current info

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

First People - The Legends. Cherokee Legend of Two Wolves. November 16, 2004. [accessed April 7, 2012].

Monday, July 19, 2010

Conversation with Arthur A. Turner, Jr

Sitting down with Arthur Turner to talk about the people and politics of Prince George’s County is something that I have been doing for almost 15 years. And sitting down with him is a stretch, for Arthur has always been a man on the move. I met Arthur in the 1990s when both of us were new members of the Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee. Even now I can hear Arthur asking me about details of the 2000 General Plan with his characteristic straightforward queries about upscale shopping, commercial and professional office space, and county infrastructure plans. Arthur worked tirelessly for access to Arena Drive. Demonstrating his reach and connections to seats of power and to decision makers, Arthur worked with three Governors, Glendening, Ehrlich, and O'Malley to seek the funds necessary to have the project included in the budget, and followed the project through to completion. When I met Arthur he was a community activist and leader and he still is; having grown in experience and knowledge but still the same Arthur to me – focused on the good of the people he loves and the well being of the county in which he lives.

Arthur has always had a holistic approach to the needs of the county and its diverse communities. He has called repeatedly for development that creates quality work and opportunity for the people of Prince George’s County. He has never been afraid to speak his mind or to act for the communities he loves. As an example, Arthur was a part of a lawsuit against the former owner of the Washington Redskins, Jack Kent Cooke. The suit was in opposition to the building of FedEx Field. As a concession to Arthur and his group, the Coalition of Central Prince George's County Community Organizations, Jack Kent Cooke built the Sports and Learning Center at his cost and give it to the county. Because of Arthur’s efforts, County residents have been enjoying the Sports and Learning Center for 11 years now.

He has consistently demanded funding for libraries and schools, for community centers and recreation for all the citizens of the county. For the decade and a half that I have known him he has not been afraid to speak truth to power whether it is development around Metro stations or the construction of the Purple line. Arthur has always asked why Prince George’s County can’t have the benefits from development that have accrued to other jurisdictions. Determined to bring to Prince George's County needed upscale shopping centers with upscale stores, Arthur fought long and hard to get the Woodmore Towne Centre project approved through the maze of the Maryland National Capital Park & Planning Commission. As a result of his long and determined efforts, central Prince George’s County now has a Wegmans, in addition to a Best Buy, and a Costco scheduled to open in October. Coming later will be two major flag hotels, a conference center, and commercial office space that Arthur Turner enabled. He has never shied away from the core principles about which he speaks daily. He asks for upscale shopping and has supported developers willing to bring quality of life to the county. He has spoken to me many times about a higher expectation of excellence from our government and our planning.

And Arthur has done more than just speak. When I needed a new director for the county library foundation board, Arthur quickly said yes – of course, he made a deal – I had to agree to serve on the United Communities Against Poverty (UCAP) board in exchange. Whether he is chair of a non profit or director, or just an interested citizen, he is always ready to ask for help for those who cannot not ask for themselves. And he does the same today as he will do tomorrow as his over 140 newspaper interviews on assorted topics of importance in the county attest. A man of integrity, Arthur never stops asking questions. Over the years we have spoken of history and race, money and poverty, class and distinction, ecology and farming, and through all these conversations, his questions were formed to help him make the county a better place to live and work.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Conversation with Joseph L. Wright - Candidate for Prince George's County, MD State's Attorney

I had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Wright and have a wide ranging conversation.  I am open to similar invitations from any candidate running for any office in Prince George's County.

Joseph L. Wright is running to be the next State’s Attorney in Prince George’s County. I had a 90 minute opportunity to speak with him and to get to know him. He now lives in the same community where he gre up giving him a good foundation for understanding the issues facing the county today. His life in the county and his connections to its people are strong indicators of his principled dedication to a better county. Knowledgeable about history, committed to the law, and aware of current social challenges, Mr. Wright is very personable and a skillful conversationalist so much so that I thought I was being interviewed at first.

