Are You Honest about Your Attitudes toward Race? Third Haven Friends to Offer Series to Help with That

Third Haven Friends Meeting invites the community to join a series of discussions that many of us might rather avoid.

The Quakers are planning four Discussions on Race that will delve into the important subject of race relations while challenging each of us to examine his or her own attitudes about race, and particularly people of other races. Each meeting will take place in Third Haven’s Commons Room (the “new” building behind the brick meeting house) on their campus at 405 South Washington Street. Complimentary beverages, soup and bread will be served; and each gathering will feature a race relations documentary, followed by a discussion of what it tells us about ourselves and about race relations in America – and Talbot County – today.

The first meeting will take place at 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28. On the marquee: Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity (2008). This film asks America to talk about the causes and consequences of systemic inequity. Designed for dialogue, the film works to disentangle internal beliefs, attitudes and pre-judgments within, and it builds skills to address the structural drivers of social and economic inequities. It also features moving stories from 24 racial justice leaders.

The discussion following the film will be led by Rusty Vaughn and Lynda Davis of Coming to the Table, a national nonprofit whose mission is to create a model of healing to guide individuals and groups that continue to struggle with racism in the United States and throughout the world.

At 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9, Third Haven will present Whose Streets? (2017, 90 minutes, rated R for language), which chronicles the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., in the wake of the police shooting of Michael Brown. Full of cell phone videos and news footage, this film has an immediacy that puts the viewer right in the middle of the action. It was nominated for the Best Documentary Award at Sundance in 2017, and won it at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival.

Next up, at 6 p.m. Friday, March 2, is I Am Not Your Negro (2016, 93 minutes, rated PG-13 for disturb-ing, violent images, thematic material, language and brief nudity), which was nominated for both the Academy Award and the NAACP Image Award for Best Documentary in 2017. Legendary writer James Baldwin tells the story of race in modern America with his unfinished novel,

Remember This House, based on the assassin-nations in the 1960s of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. It is narrated by actor Samuel L. Jackson, and everything he says is from Baldwin’s writings. There is also archival footage of Baldwin himself. New York Times film critic A.O. Scott said, “I Am Not Your Negro will make you rethink race.”

The final documentary in the series, Walking While Black: L.O.V.E. is the Answer (2017, 94 minutes), will be screened at 6 p.m. Friday, March 23. Directed by A.J. Ali and produced by Academy Award winner Errol Webber, Jr., it is about the black perception that cops are the face of bias and oppression. It captures the mistrust that blacks feel toward the police, as well as the frustration of law enforcement personnel. “After all, asks one, aren’t we supposed to be the good guys?”

The Discussions on Race are not intended to advocate a viewpoint or change anyone’s mind. Rather, their purpose is to provide a safe, judgment-free space where people can approach a deeper understanding of other people’s views – as well as their own.

Attendance will be limited to 50 at each gathering. To reserve a seat, or for more information, contact Pete Howell at 410-924-5752, piratepete@goeaston.net or P.O. Box 222, Easton, MD 21601.

Easton Utilities’ Ted Book on the Rising Cost of Cable Rates

It seems like every year the senior management of Easton Utilities must prepare themselves to once again explain to the Town of Easton (their boss) and their customers why there will be another increase in their monthly cable fees. And like almost everything else in the world of the cable business and new technology, that answer is not the easiest question to understand.

If Easton Utilities was driven by profit or seeking an aggressive return on investment that question would be easy to answer, but that simply is not the case for this unique municipality-owned utility company. In fact, according to Ted Book, who headed up EU’s cable and internet programs, Easton Utilities has not increased base cable rates, i.e., the cost of physically providing the service through satellite dishes, cable, and maintenance for close to twenty years.

That is just one of the interesting facts that come out of the Spy’s recent interview with Ted about the cable industry’s alarming rate increases and the impact it has on small providers like Easton Utilities and their customers.

Ted’s point of view is particularly helpful given the remarkable fact that he has witnessed the almost entire history of the company’s involvement in cable and internet services. His perspective is quite useful as he discusses cable’s current chaotic marketplace as “cord-cutters” increasingly turn to internet streaming services for television networks which profoundly impacts cable’s core business model and the direct result of broadcasters demanding more money to carry their signals.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about Easton Utilities please go here 

Easton’s Naomi Hyman to Be Democratic Candidate for Talbot County Council

Naomi Hyman has announced that she will be Democratic candidate for Talbot County Council and will launch her campaign and outline her priorities at 2:00pm on Sunday, January 14, 2018 at the Democratic Headquarters at 26 West Dover Street in Easton.

