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Op-Ed: Is There More to the 2016 Elections than Winners and Losers by Tom Timberman

Is there more to the 2016 Elections than Winners and Losers?

Ben Franklin in 1787 recognized the vulnerability of representative democracy. One summer afternoon, he was stopped outside the Pennsylvania State House, by a young woman who asked whether the Constitution he was helping to write, would establish a monarchy or a republic. “A Republic,* he responded, if you keep it.”

All the Founding Fathers understood democracy would be high maintenance and inserted separation of powers and checks and balances among the three branches to stymie autocracy by the Executive. They envisaged elected officials usually compromising to advance the common good and the electoral system they introduced facilitating reasonably attentive voters to make relatively independent and informed choices.

Further, none of these men were innocents. They knew their construct was an experiment; thus they were hesitant to unleash too early the suspect power of the male-only mob aka voters. Therefore, they inserted filters. Initially only “responsible” men as defined by land ownership or other indicia of prosperity, were permitted to vote. For the same reasons, members of the US Congress were originally chosen by elected state legislators.

Also aimed at preventing the concentration of power, the drafters of the Constitution used an unusual template to distribute delegated powers: they divided them between federal and state governments, the latter with their subordinate counties and municipalities.

Not even this extraordinary group of patriots, however, could have conjured up the stresses their new government would undergo as the United States grew from 13 states and 3 million people to a global power with 50 and 320 million. That said, they would doubtless nod in satisfaction upon learning after almost 230 years, the Constitution had been amended only 27 times.

The Civil War and two World Wars further tested America’s political system and the strength and cohesion of its citizens. However, developments in the 21st Century have shaken it again and the 2016 Presidential Election has revealed some of the consequences, possibly signaling a drift away from the Founders intent. Speaking to the House of Commons in 1947, Winston Churchill reflected Ben Franklin’s sense of the neediness of democracy**: “Democracy, he said, is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

The negative impact on America’s representative democracy of: (1) limitless money, (2) multiple means of instant communication, (3) the formation of political tribes pledged to dogmatic beliefs outside the two party tradition, and (4) the disappearance of electoral norms of behavior, have raised serious foundational questions.

So, yes the 2016 election should be about more than who wins the White House.

* A Republic is a state in which the supreme power rests with all the citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives elected directly or indirectly by them.

** Democracy is government by the people either directly or through representatives elected by those ruled.

Tom Timberman is an expert on military policy and now lives on the Eastern Shore. Among his many assignments with the US Department of State, he has headed a provincial reconstruction team, embedded within a combat brigade in Iraq. He has also helped implement a new counterterrorism strategy in South East Asia as Senior Advisor for South Asia in the Office of Coordinator for Counterterrorism. 

Asbury and Green Chappel Seek to Raise Additional Funds for Cemetery

Family and friends of Asbury and Green Chappel seek to raise funds to build a fence and create signage at a historic African American cemetery on the site of the former Asbury Methodist Church in Bozman.

The cemetery had been ransacked, looted and ravaged by vandals ten years ago. Skulls and human bones were scattered throughout the wooded site and pieces of wooden coffins laid about with concrete vaults broken open.

A group of neighbors and other volunteers came together to restore and preserve the histories cemetery. They raised funds to cover the cost for the archaeological professionals at Grave Concerns to map and evaluate the site.

Since then the Family & Friends have reburied the remains in the cemetery, placed new vault covers on a number of the graves, repeatedly cleaned up the site and worked to create public interest in maintaining and sustaining it.

Talbot Master Gardeners has developed a simple but elegant plan for native plantings that will be low maintenance but appropriate for the wooded setting.

Now the group needs $30,000 to build a fence to enclose the cemetery and create suitable signage to assure its sense as a historic place in Talbot County.

