Clean House in the Republican Leadership in Talbot County by David Montgomery

Laura Price has earned the position of President of the Talbot County Council, and the Republican Central Committee must clean house after its shameful behavior in the election. I write this as a firm believer in Republican principles who is concerned about the future of our party in Talbot County. The Central Committee and leading Republicans disgraced themselves during the election, and the top two vote-getters in the election were candidates they opposed. They must make amends if voters of Talbot County are to regain any respect for the local Republican Party leadership.

The Republican Central Committee and its proxies made what should have been a nonpartisan election into a test of party loyalty AND LOST. With this kind of disaster on a local level, cleaning house is the order of the day. Those members of the Central Committee who led the underhanded and unsuccessful attacks on the Coalition and Ms. Price should resign or be removed. That is not only what they deserve, it is something they should do for the good of the party.

The other Republican members of the County Council now have a duty: to elect Laura Price to be Council President and restore a unified party. Her election demonstrates voters’ opposition to policies those other Republicans have supported as well as the failure of their tactics. Messrs. Callahan, Divilio and Pack should immediately renounce any intention of continuing to push measures through with a 3 – 2 majority as was done under ex-President Williams. If nothing changes, I and many others predict that this will be the last “Republican” majority on the County Council for a long time.

A little background: the 2018 election for the County Council produced bitter divisions among Republicans. A bipartisan coalition of neighborhood, environmental, and other organizations mounted what was essentially a recall campaign against the President of the Council, Ms. Jennifer Williams. They produced a lengthy dossier of actions taken under her leadership that weakened noise ordinances, encouraged short-term rentals and subverted both the legally required planning process and the will of the people.

The initial thrust of the bipartisan coalition was to remove all three of the Council members who supported these actions – Williams, Pack and Callahan – but it later and later focused entirely on Council President Williams.

From the first hint of such opposition, Councilwoman Laura Price, a longtime Republican, was made a scapegoat, even though she had nothing to do with the formation or conduct of the “recall” campaign. The attacks on Ms. Price included dirty tricks, character assassination, false claims about her behavior, and letters to the editor under false names. Council President Williams and Connie Sheer, a member of the Republican Central Committee, hid behind vicious and personal attacks on Price written by their husbands. The Republican Central Committee unfairly and inaccurately condemned Price as “disloyal” and made the preposterous claim that opposition to one candidate “makes a mockery out of our local political process.”

It is hard to criticize Democrats for their treatment of Justice Kavanaugh when Republicans treat one of our own in the same way.

The voters ignored the attacks on Price and the position of the Republican Central Committee. The outcome was that Ms. Price came in first, a Democrat Pete Lesher came in second, then Chuck Callahan and Corey Pack. Republican Frank Divilio, who had linked himself to Williams, fell in the standings and barely beat out Democrat Keasha Haythe for the last seat. Jennifer Williams moved down from third in the primary to eighth out of ten in the general election, and Pete Lesher moved up from eighth to second.

No personal attacks on Ms. Williams were made by the Coalition, in stark contrast to the behavior of her supporters and the Republican Central Committee. The Coalition’s signs and advertisements pointed voters to the documentary evidence of how actions taken under her leadership would harm the quality of life in Talbot County.

As I mentioned in my column reflecting on the election, Talbot County voters showed that they do respond to facts and care about County more than party. Where Andy Harris, Johnny Mautz, Addie Eckardt, and Larry Hogan won with huge majorities, the candidate for County Council pushed by the Republican leadership went down in flames.

It is clear that the strategy of the Republican Central Committee to attack one of its own candidates and politicize the election failed, and spectacularly. But the threat posed by the previous majority to the quality of life in Talbot County has not entirely passed.

At its meeting on December 3, the County Council will elect a new President. Ms. Williams and Mr. Pack passed the position back and forth between themselves, excluding Ms. Price. Although two members of Ms. Williams’ majority, Pack and Callahan, were re-elected along with her protégé Divilio, there is now no valid excuse for passing over Ms. Price again. She had the most votes, and except for Mr. Pack has the most seniority in the Council.

The Council will also pick new members for the Planning Commission and the Short Term Rental Board.

