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A notary crisis- Not noteworthy

July 31, 2000

A notary crisis- Not noteworthy



Forget Camp David, the celebrated Quad-State Conference rolls into Hagerstown this week, where a crack team of 18 lawmakers and assorted staff, speakers and dignitaries from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia will mercilessly attack the No. 1 problem plaguing the region: The skyrocketing notary public crisis.

"It's important," said Maryland Sen. Don Munson. "You can live in Pennsylvania and work in Maryland and I can make it happen. But if you live in Maryland and work in Pennsylvania it can't happen."

Well.

There's a crisis of epoch proportions, if I've ever heard one.

Frankly, I didn't know that's how it worked. I can just picture Munson sitting in a darkened office in a fedora, the shadows from the Venetian blinds forming vertical lines across his worsted wool suit.

A platinum blonde woman wearing big sunglasses and pinching a cigarette holder between ruby red lips shimmers into the office and says in a husky voice "Here's my application form and my nonrefundable $10 processing fee, senator. Make it happen."

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Seems to me the question should not be why Munson's authority doesn't extend into Pennsylvania, the question should be why in the world should you have to go to a state senator to become a notary?

That's like going to Sen. Robert Byrd to get your driver's license renewed.

But influential and powerful as it is, even the Quad-State Conference can only do so much and I wouldn't wish to strain it by suggesting it take notary detail away from Maryland senators altogether.

Munson, of course, would fight this. Any opportunity to hand down something like a notary certificate or a senatorial scholarship he would protect like an Ernie Banks protects his Cubs.

This is the 15th year for the QSC, which Munson describes as "an opportunity to look at how we fit together as a region."

All right, let's see. Pennsylvania is on top, then Maryland just to the south followed by West Virginia and Virginia, respectively.

Munson added the conference will explore "what factors cause us to be together." I confess, this leaves me at a loss. Unless he's talking about the shifting of the earth's tectonic plates, or immigration patterns of the 1800s.

I don't know about you, but I'm getting a strong reading on my politician gobbledegookometer.

The conference is specifically designed, best I can tell, to unify lawmakers from adjoining states, who get together to talk about the problems that affect the region and then go out and do nothing about these problems as a team.

This is far preferable to the traditional way of doing things, where state legislatures stubbornly insist on doing nothing on their own, without help doing nothing from other states.

I guess it doesn't harm anything, since they're wasting each others' time instead of ours, but I swear I've been watching this group since its inception and you're more likely to see the Queen Mother coming out of a South End laundromat as anything meaningful coming out of this conference.

The agendas don't change much, led by the ever popular "transportation" and "economic development." I think dognapping came up a few years ago. Usually the Civil War makes it in there somewhere.

Pity the Quad-State Conference wasn't around in 1860 (of course then it would have been the Tri-State Conference) or the whole fight might have been avoided. Or at least it would have been easier to get their discharge orders notarized.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist

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