A “people’s’ prosecutor, Mr. Wright is not afraid “…to tackle difficult issues”. He is determined to address policing issues and not afraid to bring charges of police brutality before the courts. His study of the law at Howard and his on the scene witnessing and writing in Virginia Beach in the 1980s, prepared him to do what should be done for the good of the community. As a community prosecutor, Mr. Wright’s day to day professional experience in the prosecutor’s office is key to his campaign’s claim that the county needs someone who understands the law and the impact of the enforcement of the law. Mr. Wright is very concerned about illegal businesses and business operations whatever their root cause. He believes it the State’s Attorney’s role to go after drug and other illegal operations to the full extent of the law including business that may front for such criminal activities.

Mr. Wright took pains to explain to me the challenge of prosecuting a similar number of crimes with a staggering dissimilar number of prosecutors. Baltimore with over 200 prosecutors and Washington, DC with over 400 on staff, work on the same case load level as Prince George’s County’s 75 prosecutors. This lack of staff, in Mr. Wright’s opinion, results in a constant triage and a resulting appearance of dysfunction with the community which finds it hard to make contact with the State’s Attorney’s office based simply on the number of cases assign to each prosecutor. The candidate is cognizant that this is not realistically going to change in the near future do to continuing economic constraints, but he is equally sure that it must be addressed sometime in the future.

Mr. Wright is committed to reaching out, sitting down and speaking with the residents of Prince George’s County. He would send his staff out into the communities, and would revisit and extend the outreach programs of the State’s Attorney’s office. He might even take a look at creating a citizen’s advisory committee. Fairness before the law is a watchword for Mr. Wright who thinks that even thought sentencing guidelines might needs tweaking from time to time, the idea behind them helps create a level playing field across the State in matters of the law. Mr. Wright in answer to my question about updates to existing legislation that affects his office that he would ask policy makers to take a look at truth in sentencing laws and such issues as good time served credits. Asked what other laws he might like to see modified, he suggested that a review and simplification of current fire arms laws to make them more useful in the enforcement of existing law would be appropriate. As the conversation moved along these lines, Mr. Wright noted that in the juvenile court system, sentencing punishes and rehabilitates, while in the adult court system sentencing was fully punitive. Consistent and thoughtful, Mr. Wright stated that the death penalty was an appropriate tool, when the circumstances dictated, for the legal system.

Mr. Wright believes that the voters of Prince George’s County should assess and judge the success of the State’s Attorney’s office on its transparency; on whether the citizens believed the office has made the right decisions; and whether the office had represented the interests of the county in its actions and decisions. He is very positive that the current operations of the prosecutor’s office compare well with other Maryland county offices. Prince George’s County’s leadership in mortgage fraud and economic crime are hall marks of the first rate capabilities and of the State’s Attorney’s office in Prince George’s County.

Professional, experienced and dedicated describe Joseph L. Wright. Thoughtful, intellectual, and philosophic relay the dynamics of our conversation. 90 minutes of conversation could have easily gone on all day, for his breadth of understanding and his grasp of information allow Mr. Wright to speak on issues from current politics to environmental justice. Using the tradition of knocking on doors, and unafraid of new generation apps such as social media, Mr. Wright is running full speed to do the job he loves to support the county and its citizens.

Having only interviewed Mr. Wright, I have no way of comparing him to the other candidates, but I can ay that I was impressed on a personal level by his candor and thoughtfulness, and would encourage you to reach out to him and ask him your questions.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Don’t Start Watering in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties Yet

(links to tips from earlier blog)

WSSC’s mandatory watering restrictions are still in effect. This applies to all WSSC customers, both residential and commercial in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. The earliest that the mandatory water use restrictions could be lifted is Tuesday, July 6.

Mandatory watering restrictions include no outside water use, use only full loads for clothes washers and dishwashers, limit flushing toilets (do not flush after every use), and use water only when necessary (shorter showers, turn off faucets after washing hands, etc.)

