Archives for October 2012

Whoppers of 2012 Campaign, Final Edition

With only days to go until Election Day 2012, we look here at the most egregiously false and misleading claims from the entire presidential campaign. Some examples:

(Continue Reading)

Sheriff’s Report

On October 30, Deputies from the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office served an arrest warrant on Ashley Jo Diehl, 30 of Easton, MD. The warrant charged Diehl with Theft; unlawful sale of a regulated firearm; illegal possession of a regulated firearm and sell stolen regulated firearm. The charges were the result of a Talbot County Sheriff’s Office investigation into the theft of a handgun from a residence in the 26000 block of Tunis Mills Road. During the investigation the handgun was recovered by this office. Diehl was taken before a District Court Commissioner and ordered held on a $15,000.00 bond.

“Butter Is Your Friend” – Cooking Classes With Chef Barbara Helish

When I saw that Barbara Helish was offering cooking classes this fall, on Wednesday nights from Oct 24 through Nov 28, I knew I had to go check them out.

The first in the series of 5 classes was “the basics”. Eight students gathered around a kitchen island equipped with four cooking stations and eight cutting boards. Barbara made sure everyone had basic knife skills, and set about preparing a few simple basic items – a chicken stock, bruschetta, and a cream sauce. In a short two hours time, Barbara and the eight participants created a sausage pasta in cream sauce, with tomato bruschetta. Served family style at a large table, by the time the food was served, we all made some new friends.

Barbara’s style is relaxed and comfortable. She doesn’t use recipes, but encourages her students to develop a sensibility about the food they have on hand. “You never have all of the ingredients you need, so you just learn to be flexible”, she said. She brought her heavily used and much loved sauté pans, and when questioned about the kind of pans to buy, she chuckled. “Use what you have” she said. “A good pan or a bad pan…. it’s fine. Great wine tastes good even in a plastic cup”.

Barbara’s tips included – “always start with a hot pan”, “butter is your friend”, and “when in doubt, always use butter and heavy cream”. She smiled and poured wine as she said these things, and everyone believed her. The nervous chatter about cholesterol ceased, and people began to lighten up.

The classes are set at the Church at Diamond’s Corner on Hopkins Neck in Royal Oak – a newly renovated residence, currently on the market, and features beautiful spaces for cooking and entertaining. It’s a perfect setting for Barbara’s classes – intimate, but open and well apportioned. The building itself is worth a look.

And the food???? Absolutely delicious. Yes, she licked her plate.

Upcoming classes include pasta, fresh fall soups, fish and holiday treats.

Click here for the schedule of classes and here for Flying Fork Catering – Barbara’s website.

Contact: Chef Barbara Helish 410-310-5942


Best Bets This Week

Plenty of places  to celebrate  dodging the brunt of Sandy this weekend, starting with Easton’s First Friday Gallery Walk from 5 to 9 pm. Don’t miss the  “Fur, Feathers & Scales,” Talbot County Visual Arts Center Members Show and Sale opening Friday and running through the month of November, which  celebrates the upcoming Waterfowl Festival, Nov. 9, 10 and 11.

Fans of Americana/folk and well crafted songs should get tickets now for  Grammy-winning singer songwriter Nanci Griffith at the Avalon Friday night. She has always been hard to categorize, a combination of  60s folk, Texas country, a hint of pop overlayed by more than a hint  of rebelliousness (which may be her greatest appeal). Opening up for her are regional favorites Pete and Maura Kennedy, ““Byrdsy jangle, boy-girl harmonies…irresistible” (Rolling Stone).

Saturday is the much-anticipated OysterFest at Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, with plenty of family activities along with the live music, boat rides, cooking demos and oyster stew contest.

Looking ahead-Monday night the NightCat hosts Grammy nominated David Mayfield and his band. Formerly of Cadillac Sky, he has become an Avett Bros favorite and a rising star in his own right. As they say, catch him now while he is still playing small, intimate venues.

