Dock of the Bay

 Vol. 11, No. 3

January 16-22, 2003

Current Issue

Our Lead Story

Dock of the Bay
Letters to the Editor
Bay Reflections
Burton on the Bay
Earth Journal
Not Just for Kids
Eight Days a Week
What's Playing Where
Curtain Call
Music Notes
Sky Watch
Bay Classifieds
Behind Bay Weekly
Advertising Info
Distribution spots
Contact us

This Week's Articles:

Symphony of Protest for Dunner Plays on Board

The chorus of voices raised in support of Annapolis Symphony Orchestra music director and conductor Leslie Dunner has not fallen on deaf ears.

As a result of a symphony of support for Dunner, the orchestra’s board of directors planned to meet to revisit its decision to let the adventuresome maestro’s contract lapse in June.

Sources say the extraordinary meeting, scheduled for January 15, will not consider recalling Dunner to the symphony. But it is clear that board members are considering how to deal with the controversy and perhaps how to win back public support.

Bud Billups, president of the board, has consistently said there are no plans to reconsider the controversial decision. Going into the meeting, he reiterated its finality. That decision was made in November, when the executive committee of the volunteer 33-member symphony board of directors announced it would not renew Dunner’s contract for the 2003-2004 season, which would have been his sixth year.

Since the decision, letters have poured into symphony offices and a steady stream of letters and commentaries has appeared in The Capital. Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyer has written, and an Annapolis alderman has called for Dunner’s reinstatement.

A petition organized by former mayor Robert Hillman was the latest expression in the outpouring of support for Dunner, who has navigated the symphony orchestra’s course into new waters and courted new audiences, from children up, with style and flair.

“We knew Leslie Dunner had a following, knew some would be upset. But we did not expect the degree of concern or activity,” Billups said.

Outrage reached a crescendo in the second week of January in the organized protest and petition bearing the signatures of symphony supporters and musicians.

Billups and the board have refused to give the reasons for their decision after backtracking from an early explanation that, after five years with Dunner, subscription ticket sales were falling.

Supporters, however, sing Dunner’s praises as an artist, scholar, public relations whiz and new and active member of the Annapolis community.

Gar Whaley, of Galesville, a music publisher and director of the award-winning band at Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, said Dunner “has done the job better than I thought possible because of the energy he’s put into it. The board ought to get on hands and knees and crawl back to this guy and double his salary.”

Whaley told Bay Weekly his letter to The Capital was spontaneous. “I and so many others took the time to write letters because it is a real outpouring,” he said.

Barbara Miller of Fairhaven, who is a members of the Friends of the Symphony as well as a musician and teacher, added her voice to the “outcry” in hopes that the board would reconsider its decision. “I was shocked, and I wrote in hope there will be a reversal,” she said.

“Mr. Dunner has done nothing but bring the orchestra to new heights,” added Ward 4 Alderman George O. Kelley Sr. to the chorus of praise. “Mr. Billups is the driving force behind it, and for the sake of the orchestra, himself and Mr. Dunner, I’m hoping he reconsiders.”

Kelley noted that “there are people in the community raising the issue of racism as Mr. Dunner is the orchestra’s first African American conductor.”

However, a “summit” requested by Kelley brought no reprieve.

“The decision is firm,” Billups repeated after meeting with Kelley and Dunner January 3.

He said the symphony is already scheduling guest conductors to lead the orchestra in its four major concerts next year. In terms of a new conductor, Billups said “we’ve had wonderful inquiries before we’ve reached out.”

To those outpourings, the petition added the organized, polyphonic choir of dozens of voices. It called for a special board meeting to reconsider a decision it called “not in the best interests” of the symphony.

At that special meeting and beyond, the question is likely to be how, without recalling Dunner, to satisfy all those lamenting voices.

Dunner raises his baton on January 24 to conduct his first concert since the board decision. In that long-planned program, he shows the range for which he’s been praised, seasoning classic musicians Mozart, Ravel and Schumann with the contemporary American conductor Hovhaness.


to the top

Bloodbath at Department of Natural Resources

Live by the sword, die by the sword.

Some call it a blood bath.

Others view it as a change of administration that should be expected. But in any event, the sword lopped off just about all the upper echelon of Maryland Department of Natural Resources on the fourth floor of the Tawes State Office Building.

Surely, some who got the pink slip shouldn’t have been surprised. They lived by the sword.

All were ordered to vacate their offices by noon Wednesday, January 15, the time scheduled for Gov.-elect Bob Ehrlich’s swearing in at Annapolis. A baby or two went out with the bath water, there was just one fourth-floor survivor and as we go to press, DNR is a ship without a captain — and only one deck officer. The new governor has got to fill some vacancies fast to get the ship back on course, even as the General Assembly sets up shop for a session that surely should include some department legislation.

