In another protest of a project that has come to haunt county officials, an Annapolis businessman and "rogue" publisher has lampooned Anne Arundel County politicians and the South County Safeway debacle, causing a twitter at county headquarters yesterday. And he says he's planning on doing it again.
Dan Walter, 43, slammed county officials in his County Council News, which he created on his home computer in Deale on Monday. He distributed 75 to 100 copies of his publication at county offices Tuesday, leaving them in conference rooms and restrooms.
The front of the newsletter - a single sheet of paper printed on both sides - prominently displays an unattractive caricature of County Executive Janet S. Owens whom Walter represents as the mastermind of the Safeway project revival.
"We'd rather not respond to that sort of material," Owens spokesman Matt Diehl said yesterday.
County employees at the Arundel Center in Annapolis suspected that the newsletter was the work of South Arundel Citizens for Responsible Development, the same group that once paraded a papier mache model of Owens, crowning her "Queen of Sprawl."
But SACReD president Amanda Spake said yesterday that she had no idea who put out the newsletter. She said Walter is not a member of the group and that the newsletter was in no way endorsed by SACReD.
"We've got our hands full with other pressing concerns," Spake said.
Safeway officials have been actively trying to build a 55,000-square-foot store in Deale for at least two years but some residents oppose the plan - or at least a store that size - and have worked to rezone the commercial property in order to maintain the "fishing village" feel of the area.
Last week, four council members successfully voted in an amendment to the zoning map that would allow the store to be built. At the time, some council members said that the proposed Safeway had nothing to do with the amendment. Rather, they felt that the local planning and zoning process had been hijacked by environmentalists.
Members of SACReD, as well as Walter, handed out fliers at a fund-raising rally for council Chairwoman Shirley Murphy at Kurtz's Beach in Pasadena on Sunday. Police were called and an officer who was dispatched to the scene talked with about 15 demonstrators.
None of the demonstrators entered the fund-raiser, which was held at a private beach and attended by about 600 Murphy supporters, according to those who attended. SACReD members arrived on scene about 12:30 p.m. and dispersed about an hour later. During that time they handed out leaflets that described Murphy as someone who contributes to urban sprawl.
"I think it went very well," said Michael Shay of SACReD. "When we were doing our handouts, everyone was very polite, and we waved and smiled when people accepted them."
Walter owns Annapolis Uniform and has been producing occasional newsletters about the Safeway issue for about two years. This one, reporting the Sunday protest, states that Murphy got angry when she realized that demonstrators weren't "fat cat contributors.""[Murphy] had to be restrained by aides when she came charging out into the middle of the street, flailing her arms and telling the visitors, `Get out of here. Go away. You people don't belong here.'"
Murphy called the demonstrators "vicious" and "obnoxious" yesterday. She said they were asked to leave the Patapsco Riverside beach area because they were "shoving fliers in [people's] faces."
"This just confirms what we have been saying about these people," she said, referring to remarks she and other council members have made regarding SACReD, which has played a key role in the fight against the Safeway. "They intimidate people."