Congressman Andy Harris’ Statement on the Mueller Report


Congressman Andy Harris, M.D. (MD-01) made the following statement about the release of findings by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on the 2016 presidential campaign for President Trump:

“The United States government has spent two years, $25 million dollars, and a ridiculous amount of wasted time and energy on a special counsel that has officially exonerated the president from allegations of collusion with the Russian government during his 2016 presidential campaign.

According to the Attorney General, there was no collusion between President Trump and the Russian government, and there was no obstruction of justice. Now it’s time to move on and take care of the things that the American people really care about, like the economy and border security.”

Dressing Barbie by Nancy Mugele


Some of my fondest childhood memories include Barbie. I know that is not something you might expect to hear from a self-proclaimed feminist, but it is true. Barbie celebrated 60 years on March 9 and I recently read Dressing Barbie by Carol Spencer. The author designed thousands of outfits for Barbie over her 35 year career at Mattel. In a perfect coincidence, last week when I flew to Florida to meet with Kent School alumni over spring break, I read an article on the 86-year-old Spencer in People magazine (my favorite airplane reading material, but that is another story).

The iconic (and sometimes controversial) Barbie doll was invented by Ruth Handler, co-founder of Mattel with her husband Elliott, whose daughter was named Barbara. Barbie was introduced as a teenage fashion model in 1959 at the American Toy Fair in New York City. Barbie originally came as a blonde or brunette, and I had the brunette version as a young girl. I loved my Barbie doll collection, but, most importantly, I loved her clothes. Barbie always dressed in the most current and exciting fashions of the day, and because it took two years for a design to become available in stores, Carol Spencer always had to be forward-thinking. Girls would certainly know if Barbie’s clothes were dated and out of fashion.

I was most definitely inspired by the fashions Barbie was sold with, but I had a secret weapon. My Nana. She was a seamstress by trade who specialized in creating custom bridal dresses in the 1960s and 1970s. She had a huge basement workshop in her home in Boston which served as her sewing room, complete with a large cutting table that my grandfather made for her of knotty pine. She had several sewing machines that were operated by foot pedals, and spools and spools of vibrantly colored thread hanging neatly in rows. I loved her sewing room and spent long hours watching her meticulous work. I witnessed many bridal party fittings, and was so proud of my grandmother’s handiwork. She was a designer and a perfectionist.

When Nana began to outfit my Barbies I knew I was the luckiest girl around. She made dresses, coats, skirts and slacks for my Barbie in the latest fabrics and fashions. Sometimes she made me and my Barbie matching outfits! My friends may have had more Barbie accessories – like the car, boat and dreamhouse, but I had the most clothes by far! When I saw the title of Carol Spencer’s book, Dressing Barbie, I immediately thought of my Nana in her sewing room. She dressed Barbie for many years as well.

Barbie does get a bad rap sometimes, especially as it relates to body image, with her height and her busty, small-waisted build – not to mention her feet, pre-formed to fit into high heels. Spencer realized the times had changed by the 90s and she wrote: I don’t think she was so out of proportion – people don’t understand doll scale. And, she’s a doll!

Spencer helped create many different career Barbies over the years and is proud of her work. She wrote: During the women’s movement all of us designers belonged to the National Organization for Women, but we didn’t flaunt it. It was this quiet goal to start promoting women. I wanted more choices for Barbie. I wanted more choices for myself.

Today, an estimated 100 Barbies are sold per minute. My favorite, and Mattel’s best-selling Barbie, was the Totally Hair Barbie sold in the 1990s. She wore a Pucci-esque mini dress designed by Spencer. Hair drama and high fashion in one doll.

Happy 60th Birthday, Barbie. Thank you, Carol Spencer, for your vision and fashion sense. And thank you, Nana, for making my Barbies the best-dressed dolls anywhere!

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown, a member of the Board of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s, a member of the Board of Chesapeake Charities, and a member of the Education Committee of Sultana Education Foundation.

Remembering Harry Hughes by Rob Etgen


Harry Roe Hughes, two term Maryland Governor from the Eastern Shore, foremost champion of saving the Chesapeake Bay, and long-time Chairman of Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC), passed away comfortably at home last week after a long and very full life. Harry was a true statesman who had an incredible impact on Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay, the Eastern Shore, and all of us here at ESLC.

