Cas Taylor, Alivia Koontz and an editor's recent header

September 19, 2007|By BOB MAGINNIS

Am I the only one who misses Cas Taylor?

I doubt it. As Gov. Martin O'Malley prepares for a special session to deal with Maryland's looming $1.5 billion deficit, he probably wishes Taylor were still speaker of the House of Delegates, as opposed to Michael Busch.

Although slot machines are now legal in all the states surrounding Maryland except Virginia, Busch has dithered for years over whether he does or doesn't want them. Meanwhile, Marylanders are voting with their feet and playing them in other states.

For lawmakers, the best argument in favor of slots is that they amount to a voluntary tax. If you'd rather not play, you don't have to, a choice you don't have when it comes to income or property taxes.


Taylor understood this and he was also the kind of lawmaker who realized that an interminable search for the perfect solution prevents any progress in the short term. As a former lawmaker once told me, success has many fathers, which means that if you can get a deal done, everyone can share credit. Busch still seems unsure whether or not he even wants a deal. If you can't come back, Cas, can you at least give this guy a phone call?

In late August, Alivia Koontz, the little Hagerstown girl with a rare heart condition, traveled again to the Nemours Cardiac Center in Delaware for what her parents thought might be the child's fourth heart operation in fewer than four years.

But during a heart catherization prior to surgery, her mother, Angela Koontz, said the child had an irregular heart rhythm. Doctors sent her back to the Ronald McDonald House, where she wore a heart monitor for 24 hours.

Then Alivia was on restrictions for two weeks - no running or jumping.

"It was very hard keeping her down," her mother said. At one point, her mom and her aunt, Rhonda Uzelac, carried her up the stairs of the sliding board so she could have a little fun.

But mom said the latest doctor visit found the physician pleased with her progress. The pressure inside her heart has fallen to a safer level and her blood oxygen level was good.

No surgery is planned at this point, Koontz said, because doctors want her to gain at least 8 pounds first, since her weight has stayed the same for a year.

It's hard for me to imagine a kid without one favorite food that they can't get enough of, but Alivia's mom said although the child loves McDonald's Chicken McNuggets, she won't eat more than three at a time.

And so the family will go back to a feeding clinic, which will try to work out strategies to get the child, not yet 4, to increase the volume of what she eats.

Many more trips to the doctor loom, since Alivia must be seen every time she has a cold or a sore throat.

The family isn't asking for help, but I am. Gasoline isn't cheap and because of Alivia's need for constant care, only her father can work. If you can help, please send a check to Shiloh United Methodist Church, 19731 Shiloh Church Road, Hagerstown, MD 21742.

Those correspondents who recently expressed unhappiness with my writings should be pleased to learn that I have already received my comeuppance.

Here's the story: Last Thursday, I was a volunteer at the Hagers-town Exchange Club's annual golf tournament, held this year at he Greencastle Greens golf course.

My job was to be designated witness on one the hole-in-one prize holes. After four hours in the sun with only a bottle of water to sustain me, I hurried into the clubhouse to get a hot dog and something cool before a 6 p.m. appointment in Chambersburg, Pa.

As I pushed open the front door of the club house, the toe of my shoe got hooked on the edge of the door frame.

Down I went, my head hitting the corner of a table just inside. I rolled over, cursed and one of the two women who played in the tournament came over to help me, along with Exchangite J. Michael Nye.

To determine whether I was OK, Nye asked me to repeat my name. When the woman heard it, she asked me if I were the Bob Maginnis who wrote for the newspaper and asked me if I were going to write about my tumble and her help.

Contacted Tuesday, the woman said she had been kidding and really didn't want her name used.

I thank her for her kind help and promise not to curse any more, at least until the next time I fall on my head.

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

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