Op-Ed: The State of Shore Regional Health in 2018 by Ken Kozel

Looking back at 2018, I want t to share the great progress made by UM Shore Regional Health in realizing our Mission, Creating Healthier Communities Together, and our Vision, To Be the Region’s Leader in Patient Centered Health Care.

November and December were dominated by preparations for our successfully completed week-long accreditation visit from the Joint Commission, followed by the transition to EPIC, our new electronic medical records system, linking patient care information within and outside of Shore Regional Health and the entire University of Maryland Medical System. Both of these achievements required an enormous amount of preparation and work for team members at all levels and all locations of our organization. I am particularly proud that throughout these near-simultaneous events, patient care remained our priority in every aspect of our inpatient and outpatient programs.

2018 was marked by several other important milestones:

Our Cardiac Catheterization Center exceeded our expectations in the number of life-saving emergency percutaneous coronary intervention (STEMI / PCI) procedures – when a heart attack results from a critically blocked artery and time is heart muscle. We are approaching 60 since the designation as a Cardiac Intervention Center (CIC) by MIEMSS in February, 2018. The Center’s Electrophysiology Service is effectively migrating patients from various medications taken prior to ablation and improving their quality of life.

UM SRH programs earned recognition from several prestigious accrediting and certification organizations during 2018. Cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation programs in our three hospitals were recognized by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR). At UM Shore Medical Center at Easton, the Primary Stroke Center earned re-designation from MIEMSS, and the American Heart Association’s Gold Plus and Target Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus designations. Our Requard Center for Acute Rehabilitation earned re-accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).
Expanding access to care, a challenge for rural health care organizations such as ours, has been an ongoing focus for UM Shore Regional Health. 2018 saw considerable progress in this arena, as UM Community Medical Group added 18 new providers in primary care and several specialties. In palliative care and behavioral health, barriers to care formerly posed by geographic distance and travel times have been greatly diminished by telemedicine programs launched during the past year.

The Regional Opioid Task Force, formed in 2017 by UM SRH and including representatives from law enforcement, health departments, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation, accomplished its mission of creating a standard intervention for patients involved in an opioid overdose. Our four emergency departments now offer consistent interventions that include medical evaluation and stabilization, a voluntary behavioral health assessment, a standardized educational message, connection with treatment providers, and expedited referral to A.F. Whitsitt Center for continued treatment and rehabilitation.

Plans for improvements and additions to our physical facilities also moved forward during 2018. We filed a Certificate of Need (CON) application with the Maryland Health Care Commission in September for a new, six-story, 135-bed hospital to replace Shore Medical Center at Easton. Three other regulatory applications, known as Certificates of Exemption (COE), were filed in July, 2018. These detailed the proposed conversion of Shore Medical Center at Dorchester to a freestanding medical facility that will include a state of the art emergency department, observation beds, diagnostic services, primary and specialty care, outpatient services and ambulatory surgery. These applications include proposals to relocate the inpatient beds and the behavioral health inpatient unit from UM Shore Medical Center at Dorchester to the existing Easton hospital, with very minor renovations, possibly as early as spring 2021, when the freestanding medical facility campus is complete. Coming much sooner is our new Shore Medical Pavilion at Denton, slated to open in early February 2019, which will provide “close to home” care for residents of Caroline County. The new pavilion will house primary and specialty care providers, laboratory and imaging services, outpatient behavioral health and rehabilitation care, and a home health office. We look forward to a formal opening event in the spring.

The three volunteer Auxiliaries and Foundations associated with UM Shore Regional Health continue to play a key role in advancing the quality of care provided in our hospitals and our outpatient services. Auxiliary volunteers contributed more than 57,000 hours and thousands of dollars to their respective hospitals in 2018. Support from individual donors, local businesses and foundations enabled us to purchase upgraded medical equipment and life-saving technologies. We are so grateful for the support of the Auxiliaries and Foundations, and that of our UM Shore Regional Health Board members, who devote their time to our mission.

Our focus upon a service excellence culture has transformed the ways in which we provide care, how we interact with patients, family members and loved ones, and how we support each other throughout the organization. It is heartwarming to feel the positive energy, caring and compassion in our team, our physicians and advanced practice providers, and the many volunteers who support these efforts. I am grateful for the support of our communities and the dedication of UM Shore Regional Health team members – our board, our Foundations and Auxiliaries, our physicians and providers — in all locations throughout the five county region we serve. Shore Regional Health is Where the Health of the Eastern Shore Comes First and we are so proud to serve your needs.

