Us and Them
To the editor: A long time ago in the 1960s I wrote a letter published in Time Magazine titled “This Us and Them.” Here I am, 50-plus years later writing the same letter.
Then it had to do with civil rights; today it is all about party and politics but the message is the same. This “Us and Them” has got to stop. You and I are “We” — human beings and Americans, neighbors and sometime friends.
How have we come to a moment in our country’s shared history when simply to punish people of a different skin color and damage the lives of members of a party we’ve been exhorted to despise, we are willing to elevate to power men and women who will vote to cut holes in all our safety nets — including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and SNAP — to pay for tax cuts that affect only corporations and extremely wealthy individuals, and are ballooning the deficit at a rate that will take years for our children and grandchildren to pay down?
How have we come to applaud judging and condemning people to lives of pain or hunger, poverty or terror, simply because they are not like us? To approve sentencing our ambitious young people to crushing student debt; to agree to leaving our children and grandchildren to do battle with the devastating effects of a changing climate that we could be battling ourselves right now?
Why have we let ourselves be bullied into believing that party is the only allegiance that matters? When we vote the party line to punish our “enemies,” the irony is that we punish ourselves as well.
There is no Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid for Republicans that will survive the vote to cut everyone’s benefits and no affordable health insurance available only to Republicans that will leave the “Others” to suffer and die; no wars that will maim and kill only liberals and progressives; no way to separate air and water into clean and dirty and ensure that Republicans will get only the clean while everyone else gets only the dirty. As long as we refuse to take care of each other, we are all going down together.
Is it still too much to ask that we say “enough” to the Us and Them divide, and make our choices based on We? Can we finally come together for the good of every American? Perhaps on Nov. 6 we’ll find out. Frances A. Miller Chestertown
To the editor: In a few short weeks, Americans will go to the polls to elect candidates to federal, state and local office. Against this backdrop is the much reported evaluation of Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Judge Kavanaugh graduated from some of the nation’s most prestigious schools, served with distinction in lower courts, was invited by the then Harvard Law School dean Elena Kagan to teach at Harvard Law, and has earned a reputation as a man of high integrity. Instead of using his education and experience to enrich himself and cash in as a Washington insider or lobbyist, he has dedicated his professional career to the law, earning respect from Republicans and Democrats alike. There are no valid reasons he should not have been confirmed readily.
The shameless behavior of a cabal of Democratic senators to besmirch and persecute Judge Kavanaugh and his family, is despicable. The televised proceedings of a camilla of professional career politicians, many graduating from lower schools of law using every attempt to impugn his reputation and integrity should make every informed American cringe. Even Maryland’s Ben Cardin lacked the integrity to push back against Diana Feinstein’s diktat from her San Fransisco palace to use every tactic, ethical or not, to tear down the reputation of a stellar candidate.
The most tragic result of this shabby behavior, of course, is the likelihood that eminently qualified candidates for public office will understandably have second thoughts about stepping forward to accept a position knowing what accusations and calumny might ensue. Consider the example of a candidate who actually did commit a confirmed indiscretion during his/her animal house days but who otherwise has led an exemplary life. Imagine the partisan denigration and traducing that might be visited on such an individual.
Would you subject yourself to this? I’m not certain I would.
To the editor: Midterm elections are just days away and we in the 1st Congressional District have a very important choice to make. Our current congressional representative has been in Congress for four terms; it’s time to ask are we in the 1st District better off?
Let’s talk about public education. Andy Harris claims he supports education. To put it simply, he does not. What he really supports is money coming out of our already stretched education budgets to fund more charter and private schools.
We have more challenges in our schools today because we have more students living in poverty than ever before. If we are going to successfully prepare our students for the future, we need to meet them where they are and address their needs so they are ready to learn. That includes making sure every child has health care, adequate nutrition and mental health services.
Adding charter schools in a district, and simultaneously restricting funding, means existing schools get less and less money to address these needs. Having an occasional photo op at a school by an absentee congressman is not what supporting education should be.
Andy Harris is on record opposing free college education. Free college education would mean a more educated populace who will question authority and hold politicians accountable. Scary? Maybe for him. He votes for tax cuts for the rich and then wants to cut entitlements to reduce the deficit he helped create, thereby starving public sector programs like Medicare and Medicaid. A large amount of Andy Harris’s support comes from wealthy individuals and rich groups from outside the state of Maryland who know nothing about the needs of the people in the 1st Congressional District.
Democrat Jesse Colvin understands the need to support our public schools and educate the whole child. That means doing what needs to be done to ensure the success of all of our students. Jesse understands what that means for the economy and future of our great state. He is a person who gets that problems aren’t fixed with meaningless comments and photo ops. Jesse is invested in our whole district.
