Vol. 10, No. 39

September26- October 2, 2002

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Maryland’s Poet Laureate Michael Collier

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In Gov’s Election, Time For Policy Not Process

A political operative for Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is foolish enough to call Rep. Bob Ehrlich a name while talking to an aggressive reporter. He gets fired.

Boom. Smack. Slash. Another page-one story about Townsend’s campaign for governor in disarray.

About the same time last week, headlines crackled with stories about heavy-hitter Democrats wringing their hands over Townsend’s blunders and about her supposedly tepid endorsement from Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley.

Whoops? There goes another week of Townsend not telling Maryland voters who she is.

Enough. Stop. Give us a break. With less than six weeks remaining in an extraordinarily important election, we get a steady diet of nuts-and-bolts stories rather than the bread-and-butter information Marylanders need to make up their minds.

Campaign process stories are fine for a while, but there comes a time when candidates need to be smoked out about what they’ll do for us. And to us.

Our brethren in the news media aren’t totally to blame. Townsend and her strategists (Laurel and Hardy?) have given process-loving reporters an irresistible target.

But as we enter the stretch-run of this campaign, we need more. So we ask these questions of our gubernatorial candidates:

Ms. Townsend, just what do you have beyond the Kennedy name to offer? And please don’t tell us that running Maryland is your “indispensable destiny” after eight years in a largely ceremonial job.

It’s up to you to break through the clutter and give Marylanders the reasons why they should give you their vote. If we were going to the polls tomorrow, voters would know more about your campaign’s blunders than about why they should hire you.

As for you, Mr. Ehrlich, we’ve watched you riding high on the wave of ambivalence toward Townsend. And we know the press loves a close election.

We know you favor gambling as a cure-all for what ails the state economy. But what about the growth, congestion and environmental problems that concern many of us?

You blame sewage treatment plants for fouling the Chesapeake. But are you prepared to commit the hundreds of millions of dollars necessary for local upgrades?

You’ve claimed that nitrogen pollution is a serious Bay problem. Yet you’ve endorsed legislation to delay for two years the requirement by poultry farmers to develop a plan to reduce farm pollution runoff.

You say on your Web site that the Bay “must be preserved and protected.” But why, given your voting record on environmental issues, should we put you in charge of its protection?

Have you had an awakening similar to Saul’s on the road to Damascus that we should know about?

To both of you we say, time is short. Talk to us.

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly