Dock of the Bay

 Vol. 10, No. 29

July 18-24, 2002

Current Issue

Primary Colors

Dock of the Bay
Letters to the Editor
Burton on the Bay
Chesapeake Outdoors
Not Just for Kids
Eight Days a Week
What's Playing Where
Curtain Call
Music Notes
Sky Watch
Bay Classifieds
Behind Bay Weekly
Advertising Info
Distribution spots
Contact us

Ehrlich: ‘I’m Not in the Business of Placating Far-Left’ Enviros’

Judging by his lowly environmental ratings, Rep. Robert Ehrlich paid little heed to conservation concerns — until he became the Republicans’ likely candidate for governor in the November election.

Though ‘not in the business of placating groups with far-left agendas,’ gubernatorial candidate Robert Erlich said, ‘the health of that Bay is very important.’
photo by Bill Lambrecht
Now, Ehrlich says that his “Number One legislative priority” in Congress is securing legislation that would provide more than $600 million for communities to upgrade sewage treatment plants.

Those porous, aging plants — not farmers — are the principal culprits in the dumping of nitrogen pollution into the Chesapeake Bay, Ehrlich asserts.

“It is the Number One environmental issue in our campaign. It is the Number One water pollution issue in the state of Maryland,” Ehrlich said in an interview with Bay Weekly last weekend.

As he crisscrosses Maryland in his fledgling campaign, Ehrlich, 44, a four-term member of Congress, is working to broaden his appeal in an electorate where the environment and Chesapeake Bay loom large on voters’ radar screens.

Campaigning against Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, his certain Democratic opponent, Ehrlich is up against a foe who was part of an administration that became known for land preservation and the Smart Growth anti-development law.

In Congress, Ehrlich devoted little energy or political capital to these issues. His votes on litmus-test environmental issues in recent years earned him a meager 23 percent average out of 100 on scorecards by the League of Conservation Voters, the political arm of the nation’s main environmental advocacy groups.

Now, Ehrlich is working to narrow a green gap in the election by stressing what he wants to accomplish and what Townsend hasn’t. In the interview, he asserted that the Gov. Parris Glendening-Townsend administration “has done nothing about” the seeping nitrogen that damages the Bay by choking aquatic life.

Yet Ehrlich asserted that countering negative perceptions of his environmental record isn’t necessarily his aim. “I’m not in the business of placating groups with pretty far-left agendas,” he said.

“I am, however, in the business of talking about reasonable and rational compromise, whereby development can be accommodated. And the Chesapeake Bay must be accommodated,” he said.

Just then, Ehrlich’s four-year-old son, Andrew, ran up to his father, who was preparing to move on to another campaign event.

“The health of that Bay is very important to him,” Ehrlich said. “And that’s something to take very seriously.”

— Bay Weekly Staff

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend with Calvert County Commissioner candidate Wilson Parran, center, and her gubernatorial running mate Charles Larson.
photo by Sandra Martin
In Political Warfare, A Military Man Switches Sides

Political parties are to American politics what the Hatfields and McCoys are to hill country feuds and what the Capulets and Montagues were to Romeo and Juliet.

But if one side of the coin is loyalty, the other is defection, which was Charles Larson’s subject while campaigning last week in Chesapeake Beach with his running mate in November, Democratic candidate for governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

“I was a Republican until six weeks ago,” the retired admiral, former superintendent of the Naval Academy and commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command confessed after his commander, Townsend, rallied the partisans at a late afternoon gathering.

“So how did I get here?” Larson asked, giving voice to everybody’s unspoken question.

“My wife is a Democrat. My three daughters are Democrats. My sister in Omaha and her son in politics are Democrats. They’ve all been after me to align myself correctly,” he said.

The admiral might have been Will Rogers, so well did he lay the foundation for the profession of faith that followed.

“A naval officer’s first challenge is the care of his people. Inclusion, tolerance and compassion are my values, and I felt the party I shifted from had moved away from those values,” Larson said, echoing the refrain sung no matter which party a politician leaves behind.

“I do not feel I’ve shifted but that they’ve moved away from me, and I now align myself with the party that represents my values, the party that takes care of its people,” he said.

Larson did not mention opportunity as a reason for shifting parties. As a Democrat, he will have an opportunity to become a political leader in Maryland that he may never have had as a Republican.

Townsend’s choice of Larson is widely viewed as an effort to capture moderates and male voters who might not choose a woman for the state’s chief executive. It’s also geared to boost her stock in Maryland’s many military communities, including those in Southern Maryland.

Speaking of Larson, Townsend was silent on party.

“In our post-9/11 world, the first role of government is protecting our citizens,” said the admiral’s boss. “I wanted the best people for that job to work with me.”


Sailors aboard Illbruch lower their sails upon nearing Annapolis this past April.
photo by Brent Seabrook
Volvo Revisited

In khaki shorts and deck shoes, hundreds of local sailing enthusiasts arrived at Maryland Hall for the Performing Arts this week, hungry for more of what Bay Weekly readers voted “the best thing to happen to the Bay in the past year” — the Volvo Ocean Race. To feed their yearning, ESPN sailing and Annapolis resident Gary Jobson debuted his new program, Fighting Finish.

An hour-long compilation of video footage from ESPN, the BBC and other sources, Fighting Finish documents the round-the-world regatta that arrived in Baltimore from Miami in the wee hours of April 18. After resting up in Charm City, the racers paraded to Annapolis on April 26 and set sail for the gray Atlantic on April 28. Hundreds of Annapolitans crowded the shoreline that morning at Sandy Point State Park, despite pouring rain and gusting wind.

The boats struggled to beat the cold wind sweeping them toward Newfoundland, hoping to ride the Gulf Stream currents toward the shores of France. Two hours after leaving the Chesapeake, Illbruck snatched the lead away from Amer Sports One and never gave it back. Skipper John Kostecki took full advantage of the Gulf Stream’s flow, covering 484 nautical miles in 24 hours — a new world record. Illbruck arrived in La Rochelle, France, on May 9, two days sooner than expected.

Assa Abloy finished second and Tyco third. Amer Sports Too arrived aboard a freighter; the boat’s mast had snapped, forcing Lisa McDonald’s all-female crew back to Nova Scotia.

The next leg stretched 1,000 miles, from La Rochelle to Goeteberg, Sweden. Assa Abloy got off to a slow start after getting tangled up with a starting buoy, but skipper Neal McDonald used spring tides to propel his boat into the lead, surging across the finish line two minutes ahead of Tyco.

With a single leg remaining, only Assa Abloy still challenged Illbruck for first place, while a three-way race had developed for third between Tyco, News Corp and Amer Sports One. The yachts led a huge entourage of spectator boats out of Goeteberg, then charged south, toward Kiel, Germany.

Djuice crossed the finish line on June 9, after 132 days at sea. It was the only leg that skipper Knut Frostad’s would win. Illbruck beat Assa Abloy by two hours, scoring enough points for an overall victory. The all-female crew of Amer Sports Too beat their male counterparts on Amer Sports One for the first time, though the latter boat took third ahead of Tyco and News Corp, which finished the leg dead last.

The crews stayed in Kiel just long enough to don jackets and ties for the final awards ceremony, where the winning teams received Waterford crystal trophies. Then they said their good-byes and dispersed around the globe.

The story of the Volvo race is long and involved; Fighting Finish suffers by stuffing nine months into a single hour. Sounds and images bob around like loose buoys instead of building a coherent narrative. Commentary by Jobson and ESPN auto-racing commentator Paul Page is rife with sailing jargon, and comments from the racers are muffled by thick accents and poor audio. Neither sheds light on the race’s chain of events.

Fighting Finish does, however, convey the feel of the race. Fans become privy to sights and sounds they’ve only heard about — 300-meter waves, boats pinned on their sides by gale-force winds, towering waterspouts, shattered masts and broken rudders. Most important, we get to see fear and jubilation etched into the weathered faces of the skippers and their crews.

