Letter to the Editor: Thoughts on the Democratic Primary

Amid all the acrimony and tribalism, we should take a moment to celebrate our democracy. Five candidates vied for the chance to unseat Andy Harris. How extraordinary that Jesse Colvin won that right.

When Jesse entered the race he probably did not know a hundred people in the First District. He was newly married and expecting his first child. He had no personal money to finance a Congressional campaign. What he did have were leadership skills honed from his Army Ranger experience, conviction that the First District was poorly represented by a Freedom Caucus member, and tremendous energy for the contest.

Jesse won by running toward the problem, driving up and down our expansive First District for six months and speaking softly, but with conviction, to hundreds of small groups of citizens. Time and again I witnessed people listen to him and then enlist in his cause.

What a great country where a young citizen without prior political experience or buckets of money, can by the force of his character, good humor and effort win a Congressional primary. This alone is worth celebrating. And now Republicans and Independents will have the opportunity to meet Jesse Colvin.

Andy Harris should be concerned.

Warren Davis
Oxford

An Open Letter to Representative Andy Harris on Immigration Policy

Dear Dr. Harris,

On the evening of Thursday, June 21, groups of your constituents gathered at your branch offices in Chester, Salisbury, and Bel Air to protest the Trump administration’s policies on immigration.

Seventy-five of us came together at your office in Chester. As concerned citizens of the United States, we are deeply troubled by the treatment toward peaceful asylum seekers that has been perpetrated by the President and his administration and condoned by members of Congress. We ask that, as our representative in the Maryland’s First Congressional District, you represent instead our values and the founding values of our nation, which owes it strength to the ingenuity and hard work of generations of immigrants.

As a physician, you swore the Hippocratic Oath, which begins with the statement, “First, do no harm.” Yet, the immigration policies you and the President support unquestionably cause harm. To respect your oath, you must ensure the following:

First, that the children and parents separated at the border be reunited immediately.
Second, that you investigate and punish those who perpetrated this policy of family separation and child abuse.
Third, that you work to reverse the inhumane so-called “zero tolerance” policies of the current administration. These policies have led to the current crisis and do not represent an acceptable and humane path forward.
Fourth, that you censure the President’s racist and xenophobic rhetoric about immigrants. Such rhetoric leads our country down a dangerous path by dehumanizing human beings in need.
Fifth, that you fight for a reversal of the new H-2B visa lottery system which has led to the current crisis in the crabbing industry on the Eastern Shore.

Thus far, our concerns have been unanswered. Your staff has been unable to answer our queries about how you plan to act on this issue, and one staff member even suggested that the media’s reporting of family separation was inaccurate and that constituents are overreacting when we call to express our horror at seeing children torn from their parents.

What’s more, your public response to the family separation crisis, a statement that more detention centers should be created to hold families together, is no solution. Asylum seekers should not be treated as criminals, and families should not be held indefinitely in internment camps while the U.S. government tries to figure out how to implement its own ineffective and cruel policies.

We are watching and waiting. We sincerely hope that you will act immediately to solve the humanitarian crisis created by this administration in a way that privileges tolerance and respect for human life over cruelty and small-mindedness.

Sincerely,

Kitty Maynard, Administrative Team member, Kent and Queen Anne’s Indivisible
Dorotheann Sandusky, President, Democratic Club of Queen Anne’s County
Denice Lombard, Co-chair, Talbot Rising

On behalf of 75 concerned constituents

Denice Lombard
Tilghman Island

 

Thank You Talbot County

Thank you, Talbot County

It takes a lot of work to make democracy work, and everyone who participated in Tuesday’s primary election deserves our thanks.

So here’s a shout out to the Talbot County Election Board members and staff, the election judges and all of the others who spent a very long day making it possible for voters to vote. And let’s not forget the folks who safely and securely stored the equipment and then transported it to and from a dozen polling places located all over the county. Or to the churches, schools and firehouses that opened their doors to us.

And here’s to every candidate in every race, regardless of party. It’s hard work to run for office. It takes perseverance and stamina as well as a thick skin and stout heart. You have my respect and gratitude for stepping forward.