Ken Kozel is the president and CEO of UM Shore Regional Health

Out and About (Sort of): Me-Against-Them by Howard Freedlander

I sensed during the run-up to the county council election an uncomfortable undercurrent of me-against-themism. It bothered me.

I found it off-putting, smacking of a bit of class warfare on a small scale.

It struck me that the supporters of councilwoman Jennifer Williams viewed her opposition, namely the Bipartisan Coalition for New Council Leadership, as representing wealthy, waterfront property owners opposed to business-oriented change in Talbot County. An Easton resident for more than 42 years, I see water only when my backyard is flooded.

I supported the Coalition because I was concerned about land use decisions that would destroy the mostly pristine environment that draws people of all socioeconomic levels to our county.

Were change as represented by the planned and yet unfinished community of Waterside Village the norm, I gladly would applaud similar improvements that enhance, in my opinion, our wonderful quality of life.

I digress a bit.

Class warfare, either real or imagined for political matters, achieves very little. It presumes that owners of waterfront property are less concerned about the economic viability of our community than those who think that growth, however executed, represents progress and prosperity.

Hogwash!

Those who wake up to waterfront views, and those who awaken in cozy neighborhoods are similarly concerned about governmental leadership of a county whose beauty and allure are known and appreciated worldwide.

Who in their right mind would want to create a community that devalues the wonderful assets that draw people who simply appreciate beautiful viewscapes, reasonably uncluttered roads and a way of life that values friendly human interaction?

Now, readers, I realize that the bottom line is politics. Political campaigns, particularly as they draw to an end, produce silly and vicious comments. That’s the nature of the game. It won’t change. As the finish line approaches, some candidates believe the end justifies the means.

Dump the trash on the public, and if the voters’ reaction reflects the stink and odor of ridiculous accusations and hurtful innuendo, so be it. It’s the final vote that matters, truth and ethics be damned.

After the election, a small businessman wondered to me if Talbot County faced the prospect of becoming a rich retirement enclave. Admittedly, the average age is 49.4, the median salary is $61,395, the median poverty rate is 10.9 percent and the median house cost is $320,500, according to. Data USA. These figures certainly connote wealth.

As a comparison, in neighboring Caroline County, the median age is 40, the median income is $50,830, the median poverty is 17.1 percent and the median house cost is $192,600.

The figures, however, don’t illustrate the significant engagement of Talbot County residents, evidenced by their personal and financial investment in the economic and cultural strength of our county.

Do town and county residents equally want to preserve our rural character and its human dimension? Of course they do. Are they determined to fight to preserve what they consider special about our part of our Shore? Again, yes.

Change, however, is necessary, though unpleasant at times. Real estate development can’t stop. No community can become static and survive. Business development should be encouraged. Adequate and appropriate housing should be available. All age groups should feel welcomed.

I started out bemoaning the me-against-them comments that underscored the response by some to the relentless effort by the Bipartisan Coalition to unseat Jennifer Williams from the County Council. Her backers resented the criticism of her policies and land use decisions. The Coalition never attacked her personally.

Class warfare is ludicrous. Disagreement about the future direction is not. References to the motives and actions of wealthy, waterfront landowners accomplish nothing but poison the discourse and hamper cooperation.

Elections and the nonsense they sometimes engender thankfully come to an end. Winners celebrate; losers grieve. Rancor diminishes; passion does not. Political wounds take time to heal.

The holiday season awaits us. It’s a good time to embrace a sense of unity.

It’s worth the effort—way beyond December.

Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland.  Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He  also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer.  In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.

Food Friday: Eight Wonderful Nights

We are still working off the two half turkeys we ate for Thanksgiving last week (one half turkey smoked, the other half roasted), the two kinds of pie (pumpkin and pecan), the extra fancy mashed potatoes (Mascarpone cheese was added for maximum creaminess) and the buckets of homemade Chex Mix. And even though I am still waddling around, I am feeling the need to bake, and to feel cozy in the kitchen. I long for comforting and familiar smells to waft through the house. I’m seeking warm firelight and twinkling candles. Winter is coming.

Let’s dive into the foods that celebrate Hanukkah, and the miracle of the Festival of Lights. Light your candles and remember how the lamp oil for one night became enough oil for eight nights. And then get ready for latkes, sufganiyah and rugelach; fried or oily foods that traditionally symbolize the miracle of Hanukkah.

