1st District: Harris Supports Trump National Emergency Declaration

Congressman Andy Harris, M.D. (MD-01) made the following statement on President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to protect border security and facilitate funding of the border wall:

“I support the president’s efforts to fully fund comprehensive border security by re-allocating unused funds from other programs, such as counter-narcotics programs directly related to the flow of illegal drugs across our southern border. Just last month, CBP had its largest fentanyl drug bust at the southern border, capturing enough fentanyl to kill 57 million people – that’s enough drugs to kill the population of Maryland nine times over. The sex trafficking industry, a horrific and demoralizing crime, is also thriving from a lack of border security. The exploitation and rape of these women and children occurs both en route to the United States and after their arrival. MS-13 gang violence is rampant in the United States, and is a serious threat to our communities in Maryland. The president has worked hard to secure our border, and I support his decision to declare


Rob Billings Named to Pacesetter’s Club at Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley announced today that Robert M. Billings, a Financial Advisor in its Wealth Management office in Easton, has been named to the Firm’s Pacesetter’s Club, a global recognition program for Financial Advisors who, within their first five years, demonstrate the highest professional standards and first class client service.

Rob, who has been with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management since 2015, is a native of Easton, MD.  He holds a bachelor’s degree from Washington College and a graduate degree from the University of St Andrews, Scotland. Rob currently lives in Chestertown.

Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, a global leader, provides access to a wide range of products and services to individuals, businesses and institutions, including brokerage and investment advisory services, financial and wealth planning, banking services, annuities and insurance, retirement and trust services.  

Women & Girls Fund of the Mid-Shore seeks Nominations for Annual Award

The Women & Girls Fund of the Mid-Shore is accepting nominations through February 20th for the 2019 Women & Girls Fund Award. The award will be presented at the Fund’s 17th Annual Grants & Awards Luncheon on April 29th, at The Milestone Event Center in Easton. Established in 2004, the Women & Girls Fund Award honors a community member from Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, or Talbot County, who has made outstanding professional or personal contributions towards addressing the needs of local women and girls. Candidates for the award should have demonstrated leadership, vision, integrity, compassion, cooperation and generosity of time and talent in their efforts to improve the lives and opportunities of women and girls.

The Fund’s Award last year went to Susan Stockman of St. Michaels, who is known across the Mid-Shore for her creative jewelry and vibrant mosaic murals. In addition to the collaborative art workshops she’s presented to countless students and groups for more than twenty-five years, Susan is personally committed to providing compassion and care to friends and strangers in need. Her dedication, integrity, and generosity in improving the lives and opportunities of women, girls, and families is the hallmark of this award.

The late Lois Duffey of Centreville and Chestertown was the recipient of the first award. In succeeding years, the Women & Girls Fund has honored: the late Harriet Critchlow; Sandra King; Dr. Maria Boria; Sister Patricia Gamgort, OSB; Tracy Davenport; Sandra Redd; Sara Jane Davidson; The Hon. Karen Murphy Jensen; the 5 founders of For All Seasons; Mary Lou McAllister; Diana Mautz; Kathy Weaver; and, Ellen Rajacich.

Nomination forms are available for download from the Women & Girls Fund Award website: www.womenandgirlsfund.org. For further information, call 410-770-8347.

Failing Up by Angela Rieck

Growing up on a farm on the Eastern Shore in the 50’s and 60’s meant that there weren’t a lot of organized activities, instead I lived a rich life playing outside with my brothers and sisters and our extracurricular activities were focused around 4H. I credit 4H with making me a good public speaker, simply because I embarrassed myself so many times in 4H competitions, that I am fearless.  

4H offered competitions in public speaking, Demonstration Day (I’ll explain later) and livestock shows. The 4H public speaking competition required us to walk up onto a stage and give a 5-minute talk to an audience consisting of beleaguered families and judges. My first venture into public speaking was an early indication of what was to come.  I tripped going up the stairs and my 3”x 5” notecards scattered all over the stage. On that day I learned it would have been good to number my notecards, since the talk consisted of my presenting notes from 3×5 cards in random order…I finished dead last.

