Letter to the Editor: Donating Your Required Minimum Distribution


As 2018 comes to an end and we get ready for the start of 2019, the United Way of Kent County would like to remind you to be sure you have taken your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from your IRA or 401K. If you are over 70.5 years of age, these withdrawals must be taken by the end of the year. And once January arrives, you can take your new withdrawal for calendar year 2019.

We would also like to remind you that there are significant tax advantages of donating part of your RMD directly from your custodian to the United Way of Kent County—or to any other qualified charity.

The RMD is taxed as regular income and may increase not only your income taxes, but may also your Part B and D Medicare premiums. Moreover, the extra income can result in higher taxes on your Social Security. By donating the RMD, or part of it, you reduce your income and subsequent income taxes, while helping to support your favorite charities in Kent County.

The Qualified Charitable Distribution provision for donating pre-tax money from the RMD is now a permanent provision of the tax code, and any IRA holder over the age of 70.5 can donate up to $100,000 of their RMD. And with the 2018 new tax law making itemizing a rarity, it makes even more sense to source your charitable donations from your RMD.

A few simple requirements: The money is limited to the RMD and is capped at $100,000. The money must come direct from the IRA custodian to the charity. It cannot go to the owner first. Plus, the money contributed reduces income, but cannot then be claimed as a charitable donation (if you itemize)—since that would result in a double deduction.

For more information on how to donate your IRA RMD to the United Way of Kent County and the benefits that brings to Kent County, please contact Executive Director Beth Everett at 410-778-3195 or email her at beth@unitedwayofkentcounty.org.

Glenn L. Wilson, President
United Way of Kent County

Letter to the Editor: A Note of Concern about Impact of Kent County Short Term Rentals


With the proliferation of new Airbnb, VRBO, and other rental sites popping up around Kent County over the past couple of years, there are some points to consider:

A non-exhaustive review of the AirBnB and VRBO websites revealed over 50 sites in Kent County. At an average booking rate with an average rental fee, this means that over $ 1,200,000 in annual rental income is being collected by these properties. That means the county is losing over $60,000 in room taxes each year. Additionally, with the decrease in revenues experienced by some local, licensed, regulated B&Bs, which now contribute correspondingly lower tax payments, the above losses in  the county are exacerbated.

In addition, there could be further loss of county revenue, the net income county tax rate of 2.5%, if these “invisible, under-the-table” lodging businesses are under-reporting profits on tax returns. Raising the visibility of these businesses through county enforcement measures could make it more difficult to remain hidden from compliance agencies across the board.

Another point for consideration is the effect these unregulated property rentals are having on their neighbors. Folks who have their morning cups of coffee are wondering who is now next door, while other neighbors coming home late at night are wondering who that strange car belongs to! Enforcement of existing zoning regulations would help.

Occasionally, traffic flow is made more difficult by Airbnb guests who are simply unaware of local parking codes. Huge boats pulled by large SUVs, parked on curves, on a 2-way street, in a residential neighborhood, close to a school, should certainly be considered a problem.

There are needs in Kent County. Don’t you think $ 60,000 (or more) each year would help a little bit? Perhaps as a starting point these lodging problems could be addressed by sending a letter to these property owners outlining the codes and regulations the county has in place. That would be a start.

Other communities are starting to solve these problems. Isn’t it time for us to do the same?


David & Cheryl Hoopes

Plus Ça Change…by Jamie Kirkpatrick


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

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

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

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

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

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

…Plus c’est la meme chose.

I’ll be right back.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Talbot and Kent Counties

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

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

Split Congress

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

Jesse Colvin

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

Kudos to the Much Maligned Media

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

Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al recently published Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books. 

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


Letter (not email) to God:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you, Dear Lord.


Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland.  Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He  also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer.  In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.

Think On These Things by George Merrill


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What we think about will direct how we act.

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

Personal Essay: Driving Me Crazy on the Eastern Shore by Angela Rieck


Every region has its own driving pattern, and I suppose that you can learn a lot about an area by observing it. I spent most of my driving years being schooled on the New Jersey driving rules and I have to admit that I like their style.

