From South of Left Field: Re-Union by Jimmie Galbreath


Unions, now there is something we aren’t taught in school. Try this on for size, in 1619 Polish craftsmen brought to Jamestown were not allowed to partake in the Virginia colony elections. They went on strike and due to their economic importance won the right to vote. Was this action justified?

This small action reflects the meaning of collective bargaining; people who lack a right they desire to resort to collective action to get it. In this case, the government wasn’t providing the right to vote, so they took action to get rights equal to the others. Later in history women collectively marched for the right to vote. Acting collectively can mean voting or striking, depending on who and what is the issue.

Here in the United States, two major examples of politically driven inequality can be found in women gaining the right to vote and the myriad racial inequalities addressed by the Civil Rights movement. Both were collective actions to gain a right or remove an inequality. Ideally, by voting and keeping politicians focused on the welfare of the common citizen, actions such as these would not be necessary. The government should work to limit abuses such as murder, enslavement, and suppression of the right to live a reasonable and safe life.

Unions? Well now, back in the day workers in factories could be under age 7 and work 12-18 hours a day around machinery that operated without guards to prevent injury or death. The owners lived in luxury and wealth unlimited by tax law or regulation. Abject poverty was the worker’s problem, not theirs. Worker health and safety, just be careful. Dangerous fumes or chemicals? Too bad. Injured? Fired! Ah, the good ole glory days of a Greater unregulated America. This was trickle down as it worked, and ‘trickle’ is the operative word.

Snide perhaps, but actually a fair representation of the way things were before citizens, workers, and reformers began to change the status quo to provide a more favorable life for everyone. The struggle to remove children from mines and factories and provide them schooling was waged for over a century by many organizations including Unions. Their primary opposition was from businessmen and corporations working with elected officials and police.

The introduction of regulations to provide better working conditions to improve health and safety was also an effort by many groups, notably Unions. Again the opposition was businessmen, corporations, and elected officials.

To quote a great man born here in Maryland, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” Frederick Douglass.

Our nation has a long history of struggle to achieve equal rights from an unequal society. Perhaps we aren’t taught real history in our schools, because if we were the long struggle from one strongpoint of resistance to another, driving toward a more equal society would be apparent. Slavery, Women’s votes, Civil Rights, LGBT rights, all are just flashpoints of conflict between the oppressed and the oppressor stretching throughout our national history but glossed over (if taught at all) in our schools. We aren’t taught an awareness of why organizations such as the NAACP or Unions came to be.

The point I seek to make here is that the life cycle of the very organizations that rose from the common worker to demand better pay and safer working conditions, that fought to send our children to school rather than a factory or mine is dying. Not because they are no longer needed, but because they have been demonized and broken by our politicians. An outstanding example of this was Ronald Reagan firing the Air Traffic Controllers in 1981 when they refused to return to work from their Union’s strike. Not content with firing, he barred them for life from working for Civil Service. Recently many states under Republican control have passed laws preventing citizens from collectively bargaining for better wages or working conditions. For example, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Texas and Virginia won’t even let teachers bargain for better pay or working conditions.

These are dangerous trends because there is little difference between collective bargaining, collectively protesting, or collectively voting. Please pause and consider that this effort is one to limit or outlaw us from acting collectively. Politicians (the tools of wealth) start by demonizing Unions, using ‘shoot from the hip’ claims of Unions being controlled by organized crime, is made up of communists or socialists (they are actually different things), or of hurting business.

Unions were born because the wealth generated by an industrializing America was retained by the owners and little or nothing was shared with the workers. Unions were formed to free children from dangerous jobs. Unions were formed to improve safety in the work place. Unions were formed because the elected politicians failed to do any of this until their backs were pushed against the wall.

The bottom line is this, the time to begin to swing the pendulum away from government favoring the wealthy and back to government improving the lot of the general working population has arrived. Unions can help. Corporations will not.

Jimmie Galbreath is a retired Engineer originally from a small family owned dairy farm in Jefferson County, MS. He earned a B.S in Petroleum Engineering from MS State University, accumulating 20 years Nuclear experience at Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Station and Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Station. Along the way he worked as a roustabout on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, served 3 years active service as a Quartermaster Officer in the US Army, Supervised brick kilns first in MS than in Atlanta GA and whatever else it took to skin the cat. He now lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Jazz Review: The 2017 Monty Alexander Festival by John Malin


Labor Day weekend in Easton has become established over the last eight years as a great destination for Jazz lovers as the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival (MAJF) has grown in stature and popularity.