Latkes are delicious crispy potato pancakes. I love potatoes in almost any form, but hot, crunchy latkes are particularly delicious. Shredded potatoes, onion, flour and egg, with applesauce and sour cream as toppings. Yumsters. With Hanukkah starting next week, we threw ourselves into exhaustive research for latkes. It is easy to fry up extras, and then freeze them for future use. That way, if you have company for a Hanukkah meal, you are not stuck in the kitchen, while everyone else is enjoying your light touch and handiwork. Or, you can keep a stack or two in a warm oven, if you want to prepare them ahead of time and serve them in one fell swoop.

I heeded the extra hint to wring the grated potatoes in a dish cloth, twice, before mixing them with the egg, onion and the flour. That step made for lighter latkes. And I do not have a food processor, which I think would have reduced the time spent preparing the potatoes – but I did have a willing assistant who grated the potatoes on the box grater, and managed to do it without scraping his own knuckles. There is nothing like holiday ritual meal for bringing everyone into the kitchen. And eight nights of practice.

https://toriavey.com/toris-kitchen/crispy-panko-potato-latkes/

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2012/12/adam-and-maxines-famous-latkes

Sufganiyot (the plural of sufganiyah ) are delicious jelly doughnuts. Yes, you can make them at home. Do not give into temptation of buying them. You will impress yourself and your dinner guests with the joy of doughnuts, hot and fresh.

https://www.chowhound.com/recipes/sufganiyot-israeli-jelly-doughnuts-10818

Bon Appétit has a handy dandy video if you have any doubts.

https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/strawberry-sufganiyot

Rugelach cookies can be served both for Hanukkah and Christmas holidays. They are a forgiving cookie. You don’t need a t-square, or special cookie cutters or a bottle of silvery dragee sprinkles to make them. They are rolled pastries with fillings like fruit preserves, marzipan, raisins or chocolate. They are universally loved because of their crunchy exteriors and their chewy interiors. Rugelach are a great way to ease into you holiday baking. Dorie Greenspan has an excellent approach to rugelach:

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6649570

Hanukkah starts on December 3, just in time to light some candles and start baking.

“In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it ‘Christmas’ and went to church; the Jews called it ‘Hanukkah’ and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say ‘Merry Christmas!’ or ‘Happy Hanukkah!’ or (to the atheists) ‘Look out for the wall!”
― Dave Barry

Editorial: Fussiness and Kindness in Talbot County

As one of the news portals that were duty bound to cover the Talbot County Council election of 2018, it was hard for The Spy to put its finger on why things became so manifestly ugly at the end. For a community that has prided itself as having Quaker-like respect for listening to other points of view, there was a breakdown of those norms this fall in ways unimaginable in the recent past.

It is not within The Spy’s mission to determine the innocent and the guilty of this kind of thing. This happens in all towns, rich and poor, large and small. But its occurrence here is still considered at the Spy as a temporary departure from the Talbot County’s genuinely courtly DNA. This is not a permanent condition; things will be reset.

The “cause” of such things though is hard to answer. It is true that the Trump era has introduced an “in your face” approach to political dialogue, but how and when that gets trickled down to a community level like Talbot is hard to determine.

The Spy, however, has another theory and it involves fussiness.

Simply stated, Talbot County has more fussier people living here now. Some of the fastidious were born here, while a good number have moved here, but collectively they are surely growing in numbers.  This may be due to our ever-expanding retirement population; since it is a truism that the older one gets, the fussier one becomes; but to single out one group is a pure form of ageism.

Nor should fussiness be seen in negative terms.  The “fussy” count some of the world’s most successful people as part of their tribe. They have become accomplished in building businesses, leading governments, or other forms of enterprise because of that fussiness. They are by nature, according to Webster’s, “overparticular, fastidious, discriminating, selective, exacting, demanding, choosy, picky” in their fields of concentration. Without those traits, very few things would get done well in American life.

Nevertheless, this personality trait carries some baggage. When seen in a professional life, the use of fussiness can mean the difference between success and failure, or, in some cases, life and death; but in almost any other context, the characteristics of being “over-elaborate, over-decorated, ornate, fancy, overdone; busy” might be misunderstood as “stubborn, uncaring, arrogant, deaf, and mean-spirited.”  So when Talbot County’s fussiest, whether they be in public office or as concerned citizens, engage in such issues like zoning, development, noise reduction, comprehensive plans, or short-term rental policies it exposes them to significant criticism including being seen as very unkindly in a county that likes kindliness a lot.

