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].

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Update: Salubria, Oxon Hill and National Harbor - Jan 4 2012 - One Last Time to be Heard

 Update on Salubria hearing 

In path to building outlet mall, historic site stripped of protections

County commission rules Salubria plantation can be built over, eliminating hurdle for developer

original post follows below:

               The Prince George's County, Maryland,  property known originally as Mt. Salubria, is identified today in the Prince George’s County Inventory of Historic Resources as #80-002. Salubria was designated as a Prince George’s County Historic Site on July 17, 1981. The historic house was built circa 1830 by Dr. John H. Bayne, a prominent physician, agriculturalist, nationally recognized horticulturalist, U.S. Army officer and first superintendent of the county’s public schools as well as Maryland Delegate and State Senator. Salubria was home to five generations of the Bayne family until its sale in 1984.[1]

               The Salubria was zoned M-X-T in 1994. The M-X-T zoning according county ordinances provides for a variety of residential, commercial, and employment-related uses and mandates at least two out of the following three use categories: 1) retail; 2) office; 3) residential. The historic site’s environmental setting of 2.7 acres was established in 1995 through the Historic Preservation Commission’s review of a development proposal. Through different corporate entities, the current owner has held the property since 1999.[2]

               National Harbor, the owner of the property wants to build an outlet shopping center on the site of a historic Oxon Hill plantation in Prince George’s County, MD just miles from downtown Washington DC as part of an overall holistic development plan for the entire area.  Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, Inc. and The Peterson Companies (NATIONAL Harbor) have entered into an agreement to build a Tanger Outlet Center with approximately 80 outlet designer and name brand stores. The outlet shopping mall marketing plan is to attract "both domestic and international tourists visiting the nation's capital and residents of Washington DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia",  according to an Washington Dc on-line article. The Tanger Outlet Center construction project and retail operations reportedly will create 400 construction and approximately 900 full time and part-time jobs.[3]  The current conceptual site plan application CSP-11006 proposes a mixed-use development of retail, dining, office and hospitality uses of approximately 460,000 square feet along with supporting infrastructure, including parking, grading, utilities, and landscaping on 43.79 acres. The applicant’s submitted plan is based on the elimination of the Salubria historic site’s current 2.7-acre environmental (historic) setting.

               The property is subject to a number of zoning conditions. The developer has recently sought relief from two conditions that affect the character of the development of Salubria property. The structures on the property were allowed to continue to deteriorate.[4] On June 8, 2010 the Prince George’s County District Council approved the Prince George’s County Historic Sites and Districts Plan with amendments per CR-51-2010 (Draft 2). The following language relevant to the Salubria Historic Site was inserted into the plan by the District Council (page 144):[5]

Preservation in place that incorporates into any construction any significant
features – identified through required studies – is allowed if the significant site
features with appropriate interpretive elements are not relocated to a more
publicly accessible site.

               In addition to the European historic above ground structures lost through neglect and the potential archaeological information buried there,  a second part of the property outside of the designated historic setting contains deeply buried, intact Native American features from a short-term resource processing and procurement site dating to the Late Woodland period (AD 1300-1700). This portion of the property is eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).    

               More information may be found by contacting the Prince George's County historic preservation staff.[6]  which provides support to the Historic Preservation Commission through the review of historic area work permits, preservation tax credits, the preparation of architectural surveys, historic district studies, and preservation outreach. Staff also provide advice to historic property owners on property maintenance and preservation. The section produces historic preservation plans and publications on community history and development, architecture and architectural history, and design guidelines. The Historic Preservation Section maintains a resource library that has files on all documented properties. 