Friday, September 1st, marked the start of this year’s festival in the Avalon Theatre with a magnificent performance from Bria Skonberg and her band. Bria drifted onto the stage trumpet in hand, saluted the audience and blew up a storm with a version of Louis Armstrong’s “Swing That Music.” Supported by the “holy trinity” of piano, bass and drums, Bria played a range of jazz styles from traditional New Orleans through to modern Jazz and Blues, playing numbers from Dizzy Gillespie, Django Reinhardt and Hoagy Carmichael before moving on to Nat King Cole’s “Revenge” and the beautiful French song “I Am Alone Tonight” by Lucienne Delyle. Listening to Bria singing in perfect French I imagined a young Brigitte Bardot with a voice like a honey glazed stiletto purring and cutting through lyrics with a surgeon’s precision. The support piano work of Matisse Picard was both original and technically outstanding, providing a perfect complement to Skonberg’s trumpet.

The second set included some of her own original work including a haunting swing number “Wear And Tear” featuring a beautiful muted trumpet solo. The set concluded with a moving delta blues style vocal “I Love You But I Can’t Have You” with Bria singing in a soulful rich voice and playing ever ascending horn riffs in a question and answer style vocal and instrumental. The Avalon audience loved it. Bria Skonberg was fabulous…watch this space Jazz fans.

Saturday’s events began with a wall of sound from the U.S. Navy Band Commodores, led by Bill Mulligan. We usually listen to amplified individual instruments but to hear an 18-piece band in a small theater is an unforgettable experience. The band played an eclectic range of jazz classics with instrumental solos from most all of the players and a selection of songs from Ella Fitzgerald, celebrating the centenary of her birth. Kristine Hsia, the vocalist, finished with an original and beautiful arrangement of “Georgia On My Mind.” Bill Mulligan, bandleader and a virtuoso sax player, produced a fabulous big band sound with these world-class musicians and the Avalon is still shaking.

Brunch at the Tidewater Inn with the Washington D.C.-based Conservatory Classic Jazz Band has become a tradition of the festival and the seven-piece band played their repertoire of New Orleans, Chicago, and small group swing as customers feasted on Bloody Marys and crab cakes.

Jazz trumpeter Sean Jones, with drummer Obed Calvaire, bassist Luques Curtiss, and pianist Orrin Evans

Sean Jones, the young and very talented former lead trumpet player with Wynton Marsalis, kicked off Saturday afternoon in a packed Avalon Theater with Obed Calvaire on drums, Luques Curtiss on bass, and Orrin Evans on piano. Starting with a tribute to Ella with “Come Fly With Me” and moving to “Two Or Three,” a slow haunting trumpet and piano arrangement, the quartet then played a selection of classic and original numbers that demonstrated not only their technical excellence, but their ability to create an atmosphere of cool, smooth jazz that seemed like we were all sitting in a small, intimate, dark and smoke-filled club. The original snow scene inspired by “Gretchen” raised emotions of Christmas carols and “Nomo” showed the fabulous drumming skills of Obed Calvaire. The finale, an emotional trumpet solo by the gentle giant Jones playing an arrangement of “Danny Boy,” had not a dry eye in the house and received a standing ovation.

Grammy-award nominee René Marie made her second appearance at the MAJF to lead the Saturday evening show with her very

Jazz vocalist René Marie (left), with pianist John Chin and vocalist Dee Daniels

creative and original songs that are intensely personal and probe the most elated and depressed emotions of human existence. With pianist John Chin, drummer Quentin Baxter and bassist Elias Bailey, René roamed through a selection of her own material like “If You Were Mine” and classics like Arty Shaw’s “Moonray.” At times René proudly stood at side stage watching her band deliver fabulous solos urging them on to even greater things. John Chin was just magical as he stared upwards, trance-like, playing absolutely inspired piano. The second set had a surprise appearance by Dee Daniels, another favorite of the MAJF audiences. Dee, with her four octave vocal range, and René sang an amazing duet arrangement of “What A Difference A Day Makes” with the two great voices making exquisite harmonies. A version of Nina Simone’s “Oh Nina” finished the concert with John Chin again showing his tremendous musical influence to René Marie’s most original style of music.

