Open Letter to Governor Hogan: Chestertown Needs Special Rural Community Hospital Status

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Dear Governor Hogan,

The delivery of healthcare to all of the citizens of Maryland is a topic that is often in the news and is especially important here in Chestertown, on the beautiful Eastern Shore.

I served on the Board of the Chester River Hospital Center in 2008, when the Board voted to affiliate with the University of Maryland Medical Center. At that time, serious financial obstacles faced the hospital. UMMS made many promises such as maintaining the inpatient services already being delivered with quality at our facility. Also included in the promises were recruitment assistance to augment or replace physicians’ services as retirement occurred, expansion of specialty clinics for our considerable numbers of older citizens, and physical improvements to complement our already leading-edge technology( which included digital mammography, one of the first places on the Shore to offer it).

In short order, with the input of directors from Shore Regional Health, Chester River was taken out of the mix that would have assured success on all fronts. Centralized scheduling favored transport to Easton, as did print ads for services. Eventually we lost on-site management. Physician recruitment has been delayed to the point where it is a crisis. A once-vibrant community hospital is now a shell, and the community lives in fear of losing it altogether.

There is a solution, the result of the state-mandated study on rural healthcare delivery on the Eastern Shore. A stopgap measure keeps things status quo until 2022, but funding us as a Special Rural Community Hospital, as recommended in the Report of the Workgroup on Rural Health Delivery to the Maryland Health Care Commission, would mean that Chestertown, Kent County, and upper Queen Anne’s County would continue to have access to most hospital services at an existing facility.

This community would suffer greatly if all that was available was an Emergency Department. We have a 238 year old college, several large employers, a continuing care retirement community and of course, many citizens who need healthcare services. A lack of convenient public transportation makes it difficult to go to Easton for routine services, much less to visit loved ones who may need inpatient care. There is need for additional services at the Chestertown hospital to attract and keep young people here. It is most unfortunate that we have to ask young parents to drive to Easton, Annapolis or Wilmington for pediatric inpatient care.

When I voted to join UMMS, I did so in good faith. I was given to understand that our hospital would remain vital for many years to come. I am dismayed at what has happened. I sincerely hope you will do all you can to make sure University of Maryland Shore Regional Health at Chestertown is designated a Special Rural Community Hospital, and is funded as such, so it can continue to serve this special place I call home.

Karen P. O’Connor
MSHS, MT (ASCP) SBB

Letter to the Editor: Bogus Healthcare Award For Andy Harris Deceives Senior Citizens

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A recent flyer in the U.S. Mail, produced by a direct mail political lobbyist, awarded Andy Harris a phony award for the 2018 CHAMPION OF HEALTH CARE INNOVATION AWARD. What is deceiving is that this award was a “rinky-dink” fictitious award, and was given by the American Life Sciences Innovation Council, a thinly veiled front organization for the same direct mail political lobbyist who produced the award, Public Access Company. Both these organizations share the same CEO and the same address in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The American Life Science Innovation Council’s tax returns show all their income comes from “Contributions” and all their expenses (90% of the Contributions) are payments to related “Lobbyists”.

These “made up” political awards only serve to confuse and misinform senior citizens in the 1st District and harm the integrity of the hard earned valid industry awards that are given for true advancements and innovations in Maryland’s healthcare industry. Harris’ Washington DC office was contacted and they thanked me, acknowledging the award but did nothing to distance themselves from the award. When personally questioned about the award, Harris responded that he was aware of the award but had no further knowledge as to who sent or funded the mailers. I would like to call on all politicians, if they fund these types of misleading awards or if they are aware of their supporters or PACS funding these bogus awards, they should put a stop to them and stop misleading our seniors in the 1st District.

We deserve sound, valid information so that we can vote responsibly when we go to the ballot box in November. We deserve political representation that encourage and supports activities that will earn coveted industry awards for true innovation that will help all citizens in the 1st District of Maryland. We deserve not to be misled. I encourage you to vote for Jesse Colvin, www.jessecolvin.com , who will bring accountable, healthcare leadership to the 1st District of Maryland.

Christopher A. Koch

Letter to the Editor: Are You Registered to Vote?

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Are you registered to vote?  If you are not registered, there is still time to do so before the mid-term elections on November 6. The deadline to register in Maryland is 9 p.m., Tuesday, October 16th.

How do you register to vote?  

You can register until 9 p.m. October 16th either online at

www.elections.state.md.us  or in person at your Board of Elections office. The Kent County Board of Elections is located at 135 Dixon Drive in Chestertown.  In Queen Anne’s County, the Board of elections is at 110 Vincit Street in Centreville. You can also request a voter registration application by calling (410) 778-0038 in Kent County or (410)758-0832 in Queen Anne’s County.  

