Saturday, April 9, 2011

Crippen Gets 25 Years For Attempted Murder

Written by:  Jennifer Shutt
Staff Writer- Daily Times
SNOW HILL -- Pleas of "No, judge!" and sobs erupted from the family of Alexander Crippen after he was sentenced to 25 years in prison stemming from his December conviction of first-degree attempted murder.

Several members of Crippen's family left the courtroom after Judge Richard R. Bloxom handed down a sentence of life in prison with all but 25 years suspended, and a 10-year concurrent sentence for handgun use during a felony or violent crime. Crippen is 37 years old.

Crippen was originally charged in the shooting death of Reginald Handy Jr. in June after witnesses said they saw him shoot and kill Handy. Those charges were vacated just before the trial began and replaced with attempted murder charges. Prosecutors said forensic evidence would have made it impossible to prove Crippen was the murderer.

A nephew of Crippen's, Skylor Harmon of Pocomoke City, was then charged with Handy's murder, and Harmon's trial is pending.

At the sentencing hearing, State's Attorney Beau Oglesby recalled Crippen's criminal past, saying an escalation in charges and convictions against him shows increasingly violent behavior. In 1991, Crippen was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest; in 1996, he was convicted of assault with intent to maim and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

"These actions for an individual with no prior criminal history would be atrocious," Oglesby said. "Mr. Crippen was, and continues to be, a menace to our public safety."

Crippen's attorney, Arthur McGreevy, contested the state's request for a full life sentence, saying Crippen should be able to re-enter society at some point in his life.

"He is not a person devoid of potential," said McGreevy, after recalling stories of Crippen helping others and discussing Crippen's recently born son.

Before sentencing, Bloxom said Crippen's lengthy criminal history helped the judge determine the sentence. He also mentioned Crippen's conviction for assault of a corrections employee while he was behind bars.

"You have an adult criminal record going back 19 years," Bloxom said. "As the state's attorney observed, your criminal record is indicative of someone who has become more dangerous."

Although sentencing is often the last step in a criminal trial, Crippen is scheduled to appear at a motions hearing May 6, where he is expected to request a new trial. Crippen has also indicated his intent to appeal his conviction.


One Wal*Mart Carjacker Is Charged

Being held for bond in an unspecified location? Would anyone know why.....unless it's because he is a juvenile?

By:  Linda Cicoira
An Accomack youth was charged in connection with an armed robbery and motor vehicle theft that allegedly occurred late last month at the Pocomoke Walmart.

Troy Anthony Ewell,17, of New Church was charged with 16 counts according to the Pocomoke City Police Department

He will be tried as an adult and is being held for $250,000 bond at an unspecified location.

Another suspect is being held in Eastern Shore Regional Jail in Eastville. Information about that male has not been disclosed because he is a juvenile and has not waived juvenile status.
On March 28, Maryland officers responded to the Walmart on Old Snowhill Road. "Upon arrival they learned that a 69-year-old store employee was on her way into the store when she was approached by two blackmales with a gun who demanded her wallet and vehicle keys," a spokes person said. "The victim complied and the two suspects fled from the parking lot in her vehicle."

The following day, the vehicle was in a single-vehicle accident in Accomack County, where police found it had been severely damaged and abandoned.

Officers were able to identify the driver and passenger of the stolen vehicle, the spokesperson added.

Ewell was charged with armed robbery,  robbery, two counts of use of a firearm in a felony, two counts of handgun on a person, armed carjacking, conspiracy to commit armed carjacking, conspiracy carjacking, carjacking, two counts of unlawful taking of a vehicle, two counts of theft under $100, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, and conspiracy to commit robbery.

He turned himself into authorities on March 31.


Deer Stands Guard Over Goose Nest In Cemetary

. REUTERS/Doug Benz

By: Neale Gulley
BUFFALO, New York (Reuters) – A deer has been standing watch for several days over a female goose nesting in a city cemetery, a scene normally reserved for a children's movie.

"People always want to turn it into a Disney story and in this case it's not far off," said Gina Browning, director of the Erie County SPCA.

For at least four days, the buck stood guard near the nest of a Canada goose as she sits on her eggs inside a large urn at Forest Lawn cemetery, home to the remains of President Millard Fillmore and rock icon Rick James.

"He does appear to be guarding the goose, as it were," Erie County SPCA Wildlife Administrator Joel Thomas said. "He's within touching distance of her -- there's no doubt what's going on."

The deer, which he said looks like a buck that has shed its antlers, has not strayed from his post.
Employees at the cemetery were alerted to the situation after the animal positioned itself between the bird and an employee of a company that traps and relocates geese, which Thomas said have become a messy problem in large numbers.