Monty Alexander headlined the final concert of the Festival on Sunday. The concert was dedicated to the memory of Beth Schucker, one of the original supporters of the MAJF, a lifelong Jazz fan and a dear friend to so many Eastern Shore folks. Monty, with his regular bassist Hassan Shakur and drummer Jason Brown, struck a very melodious but spiritual theme with classics like “I Have A Friend In Jesus” and “The River.” Monty shared some of his most challenging life experiences, including his battle with cancer, that inspired his composition “Renewal,” featuring his unique piano string plucking technique as an introduction to his inimitable keyboard skills. The music flowed seamlessly from Armstrong, Charlie Chaplin and Nat King Cole with some wonderful solo interludes, including one where Monty walked off stage for several minutes leaving Hassan Shakur playing a most creative selection of tunes including “The Pink Panther,” using his amazing multiple string chord strumming techniques.

Nat King Cole was born again as Allan Harris (Tony Bennett’s favorite singer) joined the ensemble to sing the Presley song “I Believe.” Harris has a deep rich and resonant baritone voice and when you close your eyes Nat King Cole is in the room. Dee Daniels joined the group to sing “Someday We Will All Be Free.” The mood changed with a fast rendition of “Sweet Georgia Brown” with Monty confirming his dominance as one of the pianos greatest virtuosos. The set ended community singing style with Monty in cowboy gear playing a jazz/calypso version of “Home On The Range” to a standing ovation which drew an encore with Daniels and Harris singing the Duke Ellington classic “Come Sunday.” A wonderful show and a marvelous memorial tribute to Beth Schucker.

The MAJF has evolved over the last eight years into a very classy small town Jazz Festival and probably the best in the USA. It is classy without being pretentious or exclusive and is attracting a diversity of audiences. The caliber of the performers is world class and with such great young and creative performers like Bria Skonberg and John Chin the future for Jazz looks very rosy.

Chesapeake College Announces Timeline for New Presidential Search


Chesapeake College’s Board of Trustees has announced the formation of a search committee to select the college’s sixth president and a process to involve members of the campus and Mid-Shore communities in identifying the qualifications, characteristics and values sought for the school’s new leader.

The 14-member Presidential Search Advisory Committee (PSAC) will be chaired by L. Nash McMahan, Vice Chair of Chesapeake’s Board of Trustees and President of Tri-Gas and Oil Co., and include four additional trustees from the Mid-Shore: Christopher Garvey, President & CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors Chesapeake Shores Chapter; Robert Grace, President & COO of Dixon Valve & Coupling Company; Mike Mulligan, retired Colonel U.S. Marine Corps and Senior Account Manager for Battelle; and Brenda Shorter, retired Kent County Schools educator.

“Nash McMahan’s experience as a CEO, civic leader and collaborator will be catalytic in helping the search committee identify qualifications and characteristics for the president that are based on widespread community input,” Chesapeake College Board of Trustees Chair Blenda Armistead said. “In particular, we felt it was important to get broad participation from the business community since the college plays such a critical role in educating and training our region’s current and future workforce.”

Additional members of the search committee include representatives from the Upper Shore Workforce Investment Board, the college’s Foundation Board and Business Council; and Chesapeake’s administration, faculty and staff.

Residents and employers in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties are invited to participate in the search process by completing a brief online survey on the campus website through Sept. 20 at noon. Results will be used to help develop a job description to recruit the new president.

“We have already completed individual interviews and focus groups on campus and in the community with elected officials and business leaders,” McMahan said. “The online survey gives others throughout the region the opportunity to share their ideas and priorities and the characteristics they would like to see in the new president.”

Based on this input, recruitment advertisements will be posted in October with applications accepted through the end of the year, according to McMahan.

The search committee will evaluate applicants in January and February and a list of three to four candidates will be submitted to the Board of Trustees in March. Campus and community engagement will be sought during the final interview process.

“We hope to announce our choice in the spring with the new president on campus by the start of the fiscal year on July 1,” Armistead said.