The crowd assembled at Maryland Hall couldn’t have been more appreciative. After the applause died down, Jobson announced that Volvo has decided to sponsor another round-the-world regatta, starting from Europe in autumn 2005. Race organizers won’t announce the exact route until spring 2003, however.

Baltimore and Annapolis stood beside Goeteberg as the last race’s most popular stops, but Jobson said race officials “like it when a stopover has a boat entered.” He said Chesapeake Country may do just that, as Chessie Racing did in the 1998 race, then still called the Whitbread Round the World Race.

“One thing I’ll insist on, if that happens,” Jobson added, “is an all-American crew — not eight flags flying from the mast.”

Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyer and County Executive Janet Owens presented “the man who brought 38.58 north by 76.28 west to the attention of the world” with proclamations of appreciation and declared July 17 — his birthday — Gary Jobson Day.

Fighting Finish will soon be available for purchase, as will a book by Jobson of the same title.

— Brent Seabrook

Memorabilia covers the walls of the Presidential Pet Museum in Lothian
photo by Eric Smith
The Ball Starts Here: Lothian’s Presidential Pet Museum

A member of the First Family once came to Deale.

Lucky, President Ronald Reagan’s dog, came here to visit Claire McLean, a Bouvier specialist dog groomer. Lucky came in the 1980s, accompanied by Secret Service agents. That’s not news. But the re-opening of the Presidential Pet Museum by McLean in Lothian is.

The Museum opened last week with a bang: dog show, barbecue, petting zoo and all. Visitors wandered inside to find two rooms filled with presidential photos and paraphernalia, from Clinton clips to Ford photos to Macaroni, the Kennedy pony. But Lucky holds the limelight, with figurines, pictures, even a portrait etched in with her own hair shavings by Claire McLean’s mother, Dorothy DeSilva.

In her museum, McLean wants to interest kids in the presidents and their stories through their pets.

“When you ask children if they want to learn about the presidents, they aren’t very interested. When you ask them if they want to learn about their pets, it’s a different story,” she says.

Many pets, she instructs her visitors, enter the White House as gifts. Pushkina, Caroline Kennedy’s famous dog, was given to her by Krushchev in the midst of the Cold War. Eleanor Roosevelt wasn’t keen on having a dog in the White House, but FDR couldn’t resist the Scottish terrier he’d been given by his cousin. Fala was always at his side, and still is at the FDR memorial in Washington. Nixon won points in 1952 for defending his right to keep Checkers, the cocker spaniel that had been given to his daughters.

On the other hand, Spot, George W. Bush’s springer spaniel, is the only pet that has been in the White House twice: She was born in the White House during the administration of this President Bush’s father.

The Museum’s opening last Saturday is for McLean only a step toward a goal much bigger than a two-room pet museum in Lothian. She has a dream.

She dreams of a traveling Presidential Pet Museum: Interactive, hands-on history with replicas and representations. Toward that dream, she has created the Presidential Museums Foundation and purchased the worldwide web domain name Presidential

In Lothian, something has started; a ball has begun rolling.

— Eric Smith

Way Downstream …

In Virginia, the State Water Control Board last week ignored concerns from conservationists and approved rules that will allow sewage treatment plants and factories to dump more ammonia into Virginia waters. Coincidentally, the state’s Department of Environmental Quality reported a day later that over 40 percent of Virginia’s rivers and lakes are polluted...

In Cyberspace, a web site offering travel tips and info on the Chesapeake Bay is getting fatter all the time. Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network ( now has more than 100 contributing members since being set up by Congress four years ago…

Britain last week joined other European nations in declaring an end to criminal penalties for marijuana possession. The action was supported by England’s associations of police chiefs and metropolitan police, who said police now would be free to focus on real crime…

Our Creature Feature comes from Hollywood, where there’s more than meets the eye to Steve Irwin, the star of new movie The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course.

Irwin, an Australian, is a committed conservationist whose parents run a zoo. He is best known for leaping into the water to wrestle crocodiles into submission and for grabbing deadly cobras out of bushes. But he admitted in an interview with Reuters that there’s one creature he fears, the critter that left a scar on his nose: The parrot.

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly