Congressman Andy Harris’ Statement on the Mueller Report

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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.”

Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge Announces 2019 Youth Turkey Hunt

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Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge (refuge) in cooperation with the National Wild Turkey Federation will once again conduct a spring youth turkey hunt on the refuge for ages 12 to 16 years old.

The Youth Turkey Hunt will include two Saturdays: April 13th and April 20th, 2019.

Request applications by email at easternneck@fws.gov or print applications from https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Eastern_Neck/visit/visitor_activities.html

The refuge will be closed to the public until noon on April 13th and April 20th, 2019 for the Youth Turkey Hunts.

Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, is a 2,285 acre island which supports a wide variety of habitats including brackish marsh, natural ponds, upland forest, and grasslands for a diversity of wildlife. The refuge holds the designation of Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society. To learn more, visit our website at https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Eastern_Neck/.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

Unitarians to Discuss “White Fragility” on March 27

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Why does racism persist in the United States?  Why is it so difficult for even well-meaning white people to discuss the issue with blacks?  According to academic Robin DiAngelo, part of our dilemma is that “whiteness” is the “default setting .  . . .We have a pattern of whiteness never being named or acknowledged, at the same time as we name the race of people who are not white. So we grant white people the individuality that we don’t afford people of color.”

Dr. DiAngelo has written a book, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism, to explore this continuing problem in our society.  On Wednesday, March 27, at 7 p.m., the Unitarian Universalists of the Chester River, 914 Gateway Drive in Chestertown, will convene a discussion of the book and its implications. The public is invited to attend, free of charge.

The Book Plate, 112 S. Cross St., Chestertown, has copies of the book for sale at a modest price.

Journalist Nosheen Iqbal recently interviewed DiAngelo for the British publication The Guardian. During the conversation DiAngelo states, “We have to stop thinking about racism simply as someone who says the N-word. This book is centered on the white western colonial context and in that context white people hold institutional power.” In her article about the interview Iqbal explains further, “This means understanding that racism is a system rather than just a slur; it is prejudice plus power.  And in Britain and the US at least, it is designed to benefit and privilege whiteness by every economic and social measure. Everyone has racial bias, but, as DiAngelo is determined to establish, ‘when you back a group’s collective bias with lingering authority and institutional control, it is transformed.’”

As a part of its new Strategic Plan, UUCR has committed to undertake a church-wide focus and community activism regarding racism and racial equity.  In January the group held two public discussions of the book Deep Denial: The Persistence of White Supremacy in United States History and Life, by Dr. David Billings.

For questions or more information please contact Lynn Dolinger, lynn.thirdwish@gmail.com.

Cerino to Ask Commissioners for Tax Differential

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Chestertown Mayor Chris Cerino

At the Chestertown Council meeting, March 18, Mayor Chris Cerino reported that he will represent the town at the Kent County Commissioners budget hearings April 23. He will be advocating for a tax differential or tax rebate for the town, on grounds that town residents’ property taxes are paying for services the county does not provide within town limits, such as police protection, road repairs, and trash disposal. “We’re essentially paying to underwrite services for everyone else,” he said. Cerino said that Kent is one of only three counties in the state that does not provide such a differential for its towns.

The town has regularly requested a tax differential since the county discontinued offering one in 2014, due to reduced revenues during the Great Recession. In 2012, five towns received tax rebates amounting to some $193,000 overall. Partially as a response to the discontinuation of the rebate, Chestertown raised its own tax rate from $0.37 to $0.42 per $100 assessed value. It was the first increase in town taxes since 1991.

Cerino said he had written to the commissioners about a month ago to request a slot in the budget hearings, and received a formal invitation to present the request at the hearing.  He said he will be requesting that the commissioners lower the rate for town residents by $0.05, or alternatively granting a rebate of $250,000. He said the commissioners asked him to bring documentation of the cost of services the town is providing, and he asked Ingersoll and Clerk Jen Mulligan to supply him with copies of the town’s annual audit. Ingersoll said he had the material available “at my fingertips.”

“I’ve pleaded the case on this every year since I’ve been elected,” Cerino said. “Supposedly, we were very close to having a tax differential last year, and then it kind of got swallowed up in the school funding debate and it didn’t happen.” He invited council members to help him make the case.

Also at the meeting, Wanda Gorman, manager of the Chestertown artisans’ market, reported on the upcoming market season, which begins March 30. She said the annual meeting of vendors on March 16 drew 27 attendees, including some spouses and children of vendors. The market currently has 24 vendors, 18 of whom were at the meeting. “We had a breakfast meeting – that really attracts a lot,” she said.