Friday, November 2 – 8 pm:  Nanci Griffith with The Kennedys at Avalon Theatre Griffith was called, ” one of the most important voices in Americana” by the BBC.  And the Kennedys songs have, “More hooks than Marilyn Monroe’s closet” -Chicago Sun-Times. Tickets $55  40 E Dover St., Easton, MD  21620.   410 822 7299

Grammy winning Nanci Griffith performs Friday, November 2 at the Avalon in Easton.

Saturday, November 3 – 10 am to 4 pm: Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum OysterFest  Featuring the premiere of the Rosie Parks Oyster Stout.  $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $6 for children between the ages of six and 17.   213 N Talbot St., St Michaels, MD  21663.  410-745-2916

Monday, November 5 – 7:30 pm:  David Mayfield Parade at the NightCat  video with Seth Avett  $12.  5 Goldsborough St., Easton, MD,  21620


Yes On Question 6

Question 6

Establishes that Maryland’s civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying; protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.

Question 6 is a referendum about equal rights under the law, plain and simple. To ratify this law, Marylanders have an opportunity to help lead the nation toward reflecting its founding principles and promises—to embrace equal treatment of its citizens. We approve of ratifying this petition into law.

The siege against ratifying marriage equality in Maryland has been played out using the usual clichéd octaves of fear—that educational curriculums will embed the promotion of homosexuality, anyone opposing will be persecuted and that the rights  of religious institutions would be infringed upon.

Often shrill, as in the widely publicized statement by Randallstown Colonial Baptist Church’s Rev. Robert Anderson, a Maryland Marriage Alliance panelist, “Those who practice such things [homosexuality] are worthy of death,” (in reference to the Old Testament Book of Romans), and with a widespread, inarticulate seething against change, opponents to Question 6 cast far and wide for examples to express their discrimination.

As pointed out in a recent Baltimore Sun editorial, the Maryland Marriage Alliance have used “isolated and spurious examples of supposed discrimination against those who oppose Question 6.

One example, used by Maryland Marriage Alliance in their advertising, cherry picks a story about Massachussetts parents, David and Tonia Parker, who in 2005 objected that their children learned in school about family structure diversity, and that, in fact, children in their school had same-sex parents. David Parker, who has been quoted that homosexuality is “a disease—later walked back as “an addiction”— echoes much of the misalignment with social science and common sense.

Massachussetts passed their marriage equality law in 2003, finding that an exclusion of equal rights was incompatible with the constitutional principles of respect for individual autonomy and equality under law and that barring same-sex marriage denied individuals “access to the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage,” depriving them of “membership in one of our community’s most rewarding and cherished institutions.”

From the President to Maryland’s Governor, marriage equality has been endorsed as a pathway to open the door to equal rights and lift the gay community from legal and social discrimination.

Heather Mizuer (D-District 20, Montgomery County) articulates our position clearly.

“The Free State has the chance to be the first to uphold the freedom to marry at the ballot box this November. When Marylanders vote for Question 6, we take a stand to treat everyone equally under the law while also strengthening religious freedoms. Love makes a family, but a marriage license protects us in the toughest of times,” said Delegate Heather Mizeur

“I’m so proud of the diverse, bipartisan coalition of supporters working to assure basic fairness for all Maryland families. By taking on and solving generational challenges as difficult as marriage equality, we are proving there is no problem too difficult for Marylanders to solve.”

The wording of the law is clear: religious entities are specifically protected. No church or religious organization is asked or required to act contrary to their beliefs.

Voting Yes on 6 is an affirmation: that Maryland has the perspicacity, respect for the upholding of equal rights for all of its citizens and the courage to show the rest of the country that we will not tolerate civil laws that institutionalize discrimination.

End this discriminatory challenge to the Civil Marriage Protection Act approved this year— Yes on 6.