Naomi has been a bridge-builder and collaborative problem-solver in settings ranging from the boardroom to the family room for over three decades. She worked as an adult education and community programming professional, in vocational training, professional development, interfaith education, stress reduction, and wellness. She has lived and worked in Easton for nearly twenty years.

 

Bay Ecosystem: Annapolis Lawmakers face Continuing Bay Debates in 2018 by Tim Wheeler

As they return to their chambers this month, state legislators across the Chesapeake watershed face some of the same Bay-centric environmental issues they’ve seen before.

In Maryland, they’ll debate what more should be done, if anything, to conserve the state’s forestland from development and whether air pollution from chicken houses deserves a closer look. In Virginia, lawmakers will revisit what should be done with vast quantities of potentially toxic coal ash now stored in unlined pits at power plants. And in Pennsylvania, a proposal to regulate lawn fertilizer use, to keep it from fouling local streams and the Bay, is likely to rear its head again.

Legislators in all three jurisdictions will also tackle the annual challenge of scraping together the funds needed to meet their Chesapeake restoration obligations — made even tougher this year as support wanes in Washington for federal-state cleanup programs.

Adding to the mix, politics will play a bigger role than usual in how these and other issues play out. State legislative elections loom in Maryland and Pennsylvania, and their governors — Republican and Democrat, respectively — are seeking second terms. In Virginia, the newly elected Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, takes office with a legislature more evenly balanced between the parties than it’s been in ages, which could change how debates play out.

MARYLAND

Forest Conservation: Lawmakers in Annapolis are being pressed by environmental groups to take another look at tightening the state’s 27-year-old forest conservation law.

Since the 1960s, Maryland has lost more than 450,000 acres of forest, and before 2008 it was losing up to 8,600 acres each year, according to a November report by the state Department of Legislative Services.

As originally passed in 1991, the Forest Conservation Act regulates the removal of large numbers of trees for development and requires either that new ones be planted elsewhere or that the developer pay into a local government fund for later plantings.

In March, using highly detailed land cover data from 2013, the nonprofit Chesapeake Conservancy estimated that Maryland had nearly 2.5 million acres of forestland, covering almost 40 percent of the state’s land.
But based on data reported by Maryland counties, activists said, the state experienced a net loss of 14,500 acres through the Forest Conservation Act from 2009 through 2016. And they contend that the 1991 law has been particularly ineffective at saving the largest and most ecologically valuable woodlands.

A study published last year found that while tree cover has increased in residential subdivisions in suburban Baltimore County since the forest conservation law passed, the most heavily forested tracts in the county continued to be carved up.

“When there’s intact forest ecology, that’s basically the most important kind of forest, and that’s the forest the [law] is doing the least to benefit,” said Elaine Lutz, a staff attorney with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Last year, advocates pushed a bill that would have required one-for-one replacement of every acre of woodland mowed down for development. But it ran into fierce opposition from local officials and real estate interests, and failed to get out of committee. This year, green groups are crafting a more targeted bill that would tighten protections just on those woodland tracts deemed most ecologically important.

Lutz said the current law is “wishy-washy” on defining what types of forestland are most important to preserve and what kind of protection they should get. She and other activists want to see greater emphasis in the law on keeping those tracts untouched, rather than letting them be cut down in favor of trees being planted elsewhere.

“An existing mature forest is a lot more ecologically valuable than saplings in the ground,” she pointed out. Forests in the Bay’s watershed soak up nutrients in the air and in runoff from rainfall, and the Bay states have agreed that it’s critical to the restoration effort to maintain and expand forestlands.

Local government officials remain wary of tightening the law, but say they’d like to have more flexibility in where trees must be replanted and how they can spend funds paid by developers in lieu of replanting removed trees. But real estate interests argue the law is working and does not need a major overhaul.

“The Forest Conservation Act was never meant to be a no-net-loss policy,” said Lori Graf, chief executive officer of the Maryland Building Industry Association. The law is just one of several laws and programs aimed at halting the loss of the state’s forestland, she said, and recent data indicate the goal of maintaining the state’s overall forest acreage is being met.

