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It's a bit late, but here's my gift list

December 21, 2000

It's a bit late, but here's my gift list



Dear Santa:

I know it's a little bit late to be making up a Christmas list, but since some of the major items on mine are things I don't want, I'm forwarding it to you, in hopes that you could take care of a few of the items. They include:

- A wish that for at least a month, President-elect George W. Bush would refrain from endorsing or promoting any purely partisan piece of legislation, preserving for a little while longer the illusion that the guy I voted for has some chance of becoming the new millennium's Harry Truman, a guy who'll defy both parties to do what he feels is right.

- A request that during 2001, no Hagerstown city official will attend the ribbon-cutting of a new suburban shopping center and then say that the new multi-store complex won't have any effect on downtown.

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- In that same vein, I'd like to see at least one instance in which a traffic engineer hired to study the probable impact of a new shopping center comes to a public hearing and says, "If you build this thing, there'll be terrible gridlock from Day One."

- And while we're on the subject of proposed projects, I'd like to hear the Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Hagerstown Committee or some similar entity be kind enough to tell someone with an idea for an unrealistic project that, barring the arrival of a personal check from Bill Gates, it's never going to happen.

I also wish:

- That the people who create computer viruses would go after those telephone-answering systems that make it possible to call a major corporation and be transferred up to a dozen times, without ever reaching a live human being.

- That some readers of the newspaper would realize that "the news media" is not one monolithic organization, marching in lock-step, and that the Dan Rathers of the world do not coordinate their plans with us.

- That in the next year at least one jilted boyfriend or estranged husband will look at the gun he's planning to use for revenge, then put it away, saying, "If she doesn't love me, she isn't worth going to prison for either."

- That Hagerstown citizens embrace "Campaign Clean Sweep" and decide that they really enjoy living in a city without trash in the gutters and weeds growing up through the sidewalks.

- That the Washington County Board of Education comes to appreciate those who offer suggestions on important policy issues as much as it does those parents who clean up the kindergartners' cracker crumbs after snack time.

- That Hagerstown's black community bring forth a candidate for city council, so that public service of the kind provided by people like the late Donald Davis and Mickey Tolliver is not just a memory.

- That the people who get all misty-eyed about "the family farmer" actually do something to help such families get a fair price for their harvests, like backing milk-price supports.

- That someone who's invited me to a meeting will call up and cancel it, saying, "We figured out how to solve this problem without spending two hours discussing it."

- That an attorney comes to court with his client for sentencing and says, "He had a wonderful childhood, with loving parents and others who cared for him. He has no excuse for what he did, except that he selfishly decided to do what he knew was wrong."

- That all the people inclined to watch the abominable new reality TV show "Temptation Island," in which a group of married couples and singles are thrown together to see who'll commit adultery, are suddenly granted 20 extra IQ points, prompting them to switch to something more enlightening, like a Discovery Channel special on the life cycle of the blue crab.

- That all the people who let their animals run loose in defiance of local leash laws get their just desserts when Fido or Frisky brings in a decaying rodent carcass and drops it on the living room rug.

- That citizens in general recognize that most government employees are not lazy bureaucrats, but people committed to doing a good job.

- That Bill Clinton will have enough class to stop congratulating himself and acknowledge all that his administration failed to do, on health care, on race relations and Mideast peace, in part because he chose to ignore his duty to the nation in favor of some Oval Office hanky-panky.

- That local drivers learn to use their turn signals more than three feet ahead of the turn they're trying to make.

- That the Christmas snowfall begin about midnight tonight, and accumulate no more than two inches, so that those who must return to work on Tuesday can do so safely.

- That I never forget how lucky I am to be working every day with very creative people, in and out of the newspaper, in a job I love.

Bob Maginnis is editorial page editor of The Herald-Mail newspapers.

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