"When he approached the bird with a net, the deer puts itself between him and the bird, and he's repeated that behavior for some time," he said.

Typically positioning himself broadside to any car or passerby who comes near the nest, the deer stares intently until the potential aggressor moves on, he said.

Why exactly the deer has chosen to champion a bird of a different feather is a complicated question, Thomas said. While interdependence among species in the wild is not unheard of, Thomas said whatever is causing this animal kingdom alliance is anybody's guess.

"From a human standpoint we can fill in a lot of blanks but it doesn't mean we're right," he said. "Does he know she's nesting? I don't know. Is he going to leave when the chicks hatch? I don't know."

One thing is clear: It could go on for some time.

The gestation period for a Canada goose is up to 31 days, Thomas said, with the nesting season only just beginning. While normally both the male and female share the task of keeping the eggs warm, the expectant mother at Forest Lawn appears not to have that luxury.

"If the deer is determined, he's going to be on the job for at least three weeks," Thomas said.

Devotion rather than emotion seems to be driving the buck.

"The deer and the goose are not in love," Thomas said.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jerry Norton)


Thanks Sheri

Friday, April 8, 2011

Trump Buys Winery In Virginia

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Billionaire Donald Trump has bought the Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyards in Charlottesville.

Media outlets report that representatives for Trump bought the winery at a foreclosure auction Thursday. Trump officials say he's interested in making wines and is in talks with former owners William Moses and Patricia Kluge about running the operation.

Preliminary estimates indicate the property sold for less than $7.5 million. A separate auction is being held to sell equipment used in making wine and tending the vineyards. Trump's representatives also successfully bid on the trademarks and labels for the winery.

Kluge Estate owed Farm Credit Bank an estimated $34.8 million. The winery took out loans to expand its operations from regional to national. But it missed sales targets required by its line of credit with the bank.


Bogus Bomb Threat Evacuates School

Written by:
Shawn J. Soper - News Editor
SHOWELL -- Hundreds of Showell Elementary students were evacuated from the school building for a couple of hours yesterday as authorities investigated a potential bomb threat.

Around 8:40 a.m. yesterday, Maryland State Police officers responded to Showell Elementary to investigate a reported bomb threat on the school made during an apparent domestic dispute Wednesday night. According to a source close to the situation, an unidentified man was involved in a domestic dispute with his estranged wife, the mother of a student at Showell, the night before and made a veiled threat to blow up a classroom at the facility.

School officials immediately set in motion Showell’s prescribed and practiced emergency plan and the students, teachers and staff were evacuated from the building in a measure of “extreme caution.” The students, teachers and administrators remained outside the building for about two hours as Maryland State Police investigators along with allied law enforcement agencies searched the building for a potential explosive device.

A bomb-sniffing dog was brought in to do a complete scan of the school building and property, which turned up negative. Students, teachers and administrators started trickling back into the facility around 11 a.m., over two hours after police first arrived on the scene.

Colonel Doug Dods of the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office said yesterday the investigation was ongoing.

“At this point, we don’t think it was a valid threat,” he said. “Investigators are trying to track down where it came from. It appears somebody took something out of context. We had people calling and telling us there were armed gunmen in the school. That’s how it snowballs.”

According to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jon Andes, when police informed school administrators of the potential threat, Showell Elementary’s school safety plan was immediately put into effect.

“The State Police arrived at the school around 8:40 a.m. and informed the administration about the situation,” he said. “As a result of that information, we implemented the school’s safety plan, which we practice and rehearse monthly in preparation for a potential situation such as this. Our primary concern is for the safety the children, and as a precaution we evacuated the facility to provide police with an opportunity to search the school.”

County Schools Public Information Officer Barb Witherow said yesterday the school’s automated message system was activated to inform parents about the pending situation.

“The students practice evacuation drills once a month and as a result, we had a very calm and very organized evacuation,” she said. “You hope that you never need the plan in real life, but it worked exactly how it was designed to work.”


If Law Passes Pooches Would Be Allowed On Restaurant Patios

TOM RISEN ¦ Staff Writer
Some people spend a lot of money on their pets and the Dining Out Growth Bill is waiting for Maryland Senate approval on whether to open restaurant patios to dogs and more tourist dollars. If passed, it would take effect on July 1.

After clearing the House of Delegates with a vote of 124 to 8, House Bill 941 has until the legislative session ends Monday to carry its offer of more customer service options onto the Senate floor and to the governor’s desk.