However, if you are not registered by Oct. 16, you may also register in person at the polls during Maryland’s Early Voting period, Thursday, October 25 through Thursday November 1, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Contact your local Board of Elections (410-778-0038 for Kent Board of Elections; 410-758-0832 for Queen Anne’s) to inquire about what paperwork you must bring in order to register.

Who is eligible to vote?  In Maryland, any Maryland resident who is an American citizen age 16 or older may register to vote.  To vote on November 6, you must be at least 18 years old on Election Day. People with disabilities can ask a family member or friend to assist them with the registration process. People who have been convicted of a felony but who have completed serving their prison sentences are eligible to vote, but they will need to re-register.

Have you moved recently? If so, you’ll need to update your address with the Board of Elections. You can do this using the same process you’d use to register to vote (see: How do you register to vote?)

When is Election Day? Election day is Tuesday November 6, 7 a.m. through 8 p.m.  

When can I vote?  In Maryland, you can vote on election day or you can vote during early voting from October 25 until November 1, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily – see “Where do I vote” for locations.

Where do I vote?

You can find out where your polling place is on line at www.elections.state.md.us.  The Board of Elections will mail all registered voters a sample ballot that includes information on polling places.

Locations for Early Voting are the Chestertown Public Library, 408 High St., Chestertown, for Kent County, and at two locations in Queen Anne’s County, Queen Anne’s County: Queen Anne’s Office Building, Conference Room, 110 Vincit Street, Centreville, or at Kent Island Library, 200 Library Circle, Stevensville.

If you prefer, you may file an absentee ballot that you can get either on line or through the Board of Elections.  (You don’t have to specify a reason for voting absentee.) To submit an absentee ballot, you must either hand deliver it to the Board of Elections or mail it to that office. It must be returned to the Board of Elections by hand delivery by 8 p.m. on November 6.  If you mail in your absentee ballot, your ballot must be postmarked by November 6 and received by the Board of Elections by 10 a.m. on November 16th.

Why should you vote?  Your Vote is Your Voice.  On November 6, Maryland voters will choose their governor and other state officials, their U.S. Senator, their representative to the U.S. House of Representatives and their delegates and senator to serve in the Maryland General Assembly. Voters will also choose district judges, as well as county commissioners, school board members, state’s attorneys, sheriffs, and other local officials.  Elected representatives make important decisions about health care, schools, job opportunities, transportation, legal issues, business and farming concerns, the Chesapeake Bay, and many other issues that affect you and your family. To make sure your voice is heard, you can help elect people who will best represent your own opinions.

Does your one vote really matter?  Yes it does.  In a recent election in Virginia, the vote was tied, and the person chosen was elected using a coin flip.  No one wants to leave his/her representation to chance.

How can you get information about the candidates?  The League of Women sponsors candidate forums where voters can meet the candidates and ask them questions about their views.  

U.S. House of Representatives, District 1 – October 21, 2018, 2:00pm – 3:30pm – Talbot County Free Library, 100 W. Dover St., Easton

Kent County State’s Attorney – October 15, 2018 7:00pm – 8:30pm at Kent County Public Library, 408 High Street, Chestertown

Kent County Commission (followed by meet/greet for District Judge, Orphans Court Judges, Sheriff, Clerk of Court and Register of Wills candidates) – October 18, 2018 7:00pm to 8:30pm at Chestertown Fire House, 211 Maple Ave., Chestertown

Kent County School Board – October 22, 2018 7:00pm – 8:30pm at Kent County Public Library, 408 High Street, Chestertown

Queen Anne’s County Commissioners – October 15, 2018 7:00pm-8:00pm at Planning & Zoning Rm., County Office Bldg., 110 Vincit St., Centreville

You will receive mailings from candidates and see their ads on television.  Candidates also have web and Facebook pages you can consult.

You will also find election information on an online Voters’ Guide produced by the League of Women Voters.  Go to www.VOTE411.org. Candidates for every office in every county in Maryland were asked to respond to questions relating to the duties of the office they are seeking and to list their websites and social media pages. More than 1,500 candidates responded to the League’s questions.  After reaching the Webpage you can enter your address and get a complete list of the candidates who will appear on your ballot, their biographical and contact information, along with their responses to League Questions.

A couple of weeks before the election, the League of Women Voters produces a printed Voters’ Guide that provides the same information as on VOTE411.org. This guide will be printed in the Star Democrat and other Queen Anne’s County publications, but not in the Kent County News. However, in Kent County copies of the League Voters’ Guide will be available at the public libraries, as well as distributed at the Farmers Market in Chestertown on Saturday, October 27 and Saturday, November 3.

