Archives for February 2013

Press Release: Local Lawmakers Gain Franchot’s Support for Police in Schools

Annapolis, Md. (February 28, 2013) –Comptroller Peter Franchot hosted a press conference in support of legislation to provide sworn law enforcement professionals, known as School Resource Officers (SROs), to protect public schools throughout Maryland.

The provisions in HB 165 and SB 807 would provide financial resources through the Education Trust Fund, to enable each county superintendent to enter into an agreement with an appropriate law enforcement agency to provide a full-time school resource officer to each public elementary and secondary school. 

“There’s no good reason why every school in Maryland shouldn’t have a trained, armed resource officer. We have no obligation more fundamental than keeping our kids safe from harm,” Comptroller Franchot said. “We just can’t afford to let politics get in the way of protecting our children.”

The bill was sponsored by Delegate John Cluster (Baltimore County), a retired Baltimore County Police Officer who said, “As we are still feeling the shock and horror of the terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, I felt it necessary to take action to improve the safety of our schools.” “Many Maryland jurisdictions already have SROs, but HB 165 and SB 807 would place an active police officer in every school,” said Cluster.

Senate Minority Leader, E.J. Pipkin (Upper Shore), who sponsored the bill in the Senate added, “As a father, I am focused on keeping our schools safe for our children. By putting an armed officer in every school, Senate Bill 807 will assure the fastest response to a gun threat and have an immediate and positive impact on the children’s safety.”

Delegate Steve Hershey (Queen Anne’s) who is a cosponsor of the House bill said, “This is common sense legislation. Although safety is the priority concern, it can be achieved with minimal impact to the taxpayers. These county School Resource Officers will be paid through the Education Trust Fund which receives funding from the state gambling revenues. There is no better use for this revenue than taking steps to protect our students and schools.”

Also cosponsoring the House bill, Delegate Jay Jacobs (Caroline, Kent) stated,

“As a grandfather with two granddaughters, one of which is still in school, I think the concern of parents and grandparents all over the state of Maryland is that if their children need help, they want them to have it right away. This bill does that.”

The event attendees heard from a retired school principal, law enforcement officials and concerned parents on how the proposed bills will help keep our schools safe.

Photo Credit: Credit Arkdog / Flickr

30% Of Seafood is Mislabeled According to Oceana Research

This month, Oceana released a groundbreaking national report on seafood fraud, and the results were outrageous. Over the past several years Oceana tested 1,215 fish samples from 674 retail outlets in 21 states, and DNA testing confirmed that fully one-third of this seafood was mislabeled—that is, what we ordered wasn’t what we got.Sushi bars were some of the worst culprits—nationwide, sushi bars mislabeled their fish 74 percent of the time. We hope that our report’s shocking results will lead to greater traceability for our nation’s seafood from bait to plate. We need your help: Tell your representatives to stop seafood fraud today.

Katherine Allen – Meditation on Nature in Paint and Stitch at the Academy Art Museum

There’s something magical about Katherine Allen’s show now hanging in the Academy Art Museum in Easton. The show is comprised of a dozen or so large-format pieces made of fabric that is painted and printed upon, stitched, snipped and layered. Allen translates nature herself onto the fabric, and creates multi-faceted pieces that are themselves, honest impressions of earth, of landscape. You get the sense that you’ve seen these shifting forms before, and you have – in the woods, in the marsh, in the garden.

Katherine Allen

As canvases, the pieces are layered, and Allen’s hand is evident in each tiny stitch and fringed layer. You sense that she creates these pieces over time, a narrative, starting at one end of the fabric, telling a story as she draws, paints and stitches up and around, in circles, in lines.

As you stand back away from the pieces, the story they tell is obviously a story of the great outdoors. As you move in closer, another world appears, one of individual lines and marks, stitches and color, the individual plants and animals, insects and seeds of nature all are suggested within.

Allen is a dedicated and serious full-time studio artist here in Talbot County, with an impressive educational and show background. With a BFA from the University of Arizona and an MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, she has worked in many mediums, from sculpture and and graphic design, to painting, printmaking and drawing. She uses fabrics and sewing techniques as other artists use pencils and paint, except Allen uses those tools too, on top of it all. The result is gorgeous, intricate mark-making, and shifting layers of color on overlapping folds of soft fabrics.