It all happened Monday, January 13: 30 dismissals in 18 departments, many targeting political appointees, some direct from the office of Gov. Parris Glendening. Four firings involved DNR. Gone is Karen White, who not too long ago arrived from the Governor’s Office to take over as deputy secretary and who then last summer went back to work on the campaign of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. She had to expect to go.

Gone also is Carolyn Watson, an assistant secretary in charge of fisheries, forests and wildlife, who earned her reputation as anti-hunter and anti-trapper (and served on the highly controversial Glendening Not-Lethal Task Force) and in doing so built statewide support for Ehrlich among the outdoor community. Her days were numbered once the ballots were counted last November.

Also fired is assistant secretary Sumita Chaudhuri, who left as fiscal expert in Calvert County to take over the job at the department. She wasn’t politically involved, and her departure wasn’t expected by many.

Sadly, assistant secretary Verna Harrison, who dates back to the Harry Hughes administration, also got the ax. She has performed capably on Bay restoration programs under three administrations, and she’s going to be hard to replace. Ehrlich’s advisors made a big mistake.

The only survivor is assistant secretary Michael J. Nelson, who pretty much took the deputy’s seat as White returned to politicking.

Secretary Chuck Fox beat the Ehrlich team to the punch and left on his own. Word is that Col. John W. Rhoads, head of Natural Resources Police, and Chuck Porcari, head of public information and department spokesman, are also departing.

Talk about a house cleaning and a ship in uncharted waters. Some defend the firings — they say Ehrlich didn’t want a new secretary to come in and have to start off doing the dirty work. Who will that new secretary be?

That’s being played so close to the vest that no one outside the inner circle has a clue. Word is that former secretary Torrey Brown, fired by Glendening, is being considered. So is former Montgomery County legislator Ron Franks, who is a dentist. Some Republicans, as well as Democrats, are pushing for former assistant secretary Don MacLaughlan of Davidsonville. Maybe we’ll know more by the time you read this.

Undoubtedly, there will be some other changes and reassignments within the department, but one thing is sure. Whoever gets the post is going to have to do a quick job in getting things back on track. The department is decimated, morale is lower than a Texas oil well and more than a patch here and there is needed to get the ship back on course. Meanwhile, the clock keeps ticking.

— Bill Burton

to the top

Statehouse … in Effigy

Pablo Picasso is often quoted as saying, “Art is a lie that tells the truth.”

Now that former Gov. Parris N. Glendening’s official portrait hangs among his predecessors’ in the statehouse where he served for eight years, we may consider whether the oil by portraitist John Howard Sanden satisfies Picasso’s definition.

The official portrait was unveiled during Glendening’s last week in office. As the retiring governor — attired in the usual suit and a colorful tie ariot with endangered animals — pulled the red cloth from the portrait, the assembled well-wishers and media murmured with approval.

“I wondered how the artist would portray Parris as a person,” said Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens. “It’s perfect.”

In effigy, Maryland’s 59th governor is portrayed in khaki pants, white polo shirt and gray sports jacket with hints of blue. Chesapeake Bay water and sky back a far-gazing man of power. An egret poses in a wetlands.

Connecticut-based portraitist John Howard Hughes knows the job of painting rich and powerful men and women. With over 500 commissioned portraits of government, business, education and religious leaders and individuals to his credit, Hughes has created icons for the future of Sen. Robert C. Byrd, James Schlesinger, Billy Graham and Mrs. Nelson A. Rockefeller Sr.

For this commission, Hughes was paid $35,000 by the Government House Foundation, money privately raised.

“The only one who can give the governor direction is his portraitist,” said Hughes at the unveiling. “He was very patient.” The artist worked with the governor for a year, trying out and selecting poses and traveling to the Eastern Shore to scout backgrounds.

Scores of portraits hanging in museums should have taught us that art represents reality through the filter of perception, intention and skill.

Here, the differences between live model and portrait are a matter of firmness. The shoulders have been firmed up, the face and chin have been firmed up. The neck is firm and long. The eyes are neutral.

Beyond those courtesies any well-paid portraitist would grant, what truth does this portrait tell?

Some would criticize the image as idealizing a man characterized as petty by detractors, one who left the state in financial doldrums, who took away the right to smoke in public places and called for the most restrictive gun laws in the nation.

In the celebration at the portrait’s unveiling, however, all who spoke attested to the portrait’s truth in representing Maryland’s “environmental governor.”