Chesapeake College Interim President Dr. Stuart Bounds is assisting the Board of Trustees in the search.

“Chesapeake College has had a deep commitment to the values and aspirations of the Mid-Shore community throughout our 50 year history,” he said. “The Board and the Presidential Search Advisory Committee will be seeking a candidate for the sixth president of the college who will build on that commitment and expand educational opportunity for all the citizens of our five-county community.”

To participate in the survey please go here

Mid-Shore Arts: Famed McMartin Woodcuts at Trippe-Hilderbrandt Gallery


This September, Trippe-Hilderbrandt Gallery in Easton will be presenting a very special exhibit of the woodcuts of Philip McMartin. McMartin’s son, Jim, is well known in the area as an exceptional designer and creator of benchcrafted artisan furniture and co-owner of McMartin and Beggins in Wittman, Md.

Philip McMartin was born and raised in Plattsburgh, New York. Moving to Vermont in his early twenties, his first job was as a reporter for the St. Johnsbury daily newspaper. His early reporting career gave him experience in both photography and writing, two skills he would use throughout his life.

The series of woodcuts were done over an approximately five year period. It’s likely that the experience gained working with wood in the course of repairing and restoring his boats influenced his interest in choosing wood as a medium for his art. He produced a total of about 20 woodcuts over the period beginning in 1968.

In retrospect, he was a completely self taught man in virtually all of the endeavors of his life. Included in that was his art. A very independent and solitary man by nature, he taught himself the art of the woodcut having no formal training. His chosen subject matter was very close to his heart. The romance he felt for the water is certainly expressed in his woodcuts. Add to that the admiration and respect he felt for people who make a living using their hands, their wits and wisdom, in particular those among us who wrest a living working on the water.

The exhibit opens on September 1 with a special reception during First Friday’s Gallery Walk. Trippe-Hilderbrandt Gallery is located at 23 N Harrison St. For more information please call 410-310-8727 or visit

Op-Ed: If EPA is Prevented from Enforcing Clean Water Laws, States must Step Up


Why do we have laws? The simplest answer is to ensure order in society, where lines are drawn to govern things one cannot do, for the good of all.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “laws without enforcement are just good advice.”

Shoplifting would be rampant if there were no punishments for stealing. In the same way, we cannot expect to keep making progress in cutting pollution without implementing effective pollution control laws. Our environmental and public health safeguards are worth nothing if they are not enforced.

Even as the states face their own enforcement challenges, the Trump administration is waging an assault on the main federal agency tasked with implementing and enforcing the laws designed to protect the environment and public health. In his budget proposal for the next fiscal year, the president proposed a drastic 31 percent cut to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, including the complete elimination of funding for the Chesapeake Bay cleanup.

Many lawmakers have called the president’s budget “dead on arrival,” and the Chesapeake Bay cleanup enjoys broad public and bipartisan support. But we should not take too much comfort in that. The administration has made it abundantly clear that it intends to roll back environmental protections, and funding for programs — including millions for enforcement — is on the chopping block. In the Chesapeake Bay watershed, these actions threaten to undo much of the progress that has been made working together to reduce pollution.

That’s why, now more than ever, states need to shore up environmental protections. Fortunately, Maryland continues to push aggressively to maintain the progress that has been made. As the General Assembly wrapped up last month, lawmakers designated $400,000 in the state budget to hire inspection and compliance staff at the departments of Agriculture (MDA) and Environment (MDE). This means more funding to enforce the laws we need to restore local waterways and the Bay.

This funding is sorely needed. The MDE’s own reports show that their Water Management Administration lost more than one-third of its overall inspection staff between 2000 and 2016. Personnel resources within the MDA’s Office of Resource Conservation have remained stagnant, despite its growing obligation to make sure its crucial Bay cleanup programs, like the new phosphorus management tool, are working and on track.

The MDA’s nutrient management program had just seven inspectors in 2015 tasked with inspecting more than 5,300 agricultural operations across the state’s 12,400 square miles. It is unreasonable to expect seven people to cover all of that ground while also properly providing all of the required inspection and technical assistance services.