Delegates Mike McDermott (R-38) and Norm Conway (D-38B) differed on budget proposals, but both voted in favor of the pet-friendly measure because of its potential to boost consumer spending.

“This is a bill that will cost taxpayers nothing and has only the potential to increase disposable income from out-ofstaters,” said Delegate Dan Morhaim (D-11), who introduced the legislation.

“Businesses in North Carolina, California, Florida, Michigan and many cities around the country are reaping benefits from having introduced this.”

Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Melanie Pursel said there is a growing trend of people traveling with their pets.

“People who treat their pets like their children are sometimes the ones with disposable income,” Pursel said. “I personally think this could be a good idea for businesses to offer something more to travelers. But it’s a fine line, like with the leash law on the beach.

Business owners would have one more thing to keep track of if they allow dogs in their patios.”

The bill would leave it up to bar owners on whether to allow dogs and what kind of dogs would be allowed on patios. The pet owners would be held responsible for managing Fido, Rover and Spot.

Along with displaying a sign for patrons and keeping the dog outside, the restaurant would have notify local health departments.

“Other states doing this only had isolated incidents in our judgment, so it’s something we decided to work on with Delegate Morhaim,” said Dr. Clifford S. Mitchell, assistant director for Health and Food Protection at the Maryland Department of Mental Health and Hygiene.

Ocean City already has a handful of pet-friendly hotels that claim to have harnessed extra tourism dollars from pet travel. Barefoot Mailman Motel’s owner Adam Showell said his hotel profits by working out a balance with pet owners and housekeeping working in concert. Housekeeping cannot enter a room if the pet is there without the owner, Showell said.

“It’s fun running a pet-friendly business and we have a high rate of returning guests,” Showell said. “There is a high rate of camaraderie among the customers since they all bring their dogs or cats as part of the family. They love coming to Ocean City, even during cooler weather when the Boardwalk and beaches are still open to pets.”

One provision of the bill prohibits dogs from entering the restaurant at any point, even to get to the outdoor seating and could apply to the Ocean City Boardwalk. Ocean City’s beaches and its Boardwalk are not open to dog walking between May 1 and Sept. 30 because of the crowds. Monitoring pets in a crowded bar could be a concern for some businessmen, such as Shenanigans Manager Nick Feickert, who said his Boardwalk side patio would not allow dogs if the bill passed.

“In our experience some people have phobias of dogs and might not want to have them around while drinking or eating,” Feickert said.

“There‘s also the risk for an accident with servers walking around carrying food and drinks.”

Donna Abbott, communications manager for the Town of Ocean City, said if the bill passed, business owners would likely have to approach the City Council about Boardwalk access for pets.

One tourist to Ocean City, Rhonda Gresham of Chesapeake, Va., said she and her husband sometimes take their Yorkshire terrier, Lacy Lou, to Rehoboth since she finds it more pet-friendly.

“Ocean City has lost my travel money in the past,” Treuth said. “I plan my vacation around Lacy Lou and I would love to see more pet-friendly.


Grader Shed Fire In Nelsonia

Fire completely destroyed an old grader shed in Nelsonia late Thursday afternoon. Fire fighters from Bloxom, Atlantic, Onancock, Parksley, Tasley and Onley responded to the call at approximately 5 PM.

The grader shed located behind Affordable Auto Sales in Nelsonia was fully involved and destroyed.

Firefighters were successful in keeping the fire from spreading to adjucent structures which included the car sales facility and a former lumber business.

No cause for the fire has been reported.


Mason Pleads Guilty To Negligent Homicide

Written by: Jennifer Shutt
Staff Writer
SNOW HILL -- Sobs could be heard from all sides of the courtroom, including the defense table, as Hunter Lee Stonnell's parents talked about how their lives have changed since the death of their son.

The parents spoke after Jesse James Mason, the man charged in the death of 21-year-old Stonnell, pleaded guilty to homicide by motor vehicle while impaired.

Mason, 23, was charged last September after Stonnell was killed trying to prevent Mason from driving drunk. Witnesses told police Stonnell had grabbed the side of Mason's white Ford pickup truck, attempting to prevent him from driving, when he was thrown from the vehicle.

Mason later told police he heard Stonnell's head hit the pavement and knew he was injured, but drove home anyway from the parking lot on Market Street in Pocomoke City.

"Nobody who knew him called 911 ... a stranger called 911," said Malcolm Stonnell, the victim's father.

Court records and witness statements indicate Mason's wife and his father were in the parking lot when Stonnell was injured.