Our poor mother was a very patient and hopeful soul, so she signed us up for Demonstration Day, which is a competition where we “demonstrate” to that same audience how to make something. Recognizing our limited talents, my mother suggested that we demonstrate making juices.  I chose a fruit punch and my mother purchased a pitcher that would fit the juices in the punch exactly. I was to demonstrate how to combine and measure different juices into a virtually undrinkable solution. In my nervousness, I forgot to measure the grape juice and poured the entire contents (instead of ½ cup) into the pitcher.  The pitcher began to overflow, but since I knew that the juice was supposed to fit, I continued to pour the grape juice despite the fact that most of grape juice was now spilling from the pitcher to the table to the floor.  A resourceful woman grabbed a towel to mop it up, but I was not to be deterred, so I continued pouring until the last drop of grape juice was on the table and floor. I finished last.  

My sister chose lemonade.  After squeezing all the lemons, she knocked over the cup of lemon juice and it, too, poured onto the table and floor. Her reaction was different from mine, she just stood and cried.  She finished last.

Needless to say, there was little reflected glory for my mother that day, who was nonplussed and told us that we would do better next time.

Not so. The next year, recognizing that cooking may not be my skill, I decided to demonstrate how to train a dog, my German Shepherd, Gretchen.  We started well, she sat right away, but then she lost interest in the other commands, so she remained seated despite my instructions to heel, lie down, etc.…I finished last.

The next year I went back to cooking and gradually got better with such subjects as “Fun with Refrigerator Biscuits”, “How to Make a Fruit Salad”, “No Bake Cookies” and other notable topics.  I eventually started to win. This culminated with my County win of “You and Your Dog”, where I showed how to take care of a dog… Gretchen’s choice to remain seated, this time, worked in my favor.

I went on to livestock competitions, where I took my cow, Valentine (guess what mark was on her forehead), to a county fair to judge the fairest Holstein in the land.  First, let me give you a picture of what I looked like. I was 8 years old, very scrawny and skinny. For the competition, I was dressed in a white cotton button-down shirt that had a way of getting untucked every time I moved.  It was finished with a Kelly-green string tie and a white accordion pleated skirt. The skirt was too big, so I had pinned the waistband with a safety pin, making it hang sideways. One side of the skirt was below my knobby knees the other side was above.  My chin length hair was braided with green ribbons. Calling it braids was a little generous because the braids were less than 2 inches long and most of my fine blonde hairs were fleeing their constraints. My bangs were in the mid-forehead style, and my skinny legs were completed with white bobby socks and saddle shoes.

I wore a big “Stevie Wonder” grin to complete the look. Of course, by the time the competition had begun my white shirt and skirt were no longer stain free, as I had managed to sit in manure (yes, good question, how can one miss that?) and wiped my hands on my shirt. But I was ready, ready to win. I put the halter on Valentine and proceeded to parade in a circle with the other cows (who I can assure you, were not as pretty as Valentine). As we were walking, the cow in front of Valentine took a dump on Valentine’s nose, I didn’t know if I was allowed to wipe it off with my shirt, so I tried to pretend that my cow did not have poop on her nose.  Turns out that Valentine did NOT like having crap on her nose and started to buck, whereupon the judge made me leave the ring in disgrace. I finished next to last, followed by the cow that pooped on her nose.

There are other stories, but you get the gist, I found that I survived all of these humiliations, which is why I am a fearless speaker.

I have even received a standing ovation for a High School commencement speech.  I was President of the Board of Education; and Board Presidents are expected to speak on several occasions, including High School graduation. On this particular graduation day, it was oppressively hot and humid.  We were in an unairconditioned, breezeless, 100-degree auditorium. The students, parents, families, Board of Education members, distinguished guests and teachers were soaked with sweat. Even the flowers and balloons brought by proud parents had wilted.  So, it was my turn to speak, my turn to rouse this next generation. I surveyed my audience and I began “On behalf of the Board of Education, I will NOT give a speech.” The crowd went wild.

I have given many speeches over the years, for events, for business, teaching, but this was the most applause that I would ever receive. Kind of makes all of the humiliations worthwhile, doesn’t it?

Angela Rieck was born and raised on a farm in Caroline County. After receiving her PhD in Mathematical Psychology from the University of Maryland, she worked as a scientist at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. Throughout her career, she held management jobs at AT&T, HP and Medco, finally retiring as a corporate executive for a large financial services company. Angela is also a wife, mother and an active volunteer serving on the Morris County School Board for 13 years and fostering and rehabilitating over 200 dogs. After the death of her husband, Dr. Rieck returned to the Eastern Shore to be with her siblings. With a daughter living and working in New York City, she and her dogs now split their time between Talbot County and Key West, FL.  