Without sufficient staff, the MDA and the MDE simply do not have the capacity to ensure that programs are working, that sites are inspected and lawbreakers are held accountable. It’s not good policy and it’s not fair to the taxpayers who have invested so much in cleaning up the Bay. Enforcing the laws we already have on the books is the most cost-effective way to meet the Bay states’ collective goal to reduce pollution. Maryland officials like to point to Pennsylvania and the pollution it sends our way — but if Maryland isn’t enforcing its own laws, how can it complain?

The Chesapeake Legal Alliance has provided legal support to groups fighting for clean water since 2009. With so much at risk for the Bay and its lands and waterways, local action empowered with legal support has become more important than ever. And with the halftime for the Bay cleanup upon us, the Center for Progressive Reform is working to ensure that Maryland and the other Bay states maintain their commitments to each other and to the state’s waterways.

Both of our organizations, and others, are urging the Maryland General Assembly to recognize the importance of funding inspection and compliance staff. And we’ll continue to do so as we track what the MDA and the MDE do with additional funding and pressure these agencies to meet the mandates of the environmental laws that they are tasked with enforcing.

Thanks to efforts across the watershed, the Bay is starting to show signs of improvement. Now is the time to double down – not wring our hands. If the president will not allow the EPA and other federal agencies to do their jobs and play their essential role as partners in the Bay cleanup, then states must rise to the challenge. We applaud Maryland’s lawmakers for beginning to restore funding for clean water enforcement resources and we encourage other Bay states to do the same.

Jacqueline Guild is executive director of the Chesapeake Legal Alliance. Evan Isaacson is a policy analyst for the Center for Progressive Reform. Their views do not necessarily reflect those of the Bay Journal.

The Artists’ Gallery to Feature Sally Clark on First Friday in September


Chesapeake Light House, near Annapolis, watercolor by Sally Clark

On First Friday, September 1, The Artists’ Gallery will present “Recent Works” by Sally Clark with a reception to meet the artist that evening from 5 to 8 p.m.  The show will hang in the gallery throughout the month of September.

Sally Clark enjoys working in watercolor and using mixed media, where she can recycle materials into her work using watercolor or acrylics.  She also likes to create faux furniture, using old recycled pieces with character, turning them into whimsical works of art.

On the Farm, watercolor by Sally Clark

Clark is a native of Memphis, Tennessee where she obtained a BA from Rhodes College.  In her junior year, she received a certificate of study from the Institute of American Universities in Aix-en-Provence, France, the hometown of the impressionist painter, Paul Cezanne.  Following graduation from Rhodes, she attended Memphis State University where she became certified to teach art.  After moving to Centreville and her marriage to John Clark, Sally began her career as an art instructor in both public and private sectors.  Her last twenty-one years of teaching was at Gunston School.

Sally’s experience in art on the Eastern Shore has ranged from painting murals, teaching classes in painting and drawing at Kent Island Federation of the Arts and Queen Anne’s County Art Center in Centreville, to designing the town logo for Centreville.  Sally is a member of The Working Artists Forum and a partner in The Artists’ Gallery.

Koi Fish at Play, watercolor by Sally Clark

The Artists’ Gallery is located at 239 High Street in Chestertown, and is open daily from 10-5, Tuesday through Saturday, and Sundays from 12:30-4:30.  For more information, please see or call 410-778-2425.

NEH Supports Open Dialogue on the Experience of War at St. John’s College


Touchstones Discussion Project is an educational, nonprofit organization which has helped develop critical thinking, self-examination, and leadership skills in businesses, schools, and communities around the world; now it has turned its attention to military veterans at home.

In this eight-session program, veterans will explore parallels between modern service and ancient conflicts. Participants will connect with fellow veterans and, through group discussion, reflect upon their military service as members of the larger community. Using short texts, veterans engage in a cooperative learning environment that fosters active listening and learning. Incorporating both individual and group exercises, each veteran will improve their leadership skills and gain a greater self-understanding, allowing him or her to cultivate greater self-awareness and engage in meaningful discussion once the program is complete.

Supported by a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities, Touchstones is conducting this free, weekly discussion program for veterans on the campus of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. The program, “Completing the Odyssey: A Journey Home”, begins on September 27th.

