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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].

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Endless Season of Politics as Usual in Prince George’s County

    It is election time in Prince George's County and the sign-stealing, character assassinating, issue avoiding campaign process is in full swing. And, to keep the county in a state of agitation and the pot boiling, so to speak, the County Executive and the County Council Chairman are continuing their non-conversation extending the eight years of figure pointing right up to the bitter end. The hospital is on life support, and the Chair of the Council is suggesting yet another analysis of the cash situation, which even the least among us knows is dire. On the other hand, the County Executive has sent badly needed cash that is apparently from the county's general fund in such a manner as to preclude council oversight or action.
    Bruce Depuyt, on his NewTalk blog at, reports that the transfer, according to the County Council Chair, "appears to circumvent the budget process and may be illegal." The nature of the report highlights the parochial bickering that is a feature of ineffective government on the part of all the players. How is it possible that we are talking about the legality of a transfer to a critical institution rather than talking about how we are going to fix the problem of the Hospital's chronic cash flow? In deed how is possible that we are still talking about the unresolved financial problems of the hospital at all? We are talking about a transfer that might have taken place by other means, but one way or another is needed to address the unbillable costs of providing primary care treatment to the Washington area's uninsured.
    Prince George's County has spent eight years with a council and executive at odds with each other for a myriad of impenetrable reasons spotlighted by attacks on and of personalities. Part of this is our own doing, for gathering together in special interest groups representing local areas, communities or projects, we demand that our elected official pay attention only to our particular special needs. Our single-minded pursuit of our own special interests guarantees that our politicians and their politics mirror the county to a tee. Eight years and we still have not addressed the operating cash position of the hospital system. In a building owned by the county, there are no resources or support to upgrade the facilities; no plan as to how we are going to operate in the 21st
    The problems of the hospital are large and difficult, but we can not solve even the small problems without personal attacks. And woe unto a supporter who does not blindly rally around the politician, let alone dare a critique, for he or she is quickly denied access and consigned to political limbo. There is no ability or place for agreeing to disagree; everything in Prince George's County is one way or the highway. The fractured politics of Prince George's County enables groups with money to take charge of the dynamics of decision making filling the vacuum of an electorate in self inflicted disarray now encouraged by moneyed interests..
    The question should be: Why does the hospital still need cash support from without? How many more studies do we need? And let's remember it is election time. What is the coherent, cohesive plan for the cash strapped hospital? Where is the proposed in detail plan of action by the candidates for county executive? How will they address the root problem of the hospital and health care, and, as importantly, how will the council and the executive solve this seemingly endless crisis together?
    I hear no plan, I see no plan - there is no plan. But I am aware of the efficient sign stealing program, the determined, focused efforts to suppress dissent and discourage debate of new ideas and old policies, and the assorted, sundry slams at candidates' characters. In this Prince George's County's politics is second to none. As I wrote earlier, a candidate for executive with a clear, concise plan has no chance to be elected. County executive campaigns running towards a political center are unelectable in Prince George's County

Monday, September 06, 2010

The Politics of Fear in Prince George’s County

    Sadly politics in Prince George's County is rarely about the issues but rather always about the cult of personalities. Instead of debating differences in positions, some of the political class tries to make the pressing issues of the day disappear in favor of sign stealing and assorted non issue tricks of the political campaign trade such as information obfuscation.  While things are bad at the council level campaign, it is worse in the county-wide executive race. Here issues do not matter at all. The history of race relations "colors" the political calculus, and one candidate may win by taking advantage of the split with in the African-American community. Environmentalists, conservationists and preservationists are lining up behind the candidate who is supported by the same interest group that wanted to develop east along the Patuxent. At this point, the traditional environmental community that has no connection to the existing African-American communities and rarely addresses issues of environmental justice wants to elect those who believe development consists of paving our way to prosperity.

    Meanwhile, the traditional African-American power centers are fighting each other much in the same way that Baltimore fights Prince George's County in State policy questions rather than building a coalition of political dominance. By having two strong determined candidates focused on one another, the possible front runner is allowed to finesse his divergent constituents' positions and needs It is amazing that environmentalists have so soon forgotten the way of the world under the previous administration in their haste to latch onto a personality with whom they feel comfortable at the expense of their ideals and causes.

