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Please don't squeeze the legislators

April 11, 2002|BY TIM ROWLAND

This item was in the Montgomery County Gazette last week, under the headline "Barbara's boy, now:"

"Sen. Donald F. Munson (R-Dist. 2) of Hagerstown, normally a staunch conservative with next to no impact on state policy, provided a crucial vote for the 34-cents-a-pack increase in the tobacco tax earlier this week after Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman (D-Dist. 42) of Baltimore squeezed him like an overripe melon.

"Hoffman told Munson that if he didn't vote for the tax, she would nix a subsidy for Hagerstown Regional Airport and kill a new University of Maryland campus in downtown Hagerstown.

"Hoffman laughed about it after the vote. Munson told her to make sure people know what she did to him so that he could have political cover back home."

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Overripe melon? Hey, wait a minute. They can't do that to our pledges, only we can do that to our pledges. Come on, he did the right thing - we got the campus, God bless the delegation, so who's to say it wasn't Munson who picked Baltimore's Hoffman clean as a blue crab? And for any Montgomery County partisan who would dare pick on one of our Washington County lawmakers, I have only three words: Dana Lee Dembrow.

n I like our County Commissioners, but this one has me buffaloed. The Smithsburg Emergency Services Board of Directors unanimously agreed to sell its rescue truck because the County Commissioners "told the ambulance company to stop using it."

God forbid a rescue company might rescue somebody. I suppose the county would have preferred that the Smithsburg EMS park the ambulance by the side of the road and sell overripe melons out of the back.

But the real kicker is who they sold it to: Hagerstown's own Community Rescue Service ambulance company. For $200,000.

CRS? Would this be the same CRS that for the past couple of years has been pleading desperate poverty before every board and council that would pay it an ear? The same CRS that has threatened layoffs because it's broke?

CRS says it will pay for the truck by selling property it owns; three acres of land it owns in Conrad Court and a building it owns on Virginia Avenue.

I'm missing something here. What's with all this real estate? When did CRS merge with Long & Foster? I mean, it's nice that they're getting a new truck and all, but it would be nicer if they could afford to pay somebody to drive it.

And you may not want to tell the County Commissioners, but for the record, CRS is an aam-byuu-laaance company. They didn't want the Smithsburg ambulance company to drive the ambulance because the Smithsburg fire company objected - but it's OK for the Hagerstown ambulance company to drive the ambulance. How is it OK for Hagerstown, but not Smithsburg? Did they ask the Hagerstown fire department if it was all right with them?

n Again with the asteroids. Now scientists have concluded that there is a chance an asteroid may strike the planet on March 16, 2880. They say the odds of a direct hit, hopefully on France, are about 1 in 300. I love the way science can calculate right down to the split second when the asteroid will be here, but can't figure out any closer than a 300th of a chance whether the earth will be there, too, to keep the appointment.

n What an opening night for the Hagerstown Suns. There were a ton of people, the stands were filled, there were long lines at the concession stands and bunches and bunches of young people, along with a good crowd of upscale folks in suits and talking on cell phones.

It was horrible.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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