Tims column

March 17, 1997

I have two words for tire-pile farmer Denzil Poling:

Flower pots. Next time, use flower pots.

Everyone understands we have a glut of hard-to-dispose-of used tires - but stacking them in waist-high rows, filling them with dirt and planting onion sets? And a whole football-field's worth of other tire-encapsulated vegetables? Talk about where the rubber meets the produce.

I don't want to knock what might have been a very plausible recycling effort. From what I understand this system has an innovative irrigation system, and several other thoughtful features.

I should say had an innovative irrigation system, because last week it went up in flames and a billow of smoke that could be seen in three states.


It's got to be heartbreaking to see your life's work destroyed in an afternoon, so I don't mean to poke too much fun. But there's a lesson here: If you're going to found your business on 17 million tons of petroleum-based products, do not build a large fire close by on the windiest day of the year.

Poling now says the state should not have given him the permit to allow him to build these Tire Gardens of Babylon. "I'm a good salesman and I sold the state a very bad idea," he said.

There's a thread of truth in this. It's hard to see how this tire pile was much different from the other tire piles the state loathes; the tires were just stacked neater, is all.

But then if the Ford Motor Co. sells me a car and I drive it off a bridge, I can't very well go back to Ford and say they shouldn't have sold me the car because they should have known I was going to drive it poorly. And in the end, it was a poor burning decision, not the gardening project, that caused the heat.

And speaking of heat, Hagerstown really got fired up over its city primary elections this year, didn't it? Ten percent voter turnout. In a city with 14,726 registered voters, the average mayoral candidate received fewer than 260 votes.

This means one of two things:

1. Everyone thought these six candidates were so equally wonderful that no matter who got the job he would do just fine. Therefore there was no point in voting.

Do I really need to outline option two?

I confess to not voting, primarily because I am an Independent and can't vote in primaries. Also, I seldom vote unless there is an eminently qualified candidate who has a chance of winning, thereby putting me out of business.

The total cost of the city election was $25,810; that works out to $16.78 a vote.

Wow. Isn't that about what Clinton spent?

Uh-oh. You don't suppose. No. Don't tell me this means the Chinese government is covertly trying to influence policy in the City of Hagerstown.

The mayor hasn't been holding any "coffees" in the Burhans Room at City Hall lately has he? Or allowed people to sleep over in Hager House?

No wait - the $16.78 was just the costs of putting on the election, not campaigning for it. If you figured the campaign costs it would have come out to $0.00001 per vote.

I saw a grand total of two yard signs and one bumper sticker. I didn't hear or see any media ads. No one came to me asking for my endorsement. Even more telling, no one came to me begging that I endorse the other guy.

What was this, the stealth election? Where was the action? The intrigue? The bloodbath? Ron Coss, call your service.

Maybe Bruchey vs. Sager will really be nasty. "The Terror in Public Square."

But alas no, probably not.

When the municipal issue that stirs people up most is what variety of tree you're going to plant outside the empty Peoples building, one risks serious disappointment by hoping for too much.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

The Herald-Mail Articles