For more information, go to:

Call for Maryland Constitutional Convention

Maryland voters have a chance to call for a constitutional convention. To find that the elected officials are not very supportive should come as no surprise, for those in power and this in apposition to affect policy a rewrite of the constitution is a invitation alter the know pathways to power. In a sense a rewriting would do exactly what Jefferson and many founding revolutionaries wanted a handing off power to a new generation faced with new information and new challenges.

A constitutional convention could examine the political and policy needs as well as the economic burden of having a bicameral legislature. Since the mid 20th century the Senate of Maryland has not represented the counties of Maryland, but rather due to federal constitutional question, as duplicated the House of Delegates by representing artificial aggregations of voters. Nebraska has demonstrated that two houses are not a necessity.

Further more the current almost 140 year old constitution has parts that have no seeming influence or standing before our courts such as article 4 of the state Bill of Rights. A state convention could examine the whole existing document and pare away the parts that no longer are considered in the day to day contracts of life. At over 47,000 words, the current state document invested with its historic baggage and current attempts to update is perhaps a document unreadable except by the legal and political class. For a constitution to be relevant to the citizens it needs to be readily understood, plain in its intents and broad enough to address tomorrow’s unforeseen events.

Thomas Jefferson addressed the ideas of change in his Commonplace Book, writing that 'All human constitutions are subject to corruption and must perish unless they are timely renewed and reduced to their first principles.” [Algernon Sidney - in Discourses Concerning Government, Sect. II, Par 13,] Jefferson was not afraid of change and in fact believed it a remedy for the stultifying aging of traditions of generations now past. He would have applauded Maryland for taking yet another clear-eyed review of the state’s constitution with a new younger generation’s eyes and views of the state of the state.

Jefferson knew that in a viable vibrant democracy there was nothing to fear when good people gathered to talk about how they would live together saying to Ralph Izard in1788 that it is "[h]appy for us that abuses have not yet become patrimonies, and that every description of interest is in favor of rational and moderate government. That we are yet able to send our wise and good men together to talk over our form of government, discuss its weaknesses and establish its remedies with the same sang-froid as they would a subject of agriculture." As a true revolutionary, he did not fear what the morrow might bring, but encouraged each generation to discuss the laws that bound its members together. "A generation may bind itself as long as its majority continues in life; when that has disappeared, another majority is in place, holds all the rights and powers their predecessors once held and may change their laws and institutions to suit themselves. Nothing then is unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable rights of man." Jefferson wrote to John Cartwright in 1824.

A Maryland Constitutional Convention would be an opportunity to examine a more grass roots form of government. This will not sit well with today’s Tories, but should resonate with citizens who feel disconnected with the obscure and distant processes of today. What better way to bring greater citizen collaboration with their government than to involve them in the creation of the form of government. There should be no doubt that the present established elite will be full of fury and filled with scorn for the very idea that the people of Maryland might want to fully reexamine the functions and mechanics of governance. And even more important a Maryland Constitutional Convention will be an opportunity to bring young people and their concerns about the future into a general discussion about the role and government and the responsibility of the citizens.

Opposition to a constitutional gathering will come from those afraid of change, from those whose immediate gain is rooted in the patterns of the past. Opposition comes from those who are delighted that the majority has no clear connection to the political process and is disinterestedly disenfranchised. The claim will be raise that the current constitution works well enough, and that is true for the very small percentage of people who are directly connected to its complications and fully vested in its perpetuation. I have no doubt that the current special interests will make the case that change is too expensive and in deed it would be – for them. They will not be concerned that most citizens do not vote and seem to not care, because the 47000 words require deep pockets to navigate and full time resources to take advantage of. Most Marylanders are disenfranchised from the very constitution because of its layered complications and dusty irrelevant history to the dangers of today. We should bring on a Convention; we should elect delegates to the convention who come representing ALL the constituencies of the Free State representing a full and diverse spectrum of opinions of Maryland’s tomorrow. Now is the time for a Maryland Constitutional Convention; now is the time to examine the future.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Garden water & care tips for the mandatory water restrictions in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties

Prince George's County along with Montgmoery County Maryland is under a water use restriction order.
WSSC workers have removed the failing section of pipe in the 96-inch water main at Tuckerman Lane and Gainsborough Drive in Potomac. They are now preparing a new section of pipe for installation.  Work is on schedule to be complete sometime Monday, if there are no complications.