Donation checks may be made out to “Friends of Asbury & Green Chappel” and mailed to P.O. Box 3241, Easton, Maryland. The nonprofit group has been designated as a 501 (C) (3) organization by the Internal Revenue Service, allowing donations to be tax deductible,

 

Compass Regional Hospice Names Volunteer of the Month

Compass Regional Hospice chose Pat Unruh of Kennedyville as the most recent volunteer of the month. Unruh supports Compass Regional Hospice in many administrative roles, including greeting visitors and answering the phone. She is also one of the volunteers who makes Memory Bears that honor the memory of a loved one who died under hospice care.

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 2.55.32 PM“After deciding to retire from the State of Maryland Pat wanted to put her administrative and customer service skills to good use,” says Courtney Williams, manager of volunteer and professional services for Compass Regional Hospice. “When she isn’t in the Centreville office, Pat supports the bereavement program by crafting Memory Bears for families who have lost a loved one. Compass is so fortunate that she shares her talents with the community we serve.”

Compass Regional Hospice relies on more than 300 volunteers of all ages to perform administrative tasks, assist with events, visit patients and lend a hand in the gardens at the Hospice Center located at 255 Comet Drive in Centreville. Volunteers also operate Estate Treasures, an upscale resale shop in Chester that raises funds for Compass Regional Hospice. For information about becoming a volunteer for Compass Regional Hospice in Queen Anne’s, Kent and Caroline Counties, visit www.compassregionalhospice.org/volunteers or contact Courtney Williams, 443-262-4112, cwilliams@compassregionalhospice.org.

 

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http://talbotspy.org/53564-2/

Chestertown Book Festival To Host Author Jack Gantos

Award-winning children’s author Jack Gantos is coming to Chestertown! On March 4th and 5th the Chestertown Book Festival will host “Dead End in Chestertown,” a two-part event celebrating Jack Gantos’ most famous works.

The Newbery Award winning novel, Dead End in Norvelt, tells the story of a boy learning to navigate small town life, working as an assistant obituary writer, and tumbling into an adventure at every turn. Which part of this semi-autobiographical novel is entirely true and which wildly fiction? Join us at the Bookplate Friday night at 7PM as Jack tells the true story behind the novel.

Jack Gantos

Jack Gantos

The following morning at 10:30AM at the Chestertown Branch of the Kent County Public Library, Jack will talk about his Joey Pigza books. Joey is literally out of control and his ADHD isn’t helping matters, but learning to navigate school and family in spite of it all may just be the greatest adventure of his life.  Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key was a National Book Award Finalist and its sequel was a Newbery Honor book. Following Jack’s talk, there will be some art projects for kids and some light refreshments.

If you would like to support the Chestertown Book Festival, please consider a tax-free donation and visit our website: chestertownbookfestival.org

The Chestertown Book Festival is sponsored by the Friends of the Kent County Public Library and the Kent County Arts Council.

 

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Mid-Shore Roundtable on Homelessness Annual Point in Time Survey

Homless

A survey that captures one night of homelessness is slated Wednesday, Jan. 27 in each of the five Mid-shore counties. The Mid-Shore Roundtable on Homelessness, a collaborative group focused on the issues of homelessness for Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties, is preparing to conduct its annual Point In Time Survey for 2016. Volunteers will gather demographic information on individuals and families suffering from homelessness. The count is just one night to capture the most accurate data. Information gathered is de-identified and then reported to the Department of Housing and Urban Development where it is then examined at a national level. This data is also used to illustrate the growing need for services for individuals and families affected by homelessness in our region.

This year, with funding from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, the Mid-Shore Roundtable will hold three Point In Time Events. One event will take place at Delmarva Community Action Center in Cambridge, Maryland (100 Goodwill Avenue Cambridge, Md. 21613) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A second event will take place at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Denton, Md. (401 Aldersgate Drive Denton, MD 21629, the old Wesleyan High School) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and the third is at St. Vincent de Paul in Easton, Maryland (29533 Canvasback Drive, Easton, MDd.21601) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Volunteers will conduct surveys with homeless individuals and families at all events. Refreshments will be available and incentives such as warm winter items and food gift cards will be offered to survey participants. Volunteers also will work to connect participants with needed resources.

