Turmoil continues at the national level, as the federal government approves a $700 billion bailout to ailing financial institutions. An irate taxpayer from Hagerstown calls President Bush and chews him out after finding his phone number in the Ogden EZ To Use Big Book.
The bailout is necessary because of the foreclosure crisis, which takes an odd turn in Washington County, where the Humane Society says it has taken a number of moderately well-trained stray dogs, which apparently have been released by people who have lost their homes. Upon hearing this news, Congress approves a $200 billion stray dog bailout and spends another $300 billion to purchase recently refurbished items from City Hall and nail them to the wall of a T.G.I. Fridays.
In other business news, Verizon, which accidentally sold 11,000 unlisted numbers to a phone-book company, argues during a hearing that it should not have to answer to the Maryland Public Service Commission, and accuses the agency of seeking a "media spectacle" and of being "irresponsible." After the hearing breaks up, all parties remain in the courtroom to help Verizon look for its car keys.
The Washington County Commissioners are hot out of the chute in October, revealing a "concept plan" for the $4.6 million properties it purchased earlier in the year, plans which call for -- a parking lot. The concept is hailed by independent filmmakers interested in villains and superheroes.
But not all real estate ventures are working out as well, as the Humane Society reports a significant uptick in the number of moderately well-trained stray husbands. And in Smithsburg, Habitat for Humanity builds two homes, followed by a brief ceremony at which they immediately are foreclosed upon.
In another blow to the Republican-dominated Washington County legislative delegation, Del. Richard B. Weldon cuts his ties to the GOP, citing excessive partisanship. Contacted at a Weldon effigy-hanging ceremony, Republicans say accusations of partisan attacks are overblown.
The City Council is more mellow, however, voting to allow alcohol to be sold during a fundraiser for the Doleman Black Heritage Museum at the University System of Maryland's Hagerstown campus. Things turn sour when a history professor threatens to "lick everyone in the room" and the deed to the campus mysteriously winds up in the hands of a businessman from India.
In other city news, the council votes to close downtown Hagerstown streets for the third annual Downtown Live! music festival, drawing loud protests from the two drivers whom this would affect.
And in November, a lot of people were driving to the polls and vote for "change," which in Hagerstown loosely is defined as going with the curly fries instead of the straight kind. As the nation moves on in a new direction by electing Barack Obama, Hagerstown does not, casting a wide, majority vote for Dwight Eisenhower.
The county also supports the re-election of U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, whose campaign pledge to "stay awake until 8:30 on school nights" resonates solidly with the Washington County voter demographic.
And speaking of long hours, a Pennsylvania family is selected to be featured on the television show "Extreme Makeover, Home Edition." This is an exciting reality show in which contractors work around the clock in a race to have a new house built in time for the bank to foreclose.
The poor housing market also costs the county millions of dollars in revenue until commissioners, in a flash of genius, agree to assess an excise tax on people who are not building new homes.
Revenue shortfalls will need to be addressed at the rapidly approaching legislative session, where lawmakers also will be asked to change an actual, existing law that prevents Maryland wineries from selling cheese.