Let’s not forget all of the campaign volunteers who make phone calls, place signs, manage data, go door-to-door, staff offices, lick envelopes, and set up for and clean up from events, and so much more. They deserve our gratitude no matter which campaign or party they support.

And last but not least, the biggest shout out of all to the voters! You came early, and you came late. You came with kids in tow and in wheelchairs. You came in work trucks and sports cars, on bicycles and on foot. You showed up when so many others stayed home, and you deserve our thanks for your commitment to democracy.

I’ve worked the polls in many roles over the years, and I am always deeply moved by the process. Casting a vote—or making it possible for others to safely cast an informed vote—is profoundly important to our community and our country.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for showing up.

Naomi Hyman
Easton

Letter to the Editor: The Poodle

Andy Harris has become a poodle. Unlike all other members of Maryland’s Congressional delegation, he refuses to take up his Constitutional duty to supervise the executive branch. He will not call out the Trump Administration when it goes astray.

There was no need for the family separation crises on our southern border. It was entirely fabricated by President Trump. He created the crises and ended the crises with the stroke of his pen. Trump was alone responsible for separating children from their parents; not the Democrats, not Hillary Clinton, not the Republicans in Congress, not Barak Obama. One wonders whether this entire charade was to whip up his base for the midterms.

But Andy Harris blames Barak Obama. He wrongly maintains that the Obama policy of releasing asylum seekers with ankle bracelets meant that “most never showed” for their court hearings. This is false. In fact, 99% of the asylum seekers did attend for their hearings under the Obama policy. In his statement, Mr. Harris doesn’t mention the ankle bracelets. He also doesn’t say that the Trump Administration followed the same procedure without causing family separations for 18 months. The ankle bracelets were not only effective, but they meant that there was no need for housing; asylum seekers were released on their own recognizance.

Harris is clearly afraid to call out Trump for this entire charade. He attempts to duck the issue by falsely blaming Barak Obama. Show some courage, Andy! Stand up when you see something is wrong. Don’t roll over and beg for a bone from Mr. Trump. Your constituents need you to speak out when the executive branch is out of line. Don’t act like a poodle.

Carl Widell
St. Michaels

Letter to the Editor: Where is Andy Harris on the Border Crisis?

This has gone on long enough. The Trump Administration has been separating parents from their children because they have chosen to criminally prosecute refugees who are applying for asylum.  This policy has created outrage from all living former first ladies, including Mrs. Bush, Mrs. Carter, and Mrs. Clinton.  Even Melania Trump has spoken and advocates for “a country that governs with heart.”  It violates U.S. and International law. Numerous Congressmen, Republicans and Democrats alike, protest a policy which can cause young children serious psychological damage. This is in sharp contrast to Secretary of Homeland Security Nielsen, who claims the children are “well taken care of.” Listening to tapes of children crying, “Mommy, Mommy,” contradicts Nielsen’s glib comments.

According to Steve Miller, senior advisor to the President, this policy is designed to put pressure on members of Congress reluctant to grant the Administration a legislative victory on immigration. It’s also hoped it will deter refugees from seeking asylum, although this has not worked in the past. The Administration just does not consider the harm being done to the children in the name of political leverage.

This is all so unnecessary. Both the Bush and the Obama Administrations provided facilities for families seeking asylum. Applying for asylum is not a criminal act, and in the past families were not prosecuted when they turned themselves into the Border Patrol.  Because they were not viewed as criminals, families were allowed to stay together. Under the Trump Administration, families seeking asylum are criminally prosecuted, giving the Administration a legal excuse to separate families. As a result, over 2,300 children have been separated from their parents during April and May, many times more than in either the Obama or Bush administrations.

Amid the cries of outrage at Trump’s shameful policy, our very own Congressman Andy Harris has said –  nothing.  By telephone, his office said they were not qualified to answer a question on a complex issue such as immigration and referred me to Harris’ website.  The website is silent on the subject of children being taken from their mothers. It is clear that Harris, along with many Republicans in Congress, simply does not have the guts to stand up to an immoral President. Please contact Harris and let him know what you think.  I hope we can replace Harris with someone with more backbone in November.

Carl Widell
St. Michaels

 

Letter to the Editor: The Urgency of the 1st District Primary

For so many of us who believe that a healthy democratic system requires checks and balances, we are alarmed that our government currently has none. For those of us who believe that a leader’s integrity and character matter, it is frightening to live in a nation where so many of our leaders have so little. To regain balance from the one party stranglehold we are in, we independents in the First District need to take the June 26 primary more seriously than ever.

While I am an independent, it is clear that we need to elect the Democratic candidate who has the best chance of winning against the extreme conservative incumbent, Mr. Harris. The most important thing for us independents to do is to register as Democrats by June 5 so we can vote in this crucial primary and then you can easily change back as I plan to do.

So, among the four good Democratic candidates, who is best equipped to win in November and help restore balance and integrity to Washington?

Let me strongly endorse:

* the decorated Army Ranger who led valiantly during 4 combat tours in Afghanistan and one at the Korean DMZ.

* the 4th Generation Marylander, and new Dad, who is married to a savvy Republican wife who staffed on Capitol Hill and was a police officer.

* the Duke and Columbia graduate who helped to root out fraud and employee crime in the banking sector.

* a fresh, new political leader who has always put “ Country above self or party” and “ justice for all- not just the elite”

* the carbon-copy plus of Connor Lamb who recently defeated a strong ultra conservative incumbent in Pennsylvania.

This breath-of-fresh-air, Servant Leader is Jesse Colvin. Check out his positions on the critical issues we face on his website and I think you will see why our county and country need Jesse.

Above all else, fellow independents, let’s vote in this Primary!

Johnny O’Brien
Founder and CEO, Renaissance Leadership
Easton

Letter to the Editor: Time for a New 1st District Congressman

If Andy Harris wanted to be an effective Congressman ….

He would put the fiscal health of our country ahead of his wealthy backers and fondness for the military. The Freedom Caucus has voted to reduce taxes on the wealthy while increasing the deficit by trillions of dollars. This is NOT fiscal conservatism.

He would support comprehensive immigration reform, including protection for DACA Dreamers, ahead of his myopic support for temporary workers to aid our local seafood industry in the First District.

He would support common sense gun measures, including a ban on assault rifles, to better protect schoolchildren instead of mischaracterizing such measures as an assault on the 2nd Amendment. 2018 has been deadlier for school children than the military.

Andy Harris, we now have the opportunity to end your service in Congress. We have watched as your votes in Congress have repeatedly favored an elite few while the rest of your district struggles.

In June, the Democrats will select a strong candidate who will defeat you in November and serve our District with integrity and vision.

Warren Davis
Madge Henning
Oxford

Letter to the Editor: Rising Sea Levels Will Completely Change the Chesapeake Bay

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that 40% of the world’s population lives in high density coastal areas, and eight out of ten of the most populated cities are located near coastlines. Rising sea levels due to warming temperatures have caused places in Maryland like Holland Island to disappear under water. Once a five mile long fishing community populated by 300 people, its last house sunk in 2016, according to the Maryland Reporter.

And it’s not just happening here in Maryland, but in places such as the Netherlands, New York City, and Naples to name a few. These cities are in danger of sinking into the ocean in the next 50-100 years, possibly causing governments around the world to spend millions or even billions of dollars to repair damages. We can prevent coastal cities from sinking under water in the next 100 years as well as protect the wildlife and habitat of our own Chesapeake Bay, simply by changing some of our everyday habits.

Rising sea levels are increasing each and every year in the Chesapeake Bay. Some harmful outcomes of these increased levels include flooding, shoreline erosion, and hazards from storms. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). By the next century, according to predictions by the Chesapeake Bay Program, sea levels in the bay will have risen a whopping 1.3-5.2 ft. In addition, wildlife in the bay has already changed dramatically because of the changed sea level. The marshes and wetlands are now flooded with salt water, causing them to disappear rapidly (Chesapeake Bay Program). Loss of marshes and wetlands means loss of habitat, trapping pollution, and diminishing food and shelter for fish, birds, and shellfish. Rising sea levels, there would be a huge increase in saltwater flooding through groundwater. Furthermore, saltwater can travel to rivers, streams where people drink water out of; and saltwater can ruin agriculture fields destroying crops and plants.