    Which candidate do we really think is going to protect the last open spaces? This is the question that is not being answered. For many it is a needless question for they see plenty of land crying for development and pavement. Which candidate do we think the "land development at any cost means prosperity" special interest is more likely to support? The inability to talk about development as the only tool of economic prosperity of course presumes that land is infinite. The short term thinking has no plan for what happens when all the green space is covered, because the interested parties will have made their money and moved on and out. Instead of debating the pros and cons, I hear conversations about intellect and judgments of personal capabilities made by people from afar through the lenses of factoid journalism handed out in 30 second sound bytes.

    So let me be clear: the issues of development and the environment are being subsumed by issues of race and class. This is outrageous, unfortunate and dangerous to the future of the county and its ecosystems that provide services to all the people who live here. Which team of interest groups will be more likely to defend green spaces and river ways, clean air and clean water, parklands and natural areas: those from the administration that came before the Johnson team or those who struggled to right the environmental wrongs and set us on a new course of action. Who is going to stand up and say no to more pavement and concrete in the rural tier and work to bring true quality of life development to our established communities beyond the building of an occasional strip mall or industrial storage units?

    Prince George's County is steeped in the politics of patronage, in itself not a necessarily bad thing, but here taken to an extreme. Once one publically endorses a candidate woe is to him if his candidate does not win. So we speak not of issues but of personalities couched in the racial code of intellect and charisma ignoring the actual discussion of the best policies for the county. Should we develop the rural tier? Yes or no. Should we encourage more mall retail services into our developing tier? Yes or no. Should we be concerned about the demands on our service infrastructure development in the south county will bring and who will pay for this over the long run? How come it is more cost effective to build a new mall than to rehab and old one? How can we bring quality jobs through business development initiatives to our established communities instead of encouraging more bedroom subdivision development for people who work outside of the county? The discussion and debate between those who believe in developing everything and those who believe in limitations on developments as a sole economic engine is a necessary and needed conversation with the truth most likely being somewhere in between.

    In the end, politics in Prince George's County is based upon fear born of history and kept alive by self-interests. Fear of having no influence, fear of race and fear antagonizing the land development industry and the unions. This fear is why we steal campaign signs and why we are constantly chastised by the Washington media which, through its negative reporting, encourages the fractured, parochial politics that infest our discourse and actions in Prince George's County. We are better than this Prince George's; we have nothing to explain to anyone; we have only to stop being afraid.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Let’s Compare Arthur Turner's Accomplishments to the other 4 Candidates for Council in Prince George’s County District 6 rather than Steal his Signs

    Stealing my "Arthur Turner for Prince George's County Council District 6" sign by walking 40 plus feet onto my property inside my 6 foot fence into my field has moved me from passive to active support of the only man qualified by his record of citizen support for the position. Trying to silence my opinion now leads me to a louder statement of support of Arthur Turner and a closer look at the record of active county involvement over the last 15 years of all the candidates. I am not interested in familial relationships, but in demonstrable action. I am not swayed by whom one knows, but by what one has accomplished.

    I have to wonder what the criteria for support was used by the media, given a cursory comparison from the internet of Arthur Turner's record and advocacy, as compared to the other four candidates:

Title I Program Family and Parent Involvement Coordinator for Prince George's County Public Schools
1. Coalition of Central Prince George's County Community Org. – President
The ARC of Prince George's
2. Towns of Kettering Home Owners Association – President
Prince George's County NAACP
3. United Communities Against Poverty (UCAP) – Chair of Board
Chaired, Freddie Mac Early Childhood Grant Fund for the Prince George's Community Foundation
4. Prince George's County Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee -Former Chair (3 Terms)
Elected to the Prince George's County Democratic Democratic Central Committee in the 25th District
5. Prince George's County Chamber of Commerce Quality of Life Committee – Former Chair
Appointed to Park & Planning Commissions Airports Advisory Committee
6. Elected Vice-Chair to the Prince George's County Democratic Central Committee (25th Legislative District)
Appointed to the 2000 Prince George's County Charter Review Commission
7. Board of Directors Prince George's County Library Foundation – Member
Appointed by the Governor in 2007 to the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund (MAIF) Board of Trustees, Derrick was elected Chairman of the Board in December
8. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA – Blue Line Extension Advisory Group Committee) – Member
Shaw Area Optimist Club
9. Largo-Lottsford Area Sector Plan—Planning Advisory Group – Member
Girl and Boy Scouts
10. PEPCO Community Advisory Group (CAG) – Member
Shiloh Baptist Church Sunday School
11. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA – Transit Oriented Development Advisory Committee) – Member
Ivy Community Chairites of Prince George's
12. Prince George's County Citizens Police Academy – Graduate
Washington Fisk Alumni Association
13. Andrews Air force Base Honorary Commander
St. Mark;s Volunteers
14. Leadership Prince George's-Graduate
police officer with the county for twenty three years
15. Volunteer of the Year." Awarded by the Maryland Community Action Partnership/Maryland Head Start Association
Sisters to Sisters Empowerment
16. "Bridge Builders Award." Presented by The Prince George's Community Foundation
Largo High School PTA & Cheer;eaders
17. Appointed Prince George's County Liquor Inspector.
NAACP Freedom Fund Award
18. Spent hundreds of hours meeting with developers, their attorneys, and the MNCPPC to negotiate for the options we want
Literacy Council of Prince George's
19. Leading voice for upscale retail and quality, white tablecloth restaurants, fighting long and hard for the shopping and dining experiences
Prince George's Coomunity College Foundation
20. Worked for the opening of Arena Drive-Beltway Exit 16 24 hours a day
Prince George's County Community Foundation
21. Opposed to the construction of Jack Kent Cooke Stadium
Police officer with the county for twenty three years
22. Leading advocate for better customer service at our existing restaurants and retail stores
Mentor Attorney to other attorneys participating in the Maryland Pro Bono Foreclosure Project
23. Reached a landmark agreement with the developer of the new Capital Heights Shopping Center. The developer agreed to our demands that no fast-food restaurants
Prince George's County Memorial Library System, Board of Trustees, where he is currently the Vice President
24. For over a decade a leading voice calling for Prince George's County to diversify our economy by focusing on federal and state government agencies and attracting them here
Prince George's County resident for over 20 years
25. Convened a hearing of the Maryland Board of Public Works to discus moving the Department of Planning to Prince George's County
District Court Commissioner-Prince George's County
26. Over 70 links to articles that chronicle thousands of hours that 27/ Arthur has invested as an unpaid volunteer
Maryland State Police-Communications-Prince George's County
27. Community involvement and activism was featured in the Prince George's Suite magazine
Counselor for Intellectually Challenged Individuals
28. Long-time advocate and supporter of the Kettering Largo Mitchellville Boys and Girls Club

29. Arthur acted and led a community-based group that was successful in its fight to keep the Forestville State Police barracks open

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Stealing Signs Prince George’s County Politics

    This afternoon, September 4th, I walked the 1200 feet to get my mail and saw that my Arthur Turner for Council sign had disappeared and so saw the signs of a campaign turned ugly. Someone is running scared. Someone running for Councilman Dean's seat is afraid of Arthur Turner and his record of action and his accomplishments. Someone had to walk onto my property some 40 feet from the road and over my horse fence to remove the sign. Instead of a record of involvement, someone is running a race of darkness with no record of having done anything for the citizens of the 6th district in Prince George's County; he or she has nothing better to do than to trespass and steal political signs.

    It is no secret that I have worked with Arthur for over 15 years on many volunteer boards serving the community as an unpaid volunteer. I can personally attest to Arthur's track record? Where is the record of citizen involvement of the other candidates? If another candidate has an equal or better record, why steal signs? Why not speak about his or her accomplishments? Perhaps the answer is that the other candidates do not have over ten years of community involvement, so the only thing they have is theft.

    Arthur Turner has been there when the community needed a voice. Where were the others? A quick check of the web sites of those seeking to represent Prince George's shows Arthur commanding the activist high ground relegating, I suppose, his opposition to the low ground of stealing signs.

•Coalition of Central Prince George's County Community Org. – President
•Towns of Kettering Home Owners Association – President
•United Communities Against Poverty (UCAP) – Chair of Board
•Prince George's County Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee -Former Chair (3 Terms)
•Prince George's County Chamber of Commerce Quality of Life Committee – Former Chair
•Board of Directors Prince George's County Library Foundation – Member
•Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA – Blue Line Extension Advisory Group Committee) – Member
•Largo-Lottsford Area Sector Plan—Planning Advisory Group – Member
•PEPCO Community Advisory Group (CAG) – Member
•Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA – Transit Oriented Development Advisory Committee) – Member
•Prince George's County Citizens Police Academy – Graduate
•Andrews Air force Base Honorary Commander

Am I biased? You bet. Am I now mad? Durn straight. Will I use the remaining days and this blog to shine a light on what the other candidates have been doing, or not doing, for the last 15 years to support the county? Count on it! Should have left my sign alone, and spoke about your accomplishments; the idea that someone who would stoop to this thinks he or she should be a political leader is outrageous.