Wanda Gorman, artisans’ market manager

Gorman asked the council to designate the two High Street parking spaces closest to the Cross Street intersection for no parking during the market. She said the vendors need them to unload and reload their wares, but often out-of-town shoppers park in the spaces and leave their vehicles there after the market is over at noon, when the vendors need the spaces to reload. She said vendors are usually finished removing their wares between 12:30 and 1 p.m.

Councilman Marty Stetson said, “It would only take a couple of tickets to convince them.” Police Chief Adrian Baker suggested using orange “no parking” signs the town already has. He said his department could put a couple of them in the spaces and see if it does the job.

Town Manager Bill Ingersoll said he thought the orange signs would be a good solution to the parking problem. He said he liked the fact that the signs are removable once the market is finished.

Gorman also announced that she is planning to retire to Florida and that her daughter Sarah Sezawich will co-chair the market during her absence over the summer. She said Sezawich has been helping her before, and the vendors are familiar with her. “I think she’ll do a great job,” she said. “She handles paperwork fantastically.”

“We’re going to miss you when you go,” said Ingersoll.

Councilwoman Linda Kuiper reported that the State Highway Administration has approved lowering the speed limit on Quaker Neck Road between Wilmer Park and the Radcliffe Creek bridge from 40 to 25 miles per hour. Washington College, which owns several properties along that stretch of the road, including the new boathouse and an environmental science center currently under construction, and several residents of the Chester River Landing development had requested the reduction on account of pedestrian safety along the road. Pedestrian traffic is expected to increase when the college’s new science center opens. The signs advising of “reduced speed ahead” will be moved to the town limits, just beyond Chester River Landing.

The Chestertown Council : (L-R) Councilmen Ellsworth Tollliver and Marty Stetson, Town Clerk Jen Mulligan, Mayor Chris Cerino, Town Manager Bill Ingersoll, Councilwoman Linda Kuiper, and Councilman David Foster.

Kuiper also announced that farmers’ market manager Sabine Harvey has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Maryland Farmers Market Association to set up a program to allow vendors at the market to take payments for SNAP and WIC programs, along with a new program called Senior Farmers Market. Individual vendors would have to sign up for the program. “This will help to increase food-insecure households’ ability to afford quality nutritious foods; to generate additional revenue for local agricultural producers; and to make farmers markets accessible to residents of all income levels,” she said. She said the paperwork was still being processed, but she wanted to give the council a heads-up on the program. The council approved a motion authorizing Cerino to sign the MOU for the town.

Also, Kuiper read from a letter to the mayor in which she asked to be excluded from the process of hiring a new marina manager because her son is applying for the position. In order to avoid a conflict of interest, she said she would not take part in interviews or any verbal, written or electronic discussions of the hiring process unless her son withdraws his application.

Ingersoll reported that a group of Washington College students is planning a Rail Trail cleanup on Sunday, April 7, from noon to 3 p.m. Students have performed similar cleanups the last few years. The cleanup would focus on the area from Royal Farms to the split in the trail near Lynchburg Street. He said the town would provide bags and gloves for the project.

At the end of the meeting, Washington College President Kurt Landgraf gave an update on the report that the college plans to sell six surplus properties. He said the college has reached an agreement with prospective buyers for three of the properties. He did not specify which properties were involved, pending the final settlement. The six properties to be sold include the large tract at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Morgnec Road, a house at 301 Washington Ave., and four properties on Prospect Street.

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Mid-Shore Pro Bono Helps Those Struggling with Legal Issues

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Mid-Shore Pro Bono has identified the top three civil legal issues facing young people and families of the Eastern Shore based on their work with clients during the first quarter of 2019. These issues involve advocating for children, caring for elderly loved ones, and student loan debt.

“While not unique to the Eastern Shore, these civil legal issues are dominating our caseloads so far in 2019,” said Sandy Brown, Mid-Shore Pro Bono Executive Director. “Demand for services in these areas is on the rise, and our team is working hard to develop and expand programs and services to meet these specific needs in our community.”

The rise of incarceration and deaths of parents associated with the opioid crisis has resulted in an 82% increase in third-party custody cases brought to Mid-Shore Pro Bono. When a grandparent, aunt or uncle, or other family member seeks to gain custody of a minor child whose parents are unable to care for them, they need legal support. In response, The Child Advocacy Project was created to provide the legal services needed to give these vulnerable children a safe and stable environment so that they can thrive while their parents, if still living, can receive the help they need.

