showed vegetation reappearing in fenced enclosures.

    Gilchrest's legislation sets up a pilot program and will "bring experts in to figure out how to eradicate the nutria and restore the marsh," said spokeswoman Cathy Bassett.

    Until then, the nibbling nuisances will continue to help themselves.

    -Darcey Dodd

    Way Downstream ...

    In Washington D.C., the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service received a letter recently from a hunter saying he had followed directions on a tagged bird and it tasted awful. The tag read: "Wash. Biol. Surv." for Washington Biological Survey, not "Wash, Boil, Serve"...

    In Connecticut, Fish and Wildlife also is in the news. A biologist there says he wants to dunk every hatchery-spawned salmon in an orange chemical before release into the Connecticut River to see how many make it to the ocean ...

    Atlanta is home base for Home Depot, the target of protests around the country for its wood-selling policies. Conservationists picketed Home Depots in 70 cities, charging that it sells products from pristine, old-growth forests. Home Depot responds that the concerns are "misplaced" ...

    New Mexico is the venue for a really big purchase of land by the government. Congress agreed this month to set aside $40 million to buy the 95,000-acre Baca Ranch in northern New Mexico's Jemez Mountains ...

    Our Creature Feature this week is about frogs and no, it's not another disquieting saga of unexplained deformities. This is a tale from the United Kingdom about one lucky leaper.

    The frog at the center of attention is believed to be the last surviving male of the British pool frog. In an effort to save the species from extinction, nine females are being flown in from Sweden in hopes that there will be, shall we say, some amphibious attractions. Come to think of it, this Creature Feature begs to have a title: How about: Froggie Went a' Courtin'.

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    Volume VI Number 42
    October 22-28, 1998
    New Bay Times

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