Will Baker of Chesapeake Bay Foundation praised Glendening’s work on behalf of the blue crab and Smart Growth, which “launched a nationwide movement and brought Maryland fame through his chairmanship of the National Governor’s Association.

“Under this governor,” said Baker, “more land is saved annually than is developed. The Glendening administration is responsible for one out of every three acres ever preserved in Maryland. Most recently, 58,000 acres of Chesapeake forest was preserved forever thanks to the governor’s willingness and ability to raise $16 million of matching funds in 30 days.”

It’s this reminder of environmental accomplishment that Glendening wants to leave for the ages. His remarks spoke only to those issues and included special recognition of Jennifer Crawford “not as my wife but as the staff member who made sure that the Rural Legacy program was implemented as intended.”

He also gave special attention to scene-stealing baby Gabrielle.

“Look carefully into her eyes,” said the proud papa — and politician. “You’ll see a progressive, environmental feminist.”

Finally, Gov. Parris Glendening came to the finale. “I’m alarmed about what’s going on at the national level. I call people to think about what’s happening in the environment,” he said. “I didn’t come to stay. I came to make a difference.”

The differences made by a governor committed to the environment and Chesapeake Bay may be the truth in this work of art. As Department of Natural Resources’ Chuck Fox put it, “This governor has improved the very land we call Maryland. This portrait will remain in this room for generations to remind people of his accomplishments on behalf of the environment.”

Thus the portrait begins its life apart from its model, taking its place next to the sober, business-like image of political original William Donald Schaefer, Glendening’s predecessor and his most bitter critic, in an 80-year company of governors who served before them.

Visitors may view the governors’ portraits in the reception room of the State House in Annapolis, provided no events are in progress and the governor is not in office. Ask at the reception desk on the second floor.

— Sonia Linebaugh

to the top

Waterspouts: Not Your Ordinary Bay View

Big whorls have little whorls
that feed on their velocity,
and little whorls have lesser whorls and so on to viscosity.
— L. F. Richardson

2002 swirled off in big whorl for Greg Shelton of Chesapeake Beach. Shelton was driving down Rt. 261 on December 20 when he caught sight of distant water tornadoes over the Bay. Having seen waterspouts while fishing in Florida and North Carolina, Shelton coolly pulled his car off the road, grabbed his camera and captured the whorls.

Waterspouts form over bodies of water when air rapidly travels in a spiral, explains U.S. Army lieutenant John P. Finley in Tornadoes. The force of this action sucks water upwards into the flow of air, where it collects to form a spout. Waterspouts often appear around the Florida Keys, but these gray funnels also form on the Bay.

What is odd is the timing of these whorls. Waterspouts normally form during the warm-weather months of spring and early summer, though they can occur whenever cold fronts meet unseasonably warm days. When a low-pressure system from the south rapidly travels toward colder areas of the north, the scene is set for a dark-cloud thunderstorm. The air coming from the south must arrive still heated so that when it meets the customary cold air in high altitudes, they react with force and pressure.

This lucky, tumultuous sequence of events is how Shelton chanced upon a group of four water spirals during a moderate day in our Mid-Atlantic winter. Warm air from the south met cold air from the north, creating arching, pulsing waterspouts in Bay backyards.

— Stephanie Chizi

to the top

Way Downstream …

In Washington, Congress will take up legislation that could avert disaster on Chesapeake Bay. In the aftermath of the horrendous oil spill in Spain, they’ll consider a bill to require double-hulled tankers by 2005 rather than 2015, the plan ordered several years ago. But with “green” measures unpopular among the ruling crowd, the fate of the plan is uncertain…

Speaking of oil, in Edgewater, ExxonMobil has donated a 96-acre tract of land situated between Rt. 214 and Muddy Creek Road to the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. ExxonMobil gets a tax deduction — and Anne Arundel County happily gets to avoid looking at another southern subdivision of ranchettes…

In Spain, friends of endangered animals say that the wine industry is threatening the existence of wildlife. How so? They explained that the recent trend of putting synthetic stoppers rather than traditional corks in bottles is prompting farmers to cut down cork forests in favor of other crops, thereby removing habitat for the pointy-eared Iberian lynx and other rare creatures...

Our Creature Feature comes from Germany, where the Berlin Zoo is aping the policy of employers who discriminate on account of age. In this case, the victims are middle-aged chimps, who are being shipped to China because they no longer act lively for zoo-goers.

The five chimps — Gusta, Lilly, Karel, Pedro and Soko — are between 14 and 24. (Chimps live to be 50 or so.) One of their human friends told Reuters he didn’t mind if the chimps just sat in a corner. “They’re lovely animals even if they don’t hop around like they used to.”

At least they get to see the world.

to the top

Copyright 2003
Bay Weekly