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Volume XVII, Issue 4 - January 22 - January 28, 2009
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Letter From the Editor

The Editor Is In

If writing Bay Weekly stories is a way you dream of reinventing yourself in 2009, I invite you to plunge in. Every Thursday in January from 4:30-6:30PM, the editor is in and eager to meet new contributing writers and hear ideas.

Pros are welcome, and novices too. Teaching writing was my first career, and I run Bay Weekly as a teaching paper, where you can learn the craft story by story.

First come, first met, in 15-minute one-on-one sessions at our office at 1629 Forest Drive, Annapolis: [email protected]

A Modest Proposal

Del. King’s Got it Right: Make new laws pay to play

The giddiness at the inauguration of Barack Obama as our 44th president of the United States has trickled down even to Annapolis, where the shortage of $1.9 billion dollars is foremost on the minds of the newly convened General Assembly. The first bill passed in this session empowered bars in Anne Arundel County to stay open an extra hour January 20 to celebrate the historic event.

Not that the issue of the day was forgotten in the euphoria. Anne Arundel Del. James King offered the bill as a money-maker. “The state needs the sales tax, the county needs the revenue and the restaurant business needs a boost,” King told Bay Weekly. Himself the owner of two bars, King scrupulously didn’t buy the $200 extended license to avoid any conflict of interest.

Besides giving us something to smile about in hard times (when recent restaurant closings have me counting on my second hand), King’s bill suggests a good legislative model: You’ve got to pay to play.

That very practical motto is tinged by its association with politicians — most recently Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich — who practice it for personal gain.

Dismissing it for that reason is like cursing the seasons because winter makes us cold, ignoring the many more months that make us nature lovers.

There’s another side to paying to play: Much of the legislature’s work will be working with the governor, counties and state agencies to carve down our deficit —which the inauguration has swelled another $11 million. And no, I’m not suggesting bribes be paid to evade slices.

Because taking away is not all legislatures do. They can’t resist writing laws, typically over 2,000 of them each session. Many of those laws, even good ones, take money.

Following Del. King’s thinking, my modest proposal is that any new law this deficit legislature writes must offset its cost by building in provisions for making money. Apply it across the board, and nobody can claim conflict of interest.

In President Obama’s words, What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility.

Question of the Week: Propose a law that follows the principle of paying to play. Include your photo, in or near the Maryland State House. (Answers may be serious or comic. Members of the General Assembly and of interest groups with legislative wish lists are urged to reply.)

         Sandra Olivetti Martin
     editor and publisher


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