WOLB-AM is offering mayorathon this morning

This Just In . . .

July 28, 1999|By DAN RODRICKS

POLITICS-A-GO-GO: Tune your radio to WOLB-AM (1010, if you've never been) this morning, baby. It's a Baltimore mayoral marathon -- a three-hour, live broadcast from New Shiloh Baptist Church Family Life Center, featuring 10 of the 17 Democratic candidates for the Big Chair in City Hall, with former state Sen. Larry Young as host. Young, who's been a radio host since his expulsion from the Maryland Senate last year, will have his hands full, making sure each candidate gets equal time while breaking for commercials every 15 minutes. (Is there a word for a nightmare that occurs during breakfast?)

WOLB, a station with significant impact among city voters, invited all candidates, but only 10 signed up. (Not necessarily a bad thing.) The major candidates -- Mary Conaway, Carl Stokes, Lawrence Bell, Martin O'Malley -- can be heard from 7 a.m. until 10 a.m., the hours of Young's regular daily show. Young says the format for today's broadcast will be formal, with each candidate rigorously timed.

Next month, he plans to hold a series of mayoral debates with groups of five candidates. ... reports that Register of Wills Mary Conaway has accepted my suggestion for a Candidates Karaoke Night. So far, she's the only one to do so. ... That was impressive -- Bell getting City Comptroller Joan Pratt on his side Monday. But mark my words: The powers that be, elements of the Draft Mfume Crowd, are trying to figure out which candidate to support in this crowded field. The one who gets the nod gets the late-summer money. ... I haven't done any clinical tests, but I'm convinced that there's a strange new malady hitting liberal white Baltimore: O'Malley Guilt. It goes something like this: How can we vote for the white guy, even if he's the best -- or least tarnished -- candidate? Apparently, some black voters have a similar issue. (See Gregory Kane's column, Page 8B.) And watch this space, baby.

Appalling nutrient runoff

It was a natural reaction to an unnatural event -- the public disgust with the tons of trash that pulsed into Baltimore's harbor after last week's storm. Next to the Constellation visitors center, it was the most appalling thing we've ever seen at the Inner Harbor.

You see trash on that scale and shake your head and demand that something be done.

It's easy to get outraged at that kind of pollution.

Harder to appreciate is the far more serious problem of nutrients (such as chicken-manure fertilizer) running off farmland into the Chesapeake. It's not something we easily see. It's something we hear about but don't always understand. (To the uninitiated, "nutrients" sounds like a good thing.)

But when fish turn up dead, as they have this summer -- an estimated half-million or more menhaden last week in the lower Pocomoke River and Bullbegger Creek in Virginia -- you start to get the idea.

The menhaden's natural predators probably chased them into shallows. The drought and heat undoubtedly contributed to the lack of oxygen in the shallows. And this year's higher salinity levels figure into the menhaden deaths.

But for decades, nutrient runoff -- a man-made problem -- has been chiefly to blame for the choking of the Chesapeake, creating the algal blooms that deplete oxygen and block sunlight that help vital bay grasses grow.

Nutrient runoff in the Chesapeake Bay is half as noticeable but twice as sinister as trash in the Inner Harbor, and far more deserving of our disgust and our action.

A fish tale

Joey Amalfitano, who fishes for the frying pan once a year, reports from Ocean City:

"Maxine and I heard they were biting down by the Route 90 bridge, so we gassed up the boat and motored out. We dropped anchor just north of the bridge. Pretty soon, we started hauling in lots of croakers and spot. You can keep spot of any size, but the croakers must be at least 9 inches. So we carefully measured each croaker, using a ruler that's molded into the plastic of a small green tackle box I've had since I was 7. We tossed a few back that were undersized and kept a few.

"Hour or so later, this Department of Natural Resources police boat pulls alongside our boat, and this uniform asks to take a look in our cooler. He looks in and says, 'That's a pretty small croaker.' He grabs it, holds it up against his ruler and declares that it's not even 8 inches. We protest, saying it was 9 inches on our ruler. We bring up the old tackle box and he measures it. Turns out, my tackle box ruler is undersized!

"'Every fish is an inch too short,'" the officer says. 'You know, when you have these plastic tackle boxes for a while, they tend to shrink. But at least you made a good effort to measure the fish, so I'll let you keep these.' With that, he tosses us another Maryland DNR plastic ruler to use for the rest of the day, and he pulls away. What a guy!

"But what a guilt trip. This means every fish I've caught in the last 20 years was an inch shorter than I thought, which means I might have kept some illegal fish."

You ate the evidence, Joey. Forgettabowdit!

Root, root, root

Here's Cereal Mom with another ringing endorsement of minor league baseball in Maryland: "Go see the Frederick Keys. They play with promise and with heart. They play without arrogance. The crack of the bat is louder, and so are the cheers. The children connect to the game; they know why they're there. The fireworks are spectacular. The lights are bright but not too bright, and each player casts a double shadow. It'll make you love America. Bring your own Cracker Jacks."

Pub Date: 07/28/99

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