In NJ, it is all about time, therefore any driving that hinders one’s ability to get expediently from Point A to Point B is perceived as rude. The speed limit is considered a minimum threshold and on a 3-lane expressway, the unwritten rule is that the right lane is reserved for those who observe the speed limit (or 5 miles above). The middle lane is intended for those who drive about 10 miles over the speed limit and the left lane is designated for passing or those brave souls who ignore the speed limit entirely. Drivers who don’t respect those rules will hear blaring horns and receive “the look.” NJ driving values fit well into my view of things, but the Eastern Shore, well that is a different story.

On the Eastern Shore, independence, not time, is paramount. The philosophy is that “no one is going to tell me what to do” and that no one should be in a hurry. Here the speed limit seems to be merely aspirational. Since most roads on the Eastern Shore are single lane, I find myself at the mercy of this local perspective. It is inevitable that I will be behind a large, thundering pickup truck whose speed will vary randomly a few mph above or 10-15 mph below the speed limit throughout its journey. If I am not directly behind this driver, I will be part of a long line that is. Attempts to pass are only for the bold, as I have witnessed some of these drivers aggressively speed up when someone attempts to pass them.

Even if I am lucky enough to be alone on the road, I can expect someone to suddenly pull into my lane, requiring me to brake dramatically and then the driver will commence to crawl along, well below the speed limit. I have also observed that there appears to be some mysterious vortex that renders turn signals of Eastern Shore vehicles inoperable. It makes anticipating a driver’s next move quite challenging. A sudden stop in the middle of the road could be a left turn, a right turn or a desire to rest or even text.

Within a few months of moving here, I realized that I would not be able to hold onto my tenuous sanity and continue driving, so I purchased a car that has variable cruise control. This cruise control allows me to set my speed (in my case, a couple of mph above the speed limit, because I can dream!) and it adjusts to the driver ahead of me, so I don’t have to try to anticipate his or her variable moods.

The Eastern Shore is stunningly beautiful, there are few roads that are not punctuated with a bridge that crosses a picturesque river or creek. Woodlands and farmlands frame each road, and ospreys, peregrine falcons, bald eagles, bluebirds, barn swallows, cardinals and other birds delight me with their beautiful colors and aerial maneuvers. Sunsets and sunrises are marvels of pink, robin’s egg blue, and steel grays blended with deep red and orange hues. Simple clouds resemble thick, fluffy cotton balls, pink cotton candy, or wisps of polyester-fill strewn through the sky. It is difficult to live here without absorbing the natural beauty which softly inhabits my psyche. This is good, because I have a lot of time to soak it in while I am driving.

Angela Rieck is a former executive of a large insurance company and holds a Ph.D. in Mathematical Psychology from the University of Maryland. She now lives on the Mid-Shore. 

Chemistry is the Answer by Al Sikes


Chemistry is the answer. No not the chemistry DuPont talks about, but the chemistry that serves up damnably complicated politics and governance in the 21st Century.

How has the political chemistry changed as the Super Bowl of politics looms?

Notwithstanding President Trump’s boasts, if I was his political advisor, the light in the White House would be yellow not green.

The Democrats captured the House of Representatives, a far more representative picture of voter preference. The US Senate map could not have been more favorable for Republicans; the truer test of popularity was in the House races.

And, I presume the Mueller investigation will wrap up soon and while I don’t anticipate findings that will lead to impeachment, the report will not be a valentine to the President. In the House leadership, newly formed, will be a number of Members who will use the report to maximum advantage unless they overplay their hand, which is quite likely.

Final thought on Republican chemistry. Mitt Romney was elected to represent Utah in the Senate. He will not be just another Senator. Watch the Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, when it comes to confirmation fights. Listen to Romney and Nicki Haley and Ben Sasse when it comes to voices aimed at the Party’s brand in 2024, if not earlier.

The Democrats certainly didn’t win in the way they hoped. One very positive development for Trump is that the makeup of the Senate is more favorable for getting his nominees confirmed. In this regard, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is the loser. He worked hard to enforce caucus discipline on the Judge Kavanaugh vote and the red state Senators who yielded lost their seats in Indiana, Missouri, Florida, and North Dakota.

