Those who believe that government operates in the dark had a case study Friday night at an appeals board hearing.
Like the Eveready Bunny, this was one hearing that kept going, and going and going -- allthe way to 6:10 Saturday morning.
The way things were going, the county might have changed administrations by the time everyone got to speak his or her piece.
Luckily, most everyone had toddled off to bed by 2 a.m.
The issue beforethe appeals panel was whether a Florida developer could continue building roads in an area in Shady Side that residents say consists of wetlands.
At the start of the hearing, 6:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, board chairman Anthony L. Lamartina laid out the ground rules. In his little talk were the words "succinct manner" and a warning to avoid "repetitive testimony."
In your dreams.
Somewhere around 3:30 a.m. Lamartina began giving witnesses the choice of sitting down or standing up.
William Love, an environmental specialist with thecounty, chose to sit. "Please pardon me," he said. "I'm real tired. If I was sitting down, I'd be asleep."
Board members laughed. The lawyers laughed. The crowd of six, down from an evening-high total of90, laughed.
Still, the hearing pushed on, driven, in part, by a need to get things finished and a decision on the books by Monday, the deadline for an appeal.
As time marched on, decorum went by the boards. During one break around 2 a.m., board members and citizens filed past the "No Food Allowed" sign with cans of soda. Hearing survivors put their feet up and tried to get comfortable.
One resident, a waterman from Edgewater who hung on until 5:30, told the board members, "before I came here, I thought I had the worst job in the world."
And finally, just after 6, when most people are rolling over to catch another 40 winks, what did board members do?
They jumped in their cars and drove to the development site for a tour.
Dawn overthe Arundel Center is gorgeous this time of year.
SEASON OF DISCONTENT
Let's hear a round of applause for the volleyball teams from Severna Park and Spalding, Arundel's golfers, Severn's football squad and Annapolis Area Christian School's boys soccer contingent.
They are the county's victorious survivors of the arduous fall sports season.
The Falcons capped a 19-0 season Saturday with a victory over Northern to claim the state 4A volleyball title. The Cavaliers won the Catholic League title.
The Wildcats secured the first state golftitle in school history last month at the University of Maryland, led by Gary Carpenter's fourth-place finish.
The Admirals finished the football season at 7-3 with a share of the Maryland Scholastic Association C Conference championship.
AACS blanked Grace Brethren, 4-0, a couple of weeks ago to claim the Christian School Athletic Association title.
Beyond that, Anne Arundel County's vaunted sports program was 0-fer in championships. Oh, the county had lots of teams advance to the playoffs as usual, but almost everybody ran into roadblocks set up by out-of-towners.
Old Mill's Scott Boetig probably suffered the most excruciating setback of anyone. He finished only one second behind Troy Harry of Quince Orchard (Montgomery County) in thestate 4A cross country finals. Severna Park's boys finished fourth as a team.
Fran Mackney of Severna Park placed third in the state 4A cross country finals and led the Falcons to a fifth-place team finish.
Severna Park's field hockey team was done in by a controversial goal in a 1-0 loss to Carroll County's Westminster in the state 4A final. Also in hockey, top-seeded Severn was upset by Friends, 2-1, in the Association of Independent Schools quarterfinals.
In girls soccer, both Chesapeake and Old Mill advanced to the state 4A/3A semifinals, but the Cougars were shut out, 1-0, by Baltimore County's Dulaney, and the Patriots were blanked, 4-0, by Howard County's Centennial.
County teams didn't fare well in the Catholic League girls soccer tournament, either. Severn was upset by Seton Keough, 2-0, in the first round, and Spalding was bounced by cross-town rival St. Mary's,3-0, in the quarterfinals. But the Saints were bounced out of the tournament themselves with a 3-2 upset loss to McDonogh in the next round.
In boys soccer, Meade's season ended in the state 4A semifinalwith a decisive 5-0 loss to Bowie. St. Mary's and Spalding fell out of the MSA A Conference tournament after the first round, with Curley, 1-0.
Granite Baptist of Glen Burnie finished the regular season as champs of the Chesapeake Christian Athletic Conference, but was edged, 1-0, by Riverdale Baptist in the finals of the Maryland Association of Christian Schools tournament.
That just about sums it up. No, wait, I almost forgot about the state football playoffs. But then,perhaps I should have conveniently suffered a permanent memory lapse.
In last weekend's quarterfinals, Old Mill suffered the most respectable defeat, 14-3, to Largo of Prince George's County. But North County was trashed, 39-0, by Oxon Hill of Prince George's County, and South River was spanked, 41-7, by Montgomery County's Seneca Valley.
That adds up to out-of-towners 94, Anne Arundel County 10 on the gridiron. Enough said.