Wicomico County Memorial Day service

May 30, 2009 · Posted in Delmarva items · 1 Comment 

Back on Monday, Wicomico County conducted its annual Memorial Day service. Before the federal government reworked the observation calendar to ensure Memorial Day would culminate a three-day weekend, Memorial Day was celebrated on May 30th; hence the post today.

For the last five years I have attended the Wicomico ceremony and it hasn’t deviated from a set format. The only things which seemingly change are the number of names read (this year we added one name to the list of Wicomico County’s fallen in battle, bringing it to 188 since World War I), and the number of people attending – which also seems to increase.

An overall shot of the gathering on Monday to honor Wicomico County's fallen.

As always, former County Councilman Anthony Sarbanes served as the master of ceremonies. It was while he served on Wicomico County Council that the Memorial was dedicated, in 2002.

Former County Councilman Anthony Sarbanes addresses the gathering.

After brief remarks, we had an Invocation and singing of our National Anthem, along with the Pledge of Allegiance.

I took this picture just before the lowering of the colors. Regardless of the forecast, we've always seemed to have at least fair weather each year I've attended.

Then the colors were lowered and various family members of recently fallen veterans, the surviving veterans attending, and elected representatives were recognized.

At that point, each military branch had its prayer read aloud.

Each of these people represented a various military branch and read their respective prayer aloud to those veterans who served in those branches.

The program maintained tradition at this point as a bell was tolled prior to reading the rank and name of each of those who perished in their respective engagements, beginning with World War I through Operation Iraqi Freedom.

John Lynch has served as the bell-ringer during each of the services I've attended. He tolls the bell prior to reading the group of names associated with each military operation, for a total of six.

The 188 ranks and names are read by Ed Tattersall.

Ed Tattersall reads the ranks and names of each of the 188 fallen who hailed from Wicomico County.

After the names have been read, the program immediately shifts to “Amazing Grace”, played by this lone bagpiper.

Matthew Wallace, in full traditional regalia, plays 'Amazing Grace' on the bagpipes.

Following the playing of the traditional hymn, the silence is broken by a volley of arms saluting those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The volley of arms is annually performed by representatives from the Wicomico County Sheriff's Department.

To close the proceedings, we hear the playing of “Taps” and a Benediction.

One change that has occurred in the years I've attended this ceremony is a second player for 'Taps'. Randolph Dashields and John Jochum played the Civil War-era song to bring the observation to a close.

Obviously there is a little bit of upkeep involved in maintaining the Veterans Memorial at the Civic Center, so there’s a donation box placed out each year to help out.

It's not exactly overflowing with cash but there were quite a few dollar bills placed into the box. They shrewdly left the flags and programs nearby so people would notice the donation box.

As I noted, the proceedings don’t change from year to year. One oddity of scheduling which occurs annually is that the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center simultaneously hosts a large youth wrestling tounament on Memorial Day weekend each year. I found it fitting then that the Navy brought a recruitment trailer this year to see how these wrestlers stack up to Navy SEALs in their training.

If you can't get the youth to the recruiting office, why not take your case to them? Looks like a neat interactive recruitment tool for the Navy - likely the other branches have something similar out and about around America.

To leave, I’ll put up a statement about Maryland’s valor which dates back over 200 years.

General Washington thought Maryland's finest were quite fine. This is just a neat historical tidbit I like to show.

Shorebird of the Week – May 28, 2009

May 28, 2009 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Shorebird of the Week – May 28, 2009 

It wasn't his day to start, but Oliver Drake was still ready for business before a recent Shorebirds game.
Oliver Drake eyes the plate during a recent daytime appearance against Greensboro. It was his lone relief stint this season.

Being a Naval Academy attendee tends to make one good at sticking to a routine, so naturally Oliver Drake is thriving this season in the Shorebirds’ starting rotation.

He’s recovered from a slight gap he endured through no fault of his own (a game he started back on May 9th was suspended after just 2 innings) and returned to his turn in the starting five with authority, turning in a quality start against Hickory last week and just missing another (pitching 5 2/3 innings of shutout ball instead of the required 6 innings) in his last start, which occurred fittingly enough for one with a military background on Memorial Day.

Oddly enough, this is the first pro season where Oliver has been used as a starter. This means he’s already established career highs in a number of categories barely a third of the way through the season. After being drafted way down in the 43rd round last season, the Orioles used Drake at both Bluefield and Aberdeen – between the two clubs he allowed just 2 earned runs in 22 innings pitched, striking out 24 while walking 3 in 12 relief appearances.

For the Shorebirds the numbers aren’t quite as gaudy, but still they are quite good for a pitcher at any level – in pitching 38 1/3 innings Oliver has allowed only 32 hits and 9 walks, striking out 25. The 2.82 ERA puts the 22 year old Massachusetts native within striking distance of the league’s ERA leaders.

More importantly, he can be counted on as an innings-eater; if you put aside his rain-shortened start Oliver is averaging just under 6 innings each time he toes the rubber to open the proceedings and has pitched a full 7 innings twice. (Pitching a complete nine-inning game is rare at this level and not common in the big leagues anymore either – a sad development if you ask me.) His durability makes the bullpen better as he keeps the Shorebirds in the game.

One key reason the Shorebirds have stayed near the top of the SAL standings this spring has been their starting rotation, and thus far Oliver is playing a great supporting role in keeping the team winning.

Quick links

Astute readers may notice I’ve added a few new links in the last few days, including two this morning.

A few days back I added the Eastern Shore Libertarians site which is essentially operated by recent Salisbury City Council aspirant Muir Boda. While I’m obviously a registered Republican and would like to see people vote that way, as a party we could do quite well in adopting many libertarian planks concerning limited government and – arguably – a more hands-off approach to personal freedom issues (e.g. working against the nanny state of Maryland.) Obviously the reason there is a Libertarian Party is because neither of the two predominant parties address all the issues they hold dear, although I see the Republicans IF they were properly following their platform falling much closer.

This morning I added a new blog in the Free State bloggers section called Subprime Maryland. It’s the voice of Maryland’s chapter of Americans for Prosperity (as I note, are there any Americans for loss? Maybe in Annapolis and Washington.) It’s a statewide blog but has a heavy Eastern Shore influence; in fact, it’s relevant today because the local AFP chapter is meeting tonight at 7 p.m. over at Bayland Aviation at 5279 Airport Road in Salisbury (naturally, adjacent to the airport.)

The other item I placed this morning is the beginning of the Election 2010 area of my website, starting with a link to Jim Rutledge’s U.S. Senate website. With the large number of state races up for grabs, this may eventually become a very large column depending on how widespread an area I decide to cover (for example, the Eastern Shore has three Maryland Senate and seven House of Delegates districts, so that will certainly take up space.)

I have yet to begin work on my legislative scorecard for the General Assembly session just past, so I may not hit my original goal of being done by July 4th. But, one never knows because I only have one session to cover and not three as I did last year in starting the process. It’s something that I will start researching in coming days and readers won’t want to miss when it’s done because voting patterns continue to emerge.

Balancing the budget on drinkers?

May 26, 2009 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Politics · Comments Off on Balancing the budget on drinkers? 

I just found this interesting, and need to have my memory jogged here.

Salisbury City Council passed a $50.6 million budget this evening, which according to the Daily Times has a rate increase in store for city water and sewer users. The increase is 13 percent for water and 15 percent for sewer.

As I recall from two years ago, we tried to roll back a proposed property tax increase that was about that same percentage, and the petition drive fell just a little bit short. Perhaps I’m comparing apples and oranges here, but where is the outrage over the large water and sewer rate increase? It doesn’t affect me directly since I don’t use city water or sewer but you have to wonder how much more local businesses can take.

And again, this is a case where the budget went up by about 6% over last year’s model, apparently without a large increase in the outlay for labor costs. More to the point, what input was made by our newly-elected mayor and can much of the increase be laid at his feet or was it his trimming of extragavance that made it “only” a budget larger by 6 percent?

In either case, the city certainly made out much better than either the county or the state – only the federal budget has grown at a larger rate than the city’s and Salisbury can’t print its own currency.

Late update: Muir Boda has a good meeting wrapup on his ESL site.

LSYR fundraiser

I know you’ll all complain about the last Weekend of local rock post for two reasons: one because I should stick to politics and the other being I didn’t resize the photos like I usually do before I put together the post – so it’ll take f-o-r-e-v-e-r to load. Sorry about that!

In all honesty I could have made this WoLR 25 because many of the photos will fall under that category. But yesterday my lady friend and I sat out in the sun and enjoyed a nice day listening to the music and either renewing acquaintances or making new ones, depending on the person’s perspective and who we met.

Let me throw the pictures on, starting here. There are nine photos.

I stood on the stage and took this shot looking back out over the crowd. At most points there were between 30 and 40 there, the number fluctuated during the afternoon.

These were some of the people enjoying the pulled pork and other goodies put out by the McIvers, who graciously served as hosts.