Salubria hearing announcement
Tanger Outlet Center at National Harbor

Prince George’s County Historic Preservation Commission Meeting
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
6:30 p.m.
1st Floor Media Conference Room
14741 Governor Oden Bowie Drive
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772

[1] Request to Eliminate Salubria Historic Site Environmental Setting (#80-002)/ CSP-11006, Salubria Center. December 27, 2011. [accessed December 31, 2011]

"The main house at Salubria was a 2½-story frame dwelling with kitchen wing and doctor’s office. The main house was severely damaged by fire in the 1980s and 1990s. The immediate grounds of the main house included a number of outbuildings: a freestanding kitchen, a well house, a milk house/dairy, and a building identified through local tradition as a guest house/slave quarter. Of these, the milk house/dairy is believed to date to at least the middle of the nineteenth century. The other outbuildings present when the property was designated as a historic site, specifically the kitchen, the well house, and a large portion of the guest house/slave quarter, are believed to be the result of an early- to mid-twentieth century building program. An examination of a 1937 aerial photograph of the property indicates that the building, known as the kitchen, does not appear to have been constructed as of that date. The demolition of the guest house/slave quarter in 2006 revealed selected elements that appeared to be nineteenth building materials; the majority of this building was of twentieth century construction techniques and materials. The southern portion of the building, within which the older building material was found, stood on a rubble stone foundation that remains in place. The actual age and historic use of the guest house/slave quarter is not known at this time."
[2] ibid.
[3] Rachel Cooper. Tanger Outlets at National Harbor. Washington DC [accessed December 31, 2011]
[4] ob. cit.  Request to Eliminate...

"The Environmental Setting of the Salubria Historic Site of 2.7 acres was established in 1995 through the HPC’s review of a (conceptual) site plan for the development of townhouses (SP-95020). At that time, although the frame plantation house was in ruinous condition, several other outbuildings in the vicinity were in better condition. In 1993, the HPC initiated a demolition-by-neglect proceeding for the property based on the seriously deteriorated main house and immediate outbuildings. A citation was issued by the Department of Environmental Resources (DER) on February 17, 1993. In 1994, DER issued a violation notice for the main house and a non-contributing accessory structure."
[5] ibid.

"Historic preservation staff provide support to the Historic Preservation Commission through the review of historic area work permits, preservation tax credits, the preparation of architectural surveys, historic district studies, and preservation outreach. Staff also provide advice to historic property owners on property maintenance and preservation. The section produces historic preservation plans and publications on community history and development, architecture and architectural history, and design guidelines. The Historic Preservation Section maintains a resource library that has files on all documented properties."  

Colonial Maryland Slave Laws 25 - 29: Bacon's Laws of Maryland

     25.  All Slaves belonging to the Owner of the Place, if required, shall aid the Constable, on Penalty of each receiving Thirty-nine Stripes on the bare Back.  Ibid.

    26.  Every Constable, so appointed, shall be allowed 500 lb Tobacco in the County levy.  Ibid.  §. 4.

    27.  Any Negro, or other Slave, convicted before a single Magistrate of striking any White Person, such Magistrate may cause one of the offending Slave's Ears to be Cropt.  Ibid.

28.  The Owner of any Plantation may warn any strange Negro, or other Slaves, (not sent by their Owners on lawful Occasions) to be gone to their Owners; and, on Refusal or Delay so to do, may correct
such Slave by Whipping, not exceeding Thirty-nine Lashes.  Ibid. §. 5.

    29.  Any Persons encouraging Negroes to meet in Companies on their Plantations, (unless on lawful  Occasion) shall forfeit 1000 lb Tobacco to the Use aforesaid.  Ibid.

