Letter to the Editor: Taking Issue with Christine Dolan’s Star-Democrat Articles

Below is a response to the recent two part article written by Christine Dolan and published in the Star-Democrat. The Board of Common Sense Talbot Pac believes that this article needs a response as it is filled with false innuendos that need to be corrected.

In response to Christine Dolan’s recent two-part rambling diatribe on a variety of issues she must think are important, we are first struck by her credentials. She is a self – proclaimed “investigative journalist” who was once with CNN.

Sitting down at the keyboard with the intent to trash people in public is best accomplished with innuendo, insinuation, carefully chosen half-truths, and a commitment to avoid the whole truth. Otherwise, wouldn’t a real “journalist” make a phone call or send an email to at least one of those she wants to make up stuff about? Don’t real journalists ask for comments from people they’re going to name? Well, apparently not if they have an agenda that might be adversely affected by actual facts.

Her investigation “reveals” the details of a private contract to put up a website for a newly formed PAC one month before the election. Of course, such contracts are private matters since they are competitively sensitive material. In other words, a website business doesn’t necessarily want the world to know what they charged a specific client. The PAC reported the expenditures, as required. Nothing illegal or improper here, but Ms. Dolan’s investigative disclosure and the indiscretion of a disgruntled business partner are certainly unethical, although not, apparently, by CNN standards.

Otherwise, this exhaustive inquiry relied on public records, available to anyone because the reports have all been lawfully submitted. Let’s see. Public records. The people involved must have been trying to hide something they were ashamed of! At least, in the eyes of Ms. Dolan, something must have been going on that shouldn’t have been going on otherwise why did she regurgitate their contents. Pray tell, what and where?

A PAC was formed one month before a contentious election as an attempt to bring sanity to bear. It wasn’t perfect because it was rushed, but the founders were simply frustrated that there was no source in Talbot County where one could find the truth.

The so-called Bipartisan Coalition for New Council Leadership PAC had a field day attacking a good person for no reason other than she had listened to all sides, rather than cater to the special interests that wanted the Council to force the rest of us to do things their way. So, what happens when attackers are allowed to run rampant? We lost a valuable, level-headed public servant to accusations without evidence, opinions without thought, and voters that had no place to go to find the whole story.

If Ms. Dolan didn’t have such an obvious agenda to support Laura Price, Dan Watson, and Tom Alspach, she might do some real investigating. She could look up the donors to the Talbot Preservation Alliance that spent $6,000 this year on four County Council campaigns to keep only one incumbent seat, spent $6,500 dollars in two years on a now defunct Citizens for Sound Growth PAC, and the other thousands of dollars contributed to County Council candidates over the years, all of whom lost their races except two (one this year and one in 2010). Looks like they’re not very good at picking winners.

Oh, that’s right, you can’t find out who the TPA donors are because TPA is not a registered political committee, even though they have spent tens of thousands of dollars of their members’ money on political activities. Why are they not a PAC, which has to disclose all contributions and expenditures to the penny? Let’s look into that. This might be a case of throwing stones from within glass houses. It certainly makes you wonder what TPA donors expect in return for that kind of “investment.”

Frankly, we don’t care about convincing the small minds that have orchestrated these attacks because those minds are closed; their mantra is, my mind is made up so don’t confuse me with facts. Open minds in Talbot County have a right to know what we have to say. Talbot County citizens need to have a place to go to “fact check” the BS that has been spread. We’ll be working on that over the coming months, and we’ll let you know when it’s available. After all, the Talbot County that a casual visitor, would see by reading the newspaper over the past few months is not at all the County we want to live in. So, we feel obligated to do something about it, and we invite anyone else that is equally incensed about the recent and ongoing misinformation campaigns to join us.

Bill Cockayne
Chair, Common Sense PAC

Letter to the Editor: Talbot County Council Meeting to Determine Who Represents Us in Annapolis

Tuesday will be the first meeting of the new Talbot County Council. At that meeting the council will vote to determine who will represent us to the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) and, hence, to the Maryland legislature.

Our current representative serves on the MACo Initiative Committee, a small, pro-active group that determines what legislation MACo will introduce each session to the legislature.

In addition to the MACo Initiative Committee, there are three subcommittees at MACo: Budget & Tax, Education and Land Use and Planning. Our current representative to MACo servedon the Education Sub-committee for 2 years, 2015 and 2016. That small group discusses the legislation and makes a recommendation to the full legislative committee on education matters.