The plight of the locally fussy is a sad one, since many, if not all, are known to the Spy as caring, generous, and passionately committed to improving and protecting Talbot County, even if that means offering their all too frank opinions on what are the correct decibels of noise in a particular neighborhood. The suggestion that special interests outweigh their instinctive (and typically uncontrollable) impulse to solve these problems on their own holds little weight.

Nothing is more frustrating or hurtful than being misunderstood but that is the price the fussy of Talbot County pay for this inclination. Quickly their “overparticular” approach to solving problems is quickly perceived as being off-putting, egotistical, and at times a bit threatening.  What seems to them as good common sense tend to be greeted with doubt, distrust, or even worse, as being seen as unkindly to those with different views.

The Spy is not the only one who suggests the fussy get a bum rap. Indeed, there is a classic handbook to help the fussy among us, entitled How to Do Things Right: The Reflections of a Fussy Man by L. Rust Hills more than forty years ago.

Self-aware enough to accept and embrace his own life as a fussy person, Hills, a highly respected fiction editor at Esquire for over 30 years, highlighted the challenges of being picky in the modern world.  He offers helpful suggestions on how to do things the right way in chapters which include “How to Refold a Road Map,” “How to Eat an Ice Cream Cone” and ways on “Mapping Out The Errand Routes,” but also useful guidelines for the fussy how to navigate such things like, “How to Avoid Family Arguments,” and “Training for Leisure.”

Perhaps the most helpful for the fussy in Talbot is Hills’ tips on how to appear more kind. Knowing that the perception of being unkind is a severe handicap in winning an argument, Hills provides some very basic strategies in his chapter, “How to be Kindly,” including tips like:

“The first step toward being kindly is to appear kindly. You should smile sweetly a lot, more or less all the time… Practice your sweet smile when you’re alone, in the bathroom mirror… practice saying soothing and reassuring things.”

“Everyone knows that the way you act sooner or later becomes the way you are. If you act kindly long enough, surely you’ll really become kindly…Besides even if you can’t actually manage to become kindly, people may sort of let down their guard and begin thinking of you that way.”

While Talbot County should be extremely grateful that we have so many fussy people here, this “hard to please” crowd must build a certain degree self-awareness so that their wonderful ideas on land protection, economic development, the rights of property owners, or noise abatement will be heard by more people if they are perceived as doing it in a kindly fashion.

Equally, for the less fussy of us, the next time a controversial local issue comes up, or better yet, a letter to the editor rubs one the wrong way, L. Rust Hills would advise taking a deep breath and think of the special burden the fussy must carry as they share with us how to do things right in the right way.

In short, our fussy fellow citizens and elected officials really do care and, with the right tools at hand, will undoubtedly be more effective in the future after brushing up on their  kindness skills.

 

First Night Talbot Turns 25 Years Old

It almost seems like ancient history when and where the first First Night in the country took place, but for the record, it was in Boston in 1975. And within a decade or so, the number of communities hosting such events grew to be 160 cities and towns. That’s the good news. The bad news is that by 2014, only 45 municipalities were continuing this remarkable tradition of celebrating local arts and culture.

Thankfully, one of the last remaining First Nights has been alive and well in Talbot County since 1993. For 25 years, First Night Talbot has been one of the regional highlights of the year, with young families arriving for “Crab Drop” at 9 pm while the adults can stick around for the formal drop at midnight, with another unique programming to go alongside.

The Spy spent some time with longtime First Night volunteer Marie U’Ren and Ross Benincasa of the Easton Business Alliance to recall some of the past and highlight the event’s 25th-anniversary activities this year.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about First Night Talbot please go here 

 

 

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.

 

Talbot Election Results — Updated

In updated election results from the Nov. 6 General Election for Talbot County, four Republicans and one Democrat appear to have been elected to the Talbot County Council. As of the close of voting on Election Day, Laura Everngam Price, Pete Lesher, Corey W. Pack, Chuck Callahan, and Frank Divilio are the winners. Results will not be final until absentee and provisional votes are counted over the next two weeks. Divilio has a lead of 257 votes over Democrat Keasha N. Haythe.

In the District 1 Congressional race, Democrat Jesse Colvin took the Talbot County vote by nearly 500 votes over incumbent Republican Andy Harris. However, district-wide, Harris won re-election handily, scoring 60 percent of the votes cast as of the close of polls Tuesday.