Each session examines different accounts of the struggles and victories of homecoming. What is homecoming and why is it difficult? Why do we serve? Who is a soldier? Participants are encouraged to also complete personal narrative projects about their experiences in service for the Veteran’s History Project, a permanent collection housed at the Library of Congress. Veterans of all branches of service are invited to participate in this opportunity.

For more information email or visit the webpage for information and registration at

Total Eclipse: Maryland Prepares to See Some of It


One of the most anticipated celestial events of our time happens August 21 when the moon passes between the earth and sun, creating a total eclipse visible through a large swath of the United States. Although Maryland is not in the path of totality, skies will darken that afternoon and there will be plenty of opportunity to experience a true wonder of the natural world.

Many people from around the globe are traveling to various points along the path of the moon’s shadow, which will run from Oregon to South Carolina, to see the total eclipse. Maryland will experience a partial eclipse that will obscure about 80 percent of sun throughout the state at peak.

The exact times for this eclipse may vary within a few minutes depending on location, according to Maryland Geological Survey Director Richard Ortt. The eclipse will occur over Maryland at these times:

Western Maryland:

– First Contact: 1:12 p.m.
– Mid-eclipse: 2:38 p.m. (peak obscuring of the sun)
– Last Contact: 3:57 p.m.

Central Maryland:

– First Contact: 1:18 p.m.
– Mid-eclipse: 2:43 p.m. (peak obscuring of the sun)
– Last Contact: 4:02 p.m.

Coastal Maryland:

– First Contact: 1:22 p.m.
– Mid-eclipse: 2:47 p.m. (peak obscuring of the sun)
– Last Contact: 4:05 p.m.

The only safe way to look directly at the partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, do not provide adequate protection. Viewers must be sure the glasses they use are CE and ISO certified for direct sun viewing.

“For anyone who wishes to view the eclipse, safety precautions must be taken to prevent the sun’s harmful rays from causing severe eye damage,” Ortt said.

Observations of the eclipse’s effects aren’t limited to the sky. Maryland’s coastal areas and the bay will experience a higher-than-normal “perigian spring tide,” when the gravitational pull of both the moon and sun are at their strongest due to their alignment with earth.

Also, biologists have noted during a total or partial solar eclipse, fish react to both the falling air temperatures and decrease of light. Fooled into thinking the sun has set, some species have been observed heading to deeper water. For the duration of the eclipse, nocturnal fish may become more active while daytime fish become less active. Similar impact may be found on other wildlife as well.

“Anyone who plans spending the eclipse on the water may have a rare opportunity to view this impact on aquatic species,” said Fishing and Boating Services Director David Blazer.

Maryland’s public lands provide some ideal viewing locations. The Maryland Park Service is offering various events around the state, including:

– Assateague State Park will host an exhibit at the Nature Nook to include information and viewing glasses for lending use.

– The Discovery Center at Deep Creek Lake State Park will be monitoring temperature, bird song and species shifting. The center will also have viewing glasses on hand.

– New Germany State Park will have glasses on handand host a guided discussion.

– North Point State Park offers visitors a short hike through the Black Marsh Wildlands and stunning views of the eclipse on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Preregistration is required by emailing

– Rocky Gap State Park offers a free, family-friendly walk along the Lakeside Loop Trail, offering scenic views of Lake Habeeb during the eclipse. The 45-minute hike begins at 2 p.m. Visitors should arrive early to check in at the Camp Office and then meet at the Nature Center. Viewing glasses will be provided while supplies last.

– Tuckahoe State Park will hold a free solar eclipse party at the ballfield in the Cherry Lane Campground area from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The event will include themed crafts, music, snacks and a limited supply of viewing glasses.

“We’re expecting a lot of people to enjoy our beautiful public lands, guided by expert staff, as ideal places to experience the eclipse,” said Maryland Park Service Superintendent Nita Settina.

Events are weather-dependent and capacity is limited in some parks, so visitors should check with their park of choice before leaving home.

From South of Left Field: Shaking the Ground by Jimmie Galbreath


Lets pick up where ‘Definite Problems’ left off last week. From the chart in ‘Definite Problems’ over the last 30 years the bottom 80% of us have experienced continuingly falling income. This decline has occurred under both the Democrats and Republicans; the D-R Axis or DRAxis. Finally re-electing the DRAxis or doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is a good definition of insanity.