In addition to unwelcome changes for wildlife, there are also major environmental changes caused by warming temperatures. First of all, melting glaciers, ice sheets and thermal expansion are caused by rising temperatures as well as the rising levels of the sea (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), and this will dramatically change the environment for the people living near the Chesapeake Bay and its wildlife. According to the Chesapeake Bay Program, by 2080, the bay’s water temperature will have increased a dramatic 4.5-10 degrees Fahrenheit. Eelgrass, accustomed to living in cooler environments, will become distressed underneath high tide zones, causing threatening effects on mainly crabs and fish.

Moreover, striped bass and brook trout located in Pennsylvania will become even more stressed by living under high tide zones in waters with increasing temperatures. This, coupled with a decreased amount of dissolved oxygen will fully kill dead zones, areas that are already under duress, causing fish to live in even smaller oxygenated areas in water and suffocate (Chesapeake Bay Program). Similarly, in low lying areas, storm surges and high sea levels create a “perfect storm,” flooding thousands of acres of land.

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) estimates that an increase by 3 degrees in air temperature increases the heat-related death toll by 50%. The mean before was 80 people; it is now increasing to 130 people annually. Ultimately, both people and the environment could have catastrophic issues in 50-150 years if something is not done sooner to diminish these effects.

What is causing these increased risks to the coastline and how can we stop it from deteriorating more in the future? By coming up with more solutions to have the general public do to solve these problems could maybe speed up the process of preventing worse damage. One of the first things people could do is buy a car with the best fuel economy. You do not have to spend as much money on a car that does not use many gallons of gas. Another thing done is changing to solar panels to install on your roof or buy energy efficient light bulbs. In addition, people should reduce, reuse, and recycle. Meaning, stop trashing plastic bags. This is because plastic bags end up being in waste lands that take multiple years to decompose. People should look for energy efficient appliances to buy in their house. Items being fridges, washing machines just to name a few. People should eat less meat specifically being beef. This is because it reduces the amount of water consumption. Spreading the word by telling others—-by letting others know by telling solutions or just being aware. (Being aware can make people learn something new they did not know beforehand about climate change or it just makes them rethink what they do that would cause damage to planet earth.)

Not everything is going to be catastrophic when it comes to the environment and planet earth collapsing. There are organizations working hard coming up with solutions to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere causing all of the problems mentioned before. “According to Yale University in partnership with CBF shows that by, Bay area states could safely sequester—or store away—4.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.” (). That’s equivalent to using up three quarters of one million Hummers driving 12,000 mi yearly that is releasing carbon dioxide emissions. Another way of awareness is having schools across the U.S teach classes about these environmental issues and the effects/consequences about what will happen.

These problems have gotten worse ever since the start of the 20th century. Due to these problems getting worse overtime, we as a community and as a society can come up with solutions to prevent anything from getting worse. According to the Washington Post, “rising seawater levels and chronic flooding threaten to disrupt daily life, damage homes and business, and swallow land in the relatively near future, according to a study.” Some of the industries such as the fishing, shipping and packaging industries surrounding the Chesapeake Bay will be greatly affected. Now, rising sea levels and sinking land, the same forces that doomed the island, threaten Crisfield, its seafood industry and its 2,710 residents. And a newly discovered tidal pattern puts them in greater peril than previously known.

Overall, warming temperatures are also equally as important as rising sea levels due to all of the damaging factors it has to damage the Chesapeake Bay even more; being equally as damaging as rising sea levels.

Erika Lee
Wye River Upper School
Centreville

Letter to the Editor: Talbot County Schools Needs Checks and Balances

In light of all the debate concerning the county budget and the demands of the school system; as a former, but recent, school board member, there is much I can relate.