Incumbents also won in the General Assembly races for District 37B, with State Senator Adelaide “Addie” Eckhart gaining 61% of the votes in Talbot and more than 60% district-wide. Delegates Johnny Mautz of Talbot and Christopher Adams of Wicomico, both Republicans, were also re-elected by comfortable margins.

In statewide races, Gov. Larry Hogan, Comptroller Peter Franchot, Attorney General Brian Frosh, and U.S. Senator Ben Cardin were returned to office with substantial margins. However, in Talbot, Frosh trailed Republican Craig Wolf, 8,763 to 7,949. Two amendments to the Maryland State Constitution — one to restrict the use of funds raised by commercial gambling to educational purposes, and the second to allow residents to register and vote on Election Day — were approved by statewide voters.

The state Board of Elections did not release any results until after 10 p.m. Tuesday, due to polls in some parts of the state remaining open to accommodate voters still in line as of the 8 p.m. closing time.

For a complete list of Talbot County election results, see the Maryland Board of Elections website.

 

 

Vote Count in Talbot County 

 

 

Talbot County Council

 

 

Reflection on the Election by David Montgomery

It is an honor and a pleasure to be a resident and voter in Talbot County. The outcome of the County Council election, as reported on Tuesday night, is a credit to the common sense of Talbot County voters and to their willingness to pay attention to the substance of what their elected leaders do. Though I supported it, I did not expect the Coalition to be able to communicate the facts about actions of the previous Council majority so successfully.

With Laura Price and Pete Lesher coming in one and two in the voting, and the fifth seat a dead heat between a neophyte Republican and a frequent Democratic candidate, the message from the voters should be very clear: we do not want unrestricted development that changes the character and quality of life in our County, but we do want to continue the sensible policies of previous Councils. That is what I wanted, and it is exhilarating to see how many share that sentiment. I hope all five members elected to the new Council take that to heart.

National news is not so congenial. I was sorry to see good political leaders like Paul Ryan decide to leave the Congress, and the loss of the House of Representatives is painful even though not a surprise. That may make it difficult to pass any new legislation for the next two years, but as a died-in-the-wool conservative I have seen much worse. The Trump agenda was well-established with tax reform, rollback under the Congressional Review Act of midnight Obama-era regulations, and elimination of some of the key fiscal props of Obamacare. I am not particularly enamored of the President’s aggressive trade policy, though I do see fewer downsides than many of his critics. China’s aggressive claims over the South China Sea, attacks on Catholic shrines and congregations that the Vatican surrendered to their control and persistent theft of intellectual property need to be countered as President Trump has done.

The Senate remains securely under Republican control, and that means that any currently sitting Justice who leaves the Supreme Court in the next two years will be replaced by a Justice who respects and interprets the Constitution and laws passed by Congress as they are written. It may not be too much to hope that the dissipation of the “Blue Wave” will convince Democrats that the unprincipled efforts to derail the nomination of Justice Kavanaugh were self-defeating.

Winning the Senate also means that no matter what antics the House of Representatives might engage in under Democratic control, the President and his appointees will be immune to impeachment.

Since I adhere to the maxim that Congress governs best when it governs least, I am not unduly worried about the likely impasse we will face over the next two years. It would be very good for the country if enough moderates are returned to the Congress by both parties that reform of basic immigration laws could take place and Obamacare could be revised into a less costly and more voluntary system. The numbers are not yet in to see whether the Democratic majority will include more ignorant socialists like Ocasio-Ortiz or more centrists like those supported by WithHonor.

My greatest concern is that the Democratic majority in the House will still be dominated by the nuts on the far Left, the inciters of violence like Maxine Walters and leaders like Pelosi who put their hatred of the President above the good of the country. We may well be in for two years of unending investigations of the President, encouragement of mob rule, and motions for impeachment. I console myself that those gestures will be “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Actually, I have a more optimistic reaction, that such behavior, if it occurs, will ensure a second term for President Trump and a restored majority for Republicans in the House and the Senate.

Once again, the ability of Talbot County voters to see through the mud-slinging, character assassination and false accusations directed at Laura Price encourages me. She drew the most votes as of 0045 on Wednesday. If our example is a guide, voters can see through slogans and personal attacks and are willing to spend time thinking about serious questions about the policies that different candidates will pursue.