Whether Divilio, Pack and Callahan will try to continue the damaging course on which they were led by the defeated Council President will be revealed by their choices in electing the Council President and filling those Planning Commission vacancies. Electing Laura Price to be Council President and filling the Planning Commission and STR Board with members who want to preserve the character and quality of life in Talbot County will show that they got the message. Any other action will constitute defiance of the clear preference of the voters with consequences for the local Republican Party in general and the local Republican Central Committee in particular.

It is my hope, and the hope of many other Republicans, that at least one of the other three Republicans will realize that not only their political future but the good of the County and the future of the Republican Party in Talbot County depend on their making choices consistent with the obvious will of the voters who “recalled” Ms. Williams and elected Mr. Lesher. They have no mandate to continue the disruptive policies they voted for under President Williams’ leadership – she was thrown out.

If Messrs. Callahan, Divilio and Pack decide to hunker down to push decisions through by a 3 – 2 vote and are supported in these actions by the Republican Central Committee, I predict that this will be their last term on the Council. Such perverse failure to perceive the policy preferences of the majority of voters is also likely to harm statewide and national candidates in the County, as it changes the entire Republican brand into one of old-fashioned machine politics.

The next Congressional election is likely to be much tighter than the last. Recent Court decisions require a re-do of the gerrymandering that made the 1st District a safe Republican seat and the 6th a safe Democrat seat, in order to create two competitive districts. The last thing Andy Harris needs is a fractured and disgraced Republican party in Talbot County. Thus I hope that our elected representatives Johnny Mautz, Addie Eckardt, and Andy Harris will also let the Central Committee know of their displeasure and push for visible change.

David Montgomery is retired from a career of teaching, government service and consulting, during which he became internationally recognized as an expert on energy, environmental and climate policy.  He has a PhD in economics from Harvard University and also studied economics at Cambridge University and theology at the Catholic University of America,   David and his wife Esther live in St Michaels, and he now spends his time in front of the computer writing about economic, political and religious topics and the rest of the day outdoors engaged in politically incorrect activities.

A Tale of Two Cities by George Merrill

This is a tale of two cities: Baltimore, Maryland and Seoul, South Korea. It’s a story I tell in the spirit of Thanksgiving.

The story involves two young girls from places worlds apart. Nell is six – she was born and lives in Baltimore. Chloe, is nineteen and lives in Vermont. She was born in South Korea. Nell and Chloe don’t know each other. Chloe’s mom told me Chloe’s story. Nell’s grandma told me Nell’s.

One day her mom went with Nell, her baby brother and some friends to the Baltimore Aquarium. It was cold and rainy. An outing with young children was just the thing for the day. They spent the morning at the Aquarium and decided to stay around the Inner Harbor long enough to have lunch. They chose a place along Pratt Street. In the restaurant, they were seated next to a large floor to ceiling window where they could watch the bustling crowds outside walking by in the rain. Nell is, gregarious, a people watcher and contemplative.

Just outside the window a man sat in his wheel chair in the rain. He had a sign indicating that he needed help. People kept passing him by, no one giving him so much as a glance.

Nell became fascinated with the man in the wheel chair and she watched him intently. She soon asked her mom: “Why does everyone walk by like they don’t even see him?” Mom tried her best to answer Nell’s question. She described how there were people who had nowhere to live, no job and didn’t have a mother or father or anyone to look after them.

Nell was surprised that he had no parents. That was an unthinkable thought.

Soon Nell was asking a lot of questions, one of which she reiterated several times: “Why is it that when all the people pass by they don’t see him.” That seemed to trouble her more than anything, even more than the man sitting outside in the cold and rain. Mom explained to Nell that he might be needing money or food since homeless people often had no resources of their own. He was sitting there with his sign hoping someone would come to help him.

It’s a frightening thing to consider that we can be invisible to others.

Nell said, “I can give him some of my food.”

“Don’t open the bottle of water on the table,” she urged mom while she gathered some food from her plate and found another plate to put food on. They all went out together to give the man food and water. At first Nell was intimidated by how worn and unkempt he appeared. She hesitated for a moment. Nell then offered him the plate of food and the water. He, too, appeared uncertain, but after a moment took it.