Op-Ed: Secrecy Regarding Planning Commission Candidates by Dan Watson

Important power is vested in the County Planning Commission that directly–and permanently—shapes our community. Virtually all land use issues, large and small, go before that Commission; it is the arbiter of what complies with our Comprehensive Plan and what does not. The future character of Talbot County is entrusted into the hands of 5 individuals.

We are a representative and not a direct democracy, and so the individual members of the County Council are the ones who appoint members of the Planning Commission (each for a 5 year term). Council Members select from a pool of candidates who have volunteered to serve by submitting a short Request For Appointment form (“RFA”) to which is attached ad hoc whatever information a candidate believes would be relevant to his or her selection. The form clearly states that the RFA information is expected to be public: “Your information…will be made available to the media if requested.”

By coincidence, one of the very first tasks of this new Council is to select a new Planning Commissioner. Thirteen citizens submitted RFAs by the November 30th deadline. At the outset the County was reluctant even to release the names of applicants; in response to an inquiry the County attorney emailed on Dec 4th that ”an issue has arisen…our office is researching.” On Dec 7th the names were released but with the surprising statement that “it is unusual for the County to receive a request for this information. The County reserves the right to develop new policies governing the release of prospective board members names going forward.” In literature, this is a foreshadowing.

The County then denied a request for permission to come in and simply look at the submitted RFA forms! The County’s reply cited a provision of the Maryland Code (“a public records custodian is required to deny inspection of a personnel record…”), also citing a 1998 court case (in which, incidentally, the sought records were required to be released).

The Bipartisan Coalition of Talbot County has formally requested that the County reconsider its decision to keep the information secret, and a response is expected next week (likely after the Planning Commission appointment is made). There is no justification for the RFA information to have been withheld, other than to keep the public in the dark. And yet there is a very important reason for that information to be made public.

While it is indeed a legal question, the County really had to reach for a rationale to withhold the information. We believe they are wrong for these reasons:

The RFA form expressly states that the information, voluntarily submitted, will very likely be made public—“released to the media if requested.” There has never been any expectation of privacy.
The Request For Appointment form is not even an “application,” yet the County’s legal argument focuses on that word in a technical manner.
A Commissioner, as an unpaid volunteer, is also not an “employee,” and the technical reference to a “personnel file” really does not apply.
The court case cited (and other cases in which it is cited in turn) are replete with clear statements about the primacy of the public’s right to information over crabbed and narrow efforts to keep information hidden away. For example

“`the provisions of the Public Information Act reflect the legislative intent that citizens of the State of Maryland be accorded wide-ranging access to public information concerning the operation of their government'” We have on several occasions explained that the provisions of the statute “must be liberally construed . . . in order to effectuate the Public Information Act’s broad remedial purpose.”

Indeed, in every case we reviewed, the court basically upheld the public’s right to information over the government’s right to secrecy.

Why is this important? The release of the basic RFA data volunteered by candidates is important because, without at least that minimal amount of information, we, the directly affected citizens, have no basis whatever to judge whether the Council Members we elected have made a good decision or not. The choice of a Commissioner is not our decision—it is theirs. But we certainly should be afforded the opportunity to judge if their choice appears to be the best (or at least a reasonable) candidate based on the overall good of the County…. or perhaps not—perhaps a well-motivated candidate but of limited qualifications chosen by a narrow Council majority for reasons other than a commitment to our Comprehensive Plan. No way to know.

The point above applies not just to the final selection of a Commissioner from a short list of four, but to the entire process. One example: no woman has served on the Planning Commission for several years. Yet 3 of the 13 who volunteered this time were women and none were short-listed. Were they all patently unqualified? Again, who can know?

We do not quarrel with short-listed candidates being interviewed in Executive Session, or Council Members discussing candidates in private. Still, why should the actual votes of individual Council Members be secret? (Indeed, the Talbot County Charter at Section 212(e) provides that “All voting, except on procedural matters, shall be by roll call.”)