Most striking in the show is her Four Seasons Suite, with each season depicted in color and line on large unprimed canvases (94×60 inches); acrylic paint and screen print inks, with hand-stitching. Using nothing but color and line, she translates the seasons precisely, with feeling. It’s hard to look at just one of the pieces, without moving back and forth between them all. Individually seductive, they sing together of  nature and of time.

Allen’s work is very original and very collectible. Any of these large works would make a strong addition to a serious art collection. The show will be up until March 31st. And that’s a good thing, because you’ll definitely want to walk through this show more than once.

In collaboration with the Academy Art Museum, Katherine Allen will also offer workshops at her studio – information about those and registration can be found here.

Academy Art Museum – 106 South St., Easton MD





Editorial: Dislecksia and the Spy

A few weeks ago, Heidi Anthony from the Radcliffe Creek School emailed the Chestertown Spy to give us a heads up that the documentary filmmaker Harvey Hubbell would be showing his new film, Dislecksia, a humorous but still serious look at the learning disability, in early March. Would we care to help promote the event, she inquired.

With the Spy’s commitment to screening educational documentaries for the community throughout the year, such as Food Inc. with Colchester Farms CSA and Play Again with Echo Hill Outdoor School, I immediately said yes in response, but only later did it dawn on me that I had more than a passing interest in this particular subject.

Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 12.15.33 PM

The author (center) age nine

In fact, I was perhaps one of the first of a new generation of dyslexics who were actually given that definitive diagnosis in the early 1960s. In my case, Northwestern University, just a few miles south of where we lived, bestowed that grand title on me in 1963 in a little ceremony that included only myself, my mother, and the doctor. My mother recalls that, concluding my final test of the day, the specialist listed recent advances in the field of learning disabilities while an assistant wiped down my head with rubbing alcohol after removing brainwave cables. Nonetheless, the good doctor also recommended that my Harvard-educated mother prepare herself for a son perhaps better suited for the vocation of plumbing than the law.

The truth was that no one, particularly not that very nice lady, had a clue how this kind of condition would affect my long term future. But to me, aged nine, the short term future was very predictable – I was going to get beat up.

In kid terms, the thing I heard was that I was going to be pulled from my classmates in the afternoons and sent to an “opportunity room,” located near the building’s heating furnace in the basement. It might as well have been a hall pass to Dante’s hell.

Day after day, finding my inner James Bond, I would dodge into bathrooms or chat aimlessly with a school secretary during the break between classes, strategically waiting for friends to return to their homerooms before I descended the back stairs to join Mrs. Rudolph and the five other unlucky souls given this life-altering prison term. It was only a matter of time before we would be required to wear an armband with the word “loser” sewed in like a Boy Scout merit badge.

But, as they say, things do get better. I was never picked on or called names. After two years in Mrs. Rudolph’s class, I rejoined my peers in middle school and then in high school. To my mother’s amusement and disbelief, I was able to keep up academically at demanding schools like Washington College and Connecticut College. And, finally, I had a steady career in the nonprofit sector at equally tough organizations such as the Nature Conservancy and UC Berkeley before starting a second career in the newspaper business in 2009.

This is not a rare kind of journey for those with dyslexia. In fact, success is more the norm for children who are diagnosed and given options on how they learn. The more we know about kids with learning disabilities, the more the conversation shifts from talking about a lack of ability to one about how children learn differently.

Since those dark days at Crow Island School almost fifty years ago,  the painful stigma has been lifted precisely because of greater awareness created by filmmakers like Harvey Hubbell as well as institutions like Radcliffe Creek School. How the world has changed in fifty years.

The community is invited to special program on March 7, when Dislecksia will be shown at 7:00 p.m. in the Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts, on the College campus. The movie will be followed by a panel discussion with the film’s award-winning director, Harvey Hubbell V, and other special guests with expertise in dyslexia, including teachers, parents and students.


Violence Against Women Act Finally Passes

After a year of contentious fighting, the House passed the Senate’s broader version of the reauthorized VAWA, which includes expanded protections for same-sex couples. In the 286 to 138 vote, 87 Republicans joined with 199 Democrats to pass the bill. The 138 no votes came from mostly Tea Party affiliated Republicans.

See the roll call,

(Continue reading here)

Gun Amendments Narrow Assault Rifle Definition, Ease Handgun Training Requirements

ANNAPOLIS – The Senate approved a series of amendments Wednesday to Gov. Martin O’Malley’s gun control legislation that would ease some of the proposed restrictions on gun ownership while maintaining the major aspects of the bill.