In an effort to count any homeless individuals and families that may not be able to attend one of the three events, volunteers will also be working in pairs to canvas homeless encampments in the five county region. These volunteers will have incentives and resource information for participants surveyed. That night, service providers, faith-based organizations, county offices, and additional volunteers will administer a brief survey to homeless individuals and families. Most surveys will be collected in our area’s Cold Weather Emergency Shelters and from our community service providers.

It is hoped that through the survey, individuals and families affected by homelessness will not only be counted but will be linked with all services they may need in order to help them overcome homelessness.

The Mid-Shore Roundtable on Homelessness wants this process to bring awareness to the community of the ever growing need of services for individuals and families affected by homelessness. If you would like any further information on the Point in Time Survey or the Roundtable on Homelessness please feel free to contact Jeanine Beasley, Continuum of Care Coordinator, at 410-770-4801 or email at jbeasley@msmhs.org.

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Chesapeake Bay Environmental Groups Appeal Decision to Allow 1,000 Home Project on Kent Island

Chesapeake Bay environmental groups filed an appeal today in the Circuit Court for Queen Anne’s County to challenge a November decision by the Maryland Board of Public Works to permit the 1,079-unit Four Seasons development on Kent Island.

Screen Shot 2015-12-19 at 8.59.52 AMThe Board approved the tidal wetlands license for this massive project without following proper procedures, and without sufficient information regarding its environmental impacts as required by law,” said Alison Prost, Maryland Executive Director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF). “The Board’s own expert testified the project will pollute nearby wetlands with pathogens, excess nutrients, metals, pesticides, and fertilizer.”

The appeal was filed by CBF, and the Queen Anne’s Conservation Association, Inc. (QACA). Joining the appeal were the Chester River Association, Inc., Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, Inc.(MRC), and neighbors of the proposed project: Robert W. Foley, and Hal M. Fisher.

“This is the wrong project in the wrong place and has been vigorously opposed by concerned citizens and local organizations for over 15 years. The wetlands license should never have been issued in the first place,” said QACA Executive Director, Jay Falstad. “The Board of Public Works did not lawfully consider the specific requirements regarding stormwater. In addition, they only took very limited public testimony at their hearing. We are hopeful that once the matter gets before the court, the decision will be reversed.”

In a 2-1 vote, the Board voted Nov. 18 to grant New Jersey developer K. Hovnanian an environmental permit. The last full public hearing on the project was 2003 when it was first proposed. Significant changes were made since then to the plan, but the Board ruled no new public hearing was required.

“The Board of Public Works has made a mistake in voting to allow the largest development inside of the designated critical area in Maryland’s history. Forcing 1,072 units of sprawl development onto 562 acres of marshes, farmland and flood plains between The Chester River and Cox Creek can only have a negative effect on water quality,” said Jeffrey H. Hortsman, deputy director of MRC. “BPW’s assertion that public meetings and critical area growth allocations over a decade old are still valid today and that urban development is better than agriculture for water quality need to be legally challenged.”

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Expensive Health Insurance? There are Solutions!

If you find the premiums for health insurance too expense, here are some suggestions.

  • Consider the cost of Medical Care without insurance: an ER visit averages $1500, one day of inpatient hospital care varies between $950 and $2400, one year of cancer treatment averages out at $204,000.
  • Also consider that the penalty for the uninsured will be $695 per person: most Marylanders spend about $100 per month in premiums and can receive free screenings and preventive services.
  • Go online at marylandhealthconnection.gov and shop around for new and cheaper plans.
  • Deadline for January 1 2016 coverage is December 15th 2015.
  • Come to Talbot County Free Library on Thursday December 10th 6:00PM to 7:30PM and talk with certified Navigators for free services and assistance
  • You can enroll at this event with Navigators and Brokers, or simply discuss pros and cons with us.
  • Health care providers present will also answer your questions.