While minor tweaks might be warranted to provide more flexibility for replanting, Graf concluded, “We feel like there are better ways to save the Bay.”

Renewable Energy: Last year, the legislature’s Democratic majority overrode Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which increased Maryland’s renewable energy goal to 25 percent by 2020. This year, advocates hope to ratchet up the goal even more, with competing bills that would require 50 percent renewables by 2030, or even 100 percent by 2035. “It’s ambitious, but we think, especially given the federal climate right now, that the states really have to step up,” said Karla Raettig, executive director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

Environmentalists also want to stop treating “dirty” energy generators, such as those that burn municipal waste, as “clean” energy under the state’s law.
Rural Air Quality: Another returnee is the Community Healthy Air Act, a bill that would study whether rural Marylanders’ health is threatened by air emissions from the large-scale poultry growing operations concentrated on the Eastern Shore.

Chicken waste emits ammonia, which is currently unregulated, and it adds nitrogen pollution in the Bay when rainfall washes it from the air. The bill would require the Maryland Department of the Environment to collect and report data on chicken house emissions. The poultry industry successfully opposed the bill last year, arguing it should be left to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has been studying it without action for more than a dozen years.

VIRGINIA

Environmental groups focused on Bay priorities have an uncharted political landscape to navigate in Virginia’s general assembly this session. Democratic victories in the November election chipped away at the House of Delegates’ once invulnerable Republican majority and — following the surprising outcome of a late-December recount, and ultimately a name pulled from a hat — leaving Republicans with the slimmest majority possible: 51-49.

“With the recent elections, lots of things changed,” said Pat Calvert, a policy and campaigns manager for the Virginia Conservation Network, which represents the conservation interests of 120 partner organizations.

Budget: Near the top of environmentalists’ wish lists this year is funding to help the state meet its water quality goals. Outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe included in his proposed budget, released in December, $42.5 million over two years to help farmers implement nutrient control systems and practices. That falls short of the $62 million that Bay groups would like to see from the state. At the completion of a year-long study by a legislative committee, advocates expect a bill to be presented that would help stabilize future funding for agricultural conservation practices.

“We really need to focus on ensuring that cleaning up polluting farms, and getting them to the level of our best operating farms, is a priority,” Calvert said.

McAuliffe also left out funding for a second straight year for the state’s Stormwater Local Assistance Fund, which helps localities fund projects to reduce polluted stormwater runoff. Environmental groups are asking legislators to add $50 million for those programs into future versions of the budget.

Sewer Overflows: The city of Alexandria is seeking state funding to help pay for costly wastewater system upgrades to curtail overflows of raw sewage whenever it rains — an effort the legislature declared last year was not moving quickly enough. McAuliffe’s proposed budget includes $20 million for the Northern Virginia city.

Coal Ash: The permanent disposal of coal ash is likely to be the subject of another bill this session. To comply with a 2017 bill, Dominion Energy presented an 800-page report in December defending its plans for keeping the ash, a byproduct of burning coal for power, in covered pits at four of the company’s power plants near Chesapeake Bay tributaries. Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) said he’ll present a bill that would encourage the company to consider excavating or recycling the coal ash into concrete and other products, as North Carolina legislators have required.

PENNSYLVANIA

Funding bills loom as the commonwealth’s year-round legislature reconvenes in January, but there’s also a measure to regulate lawn fertilizer that would bring the state in line with others in the Bay watershed.

Bay Cleanup: The Senate was expected to vote on the Clean Water Procurement bill on Jan. 2, the lawmakers’ first day back. The bill would establish a $50 million annual fund with contributions from the state’s many municipalities that are required to reduce polluted runoff from their streets and parking lots. Instead of investing in costly taxpayer-funded stormwater remediation projects, proponents say, municipalities can meet their nutrient reduction obligations in a more cost-efficient way — by paying to help farmers deal with their animal manure, an even larger source of nutrient pollution.

In return, the local governments would be absolved from their mandates, according to the bill. The financing would be awarded to private industry to build large manure-processing systems. Municipal associations and some environmental groups are opposed to the bill, partially because it was written and promoted heavily by Bion Environmental Technologies, whose subsidiary BionPA1 is in default of a $7.8 million state loan on a pilot manure-to-energy project.