The Eastern Shore has a large aging population and adult guardianship cases have increased, especially in situations where an individual does not have the proper estate planning, powers of attorney and advance medical directives in place. When aging adults become unable to make sound financial and health decisions, they need a trusted person to become their legal guardian to make those decisions on their behalf. Adult guardianship cases are particularly complex as they can threaten an older adult’s dignity and agency.  Many of these cases are preventable by ensuring that all adults have the proper documents in place while they are still of sound mind. Through its Elder Law Project, Mid-Shore Pro Bono works with clients through clinics and one-on-one sessions with a volunteer attorney to develop these documents, and also assists with those more serious situations that have escalated to an adult guardianship case.

Student loan debt is another growing challenge to many on the Eastern Shore. Even when young adults are employed post-college, large student loan payments are damaging their financial health and making it hard to cover rent and medical expenses. Unfortunately, the Eastern Shore’s challenging job market further exacerbates this issue in our communities. Many in this situation do not understand that student loan debt is a civil legal matter and that there are remedies. Mid-Shore Pro Bono’s Economic Stability Project works with these young adults through clinics and individualized legal assistance to help them delay or restructure their student loans payments into an amount that is more manageable. In the most severe cases, Mid-Shore Pro Bono will also connect clients with a volunteer attorney that will seek remedies through the courts.

“The key to many of these issues is early intervention,” said Brown. “We aim to reach potential clients before a situation escalates to the most extreme scenario. Thanks to the work of our project teams and volunteer attorneys, we have been largely successful, but we do still see cases that require intensive assistance. We encourage anyone who may be facing one of these issues to contact us so we can connect them with the help they need.”

About Mid-Shore Pro Bono
Mid-Shore Pro Bono Mid-Shore Pro Bono connects low-income individuals and families who need civil legal services with volunteer attorneys and community resources. The organization serves citizens across Maryland’s Eastern Shore. For more information or to make a donation, call Mid-Shore Pro Bono at 410-690-8128 or visit www.midshoreprobono.org.

Unitarians to Learn How to “Learn from the Journey”

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On Sunday, Mar 17, at 10 a.m., Rev. Sue Browning will deliver a sermon titled “Learning from the Journey” to the Unitarian Universalists of the Chester River, 914 Gateway Dr., Chestertown. Has your life ever included a transformative journey? Was it physical travel, or maybe a lifestyle change? When on a pilgrimage we intentionally leave ordinary patterns of life with a destination in mind. At this service with Rev. Sue Browning we’ll reflect on the ways we are changed as we move toward our destination and further changed in our return to the ordinary.

Religious Exploration for youngsters and youth and childcare for infants and toddlers will be available during the service. All are welcome! Call 410-778-3440 for more information.

Maryland May Raise Smoking Age to 21, Limit Vape Marketing

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Several bills in the Maryland General Assembly could raise the age to purchase tobacco and vape products from 18 to 21 as well as prohibit certain types of “vape” packaging that target minors.

Usage of electronic nicotine delivery systems—known as vapes—has increased among among high school students nationwide from over 11 percent in 2017 to nearly 21 percent in 2018, according to the United States Surgeon General.

In addition to raising the legal age, House bill 1169—sponsored by Delegate Dereck E. Davis, D-Prince George’s—would change the definition of tobacco products to include vapor devices, parts and juices.

Nearly 9 out of 10 cigarette smokers had tried smoking by the age of 18, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This bill is intended to prevent more minors from trying cigarettes before they are of legal age, Davis said.

“The information about smoking is irrefutable. You can drink responsibly, you can gamble responsibly but you can’t smoke responsibly,” Davis said. “Those are carcinogens and anything else is just hype,” he said.

Another bill would prohibit the sale of vape products that feature cartoons, teen celebrities or the likeness of a person who appears to be younger than 27 on their packaging. Sponsored by Delegate Ned Carey, D-Anne Arundel, House bill 1185 would also require products to be sold in child-safe, tamper-evident packaging.

This bill was proposed by members of the vapor industry as a means of self-regulation, Carey said.

Lawmakers and industry professionals have criticized certain types of vape packaging as marketing targeted at minors. Various vape juices emulate the flavors of candies and breakfast cereals, and their labeling often bears a striking resemblance to their edible counterparts, according to Vapor Technology Association representative Rob Garagiola.

“There should not be Cocoa Puffs or Tony the Tiger-type marketing,” Garagiola said.

This bill would also require retailers to keep all vape products behind the counter and display signs that prohibit minors, as well as increase the maximum fine for the sale of these products to a minor from $1,000 to $2,500 for a second offense within two years of the first, according to Garagiola.

“Vape shops and vape shop owners like myself are in this business to get people off combustible cigarettes,” Maryland Vapor Alliance member Mary Yaeger said. “I don’t want (vapes) in the hands of children, not my grandchildren, not my friends’ children, not my own children,” she said.