For 2017 & 2018, our current representative was selected to be on Budget & Tax, which is the premier committee to be on. She is currently slated to be the new chair of the committee in 2019; that powerful position, of course, depends upon her being selected by her colleagues on the council to continue representing Talbot County on MACo.

Laura Price is one of a select few that is asked not only to testify, but to testify as part of the MACo panel. The testimony of MACo is critically important because it communicates the concerns of the counties to the legislators on the various committees before whom MACo testifies. Frequently, that testimony results in some modification of legislation, such as in the restoration of some of the highway funds to Talbot County when Ms. Price was invited to serve on the Sponsor panel by State Senator Waugh, which introduced legislation to fix the “Highway User Revenue” legislation.

Talbot County is frequently regarded as a rich rural area; it is important to have a senior representative who serves on influential committees correcting that misperception and effectively voicing the real needs of the citizens of this county.

Ms. Price was nominated in 2014 by MACo officers to serve on their Board of Directors, of which there are only 16 members. I am hopeful that the current council understands the importance to the county of having someone with seniority who is well respected by her colleagues and by members of the Maryland Delegates and Senators representing our interests. I encourage them to vote for her to continue her important role with MACo. Assignments such as this one must be made based on who can have the greatest impact on Talbot County’s interests in Annapolis. It is the only criterion that is valid and respects the best interests of the voters. Seniority matters in committee assignments and influence. We would surely be foolish to replace that experience with a representative with no seniority and no influence, regardless of other qualifications. Ms. Price is the only one on the council who has the seniority and assignments on MACo that will help protect our interests.

Carolyn Ewing

Open Letter to the Talbot County Council on Short Term Rentals by Jack Fischer

In my final days on the County Planning Commission, I have been reflecting on our efforts over the past five years and particularly on our recent work to update of the County zoning ordinance. Although satisfied with the resolution of many of the zoning issues with which we dealt, I believe now that we should have been much more aggressive in dealing with the negative consequences of the fast-growing short-term rental (STR) industry in the County.

During our public hearings on the ordinance, most citizens critical of STR’s focused on the negative impacts of disturbances caused by short term renters—straying dogs, loud outdoor parties extending to early morning, randomly parked cars, strewn trash, speeding vehicles, etc. The updated zoning ordinance includes several changes I believe will provide the County effective ways to deal with that issue. But I think we missed the forest for the trees. The negative impacts of STR’s go well beyond physical disturbance.

Each of us appreciates the sense of comfort, safety and security felt when living in a neighborhood within which neighbors are familiar to one another—who leaves home early in the morning, who arrives late, whose child is away at school, who might baby sit our children, who is ill, who holds the neighborhood Super Bowl party, who bakes a great apple pie, who might help build a new deck, on and on. Our neighbors become a second family. Inserting unfamiliar people, even well-behaved, into a home or into homes in that neighborhood, new faces week after week, creates uneasiness, discomfort and, in the end, a lost sense of family and security.

To better understand citizens effected by that situation, it is useful to ponder answers to these two questions: “If you were interested in buying a certain house and were told the house next door was a STR, would you be more likely to buy or less?” And “What would be your reaction if your next-door neighbor announced that he or she intended to turn their home into a STR?” In responding honestly to those questions, you will sense the day-to-day reality of the hundreds of County citizens living beside or near a STR. You have been elected to serve these people and those others who surely will be in their position soon.

Another impact of the fast-growing STR industry is that workforce and affordable homes in communities attractive as vacation destinations are being purchased by local and out-of-town investors and converted to STR’s. It’s profitable. Each conversion from family home to STR diminishes the number of workforce homes available for permanent occupancy. This causes the price of those homes remaining to escalate out of reach of the workforce. This is a nationwide phenomenon but has a particularly negative impact in our County in which the lack of affordable and workforce housing is an issue.

As STR’s cause the cost of remaining workforce houses to rise, it causes the value of homes of permanent residences adjacent to or near the converted STR to fall. The insidiousness of the situation is that the only way for the owner of the adjacent house to recover the value in his or her home is to convert it also to a STR. This sequence places whole neighborhoods at risk of becoming transient.

