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The 'trades' and other election topics

November 12, 2006|by BOB MAGINNIS

The Herald-Mail's Editorial Page Advisory Committee proved its worth again prior to the Sept. 12 primary, when members said that candidate William Staley's message was one that shouldn't be ignored.

Staley, a School Board candidate and former welding instructor at the county's Technical High School, said that not every student wants to go to college and that the school system should be strengthening, not weakening, trades training programs.

School Board members Paul Bailey and Jacqueline Fischer pointed out that between 1994 and 2002, five trades courses were dropped, in large part because of low enrollment.

Those included plumbing, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, also known as HVAC, masonry, machine trades and welding.

On this issue, Staley might remain a lone voice crying in the wilderness except for the fact that John Barr has been elected as a county commissioner.

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In case you missed it, Barr recently donated $200,000 to help renovate the old Broadway School into a training center for Associated Builders and Contractors. Barr will be more inclined that not to give strong consideration to Staley's argument.

If welding is returned to the Technical High School, those who made the case that it was needed will have to find positions for the graduates.

On Friday, using our JobFetch online search of the region, only two companies locally, JLG and the Manitowoc Crane Group, were looking for welders. Yes, they're big outfits, but the question is: How many more positions will be available in the future?

The advisory group's response to the general election results was varied.

A few member were surprised by the primary victory of Terry Baker, who did not impress some of them during the primaries. The group decided that his fame as a long-distance runner, contractor and Technical High School teacher outweighed what seemed, on TV, at lerast, like someone struggling to get his answers out.

Attorney General candidate Scott Rolle's defeat was lamented by one member, who said that outgoing incumbent Joseph Curran had only reacted to events during his time in office, instead of taking the initiative.

The same member said, "We lost a good man in (Maryland Gov. Robert) Ehrlich."

That prompted another member to remark that "if he hadn't had (President) Bush on his back, he would have gotten back in."

The same member, who has worked in Washington, D.C. said the defeat of some in Congress will leave thousands scrambling for jobs, hoping that their exeprtise isn't lost in the rush.

"The smart people coming in will sort through that bunch and find some talent there," he said.

Change isn't a bad thing, said another member, citing his own experience in a company that made its employees change desks every nine months or so, just to keep them from falling into a rut.

"Without taking sides on whether this is good bad, massive change will force everybody to reassess," he said.

Another agreed, saying that "What I'm hoping is that the people who have been elected will say, 'Maybe we're going to have to suck it up and work together.'"

On the local level, one member said that those elected were for the most part, competent to do the job.

"I'm glad (County Commissioner) Bill Wivell got back in," he said, adding that Wivell scrutinizes every expenditure carefully.

Another agreed, saying that "He treats our money as if it were his own."

Kristin Aleshire, a Hagerstown City Council member who is now a Washington County Commissioner, has also been a budget hawk, but one member expressed some apprehension about him.

Citing his fight against the Washington County Hospital move as a city official, the member said, "I hope Aleshire understands who he's working for now. If he can change his stripes and realize he's working for the whole county, he could be good., He appears to spend an awful lot of time on the issues," he said.

John Munson's defeat was noted, as was his suggestion that he might now retire to Florida.

Doug Mullendore's victory against Rich Poffenberger in the sheriff's rate was also noted with favor, but the group as a whole said the campaign's most irritating feature was some Republicans' use of computerized phone calls.

"They were obnoxious," said one, while another added, "They really turned me off."

Here are a few of my own takes on the election:

With the election of Martin O'Malley as governor, Democratic District 2C Del. John Donoghue is the key player in a delegation filled with Republicans. When local bills are stalled, he'll be the go-to guy to get them unstuck.

But, as his by his one-time opponent, Mayor Robert Bruchey noted in a recent letter, Donoghue hasn't been closely involved in issues that matter to the city - taxation and the proposed hospital move, for example.

That means the city government should probably hire an Annapolis lobbyist to raise heck when city residents' interests are ignored.

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