If you are like me the idea of being in numerous mass protests waving signs or trying to run for office is too overwhelming. Leading a political charge is just not my cup of tea, although I am anxious to vote for it. Right now it seems all the new energy is out protesting after the elections are over. This ‘after the fact’ burst of activity makes a big splash and feels good for those engaged in it, but the real power lies in what befalls down the road at the polls. So how do we take the DRAxis out behind the woodshed?

Let’s discuss what needs to happen around the backside of the woodshed. Our current existing gaggle of miscreants lives for the financial support and the wealth that they get by selling their elected power. The key words here are ‘elected power.’ As long as we can be lured into voting the DRAxis by slick media and PAC ads, then we have no power. If we don’t vote at all, we have no power. The only way to take the DRAxis behind the woodshed would be large numbers of us refusing to vote for DRAxis candidates. This approach would have a dramatic impact. Chaos would ensue even greater than the Tea Party in the Republican henhouse. The more incumbents toppled, and the more people coming in from outside the DRAxis, the harder it would be for money to get what it wants. The DRAxis would fight back of course, and there would be plenty of stalemates and raging in the press. Like any path to real reform, it would take time, stubbornness, and pain. Is anyone salivating at the thought of this fight like I am?

It is true that the fundamental structure of our Government as laid down by the Founding Fathers will always resolve itself into a two party system. There is nothing about the structure that prevents new parties from gaining power and struggling with the two parties we already have.

At least one of the existing parties has to go! The internal structure of the DRAxis has proven itself highly capable of smothering any effort at internal reform. What will not bend must be broken.

Behind the real woodshed, there will be no votes for anyone with an (R) or (D) behind their names. It doesn’t matter if the new candidates are wing-nuts as long as they are not DRAxis. Until we pave the road outside of DRAxis with votes, no quality people or parties are going to be out there for us. Set your jaw, keep casting the votes, and in time better candidates will come. Keep doing this until they do.

The thing to remember is that wing-nut laws and tax codes can be reversed and failed policies overturned. Don’t let the fear of them stop you from paving a new path for new candidates and new parties. Until we are willing to provide a path to office for better candidates, there will be no better candidates. DRAxis will not change, we must. This is especially important for those who have stopped voting. Find your rage, turn your disillusionment into rage if you need too. Don’t wait for others. Pull the lever! Fire the shot! Keep doing it!

If there are only DRAxis candidates then utterly reject the incumbent. DRAxis uses polished spin doctors to sell these people, so reject every effort to paint them as being for you. If they were, we wouldn’t need to do this. Thirty years of data does not lie! Go to the primary of your choice and fire the first shot, it is the only bullet we have in this fight. Go to the general and fire another! As an example for us here in the First District

I currently have my hopes for Ben Jealous for Governor and Michael Pullen for The House of Representatives. I happen to personally know both and trust them. Their choice to run within DRAxis is unfortunate, but like Bernie Sanders, the current landscape drives them into the DRAxis meat grinder where money and tremendous pressure has successfully co-opted so many well-meaning people before. My choice will be very hard if a non-DRAxis candidate pops up, but the road to reform must be paved with votes to defeat the DRAxis. Nothing less will do. Good people like Ben and Mike who want to support us don’t see another path because we have not been paving another path with votes.

The choice I face will be faced by a lot of us. DRAxis will not reverse our falling standard of living because they are supported, elected, and ultimately paid by the wealth. It is our own fault that this has happened. We let them buy our votes with empty promises and slick advertising.

The DRAxis committees, DNC and RNC, are funded by the wealthy. They will continue to support the wealthy gathering ever greater income at our expense. Don’t let poverty and want swallow us slowly. Don’t turn away from those already swallowed, because if this decline is not reversed, it will swallow us all.

Let’s keep taking the trip to the woodshed, year after year until….

Jimmie Galbreath is a retired Engineer originally from a small family owned dairy farm in Jefferson County, MS. He earned a B.S in Petroleum Engineering from MS State University, accumulating 20 years Nuclear experience at Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Station and Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Station. Along the way he worked as a roustabout on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, served 3 years active service as a Quartermaster Officer in the US Army, Supervised brick kilns first in MS than in Atlanta GA and whatever else it took to skin the cat. He now lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.