The Senate heard amendments to the bill until 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. A final vote on the bill in the Senate is expected at 8 a.m. Thursday.

Among the changes to O’Malley’s proposal, the amended bill narrows the definition of what constitutes an assault weapon, doubles the lifespan of a valid handgun license and reduces both the number of hours of training and the licensing fee required to purchase a handgun.

The bill also clarifies which people who seek mental health services are disqualified from owning a gun. Despite the changes, conservative members of the Senate continued to express their opposition to the Firearm Safety Act of 2013.

Sen. Christopher Shank, R-Washington, and a member of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, which approved the bill after a marathon debating session last week, called the legislation “fatally flawed.”

Republicans repeatedly criticized the legislative package for overreaching and addressing issues that would be better served in separate bills.

“The more restrictions we put on law abiding citizens with this bill, the better we’re supposed to feel?” Sen E.J. Pipkin, R-Upper Shore, asked rhetorically, urging his fellow senators to reject the bill.

But Sen. Brian E. Frosh, D-Montgomery, one of the bill’s sponsors, went on the offensive and suggested that by voting to reject the bill the opposition demonstrated that it would rather “kick the can down the road” than address the complex issue of firearm accessibility.

The Senate came close to stripping the bill of one of its most controversial provisions — requiring all handgun purchasers to submit digital fingerprints prior to receiving a handgun license.

The amendment failed despite claims from its sponsor, Shank, that the fingerprinting requirement is an “unconstitutional restriction of the people’s rights.”

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Calvert, voted with Senate Republicans in favor of eliminating the fingerprinting provision.

“Step by step, we are gradually eroding a fundamental right,” Shank said.

The Senate also voted to approve an amendment that would expand mental health restrictions to unregulated firearms such as rifles and shotguns. In previous versions of the bill, patients who have been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility were only prohibited from purchasing regulated firearms like handguns.

Pipkin objected to expanding the restrictions to unregulated firearms.

“I don’t think we fully understand the ramifications (of adding legislation that would impact one’s ability to purchase a shotgun or rifle),” Pipkin said.

While senators from both political parties did not agree on much Wednesday, they overwhelmingly passed an amendment regarding the mental health aspect of the bill.

Sen. Robert A. Zirkin, D-Baltimore County, sponsored an amendment that struck from the bill the disqualification from owning a firearm if someone is voluntarily admitted to a mental health facility for 30 days. Zirkin instead replaced that disqualification with one that says if a person receives an emergency petition to enter emergency care, and the doctor deems that person as dangerous, he or she will be disqualified from owning a handgun.

Capital News Service

Aspartame in Milk Without a Label? Big Dairy Petitions FDA for Approval

Two powerful dairy organizations, The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), are petitioning the Food and Drug Administration to allow aspartame and other artificial sweeteners to be added to milk and other dairy products without a label.

They claim that aspartame and other artificial sweeteners would promote healthy eating and is good for school children.

(Continue reading from here)

CRA presents Chester River Soup Dinner to Provide Micro-grants for Creative Projects

The Chester River Association is presenting Chester River SOUP a soup dinner to provide funds for micro-grants for creative projects in Kent and Queen Anne’s counties on Friday, March 8 at the CRA office, 400 S. Cross St., Chestertown.

5:15 pm doors open

5:45 pm proposals presented

6:15 pm dinner served

7:00 pm winner announced

Pay $5. Eat soup, salad, and bread.

Learn about creative projects happening in our communities.

Vote on which project to fund with the money raised from the meal.

Chester River SOUP is:

a public dinner
a platform for connection
a venue for collaborative conversation
a forum for critical but accessible feedback
a hub for bringing together various ideas and voices
an opportunity to support creative ideas in our community

Proposals are due Thursday, March 7, by midnight. Any person with a creative project to fund is encouraged to apply. There will be a vegetarian soup option and kid-friendly seating (paper-covered tables and crayons). For more information and proposal details, visit or call Heather, 410.271.6607.


Forbes Highlights Innovative Food Websites

Forbes Magazine offers profiles of some of the most innovative ‘food projects’ online.

“Below is a list of some of the most interesting food projects underway utilizing web technology.  Some are new and some old; a few have loyal followings and others should; some are still in startup mode and while others are well underway.  Yet all are ideas that deserve attention.”

(Continue reading from Forbes here)

Cancer Cooking: Recipes That Fight Cancer

First there was walk for a cure and now you can eat healthy and cook for a cure, too.

Caroline Woodall
Capital News Service