Remember: Your Vote is Your Voice. Voting is your chance to tell decision makers what you think. Speak up and be heard. Your vote matters!

 

Kitty Maynard
Chestertown
Director, Your vote, your voice!

 

Letter to the Editor: Protecting Mueller

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Most of us suspect that Robert Mueller’s investigation report will not be good for team Trump. Trump has to know this too. Will he fire Sessions and Rosenstein before Mueller’s report is published, and replace AG and Deputy with people willing to bury what has been found to date? I have worried about that.

Something encouraging, though. Jill Wine-banks, one of the prosecutors during the Watergate scandal, said that members of her team feared Nixon would try to squelch the investigation by such tactics. And so, team members began to take copies of crucial reports/findings home with them at the end of their working day. That way, if office documents were commandeered, sealed, or by other means buried by Nixon’s lawyers, copies would survive. The truth would be preserved and eventually come out.

So, if Team Trump is able to terminate (bad word choice?) Mueller’s investigation, probably the only thing to regret is what Mueller’s folks have not found so far. What they have found will eventually be revealed (I think, I hope, I pray, I’m counting on).

For what ideological differences we might have with Jeff Sessions, he seems to respect the rule of law. When this is over, he doesn’t want history to view him as a Trump puppet. He is not a Trump loyalist or protector. That’s why Trump has been trying to get rid of him sans Saturday Night Massacre. Trump thought the Justice Department was to be his personal defense team, but Sessions said no. After all, that role is better served by the GOP Congress.

Rod Rosenstein, being Mueller’s boss, is in a tougher position. He’s gotta know everything that Mueller has uncovered so far, and therefore what a crook Trump is. He, like Sessions, must also be concerned with history’s verdict. Thus he has to “handle” Trump carefully. Tell him what he wants to hear while quietly helping Mueller do his job. Yes, he was complicit in getting Comey fired, which Trump was going to do with or without the justification letter, but the letter allowed him to stay on and keep Mueller’s work moving.

If you look at all the people who have flipped so far, people who know dirty little secrets of Trump and family, and are feeding Mueller this info, no wonder Trump is hosting more we-love-the-king rallies. That’s not counting what Mueller can find without help from the flippers (tax records, money laundering, conspiracy evidence).

Who will history look upon unfavorably? Trump enablers and supporters in the GOP. They will say “Oh, we didn’t know what a crook he was,” but in this age of electronic communications and hundreds of bird-dog reporters, not just two as in Watergate, that defense will ring hollow.

Bob Moores
Chestertown

Letter to the Editor: Witch Hunt

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Trump says he hires the “best people.” Let’s see.

Trump appointees/associates who have plead guilty to federal crimes:

Michael Flynn, National Security Advisor
George Papadopoulos, Campaign foreign-policy adviser
Paul Manafort, Campaign Chairman
Rick Gates, Deputy Campaign Chairman
Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer

The people he hired/appointed in his first year-and-two-thirds, and have been fired, or forced to resign because of corrupt activities, or because they can’t work with him, or have been convicted of felonies, are too numerous to list here. Let me just say that in all my years of politics-watching I have never seen corruption, chaos, and criminal activity on this scale. Someone pointed out that not even the most famous mob bosses had this many associates convicted of federal and state crimes. And . . . the President himself remains under investigation for possible collusion with a foreign power, obstruction of justice, financial crimes, and conspiracy against the United States. We await Mueller’s report.

Trump calls Mueller’s investigation a “witch hunt.” What is a witch hunt? The dictionary says it refers to:

An intensive effort to discover and expose disloyalty, subversion, dishonesty, or the like, usually based on slight, doubtful, or irrelevant evidence.

I suppose the term originated with the “witches” of Salem, Massachusetts, many of whom were property-owning widows whose trials, convictions, and executions were perpetrated under false pretenses so their properties could be acquired by their accusers (See Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World).

Have the criminals found by Mueller’s team been wrongly charged and convicted? Have they been made to confess by threat of, or actual, torture? Mueller’s investigation would only be a witch hunt if it found no criminal activity by Team Trump, but that does not appear to be the case.

Bob Moores
Chestertown

Letter to the Editor: Panic Attack? Here’s The Story

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Yesterday the Spy published a fascinating letter from Mr. Leon Sheer, husband of the Chairwoman of the Talbot County Republican Central Committee, entitled “Vote Against Laura Price” and expressing outrage against her, a fellow Republican. Given the identity of the author, I believe most would reasonably interpret that letter as virtually an official manifesto from the GOP Central Committee.

