Mourners gather in Annapolis to honor Michael Busch

Members of the Maryland General Assembly on Monday solemnly lined up outside the State House, as bagpipes played and state troopers carried in the casket of the late House Speaker Michael Busch, followed by his family.

Politicians, dignitaries and the general public gathered in the Maryland State House to pay their respects to the longtime speaker of the House.

Busch, D-Anne Arundel, died April 7, just one day before the last day of the legislative session — known as Sine Die — while being treated for pneumonia. He was 72.

A Maryland State Police procession escorted Busch’s casket — draped in a Maryland flag — and his family through a windy downtown Annapolis before stopping in the rotunda of the State House to lie in repose.

The members of the General Assembly filed in after the procession, while the public made their way through the opposite entrance of the building. Others filled the sidewalks and the grassy area outside the State House.

Several dignitaries, including Gov. Larry Hogan, R, gave remarks before the public visitation.

“Few have served Maryland with as much passion and dedication as Mike Busch did,” Hogan said early Monday afternoon. “And few will leave this earth as well-loved and esteemed as he was.”

Former United States Sen. Barbara Mikulski referred to Busch as “coach,” and Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, lauded his commitment to Maryland over the years.

Delegate Maggie McIntosh, D-Baltimore, teared up while speaking, calling Busch a “leader” and “friend.”

After the remarks, members of the General Assembly walked past Busch’s casket, some closing their eyes to say a prayer, and briefly speaking with Busch’s family before exiting the State House.

Another public visitation is scheduled for Tuesday before a procession escorting the casket for the funeral service. Following the service, Hogan is expected to present Busch’s family — his wife, Cindy, and daughters Erin and Megan — with the Maryland state flag from Busch’s casket.

According to a spokeswoman for Hogan, the governor has not yet received a request to call a special session to vote for a new House speaker.

By Daniel Oyefusi

 

John Dillon Resigns From UM Shore Regional Health Board Of Directors

John Dillon, chairman of the University of Maryland Shore Regional Health Board of Directors, has announced his resignation from the Board, effective immediately.

Dillon, whose tenure on the Board was set to end on June 30, 2019, notified the Board of his resignationApril 9, citing his belief that leaving the Board at this time is in the best interest of UM Shore Regional Health to minimize the distraction caused by current discussions regarding University of Maryland Medical System Board relationships.

“With regret, the Board of Directors has accepted John Dillon’s resignation, effective immediately,” says Board Vice Chairman Richard Loeffler. “ We are grateful to John for his years of service to UM Shore Regional Health and appreciate that his decision to step down is in an effort to allow the organization’s Board and leadership to remain singularly focused on our mission to create healthier communities together.”

Richard Loeffler, UM SRH Vice Chair, of Cambridge, will serve as Acting UM SRH Board Chair until July 1, 2019 when new officers are confirmed.

 

KKK Rears Ugly Head in St. Michaels

Maryland State Police are investigating the distribution of racist literature found in a Talbot County community over the weekend.

On the morning of March 31, 2019, a resident of St. Michaels contacted the Easton Barrack and reported racist literature had been found distributed in driveways in the community. A trooper responded and his subsequent investigation found that the material had been left at residences predominantly in the area of Riverview Terrace and Cove Road in St. Michaels.

The printed material indicates it is produced by the Ku Klux Klan. It espouses racist views towardAfrican Americans, Jewish people, American Indians, and others. The material also solicits people to join the KKK. The flyers were found in clear plastic baggies. The bags also contained birdseed, which provides weight, enabling the package to be thrown into a driveway and remain there.

The trooper forwarded information from his investigation to the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center, the state’s fusion center, where local, state and federal authorities, including the FBI, were made aware of the incident. Information was also provided to the Eastern Shore Information Center, which is a local multi-jurisdictional task force of law enforcement agencies in the region.

This is being documented as a hate/bias incident as per the Maryland Public Safety Article Title 2-307.

However, the investigation has not established evidence that a crime has been committed. Troopers and allied law enforcement agencies will continue to document incidents like this and investigate them thoroughly. If elements of a crime are found, immediate action will be taken in cooperation with the
local state’s attorney’s office.

Any hate/bias incident, to include literature distributed in this way, should be reported to local law enforcement. In addition, the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center tips line is always available at 1-800-492-TIPS(8477), where citizens can report suspicious activity possibly related to terrorism or
violent crime. The information will then be communicated to the appropriate local, state or federal law enforcement agency for follow-up.

 

Governor Hughes by Howard Freedlander

Governor Harry Hughes

The death of former Gov. Harry R. Hughes on Wednesday at 92 leaves a void in Maryland’s political landscape. He represented honor and humility. He was a gentleman who treasured his Eastern Shore roots.

I last saw Gov. Hughes on November 13 when I was invited to join his former staffers to celebrate his 92d birthday at a lunch at his home outside Denton overlooking the Choptank River. Though perhaps he didn’t hear all the chatter, he seemed to enjoy the good cheer and stories about past political battles. I was impressed by how loyal his former staffers remained to a person whom they clearly liked and greatly admired.

This Denton native served as governor from 1978 to 1986. He beat all odds and some derision to win the Democratic primary and then the gubernatorial election by 400,000 votes. He determined at the outset to restore integrity to the State House after his two predecessors, Spiro Agnew and Marvin Mandel, had faced legal charges for their behavior in office.

In recent years, I had seen more of Harry (as he was wont to be called) at lunches in Easton with former staffers and, not so happily, at Shore Medical Center in Easton. He grappled with pneumonia as he aged and found himself frequently sitting in a hospital bed awaiting friends bringing him unhealthy but welcomed food.

Whenever I visited Harry in the hospital, he was typically low-key and reserved. He expected no special treatment from the nursing staff. He was always friendly and down-to-earth.

As a member of the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy’s board of directors, I learned how beloved the former governor was in the land preservation community. He was a longtime friend and former chair of ESLC.

A few years ago, the organization named its conference room in honor of Gov. Hughes. He was pleased and honored. He harbored no sense of entitlement.

During his two terms as governor, Harry Hughes became particularly known for his environmental record. He brought together the states of Pennsylvania and Virginia and the District of Columbia, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency’s administrator, to establish a regional program focused on the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. This compact still exists.

In a controversial but beneficial decision, he placed a moratorium in 1985 on the harvesting of rockfish. Commercial fishermen were furious. Science proved Harry right. The moratorium remained in place until 1990 when the species bounced back enough to allow a limited harvest.

Harry Hughes practiced politics with class and civility. He inspired a return of integrity to the Maryland State House.He extolled a workmanlike approach to governing our small but complicated state. He forswore showmanship.

You will be missed, Harry. You made a difference. You sought to build a legacy based on results and ethics.

And you did.

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.

 

 

A Conversation with Easton Council President John Ford

As a result of feedback from Spy readers over the last few months, we begin today a series of interviews over the next year with Talbot County and town council presidents. By providing a platform to highlight particular issues and opportunities through these conversations, it is hoped this new format will encourage more civic engagement.

We continue our new series with a discussion with John Ford, president of the Easton Town Council.  In our first conversation, John talks about Easton’s economic development (including prospects for a downtown grocery store), zoning for Easton Point (a critical part of the Port Street projet), multiculturalism, and filling the Council vacancy of Pete Lesher, who recently won an election for the Talbot County Council, among other topics.

This video is approximately eighteen minutes in length. For more information on the Easton Town Council please go here

A Conversation with Talbot County Council President Corey Pack

As a result of feedback from Spy readers over the last few months, we begin today a series of interviews over the next year with Talbot County and town council presidents. By providing a platform to highlight particular issues and opportunities through these conversations, it is hoped this new format will encourage more civic engagement.

We continue our new series with a discussion with Cory Pack, president of the Talbot County Council.  In the case of Talbot, it must be said that they have started the year with a jam-packed agenda. That is one reason our first chat with Corey lasts more than 20 minutes. The Spy is committed to making these updates as brief as possible, but in our first one with President Pack, we thought it best to have an extended version.

In our first conversation, our talk ranges from the extension of sewers, the Frederick Douglass Park, short-term rentals, dredging in Tilghman, the St. Michaels Family YMCA, and other topics that should have a real interest to county residents.

This video is approximately twenty-two minutes in length. For more information on the Talbot County Council please go here

Easton Business Alliance Moves forward on Arts & Entertainment District

The Easton Business Alliance is currently working with the Town of Easton to pursue a Maryland Arts & Entertainment District for a 113-acre section of town in and around Easton’s historic downtown. The district will offer tax benefits to qualified-residing artists, arts and entertainment enterprises, and developers renovating or building new construction for arts organizations.

“This state designation is something that we’ve been piecing together for quite some time,” Easton Business Alliance director Ross Benincasa said. “To know that we are finally in the home stretch is a great feeling.”

Benincasa presented to the Easton Town Council during a working session the evening of February 18, focusing on the benefits of obtaining the Arts & Entertainment District designation and what it can do for areas in need around Easton’s downtown.

“Overall, the designation comes at a low cost to the Town, while supporting the development of new arts programs and enterprises in Easton,” Benincasa said. “We see the tremendous economic impact the arts have in Easton and Talbot County, both through businesses and events, and it’s time for us to formalize a plan to continue that growth into the future.”

The proposed Easton Arts District would include income tax benefits to qualified-residing artists who create and sell their work in A&E districts, as well as property tax abatements to developers who renovate or build new spaces for arts and entertainment enterprises, including affordable live-and-work environments.