"How do you drive past someone who is dying?" asked mother Belinda Ann Stonnell, looking directly at Mason.

Before he spoke, Malcolm Stonnell placed a framed 8-by-10-inch photograph of his son on the defense table, facing Mason.

"Since the death of my son I have cried every day," he said.
Malcolm Stonnell also criticized a former state's attorney in his remarks but did not mention him by name.

In a brief interview, Joel Todd, who was the Worcester County state's attorney when the death occurred, said Mason's defense attorney, Cathi Coates, is the sister-in-law of Bryan Randall Coates, who was a treasurer for Todd in several campaigns.

Mason's prosecution in Circuit Court was handled by current State's Attorney Beau Oglesby, who defeated Todd in last fall's elections.
Malcolm and Belinda Stonnell described their son as a caring young man who liked to help others. He graduated from Crisfield High School in 2007 and was working as a heavy equipment operator with the Vulcan Materials Co. in Pocomoke City.

"I want the courts to show you as much compassion as you and your family showed to my son on Sept. 10," Belinda Stonnell said to Mason.

As part of the plea agreement, Mason could serve a maximum of three years in prison, with a request by the state's attorney's office for him to serve 18 months of active incarceration.

Mason has two previous alcohol-related charges in Worcester County on his court record, including one in February 2006 for possession of an intoxicating beverage under the age of 21 and one in September 2006 for possession of an alcoholic beverage under the age of 21. In both cases he pleaded guilty and paid court imposed fines.

Coates requested time for a presentencing investigation, which was granted. Mason will likely be sentenced in about 60 days.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

At The Hop!

BILLBOARD Magazine, April 20. 1957 ..."Little Georgie" Hack, WBOC, Salisbury, Md., is now emceeing three weekly record hops and is anxious to line up record artists as guests.

George also hosted a weekly teen dance program on Saturday afternoons televised live from the WBOC-TV studio. When Dick Clark made a benefit appearance in Salisbury he and George were in the spotlight together at a teen dance held in the Armory. As George recalls it Clark came to Salisbury to raise funds for the tennis courts at Wicomico Middle School at the request of Clark's wife whose aunt was a principal or vice principal at the school.

In the late 1940's the parents of Dick Clark's girlfriend, Babrara Mallery, moved to Salisbury from Syracuse, NY. She attended Salisbury State College for a couple of years before transferring to another college. Clark was working at WFIL in Philadelphia at the time and made frequent trips to Salisbury to visit Barbara. As referenced in the book "American Bandstand"...which necessitated what Clark described as seventeen-hour "sheer suicide" motor trips in his heaterless '34 Ford convertible in the dead of winter. They married in 1952; divorced in 1961.

The Pier Ball Room in Ocean City was the location for many teen record hops. In the late 1950's Baltimore's popular disc jockey Buddy Dean held hops there every Friday and Saturday night. The town of Ocean City leased the Pier building for teen dancing nightly except Sunday during the summer. Dean hosted a teen dance program on Baltimore TV for six years. In the early 1960's WJDY's Johnny Williams was doing seven hops a week at the Pier. In the areas around Pocomoke City it wasn't a record hop but a "Chop Hop" that teens looked forward to, hosted by WDVM'S (later WDMV) Choppy Layton.

Contributed by Terry Kleger of Salisbury.

Don't Forget The Chincoteague Daffodil Festival This Weekend

April Meeting ~~

 Mayor and City Council Meeting. 
The meeting will begin Monday, April 11, 2011
 at 7:30pm 
City Hall
101 Clarke Avenue
Pocomoke City, Maryland

Announcement Made For Preferred Hospital Location

Riverside's evaluation of and due diligence on two properties revealed that a 55acre parcel on Market Street behind Four Corners Plaza will best meet the needs for building a new hospital.

Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital (RSMH) has applied to the Virginia Department of Health for a Certificate of Public Need to relocate the inpatient hospital in an area defined by the local Board of Directors as "between Keller and Parksley". RSMH's evaluation team and its local Board chose this site as the best location from which to serve the medical needs of all the citizens on the Virginia Eastern Shore in the decades to come.

"From this location we will be positioned to serve the entire Eastern Shore community well into the future. We chose the location because of its ease of access from Route 13 and its proximity to the center of population in our service area," said Joseph P. Zager, Administrator of RSMH.

Riverside is planning to convert the Nassawadox campus to an ambulatory healthcare complex. In keeping with the trend toward outpatient care, the current hospital campus is planned to include: urgent care, diagnostic imaging services, laboratory services, rehabilitation services and a strong physician presence.