Just after Harry left the State House and his leadership role in stimulating the multi-state Bay cleanup, he was recruited to ESLC by his high school physics teacher – Howard Wood – one of ESLC’s Founders. Once on our Board Harry jumped right in and quickly started presiding at meetings, raising funds and shepherding me around the halls of government in Annapolis. Harry stayed active with ESLC in various roles even through his later years. During 2005, Harry and John Frece used the ESLC offices for the drafting of his autobiography, My Unexpected Journey.

Harry often loosened up ESLC crowds with stories of baseball and growing up in Denton when you could ramble unhindered across field and forest throughout Caroline County. He also took pride in his mischievous streak often telling about pushing his parent’s car out of the driveway and down the road before starting it to conceal nighttime joy rides. Many of his stories were prefaced by Harry saying he was killing time to avoid leading everyone in the ESLC fight song – “Don’t Bring In Sprawl” – which he hated singing.

My favorite Harry memory was in 1995 when he recruited the USDA Secretary to speak at ESLC’s annual gala in celebration of our proposed Security Corridor of protected farmland on the Eastern Shore. The morning of the sold out event at the Tidewater Inn the USDA Secretary was called out of the Country, and when I called Harry with the terrifying news, he simply said, “Let me see what I can do.” By that evening Harry had choreographed a speech by Maryland Agriculture and Natural Resources Secretaries and with Governor Glendenning on speakerphone that announced a major new State effort to protect our Corridor – and our crowd cheered! Now known as Maryland’s “Rural Legacy Program,” this initiative that Harry started that evening has now protected 920,694 acres of beautiful farmland and habitat. A nice day’s work!

Harry would often tell a joke about how someone in an elevator once asked him, “Didn’t you used to be Harry Hughes?” And his punch line was “Still am!” Truthfully, that joke is not that good, but when Harry told it, people roared with laughter. That was just Harry’s way – low key, comfortable, and lighthearted. We could use more of that today in our leaders.

Rob Etgen is the president of the East Shore Land Conservancy

Art Review: The Academy Art Museum’s Three Exhibitions Become Four by Steve Parks


The Academy of Art Museum transforms itself into a time machine, taking passengers as far back as 6th century B.C. all the way up to 21st century A.D., with three exhibits that are really four.

The large galleries that flank the museum lobby are devoted to “Recent Acquisitions: Photography @ AAM.” Among high-profile names in the space to the right is living artist Bruce Nauman, who says of his art, “I’ve never been able to stick to one thing.” Instead, he does it all—painting, sculpture, photography, video, neon, printmaking, neon. At AAM, he’s the subject of his own art—distorting facial features shot by Jack Fulton and printed with a textured bronze finish onto four funhouse images.

Cockeyed Lips by Bruce Nauman

Others in this collection, selected by curator Anke Van Wagenberg, include black-and-whites you’d expect from Ansel Adams’ aesthetic for natural beauty and Berenice Abbott’s documentary-style stills of urban life. But many of us, myself included, may pause longest at Ed Clark’s 1958 photo of the future president peering into his daughter’s eyes in her bassinet. 

JFK and Caroline by Ed Clark

Crossing the lobby into another gallery of “Recent Acquisitions”—all by John Gossage, among the foremost living American photo book-makers—are displayed along with a copy of the volume, republished in 2010 on the 25th anniversary of “The Pond.” The 47 images capture the counter-beauty of a neglected wooded area hidden in suburbia. Gossage’s project has been described as “a foil to Henry David Thoreau’s ‘Walden Pond.’ ” Hardly idyllic except for its unattended isolation. If you’re into that.

Upstairs, “Matthew Moore: Post-Socialist Landscapes” recall the Cold War era some of us glimpsed on black-and-white TV. But these scenes derive from Moore’s 2014 artists-in-residence at Lithuania’s Nida Art Academy. His haunting frames reveal urban and rural spaces in countries once occupied by the Soviet Union. Among these are “Discarded Icons: Memento Park, Hungary” with busts of Stalin and Lenin glowering in prison-like storage. Another “Discarded Icon” in Estonia finds a severed sculpture-head of Lenin sprouting from the ground in weeded obscurity. Other images reveal platforms in former Russian-dominated republics from which Stalin and Lenin statuary once commanded the view. Ominous superpower threats are amplified by shots of abandoned missile sites and forgotten nuclear bunkers.

Discarded Icon by Matthew Moore

Combat is hand-to-hand in the small first floor galleries where “Dressed to Kill in Love and War: Splendor in the Ancient World” resides on loan from New York’s Fortuna Fine Arts. Objects from centuries on either side of the birth of Christ feature Roman Empire warrior helmets, Greek and Hellenistic jewelry and decorative objects, plus photos of reliefs inspired by battle heroism and mythology. The exhibit’s romantic aspect is reflected in precious-metal jewelry rewarded to love interests of men on the winning side. If you really could go that far back in time, decline and stay safe at this under-glass peek. No cells, no indoor plumbing, no artillery to clear a path for your warhorse.