 Meanwhile, mandatory water restrictions remain in force for all WSSC customers in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.

Customer water usage has dropped 8.5 percent, far short of the one-third reduction WSSC needs to ensure service for all customers, adequate pressure for fire protection and a reserve in case of a major break. 

Until repairs are complete, it is imperative that all business and residential customers:

Stop all outside water use – no watering lawns, gardens, flowers; no washing cars, no topping off swimming pools

Use water only as necessary – i.e., shorter showers and turn off faucets after washing hands

Limit flushing toilets (do not flush after every use)

Limit using washing machines and dishwashers (wash full loads only)

When repairs are complete, the pipe will be recharged, the water quality analyzed, service restored and restrictions lifted.  The failing pipe was detected by WSSC’s acoustic fiber optics monitoring system. It heard the “ping” of wires breaking in the 41-year old water main. Those wires provide strength for the pipe. When they begin breaking, it’s a signal the pipe is weakening.  The monitoring system was installed in the pipe three years ago, and by 2013 will be installed in all of WSSC’s large water mains. It provides WSSC advance notice of when problems are beginning and an accurate location of the problem.
link to WSSC - Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission 14501 Sweitzer Lane Laurel, Maryland 20707

Meanwhile, my garden is drying up, tomatoes are beginning to flag and my azaleas are beginning to show signs of stress.  WSSC has provided swome tips:

Draft-Tips on Keeping Your Plants Happy During Mandatory Restrictions

Contact: Kimberley Knox (301) 206-8100

WSSC’s Mandatory Restrictions require that WSSC customers NOT use WSSC water on their lawns, gardens and other landscaping. But here are some ways that your landscape can still keep green during the mandatory water restrictions:

Place one to two inches of mulch around your plants.

Use water from bathing or washing dishes. Soap will not harm plants

Use water from cooking vegetables or pasta.

Collect rainwater and use it on the plants that need the most help.

Collect water from your shower rather than letting it go down the drain.

While waiting for you shower to heat up, collect that water in a bucket for your plants.

In the kitchen, rather than letting the water run until the water is cold (or hot), collect the water and use it for your plants.

Use water collected from your dehumidifier on your plants.

In the future, drought-tolerant plants will make a lovely garden. For an example, go to WSSC’s demonstration garden at Brighton Dam Visitor’s Center’s parking lot.

Have an idea of your own? Go to WSSC’s “Friends of Brighton Dam” Facebook’s Discussion Page and share it with others.

Suggestions Courtesy of: Wanda MacLachlan, Area Educator - Residential Landscape Management,
University of Maryland Extension

On a lighter note, under the fun things to do heading:
Invasive species issues are the flip side of endangered and native species challenges. If we did not think our natural areas were worth saving we would not be concerned about the impacts of invasive exotic aliens. So it is important to get out and mingle with the natives and see what we are trying to protect and preserve.

Terrific Tree Tour Along the Patuxent River -- Sat., July 10, 9 a.m.-11:00 a.m.

Free and open to everyone. Learn about trees from MD DNR Forester James Eierdam. Sponsored by Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, this tour will show mature trees that are native to the mid-Atlantic region and can add beauty to any landscape.

Pigtail Recreation Area 5500 Greenbridge Road, Dayton. 301-206-8233.

Join your neighbors in Prince George's, Montgomery and Howard counties in helping to keep the watersheds along the Patuxent a delightful home for wildlife and a wonderful place to visit. These watersheds are under the stewardship of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission. Brighton Dam is at 2 Brighton Dam Road, Brookeville, MD.

Have you joined our "Friends of Brighton Dam" or our "Friends of Western Branch" Facebook Pages? By becoming a fan, you'll get all of the latest information about environmental education events and cleanups around WSSC's property on the Patuxent and Western Branch. Check us out!!/group.php?gid=56844268643&ref=ts