Politics '98: All Together Now, Heads Out of the Sand
Any of us lulled into not paying attention to the election season is
making a mistake. For only voters -- with those we elect -- keep our system
of governing vibrant and fair.
In that spirit, we offer a set of nonpartisan guides to help you move
into the swing of things. Think of this as training camp to get ready for
the Maryland primary Sept. 15 and the general election Nov. 3.
- Stand Up or Shut Up. It's easy, given the
prosperity around us, to stay out of the fray and enjoy life. Don't be
fooled. The most important decisions have yet to be made about the speed
and locale of development under the state's "Smart Growth" program.
Both Anne Arundel and Calvert counties have on tap their most vital decisions
about planning and class sizes in years. Gambling is on the table. Your
quality of life along the Chesapeake is at stake.
- Filter What You Hear. Remember, politics
is a contact sport. So don't be put off by the rough-and-tumble. But listen
closely: Is it the same old yack from the Republicans about Big Bad Government?
Is it the same Democratic Big Scare tactic warning you that Republicans
will slash your benefits? Ask questions. Don't abide easy answers and false
choices. Make 'em sweat.
- Avoid Prevailing Wisdom. Group-think has
it that Gov. Parris Glendening is not a skilled politician; therefore he
is failing us. Where does that notion come from? Could it be from jealous
politicians and gambling interests he won't play ball with? Developers
mad at "Smart Growth?" Meanwhile, the buzz is that likely Republican
challenger Ellen Sauerbrey is a mean-spirited woman who wants to "dismantle"
government. Meet her. Ask questions. Make your own call.
- Find the Real Deal. Unlike many places,
in Maryland office-seekers have a tradition of getting "out among
'em," as the late Comptroller Louis Goldstein did at every turn. Give
added weight to politicians who find you and look you in the eye. For those
in office, don't be shy about getting on the phone and testing their constituent
- Follow the Money. This week, Common Cause
reported that national parties raised $115 million in "soft money"
in the first months of this cycle. That's more than double the amount four
years ago. Weren't we sick of fat cats trying to buy our system? Soft money
does not mean fluffy bills. It's money in huge chunks payable to parties
rather than individuals, therefore skirting laws on limits and full disclosure.
- The Bay Way. The Chesapeake is our playground
and our lifeblood. From county council to Congress, are candidates walking
the talk when it comes to protecting and preserving the Bay? Or do they
sound the same old weak-tea notions about more studies and new panels?
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VolumeVI Number 30
July 30 - August 5, 1998
New Bay Times
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