Let's hear it for an organic farmer

March 10, 2009|By DAN RODRICKS

Nobody asked me, but I think it's pathetic that Bobby Prigel's well-to-do neighbors and their lawyer in the Long Green Valley persist in trying to keep him from opening an organic creamery on his farm because they think the barn-like building will spoil their view. What a waste of time and money - and bad feelings for no good reason.

Prigel has a great idea - a local, fourth-generation family farmer doing local farming, and in an organic, earth-friendly way - and he ought to be supported. Instead, his neighbors are trying to stop him in a legal fight that has cost Prigel $100,000. The Baltimore County zoning commission ruled in his favor a couple of times, concluding: "It is hard to imagine a negative impact stemming from the operation of a family-run organic dairy farm stand in the center of many acres of farmland owned by that same family."

Still, the fight goes on. Nobody asked me - starting with Prigel - but Baltimore-area locavores should rally behind this man.

Nobody asked me, but ...

I find it sad, troubling and predictable that Magna Entertainment, the parent company of the entity that owns Laurel Park and Pimlico, could not make a loan payment on a $40 million line of credit and now faces Chapter 11. This just goes to show what's happened to the horse racing industry - there aren't enough saps like me betting on horses and giving our money to the track owners. I mean, I did what I could. I lost a chunk of change at the track last year. It just wasn't enough.

Nobody asked me, but maybe it's time for new ownership. Halsey Minor, the wealthy Internet investor, has had his eyes on the tracks for some time. Last fall, he made a public overture, but apparently the offer to take on Magna debt didn't go anywhere. Minor was opposed to slots and said he thinks he knows how to generate new business and revenue for the tracks without them.

"I have a deep personal interest in the horse racing industry and a long history of creating profitable business ventures," he said. Imagine such a guy running our tracks!

Nobody asked me, but maybe the state should sit down and hash out a deal among Magna, Minor and the developer David Cordish to save and renovate Laurel and Pimlico, keep the Preakness in Baltimore and establish a casino at Arundel Mills.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Maryland's two Democratic senators, Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, have earmarked $1 million from the $410 billion omnibus spending bill for the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation. In September, the senators jointly announced that the Ripken Foundation received $3 million from the U.S. Department of Justice. Excuse me? Maybe it's my Baltimore perspective (Weinberg, Abell), but I didn't think foundations took money; I thought they gave it away.

Nobody asked me, but ...

I'm glad Ray Lewis is going to be a Baltimorean for life. But it's hard to imagine him wandering off to a quiet retirement three years from now. He should consider his options for life after professional football - a little public service, and something he can get excited about. The Warrant Apprehension Task Force sounds good to me, Ray - join the BCPD, chase down bad guys; they hear you're coming, they'll give themselves up. Plus, there's a pension.

And if that doesn't work out, maybe you could start a foundation and ask Mikulski and Cardin to throw you a few million.

Nobody asked me, but ...

I think there are a lot of boys stuck on the sidelines at prestigious high schools, bored from watching their teammates play lacrosse and daydreaming about being on the baseball team, or going fishing or singing in the spring musical with girls.

I think that story about John Leopold - the one about the Anne Arundel County executive and the mall parking lot and the 911 call - goes away now.

I think the three greatest inventions of my adult life were: the weed whacker, the cell phone, and e-mail (especially the delete key).

Nobody asked me, but ...

The time for re-regulation of the energy industry was 1999, but, hey, better late than never, right? Let's get the BGE power plants back from Constellation Energy and get a fair shake on electric prices for Maryland consumers. Then, it's time to get the plants out of coal and into biofuels and/or natural gas. That refitting will add to the cost of BGE's buy-back of the power plants, but in the long run, locally produced energy for local customers - and a regulated industry providing a conservative but solid return to investors - is in the public's best interest.

Nobody asked me, but ...

I think we can use one more snowstorm before calling it a winter.

Nobody asked me, but SunTrust Banks Inc. giving its CEO a 75 percent increase in total compensation after the bank's 2008 profit dropped by half provides further evidence of how pervasive hallucinogenic drugs are in our culture.

Anyone who tunes into Rush Limbaugh's show with the belief that they will hear - as a reader put it to me in e-mail yesterday - "how a LARGE part of the country feels" about the Obama administration has it wrong. You won't hear how a large part of America feels. You will just hear how a large American feels.

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