We need to make sure Jesse goes to Congress so all of our voices can be heard! Betty Weller Madhu Sidhu Chestertown
To the editor: Thank you to all who stopped by our booth at Fall Fest in Rock Hall on Saturday to offer thanks and support in our efforts to keep the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge viable.
We have accomplished our goal of keeping the refuge open for the foreseeable future. We are waiting (patiently?) for a full-time manager to be appointed. We are receiving part-time coverage by managers from Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.
As we have no authority in the matter, we can only observe at this point. We advise all who are interested to be patient while the matter is resolved.
Phil Cicconi Friends of Eastern Neck
St. Paul’s Parish
To the editor: St. Paul’s Parish, Kent is very thankful and extremely grateful for the support provided by Kent County commissioners William Pickrum, Ron Fithian Bill and Short, Chesapeake Farms and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources as we and our neighbors are dealing with serious issues related to stormwater runoff from Sandy Bottom Road and adjacent fields.
During heavy rain periods water flow increases substantially. This results in increased flow and erosion along the Sandy Bottom Road drainage ditch and the banks of the stream adjacent to St. Paul’s Cemetery. Additionally runoff from the fields carries measurable loads of nitrogen and phosphorus. Together with the eroded silt these flow downstream into Langford Creek and ultimately into the Chesapeake Bay.
Phase 1 of the project, completed in 2017, addressed the most severe problem of stream bank erosion. Plans for phase 2, a long-term solution to water quality and flow rates into the Chesapeake Bay, are now complete.
This solution to be completed in 2019-2020 is designed to reduce flooding of Sandy Bottom Road, provide for a more gentle water flow, reduce nutrients going into the Bay and, as an added benefit, provide for quail and other habitats on Chesapeake Farms’ land.
Our hats are off to all for their tremendous support, advice and guidance. The forward thinking by the county commissioners, Chesapeake Farms and Maryland Department of Natural Resources is resulting in problems being addressed and solved.
In the long run, the Chesapeake Bay and our entire community will benefit. Chris Maxwell
Chairman St. Paul’s Kent Churchyard Committee
To the editor: I would like to remind readers of the importance of voting in the midterm elections on Nov. 6 and to recommend voting “yes” on Question 2.
Early voting takes place Oct. 25 to Nov.1, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Those not registered may register at the polls on these dates. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6. Hours are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Maryland citizens over 18 can vote. College students attending college in Maryland can use their college addresses. Former convicts, even if still on probation, can vote.
Citizens may vote using an absentee ballot without stating the reason. Absentee ballots can be ordered in the follow ways: online with a valid Maryland driver’s license or MVA-issued ID card at elections.maryland.gov/ voting/absentee.html or go to the Kent County Board of Elections, 135 Dixon Drive, Chestertown, or the Queen Anne’s County Board of Elections, 110 Vincit St., Centreville, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to complete a form. Absentee ballots must be postmarked on or before election day, Nov. 6.
A “Yes” to Question 2 on the ballot is a vote in favor of allowing citizens to register at the polls on Election Day (in addition to the current law, enacted in 2013, whereby citizens can register at the polls during the early voting period). Many states now allow this opportunity. Impediments to voting should be removed.
Rides to the polls are available through Your Vote, Your Voice! by calling 443-4851342.
In the words of Susan B. Anthony, “Someone struggled for your right to vote. Use it.” Your vote matters. Kitty Maynard
To the editor: A Kent County News report on Aug. 23 was headlined: “County to ease enforcement in Critical Areas” and reported the county commissioners had voted to “order the planning office to stop issuing fines for what they see as lesser violations of state Critical Area regulations.”
Commissioner Ron Fithian initiated this action by trivializing fines issued for two Critical Area violations, claiming, “This is petty stuff,” and adding, “This makes no sense.”
I disagree. Protecting Chesapeake Bay is not “petty stuff.” As every landowner in the Critical Area knows, their property is subject to extra regulations that aim to shield the Bay from further degradation. If these owners flout the law, they’re likely to find themselves facing a fine, and rightly so.
The commissioners’ vote to weaken Critical Area enforcement should concern everyone. But, here’s the rest of the story.
To an inquiry from me, an assistant attorney general at the Department of Natural Resources replied: “While Kent County has some discretion in enforcing its Critical Area program, any changes to this provision of the County’s Critical Area program must be submitted to the Critical Area Commission for review and approval.”
The letter further states: “At this time, however, the County has not submitted any text changes to the Critical Area Commission for review or approval. Furthermore, the County has continued to effectively enforce its Critical Area program by citing violations when they occur in the Critical area and continuing to assess fines.”
So, for now, fines remain in force and Bay protections are intact.
Grenville B. Whitman
To the editor: Our commissioners cite lack of capital when justifying their persistent inaction on the major issues facing Kent County, including schools, emergency services and transportation. They claim consistent flat revenues are not a fault of leadership but the result of factors beyond their control.