“Dressed to Kill in Love and War: Splendor in the Ancient World” Through March 31.“Recent Acquisitions: Photography @ AAM” and “Matthew Moore: Post-Socialist Landscapes” Through April 7, all at Academy Art Museum, 106 South St. Easton,, 410-822-2787

Steve Park is a former art and theatre critic for Newsday on Long Island. He now lives on the Mid-Shore of Maryland. 



Congressman Harris to Host Town Hall Meeting in Queen Anne’s County March 20


Congressman Andy Harris, M.D. (MD-01) will host brick-and-mortar town hall meeting in Queen Anne’s County on Wednesday, March 20th. All residents of Maryland’s First District are welcome to attend the town halls to ask questions and voice their concerns about issues under consideration in Congress.

Queen Anne’s County Town Hall
Date: Wednesday, March 20th
Time: 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Location: Grasonville VFW
203 VFW Ave., Grasonville, MD 21638

Learning to Lead by Nancy Mugele


“If we want people to fully show up, to bring their whole selves including their unarmored, whole hearts—so that we can innovate, solve problems, and serve people—we have to be vigilant about creating a culture in which people feel safe, seen, heard, and respected.” — Brené Brown, Dare to Lead

I am a huge Brené Brown fan. From the moment I first heard her speak two years ago at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) annual conference, I have been hooked. Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston where she holds the Huffington Foundation Brené Brown Endowed Chair of the Graduate College of Social Work, is the author of five #1 New York Times Best Sellers, and I have internalized all five. She has studied courage, vulnerability, and empathy for two decades and she shares it with an easy comfort.

At NAIS, she described earning her worst evaluations from students after a hurricane devastated Houston and she felt the university reopened too soon. Brown “was her worst self,” as she put it, because of “how I was showing up.” It was a powerful reminder that, as leaders and educators, we cannot bring our own personal issues into our work. This takes courage. And courage’s foundation is vulnerability. “We’re not wired for vulnerability but it is the birthplace of love, belonging, and joy,” Brown said. She closed with gratitude for the educators in the room. “Ten years from now in an interview, they will bring you up,” she said. “They’ll say they didn’t believe in themselves, and you changed that.”

In September 2017 I devoured Brown’s Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone. I wrote about it to parents of Kent School students and also in this column. “True belonging,” she wrote, “ is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.”

I love the book and quoted it a lot last academic year, as I constantly told students that I BELIEVEd in them and that they should BELIEVE in themselves. (My word for last academic year was BELIEVE, but that is another story.) Kelsy must have missed the column because she gave me the book as a Christmas gift two months ago. I was deeply touched. She selected the thoughtful gift because she knows I admire Brown and that I would really appreciate the topic. She does not know that now I have two copies – one at home and one in my office. Seems to be a pattern with books that inspire me!

When Brown’s latest, Dare to Lead, was published this past October, I did not immediately purchase it. I thought it might have a business bent because of its description: Daring Greatly and Rising Strong at Work. But, lately, I have been thinking a lot about leadership, developing emerging leaders in the Kent School employee group and developing leadership in students. Why are some people compelled to lead? Are leaders born? Or, are they taught?

During DEARS (Drop Everything And Read Silently) at Kent School I have just finished Dare to Lead, based on Brown’s twenty years of research, and the past three years specifically conducted with leaders, change makers and culture shifters. The book is a must-read for business leaders, and educators.

In her book she claims that true leaders are people who hold themselves accountable for recognising the potential in people and ideas, and developing that potential. The more I thought about this, the more I realized that this is exactly what teachers do each and every day. Teachers dare to lead their classrooms and their students with empathy, courage and love. Teachers create a safe classroom culture where each student is heard, valued and respected. Teachers teach students how to lead with kindness and offer many opportunities for students to grow and shine.

Next week I will have the privilege to connect with several Kent School alumni in NYC and in Florida. All are entrepreneurs and leaders in business. I am looking forward to asking them what Kent School means to them and how the School prepared them for life.

I firmly believe that if we educate the minds, and also the hearts, of our students we will prepare them to be daring leaders who will possess the courage and empathy needed to lead lives of purpose in the global community beyond Kent School. I have watched several of our Student Government Association representatives learning to lead this year, and I am in awe.

Leadership can, and should, be learned.

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown, a member of the Board of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s, a member of the Board of Chesapeake Charities, and a member of the Education Committee of Sultana Education Foundation.

BookPlate Presents Local Author Peter Heck


Peter Heck’s “Mark Twain mysteries” — photo courtesy of The BookPlate

Friday, March 8, the BookPlate presents local author Peter J. Heck reading from and discussing his Mark Twain mysteries. The event begins at 6 p.m., and admission is free. The BookPlate, owned and managed by Tom Martin, is located at 112 S. Cross St. between Play It Again Sam’s Coffee Shop and Janes Church. This is one of a long-running series of presentations by poets, novelists, and non-fiction authors at the store.

The series of six mysteries, featuring one of America’s best-loved writers as a detective, is set in the 1890s, and follows Twain as he travels around the United States and to England and Italy, solving murders. Peter says that Twain’s world-traveling career made him an attractive protagonist for a series of books because it allowed him to set the stories in so many different places. Also, he says, Twain’s biting wit and ability to see through pretensions of all kinds made him irresistible to write about.

A Chestertown native, Peter grew up as a voracious reader who benefited from a complete set of Twain’s writings that had belonged to his grandfather, Theodore Jewell. Other youthful influences were Edgar Allen Poe, A. Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” mysteries, and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ popular novels. After graduating from Chestertown High School, he studied English at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Indiana University. He taught for several years at Temple University in Philadelphia. Beginning in the mid-1980s, he edited newsletters promoting mysteries and science fiction for the Waldenbooks company. He also worked as an editor at Ace Books and freelanced at Baen and Del Rey books, where his writers included Spider Robinson, Robert Sawyer and Harry Turtledove. Peter has been a regular book reviewer for Kirkus Reviews and Asimov’s Science Fiction for many years.

Peter Heck

Peter began writing the Twain mysteries in 1995, eventually publishing six books, the titles of which are plays on the titles of Twain’s own books. In order of publication, they are Death on the Mississippi, A Connecticut Yankee in Criminal Court, The Prince and the Prosecutor, The Guilty Abroad, The Mysterious Strangler, and Tom’s Lawyer. Twain’s adventures are narrated by Wentworth Cabot, Twain’s fictional secretary and the “Watson” of the series. There are minor roles for various historical characters, among them Rudyard Kipling, Theodore Roosevelt, Buffalo Bill, and jazz pioneer Buddy Bolden.

Peter also co-wrote four books in a science fiction series, “Phule’s Company,” with the late Robert Asprin. Peter returned to Chestertown in the late ‘90s, where he continued writing his novels. He also worked for 10 years as a reporter and photographer for the Kent County News. Beginning in 2017, he and his wife Jane Jewell have been co-editors of the Chestertown Spy. In addition to his career as a writer, Peter is also an accomplished guitarist — formerly with the local quartet, Col. Leonard’s Irregulars — and a founding member of the Chestertown Chess Club.

Copies of Peter’s books will be available for purchase during the event, and the author will be pleased to sign copies. We hope to see you Friday evening at 6:00 p.m. at the BookPlate.

Letter to Editor: Unfinished Business in Rock Hall


On March 4 — and for the second time this year — Rock Hall Mayor Brian Jones refused to permit questions and comments from citizens during a Town Council meeting (violating both Charter and Code).

Here are some of the questions he suppressed:

  • Mr. Mayor: Given that the Town of Rock Hall is close to running a budget deficit — maybe already is — what items of non-essential spending do you plan to recommend to the Council to cut?
  • Mr. Mayor: The recent financial audit has 15 negative findings. Which three do you plan to address first? Also, because your own questionable actions are the subject of several of the findings, do you plan to recuse yourself from discussing and deciding on policies to address them?
  • Mr. Mayor: A utilities rate increase of 15% imposes a hardship for many in Rock Hall. Why didn’t you consider recommendations for modest increases in utility rates made by two Council members during previous budget discussions over the past four years?
  • Mr. Mayor: In January, you reported that you and Councilwoman Rosalie Kuechler were working with the Maryland Municipal League to identify several new sources of revenue for the Town. In the past two months, what new sources of revenue have you identified?
  • Mr. Mayor: When will the Town Manager produce for the Council a comprehensive list of major infrastructure maintenance and repair projects that need to be done, along with cost estimates?
  • Mr. Mayor: Given that the Town should provide a vehicle for the Town Manager to use on official business, and given that other Town employees should also have access to a Town vehicle as needed, why don’t you turn in that surplus police vehicle that’s parked in your driveway for your personal use so that the Town Manager and other employees can drive it? Or, why not sell it?