Harrisburg has seen several iterations of the bill pitched in the last four years. The measure has yet to be addressed in the House.

Lawn Fertilizer: Lawmakers will be asked again to approve a bill requiring lawn care and landscaping companies in Pennsylvania to train and certify employees before they can apply fertilizer to turf grass. The bill, introduced by Sen. Richard Alloway (R-Adams), also limits application rates to reduce the likelihood of fertilizer washing off and polluting nearby streams and the Bay with unused nutrients for grass. The bill is a priority of the interstate Chesapeake Bay Commission, which has succeeded in getting similar legislation passed in Maryland and Virginia.

Water Fee: A study report is expected on a bill that’s been stalled in a House committee since last May, which would raise about $250 million a year for water-related programs. The bill, introduced by Rep. Michael Sturla (D-Lancaster), one of five Pennsylvania lawmakers on the Bay Commission, would levy a 0.01 cent per gallon fee on commercial and industrial water withdrawals of more than 10,000 gallons.

Timothy B. Wheeler is managing editor and project writer for the Bay Journal. He has more than two decades of experience covering the environment for The Baltimore Sun and other media outlets. Whitney Pipkin writes at the intersection of food, agriculture and the environment from her home base in Northern Virginia. Her work for the Bay Journal often focuses on the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, and she is a fellow of the Institute for Journalism & Natural Resources. Donna Morelli, based in Harrisburg, PA., is a staff writer for the Bay Journal. She’s the former director of the Pennsylvania office of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.

Really Good Stuff: Washington College, Faculty and Staff Donates $28,000 to Local United Way

Washington College is donating $28,000 to United Way of Kent County, after 82 faculty and staff responded to President Kurt Landgraf’s pledge to match whatever they contributed.

“I am just so proud of the Washington College community, and I appreciate the generosity and caring of this faculty and staff,” Landgraf says. “This United Way campaign result is yet another indication that we take our mission seriously—they’re not just words on a document, but a living action statement to support our community.”

In late fall, Landgraf asked College employees to consider signing up for a payroll deduction to United Way of Kent County, pledging that he would match whatever they raised. Last year, eight employees gave through the payroll deduction for a total of $1,248. As of December 14, 82 employees had signed up for a total donation of $13,944. Landgraf matched this with $14,000.

“Many members of our Washington College community, including students, staff, and faculty, have had close associations with United Way agencies in a number of capacities,” says Sarah Feyerherm, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, and a member of United Way of Kent County’s Board of Directors. “But this recent financial commitment is emblematic of a recognition that we are all partners in improving the lives of Kent County residents. Kurt’s leadership and generosity was just contagious, and the response from our employees was heartwarming. My hope is that this is just the start of a sustained partnership between the College and the United Way of Kent County.”

United Way of Kent County raises and distributes funding to multiple organizations, with a focus on improving the health, education, and financial stability of Kent County residents. In addition to the College’s donations through the workplace campaign, the College has directly supported or provided resources for many United Way member organizations including Character Counts! Kent County, the Kent Center, St. Martin’s Ministries, the Community Food Pantry, Camp Fairlee/Easter Seals, Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties, Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay Council, Kent Forward, For All Seasons, Echo Hill Outdoor School, and the Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence.

Early in his tenure as Washington College President, Landgraf made United Way of Kent County a priority as a way for the College to do more to support the surrounding community.

“A lot of people don’t know this, but I grew up an orphan. I know what it’s like to seriously need the help of others,” Landgraf says. “This is one of the reasons that I have always been a big supporter of the United Way, and why, as soon as I came to Washington College, I got involved in United Way of Kent County. I know how much good this organization can do. And I want to make sure that everybody at our College knows how much good it can do, how it can lift up whole segments of our community’s population that need help the most.”

The Face of Suicide in All Seasons with Beth Anne Langrell and Lesa Lee

For the record, there is no such thing as a “Suicide Season.” While it may be tempting to think of these long dark days of winter as a critical time for those contemplating ending their lives, this has shown to be statistically not the case.

In fact, the risk of suicide is a four-season phenomenon which makes it all the more understandable that our Mid-Shore’s suicide crisis and prevention center is called For All Seasons. A mental health agency tasked with being the community’s front line to save those suffering from these impulses, For All Seasons have significantly invested resources and public education programming over the years to provide a safe and caring place for those at risk and their families.