The outcome of the election also leads me to reflect on values and the loss of the House of Representatives. The Protestant theologian Stanley Hauerwas detested President Trump and Hillary Clinton almost equally. He argued in a recent article that it is never necessary to choose the lesser of two evils, and that the pursuit of justice and honor should not be abandoned just because we expect to lose. Good thoughts.

Hauerwas voted for a third, solidly conservative candidate who had not the proverbial snowball’s chance in Hell (that I do believe exists) of winning. This is very different from the tendency of Catholic social thought since Pope Leo XIII to look for ways to be politically effective in advancing the common good, not to mention the role that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has taken in American politics, taking positions on everything from abortion and immigration to regulation of electric powerplants.

Hauerwas’s is a very appealing point of view, though I have argued (effectively, at least to myself) that in a fallen world it is necessary to be a political realist. Thus I can support a President of questionable character with whom I disagree on major issues as long as I am convinced that the common good is better served by his policies than those of his opponent. Inter alia, I think that most supporters of Bill Clinton made the same decision.

Where Hauerwas challenges my thinking is by reminding me that we cannot and should not expect government to solve the really big crises we face. His example is abortion: sure, we should vote against politicians who promote abortion. But might we not spend our time and money better by “serving at domestic abuse shelters or teaching students at local high schools or sharing wealth with expectant but under-resourced families or speaking of God’s grace in terms of “adoption” or politically organizing for improved education or rezoning municipalities for childcare or creating “Parent’s Night Out” programs at local churches or mentoring young mothers or teaching youth about chastity and dating or mobilizing religious pressure on medical service providers or apprenticing men into fatherhood…”

That is, it is possible to act directly and personally, admittedly at a greater cost of our own time and treasure, to introduce into the lives of specific individuals in our communities the kinds of grace that we mistakenly believe can be achieved through laws and government programs.

If this is the case, and the results of this election lead me to believe that Hauerwas has more insight than I like to admit, then it is necessary to work politically to ensure that we retain the freedom and ability to do these works of charity and express our fundamental beliefs publicly. That is why Supreme Court appointments are so important to me, to ensure that we retain not only freedom of worship but freedom to state our beliefs about public and private morality without fear or restriction and to assist our neighbors in the best way we know how.

But it also suggests that I do not care deep in my heart about the fine-tuning of tax policy or regulation of health insurance. The real crisis we face are not economic but rather are matters of faith and virtue: supporting our neighbors who are needy, preventing abortions one at time, being with the sick and dying, educating the young about the responsibilities of marriage and childbearing, bringing an understanding of virtue back into national consciousness, restoring a common heritage as a Christian nation.

We must be vigilant to preserve the space in which we do these things. That requires political involvement, to prevent laws from being passed that would allow bureaucrats to tell us who can be adoptive parents, how we can communicate the value of life from conception to its natural end, and what we may say about the morally acceptable forms of sexual activity.

I also believe it is important to resist accumulation of power and diversion of resources into national and even state programs when we could do better at the local and individual level.

We have wonderful examples of this in Talbot County. Our health department may not be in the most attractive of buildings, but we have many voluntary organizations and charities providing for needs of our neighbors. We have wealthy donors who fund capital improvements for public facilities and programs that serve community needs. This is called subsidiarity. But it requires limiting both taxation and spending by higher-level organizations, in order to have the resources and opportunity to act voluntarily and charitably to fill these needs.

To bring all this back to Tuesday’s election results. The triumphalism of the first two years of the Trump presidency, if any of us fell into that trap, are over. His policies were not repudiated, and what has been done will stand, but the temptation to expect Congress and the Presidency to correct the ills of our society is gone.

It is not a bad thing to be reminded of Jesus’s words that “my kingdom is not of this world.” We must care for each other, but not be seduced by the illusion of continuing progress and the attainability of perfection here on earth. That is the starting point of Hauerwas’s social thought. We are sojourners here, destined for somewhere else. We should follow Christ’s commandments in dealing with our neighbors, but not be deceived into believing that elections are somehow critical to bringing about the Kingdom of God.

Letter to the Editor: Follow the Money and See Bad Judgement by a Talbot County Council Member

Financial reports required by the State Board of Elections tell us a lot about donors who expect favorable treatment from County Council candidates.
The latest report confirms that Chuck Callahan has accepted $500.00 in cash from Jeanne Bryan, Inc.