Op-Ed: A Republican in Favor of Question 6 (Same Sex Marriage)

Many Republican voices here in Maryland are calling on people to vote “No” on all of the state ballot questions. I am not one of them. I’m suggesting that people ought to be voting “Yes” on at least one question – Question 6.

I hear a wide variety of objections from my GOP friends to this stance, so I’d like to address them quickly.

Marriage equality is no threat to religious liberty. American courts have always been extremely respectful of freedom of religion and still are today. When churches in America can still legally refuse to marry an interracial couple, have a woman as a priest, or hire a gay person as a Sunday school teacher there is little reason to think any effort to force them to marry same-sex couples would meet with success.

Likewise, marriage equality is no threat to the traditional definition of marriage. If you’re married and you oppose gay marriage, let me ask you something – when did you consider yourself married, when the priest pronounced you man and wife or when your marriage license was recorded at the courthouse? I’m going to wager almost everyone will say it’s the former.

Why is that the case? The reason is simple – there are two kinds of marriage. The first is (Big-M) Marriage, the long-standing social institution that is a foundation of society. The second is (little-m) marriage, a contract between two consenting adults that government uses for classification purposes regarding select benefits and tax obligations.

So given that reality, how can a narrow change in the legal meaning of civil marriage possibly be any threat to Marriage, an institution that has existed for millennia and easily predates the creation of government? Simply put, it can’t.

On the other hand, overturning Maryland’s same-sex marriage law does threaten something: freedom of contract.

We’ve already established that there are key differences between the Marriages done by churches and the marriages offered by the state. Limiting access to that contract to only two adults of different genders is to deny them freedom of contract just as surely as it would be to say two Asians couldn’t create a joint partnership or two Catholics couldn’t jointly lease a property. All are arbitrary limitations, without any compelling state interest, on freedom of contract – one of the foundations of all market economies.

It is disappointing that it has taken our great state so long to rectify this shameful inequity, but at least we’ve taken a step in the right direction. Don’t let yourselves be confused by issues that aren’t really in play – vote “Yes” on Question 6 and vote in favor of more freedom and a less intrusive government.

Please note, that while I am an elected member of the Queen Anne’s County Republican Central Committee, I am not speaking on behalf of the committee.

Comic Murder Mystery Double Feature at Garfield Opens Friday

(l to r) Paul Briggs asThe Body, Jim Landskroener, Carolyn Thompson, Brian Whitaker and Kelsy Long in The Real Inspector Hound, opening Friday, November 2 at the Garfield Center.

A double dose of comedic murder mysteries take the stage for two weekends at The Garfield Center for the Arts: The Real Inspector Hound and The Burgundy Wine Mob. These two one-act plays will engage audiences with humor, intrigue, quick wit, parody and musical flair.

Act I, The Real Inspector Hound, is a satirical comedy written by Tom Stoppard with veteran director Diane Landskroenerat the helm. The plot follows two theatre critics who are watching a ludicrous setup of a whodunit style murder mystery set in the British country residence of Muldoon Manor. By chance, the critics become involved in the action, causing a series of events that parallel the play they are watching. The play-within-a-play parody draws on Stoppard’s experiences as a theatre critic;  its title is an allusion to the end of The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie. The absurd characters unfold the plot with witty lampoons on the conventional murder mystery.
The Real Inspector Hound features actors well known to the Garfield stage and some newcomers. The cast includes Jim Landskroener and Chris Rogers as theatre critics Birdboot and Moon, Julie Lawrence as Mrs. Drudge, Kelsy Long as Felicity Cunningham, Brian Whitaker as Major Magnus Muldoon, Patrick Fee as Inspector Hound and Paul Briggs as The Body. Two actors are making their Garfield stage debuts: Carolyn Thompson as Lady Cynthia Muldoon and Alex Dickerson as Simon Gascoyne.

Burgundy Wine Mob, (l to r) Brian Whitaker, Avra Sullivan, Mark Wiening, Jane Copple and Chris Rogers.