JUDGEMENTS - Accomack Circuit Court

Nancy Drury Duncan
Staff Writer

ACCOMAC -- Colestino Cruz Aguilar, 39, of Exmore entered a guilty plea in Accomack Circuit Court to leaving the scene of an accident and causing property damage in an amount greater than $1,000.

According to evidence offered by Common- wealth's Attorney Gary Agar, Aguilar was driving in the parking lot of Four Corner Plaza when he struck another car. He continued driving around the area and was quickly apprehended by police. A witness identified the driver and told police.

Aguilar had "obviously been drinking," Agar said.

He was sentenced to three years with all time suspended on condition of good behavior. Aguilar will continue to be held in jail at the commonwealth's request, to await deportation as a result of his felony conviction.

Probation violation

Tyron Grant Sr., 23, of Belle Haven, convicted of burglary and grand larceny and sentenced to three years of probation last October, was back in court for violating the terms of that probation, which included community service and payment of restitution to his victims.

Commonwealth's Attorney Gary Agar detailed what he said were Grant's egregious failures to comply. "His probation officer drove him to the Virginia Employment Commision office because he said he had no transportation," Agar said. "When the probation officer later found out he had not applied for a job while there, he asked why. Grant told him the line was too long and he didn't want to wait."

"This is not New York here," Agar told the court. "There were only two people in line ahead of Grant."

On another occasion, Agar said, Grant was to attend an Employment Commission clinic. He was telephoned and reminded each day for several days leading up to the date of the clinic that he must be there.

He was asked of he needed transportation, said Agar. Grant assured his probation officer he would be there and that he had a ride to get there. When he did not attend, Grant told his probation officer he had no way to get there. Agar told the court that the man had been given bus passes to use to get there if he could not find a ride.

Agar detailed also Grant's lack of fulfillment of his community service requirement.

"He was supposed to do 100 hours of community service," said Agar. "He was supposed to pick up trash on the road. He said he was doing it, but when the bags were checked, they were found to contain only Grant's household trash."

"Mr. Grant has some limited abilities," said defense attorney Theresa Bliss. "He just can't follow through. He needs additional monitoring,"

"I believe we need to wake you up," said Circuit Judge Edward W. Hanson Jr. He ordered Grant to serve 30 days in jail and re-suspended the remainder of the sentence.

Welfare fraud

Cathy Jones, 45, of Onancock was sentenced to 15 years for four counts of welfare fraud and a bad check charge. The time was suspended on condition of her successful completion of Virginia's Detention and Diversion programs. She will be required to pay restitution.

She was originally eligible for food stamps, but failed to inform authorities when her two daughters went to work, which made her ineligible, said defense attorney Patrick Robbins.

"We generally consider these pretty serious cases," said Common- wealth's Attorney Gary Agar. "The system is set up to help people in need. This is not the first time she committed welfare fraud."

Agar told the court that Jones had been incarcerated seven separate times. "There are nine noteworthy crimes in the presentence report," he said. "She needs to stay off drugs."

He said she owed more than $3,500 for these crimes in addition to more than $5,500 already owed to the general district court.
Robbins was able to convince the court delay her incarceration for several days so Jones "could make arrangements for her six-year-old son and put her furniture in storage."

Armed robbery

Sidney Cottman, 34, of Eden, Md., will serve 21 years in a penitentiary for armed robbery and armed burglary in connection with the robberies of three local convenience stores.

Commonwealth's Attorney Gary Agar asked for a long sentence in light of Cottman's past violent history. "He was expelled from school in the 11th grade because he assaulted the superintendent of schools," he said. "He was fired from his last job for threatening the line boss at Tyson Foods."

"There are a lot of armed robberies around here. If you run out of gas on Route 13, my recommendation would be that you leave your car and walk home. Don't go to a convenience store around here."

"What are we going to do with this guy when we are so threatened here in our convenience stores?" asked Agar.

Agar told the court that Cottman was $8,000 in arrears in child support payments and that he had had past probations revoked for drug use.

Defense attorney Garrett Dunham told the court that his client was, "a polite individual" and said Cottman had been cooperative and truthful throughout the investigation.

"I've never seen someone so polite with these charges," Dunham said. He told the court that Cottman took steps to make sure he didn't hurt anyone by taking the pin out of the firearm.

Evidence was presented by the Commonwealth that Cottman held a shotgun on the store clerks as they were robbed.

Malicious maiming

Shakeva Matthews, 23, of Keller, charged with malicious maiming, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of unlawful wounding.