Then he looked directly at Nell and said, “Thank you,” and turning his head to her baby brother, said, “Hi there’ big fella.” Nell looked directly at the man.

Mom, Nell and baby brother then went on their way. Nell’s attention wandered somewhere thinking the thoughts that children entertain.

Some years ago, far from Baltimore, Chloe’s adoptive parents took her and her younger sister back to South Korea in search of their roots. Her adoptive mom describes Chloe as ‘comfortable in her own skin, content with herself.’ She’s confident. As a small child, she exhibited a compassionate disposition, eagerly volunteering in her community to read for disenfranchised children and assisting in health services for the homeless. Chloe is a feeder. Once she hoped to be a nurse.

The family stayed at an upscale hotel in Seoul and for the first week toured the city. Like Baltimore, the city bustles. The whole family was struck by the apparent affluence of the city. The hotel was located directly above the subway. On their first subway trip, Chloe saw the shadow side of the apparently opulent Seoul. Homeless and disenfranchised men and women sat along the walls of the station platforms, begging. Chloe, not unfamiliar with homelessness, was troubled to see it in Seoul’s subway. Perhaps she wished for a more compassionate world in her own native land? I don’t know.

“Why are they there?” she’d ask. “Is there anyone who cares enough to look after them?” The experience rocked her. Neither Nell in Baltimore nor Chloe in Seoul could understand how what they were seeing could happen. Inequality is a timeless and troubling matter. In various forms, it appears worldwide.

Chloe quickly mobilized. The classy hotel they stayed in had health and beauty packets in the bathrooms which contained generous amounts of personal toiletry items. Chloe began collecting them. On her trips to the subway station she would issue them to the needy recipients, bowing to each respectfully in the manner Koreans offer their salutations.

A food court at the hotel offered quality Korean food. Chloe soon concluded that these subway residents needed good cooked meals more than a beautician. With her parents help, Chloe bought takeout food to bring to her new charges. Again, in her trips she delivered the food ceremoniously, bowing in salutation and being bowed to in greeting. They saw each other, the way Nell and the man in the wheel chair had. Neither remained invisible to the other.

Offering hospitality to the stranger is perhaps the most ancient of all the world’s social customs. “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares,” ancient scripture exhorts us.

Do you suppose that when we entertain the stranger, we flip the ancient equation; that by entertaining the stranger, we become the angels?

Wishing you every blessing for Thanksgiving.

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist.  A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

Mid-Shore Health: The Goal of Control at the End of Life

There is little doubt that one of the paramount issues for those facing the last phase of their lives is one of control. From such things as pain management to document the end of life wishes with family members, the patient is eager to control as much of the process as possible.

And one of their primary allies in maintaining that control is working with their local hospice as early as possible. That is the central message we received when talking to Talbot Hospice’s medical director, Mary DeShields, and its executive director, Vivian Dodge when talking to the Spy the other day.

With the national average hospice care period lasting only two to three weeks, the options and time for solid planning are minimal. That is why Mary and Vivian are strong advocates for patients and families to enter into hospice care almost immediately after a terminal diagnosis, which allows up to six months for them to prepare appropriately and guarantee the most comfortable end of life strategies possible.

This long-range approach also applies to palliative care which takes of those between acute care and end of life care. This stage for those with a chronic illness this is likely to result in death also requires a multidisciplinary management approach that, like hospice, is directed around the wishes of the patient and dramatically improve their day-to-day quality of life.

That is the primary reason that Talbot Hospice has been taking steps this year to strengthen their palliative care role with a new initiative to work more closely with community physicians and their patients.  By adding the local hospice team, both doctors and those under their care can greatly benefit patients with symptoms, and the emotional side of these serious chronic conditions.

The Spy sat down with Mary and Vivian at Talbot Hospice last week for a brief discussion of these issues.

This video is approximately seven minutes in length. For more information about Talbot Hospice please go here

Mid-Shore Arts: A Review of Jo Smail and Paul Jeanes at the Kohl by Mary McCoy

You can tell from the title that “Clippings, Voids and Banana Curry” is going to be fun. On view through December 9 at Washington College’s Kohl Gallery, it brings together the work of Jo Smail and Paul Jeanes, two artists from very different backgrounds, who became friends when both were teaching at Maryland Institute College of Art.