 

Maryland Health Connector Entity Seedco (Suzi Peel speel@seedco.org)

Eastern Shore Area Health Education Center (Erica Tracy etracy@esahec.org)

 

Missing WC Student’s Father Makes Public Appeal

Dr. John Marberger, father of missing Washington College student Jacob Marberger, made a public appeal to his son to return home. The interview was conducted by David Chang and Karen Araiza for NBC10.com.

Jacob Marberger has been missing from home and Washington College since Monday.

“Dr. Marberger told NBC10 the trouble began on Oct. 7 when his son was the victim of a prank that left him hurt and humiliated by his fellow students at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, “ writes Chang and Araiza.

An incident with an unloaded antique gun prompted a chain of events, including school suspension while under psychological evaluation, dismissal from his fraternity and resignation from his college senate position.

The Washington College Public Safety Office and Washington College President Sheila Bair have made it clear that Marberger never threatened anyone and has no history of violent behavior.

The video may bee seen here:

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The Syrian/Iraqi Refugee Flood; It’s Beyond Time to get Organized by Tom Timberman

I suspect many have been wondering why pandemonium and chaos continue to characterize the flood of refugees into Europe.

And why in 2015 criminals are being allowed to profit hugely from desperate people trying to cross the Med in overcrowded, unsafe boats that have sunk, capsized or been abandoned by their “crews”. Two-three thousand have drowned to date in 2015.

The single photo of a 3 year-old boy’s body washing up on shore was so gut wrenching it should have galvanized the trans-Atlantic community to get its act together. So far it hasn’t to the degree demanded.

Another puzzle is why the European Union and its member states were so obviously surprised and unprepared when the surge of Middle Eastern refugees, mounting steadily for 3 plus years, struck out for safer and more normal lives in Europe. Moreover, large migrations affecting Europe have taken place: WWI, WWII, Vietnam, Middle East decolonization, the Balkans etc.

Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, without complaint, have absorbed over 3 million Syrian and Iraqi refugees since summer 2011. Greece, in the midst of political and economic upheaval, is coping with tens of thousands of refugees who have made its and Italy’s small islands their first points of entry into Europe. Without a common, resourced policy, several Central European countries, principally Hungary, individually, have erected fences to prevent the flow of desperate people from crossing their borders.

The UN High Commission for Refugees was recently forced to reduce its support for the existing refugee camps in the Middle East because its funding is being exhausted. It is likely the resulting deterioration of camp conditions will drive more people to begin the dangerous march to Europe as will Russia’s recent military intervention in Syria.

After weeks of agonizing debate, some EU states have agreed to share in the distribution of 120,000 refugees, a fraction of the circa 450,000 already in Europe, a number growing daily, as more thousands arrive.

Otherwise, no major, European collaborative steps have been taken to organize the essential multi-national response to care for the refugees, stagger the flow to more manageable proportions and to prepare and equip European reception centers. Also lacking forethought, was the decision to use EU member state naval assets to rescue people from drowning, but not to provide safe seaborne transportation to identified ports able to handle the influx. In addition to saving lives, such an action would remove the smugglers and stop their extortion of large sums of money from frightened men, women and children. Moreover, these European ships could also provide a safe, organized platform for medical and other refugee assistance as well as for an orderly registration process with a shared electronic data base.

In sum, there is no evidence to date that any Europe-wide or international effort is being considered; one that would accept the reality and scope of the situation, structure and gain control of the unstoppable human flood and organize, resource and staff the large European facilities necessary to separate out non-asylum-seekers and security risks and care for and continue the processing of the remainder.

Until a large scale, multi-national response is organized, the divisive political reactions of the poorer Eastern European EU members vs. their richer colleagues will continue to fester. One solution presents itself, but only if NATO and its leading member the U.S. recognize this mass migration is a more immediate threat to the stability of the Alliance, than Russia. NATO could provide the organizing principle around which an adequate, longer term plan could be made and implemented.