Commonwealth's Attorney Gary Agar described the circumstance to the court. "Everyone was drinking and the defendant was assaulting her twin sister with a serrated butcher knife, according to a witness."

The incident occurred in a residence near Wachapreague, he said.
The stabbing victim, who he said was presently incarcerated as a result of another issue, received one stab wound in the back while trying to pull the twins apart.

Defense attorney Sharri Mapp asked the court to sentence her client on the spot but the judge asked that a presentence report be prepared as Agar described Matthews as having "a positive criminal history."

Indecent liberties

A presentence report was ordered for a 75-year-old man who pleaded guilty to carnal knowledge and indecent liberties with a child who is now a young adult. John Robbins of Onancock was allowed to remain free on bond. The illegal activity occurred during a period of several years and ended in 2009.

Defense attorney Tom Northam made that request, saying that his client worked in a seafood business in Washington, D.C., and that he had a heart condition and breathing issues.

Source;|newswell|text|Eastern Shore News|s

Gumboro MudBog

The mudbog scheduled for this Saturday, April 9th has been RESCHEDULED.

First races of the season have been rescheduled for SATURDAY, APRIL 30, 2011.

Arrest Made In Murder Case

The Daily Times is reporting this morning that an arrest has been made in the murder of Whitney Bennett

Sharahn D. Boykin
Staff Writer
MANOKIN -- William Alexander Hill, a 23-year-old Fruitland resident, allegedly confessed to the murder of a missing Delaware woman who was recently found dead after a four-month search, according to court documents.

Whitney Lynn Bennett's body was located Friday after an unidentified source contacted Maryland State Police investigators and reported she had been buried on the 29000 block of Pond Run Drive, according to charging documents.

Two other men were charged Saturday with being an accessory after a crime was committed.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

-Press Release - Delegate Mike McDermott

Press Release
Apr. 6th, 2011

Not Even One…
By Delegate Mike McDermott

Today, the House deliberated HB-71, the Capital Bond Budget, which came in with a near billion dollar price tag. This bill contains all of the projects that the state is appropriating money towards during the coming fiscal year. Many are ongoing such as major roads or building construction measured in the tens of millions, while just as many are small projects coming in under $100,000.00. To be sure, most are very worthy of support. Our problem is, we are out of money.

Much of this Capital Budget is being funded on transfers from, so called, “trust” funds and is banking on a very optimistic economic forecast which remains to be seen. The Department of Legislative Services (those charged with providing statistics and crafting legislation for the General Assembly) made it clear that they wanted to see reductions of $100 million from the current proposal of $925 million. This could have been achieved in a variety of ways, but the committee elected to keep the spending higher and send it to the floor.

The Republican Caucus offered several amendments to cut spending on this bill. I offered the first amendment which would have cut overall spending in each budgeted category by 5%. Conversely, it would have maintained all projects at 95% of the funding level which is more than fair. It would have reduced the overall Capital Budget by $45 million. This was rejected on a party line vote.

We then offered an amendment to reduce spending by 3% overall. This would have saved $27 million. Hardly a big deal, but this too was rejected largely along party lines.

Holding our breath and asking for some consideration, we offered our last amendment which would have only reduced spending by 1%. Unbelievably, this too was rejected out of hand as being simply too drastic a measure. The bottom line, a project to build a “dark room” at a Baltimore High School which was funded at $40,000.00 in this budget would have only been reduced by $400.00, and we could not even get them to agree to make this minor cut.

At a time when our General Assembly should be performing triage in determining funding needs, we continue to treat scratches with the same necessity as we do amputations. Reluctant to believe the truth, the crafters and leadership of the ruling party say they are “optimistic” and actually stated that our real estate prices have stabilized in the state. They made this statement despite all evidence to the contrary. The Eastern Shore is wrestling with falling home prices and assessments which are swiftly diminishing the local government coffers, further straining services. In fact, this is happening all over the state, but those calling the shots are not taking heed.

I think it is also note worthy that the Tea Party Caucus (made up of 23 House Republican members) offered an amendment as well which would have simply stripped the $15 million in local bond bills from the Capital Budget. That would amount to about a 1.5% reduction in spending. This particular area of spending was the subject of a resolution made by the Tea Party Caucus and the House Republican Caucus to not accept, or apply for, any of these bond projects. This amendment, and the subsequent vote, represents those making good on this commitment. How can we go home, look our citizens in the eye, and tell them we listened to them last year when they told us to get our fiscal house in order if we did not vote in favor of these reductions?

