You got problems -- we got answers

May 25, 2008|By DAN RODRICKS

Today we look at a few problems - and offer a few solutions. It's only right. You can't just sit around and gripe about stuff, and groan that things will never change. You have to flick on your brain and come up with solutions. That's what Einstein did, and if Einstein could do it, trust me, anyone can.

Problem: Blue crabs have been in decline in the Chesapeake Bay to such an extent that the governor of Maryland asked the U.S. commerce secretary to declare the bay fishery a federal disaster.

Solution I: Do exactly what the state plans to do: shorten the harvest season and reduce the harvest of female crabs.

Solution II: Go above and beyond what scientists say is necessary and impose a complete moratorium on the harvest of all crabs for a year, just to see what happens.

Solution III: Hatch baby crabs at the University of Maryland's Biotechnology Institute and figure out how to grow them to harvest size in ponds on farms. Train watermen in crab aquaculture. They can harvest wild crabs for part of the year, tend to farm-raised another.

Solution IV: Drop the crab cake as Maryland's signature dish and replace it with spaghetti alla carbonara.

Problem: Thomas V. Mike Miller III, son of the president-for-life of the Maryland Senate, says people question his qualifications to be a Maryland District Court judge and complain of nepotism because of his dad. "It's happened with everything I have tried to do in life," he said the other day as a controversy swirled about his judicial nomination. "It's always because I'm Mike Miller's son."

Solution I: Younger Miller moves to another state and applies for a judgeship.

Solution II: Elder Miller, who's been Senate president for 22 years, retires, giving the kid a chance to be a judge without all the snarky political questions.

Solution III: Younger Miller opens a crab farm.

Problem: A panel of international climate experts says global sea levels will rise up to 27 inches by the year 2100 and, based on that, the National Wildlife Federation predicts that more than half of the beaches on Maryland's Eastern Shore will be destroyed in the next 100 years.

Solution I: Congress bans gas-powered lawn mowers and requires every property owner in the United States to plant enough trees to offset their carbon footprint by 2012.

Solution II: Have the Army Corps of Engineers move Ocean City to Frostburg.

Solution III: City Council repeals height restrictions on new and old Ocean City condominiums and hotels. If the ocean rises, just build taller buildings, on stilts. That's a no-brainer.

Problem: The O'Governor and Lieutenant Governor have spent more than $172,000 since taking office only last year on trips around the country, and to Ireland and China. This at a time of increased taxes and program cuts to offset state budget shortfalls.

Solution I: Put these guys on home detention.

Solution II: All future travel pre-approved by Comptroller Peter Franchot.

Solution III: Next time the lieutenant governor wants Chinese food, send a trooper to Panda Express in the Annapolis Mall.

Problem: The price of gasoline is closing in on $4 a gallon as crude oil soars to a new record. Some people who drive SUVs and trucks are looking at $100 for a fill-up.

Solution I: Don't fill up. You won't feel so bad.

Solution II: Consider car-pooling with others in your workplace, or try another mode of transportation. During rush hour Friday morning, I saw a young woman in a sensible black business suit skateboarding to work in downtown Baltimore. Skateboard was hot pink, too.

Solution III: Choose a vacation closer to home this summer. Rediscover Glen Burnie. Pull up a chair and watch the traffic at the Towson roundabout.

Problem: Millions of American taxpayers may not get their economic stimulus rebates by direct deposit and will have to wait for a paper check by mail. That could delay the arrival until as late as July 11.

Solution: Relax. It's a blessing in disguise. The delay gives you more time to shop and compare prices for the giant, imported flat-screen TV you're planning to buy.

Problem: Mount Hebron High School in Howard County has a rodent issue - or so the students think. They haven't really found a rodent recently in the school, though students in a food and nutrition class think they saw a large one - possibly a deer mouse - scamper across a classroom and hide under a heater.

Solution: Get a boa constrictor.

Problem: Maryland racing is hurting. Laurel Park continued to lose money last year, and attendance and handle at the Preakness hit a five-year low. Pimlico counts on a big Preakness to show a profit for the year. Slot machine revenue is a proposed remedy to all this. Some other ideas:

Solution I: Stop charging people to park and to pay admission at the tracks.

Solution II: Have racing when more people can attend - at night.

Solution III: More promotional events for people under 65. Have Danica Patrick ride a horse. Have a Hannah Montana Day. Have some pony races on the turf, with a big infield party for kids 12 and under.

Problem: Scientists have found Chinese mitten crabs mating and producing eggs in the Chesapeake and Delaware bays. These yucky, hairy-clawed invaders burrow and cause erosion and they clog water pipes and fight for food with native species.

Solution I: Pay a dollar for every mitten crab harvested and killed by watermen and recreational crabbers.

Solution II: Harvest them and send them back to Shanghai, where they are considered a delicacy, and that ought to take care of the trade imbalance.

Solution III: Unleash the snakehead!

dan.rodricks@baltsun.com

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