Dan Rodricks: Count Maryland Old-Growth Trees Among Sandy's Tragic Toll

Donnie Oates, manager of two great parks in Western Maryland, will never forget Hurricane Sandy's ferocious arrival there. On the last two days of October 2012, the storm brought two feet of heavy snow, high winds, thunder and lightning through Garrett County. Epic stuff. Oates had never seen anything like it. From his house on Maple Glade Road, which leads to Swallow Falls State Park, Oates heard a forest in collapse — trees cracking and popping, trees being uprooted under the weight of the snow, trees hitting the ground and shaking the earth. It went on all night, explosions and thuds and flashes of light. (Balt. Sun)

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Patricia Kelly: Voters' dilemma

City elections loom. Why vote? You might think it won’t make a difference. Getting voting right is a huge challenge. Information on what is really happening, even in local government, does not easily fall into the lap of the average person who is busy working to get the money that supports that government, not to mention meeting all the other demands riding on his back. It’s easy to imagine why he would give up on it. (News-Post)

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Friends Of Harford And Chesapeake Bay Oppose Repeal of Harford’s Watershed Protection Act

On November 5, the Harford County Council will hold a public hearing on Bill 13-38, which would repeal Harford’s Watershed Restoration and Protection Act and put Harford in violation of state law and in danger of losing state and federal funding for polluted runoff problems. Most importantly, Harford would have NO funding to do the planned projects that the County has identified as crucial to improve the County’s rivers, streams and infrastructure. We urge you to lend your voice and tell the Council to vote NO on Bill 13-38. (Dagger)

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Year-Round Homeless Shelter

For more than a decade, advocates for the needy have called for a year-round homeless shelter in Frederick. Here we are, more than 10 years later, and with more than 25 percent growth in the city, and for whatever reason, that shelter still doesn’t exist. But it will within the next 10 years, a local homeless advocacy leader told The Frederick News-Post. And that’s great news. (News-Post)

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Dialogue Beats Diatribe

If it goes off as billed, Monday’s forum on Common Core educational standards could be insightful to those looking to find out more about the pros and cons associated with the effort, but given that it is being put on by our Board of County Commissioners, and given its track record for advocating conspiracy theories, it is just as likely that the forum will turn into another circus filled with bizarre pronouncements and warnings of government takeovers. (Carr. Co. Times)

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Nov. 1 // Cigarettes, Death And Taxes

Much as Americans hate taxes and tax increases, there's at least one levy even the government wishes people wouldn't pay. That's the tax on cigarettes, which the government dearly wishes people would avoid. When it come to cigarettes, a tax is its way of encouraging smokers to keep their money in their pockets by quitting, and a report this week from a coalition of health advocacy groups suggests the strategy is working. (Balt. Sun)

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Prison Safety

Body scanners, wiretaps and polygraph tests may soon be among the techniques Maryland legislators put into place at state prisons. It is not possible to know exactly what steps will be taken when the General Assembly convenes in January. What is clear, though, is that the violence and corruption have reached a level that can no longer be tolerated. Wednesday’s conversation reflects the statewide concern about a prison system that needs reform. (Times-News)

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The Lesson Of College Cutbacks

There is a certain irony that public institutions with "community" in their very name are taking steps that, at least at first glance, seem unhelpful to the broader society. Maryland's community colleges are now in the process of limiting the work hours of some part-time adjunct faculty, in part, to avoid having to extend health care insurance to them under the Affordable Care Act. (Balt. Sun)

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