Bacon's Laws of Maryland . Vol 75 page 690. Maryland Archives

Friday, December 30, 2011

PG 418-12 could provide property tax reductions for adaptive re-use

               Daniel Leaderman reports that Prince George's County Executive Baker seeks tax break for projects that spur growth. According to the Gazette article the county executive claims that the measure would give Prince George's County another tool to attract business.[1]  The legislation, PG 418-12, Prince George's County - Property Tax - Exemption for Economic Development Projects is sponsored by Delegation Chair Griffith at the  request of the County Executive.[2]  

               To compete with other cities and counties and attract businesses Prince George's County could offer incentives to businesses to locate to a particular area. Among the possible incentives are tax abatements, loan guarantees, municipal bonds and tax increment incentives.[3] For a company to invest in a particular location, it must assess the risks of conducting business there and not somewhere else. Jurisdictions use economic development incentives to attract and retain business in the expectation of inducing the production of goods or services that drive a local economy towards prosperity. It should be kept in mind as noted by De La Cerda." that much research shows that economic development incentives do not bring prosperity to local economies; rather, using incentives results in unfair competition among businesses. Businesses begin pitting cities and counties against each other in battles of who can provide the better development incentive."[4]

               PG 418-12 would provide property tax reductions for projects located "...within one–half mile of a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority transit station or one–half- mile of a Maryland area regional commuter transit station, as measured from the main entrance of the building to the nearest entrance of the transit station"[5] , revitalization tax credit districts, and designated urban renewal areas. The legislation would permit consideration of relief from property taxes over a fixed period time for real estate development projects that consist of newly constructed or rehabilitated commercial or multifamily residential property if  the real estate development project consists of at least one of the following:  

  •      a hotel project a private capital investment of equity and debt combined of at least $20,000,000 that will provide at least 100 full–time equivalent job opportunities; and
  •        an office building project with  private capital investment of equity and debt combined of at least $20,000,000 that  provides at least 150 full–time equivalent  job opportunities
  •        a retail facility with a private capital investment of equity and debt combined of at least $10,000,000 that  provides at least 100 full–time equivalent  job opportunities
  •        multifamily residential facility with a private capital investment of equity and debt combined of at least  $5,000,000
  •        an off–street parking facility that a. contains at least 250 parking spaces  and has a private capital investment of equity and debt combined of at least $2,500,000

               County executive Baker is on the right track. PG 418-12  needs careful consideration and review, but could be a helpful tool for the adaptive re-use and revitalization of our established communities . Now we need to dream big - of projects more than just parking garages like hi-tech agroscience research centers, alternative energy industries and information technology  companies.[6]  

·        Prince George's: County of Limited Vision -

[1] Daniel Leaderman. December 28, 2011. Baker seeks break for projects that spur growth. [accessed December 30, 2011]
               For the purpose of providing certain exemptions from county property tax under certain circumstances for certain economic development projects located in certain designated focus areas in Prince George's County; setting forth certain requirements in order to qualify for the property tax exemption; requiring certain annual reports on projects for which Prince George's County has entered in payment in lieu of taxes agreements; defining certain terms; and generally relating to a property tax exemption for certain property located in Prince George's County.
[3] De La Cerda, Joeseph E., "Economic Development: An Economic Impact Analysis of Tax Incentives on a Local Economy" (2010). Applied Research Projects, Texas State University-San Marcos. Paper 341. [accessed December 30, 2011]
[4] Ibid.
Discussion: Overall, the research indicates that the construction and opening of
Cabela’s had a significant impact on the immediate surge in sales tax revenue. Although, minus
the secondary benefits to quality of life and stronger business presence, the presence of Cabela’s
did not lead to a significant increase in the trend of sales tax revenue after Cabela’s opened.
[5] Op. cit. PG 418-12  
[6]  I note that this legislation does not address small business needs and hope that some incentives for small and medium size business might be considered

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Salubria hearing Tanger Outlet Center at National Harbor - January 4th 2012 Application for a Change of Environmental Setting (Historic Site #80-002)

Salubria hearing announcement
Tanger Outlet Center at National Harbor 

Prince George’s County Historic Preservation Commission Meeting
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
6:30 p.m.
1st Floor Media Conference Room
14741 Governor Oden Bowie Drive
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772


Meeting location and agenda order are subject to change.
For confirmation, please call 301-952-3520.