Other than the financial gain to local and absentee homeowners, it is difficult to find other positive contributions STR’s make to our County. As transients, short-term renters do not volunteer for the planning or execution of local events or activities such as Plein Air, the Waterfowl festival, CASA, the Avalon Foundation, etc. It is unlikely they shop in our stores or dine in our restaurants more often than permanent residents. They neither vote nor pay taxes. They do not support local charities or join our churches. They take no interest in our schools. In that light, each home converted from a family dwelling to a STR diminishes the foundation of the County, the stock that makes our County work.

In sum, STR’s constitute a significant negative impact on our neighborhoods, our communities and our County. In seeking remedies to deal with this fact, many towns and counties across the nation, including the Town of Easton, have adopted the simple and straight forward measure of requiring STR’s to be the principle residence of the homeowner. There are other options available to the Council but that single action would address most of the negative impacts outlined above.

The short-term rental industry is expanding rapidly here. Inaction is certain to result in a diminished quality of life for a fast-increasing number of citizens you serve and will alter our County quickly, markedly and adversely. I urge you to act.

Jack Fischer



Op-Ed: Searching For Meaning In The County Council Election Results by Dan Watson

The headline from our recent County Council election is that The County Council President, Jennifer Williams, was voted out of office, and by a very large margin. By contrast, Laura Price won big, even though she was the apparent nemesis of Ms. Williams and everyone else connected to the Republican Central Committee, including 3 other winning Republican candidates. A new face, Democrat Pete Lesher, came in a strong second, comfortably ahead of all the other incumbents.

But what does all this mean for Talbot County’s future?

First, The Turnout: Compared to the last midterm election in 2014, voter turnout in Talbot County increased this year by 20%. But get this: the total number of votes cast for all County Council candidates increased by 102%–not 2%, but 102%! Talbot’s voters this year were laser-focused on the County Council, and virtually no one was indifferent to the question of what policies and attitudes should govern, and who should lead our Council. No doubt voters’ heightened awareness of the issues will extend into the coming session and beyond.

What Seems Certain:

Talbot’s voters have absolutely repudiated any effort to undermine our historic commitment to “quality of life and rural character” as the bedrock principle that has guided the County’s land use planning for decades. This was the chief policy complaint against the leadership of Ms. Williams over the past four years, as documented in great detail by the Coalition committed to her ouster. Talbot’s citizens recognize their blessings, and clearly oppose turning this special place into “Anywhere, USA.”

Remarkably, Ms. Price received 47% more votes than she did in 2014 in the face of relentless attacks from the other four Republican candidates and the County Republican Central Committee. Why? Voters could not be more clear: they want people in office who respect their voice, not special interests (which is why we’re all seeing repeated–and justified–calls for Ms. Price to be elected Council President). On issues like short-term vacation rentals, people demand to be heard.

Talbot voters are no fools. It is doubtful that the “Sears Wheeler” nonsense would have turned many heads even without the Star Democrat’s expose of those malicious shenanigans, nor bought into the reprehensible effort of Ms. Williams’ husband, who failed to disclose his relationship when authoring a piece intending to drive a wedge between “normal” people and the purported “rich people” he said opposed his wife’s re-election. And refuting predictions from friends and foes alike, the informational website of the Bipartisan Coalition was visited by 1700 discrete individual readers, and word got around. People do care about the facts.

“Question A,” concerning revision of the County’s Revenue cap, did not succeed, overshadowed perhaps by the contentious Council race. So this Council will face even greater fiscal challenges at every turn. As important as they are, the divisive issues at the center of the campaign— STRs, sewers and land use, noise—may get much less attention than pressing budget issues.

The Big Uncertainty:

Each member of the new Council needs to decide just what attitude he or she is going to bring to the Bradley room. These are 5 individual decisions that together will determine where Talbot County goes from here, both next year and perhaps for a long while to come. (They may determine where future political careers go as well.)

In particular, the four Republicans each individually needs to decide if he or she is looking backward, where the baggage of an intense and hard fought campaign shapes everything. Plenty of people in the County believe that the following is inevitable:

Laura Price will never be able to rise above being “the victim,” and that an unforgiving attitude will shape everything that comes after, whether she is elected Council President or not.

However uncomfortable (or not) Corey Pack may have been personally with machinations of the discredited “Common Sense Talbot PAC,” the campaign leaves him inextricably bound into 3-man bloc that he will be happy to control. He is Jennifer Williams’ stand-in.