At first, it seems to be an odd pairing. Jeanes’s large, powerful paintings unquestionably dominate the gallery with their stark black-and-white slanting shapes, but it’s Smail’s tiny collages that will draw you in like magnets. Shortly, you almost forget about Jeanes as you slip into reading the ’50’s and ’60’s vintage recipes, smiling at the ads for outmoded ladies’ undergarments, and shaking your head at the strangely polite newspaper articles on issues surrounding apartheid.

Jo Smail, collages: digital prints, acrylic and cardboard on paper mounted on board

Smail was born and raised in South Africa, and when she brought a bag full of her mother’s old recipes (including one for banana curry) home from a recent visit, she discovered articles and ads on the back of some of the recipes clipped from newspapers that stand as cultural artifacts of the country during its apartheid years.

Although Smail is primarily an abstract painter, she layered scans of the clippings along with many handwritten recipes and old envelopes into playful compositions of understated color and texture. Floating an inch or so from the wall, these dozens of collages seem to dance, one after another, across the walls of the gallery in a collection hovering between nostalgia and immediacy. Simultaneously engaging and edgy, they call to mind a time when cheerful Afrikaner women, in dresses tailored to the latest American pointy bras and waist-trimming foundation garments, ostensibly found fulfillment in whipping up new recipes every day, while blissfully ignoring the race-based poverty outside their kitchen doors.

Unframed and eschewing the usual rectangular format, Smail’s collages take their complicated shapes from the multiple angles of the clippings, punctuated here and there with offhand painted shapes. Sometimes gestural, sometimes almost evoking an object (one resembles a cartoon time bomb), these painterly elements nimbly introduce a certain animating awkwardness, possibly a metaphor for the deep flaws in the prim culture evoked by the clippings. Casual and often comical, her collages hum with a portentous tension not unlike that underlying our own times.

Paul Jeanes, “Projection Painting #3,” oil on linen on panel

Curiously, Jeanes’s paintings and inkjet prints possess a similar bracing tension, though it reverberates more in the body than the mind. Jeanes teases optical quandaries by playing mercilessly with perspective. What our eyes want to interpret as the four panes of a window in “Project Painting #3” just won’t quite come together. The edges of the “panes” tilt in irreconcilable directions and don’t quite line up.  Sometimes, they even shift directions as if bending back or forward. It’s a visual conundrum that both fascinates and sets your teeth on edge.

To complicate matters further, there’s a creeping realization that super-subtle angled shapes deriving from nothing more than a change in the sheen of the black paint float behind the white shapes. As you grow attuned to these nuances, you begin to notice that the empty white “panes” are not voids, but are alive with evidence of underpainting mingled with the woven texture of the underlying linen panel. A weird sensation of physicality vies with the painting’s tense geometry as the very idea of illusory space held within a static picture plane dissolves.

In his inkjet prints, Jeanes hints that his process begins with observations of actual objects or places. There’s no telling what they really are (a theater stage? a book? a sunbeam slanting across a floor?), but he photographs phenomena that interest him then prints them and cuts them up, rearranges them, experiments, and finally, projects them onto linen or canvas to create his final paintings. Unlike Smail, he prefers his sources to remain anonymous, and he works on a large enough scale that you feel like you could walk into one of his paintings and be lost in an hallucinatory world of shifting perspectives.

More than 30 years her junior and with less exotic roots in North Carolina, Jeanes nonetheless approaches the creative process with the same open, exploratory spirit that Smail cultivates. Curiosity and playful humor energize both artists’ works and make them fun to look at, but it’s the tension of incompatible viewpoints that keep them loitering in the mind. The impossibility of the coexistence of privilege and equality summoned by Smail’s collages and the irreconcilable viewpoints implied by Jeanes’s paintings prod and probe at our settled understandings of the world we live in.

Mary McCoy is an artist and writer who has the good fortune to live beside an old steamboat wharf on the Chester River. She is a former art critic for the Washington Post and several art publications. She enjoys the kayaking the river and walking her family farm where she collects ideas and materials for the environmental art she creates, often in collaboration with her husband Howard. They have exhibited their work in the U.S., Ireland, Wales and New Zealand.

Plus Ça Change…by Jamie Kirkpatrick

One hundred years ago, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the heavy guns of the American Expeditionary Force in France fired one last salvo and finally fell silent. World War One, the Great War, the War to End All Wars, was finally over. Europe lay in ruins. Twenty million soldiers and civilians (actually more civilians than soldiers) had been killed; another twenty-one million souls were shattered in body or in spirit.

The Armistice that signaled the end of hostilities between the Allies and Germany was actually signed in the private railway car of Marshall Ferdinand Foch, Supreme Allied Commander, in Compiègne, France about five hours earlier on the morning of November 11, 1918. The war had raged across Europe for more than four bloody years—ghastly trench warfare that saw wave after wave of men impaled on barbed wire or cut down by bullets or suffocated by deadly poison gas. As horrific as the actual slaughter was, the final instrument of peace—the Treaty of Versailles—would set in motion another and even greater world war within twenty years.

The Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919 and ratified by the League of Nations on October 21, nearly a year after the Armistice was signed. It was never intended to heal Europe, only to humiliate and punish Germany. Article 231 of the treaty—the ‘War Guilt’ clause—required Germany to not only accept responsibility for the war but also required Germany to disarm, to make large territorial concessions, and to pay substantial reparations to the Allied countries. At today’s values, those reparations would exceed $440 billion; John Maynard Keyes, a British economist who attended the Paris Peace Conference, predicted the terms of treaty were far too harsh—he called it a “Carthaginian Peace”—and that the reparations figure was excessive and counter-productive. Marshall Foch disagreed; he thought the treaty too lenient.

In September, 1919, a month before the Treaty of Versailles was ratified by the League of Nations, a young Austrian named Adolph Hitler, a veteran of the Great War, joined the National Socialist German Workers Party, commonly known as the Nazi party. Rooted in opposition to the Weimar Republic (Germany’s post-war government) and the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler and the Nazis advocated extreme German nationalism, as well as virulent anti-Semitism. By January, 1933, Hitler had risen through the party ranks to become Chancellor of Germany and began to exercise dictatorial power with little or no constitutional objection. He didn’t hesitate to use violence to advance his political agenda and used deceptiveness and cunning to convert the Nazi party’s rabid base and non-majority status into effective political power.

In the same month that Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, Thomas Wolff wrote in the Frankfurt Zeitung that “it is a hopeless misjudgment to think that one could force a dictatorial regime upon the German nation. The diversity of the German people calls for democracy.” Only a month later, Sir Horace Rumblod, Britain’s ambassador in Berlin, cabled Whitehall to say that “Hitler may be no statesman but he is an uncommonly clever and audacious demagogue and fully alive to every popular instinct.” Within a year, Hitler himself was quoted by a British journalist saying, “At the risk of appearing to talk nonsense, I tell you that the National Socialist movement will go on for 1,000 years! … Don’t forget how people laughed at me 15 years ago when I declared that one day I would govern Germany. They laugh now, just as foolishly, when I declare that I shall remain in power!”

On June 22, 1940, France surrendered to Germany, just six weeks after Germany’s blitzkrieg invasion of the low countries. The French army was disbanded and France agreed to bear the cost of the German invasion. The instrument of French surrender was signed in Compièigne, France at the exact location and in the same railway car used by Marshall Foch on November 11, 1918.

…Plus c’est la meme chose.

I’ll be right back.

Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer with homes in Chestertown and Bethesda. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy magazine. “A Place to Stand,” a book of photographs and essays about Landon School, was published by the Chester River Press in 2015.  A collection of his essays titled “Musing Right Along” was published in May 2017; a second volume of Musings entitled “I’ll Be Right Back” will be released in June 2018.  Jamie’s website is www.musingjamie.com

Spy Profile: John Sprinkle on Saving Places on the Mid-Shore and in America

Historic preservation as a concept is not new anymore. In fact, this unique American movement proliferated from such humble beginnings of a few local women saving Washington’s Mt. Vernon in 1858 to now a dedicated agency like the National Park Service with its multi-million dollar budget designed to certify, protect, and sometimes purchase the country’s most important buildings and landscapes of our history and culture.