Act II, The Burgundy Wine Mob,  a musical comedy/murder mystery written and directed by Chestertown resident playwright Earl Lewin, involves a musical score arranged and recorded by renowned, local pianist Dick Durham. The story features a collection of dangerous characters who gather at the Bongo Bongo Club, all with the same goal in mind: getting their hands on a pile of money that was illegally obtained by the Burgundy Wine Mob. The Mob consists of Jones, Max and Johnnie, a group of bumbling ne’er do wells who swipe a priceless wine collection. Johnnie took charge of fencing it for $3 million dollars. Unfortunately for the others, he disappeared with the cash. Now Johnnie has been rubbed out and it seems that nobody knows who killed him or where the cash is. Johnnie’s girlfriend shows up with a key he gave her before his untimely death. What’s it for? Even she doesn’t know. Maybe the answer is at the Bongo Bongo Club. When she shows up at the club one night, everyone present knows she has the key. Everybody wants that money. Nobody is safe.

The six-person cast, which has been together for 2 years,  includes actors well known to Eastern Shore theatre scene. Director Lewin remarked that, “It is a show we all have fun doing.”  Amy Moredock and Avra Sullivan are making their first Garfield stage appearances as Tulip and Frankie. Jane Copple and Mark Wiening play Angie and Tony. And, audiences will get to watch two actors from Act I reappear as very different characters in Act II: Chris Rogers returns as Jones and Brian Whitaker as Max. The show made its Off  Broadway debut in New York City October 7 of this year.

The double feature is on stage for two weekends at The Garfield Center for the Arts: November 2nd-4th and 9th-11th. Friday and

A second dead body

Saturday night shows are at 8pm and Sunday afternoon shows are at 3pm. Tickets are $15, $5 for students with ID. Please note ACT II involves some mature content that may not be appropriate for students younger than 13.

For more information and ticket reservations visit, email or call 410-810-2060.

The Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre
210 High Street
Chestertown, MD 21620
410 810 2060


Letter to Editor: It’s a (Conowingo) Dam Problem

I am glad to see our local Eastern Shore politicians taking a proactive stance on the Chesapeake Bay clean up effort. Commissioner Fithian is correct when saying “the people overseeing the (cleanup) have been doing all kinds of nitpicky things,” and spending a lot of taxpayer money in the process, while imposing a lot of questionable regulations that are causing financial hardship, wasted energy, etc.

And yet the Conowingo Dam looms, like a dark cloud over the Chesapeake Bay. Common sense would tell you to scrap all these wasteful “feel good” expensive programs like rebuilding every residential septic in the bay waters area, as well as water barrels, rain gardens, living shorelines, cover crops, bio this and bio that as the list goes on.

I have been a sailor my whole life and every sailor knows that to reach your destination you must plot a proper course, when compared to the bay clean up, no proper course has been plotted. A perpetual industry has been created that will never clean up the Bay, they have started at the wrong end of a problem. Focusing on the small sources of the problem while ignoring the pollution sources that will have a high positive impact on Bay water quality. The Susquehanna River, which carries more than half the fresh water that enters the Bay, has about 2 dozen dams. The main ones are in the lower part of the river, Safe Harbor Dam, Holtwood Dam and Conowingo Dam, all were built early in the 20 century and all are 100% silted in except the Conowingo Dam which is about 95% silted in.

According to the USGS web site, if this system were operating at optimum, has the potential to remove 70% of the sediment, 40% of the phosphorus and 2% of the nitrogen from the fresh water entering the Chesapeake Bay, in its present state it is barley functioning at all. Environmentalists are unwilling to “grab the bull by the horns” and deal with this problem that would truly have a high impact on bay water quality. We need to have people involved in the process who are truly interested in cleaning up the Bay and not just keeping the process going indefinitely.

For starters this could be accomplished by designing a water shed wide strategy that prevents as much stormwater from entering the Bay as possible, after all “the pollution is in the stormwater.”