Chuck Callahan cannot act independently, and will rely on Corey Pack for leadership in all things—or more sinisterly, will be guided by Jennifer Williams who, though unseated, is predicted to remain on the scene working with figures from the County Republican Central Committee.

Frank Divilio, the least experienced and least known Council member, will adhere to his well publicized pledge to follow Jennifer Williams, and will do exactly that even if she is off stage—or in the alternative will vote as part of Mr. Pack’s bloc.

Poor Pete Lesher, who was outside the internecine battle, brings none of that baggage with him…but will have to navigate among the others, like a dingy among ego icebergs. On issues, he gets to play Dirck Bartlett.

I for one do not believe the scenario above is certain, or even all that likely. Bruises notwithstanding, the members of this new Council are all intelligent adults who realize the County—and each of them individually, for their own careers—needs to look forward, not backward. I’m sure each of them appreciates the four “certain” outcomes of the election outlined above, and those facts will shape a lot of what follows. Ms. Price (who should be elected President) must know that she has to let go of the campaign, rise above it. Mr. Pack seemed his own man before 2014, and I cannot believe he was intertwined deeply with many things that transpired in the campaign. Like everyone, I’m sure he welcomes allies to positions he will advance, but taking responsibility to run a “bloc of three” reporting to the Republican Central Committee? I’m much less sure.

And Messrs.’ Callahan and Divilio must see that voters’ overwhelming rejection of the former County Council President is permanent, that their damaged Central Committee can provide them no direction (indeed, should be most unwelcome politically). So each can and will stand on his own two feet. And Pete Lesher will do fine in any event. There is every reason to be optimistic for Talbot County.

The first week or two should reveal much: the naming of a new member of the Planning Commission, the formation of the first Short Term Rental Review Board, and of course a vote on the new Council President. Facing forward, facing backward? Each Council member must decide.

Dan Watson was the chair of the Talbot County Bipartisan Coalition For New Council Leadership

Annual Holiday Art & Craft Marketplace Opens November 30

The second annual holiday Art & Craft Marketplace will be held at the Waterfowl Festival  Building on 40 South Harrison Street in Easton November 30th – December 2. The event is held in collaboration with Discover Easton’s Christmas in Easton, including Moonlight Madness (Nov 30th) and Tree Lighting and Holiday Parade (Dec1). This year’s event will have new artisan, craft and food vendors as well as returning favorites. Admission is free.

The event kicks off Friday evening at 4pm and includes a tasting with Lyon Distillery, beer and wine bar, food from Hill’s Café and holiday music. “Last year’s Friday night kickoff turned into a real social event,” said event co-coordinator Susan Langfitt. “Friends and neighbors shared some holiday cheer, while they knocked out their holiday shopping. It was a very successful first event and we are really excited for year two.”  Tips for wine and beer sales will all go to benefit Talbot Mentors, as well as all Friday evening proceeds from Hill’s Cafe and Juice Bar.

The Cheesecake  will also have food and gift ideas available throughout the weekend. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be visiting the Marketplace on Saturday, when the hours will be 9am –  5pm. Sunday hours are 10am -3pm.

“We were very pleased with the success of last year’s event and are excited about this year’s artists and vendors,” said Jen Wagner, co-coordinator of the event. New to the Art & Craft Marketplace this year are handmade wooden toys by Damaris Bourland, fairy garden treasures by Garnet Hines, paintings, and metal and glass work from new vendors. Returning are the stunning life size driftwood sculptures by Larry Ringgold,  handmade candles by Red Ring Candles, and fresh greens by Fleurish. Lisa Pierson, Lisa Mussenden and Jane Cross return with their one of a kind jewelry pieces and are joined by Lee Mallory. “There’s something for every person and every price point. This is the place to see your friends, chat with neighbors and pick up some holiday gifts for loved ones or for yourself!” said Wagner.

Christmas in Easton Art & Craft Marketplace will be held Friday, Nov 30, 4-9pm, Saturday, December 1, 9am – 5pm, and Sunday, December 2, 10am – 3pm. Learn about the event at www.discovereaston.com or Christmas in Eaton Art and Craft Marketplace on Facebook. Contact Jen Wagner at 443-521-4084 for more information.