If passed, the Easton Arts District would fill a void in Talbot County, currently the only county on the Eastern Shore without a designated Arts & Entertainment District. According to Benincasa, the high-interest development areas within the proposed district include mixed-use locations along Dover Street and in the East End community, as well as along Brookletts Avenue.

To learn more about the proposed Easton Arts District, please visit www.discovereaston.com/arts-proposal

A Conversation with St. Michaels Commissioners President William Boos

As a result of feedback from Spy readers over the last few months, we begin today a series of interviews over the next year with Talbot County and town council presidents. By providing a platform to highlight particular issues and opportunities through these conversations, it is hoped this new format will encourage more civic engagement.

We start this new series with a discussion with William Boos, president of the Town of St Michaels Commissioners. While the Spy and Bill talked of many subjects related to St Michaels during our first interview, it was the Spy’s editorial choice to highlight Bill’s comments about the town’s plans, and some serious misunderstandings, on its intention to build a new town hall in the foreseeable future at Fremont and Canton Streets.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information about the Town of St. Michaels please go here.

 

ESLC’s Jim Bass Reports on Eastern Shore’s Preparedness for Rising Seas Levels

Given the nature of things – literally – it won’t be surprising for the Eastern Shore to have several studies prepared in the decades ahead that record and evaluate the dangers facing its rural communities as sea levels continue to rise throughout the century.

With the Delmarva Peninsula being one of the country’s most vulnerable landscapes for flooding and erosion as the result of global warming, there is an ever growing concern on the part of local government staff, conservation organizations, agricultural associations, and state agencies on what is being done, and what could be done, to prepare the Shore for this extraordinarily dramatic shift in climate.

One of the first of these has just been prepared by the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy with a new study to assist local governments to plan for the impacts of sea level rise. Titled “Mainstreaming Sea Level Rise Preparedness in Local Planning and Policy on Maryland’s Eastern Shore,” the study is centered on sea level rise projections for the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries in the years 2050 and 2100.

This report was written on behalf of the Eastern Shore Climate Adaptation Partnership  – a regional workgroup of local government staff, partners from the State of Maryland, academic institutions, and nonprofits for that very reason.

The ESCAP assists communities in reducing climate vulnerabilities and risks; collects and shares information among communities and decision makers; and educates members, residents, and elected leaders on risks and adaptation strategies. It also serves to raise the visibility and voice of the Eastern Shore and rural regions in conversations about adaptation and resilience.

The Spy sat down last week with Jim Bass, ESLC’s Coastal Resilience Specialist, who helped manage the study, last week to find out what the significant takeaways were and what must be done in the future to protect and defend the Mid-Shore from this dangerous new future we face.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information regarding this study, ESCAP, or ESLC’s coastal resilience program, please contact ESLC Coastal Resilience Specialist Jim Bass at jbass@eslc.org.The study is available to view and download at www.eslc.org/resilience.

Panuzio Steps Down as Chair of Talbot County GOP

Nick Panuzio, who has served as chair of the Republican Central Committee of Talbot County since 2009, has stepped down.

Panuzio’s service as the chair of the local Central Committee caps a long and distinguished career in politics and public service.

Under his leadership of the Central Committee, the number of Republican candidates winning local elections in Talbot County increased greatly. During his tenure, Governor Hogan received almost 70% of the votes cast in Talbot County in the 2014 gubernatorial election and 77% of the votes cast in Talbot County in 2018 on his way to a historic re-election.

Panuzio began his political career by winning an election to serve as mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut. He won by 9 votes, running as a Republican in a city where 70% of the registered voters were Democrats. He also served in the Connecticut state legislature and ran for governor of Connecticut in 1974.

Panuzio moved to Washington DC after being appointed by President Gerald Ford to serve as the U.S. Commissioner of Public Buildings for the General Services Administration. He was responsible for the construction, leasing, management and protection of all federal buildings including several Presidential Libraries. He was also responsible for overseeing a national program on the utilization, re-utilization of government-owned real property as well as disposal of excess properties.

Following that presidential appointment, he served as an advisor to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Panuzio also served as the CEO of a public affairs consulting firm in Washington DC.

Panuzio’s career has been much more than numerous significant accomplishments in the political and government arenas. He has also been very involved in Talbot County civic and community affairs. He served as a member of the Finance Council at Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church; was awarded an Order of Merit from the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington; served on the Town of St. Michaels Housing Authority; and chaired the Housing Commission of Talbot County. He has been and is a loyal friend, expert mentor and advisor to countless citizens and elected officials.

In recognition of his long and deep commitment to public service, Panuzio received two Honorary Doctorates (one in Law and one in Humane Letters) from the University of Bridgeport, where he also served as an administrator and professor.

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