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Thumsb up, thumbs down

December 02, 2006

Thumbs up - To the Washington County Commissioners, for their agreement to donate $20,000 to the Maryland Symphony Orchestra's Salute to Independence from the county's share of hotel/motel tax revenue. According to the MSO's presentation, the cost of producing the July event has increased by 20 percent during the last four years. The commissioners' realization that this unique event is worth supporting is most welcome.

Thumbs up - To the late Bill Mason, for blazing the trail for all of the police officers of color who followed him into the ranks of the police departments in Washington County. After he left the sheriff's department, he continued to serve the public as an employee of the City of Hagerstown. It cannot have been easy to be the first African-American in a local police department, but he did it well.

Thumbs down - To the Federal Emergency Management Agency, for its repeated foul-ups related to 2005's Hurricane Katrina. This week a federal judge ruled that FEMA illegally ended housing payments for many who left storm-damaged areas and made the process of applying for help unnecessarily complicated. The only thing FEMA didn't do, apparently, was to kick stray dogs.

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Thumbs down - To Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, for vowing to veto any legislation that would legalize so-called "table games" in parlors where slot machines would be allowed. The governor rightly believes a couple of years of testing the effect of slots is needed before there is any expansion of gambling beyond that.

Thumbs down - To the outgoing Pennsylvania state lawmakers who are blaming everyone but themselves for their defeats. Typical was Rep. Roy E. Baldwin, R-Lancaster, who said he felt "the media is influencing the direction of this House much more than it should." If media scrutiny helps lawmakers stay on the straight and narrow, what's not to like about that?

Thumbs up - To the all of the city residents who filed for the Hagerstown City Council seat soon to be vacated by Kristin Aleshire, who was elected as a Washington County Commissioner. The pay isn't much, the hours are long and every third citizen believes they could do the job better than you. Despite that, you were willing to serve, not to make a fortune, but in hopes of making a better city.

Thumbs down - To the person or persons stealing copper wiring and other metal goods from building sites all over Washington County. We cannot hope to appeal to your conscience, but if this continues, you and some people who know what you're doing will face problems that will cost you far more than you're getting from these thefts. Police say they already have two suspects. Could one of them be you, perchance?

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