Everybody wants to know about Jim Lighthizer's plans. Come Sunday, when Bobby Neall takes office as the new county executive, where will the old one go?
Last week, when a press release from Anne Arundel Community College landed in the office, I thought I had the answer. And it made sense -- Lighthizer's been county executive for eight years. But he's been a history buff most of his life.
The release told of a 12-day mini-mester course at Anne Arundel Community College on the Civil War Battles of Antietam and Gettysburg. The teacher? Jim Lighthizer.
"I love the subject matter and enjoy teaching it to the students," the county soon-to-be-ex-executive says. "I'm a storyteller. There's a little bit of The Bard in me."
Shakespeare, of course, had little to do with either Antietam -- the war's bloodiest single day -- or Gettysburg, probably the war's decisive battle. But plenty of other names played a significant part -- names like Meade, Burnside, Lee, Longstreet, McClellan, Pickett and dozens of others.
And those are the names that form the nucleus of Lighthizer's course.
The Civil War, he says, is best understood not by studying battle strategies and politics, but by looking at the people who fought it.
"I'll hold up a picture of a general, and tell his story," Lighthizer says of his teaching method, "about the kind of person he was, what he did during the war, what happened to him after the war."
The Civil War, Lighthizer says, produced "seven or eight" great generals. Ironically, his favorite general, Confederate Nathan Bedford Forrest, fought at neither Gettysburg nor Antietam.
"The Battles of Antietam and Gettysburg" runs Jan. 7-19. The three-credit course includes Saturday field trips to both battlefields.
Enrollment is limited to 42.
So what about it, Jim? Political pundits see a seat in Gov. William Donald Schaefer's Cabinet on your horizon. But really now, wouldn't you rather be a teacher?
"If I ever get a job where I have the time, and someday I will, I'd really like to devote more time to teaching," he says, without hinting just when "someday" will come.
SOURCE: Chris Kaltenbach
AHERN WAVES 'BYE WITH DUCK ON WING
The golden teddy bear has made way for a lame duck overlooking Route 100 in Pasadena.
Once Democrat Theodore J. Sophocleus lost the race for county executive, his life-sized teddy bear sign came down from behind Redmond's Towing and Auto Parts on Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard.
But the prime advertising space has been put to good use by another vanquished Democrat, with a wild duck in perpetual flight heralding the departure next Monday of Pasadena County Councilman Edward C. "Buddy" Ahern.
Ahern could have thanked his supporters in a perfunctory letter to the editor, like many other politicians chose to do.
Instead, he installed a new duck-emblazoned billboard perched atop a flatbed pick-up truck at Redmond's with the message, "Thank you for allowing me to serve you. Good luck in the future. Your friend, Bud."
Actually, it's an old billboard with the original campaign slogan -- "Please protect the wildlife" -- covered up with a banner bearing Ahern's farewell, which the duck seems to be trailing behind it in its webbed feet.
Ducks in transit figured prominently in Ahern's bid for a fifth term.
Early in the campaign, he captured a lot of attention by installing the county's first "duck crossing" signs in his own Poplar Ridge neighborhood.
The only problem for Ahern was that he faced his third straight race in which critics and opponents charged that he was too much like the migratory water fowl, spending more time at his Ocean City trailer than representing his constituents.
Republican winner Carl "Dutch" Holland is the lucky duck who was fortunate enough to face Ahern after he barely survived the Democratic primary.
Ahern will return full-time to running his vending machine company and will take council aide Iva Ford with him, completing the circle they began together when he took office. But, at 51, he said it's too early for him to forget about politics altogether, despite a spell of nervous exhaustion that kept him away from the council for several months in 1988.
"I'm too young to throw it all in," he said. "I've got too much knowledge about government."
Ahern made a lot of friends during his 16 years in office, while compiling a record of securing capital projects in his district that no other council member could attract.
"We've got hundreds of cards coming in here and letters and phone calls," he said yesterday as he began closing down his Mountain Road office -- the only constituent service office in the seven council districts.
But he is not quite so gracious when it comes to his successor, Holland, who complains that Ahern has not bothered to call him to help in transition.
"He'll work out all right," Ahern allows, "if he takes that first year to learn about the council, which he doesn't have any knowledge of at all.
I think he's been in the County Council chambers only once."
But he is in no rush to help.