And like many things on the Mid-Shore, the Spy came upon one man from the region who not only participated in the selection of many of those special places but has written extensively about local and national efforts to help save them.

John Sprinkle, a Chestertown native, is the offspring of a mother from the multigenerational Brooks family of Kent County, and an architect father who specialized in historic preservation, knew very early on that his future would be tied to the past. After completing a masters in historical archaeology and then a doctorate in history from the College of William and Mary, John soon joined the National Park Service and eventually led the agency’s National Historic Landmark Survey, co-directs its Federal Preservation Institute, it’s educational wing, and is also the bureau’s historian.

While his vita has shown a broad interest in the field, he has also participated at the local level where he serves on the City of Alexandria’s Historical Restoration and Preservation Commission and teaches at the University of Maryland’s School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. And in his spare time, John writes books on the subject, with the latest being Saving Spaces: Historic Land Conservation in the United States.

John came back to his hometown last month to give a reading at the Bookplate and was willing to stop by the Spy HQ for a chat about his unique background and his observations on how historic preservation has changed over the years.

This video is approximately eight minutes in length. To purchase of copy of Saving Spaces: Historic Land Conservation in the United States please go here.

Reflections on the Buy and Sell Side of Politics by Al Sikes

Politics past, and especially the recent past, recall the overriding law of the jungle—eat or be eaten. Predators prevail.

C.S. Lewis, in Chronicles of Narnia, wrote his youthful protagonists into the jungle where they encountered many perils along with the lion, Aslan. While Aslan’s appearance was ferocious, his temperament was graceful. He led them beyond their indiscretions.

The world’s greatest leaders were, when needed, ferocious but all had at least a modicum of grace. I recall quickly: Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, and Anwar Sadat. Apologies for leaving out your preferred example for I suspect each of us has a list; that is a good thing. We always need to hold on to what might be.

President Trump decided to make Tuesday’s election about himself. He is incapable of doing otherwise. His exploits are always the “best ever.” He subtracts humanity, and as he belittles, he makes himself small. Fortunately in America, every two years we get to vote.

Tuesday proved once again that small is not enduring. To be somewhat more precise, Trump’s stance caused an increasingly widening gap in the female vote as many women who might be predisposed to conservative approaches disdain him or for that matter a Party in his image. Thank you for reminding us that ferocity without at least a touch of grace is not enough. If Trump remains graceless, he will lose.

Talbot and Kent Counties

In both Talbot and Kent counties, Governor Larry Hogan won overwhelmingly; he topped out in Talbot with 77.9% of the vote. At the same time Jesse Colvin, running for Congress as a Democrat, won both counties. In Talbot alone, Congressman Andy Harris received 5,134 votes less than Hogan. Unsolicited advice to Harris: the next insurrection, which might occur in your Party, could be politically fatal.

It is also apparent in Talbot County that there is a sizeable swing vote that pivots on smart growth. Republican Laura Price and Democrat Peter Lesher finished one and two in the balloting and the face of less restrained growth, Jennifer Williams, lost, polling 1,670 votes fewer than Price.

Split Congress

There was a time when I thought a split Congress was a bad thing. No longer. Most politicians seem incapable of “working across the partisan aisle” unless forced to do so. I am still not sanguine as most elected officials seem to have no higher purpose than to be reelected. Only when voters begin to reward authentic efforts at bi-partisanship, on intractable issues, will members of Congress come around. We have some intractable issues; why not start with a timely budget that takes a chunk out of the projected trillion dollar annual deficits.

Jesse Colvin

Jesse Colvin prevailed in Talbot and Kent Counties in part because he understands honor. He served his nation as an Army Ranger and now has served his nation in maintaining an honorable campaign, even after President Trump took him on in a robocall. Jesse is poised to be a generational leader, and I look forward to following what I know will be a success.