Mr. Sheer claimed that Ms. Price “has decided to attack fellow Council members” (all of whom are other Republicans); he accused her of disloyalty “to the Republican Party;” and he urged Republicans to vote for Jennifer Williams and all other republican candidates and “anybody else except Price.” Referring to “those attacks,” he asserts that they are “dirty politics and should not be tolerated in our County.” Wow.

Here is why Mr. Sheer’s vitriolic attack on Ms. Price is not just wrong, but 180 degrees wrong.

BACKSTORY:

I am the person who brought to the County Council meeting on Tuesday evening five (5) clipboards, each with a sign-up sheet announcing a “Coalition to Unseat Jennifer Williams and her allies, Pack and Callahan,” and inviting people who were interested to sign up. (See photo attached.) I warrant to all that neither Laura Price nor any other living soul (my wife included) knew anything about this–either the “coalition effort” or the actual sign-up sheets. For better or worse, I acted on my own initiative consulting no one else—certainly not Ms. Price, who in all likelihood would have tried to dissuade me. And I took these clipboards to the Council meeting for somewhat the same reason Willie Sutton hung around banks.

For many reasons (to be discussed in coming weeks), I believe Ms. Williams and her constant allies are pursuing many policies detrimental to Talbot County and its citizens in the long term. And I believe the only responsible action in this democracy is to take positive action to un-elect them. Isn’t that so? I think Jennifer and Corey and Chuck would acknowledge that it is not personal–in the sense of being motivated by any antipathy to them as individuals—but it is serious and motivated by different viewpoints about substantive issues local to Talbot County.

Incidentally, the infamous clipboards were not distributed in a surreptitious manner. The purpose could not have been more clearly labeled, and they were intended to get to everyone in the room—knowing some (most) would be interested in linking up and a few would not. I had my name and phone number on the boards–so that they might work there way back to me…and all did. (Indeed, a majority in the room signed on.)

One of those who did not agree was the Executive Director of the Mid Shore Board of Realtors, who took a quick snapshot of the sign-up sheet. That snapshot promptly went to the overseers of the local party, leading to yesterday’s screed. Irresponsibly, though my name and number was on the material, no one from the republican central committee contacted me to make any inquiry prior to blasting Ms. Price. I would be surprised if they asked her about it either.

IT’S NOT ABOUT PARTY:

And that takes me to the “republican” thing. This effort to defeat Ms. Williams and others has nothing to do with party. Nothing. The Council’s issues are all local issues, with Jennifer leading in the wrong direction (IMHO), Chuck and Corey in support. Do the Sheers really think the people angry with this Council are all Democrats? Registered republicans, trying to enjoy an evening on the deck, do they not hear noise at 65 decibels? Are there no republicans who live along our County roads where sewer lines will soon be run….or is it that such republicans favor new subdivisions, while only their democrat neighbors don’t? And STRs? Maybe putting a commercial use in the middle of a neighborhood only irritates registered democrats, and only devalues homes owned by D’s. Talbot’s Comprehensive Plan which Ms. Williams and allies try to undercut whenever possible, was the product 2 years of hard work by engaged citizens of both parties, and many independents too.

Unlike the Sheers, I believe the people of Talbot County recognize that this Council election is not about ideology or party issues, but practical problems demanding thoughtful pragmatic solutions reflecting the input and opinions of citizens and a fidelity to the Comp Plan. If the republicans put up 5 candidates committed to that, then bully for them—vote for those candidates! Same with the Dems. But fact is, Williams, Callahan and Pack  have demonstrated an indifference if not opposition to the principles of the Comp Plan, and a single-minded intention to ignore the opinions and input of engaged citizens. So the effort to unseat them is altogether bipartisan, and no one in this coalition cares who is and R and who is a D or and Independent. We just want to protect our County and have it grow and prosper in a manner consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.

THE PARTY’S ATTACK ON LAURA PRICE:

All that said, look again at the bitter attack made by Mr. Sheer on Laura Price:

It was not Ms. Price who “decided to attack fellow Council members.” Apparently it never occurred to the party bosses that mere citizens could think of taking action–even though the meeting room was once again filled to capacity with angry citizens whose opinions were acknowledged by Laura Price and ignored by Williams and her constant allies.

How is it that Ms. Price was disloyal “to the Republican Party?” Had the republican central committee put out some sort of directive as to how to vote on Bill 1401, including the noise and STR amendments which went against most citizens’ positions?
And “dirty tricks that should not be tolerated in our County?” What can a thinking person even say?

Finally, appreciate the irony that the husband of the Chairwoman of the Republican Central Committee, without inquiring fully about the events in question, would launch a vehement and unqualified attack on a particular Republican council person alleging disloyalty based on a misunderstood attack that Ms. Price hadn’t even known about. Some demonstration of loyalty, eh? Almost Shakespearean.