With 13 candidates, one would think unanimity would not be difficult to find; surely several are qualified and free of any “problematic” attributes. But if not, why should the public not know if the Planning Commissioner selected was chosen by a 4-1 or 3-2 vote? If that information is secret, the public has no idea how to allocate the credit—or the blame—if a selection appears particularly wise or particularly foolish. Why should a Council Member opposed to a problematic selection be precluded from letting the public know his or her position? What public purpose does that serve?

Finally, note that the law cited by the County provides in part that “if a custodian believes that inspection … by the applicant would be contrary to the public interest… the custodian may deny inspection….” We ask how would the release of the RFA information be contrary to the public interest? It is keeping this information secret that is adverse to Talbot citizens; the sole beneficiaries of secrecy are those who wish to make decisions without accountability.

Dan Watson
The Bipartisan Coalition of Talbot County

10 Reasons I Wish I Were my Dog by Angela Rieck

Almost a year ago, I adopted an 8-year-old Maltese mix from the local shelter. His previous owners indicated that he had a lot of issues; however, I have found him to be a pretty good dog. He is not perfect, but neither am I. He is very, very sweet and a big time cuddler and he has a lot of traits that I wish I had. In that spirit, here are the top 10 reasons I wish I were my dog.

10. Gus doesn’t care what his name is. His previous owners named him Cookie (or Donkey, the shelter couldn’t understand their accent) and he didn’t mind that name either.

9. Gus adapts to anything that happens to him. He went from a home with a large family, to 60 days in a shelter to just me. Within 3 days, he was happy and content. He just rolls with the punches.

8. Gus lives in the moment and each moment is a happy one. He loves to bounce along chasing squirrels and rabbits or snuggling in my lap. It’s all good.

7. Gus gets treats every time he pees in the right place (housebreaking was one of his issues). I would be rich if I got money for every time I peed in the right place.

6. Gus just wants love; he doesn’t want recognition, money or fame. He views every person as a potential snuggler.

5. Gus has a lot of confidence. And if he is intimidated by it, he just pees on it.

4. Gus is happy in his own fur and doesn’t care what he is wearing or looks like.

3. Gus expects to be loved and because he expects it, he is.

2. Gus doesn’t care what you look like or smell like, as long as you want to be with him, he wants to be with you.

And, Number 1:

1. Gus looks as good with his clothes off as his clothes on.

Angela Rieck was born and raised on a farm in Caroline County. After receiving her PhD in Mathematical Psychology from the University of Maryland, she worked as a scientist at Bell Laboratories and held management jobs at AT&T, HP, and Medco. Angela is also a wife, mother and an active volunteer serving on the Talbot County School Board for 13 years and fostering and rehabilitating over 200 dogs. After the death of her husband, Dr. Rieck returned to the Eastern Shore to be with her siblings. With a daughter living and working in New York City, she and her dogs now split their time between Talbot County and Key West, FL.

Cold Outside by Steve Parks

I have a new Top 40 outrage about which to vent. And it’s so refreshing that this one—which involves a once and now again Top 40 song—has nothing to do with my previous 39 Trump-inspired outrages. What has me so steamed in this holiday season—and I mean “steamy” in a purposely scandalous way—is the #metoo defamation of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” a classic winter ode to romance by one of the great American songwriters of all time, Frank Loesser.

Some of the same people, no doubt, who castigated Matt Damon for suggesting that rape and a pat on the butt are not in the same category of sexual offense—I’m thinking of you, Minnie Driver, who fell for Damon’s title character in “Good Will Hunting”—would have us believe that it’s out of bounds for a male to suggest to a guest of the female persuasion that inclement weather might be an excuse for her to stay awhile longer, if not for the night. Does he not have another bedroom or a couch? Hey, this is a love song, not a novel. As for the rape and pat-on-the-rear analogy, one is a felony and the other deserves a slap in the face.

Loesser, of course, is best known for the musical masterpiece “Guys and Dolls.” Yeah, I know, “dolls” is sexist. But then, the “guys” are all gamblers and hoods. Whadya expect? In “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” circa 1944, Loesser has the girl singing, “My mother will start to worry. . . . So really I’d better scurry.”
“The neighbors might think . . . . Say, what’s in this drink?” To which the guy counters, “Baby, it’s bad out there. . . . No cabs to be had out there.”