Sam Owings
Chestertown Md

Mr. Owings is a Queen Anne’s County grain farmer and president, founder of High Impact Environmental.

Op-Ed: Keep Big Box Stores Out Of Queen Anne’s County by Robert W. Fox and Nicholas Stoer

In 2011, at the request of a commercial real estate developer, three of the Queen Anne’s County (QAC) commissioners voted to eliminate the county’s 65,000 sq. ft. cap on building size in county areas zoned “suburban commercial.” The size cap is also known as the anti-big box store restriction. This action was taken despite the fact that the restriction is part of the county’s Comprehensive Plan – the official county roadmap to guide development and preserve the open space and small town character of QAC. This small town character is one of the key reasons county homeowners consider when deciding to live here.

Many citizens were irate about the potential for encroachment by Big Boxes. The commissioners’ decision clearly opened the door for stores of “unlimited” size to locate here. To demonstrate their opposition thousands of county voters signed a petition to have the Maryland Election Commission put this issue on the November 2012 ballot allowing citizens to have their voices heard. That petition drive was successful and froze the commissioners’ action.

The November 6 election is the final act on this matter. To keep “unlimited” size Big Box stores out of the county citizens must vote AGAINST on Question B. Winning this will return us to the previous and reasonable 65,000 sq. ft. limit.

18 Reasons to Vote AGAINST Question B on the ballot (i.e. to oppose Big Box stores in QAC):

1. Proponents of Big Box stores provided no compelling economic rationale to the commissioners during the push to open up our countryside to large stores other than fleeting references to job and tax revenue needs. Contrary to the “more jobs” misinformation from Business Queen Anne’s, studies show that Big Box stores often result in a net loss of local jobs due to fewer employees per sq. ft. of retail space among other reasons.

2. About as many jobs are lost as are gained when a Big Box store comes to town. Small stores cannot compete and they close. The shift is to lower paying jobs at the Big Box. This is common knowledge easily researched and verified on the internet. Direct and indirect income subsidies are at times then required by workers under low pay conditions for basic transportation, health and housing aid—burdens thrown onto the local community.

3. Our county job situation is sound. The 2010 census shows that 85 percent of county workers travel to high-paying jobs in Annapolis, Washington/Baltimore suburbs, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Andrews AFB, Ft. Meade and aviation jobs at BWI Airport, etc. In August 2012 our unemployment rate was 6.3 percent, well below Maryland (6.9 percent) and national (7.8 percent) numbers. We have the lowest unemployment rate on the Eastern Shore.

4. Business Queen Anne’s, the real estate proponents of Big Box stores, boast about the $140,000 in taxes that Talbot County collects from Target, Lowe’s, and Wal-Mart together in Easton. That is a drop in the bucket compared to the tens of millions that QAC collects annually in income tax and property tax from our relatively affluent population. The taxes from retired people alone who come here for our tranquil setting dwarf those that would be collected from a Big Box in QAC. Satisfying that retired group, incidentally, is doubly important from a tax revenue/expenditure viewpoint. Their kids have finished high school and are long gone.Yet, retirees still pay property taxes while making no demands on our school budget.

5. It was revealed last month that the county enjoyed a budget surplus of over $7.2 million in fiscal year 2012 owing to revenues $5.4 million above and expenditures $1.2 million below budget. A break-even situation had been anticipated. The county is currently in excellent fiscal shape. So much for the “fiscal crisis” that fuels Big Box advocate reasoning.

6. Big Box stores do not generate additional sales, real estate or income tax revenue at the county or state level. The relatively fixed amount of money in circulation is simply shifted around.

7. Big Box stores concentrate traffic and precipitate traffic lights, additional traffic lanes and gridlock. Infrastructure costs go up and taxpayers, not the developers, get stuck with the bill. Our county roads are not designed to handle Big Box stores either on Kent Island or up-county at the intersection of Routes 213 and 544. Witness the traffic congestion on route Route 2 in Severna Park/Glen Burnie and on 301 in Waldorf/Bowie.