6:30 p.m.
1. Application for a Change of Environmental Setting (to be heard with Item 2.) Salubria (Historic Site #80-002)
6901 Oxon Hill Road
Oxon Hill MD
Applicant’s Representative: William Shipp, Esquire
O’Malley, Miles, Nylen and Gilmore
11785 Beltsville Drive, 10th Floor
Calverton MD 20705
Owner: Pinnacle Harbor LLC
12500 Fair Lakes Circle, Suite 400
Fairfax VA 22033
Description: Request to eliminate environmental setting and historic site designation

2. Development Referral
CSP-11006-Salubria Center
Applicant’s Representative: Andre J. Gingles, Esquire
Gingles, LLC
11785 Beltsville Drive, Suite 1350
Calverton MD 20705
Owner: Pinnacle Harbor LLC
12500 Fair Lakes Circle, Suite 400
Fairfax VA 22033
Description: Construction of 460,000 square feet of retail, dining, office,
and hospitality uses
8:30 p.m. 3. Commission–Staff Items
A. Approval of Meeting Summary – November 15, 2011
B. Correspondence Report (to be handed out)
C. Property Update - Old Marlboro High School (#79-019-52)
D. Other/New Business
9:00 p.m. 4. Adjourn

Anonymous support for gambling in Prince George's County Maryland

wikipedia image   

               Anonymous has left a new comment on my post "Prince George's works hard to bring back gambling ..." Implicit in my post was the idea that those who benefit directly and immediately rarely are obvious preferring to remain hidden while those who will have to pay the long term costs, and there will be long term costs, are the well-known, the tax payers. While I have no doubt that a gambling facility will make money for someone, my point was that with the coming of on-line gambling old assumptions about profitability in the traditional formats casinos and buildings will need to be reviewed; that once again we look to the past without modification for our future good ideas. And just a note in passing, if gambling were such a good idea how come Bethesda and Potomac are not clamoring for a gambling operation?

               Anonymous correctly identifies county-wide contractual opportunities but in  no way states how this is going to happen. I for one see nothing that is going to keep outside the county vendors from taking their cut of the pie. And as for jobs, we specialize in minimum wage jobs. We lose super grade scientist research position at BARC and say nothing while crowing about the coming wealth from croupier positions that may be made obsolete by on-line gaming. 

                  Anonymous and I completely agree about mismanagement of local government a point that I allude to implicitly. The question for Anonymous is given that he agrees that some areas do not benefit, why he thinks we shall do it better; what facts does he present that demonstrate Prince George's County's track record in this area? And for the record Anonymous worries about one sided fact presentation but cites not one example or any authorities - just asks the tax payers to trust him.

               Anonymous points out that Prince George's County gets 5% of what is left over, while the rest of Maryland gets 62%...which is my point exactly - Prince George's County bears the costs and the rest of the State's counties benefits by not having to deal with gambling in their community, a convenient dumping (externalizing business costs) as usual on to our great county and our neighborhoods.

               I, not anonymously, am not against a gaming establishment as long as tax dollars are not used in any fashion for roads, infrastructure, security or tax abeyance. Prince George's County needs a cornucopia of business opportunities;  the tax payer, however, should be held harmless for the inevitable clean-up that come from known externalizations of clean-up costs associated with this or any other  industry. Anonymous and I do agree in the end game; we need to exercise our vote and put accountable people into office - people accountable to the many and not just the powerful few.

 reply/comment to yesterday's blog post "Prince George's works hard to bring back gambling ..." by Anonymous

"It is always interesting when one side tells their story and decides to leave out very important facts so as to keep people uninformed and uneducated so they may influence them to make a decision that really does not benefit them but benefits another group. 
We must realize that those areas that already have gambling and are not benefiting from the revenue generated are doing so because of mismanagement by the local government who are entrusted to act on behalf of the citizens. Correct the mismanagement and those areas would benefit tremendously from the additional revenue and jobs creation created by the taxes levied by the state and county.
Most states with gambling levy a tax at a significantly lower rate than does Maryland. Colorado levies a 20% revenue tax while Maryland levies a 67% revenue tax. That means 67% of all revenue generated from slots goes to the state of Maryland of which 5% goes to Prince George's County for them to do whatever they want and the other 62% goes directly to the state for Maryland to decide how they want to split the tax up amongst the counties for such things as education, public health services, public safety, homelessness and transportation improvements.
This means that the establishment operating the casino only gets 33% of the revenue to keep the casino operating and to show a profit. 
Mismanagement is the root of all evil. Your entire arguement is directed at where the benefits are going that are created by gambling because you readily admit that wealth will be created through gambling. The question is for who. We must control and ensure that the thousands of jobs created by gambling are directed towards our community here in Prince George's county just as we must control the Billions of Dollars of small business contract opportunities that will be created as well. They must not go to surrounding counties, Virginia, or Washington, DC but remain here within Prince George's county.
The 62% of the casino revenue taken in by the state must be allocated in a way that fairly reflects the needs of the state but takes into account and rewards the location of where the gambling facility is located. Our Prince George's County State Delegation must assert itself and ensure our County receives its more than fair share of the casino tax.
Finally, we must ensure that we have Minority and Prince George's County equity ownership in any gambling facility or gaming internet venue that will derive its revenue from our County residents. This helps to keep the wealth and associated benefits within our County.
What is at stake here is billions of dollars and job creation in an economy that is down and people are losing their jobs and their families are hurting. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Prince George's works hard to bring back gambling facilities while the rest of country goes on-line

               Prince George's County is working to bring brick and mortar gambling facilities to its citizens. Economic development is touted as reason enough to move ahead as if the county leadership were introducing a novel cutting edge industry to its communities. Never mind that the cutting edge gaming and gambling industry is moving to the internet and on-line. Thanks to the GOP rushing through legislation to control and regulate the industry (the law of unintended consequences coming into play), on-line gambling is now ruled legal by the US Department of Justice.[1] The states and Washington, D.C. will be rushing to set up their own on-line gambling enterprises while Prince George's County build yesterday's gambling operation.[2] Prince George's County's political elite are like gamblers at a craps table who see a winning bet and make the same bet one roll later. It is left to the citizens to wonder why we continue to be behind the eight ball on the short end of the economic stick.

               Prince George's County's political leaders are once more considering gambling in the county ostensibly to close the looming budget deficit. Any idea that gambling would, as a small side affect, offer financial benefit to a few well connected stakeholders is of course not the reason given for bringing gambling to the county. Any thoughts about how well gambling worked in the past are conveniently not discussed because history is irrelevant when it comes to short term gain and profit. 

               Without a doubt gambling in Prince George's County will expand the marketing opportunities for those who manage the facilities and enhance reasons for visitors to come to Prince George's County. There is, however, no discussion of unintended consequences or unexpected problems that may arise with the introduction of gambling to our neighborhoods. And there are a lot of assumptions of how beneficial this enterprise will be for the tax payers of Prince George's once the managing companies take their cut from the top. There is no discussion of letting the tax payers get their piece of the action before the speculators take their share; for as always Prince George's County's citizens come last.

               Gambling according to Noël Laureate, Paul A. Samuelson, "...involves simply sterile transfers of money or goods between individuals, creating no new money or goods. Although it creates no output, gambling does nevertheless absorb time and resources. When pursued beyond the limits of recreation, where the main purpose after all is to kill time, gambling subtracts from the national income."[3]  This seems strangely appropriate given how the powerful decision makers in the  county  view the ordinary citizens. The development and construction of a gambling facility, on the other hand , most assuredly does create wealth for a few. A couple of questions arise naturally from any consideration, the first being: Are there costs involved that exceed the obvious economic development benefits; and, the second: Who actually gains and who really loses? These questions in and of themselves are not enough to warrant automatic opposition to a private industry s efforts to bring the gaming business here; after all gambling has a long history in the county.[4] If tax payer dollars or incentives are part of the project then there is most assuredly a problem.

               What Prince George's County's entrenched leadership seems to be unaware of is that a fundamental criterion for economic development, sustainability and long term success is for a project to increase a region's net exports not just enrich a few quickly.[5] The amount of goods or services exported needs to be increased or the amount imported decreased. This is how income can increases. A California report on gambling notes that "[p]rojects can be an  economic success in terms of profit without doing either of these things, but those profits come at the expense of other businesses."[6] 

               One unexpected consequence of bring gambling to Prince George's County could be economic gain for its neighbors. Other Washington area jurisdictions may gain from having the gambling center near their borders enabling orders for goods and services to be filled by the rest of the metropolitan region. Senior managers could live in Virginia and bring their wages back to their communities. Their quality of life would not be affect because they successful externalized (dumped) gambling onto Prince George's County.  It is a sign of the arrogance of the elites' diminished capacity to find 21st century development ideas in favor of short term  gain for a few that positions Prince George's County as a poster child for social and environmental justice issues. We, the People, deserve better.  

see reply to Anonymous' comment:            

Interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a “sporting event or contest” fall outside the reach of the Wire Act. Because the proposed New York and Illinois lottery proposals do not involve wagering on sporting events or contests, the Wire Act does not prohibit them. September 20, 2011
[2]   - Boom in Internet gambling ahead? US policy reversal clears the way. Christian Science Monitor [accessed December 26, 2011]
   - Department Of Justice Flip-Flops On Internet Gambling. Forbes. [accessed December 26, 2011]
   - Justice Opinion Finds Room for Web Gambling. Wall Street Journal. [accessed December 26, 2011]

[3] Paul A. Samuelson, Economics, 10th ed., 1976, p. 425.
[4] Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police M.P.D. 1930  to  1939. [accessed December 26, 2011]

"1934 - A gambling joint just across the Prince George County line was the focus of much attention of the Vice Squad. The establishment, owned by Jimmy Lafontaine was a notorious gaming house and allegedly the headquarters of the city's lucrative numbers racket, (MPD)."

Mr. Jim Made A Million From A Casino Brooking No Booze, Women Or Guns [accessed December 26, 20011]

"For almost 30 years [Lafontaine] was the manager of the Maryland Athletic Club, which was one step across the District of Columbia line in Prince Georges County, where the law has always been winked at. It was the largest, most sophisticated casino between Saratoga and Havana. Nobody ever called it the Maryland Athletic Club. It was always known as Jimmy's Place—or simply Jimmy's—and if you used either of those names, any cabbie in Washington would know immediately where you wanted to be taken. Once you got near Jimmy's, you couldn't miss it, even though there was no sign out front. It sat there mysteriously silent, surrounded by a 10-foot board fence on three sides and a spur of the Pennsylvania Railroad on the fourth. It had a well-used seven-acre parking lot, evidence enough that the casino was popular among Washington's gentry."
Belair Mansion (Bowie, Maryland).Wikipedia. [accessed December 26, 2011],_Maryland)

Belair [build in 1742] is recognized as the only great colonial estate where breeding of race horses was conducted during three centuries.  The estate significantly influenced the development of thoroughbred horse racing in the new world,[6] having one of only two stables to raise two Triple Crown champions.[ The mansion and its nearby stables both serve as museums, operated by the City of Bowie.

[5] Any attempt to quantify social or environmental costs is very difficult even speculative. How does one estimate the future cost to society of pathological gamblers who are in treatment or recovery.  As a rule development in Prince George's County chooses to set aside the difficult challenge of opportune costing and go for the immediate profits paradigm.
[6] Gambling in California. 1997. Roger Dunstan. [accessed December 26, 2011]

Prince George's County: Dismissive or Oblivious to Ecosystem Services?