The Spy recently sat down with For All Seasons director Beth Anne Langrell and its clinical director, Lesa Lee, to talk about the ongoing threat of suicide in the region and their views of how best to attack this cry for help from loved ones.

As part of that interview, the Spy wanted to match some of Beth Anne and Lesa’s comments to the real and recent faces of suicide in our country that were found online.  Young and old, male or female, white or black, over one million Americans are trying to end their lives each year. Those images say so much more about these avoidable tragedies.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about For All Seasons please click here 

The 1st District: Introducing Candidate Jesse Colvin

It’s too bad that one of Jesse Colvin’s most compelling examples of his character is pretty much reserved for those who know something about college basketball.

A candidate in the Democratic primary for the Congressional 1st District seat now, and with four active tours of duty in Afghanistan as a U.S. Army Ranger behind him, Jesse still has a hint of horror in his voice when he recalled before our formal Spy interview of being a freshman reporter on Duke University’s student newspaper and asking the famed Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) why he had ‘screwed up’ after a critical match against the University of Maryland.

The crowded press room fell silent as Jesse’s basketball heroes started to awkwardly shuffle their feet as Duke’s only living god, who is referred to on the Duke campus as “GOAT,” as in “Greatest of All Time,” came down on the cub reporter in a rage of fury that would crush a typical nineteen years old. But that might be the point; Jesse Colvin is not your ordinary anything.

A gifted student with a bright future in the field of international relations, Colvin instead signed up to not only serve in the military but sought out and earned a position in the 75th Ranger Regiment, perhaps the most elite fighting force in the world.

With all that in mind, it doesn’t seem so shocking then to see someone of Jesse’s age, with no significant political background, decide that he has what it takes to win what is turning out to be a hotly contested Democratic primary contest in June of next year and then defeat Representative Andy Harris in November.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. We have included Jesse Colvin’s “Coach K” story after the credits. For more information the Jesse Colvin for Congress campaign please go here

Spy Minute: What the Heck is the Bistro Bill with Joe Petro

Even after reading the coverage in the Star-Democrat over the last few days about the so-called Bistro Bill, the Spy was still not entirely clear what proposed legislation would do if the Talbot County Council ultimately passes in next month.

Our solution was a quick check in with Joe Petro, owner of Hair O’ the Dog, and the primary advocate for changing the law. As Joe explains, Hair O’ The Dog wishes to add a wine bar alongside their existing store off of Marlboro Street but current local law caps the amount Hair can serve its customers to one ounce. This change would permit them to remove that restriction for the wine bar addition and serve both wine and beer by the glass or bottle.

We checked in with Joe this morning to allow him to make his case that the law should change.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about Bistro Bill, a.k.a. Bill No. 1377, please go here

 

Spy Update: Talbot County’s Economic Development and Tourism Team Reports In

Just over a year ago this week, Cassandra Vanhooser was given the task of running two crucial programs for Talbot County. The first was the job she had initially been signed up for, which was running the County’s Office of Tourism, and the second, heading up its office of economic development, was added to her portfolio after the Talbot County Council approved plans to consolidate the two divisions.

That was a tall order for any administrator, particularly given the fact that Cassandra would need to build an entirely new department from scratch, starting with such essential elements as mission statement, goals, and annual objectives with very little regarding resources and staff support.

Those circumstances have changed significantly over the last twelve months. With the addition of Sam Shoge as economic development coordinator, and Ryan Snow as the office’s project manager, a new team has emerged to not only complete the day-to-day needs for the department but also fast-tracked a community input and strategic planning process, successfully implemented a new enterprise zone for downtown Easton, and more recently fine-tuned all of the County’s major communications tools including enhancing Facebook and other social media outlets.

The Spy sat down with all three of them at the Bullitt House last week for a catch-up session.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about Talbot County Economic Development and Tourism office please go here

Easton Point Marina and Port Street Corridor Plan Advance

Early this week, the Easton Town Council was presented with the most recent proposed zoning for Easton Point and the Port Street Corridor. Coming next is a November 20th public hearing held by the Easton Town Council to receive public input on the Port Street Small Area Plan, a document well worth careful review as it describes how an important area of the community would be developed over the next few decades.

Details on the November 20th meeting and additional information on changes under consideration can be found on the Town of Easton’s official site here