I personally have heard them blame everyone from the state, to our delegates, to the superintendent, to the Board of Education, to bad parenting, to Washington College, to our students, to our teachers, to social media, to taxes, to not enough EMS volunteers and firemen, to road maintenance, to retirees, to Support Our Schools, to property owners, to com- puters, to books, to baby boomers, to the hospital, to insurance companies, to people who were anti-Walmart, to bus drivers, to me personally, to expensive rents, to being next to Queen Anne’s County, to FTS, to the Town of Chestertown, to their salaries, to county workers who deserve a raise but aren’t getting one and then, finally, when all else fails, to each other. If you fall into any of those groups, know that your leaders blame you for our problems.
True leadership is ownership — accepting responsibility for ongoing problems that impact their constituents. I don’t expect my elected leaders to always have the answers, but I certainly expect them to be open to new ideas and alternate opinions.
From Dixon to KRM to Washington College, the county’s most significant employers have repeatedly pointed to improving schools as the best hope for turning our stagnating revenues around. In response, our commissioners have proclaimed that change is unnecessary, that they’re doing a great job — and then refuse to fully fund our schools.
But change is clearly necessary.
How many more families need to flee the county for better jobs and better-funded schools before our commissioners will choose action over complacency? How many more employees will be forced to work in Kent County while living elsewhere?
I am among a group of concerned parents who have invested our time and en- ergy into advocating for our schools, lobbying our legislators, meeting with our commissioners, scrutinizing budgets and informing our fellow citizens. Our ideas have been met by our sitting commissioners with derision, insults, conspiracy theories and blame.
Change is beyond overdue. Fortunately, we now have an opportunity to demand new leadership. New ideas. A whole new day for our county.
The first step is electing people who admit there is work to be done. Robbi Behr Chestertown
To the editor: Incumbents have it easy; they have been in the job for years, nothing terrible has happened and who likes change anyway. Sailing the same course is easy; whether they’ve done a good or bad job. Is that what we want for four more years?
The three current commissioners, combined, have been in office more than 30 years. Are we better off today than we were in 1990? The beauty of our election system is that we get to vote for fresh thinking and new ideas. We the people decide who we want shaping our future.
Take a hard look at the incumbents: their careers, background and experience. Do they guarantee new approaches and fresh thinking affecting the next two, five or seven years? I don’t think so. Explain to me how being a teacher at Delaware State University (William Pickrum), owning a small interior design store (William Short) and being the town manager of Rock Hall (Ron Fithian), translates into a broader and better vision for Kent County.
There must be other backgrounds and skill sets that together would generate a more inclusive management style for the five incorporated towns and their residents; one aimed at blending different perspectives into fresh solutions. All of us want to look forward to an improved lifestyle that benefits all segments of Kent County.
I think it is time for Kent County voters to infuse new blood into our Commission. In 2018, we have three new, outstanding commissioner candidates who have diverse backgrounds and achievements guaranteeing a collective decision-making process leading to positive outcomes.
Tom Timberman is an Army veteran, lawyer and development expert with 15 years experience in combat zones; he has lived in Kent County 22 years. Bob Jacob, born and raised in Kent, is a successful entrepreneur who grew his business from his garage to one with 25 employ- ees today. Tom Mason is a widely respected agricultural authority who owns and manages several dairy farms; a business he built himself.
The incumbents had their shot. It is time to pass the baton to three new Kent County commissioners, who could well bring us to a better place. Having worked in nonprofits for over 30 years, I have witnessed how new leadership can create excitement and engagement. Bob Miller Treasurer Tom Timberman for County Commissioner
To the editor: In Maryland’s 1st Congressional District, this year we have the opportunity to elect Jesse Colvin to represent us in Washington. I recently had the opportunity to attend Jesse’s town hall meeting in Jarrettsville and came away impressed.
Jesse is new to the political arena, but not new to public service. The son of a district court judge and a public defender, Jesse set out to join the military in the wake of 9/11. His parents convinced him to complete his education first, so he earned his bachelor’s degree from Duke University, studying history and Arabic. After graduation, he spent time in Syria, where he taught English to Iraqi refugees. That experience led Jesse back to the idea of serving in the military.
His six years in the U.S. Army as an intelligence officer and member of the elite Army Rangers included four combat deployments to Afghanistan. Returning home, he earned a master’s degree from Columbia University, financed through the G.I. Bill, and began a successful career in business.
Now Jesse has set his sights on continuing to serve his country as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. His priorities are the key issues of the day for all Marylanders — jobs for the future, affordable healthcare, the condition of the Chesapeake Bay, support for our veterans, the opioid crisis, equal pay and middle-class tax reform. He readily admits that he doesn’t have all the answers, but is willing to take on the challenges with urgency.
These are not partisan issues and they will not be solved by extreme proposals from one party or the other. Jesse has experience working across the aisle — he is married to a Republican and former police officer.