As we approach a municipal election in eight weeks, the Town of Rock Hall is in crisis—financial, administrative, legal, and ethical—yet Mayor Jones blithely ignores the chaos, and breaks the law to do so.

Of course, isn’t it futile to expect the very persons who caused the problems to solve the problems?

Yours truly,

Grenville B. Whitman

Rock Hall

Reflections on 24 Hours in the Life of a Presidency by Stephen Parks


When do we start the clock on this momentous day on separate fronts at opposite ends of the globe? About 6:30 p.m., Vietnam time, President Trump shook hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to a cacophony of clicking digital cameras before their long-shot denuclearization summit meeting. That’s 6:30 a.m. Washington time. Hours earlier, Michael Cohen and his attorneys put final touches on the opening statement he’d make to the House Oversight Committee. Cohen’s remarks characterizing his former boss as “a racist, conman and a cheat” were delivered about 10:30 a.m. in Washington, 10:30 p.m. in Hanoi as Trump wrapped up his first day of the summit. Trump tweeted in response: “Michael Cohen was one of many lawyers who represented me (unfortunately). . . . He was just disbarred . . . for lying & fraud. . . . He is lying in order to reduce his prison time. Using Crooked’s lawyer!” (“Crooked” refers to Hillary Clinton and her lawyer, now one of Cohen’s, Lanny Davis.)

It’s useless to argue about Cohen’s credibility. Trump supporters and detractors occupy different planets. I can tell, and so could you, by watching commentary on cable news networks of opposing political views. In Fox world, Cohen, once convicted of lying, is ineligible as a witness. (Tell that to any cop investigating a crime or prosecutor trying a defendant. May as well abandon jurisprudence.) On MSNBC, Trump is all but impeached or indicted—though a Justice Department memo says presidents are non indictable. The live feed of the hearings was more illuminative. Only one Republican bothered to ask a substantive question. Rep. Justin Amash asked Cohen if Trump ordered him to lie about contacts with Russia. Cohen responded that Trump never directed him to lie. But he got the message “in code.”

Other Republicans, notably Jim Jordan, ranking committee Republican—he’d be chairman if Democrats hadn’t won control of the House in the midterms—and Mark Meadows, concentrated on theatrical stunts such as “proving” Trump couldn’t be racist because he hired Lynne Patton to a Department of Housing and Urban Development post. With no chance to speak for herself—the majority would block her as a witness—Patton was trotted out as a “prop,” as newly elected Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib protested in her turn at questioning. Meadows cried foul as he presumed being labeled a racist. Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings intervened, avoiding a crisis that might have crashed the hearing. Both sides made nice. Jordan’s contribution was to post an optic declaiming Cohen as “Liar Liar Pants on Fire” hereafter disqualified from human discourse. Very mature.

Democrats also were guilty of speechifying political points in their “questions,” although rookie Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez kept on investigative point by asking if Trump had committed bank and insurance frauds and where the committee could find supporting evidence and witnesses.

Baltimorean Cummings, reminding me of a passionate disciple of the affable Sen. Sam Ervin of Watergate fame, closed the hearing with an emotional appeal on behalf of democracy: “We are better than this!”

Hopefully, we are.

On the other side of the world, the president walked away from negotiations with Kim, who reportedly demanded a full pullback on sanctions while offering to decommission one nuclear site. Listening to his intelligence experts for a change, Trump confronted Kim with evidence of more North Korean nuke sites. Bad deal rightly rejected.

In a weird twist, North Koreans called a press conference (they have no domestic press) 24 hours into Trump’s long strange day, claiming they only sought partial relief from sanctions. But Trump stepped on his rare display of presidential behavior. He, not Kim, banned American reporters from the summit dinner because an AP reporter asked a question about Cohen. Then, in his closing press conference, Trump gave murderous dictator Kim dispensation on the death of American student Otto Warmbier. Arrested for pilfering a poster, Warmbier was imprisoned and much later released, comatose and near inevitable death.

Trump claims he believes Kim’s assurance that he knew nothing of this atrocity. Just like he accepted Vladimir Putin’s word on Russian interference in the 2016 election and Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman’s claim of innocence in the savage murder of a Washington Post journalist.

One step forward, two steps back, Mr. President. For Trump, that’s 24-hour “progress.”

Stephen Parks, now living in Easton, is a retired journalist who worked for Newsday on Long Island and The Sun in Baltimore among other newspapers.

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