Kudos to the Much Maligned Media

The Talbot Spy and Chestertown Spy publications gave voters an intimate view of each candidate. Kudos to Dave Wheelan for letting each candidate turn to video to make his or her case.
And to the Star Democrat, thank you for investigative reporting on what turned out to be a heated and at times quite deceptive campaign for the Talbot County Council.
Democracy’s linchpin is the news media and when their job is well done the Republic is much stronger.

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. 

Out and About (Sort of): Praying for Vets by Howard Freedlander

Letter (not email) to God:

Dear Lord, I pray you will consider the following requests, realizing that millions come your way daily, making it difficult to prioritize, but today is particularly special (you’ve probably heard that before) and meaningful:

I pray you will enable our veterans and their families to feel proud and appreciated for their service, oftentimes performed during dangerous foreign combat and the war on terror.

I pray you will comfort those suffering from the loss of their buddies and dealing every day with nightmares, cold sweats, guilt and chronic emotional stress.

I pray you will imbue families and friends with patience and understanding as they live with husbands, wives and children suffering from the physical and mental ravages and scars of war and acts of terrorism.

I pray you will give hope and solace to veterans coping with homelessness and estrangement from their families and friends.

I pray—and this well might be impossible—that you inspire common sense, compromise and compassion among nations and diverse civilizations—and their leaders—to preclude mortal conflict and the resulting veterans who have survived it.

In other words, Dear Lord, I pray for peace, repeating an entreaty that you have heard incessantly, and I must and do understand you can only do so much to alter the quarrelsome nature of the human condition. Though you must become frustrated with the frequent calls for peace and nearly impossible odds to achieve it, I humbly submit my sincere, well-intended request. I pray you won’t dismiss it as futile.

I pray, as I noted previously, that you will suffuse not just American but all leaders, wherever they rule/govern, with the ability to seek and embrace the proverbial “common ground” and assign the possibility of conflict to a list of undesirable, unhealthy options.

I pray, Dear Lord, that as the world approaches the Christmas and Hanukkah seasons, that you accept prayers for peace with simultaneous courses of grace-filled action to propagate harmonious relationships. Not just during this festive, open-hearted season, but throughout the year.

Dear Lord, please excuse my digressing and turning my attention away from our treasured veterans, as I pray that they rightly receive the spotlight, praise and comfort they so richly deserve.

I pray that the veterans will accept the public’s gratitude, though I know that it’s tough to acknowledge thankfulness from folks earnest but often uninformed about the challenges of serving our nation both in peacetime and wartime.

I pray that our nation pauses to think about our veterans and their families and understands that service to our nation not only is life-threatening but demanding in terms of constant discipline and teamwork, in many ways so different from civilian work.

Finally, dear Lord, I pray that you will continue to watch over and guide us flawed human beings to live peacefully and tolerantly and view grace and generosity as virtues that are never-ending and well worth nurturing.

Just one more prayerful request, Dear Lord: never allow us to ignore that peace and compassion matter far more than war and hatred, that love and understanding contribute to a better world.

I pray that we are wise enough to exclaim your goodness and watchfulness.

Thank you, Dear Lord.

Amen.

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.

Think On These Things by George Merrill

When a cherished place from my past – where I’d once felt loved and in tune with the world is violated, I feel diminished. In the ‘Talbot Spy’ recently, columnist Jamie Kirkpatrick’s moving essay Then and Now, reflects on his boyhood in Pittsburgh, where the recent Tree of Life Synagogue shootings took place.

“I knew nothing but peace and safety in that neighborhood, but that was then. This is now,” Jamie writes.

In this bittersweet comment, I imagine Jamie is attempting, as I would, to make some kind of sense of two disparate images; one, of a lovely place of family and childhood, the other, that same place but now violated by hate and anger. The violation of a special place diminishes the solace the memory of it offers.

I’ve been reading an essay by the famous anthropologist Loren Eisley. In an allegory about a sense of place and the role our memory can play in it, Loren Eisley describes a changing landscape in Philadelphia in the thirties.

The old elevated railway station in Philadelphia was a large waiting area containing vending machines. As soon as pigeons heard the trains approaching, they would alight in large droves to feed on peanuts that commuters left scattered on the station floor.