In any school or college I ever attended, a 99%, 97%, or 95% were all solid “A’s” of which I could be proud. Yet, even offering the ruling party this level of funding for all of these projects was deemed punitive and unfair. What will they say to our citizens when the State Property Tax must be raised to cover their credit card spending? What happens when our revenue estimates fall below projected rates? What will they say?

When it comes to our budget, the sky is not falling; rather, the ground is opening up.

Beheaded bald eagle found in Franklin Parish ditch

Associated Press
WINNSBORO, La. -- State and federal wildlife officials are looking for a person who beheaded a bald eagle in Franklin Parish and left the bird in a ditch.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are offering rewards totaling $2,000 for help in finding whoever did it.

Agents believe the eagle was shot a couple of days before it was found Sunday, on a tip from someone in the area.

"It had an entry and an exit" wound, Capt. Alan Bankston, the state agency's regional enforcement head for the Monroe area, said Tuesday. "We believe that it was in fact shot. But we can't verify that."

It's at least the fifth bald eagle killed this year. Bald eagles shot earlier this year were found Jan. 8 in Letts, Iowa; in late February in Pikeville, Tenn.; March 8 east of Crossville, Tenn.; and in late March in Wise, N.C.

A federal lab will do a necropsy on the eagle to determine cause of death, Bankston said.

"To see any protected animal decapitated in a ditch is disheartening enough, let alone the animal that represents our symbol of freedom," Bankston said.

He said the killing doesn't seem to have been done to sell on the black market because the talons, wing and tail feathers were intact.
Killing or beheading the eagle could be charges under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Felony conviction for breaking either law can bring up to a $250,000 fine and two years in prison.

Anyone with information should call Louisiana's Operation Game Thief Hotline at 1-800-442-2511.

Federal Laws that Protect Bald Eagles Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act


Quote of The Day

I had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: 'No good in a bed, but fine against a wall.' 

- Eleanor Roosevelt

~Pocomoke Election Winners~

Maybe the weather had alot to do with the turnout at the polls yesterday in Pocomoke for the election but enough voted to show their support for Bruce Morrison and Don Malloy!

Bruce Morrison won the election with a total of 505 votes.  Lynn Duffy ended the election with  97.

In the race for Councilman in District 3, Don Malloy received a total of  67  votes.  Bobby Brittingham received 47 votes.

No word on how many absentee votes there were, if any.  More information will probably come to us later today.

Congratulations to Mayor elect Bruce Morrison and Councilman elect Donald Malloy.

And to Bobby Brittingham and Lynn Duffy:  I would just like to say that the ideas each of you have for making Pocomoke a better place are wonderful ideas.  It is my truest hope that even though you were defeated you will continue to use those same ideas so that somewhere they may be put to good use if needed.   You may not have a seat on the council or be the next Mayor but you still have voices and ideas that can be presented.

Good luck to both of you.  

And if either of want to send a message to the people of Pocomoke send it to me and I'll get it posted for you.

Congratulations Bruce and Don! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Wal*Mart Empty Shelves?

I left the polling place tonight and I needed a few things from Wal*Mart so I headed straight to the store. When I arrived nothing looked unusual in fact the parking lot looked a little skinny.

Well now when I went into the store it was a different story, the first clue was that the deli was closed up tight, they even had lights turned off that normally stay on. Then they didn't have the first item that I was shopping for, then the second, third, forth, wait a minuet... where's all the groceries? The customers were complaining and I heard talk of going to Food Lion from more than one couple.

  Wal*Mart was out of everything, it couldn't be the weather and food stamps don't come out until tomorrow. So I don't know what's going on with Wal*Mart today, if they are clearing shelves for taking inventory or what but if you need anything it's likely you'll not find it at Wal*Mart today and that means that they will be PACKED tomorrow.



MAYOR* Bruce Morrison — 505
* Lynn Duffy — 97
* Frank Ward — 57

* Donald Malloy — 67
* Bobby Brittingham — 47


Legislative Updates By Delegate Mike McDermott

Field Notes

Observations and Reflections on Legislative Activities
March 28-April 1, 2011
  • On Monday, the House voted on the following bills for Third Reader:

HB 291, HB 1150, HB 1180, HB 1209, HB 1225, HB 1233, HB 1242, HB 1245, HB 975, HB 1033, HB 1038, HB 1039, HB 1092, HB 1113, HB 1135, HB 1143, HB 364, HB 398, HB 461, HB 520, HB 534, HB 539, HB 604, HB 689, HB 62, HB 115, HB 148, HB 700, HB 858, HB 938, HB 943, HB 954, HB 160, HB 166, HB 170, HB 258, HB 262, HB 270, HB 285, HB 1254

  • On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee reviewed the following senate bills which have crossed over and have identical House Bills which have already been reviewed: SB-172, SB-299, SB-500, SB-511, SB-747. These bills will move quickly to the full House for 2nd and 3rd Reader if the House version has already passed. If the House version was unfavorable in Committee, the same will be applied to the senate bill.