Also the Democrats got a look at coastal progressive dogma in more centrist States. In Florida the progressive message lost on the State level as it did in Texas and other red States. In Texas Beto O’Rourke was a much better US Senate candidate than the incumbent Ted Cruz, but couldn’t overcome his “progressive” message.

The Democrats were as Winston Churchill observed “a pudding without a theme” unless being against Trump is a theme. In the next few months they are going to have to choose between hard left and left of center narratives. If their most aggressive and vocal leaders—Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand and others define the “pudding” then I would bet on Trump in 2020.

The Republicans need to find the chemistry that allows them to be more than the Trump Party. The enormous gap the Party faces among female voters points to the Party’s downfall if it is all in on Trump. And that is just in the short-term; long-term being all in on Trump points to the Party being a minority party because it will have no purchase with the majority when it is made up of minorities.

The Democrats—well they have to find a theme that does not remind voters that social engineering incurs enormous expense and mostly doesn’t work. And both Parties have to figure out how to solve the fiscal debacle that is forecast by the enormous deficits we face. Commentator after commentator said the economic news was Trump’s greatest advantage. At some point commentators have to learn that balance sheets are important.

Finally, polling tended to be all over the place and frequently wrong. The industry faces profound problems. People don’t answer phones any longer. Voting in most States precedes polling forecasts by weeks. And as people learn more and more about their loss of privacy, I suspect fewer and fewer are interested in one more window into their private affairs.

The one thing that is certain is that the next Presidential election will be entertaining, but not edifying. And chemistry, well, expect a mixing of combustible elements that scare the hell out of us.

Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al recently published Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books. 

Letter to the Editor:Vote for Commissioner Based on the Record


Calling all citizens! On Election Day, November 6, we have the future of Kent County in our hands. It is time to stand up and speak out to remind us all that we live in a county that is envied by other rural and urban counties for several major achievements:

Balanced budgets each year despite fluctuating funding from the State of Maryland.

Fully funding all county services each year within budget and maintaining a fund balance for emergencies.

Continued funding at or above the state mandates and now the highest funding ever of our public schools despite student enrollment. Kent is fourth in highest per pupil funding of our schools. Better than over twenty Maryland counties.

Covering capital expenses for the public schools to not impact the school’s budget.

Increased Building permits far beyond prior years reflecting county growth not decline and families moving to Kent County.

Not taxing small businesses although other jurisdictions have appealed to the state of Maryland to allow this in order to raise revenue.

Increasing paramedic staff to support health care needs of our citizens.

Provision of police services for the incorporated towns of Millington, Betterton, and Galena in addition to the County.

Establishing and maintaining property tax credit for our senior citizens.

Establishing the first youth employment program and prioritizing funding in budget planning – increasing funding each year.

Supporting the arts and cultural activities growing tourism revenue to the highest in the history of Kent County.

Fighting to maintain our hospital with full services.

Fighting the Opioid epidemic in cooperation with law enforcement and NGOs.

Fully transparent government operations and Commissioner meetings.

Largest internet service out of all rural counties in the State of Maryland.

These are just a few of the services that all of us enjoy in Kent County.

Now, there are candidates running that have big ideas, but no experience in implementing them at a local, state or national level. Commissioner William Pickrum hosted a series of six forums open to the public about the funding and operation of major county services. These forums provided an opportunity for individuals running for office to learn the intricacies of providing services at the County level. Unfortunately, none of the candidates took advantage of these learning opportunities so they missed the opportunity to validate if their ideas could possibly work.

We need to keep moving Kent County forward. Having lived in Kent County for decades, everyone knows we have come a long way and no one honestly can dispute that fact. Is there more to do – of course. Are there challenges facing the County – of course. But, these are circumstances that every jurisdiction in the land faces each year.

Cast your vote based on the record of each individual. It is still time to close out the noise of those selling untested theories and choose a candidate that has a record of proven results; a person that has encouraged women, young adults and minorities to run for office; a candidate that supports our youth and seniors; a candidate trusted by every County official in the state of Maryland to be the next president of the Maryland Association of Counties. I am voting for William W. Pickrum. We should encourage all to Pick Pickrum.

Dr. Vita Pickrum
Kent County

The author is the wife of County Commissioner William Pickrum