Cleaning up the Chesapeake won't bankrupt anyone

October 29, 2005|By Dee Mayberry

This writer has never taken a course in marine biology and plumbing to her is a mystery best left to experts. She does know that she likes seafood and she likes it clean, abundant and affordable.

She knows that some of the best come - or should be coming - from the Chesapeake Bay.

Today's bay crabs are priced like solid gold. Moreover, it's sad to see so many oystermen on the Eastern Shore dropping into poverty because their harvest levels have been poor.

Seafood people with long history of livelihood (and taxpaying) are showing up on welfare rolls where they receive support from taxes paid by everyone in Maryland, including Washington County.

It doesn't take a degree in ecology to figure out that health of the Chesapeake Bay waters means good eating at Hagerstown fish houses, Even those who don't like seafood might enjoy clean bay water for boating or swimming.


All of which brings up plumbing. We learn that potty waste, joined with crop materials, chicken and other animal-related debris make their way into tributaries that eventually feed into the Chesapeake Bay.

Mentioning any of this takes caution. The matter is complex. However, this writer hopes forgiving readers will let her skip the complications of overall environmentalism and let her go to simple common sense.

Recently, in the mailbox was an official looking letter about something commonly known as a "flush tax". It was not a bill but said people with septic systems would pay an annual $30 fee - adding up to $2.50 on a householder's monthly budget line.

Well, $2.50 per month paid as $30 each year does not seem scary. It's less than the price of a bag of lawn fertilizer or pet kibbles. However, when a new charge for something shows up, people tend to talk about it. Having no clue about septic issues, this former city family went back to common sense. They reasoned it is better to pay $30 a year for bay cleanup than $100 per bushel for crabs. Never mind that the Chesapeake is a Maryland treasure - one that has been associated with the state from its beginnings.

There was an interesting moment awhile back when the governor of Virginia, Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich and the Mayor of Washington, D.C., met in Annapolis. As luncheon host, Gov. Ehrlich served his guests Maryland crab cakes.

In a press interview, Virginia Democrat Mark Warner said with a sour face he thought the crab cakes were "good." He mentioned nothing else.

Apparently the only thing this Democrat visiting a blue state could find to compliment about Maryland was those crab cakes.

Maybe this means Democrats in other states don't think much of Democrats in Maryland. If that is the case, Maryland Republicans warmly invite those Maryland Democrats to join with them in generating respect for our state, respect that goes beyond what goes on in our kitchens.

Marylanders have a message for Gov. Warner. It is: Don't look down on us because you have history, value your battlefields and mountains, or because you get major revenues from your traditional horse industry.

We have these, too. If you like tradition, we've got it. If you like monuments, come to Washington County to visit the original tribute to George Washington.

If you like war memorials, tour the Antietam Battlefield. As to horse tradition and revenue, know for sure that Gov. Ehrlich is reviving Maryland's horse industry that, even in its lean years, generates a couple of billion dollars in revenue. We share with other states mountain ranges and seacoast.

For a long time Marylanders have played the Democrat leadership game. But Virginia, you know what? Some of Maryland's own Democrat former leaders now support our GOP Head Guy and his first lady, Kendel Ehrlich.

If you visit again, Mr. Warner, you will do well to turn a smiling face to Maryland Democrats. Otherwise they just may leave your party next election day.

Marylanders are smart people. They may gripe about things like flush fees, fret over slot machines at race tracks but they know a state surplus when they see it and they know what good government looks like.

More than that, Virginia and other states have reason to wonder why a Republican named Michael Steele from a blue county like Prince George's is looking like a slam dunk for a Maryland seat in the U.S. Senate.

If memory serves, Steele cut his political teeth in service as Lt. Governor to GOP State Assembly delegate, U.S. Congressman and current Gov. Bob Ehrlich.

Puzzling isn't it Mr. Warner?

Dee Mayberry in a Herald-mail community columnist form the Boonsboro area.

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