 At the same hearing, the following senate bills were reviewed having no cross filed bill in the House:
1.      SB-61: Would allow greater access by the Department of Juvenile Services to         court related documents such as Charging Documents and Arrest Warrants. It will allow         them to release relevant information to a victim or witness of a crime which the             department may possess.
2.      SB-66: Seeks to repeal the requirement that a public safety agency report to the         state the release of a person who was detained and then released without charges. The         idea behind this bill being to minimize the impact of a person’s detainment if they are         ultimately released without charges.
3.      SB-218: Seeks to extend the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights to sworn         members of the Internal Investigative Unit of the Department of Corrections. Currently,         this group (approximately 24 officers) has not been listed with those officers covered         under the statute.
4.      SB-673: Allows for the payment of attorney’s fees from an estate under certain         circumstances without the need to have the payment approved by the court.
  • On Wednesday morning, I met with some Republicans involved with the Capital Bond Budget (HB-71) for the purpose of reviewing the myriad of requests which presently total just under a billion dollars. The committee did not make significant cuts in this area and it represents a significant amount of created state debt that our state can ill afford. It appears that we will take the bill up at the beginning of next week. I plan on offering some amendments in an effort to reduce spending in the overall plan.
  • On Wednesday, the House voted on the following bills for Third Reader:

HB 715, HB 807, HB 1005, HB 1181, HB 1304
  • On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee reviewed the following senate bills which have crossed over and have identical House Bills which have already been reviewed: SB-247, SB-327, SB-333, SB-342, SB-362, SB-411, SB-593, SB-652, SB-768, SB-803. These bills will move quickly to the full House for 2nd and 3rd Reader if the House version has already passed. If the House version was unfavorable in Committee, the same will be applied to the senate bill.

    At the same hearing, the following senate bills were reviewed having no cross filed bill in         the House:
1.      SB-62: Which would require a greater degree of cooperation between the             Departments of Education and Juvenile Services as it relates to sharing of information as     required under certain circumstances.
2.      SB-169: Seeks to expand the definition of a debtor’s protected residence under         bankruptcy laws to include a condominium and a shared property such as a duplex.
3.      SB-281: Would change the requirements of an Orphan’s Court Judge in             Baltimore and Prince George’s Counties to include admission in the Maryland State Bar         Association. We heard a bill similar to this previously that was voted down.
4.      SB-599: Would require insurance carriers under certain circumstances to divulge     the amount of insurance coverage limits that exist for a policy holder prior to trial. It is         thought that this may reduce litigation actions.
  • On Wednesday evening, I attended our annual Judiciary Committee dinner. Both Speaker Bush and Governor O’Malley came by to say hello and address the committee. During his comments, it became apparent that the Governor was a little perturbed by some of my recent press articles published on the shore which have been critical of some of his administration policy objectives. He called me out on it and jokingly told Chairman Vallario to “take away Delegate McDermott’s computer”. Working for the Eastern shore, and specifically my district, means I will often take exception to the governor’s proposals. I am currently working with him on a wind proposal that makes sense for rural Maryland, while at the same time opposing his “Big Wind” project as it has been presented. I pay attention to the Governor, and I am glad he is paying attention to the Eastern Shore.

  • On Thursday, the House voted on the following bills for Third Reader:

HB 757, HB 758
  • On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee reviewed the following senate bills which have crossed over and have identical House Bills which have already been reviewed: SB-112, SB-115, SB-174, SB-178, SB-278, SB-457, SB-480, SB-529, SB-531, SB-696. These bills will move quickly to the full House for 2nd and 3rd Reader if the House version has already passed. If the House version was unfavorable in Committee, the same will be applied to the senate bill.

At the same hearing, the following senate bill was reviewed having no cross filed bill in the House:
1.      SB-374: Seeks clarifying language in an existing law dealing with Grand Jury Investigations in Baltimore City. Does not change the substance of the law.
  • On Friday, the House voted on the following bills for Third Reader:

  • Next week will be the final push. The billion dollar Capital budget (HB-71) will be challenged and we could see the “Dream Act” (illegal alien in-state tuition), the Governor’s “Big Wind” and “Septic Ban” still find their way to the floor. Pay particular attention this week as the votes fly.