“We were very pleased with the success of last year’s event and are excited about this year’s artists and vendors,” said Jen Wagner, co-coordinator of the event. New to the Art & Craft Marketplace this year are handmade wooden toys by Damaris Bourland, fairy garden treasures by Garnet Hines, paintings, and metal and glass work from new vendors. Returning are the stunning life size driftwood sculptures by Larry Ringgold,  handmade candles by Red Ring Candles, and fresh greens by Fleurish. Lisa Pierson, Lisa Mussenden and Jane Cross return with their one of a kind jewelry pieces and are joined by Lee Mallory. “There’s something for every person and every price point. This is the place to see your friends, chat with neighbors and pick up some holiday gifts for loved ones or for yourself!” said Wagner

Christmas in Easton Art & Craft Marketplace will be held Friday, Nov 30, 4-9pm, Saturday, December 1, 9am – 5pm, and Sunday, December 2, 10am – 3pm. Learn about the event at www.discovereaston.com or Christmas in Eaton Art and Craft Marketplace on Facebook. Contact Jen Wagner at 443-521-4084 for more information.

Op-Ed: Spy Columist Montgomery Wrong on All Counts by Nicholas Panuzio

David Montgomery’s November 19th rant in the Spy has so much misinformation it is difficult to know where to start on correcting the record.

First and foremost, Laura Price has not earned the position of President of Talbot County Council, nor does any member of the Council have any obligation to vote for her.

Incoming Council members do not have a duty to elect her as Council President. They have a duty to elect the best qualified person to serve. The County Council is not a nursery school where everyone gets a turn. One must earn the position of President by possessing the requisite leadership skills needed to successfully lead the County. Chief among these are the ability to work well with others to find common ground and reach meaningful compromises and the ability to work as a team member who is willing to put ego aside rather than seek personal glory. These are the traits needed to lead successfully.

Price has failed in these regards throughout her council career, which is why in the past eight years her fellow Council members have never chosen her as President of the Council. Council members observe each other’s comments and behavior, both in public and in private, and, clearly, they have observed and determined that Price does not have the requisite leadership skills or temperament to serve in this important position.

Mr. Montgomery says the Central Committee has done a lousy job and should all resign. Yet, when he was Chairman of the Republican Council, which withered and died under his leadership this past September, he approved the transfer of all of the Republican Council’s remaining funds to the very same Central Committee that he now says is terrible.

There is no need for the Republican Central Committee, elected by the Republican voters of Talbot County, to “clean house”. During this last election cycle, the Committee’s behavior was very restrained when RINO (Republican in Name Only) Laura Price, never publicly denounced the campaign launched by the Bipartisan Coalition for New Council Leadership PAC against Laura’s fellow Republicans, Jennifer Williams, Corey Pack, Chuck Callahan, and Frank Divilio. One can only assume this occurred because the Bipartisan Coalition for New Council Leadership advanced Laura’s personal political agenda.

To their credit, and supported wholeheartedly by the Republican Central Committee, the Talbot Democratic Central Committee and several of their candidates for County Council spoke out and admonished the Coalition for their tactics and their strategy. Price remained silent. When both Parties agree that you’re doing something reprehensible, you probably are.

As far as the Republican Central Committee goes, we supported all Republicans that were not working against Republicans. Mrs. Price refused to join a “slate” of Republicans for County Council, instead working to defeat them as the darling of the special interest groups who supported her by spreading lies on her behalf. We didn’t work for her, but we didn’t work against her, either. Perhaps we should have.

Let’s just go back to February of this year when Laura Price unleashed frequent attacks on Facebook by sharing numerous derogatory letters to the editor about her fellow Republicans, in preparation for her campaign, a tactic she continued right up until the general election. Rather than working together as part of a Republican team, she went out on her own doing everything she could to make herself look good and the rest of the Republican members of the Council look bad. With this attitude, it’s no wonder they don’t want her as their leader.

In the primary, Mrs. Price received the lowest vote count of candidates that advanced to the general election because many Republicans saw through her charade. So, fearing that she might not get reelected, she totally aligned herself with those groups seeking to oust her fellow Republicans, the groups that formed the so-called Coalition, attending numerous meet and greet events put on by their members like a debutant at a ball. Their purpose, as Mr. Montgomery noted, was to oust every Republican except Mrs. Price. Does that sound like a Republican strategy?