Dozens of our veterans are running for congressional seats this cycle. They, like Jesse, know how to overcome differences and work cooperatively to achieve the mission. Many of them have taken on the slogan “Country before Party”. Together, they can become a sorely needed force for change in Washington.
I can’t say that I know this young man well, but the traits that I see in him — intelligence, bravery, leadership, and the willingness to serve — make me willing to support him. I will be voting for Jesse Colvin and encourage you to do so as well. Michael Dean
To the editor: My children — Martin in seventh grade at Kent County Middle School and Marie in third grade at H.H. Garnet Elementary School — have been enrolled in the Kent County Public Schools since kindergarten. I couldn’t be happier with their academic experience and performance so far.
The education received in our school system has prepared them for the real life. They learn their academic core requirements but also experience the reality of the world we live in. They are growing as independent human beings, immersed in a diverse environment, where teachers and staff members truly care.
What I have seen in the classroom, as a Character Counts! coach, a volunteer and as a professor who led annual outreach activities for the past seven years is the following: devoted and passionate teachers, who deserve a lot more credit and support; committed administrators, who are expected to achieve wonders with limited resources; parents, who have a huge amount of positive energy to share; and, finally, our students, our children, the future of our county and country, who have the right to dream as big as possible.
If you want a chance to discover what our public schools are about, take the time to introduce yourself to an administrator, visit our Kent County schools classrooms, spend time with our outstanding teachers and, the best part, interact with our students.
You will be truly amazed at how much our Kent County students can teach you.
Anne Marteel-Parrish Professor of Chemistry
To the editor: I will admit that I am a Jesse Colvin supporter. That’s why I attended the candidate forum at the Talbot County Free Library on Sunday, Oct. 21.
I’m also a former U.S. Department of Justice official responsible for coordinating training at the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Training Center and a former law enforcement accreditation manager with the Kent Coun- ty Sheriff’s Office.
As I came out of the library after the forum, I noticed a white Ford Crown Victoria (the prototypical police car) double parked out front. It had emergency lights mounted in the front windshield and the rear window. I thought it was odd that the Easton Police (who had provided security at the event) would send an unmarked car to pick up its officers.
As I pulled out of the parking lot onto N. West Street to head home, a car with Andy Harris as a passenger made a left turn from W. Dover Street onto N. West Street, followed closely by the same white Crown Vic. The white car executed a protective maneuver — pulling out into the intersection and stopping, as if to block oncoming traffic — before again pulling close to the Harris car’s rear bumper. At the intersection of N. West and Bay streets, both cars made a left turn, with the white Crown Vic again blocking the intersection as if to provide cover. I turned right to head out of Easton.
As I merged onto the Easton Parkway going toward U.S. Route 50, I found myself be- hind the two cars again. The white Crown Vic was close on the Harris car’s tail and remained there all the way to state Route 213, where I turned toward Chestertown.
How ironic that Jesse Colvin has put 30,000 miles on his truck driving around Maryland’s 1st District while outof-touch Andy Harris needs a security detail to visit his own constituents!
I wonder who’s paying for it? John Vail
To the editor: It was unfortunate that every voter in Maryland’s 1st Congressional District did not get to attend Sunday’s debate on the MidShore between Rep. Andy Harris and former Army Ranger and businessman Jesse Colvin.
Patient voters began to line up in the blustery wind two hours before the debate, but attendance at Easton’s Talbot Public Library was limited to a capacity of about 200, so many were turned away. Voters who missed the debate will be able to access the 90 minutes on the sponsoring League of Women Voters website.
What you would have seen are two totally different candidates vying to represent the 1st District.
One, Congressman Harris, came across as talking down to his constituents, occasionally lecturing them as though he knew better than those who had elected him, which drew murmurs of discontent several times from an audience obviously out of sync with the incumbent.
Jesse Colvin, on the other hand, clearly was in tune with his audience, after months and tens of thousands of miles traveling the 1st District to meet thousands of them in in shops and on the docks, in town halls and in shopping malls.
One might presume that the audience was predominantly made up of Democrats but that is not true. There were many like this Republican and my wife, an independent, who came because we truly wanted to compare the two candidates. We came early, knowing the small hall would be sold out, and we are glad we did.
What we saw was a definite shift in voter preference toward country over party, rather than blindly voting D or R because one always has.
What we witnessed was a young empathetic knowledgeable caring servant leader who wants to represent and advocate for all his neighbors in the 1st District, compared to an ideologue who clearly did not care for the concerns of most of his constituents.
We have voted for Andy Harris three times, but not a fourth. It is clearly time for a change to a new generation of citizen leader, and we urge our 1st District neighbors to join us in wishing Rep. Harris a happy and fruitful retirement. Philip J. Webster St. Michaels