Both measures have corresponding legislation in the Maryland Senate. On Thursday, Senate bill 708 was heard by a Senate committee; Senate bill 895 advanced with amendments in the chamber. House bills 1169 and 1185 were heard by a House of Delegates committee Feb. 27.

Joe Trippi, Democratic Campaign Strategist, at Washington College March 28

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Master political strategist and MSNBC commentator Joe Trippi will visit Washington College on Thursday, March 28, 2019 for an open discussion/Q&A on politics and current events. Heralded on the cover of The New Republic as the person who “reinvented campaigning,” Trippi has been at the forefront of progressive politics for nearly 30 years.

The event, sponsored by Washington College’s Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience as part of the Harwood Series in American Journalism, is free and open to the public. It begins at 4:30 p.m. in Hynson Lounge, Hodson Hall. A conversational format will permit audience members to join a lively discussion with Trippi, covering everything from ongoing investigations of the Trump administration, to the fast-developing field of contenders for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Trippi is best known for his work on the campaigns of Democratic presidential candidates, including Barack Obama, Howard Dean, and Edward Kennedy, as well as in Senate and congressional races, including Alabama senator Doug Jones’s dramatic upset of Republican candidate Roy Moore. According to The Atlantic, Trippi’s influence on Democratic Party politics has been profound and lasting, especially his strategy of pursuing small-dollar online donations: “Every single campaign uses Trippi-patented tactics to raise money.” He frequently appears as a commentator on MSNBC, CBS, and Fox News, and has over 800,000 Twitter followers.

Washington College’s Harwood Lecture Series in American Journalism was established to honor the distinguished career of the late Washington Post columnist and ombudsman Richard Harwood, who served as a trustee of the College, as well as a teacher and mentor of undergraduate journalists. Speakers in the series have included many leading figures in politics and the press. Additional cosponsorship assistance comes from the Department of Political Science, the Washington College Democrats, and the Louis L. Goldstein Program in Public Affairs. The Starr Center, established at Washington College in 2000, explores the American experience in all its diversity and complexity, seeks creative approaches to illuminating the past, and inspires thoughtful conversation informed by history.

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 39 states and territories and 25 nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

Governor Hughes by Howard Freedlander

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Governor Harry Hughes

The death of former Gov. Harry R. Hughes on Wednesday at 92 leaves a void in Maryland’s political landscape. He represented honor and humility. He was a gentleman who treasured his Eastern Shore roots.

I last saw Gov. Hughes on November 13 when I was invited to join his former staffers to celebrate his 92d birthday at a lunch at his home outside Denton overlooking the Choptank River. Though perhaps he didn’t hear all the chatter, he seemed to enjoy the good cheer and stories about past political battles. I was impressed by how loyal his former staffers remained to a person whom they clearly liked and greatly admired.

This Denton native served as governor from 1978 to 1986. He beat all odds and some derision to win the Democratic primary and then the gubernatorial election by 400,000 votes. He determined at the outset to restore integrity to the State House after his two predecessors, Spiro Agnew and Marvin Mandel, had faced legal charges for their behavior in office.

In recent years, I had seen more of Harry (as he was wont to be called) at lunches in Easton with former staffers and, not so happily, at Shore Medical Center in Easton. He grappled with pneumonia as he aged and found himself frequently sitting in a hospital bed awaiting friends bringing him unhealthy but welcomed food.

Whenever I visited Harry in the hospital, he was typically low-key and reserved. He expected no special treatment from the nursing staff. He was always friendly and down-to-earth.

As a member of the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy’s board of directors, I learned how beloved the former governor was in the land preservation community. He was a longtime friend and former chair of ESLC.

A few years ago, the organization named its conference room in honor of Gov. Hughes. He was pleased and honored. He harbored no sense of entitlement.

During his two terms as governor, Harry Hughes became particularly known for his environmental record. He brought together the states of Pennsylvania and Virginia and the District of Columbia, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency’s administrator, to establish a regional program focused on the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. This compact still exists.

In a controversial but beneficial decision, he placed a moratorium in 1985 on the harvesting of rockfish. Commercial fishermen were furious. Science proved Harry right. The moratorium remained in place until 1990 when the species bounced back enough to allow a limited harvest.

Harry Hughes practiced politics with class and civility. He inspired a return of integrity to the Maryland State House.He extolled a workmanlike approach to governing our small but complicated state. He forswore showmanship.

You will be missed, Harry. You made a difference. You sought to build a legacy based on results and ethics.

And you did.

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.

 

 

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