Since coalitions are difficult to hold together, the Coalition changed their tactics and announced that they would confine their attacks to Jennifer Williams, the Council President, a practicing attorney, and a member of MENSA, by the way, so she’s no dummy. They identified her as a leader in their own emails where they stated, “There is no doubt she is smart and savvy”, and “Jennifer Williams was her usual self, listening and allowing everyone to speak.” I don’t know about you, but these are certainly traits I want to see in a leader.

Why were Corey Pack and Chuck Callahan taken off the hit list? According to the Coalition, “Mr. Pack served effectively on the County Council for eight years before the arrival of Ms. Williams” and “Mr. Callahan is well liked.” Apparently voting records don’t matter, if you are well liked or did as you were told in the past.

Should we have supported Price because she has an (R) after her name? No. She does not govern like a Republican should govern. Jennifer Williams did, but Laura Price did not. Price has become a megaphone for those special interest groups advocating for more government and more regulations. She even proposed that owners of short-term rentals turn their bank statements and tax returns over to the County.

On the other hand, Jennifer Williams, Corey Pack, and Chuck Callahan tried to strike compromises between businesses and residents. They’ve tried to minimize regulations while still providing needed protections. The noise ordinance they passed is the most restrictive in the entire state. The short-term rental ordinance has numerous safeguards included, from an application process that is far more onerous than before to the substantial financial penalties for violations.
Laura Price’s election does not demonstrate voters’ opposition to policies Republicans have supported. Voters clearly understood the records and positions of Corey Pack, Chuck Callahan, and Frank Divilio. Based on that understanding, a majority of voters affirmed the Council should stay the course going forward. To imply the voters did not understand that reality is arrogant and insulting to their intelligence.

Montgomery says the Council should never rule by a 3-2 majority. They should somehow defer to the minority, if it includes Mrs. Price, and do what she says. This is simply beyond absurd. The principle of majority rule is a long held and sacred tenet at every level of government in America and every democracy throughout the world. The only places unanimous votes occur regularly are in dictatorships and banana republics.

When Mr. Montgomery opines that “weakening noise ordinances, encouraging short-term rentals, and subverting both the legally required planning process and the will of the people” – he is just plain wrong. His opinions are simply not supported by the facts but only by the false, misleading, and out of context statements from the Coalition PAC. Perhaps he should have taken the time to actually research these issues and talk to both sides before making such blatantly wrong statements. Perhaps, if he had done so, he would have learned that he has been given but one very distorted side of the story.

Last, but not least, Mr. Montgomery failed to disclose that he is a supporter of, and financial contributor to, the Bipartisan Coalition for New Council Leadership PAC, whose talking points were the basis of his diatribe. Perhaps that detail did not fit with his outrage with the Republican Central Committee, about which he professes so much concern. His concern, as well as that of all Talbot County residents, should be focused on the few individuals who launched and funded a Washington DC-type misinformation campaign to advance their personal agendas.

Nicholas Panuzio is the Chair of  Republican Central Committee of Talbot County

Mid-Shore Music: Capital Ringers to Present Holiday Concert at Christ Church Easton 

On Sunday, December 2 at 4 pm the Christ Church Concert Series will present the Capital Ringers in a holiday concert for all ages.  The group, comprised of fifteen ringers, six octaves of handbells, five octaves of English Whitechapel Bells, and five and a half octaves of handchimes totaling 201 individual bells, is the largest of its kind on the Delmarva Peninsula.  

Founded in 2004 by director Linda Simms, the Capital Ringers known for their superb and engaging musicianship, but also for their showmanship utilizing the added resources of multimedia effects and percussion.  This season, the ensemble will present music for the entire family including repertoire from Trans-Siberian Orchestra (“Wizards in Winter” and “Christmas Eve-Sarajevo”, as well as “The Little Drummer Boy”, “Jolly Old St. Nicholas”, and many more.  A remarkably versatile ensemble, the group is known regionally for its vast repertoire including rock n’ roll, jazz, patriotic, sacred, and current top forty tunes, in addition to traditional holiday favorites.

As the holiday season is soon to begin, plan now to see and hear this one of a kind handbell ensemble you will not want to miss!  Christ Church is located at 111 S. Harrison Street in downtown Easton. Doors will open at 3:30 pm, and a freewill offering will be received.  This concert is partially underwritten by the Talbot County Arts Council with funding provided by the Maryland State Arts Council.