First, the school board knows nothing about where any of the school system’s money is spent. This is known only by the superintendent and a very few of her closest confidants. In my desire to be a responsible and knowledgeable board member, I asked many times for expenditure information. I got nothing. In my frustration, I typed a letter requesting such information in the form of a freedom of information act request. I handed it to our current superintendent personally. She read it, laughed, and handed it back. Again, I got nothing.

Second, the budget has little to do with where the money actually is spent. I witnessed this as a teacher in Talbot County for six years, and a board member for four years. As a board member, I once asked where the money was spent for an entire category in the budget for outside printing. I got an answer that I could verify: the answer was a lie. I asked again, and got two more answers from two different people, one being the superintendent.

Let me tell you about the “competitive” bidding process at TCPS. Once before us was a contract for heating oil. I was told that bids had been obtained. There are several local vendors that provide this service, so I checked. None knew anything about a proposed contract with TCPS.

Our children are bussed in the most expensive new busses known to man. The presentation to the board was a complete farce. The bids are worded so very carefully that only the preferred vendor could possibly be successful.

My point is there are no checks and balances. This administration has a free hand to spend our money as they see fit. And spend they have. Where? Nobody knows, but the budget goes up every year. I have absolutely no confidence that this administration is honest. Quite the contrary.

The school administration is asking for huge increase, $4M, not that anything has changed much since last year, but just because they can. This will raise our property taxes to a cumulative 18% since 2013. Not only raise our taxes this year, but forever. Soon, a new $50M elementary school is to be built. Who gets the tab for that? You and me.

I did not run for reelection to the school board in the last election. It became obvious I could have no effect on the corruption within. I was wasting my time. We must stand up for fiscal responsibility and transparency in the budget. If we continue to allow this runaway spending which requires ever increasing taxes, our county and way of life are doomed.

Greg Criniti
Easton

 

Letter to Editor: Poor Water Quality Cancels Freedom Swim

Is the Choptank River swimmable? Not always.

Two days prior to the inaugural Maryland Freedom Swim, an open water swim across the Choptank River scheduled for Sunday, May 20, race directors and health officials made the decision to cancel the event. The decision was based on water quality concerns related to the significant amount of rainfall Dorchester County experienced over several days prior to the swim.

Water quality samples collected from the finish line on the Wednesday before the race reported elevated levels of bacteria. Bacteria pollution poses significant human health risk to swimmers and others who come in contact with affected water. With even more rain in the forecast leading up to the day of the event, health officials believed the bacteria levels were likely increasing, causing them to declare the river unsafe for swimming.

It’s unacceptable and disheartening that our rivers are not swimmable at all times. The rivers and waterfront are what draw so many people to this area, yet manmade runoff pollutes our rivers to the point where swimming is unsafe. It is important to note that our rivers don’t generate their own pollution—our land-based pollution washes into local waterways through runoff and other means.

Nutrients and bacteria washed into our rivers fuel algal blooms, cloud the water, make oysters and other shellfish unsafe to eat, and otherwise degrade the habitat and water quality of the river. But impacts from water pollution transcend environmental issues.

As we learn from this situation, an unhealthy environment hurts our economy. The Maryland Freedom Swim was expected to bring over 170 swimmers and their fans to visit and patronize local shops, restaurants and businesses. Because of poor water quality, our communities lose the opportunity to benefit and grow economically. We will never be able to have thriving working waterfront communities if we have polluted rivers.

There is a major lesson that we can all learn from this situation—we need better control and management of our towns, our fields, and all the roadways in between; we need better control on what we put down on our lawns, we need to maintain our septic systems, and manage our runoff; and we need better monitoring at all of our local swimming beaches and swimming spots around the river. Everyone who enters the water to swim or recreate should be doing so with the confidence that they won’t get sick.

This isn’t a case of pointing fingers and asserting blame on any one sector but instead taking individual responsibility to become educated, reduce polluted runoff, and advocate for regulations and controls that improve our water quality and not degrade them.

Together, let’s make the Choptank swimmable for everyone every day.

.

Matthew Pluta
Choptank Riverkeeper
ShoreRivers