Sept:2011, Prince George's County Administrative Building  flooding          

               Prince George's County operates under a short-sighted, land-as-an-infinitely-replaceable-resource development strategy. It follows from this thinking that open space, woodlands and anything unpaved is a worth-little resource that needs enhancement that comes the creation of a few short term construction jobs and a lot of long term costly problems. The county's ideas and practices about development ideas often eliminate or significantly compromise ecosystem resources and the associated ecological services. As the residents of many parts of the county already know from the storms in 2011, the wanton destruction of natural area habitats results in fragmented, degraded or destroyed. In the case of Broad Creek, Edmonston and Upper Marlboro ecological hydrologic systems are altered significantly thereby causing more volatile flows and water level fluctuations and in addition reducing water quality. Necessary, increasing and inevitable development across the county beg for approaches to development that address and reduce adverse ecological impacts so that through conservation objectives sustainable communities can be achieved.[1] 
               Somehow, Prince George's County's governing elite has been led to believe that preservation of ecological systems (ecosystems) is a tool of those who would hinder or obstruct economic progress in the county. So they dismiss out of hand suggestions of conservation and wind up with massive flooding that residents and businesses have to deal with - repeatedly over the years long after the few dollars were made to build the original project. In an effort to paint all conservationists as anti development, the county's political leadership allows others to maintain quality ecosystems by externalizing their environmentally unfriendly projects onto us such as the coal waste disposal site in Brandywine.[2] Other counties encourage open space; we pave it over. Prince George's County builds what other counties do not want. Instead of a national intelligence university campus as proposed for Bethesda we get storage lockers.[3]  

               Flooding comes from tampering with storm management systems that were designed for specific flow loads. Building house on springs and office building on former swamps is not a rational idea though Prince George's County thinks expedient construction at any short term benefit outweighs the floods that follow. For those Prince Georgians who felt the water 's fury which resulted from quick fix economic development there are low-interest disaster loans available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small aquaculture businesses and most private non-profit organizations affected by Tropical Storm Lee on Sept. 6 -14, 2011.[4] 

[1] D. M. Mensing1, MS, PWS and K. A. Chapman, PhD. Conservation Development and Ecological Stormwater Management: An Ecological Systems Approach™. Applied Ecological Services, Inc. 21938 Mushtown Road, Prior Lake, MN 55372 [accessed December 25, 2011]
[2] Jeff Stant. 2010. Thirty-one New Damage Cases of Contamination from Improperly Disposed Coal Combustion Waste. . [accessed December 26, 2011]
[3]  US ARMY Corps of Engineers. Miscellaneous Notices [accessed December 26, 2011] 
On behalf of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District has prepared an EA and FNSI for the proposed redevelopment of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency - Sumner Site located in Bethesda, Maryland as the Intelligence Community Campus, Bethesda (ICC-B) site. The EA describes the potential environmental consequences resulting from the proposed redevelopment and operation of the ICC-B. The purpose of the Proposed Action is to develop a collaborative intelligence community campus for the relocation of roughly 3,000 intelligence workers in the Washington National Capital area. The Proposed Action is necessary because: 1) there is a shortage of secured administrative building space in the Washington National Capital area; 2) a shared intelligence community campus supports congressional desires for a collaborative community environment and the consolidation of an intelligence community facility strategy; and 3) it supports the reuse of existing government facilities.
[4] Applications and program information are available by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at             800-659-2955   ( 800-877-8339   for the deaf and hard-of-hearing), or by sending an email to  Business loan applications can also be downloaded from Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Russia's Musical Christmas Gift to Washington - the Ural Philharmonic Orchestra