Letter to the Editor: Price Should Lead the Talbot County Council

Dear Members of the Talbot County Council:

Congratulations on your successful election campaigns. You have been selected by the voters in a climate highly charged with raucous public behavior. Too much “ink” has flowed and we, The People have overcome the vitriol. We believe the public has spoken clearly and you are the new governing body of our beloved county.

Now as our new Talbot County Council you will be seated on December 3, 2018. One of your first tasks will be to choose the new County governing leadership. Jan and I believe Laura Price has earned her place to lead the Council. Consistently, she voted her conscience and kept her obligations to honor the best interest of her constituents. She’s earned this Council’s approval the hard way. She has continued to persevere regardless of the pressure to conform to a party line.

We call for you as members of our County Council to put aside the past history and recognize that Laura Price is the best choice of all candidates to represent the Comprehensive Plan and the Voting Citizens’ expectations. Isn’t it time to do the moral thing and resolve this underlying antagonism that has infiltrated the Council processes since 2015? Below are the reasons that we are contacting you:

  • Longevity: Laura Price has been elected and served for 8 years. Her families are long term residents of Talbot County.
  • Comprehensive Knowledge: Over her tenure, she has demonstrated to the electorate the most knowledge and understanding of the budget and all financial issues before the Council.
  • Constituency Advocate: She listens to all residents, does her research, attends community events, and has fought to protect our way of life, the rural character of our Villages and farms.
  • Appropriate Growth Advocate: needed. She supports appropriate growth and development when and where needed.
  • Vice President “Pass-Over Survivor”: Laura Price has been the Vice President twice but was passed over by the three Council Members who wanted to exclude her from having a leadership role because she is an independent thinker, does her homework, and works to represent all her constituents.

Please, seriously examine your conscience and find a way overcome the conflicts, acknowledge Mrs. Price’s contributions and grant her the formal leadership position on our County Council.

Janice and Barney Johnson

Op-Ed: President Loh and Maryland Football by Steve Parks

The University of Maryland may never be absolved of its moral responsibility for the death of 19-year-old football student-athlete Jordan McNair. But maybe the last shoe has finally dropped in this tragic debacle.

The University System of Maryland Board of Regents has elected its new chair, Linda Gooden, retired Lockheed Martin executive already serving as regent. The announcement followed the firing of the athletic trainers who treated McNair. After a long and torturous process, those most directly responsible for his death now have parted ways with the university. Previously, Rick Court, the strength and conditioning coach identified by ESPN as instigator of the “toxic culture” surrounding the football program, was forced to resign.

Last month, on the heels of two investigations—one ordered by the regents—into the heatstroke death of McNair, the board recommended that head football coach D.J. Durkin and athletic director Damon Evans be retained while accepting the retirement of University President Wallace Loh. (Evans, formerly acting athletic director, was not fully in charge of athletics until after McNair’s death.) The regents lack authority to fire the football coach or athletic director, both hired by Loh. But they do have authority to fire the university president. So they gave Loh an ultimatum: Let Durkin and Evans return from administrative leave, imposed while circumstances of McNair’s death were investigated, or the regents would find a president who would. From his subsequent praise for Evans and silence about Durkin, we can surmise that Loh held the coach at least partly responsible for McNair’s death. (An ice-water immersion for overheated athletes is a proven remedy. McNair never received such treatment and the football staff waited an hour to call 911.)

The damage inflicted by the regents’ initial decision remains incalculable. But thanks to Loh’s defiant firing of Durkin one day after the verdict delivered by then board chairman James Brady, the university’s academic standing is on a path toward restoration.

Brady, former Larry Hogan campaign chair, resigned following widespread outrage over the board’s favoritism of football over academics. What a gift it might have been for Hogan’s gubernatorial opponent, Democrat Ben Jealous.

It had taken generations for the university to dispel its former reputation as a jock school. H.C. “Curley” Byrd, a Maryland alum from back when it was known as Maryland Agriculture College, was head football coach (1911-34) and university president (1936-54). Near the end of his presidency, the Terps won their only football national championship.