To assume that “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is so offensive that radio DJs and digital programmers should boycott its play is to further assume that the man imploring his lady guest to hang out a bit longer is Bill Cosby, spiking her drink with knockout potions of Quaaludes, or Harvey Weinstein or Les Moonves chasing starlet wannabes around a bedspring acting couch while exposing themselves. Sure, if you’re dirty-minded enough to read into these lyrics that the man in question is a 60- or 70-something creep with inordinate power over a high-school girl’s fame-and-fortune ambitions, then go ahead and organize a campaign against every flirty lyric you’ve ever heard.

“What’s Wrong with Silly Loves Songs?” some guy named Paul once wrote.

How about banning “Let It Snow, Let It Snow,” which indicates that a chaste hug or, God forbid, kiss might keep a guy warm all the way home? Or think of the adultery suggested in “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”? I mean, how are we to know he’s really Daddy in disguise? It could be some old, bearded interloper forcing himself on Mama in a weak and vulnerable moment. Perhaps under the influence of wicked mistletoe or bourbon-infused eggnog. Are we to be left with no sense of humor when it comes to completely natural interaction between humans of opposite genders or of the same if that’s their inclination? Yes, flirting is risky behavior. There are boundaries to be respected, or crossed respectfully, as the case may be. But failing to take such risks, failing to flirt—failing to be alive—is an existential risk to the human race.

Dean Martin’s version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” currently ranks as a Top 10 recording, owing largely to this ridiculous controversy. Choose your targets better, #metoo. Picking on this one is brain-dead misguided, not to mention hormone-dead.

Steve Parks is a retired journalist now living in Easton.

NTBR (Need to be Right) in Recovery by Angela Rieck

I suffer from NTBR. This syndrome has hurt my career, caused problems with friends and family and resulted in a lot of embarrassment. While I am in recovery, I have learned that there is no cure, instead, I must remain committed to a lifelong process of healing.

Yes, I suffer from the “Need to be Right” (NTBR). (And if you don’t agree with these initials, chances are that you are a fellow sufferer.) I do not suffer alone, on the Eastern Shore and within my own family, I have found a haven for similarly infected people. I have been a part of, or witnessed, heated arguments about the pronunciation of a name, the best year for crabs, the best football team, the greatest game ever played, politics, etc.

The field of psychology has been slow to recognize this debilitating disorder and it is not included in the DSM 5. While I am sure that you can identify fellow sufferers, you might wonder if you, too, are afflicted by this syndrome. Since this disease is not yet recognized, I have taken it upon myself to list some questions that may help you discern if you are a fellow sufferer.

Do you feel a need to correct people who are obviously mistaken?

If you are found to be wrong, do you (a) storm away or (b) offer a reason for your error?

Do you find a need to interject into other people’s conversations, to inform them of their errors?

Are you exasperated that others don’t recognize the correctness of your political positions?

If you answer yes to any of these, you, too might be suffering from this malady.
Being a trained psychologist, I have begun to contemplate the causes of this disease. Is it nature or nurture? To answer this question, I reflect back on my own childhood (N=1).

Growing up on the Eastern Shore, I recall my Tantes (aunt, in German) were strong women with equally strong opinions. One Tante was an excellent cook who notoriously omitted ingredients when sharing a recipe.

I remember one incident where a Tante called to wish my father a happy birthday. I was a college student, and the manifestations of the syndrome were beginning. I thanked her and let her know that my father’s birthday was actually the next day. I kindly offered to give him the message in time for his birthday. This is the dialog that ensued.

“No, his birthday is today.” Tante Clara huffed.

“Well, I guess that we have been celebrating the wrong day for all of these years,” I replied smiling to myself.

“Well, you sure have. Young lady, you put your mother on the phone, I want to tell her what a rude and conceited daughter she raised.”

I cupped the receiver and called, “Mom, it’s for you.”

I guess that I never really had a chance.

Angela Rieck was born and raised on a farm in Caroline County. After receiving her PhD in Mathematical Psychology from the University of Maryland, she worked as a scientist at Bell Laboratories and held management jobs at AT&T, HP, and Medco. Angela is also a wife, mother and an active volunteer serving on the Talbot County School Board for 13 years and fostering and rehabilitating over 200 dogs. After the death of her husband, Dr. Rieck returned to the Eastern Shore to be with her siblings. With a daughter living and works in New York City, she and her dogs now split their time between Talbot County and Key West, FL.

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

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