ONE-ITEM AGENDA CONFOUNDS TRADITION
Break out the brass bands, wake up the kids and pop the champagne! Prepare yourself for a once-in-a-lifetime thrill so awesome, so amazing, so spine-tingling that grown men will weep at its overwhelming munificence!
Yesterday's Board of Education meeting had only one agenda item!
That's right, from the folks who brought you Anne Arundel's own version of "Long Day's Journey Into Night" comes a school board meeting that promised to be done not only before the cows came home, but before anyone realized they'd been gone.
I've seen people rip their own heads off rather than have to sit through a school board meeting. One reporter I knew swore he rode a dinosaur to one board meeting, then flew the Concorde home.
Last night, seven school board members, one superintendent, a handful of staff members and maybe a couple people waiting for a lane to open at the neighborhood bowling alley met at board headquarters on Riva Road with but one purpose in mind: hearing a presentation on recycling.
They should have made it home in time to watch "Murphy Brown."
"I think it's wonderful," said Jean Herbert, administrative assistant to the board, a woman who has seen mighty empires rise and fall in the course of a single Board of Education meeting. "I wish they'd try and keep it like this."
Of course, the reason behind such an extraordinary occurrence -- another meeting just six days days earlier, one with an unusually long agenda, apparently didn't leave folks with much to talk about today -- become secondary to the event itself.
Remember, Halley's Comet shows up every 75 years, but such a school board meeting may never come again. And years from now, when your grandchildren whisper about the school board meeting with one item on the agenda, you can smile and say, "I was there. It was heaven."
SOURCE: Chris Kaltenbach
WILL ANY CANDIDATE MAKE A PROMISE A ANYTHING?
Voters are used to politicians pledging to do everything from capturing the moon to making history stand still. But in a year of reduced expectations, the candidates for the District 3 County Council seat are avoiding flashy promises and seem reluctant to even give you the time of day.
Just try to get their opinions of a proposed charter amendment to limit growth in property tax revenues to no more than 4.5 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower.
Republican Carl G. "Dutch" Holland supports the measure as a way to enforce fiscal discipline. But it takes him a while to to say that.
He begins by citing polls that show voters supporting the measure by a 2-to-1 margin.
But what do you think?
"Since it's on referendum and will be voted on in the general election .
. . ."
But do you endorse it?
"I think any politician running for office must realize that he will have to serve under some sort of guidelines . . ."
Do you support it?
"I believe in fiscal responsibility."
But are you telling the people to vote for it?
"Whatever the people want, that's what I want."
Are you worried that it will hurt services?
"Nobody knows for sure what will happen working under the 4.5 percent spending cap."
But will you vote for it? Your leadership might make the difference.
"At this time I'm leaning toward voting for it. Even if I wasn't a candidate, I would probably still vote for the cap."
Beyond that, Holland doesn't want to promise much else. He lists paring the budget, controlling taxes and cleaning up his district's fouled creeks as his priorities but offers no details on how to do these things.
"I'm not going to tell anybody that I have a panacea for the budget or taxes or creeks," the two-time candidate said. "The panacea is sitting down with the various people who have concerns with different problems and working out solutions."
To be fair to Holland, Councilman Edward C. "Buddy" Ahern, D-Pasadena, isn't much more specific in his plans should he be elected to a fifth term.
But it only takes four questions to get him to reject the tax cap as a threat to county services.
On the first try last week, he misses the point of the question and frames his answer in terms of his latest capital project.
"If the rollback will come, there's still ways of getting that golf course built."
But do you support it?
"I always feel I do what the people want. If the people say I've only got $1 million to spend, then that's what I'll do."
But how are you urging the people to vote?
"I'm not urging them to do anything."
But will you vote for it?
"I worry that if we roll it back we're only fooling ourselves."
But as Ahern curbs his cigarette on an ash tray long enough to take a bite out of his egg-salad sandwich, he makes one unequivocal promise to voters if they reelect him Nov. 6.
"Nov. 7, I'm quitting cold turkey."
SOURCE: Samuel Goldreich
IS CHESSIE THE 'JAWS' OF THE CHESAPEAKE?
An informed source has announced that previous theories on the reptilian origins of Chessie, the bay area's answer to the fabled Loch Ness Monster, are wrong.