Byrd was succeeded by Wilson Elkins, president until 1970 before stepping up to head the University of Maryland System. A Rhodes Scholar, Elkins instituted more rigorous academic standards resulting in probation for students earning less than a C average and establishing a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, which had twice spurned Maryland. Success in athletics declined sharply in my Class of ’70 time at Maryland, but a bachelor’s degree was more highly regarded.

During Loh’s watch, a degree earned at College Park became even more prestigious. Maryland is regularly ranked in the top 25 nationally among public universities. Off-campus, the most visible changes since Loh took the reins in 2010 have transformed the school’s College Park doorstep. Route 1 was lined with seedy bars, strip malls and no-tell motels in my years at Maryland. Today, it’s booming with stylish high-rise hotels and apartment buildings for students, staff and visitors, plus inviting shopping and dining experiences.

Some observers suspected that a few regents held a grudge against Loh for renaming Byrd Stadium in response to a student resolution citing Curley Byrd’s “separate but equal” stance barring African-Americans from admission until 1951 and Loh’s decision to leave the Atlantic Coast Conference for the more lucrative Big 10 athletic conference. Others second-guessed his acceptance of “moral and legal responsibility” for the university in McNair’s death.

It’s possible that Loh, who will be 73 next year, might have retired at the end of his contract anyway. But I urge the regents, under its new chair, to offer Loh a contract extension. Maryland could hardly have expected to lure a stellar academic to succeed him as president in a climate that suggested even a tainted head football coach had more clout than the boss.

Loh has since shown who’s boss.

I’ll always be a Terp fan. (Yes, fear the turtle!) I rooted in vain for the Terps to secure bowl eligibility with a victory on either of the last two Saturdays. I still hope for a long-shot end-of-season win this Saturday over Penn State. But regardless of wins or losses, I’m even more appreciative of the academic integrity that made my daughter’s 2011 degree a star on her resume.

Steve Parks, now living in Easton, is a retired journalist who worked for Newsday on Long Island and The Sun in Baltimore among other newspapers. He is a still-proud Maryland alum.


It Takes a Village: Oxford Residents Rescue Capsized Boaters

Dave Calloway being pulled into the Tilghman Rescue boat

During the morning hours of November 17, Captain Paul Callahan, who is an Oxford Fire Department Lieutenant, took his sister Susan Callahan Aistrup, son Mike Callahan and friend Mark Ledford out for a fishing expedition in his boat Deven Marie II, only to be alerted by a call from fellow Oxford Volunteer Fireman, Matt Hall checking their location. Matt heard on the emergency radio that three brothers were in the water as their boat capsized, near the location of Paul’s fishing destination.

Paul confirmed that they were only about two miles from the location of the capsized boat. They immediately winded up their rods and set target for Nelson’s Point. As Mark describes it, “Paul hammered down full throttle towards the area of the incident as we all scanned the waters hoping to find the boat.” As they approached they realized it was them. Two men on top of the flipped boat, and one overboard clinging to the side. Mark continued, ”Mike Callahan miraculously spotted the brothers as Paul was doing everything possible to get us coordinated to bring them aboard safely.” Paul added, “it was a team effort.”

The three men in the water were brothers Jon, Dave and Daryl Calloway. Eastern Shore men out duck hunting. Their boat started taking on water and suddenly capsized throwing all three into the frigid water. Daryl and Jon were pulled from the sinking hull of the overturned boat, into Paul’s Deven Marie II, but Dave was weighed down with his gear and the freezing water temperature pushing his body into hypothermia.

Paul captained the boat alongside while Mark and Mike held Dave up. Dave had lost his eyesight and had no strength to help himself aboard. He kept saying, “I can’t see you but I can hear you. Don’t let go. I can’t see!” His arms stiff from shock, the men held steadfast until the Tilghman Island Volunteer Fire Company Rescue boat arrived on the scene. The Deven Marie II crew transferred Dave to the safety of the Tilghman Island Rescue boat. Captain Paul followed the Tilghman Island Rescue boat swiftly with brothers Jon and Daryl onboard. They rushed to meet the ambulance waiting for them at Nelson Point near Bozman, MD. All three brothers survived and Dave’s health has returned and all is well for the Calloway family. Thanks goes to the efforts of well-trained Talbot County firefighters. This is a true Eastern Shore Thanksgiving story.

On the Deven Marie II, Mark Ledford, Mike Callahan, Susan Callahan Aistrup and Captain Paul Callahan