               On Christmas Eve. 2011, at the Kennedy Center, the Ural Philharmonic Orchestra (UPO, in Russian Уральский академический филармонический оркестр, УАФО) and the Choral Arts Society of Washington DC partnered to present an outstanding showcase of Christmas music and a first rank performance symphonic Russian music. The full orchestra is based in Yekaterinburg (former Sverdlovsk, Russia) and one of the oldest of the great orchestras in Russia.[1] The American audience even got to participate by singing Silent Night in Russian with some - ok a lot - of coaching.[2]  The virtuosity of the Russian musicians was balanced by the polish of the American chorus showing that we indeed have more in common than some would have us believe. (Russian music lights up US Christmas at Kennedy Center)

               The opening selection of Bach's Christmas Oratorio set the stage for a brilliant musical afternoon and our seats mid way center in the orchestra were perfectly suited to maximized the experience. The brilliant brass and the crisp timpani shown in the timeless tradition of Russian musical precision. The emotion of the opening was extended by the first performance  of the concert by Irina Shishkova, mezzo-soprano, who seemed to be able to sing without breathing both blending with and soaring above the orchestra in Schlafe, mein Liebster, an aria for alto from part two of the Christmas Oratorio by Bach.  Although some object to Bach being played by a virtuosic large scale Romantic orchestra, the UPO was sharp and sensitive to the Baroque nature of the music bring out the polyphony and counterpoint clearly and precisely matching the wonders of Ms. Shishkova's voice and art. The Americans rose to the occasion of musicianship with their a capella rendition of the Bogoroditse Devo (Ave Maria) from Rachmaninoff's Vespers.

                We were soon treated to the music of Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev a composer whose music speaks to the ages. In the electrifying rendition of the Finale to Alfeyev's Christmas Oratorio,  Епископ Иларион (Алфеев) - Рождественская (Glory to God in the Highest) heaven and earth came together for one brief moment. The Perforce at the Kennedy Center was taken at a slightly faster speed embracing the audience in the magic of a  spiritual musical experience.

               And this was the beginning of the concert for next after yet another stunning performance by Ms. Shishkova of the Cradle Song by Alexander Gretchaninov, The Ural Philharmonic Orchestra's principal conductor, Dmitri List, took the stage next. There are no words to described the high octane precision performance of the Dance of the Tumblers (Jesters) by Tchaikovsky. The almost impossible attention to musical detail, superbly clean attacks and clarity of subordinate musical lines as well as the driving rhythm caused the air to sparkle in the concert hall. This was immediately followed by a masterful collaboration between the Chorale Arts Society and the Philharmonic Orchestra which together brought out the full color and emotion of Tchaikovsky's the Waltz from his Eugene Onegin, Op. 24 showing the polish and poise of both musical organizations.

               After the intermission and with grateful thanks to the patronage of the Russian Ambassador to the United States and the Russian people, those who stayed were treated to a never-to-be-forgotten performance of Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov as only a Russian orchestra of the first rank could perform it. The perfect Christmas present for Washington, the musical professionalism of the Russian soloists, the ensemble precision of the brass and woodwinds, the intonation and overall excellence of the strings were at the pinnacle of musical standards. The effect was an afternoon of the best that music can offer.

Post Scriptum: It is sad to note the decline in the audience's observation of the tradition of standing for Handel's Halleluiah Chorus; perhaps due to the decline in music education in our schools. We noticed that few people dressed up for the concert - some even wore flip flops to hear the performance, but to each his own - the American way I suppose.  And it was depressing to be treated on the subway home to Upper Marlborough  to a gentleman throwing his food onto the metro floor kicking it and then sneaking out into another car as if he thought we could take the blame

[1] Ural Philharmonic Orchestra. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. [accessed December 25, 2011]
[2]Christmas carol - Silent Night in Russian [accessed December 25, 2011]
this is not the translation used at the concert but is the one preferred by my Russian wife
Тихая ночь, дивная ночь!
Дремлет все, лишь не спит
В благоговенье святая чета;
Чудным Младенцем полны их сердца,
Радость в душе их горит.
Радость в душе их горит