Dan Watson
Talbot County

PS–I’ve heard second hand that some readers, on the basis of yesterday’s attack piece, have sent nasty emails to Ms. Price, and at least one supporter requested that their contribution to her campaign be refunded. In fairness, I do hope the information above might trigger some reconsideration.

Letter to the Editor: County Commissioner Ron Fithian Not a Real Democrat

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County Commissioner Ron Fithian was elected as a Democrat to serve as Kent County Commissioner, a position he has held for the last 20 years. Like every American he has the right to support and eventually vote for the candidate of his choice for governor of our state.

If he wanted to place a quarter-page ad in the Kent County News endorsing the Republican candidate for Governor, he should have done so as private citizen Ron Fithian, not as County Commissioner Ron Fithian, who is also a candidate for office. He bases his support for Governor Hogan on his support for the Commissioners over the past four years. Of course, Mr. Hogan would do whatever he could for the Eastern Shore counties, since they are a major source of his support. While Mr. Hogan has shown himself to be moderate as present-day Republicans go, the fact is that he is still a Republican who puts corporations and the wealthy before the middle class and the poor. Yes, he lowered our bridge tolls, but at the risk of not having the funds to maintain the structures.

Mr. Fithian turns his back on his party’s candidate for Governor. Ben Jealous is a candidate for today and for tomorrow, but he also represents the best traditions of the Democratic Party, the New Deal of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Great Society of Lyndon Johnson before he lost himself to the Vietnam War. If the citizens of Kent County take the time to look at Jealous’s positions, they will see that the county, the entire Eastern Shore and the State can only benefit if he is elected. His policies for educational reform, support for business, improving the environment, and reforming the criminal justice system are forward looking.

Mr. Fithian has shown himself not to be a real Democrat. In choosing to support the Republican candidate, he is aligning himself with the party that is undermining our federal government and our democracy, that would return us to the “good old days” of the robber barons by continuing to favor the wealthiest 1% over the rest of us. Wake up, Mr. Fithian and smell the coffee. You won’t have my vote in November and I would encourage the Democrats of Kent County not to vote for you as well. Every Democrat should vote for Ben Jealous, our Party’s candidate for Governor as the better choice for the future. Democrats like Ben Jealous around the country are gaining support, especially among the young. Our Party is reclaiming its progressive heritage, and in my humble opinion that can only lead to better times.

George R. Shivers
Chestertown

Letter to the Editor: Hospital’s Emergency Room is Top Notch

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Last week my cousin, who must use a walker to get around, broke her wrist. Our wonderful Rescue Squad (thank you Maurice) took her to the Emergency Room at the Hospital in Chestertown. As there was not an available bed in the hospital, and due to unexpected circumstances, she stayed in the ER for two days. During her stay in the ER, I was there a great deal of the time and I cannot say enough complimentary things about her treatment. The ER was extremely busy but the staff was very attentive and a doctor saw her within a reasonable time. Under the circumstances it was a very positive experience.

We are very fortunate to have our Hospital and it must stay open not only as an ER but also as an “in-bed” operation.

Mackey Metcalfe Dutton
Chestertown

Letter to the Editor: Protect the Chesapeake Bay on Election Day

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While Andy Harris should be commended for his recent vote in support of cleanup efforts in the Chesapeake Bay, the League of Women Voters rates his overall stand on environmental issues at 3 percent. A sudden change of heart on our representative’s part – probably not.

The Chesapeake Bay is such an important part of my life and has been for years. I’ve played in it and on it for years and I followed my parents to the Eastern Shore when my husband and I retired here nearly 20 years ago. It has changed so much since I was a young and could grab oysters from under my parents dock or chicken neck for crabs for dinner. Now the oysters are gone and I can’t see into the water to net the crabs.

Fortunately, the Bay is also a recognized in general as a national and regional treasure, providing not only enjoyment but significant economic benefits for the region. Despite our representative’s voting record, Congress and our previous presidents have recognized this importance and have committed to restoring the health of the Bay. After a 15 year and $19 billion dollar cleanup effort the Chesapeake Bay health is slowly but steadily improving earning a C in the latest report card.

Let’s put someone in office who recognizes and values the Chesapeake Bay. Jesse Colvin, who is running against Andy Harris in the upcoming election, wants to add one million oysters to the Chesapeake Bay. Perhaps if that happens my grandson and I will eventually be able to see the crabs and I can pass on the wonderful art of “chicken-necking” to his generation.

Ellyn Vail
Worton, MD