8. Many county citizens with either solid Western Shore management positions or substantial retirement incomes moved here to escape the hustle and bustle of the Western Shore.

9. When they are built, Big Box stores often overpower existing small businesses. State studies document the negative consequences of Big Box stores in Maryland towns like Cambridge and Reisterstown. We don’t want boarded up store fronts.

10. Given our population, QAC already has a surplus of commercial and retail space. The former Safeway store in Kent Towne shopping center sat vacant for more than two years after Safeway opened its new site in April 2010. Heaven only knows what will happen to the ACME building once it closes its door. A Big Box store will add to the number of shuttered store fronts in QAC.

11. A 180,000 sq. ft. Big Box (Safeway on Kent Island is at 65,000) with its vast sales capacity creates its own growth momentum. The push then is for more population and housing, then more Big Boxes and so on. Commercial expansion at moderate levels would be a thing of the past. Once the gates open the leap frog effect will obliterate our rural, small town setting in no time. Witness the overnight change to Middletown, Delaware.

12. People often ask “What makes Queen Anne’s County special?” One person captured the answer by summarizing that in addition to modest traffic, a great shoreline and beautiful vistas “It’s not what we have that makes the region so special, it’s what we don’t have”.

13. Small neighborhood businesses are locally owned and we know each other- customers get personal attention and better service compared to shopping in large, impersonal Big Box stores.

14. People shop near where they work, less so near where they live and, again, 85% of the QAC labor force works outside the county. Out-of-county shopping patterns and habits have long been established. The horse is out of the barn. That is the reality.

15. The Big Box stores in Easton are often cited by proponents of unrestrained growth as a model to replicate. Since the construction of the shopping center containing Target, however, town leaders are now changing course and maintaining a 65,000 sq. ft. cap. No plans are afoot for additional Big Boxes in Talbot County.

16. Big Box stores immediately send receipts out of state to home offices. They are not partners in local economies. In contrast, small local businesses support local banks and industry and re-circulate store earnings in the community

17. We in Queen Anne’s county have a responsibility to continue to provide an island of tranquility, varied water and wildlife recreational activities and that intangible Eastern shore “difference” to stressed out visitors from the Western shore who travel only a short distance to get here. A good part of our economy and culture has evolved to satisfy that experience for both visitors and residents alike. Support what the Bay, the inlets and land have made available to us for centuries, not jarring and needless change.

18. Who would largely profit in the end at a local level from Big Boxes? A few developers. Do we really want to give them the power to radically alter our special place? Vote “against” on Question B.

Robert W. Fox

Nicholas Stoer

Talbot County Emergency Services Cleanup Recommendations

Safety Points to Consider:
If you find you are cutoff from leaving your area after the storm … remain calm until you are able to leave the area or assistance arrives. If you have an emergency attempt to call 9-1-1 or seek assistance from a neighbor in calling 9-1-1.
Many preventable accidents occur after when cleaning up after a storm. Please use caution when operating equipment, ladders, and power tools.
Be careful and be cognizant of your health limitations. Limit strenuous activity and stay well hydrated.
When working to clean up if possible keep a cell phone with you kin the event you need to call 9-1-1 assistance.
After the storm, please use caution when approaching downed wires. Assume they are energized and report them as soon as possible.
Do not drive through flooding roads, turn around and seek another route.
In the event of a power failure and you use a portable generator, please make sure it is adequately vented so you don’t become overcome with fumes which can be fatal.
Battery powered emergency lighting is preferred to burning candles as this presents a fire hazard.
Please use caution after the storm when cleaning up and especially when using chain saws.
If possible check on your neighbors
As always, if you encounter an emergency situation you should activate emergency assistance by calling 9-1-1 and appropriate resources will be dispatched to address your emergency.