The El was slated for demolition to build a subway. When the tunnels were dug the El was totally dismantled and where the pigeons had always gone for their sustenance was gone.

Eisley began seeing some pigeons returning to their old haunts. What brought them back was the noise, not of approaching trains anymore, but of the wreckers, a sound inciting their hopes that they could return there to be fed as they had always been before.

Even when the structure was fully gone, Eisley writes, “It was plain . . . that they (pigeons) maintained a memory of an insubstantial structure now composed of air and time.” Although that special place for them had been violated, the pigeons never quite surrendered the memory of the place that had nurtured them.

The recollections of my past can produce incongruent images. The images contrast between the way it was and the way it is, now. There can be pain, grief, and a sense of personal violation in such recollections. I often feel it as I recall the open spaces of my childhood now suffocated by tract housing and overdevelopment. The dissonance resulting mitigates the melancholy sweetness of nostalgia. In the courts of memory, there are many sacred places. When those sacred places are profaned, I’ve lost something.

The word sacred is not a user-friendly in today’s world. Consumerists have coopted most of the language of traditional piety to make sales pitches, but not even the most tasteless marketer offers his wares as ‘holy.’ A Subaru may be pitched as ‘love’ but never as ‘holy.’ Outside of places of worship, you rarely hear the word. It’s a hollow world where nothing is sacred,

“Draw not near here: put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground.” And so, God speaks to Moses reminding him of both the place and the special encounter he is to have. Moses is asked to acknowledge this holy place and its awe-filled moment by making a traditional gesture of veneration. He removes his sandals to respect the household into which one enters. It reminds me of how I once watched a funeral a procession pass through an old southern town. People stood roadside and watched, as men removed their hats honoring the solemnity of the moment and the suffering of the mourners. They had an idea of the holy.

The recent shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue is another instance of how far we have come from grasping any significance of the holy and the place it holds in our lives.

There were generations of people in The Tree of Life synagogue community who had gone through life’s rites of passages – rites that were thousands of years old. It was sacred space, a holy place where it’s members were invited to “remember” G-d, Moses, Jacob, Isaac and David in their worship. Girls grew into women and boys into men with the validation of, and within the safety of, a loving community.

The word ‘profane’, like the word, ‘holy,’ has dropped out of the modern vocabulary. I note that “to profane,” means to treat what’s sacred with irreverence and disrespect. It means literally to desecrate, to violate and to defile, and I have no doubt that our present trend is profaning our two most sacred trusts: each other, and the environment.

A sacred space can be literal or figurative. There are sacred spaces, and holy ways of being. Those spaces may be comprised of nothing more than benevolent sensibilities, kind and generous ways of being with self, with others, and with the environment. I didn’t mention ‘with God’ only because if you are kind to yourself, gentle with others, and respectful of the environment, having touched all these bases, you’re sure to be right with God.

The royal route for entering sacred spaces is to become aware, conscious of what is. One of the popular means of that search begins with smelling the flowers. Flowers are almost universally present.

When I commuted to Washington years ago, I’d take New York Avenue. In the windows of the stately old row houses that had fallen into disrepair and were inhabited by poor and disenfranchised people. I’d be surprised to see so many window flower boxes, obviously tended and glorifying as much as they could this, the desperate landscape. The flowers invoked the holy in the lives of those whose lives were being profaned.

We see flowers everywhere. They adorn almost every social occasion, whether a dinner party or a wake; they offer grace and beauty to our rites of passage, from celebration to mourning, and they keep us mindful of the one inscrutable mystery of life that ensures our future: the magical business of the birds and the bees.

I cannot think of one flower that is not beautiful. Ever watch a child pick a dandelion and ceremoniously present to you as a present? This is a sacred moment. The combined beauty of the simple dandelion and the child’s expression of anticipation is exquisite beyond words.

Where there is hate there is evil and suffering. Where there is holiness, there is beauty and healing. Where there is truth there is beauty, holiness and healing.

The present social atmosphere has grown toxic with brutal words and vengeful deeds. It’s not easy to remain focused on what ennobles us and affirms life. St. Paul had an idea about that. He put it this way and I believe it still holds:

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

What we think about will direct how we act.

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist.  A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

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