If you want change, you need Arthur Turner; if you think stealing signs will solve our problems, vote for….

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

A Conversation with Michael Hethmon; Candidate for Md House of Delegates district 27A

    A couple of weeks ago in August, I had the opportunity to sit down with Michael Hethmon, a candidate for the House of Delegates in 27A, a sprawling two-delegate district which includes Accokeek, Clinton, Cheltenham, all of the South County south of Route 4 and east of Highway 301, plus the northwest quarter of Calvert County.

We talked for two hours about his views and ideas for his district, for Prince George's County and for Maryland. Thoughtful in his research, philosophically prepared in his politics and wide ranging in his knowledge, Mr. Hethmon comes to the political arena with substance behind his positions. His views are consistent across a wide range of issues that face District 27A, the county, the state and the nation.

    Mr. Hethmon is a conservative in the widest meaning of the word. He is dedicated to conserving natural resources for future generations, he is determined to conserve the traditions that have enable society to reach this point in history, and he is drawn to a fiscal sense of responsibility that depends upon the inherent conservation of options that a balanced budget brings. Hethmon is quite certain that the political process in Maryland is broken in large part because of the 112 years of one party control of the state legislature. In his opinion, this unitary system does not readily allow for new ideas. He wants, for example, to "shift spending from out-of-control entitlements to needed infrastructure and promote tax holidays for businesses that create new high value jobs in Maryland". Hethmon is eager to participate in the reapportionment process that will be taking place next year to, in his words, "…end the gerrymandering of my district, 27A,"

    The philosophical under-pinning of and impetus for Mr. Hethmon's policies and political positions are seen in his idea of a "…three-legged stool of population sustainability issues, institutional change issues in the legislature, and the structural budget deficit facing the state." He is convinced that "…the unwillingness of the political leadership to acknowledge the interdependence of these factors is fueling a "race to the bottom" in Maryland, along the lines of what is happening in California." It is this carefully crafted and considered line of reasoning that links his views into a coherent policy position. The interconnectivity and conservation relationships reinforce Mr. Hethmon's positions and build a rational and logical statement of principles that guide his political understandings and his points of view.

    Mr. Hethmon is engaged and focused on natural ecological system preservation and conservation, from historical preservation to environmental protection. He is very aware and informed about ecosystem resources and the value they add to public quality of life expectations. He is quite specific in his recognition that there is only a finite amount of land, and that economic development based only upon building on open spaces is unsustainable. He is vocal in his support for a transparent open process that will protect and enhance the eco-resources of the county and the state. He proposes to "save the Bay by fighting taxpayer-subsidized sprawl [and would use] cutting-edge land use practices" to protect ecosystem services.

    Along with environmental resource protection, Hethmon is active in historic preservation issues and lives in an historic house in Croom. Preservation of tradition and conservation of resources go hand in hand with the needs of small business – something Mr, Hethmon knows about as he helps his wife run her granite fabrication business, Granite Grannies Inc., in Upper Marlboro. As a property owner and as a business person, he is aware of the flood of costs that are incurred daily in order to maintain a house and a business. He is engaged in his neighborhood, sharing his legal expertise on land use and environmental issues of importance to the neighborhood and District 27A.

    In keeping with the understandings of Dr. Malthus, Mr. Hethmon's world view notes the finite nature of resources and, accordingly, the limited ability of nature to supply basic resources to an ever-increasing population. With this in mind, Mr. Hethmon would work to "screen out illegals from Maryland jobs and taxpayer-funded public benefits with the proven federal E-Verify and SAVE eligibility screening programs." He is determined as a Delegate to enforce existing laws equally and to distinguish sustainable legal immigration.

    The core idea of conservation extends to the arena of social policy. From making parents responsible for student discipline to steadfastly protecting the traditional definition of marriage as an institution between a man and a woman, Mr. Hethmon has thought through the power of conservation and offers it as a viable alternative to other world views. Consistent, creative and collaborative define Mr. Hethmon.

    I could have talked with Mike for another two hours, but the Amish market needed the table and we needed to go face the challenges of the day. I was impressed by his rational, well thought out, disciplined approach to conservation and conservative policies. He recognizes the importance of consensus, and the power of new ideas. He is not afraid to challenge the status quo, quite willing to support what works and fix what does not in the House of Delegates, and seek solutions that truly benefit the citizens as a whole.