This would be the same Jeanne Bryan whose company, Clayland Farm Enterprises, LLC, presently is suing Talbot County for $10,000,000 because of the County’s failure to zone her Darby Farm property, in Royal Oak, to permit development of a 400 unit subdivision.

Ms. Bryan’s company additionally is suing members of the Talbot County Planning Commission, in their individual capacities, for $10,000,000, with punitive damages on top of that, for their failure to support zoning that would accommodate that 400 unit subdivision.

So Chuck Callahan is taking campaign cash from an adversary who is suing the very entity that he has taken an oath to defend, and an adversary who is trying to bankrupt public servants on the Planning Commission actually appointed by Callahan and others on the Council.

This outrageous circumstance says a lot, and two things in particular. First, Mr. Callahan exercises extremely poor judgment when acting on his own. Second, Jeanne Bryan – the ultimate “special interest” – apparently believes she has good reason to want Chuck Callahan on the County Council, given her hopes for intense, inappropriate development in Royal Oak.

During the work up of the Comprehensive Plan Callahan, and Jennifer Williams, both proposed to eliminate all references to “smart growth” from that critical planning document.The uncontrolled growth for the Royal Oak area desired by Jeanne Bryan would make the discarding of all such smart growth principles quite convenient.

Thomas T. Alspach
Easton

Pipe Bombs, Part of a Larger Problem by Al Sikes

I get it; mailing pipe bombs is a problem, not treasonous. But, it is simply a manifestation of a much larger problem.

A far bigger problem is the deterioration of the political parties and the absence of responsibility. If political parties are to be judged by their biggest domestic priority, each has one.

The Republicans seem unequal to anything other than some new federal tax cut legislation regardless of our national debt, annual deficits and underfunded promises. Only if taxes are reduced to zero will the Republicans turn their attention elsewhere.

The Democrats understand zero, as their latest proposals tend to revolve around free college and medical care. It is striking that the traditional home of the blue-collar worker devalues careers that don’t require college degrees.

Now I grant you that I have overstated both Parties’ positions, but since campaigns are conducted on themes not white papers, I am just yielding to the way they present themselves. I almost forgot one campaign theme: it is the one built around how despicable the other Party is.

While political parties have long disparaged each other, today’s Party leaders have stepped up their attacks. After all, we live in a world of performance art, reality TV shows and non-stop noise as our phones buzz or tweet or ring or whatever. In a world of noise it is hard to get noticed, so stridency or worse seems to be the marketing choice of the day. And, if you really want to get noticed without having to work at it, start as a celebrity.

President Trump entered politics a reality show celebrity while the umpteen others that ran for the Republican nomination pushed around obsolete talking points. Now that we have a celebrity in the White House, who gained fame before he did more than quip about public affairs, almost half of the US Senate Judiciary Committee auditioned for a similar standing with outrage as their persona. They understood the Kavanagh hearings would draw audiences at a Super Bowl level.

Do I blame Donald Trump for the pipe bombs being mailed to high profile Democrats? No, I don’t. Yet, he is without peer when it comes to “rubbing it in,” as my Dad would warn against doing. And since he now holds power, there is no lack of imitators.

In the meantime, our political performance artists are trying to move the electorate around like objects in a board game. Except, this board game is real and the winning formula is not determined by a throw of the dice.

At the same time, the Fourth Estate (journalists) has largely chosen up sides. They too have become victims of “magnify and amplify.” Headlines have become ever more provocative regardless of the underlying story.

In this world of Magnifiers and Amplifiers, compromise has become a dirty word. When you weaponize the most necessary element in a successful political equation, the autocrat becomes increasingly tempting. The end result is government by Executive Order with ultimate resolution left to the Courts as the Congress cedes its power.

What we should expect is what we have—a very deep political divide, divisions that parallel our fiscal one. Not surprisingly politicians, whose first and last loyalty is to self, are happy to forget future generations that will have to pay for their excesses.

Now let me end by giving a shout out to the President. He sensed what the scripted politicians didn’t. He sensed that his often shameless approach would send the signal that he was indeed different. He also understands weakness and exploits it hourly. Beyond that he crafted a message, “Make America Great Again” that turned out to be brilliant. By dismissing such a sentiment, the elites played his game and lost.

Now that he has awakened garden-variety politicians, perhaps they should go to work trying to match expectations with resources, something he is not good at. There are a number of wordsmiths that can make such an effort ring clear and urgent. Trump owns hubris; maybe the winning formula can be found in truth. I sure wish John McCain was still around.

Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al recently published Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books.