I’m going to do the political pictures first even though the band opened things up. They played a set before the remarks and one afterward so my chronological order isn’t that important.

This man is Jim Rutledge. As far as I know he's the first Republican to step up and challenge Barbara Mikulski for her U.S Senate seat next year.

First to speak was a new political face; his name is Jim Rutledge. One could assert he’s mad as hell and won’t take it anymore because he’s a political novice looking to replace Senator Mikulski – an uphill battle to be sure.

After a somewhat lengthy introduction, he more briefly touched on some of the focal points of his campaign – national security, taxes, and the Second Amendment were some highlights.

I know someone else who has one of these on her car. It's called speaking common sense.

We’ve also penciled Rutledge in to speak at our June WCRC meeting, so perhaps more people can hear from Jim when our merry band next meets. You may have seen him yesterday evening at the Hebron Carnival since he planned on stopping by there too.

Page Elmore stressed the importance of next year's election because there's been a lot of damage done by the majority in Annapolis.

Page Elmore added a few words in his typical low-key style. I was a little surprised not to see him in his usual red shirt. He’s quite concerned about keeping some of the seats the GOP already has because of some possible changes locally.

Our keynote speaker actually was the briefest one. State Senator Harris just pointed out a couple votes his future opponent made and said he wouldn't have voted the same way.

Andy Harris isn’t quite in campaign mode yet, but mentioned we are just 17 months and 10 days from the 2010 election. It’s going to be an interesting one given his opponent now has a record – certainly Harris will point out its many shortcomings.

It occurs to me that I forgot to take a “spread” picture so you don’t get to see all the great food we had to partake in. So I’ll just get to the band pictures and wrap this up.

The band is called “The Occasionals” and played a number of classic rock staples – quite well, I might add.

The three guys who make up The Occasionals are shown as a group here.

Here's the guitar player closer up.

This one is the bass player closer up.

And finally a neat shot of the drummer.

Also, I should complement the guys who did the sound, it was excellent. Okay, perhaps the people across the way had objections but it’s not like the party was an all-night affair. Get a life people!

I spoke to YR head Mark Biehl, who thought the turnout was excellent for a first-time event. Of course, there were lessons to be learned and fine tuning to do for what the LSYRs plan as an annual affair but overall Biehl termed the gathering a “successful” one. There was a 50-50 drawing which brought in a few more dollars and a post-party gun shoot I didn’t attend – all in all, the day (and previous night for those who tended the cooking pig) was quite eventful.

Finally, yesterday after I came back home I found out someone there supposedly had some “choice words” for me when we met. Well, that someone didn’t come up to me and tell them to my face and it’s not like he didn’t have the opportunity so I’ll leave it at that and let both you and I guess what they might have been. Heck if I know, but I’m not going to lose any sleep over it either.

Simply put I’m looking forward to promoting and enjoying more LSYR events as time goes on and permits!

Weekend of local rock volume 24

May 23, 2009 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music, Personal stuff · 2 Comments 

This oft-delayed edition finally comes up and covers two weekends in April – the music of Pork in the Park and selected stuff from the Salisbury Festival.

Let’s start with the first Pork in the Park act, Higher Hands.

Higher Hands led off that Pork in the Park Saturday with a pop-rock sound.

To be honest, I didn’t get to see a lot of these guys since I was wandering around in the competitor area for a good deal of their set. That wandering extended a little bit into the next group as well, Big Cam and the Lifters.

Next it was the doo-wop classic rock of Big Cam and the Lifters. I forget which one is the Big Cam.

We finally settled in once Crossroads hit the stage.

Local Southern rock and blues veterans Crossroads began the afternoon off with a mostly blues-based performance.

There was one big difference in Crossroads from previous times I’d seen them as they added a keyboard player and subtracted their previous guitarist. Obviously it changed their set list a bit to a more blues-based menagerie of songs.

That vein contined in part with the next act, Tom Principato.

Guitarist Tom Principato brought his band of musicians to play a fusion of influences from jazz to blues to reggae to Creole.

Here's the extent of Tom's band. I really enjoyed watching the percussionist on stage right.

Tom was also smart enough to have his swag and CD's on sale. He did a pretty decent business.

While I enjoyed sitting through Tom’s part of the show and the awards ceremony which occurred right afterward, getting up to grab dinner meant that I missed a bunch of what the next group played.

Unfortunately I was in the food line for a large part of the Smokin' Gunnz show, and boy did I miss out from what I could hear. They did a scorching set of Southern-fried rock covers.

I got back in time for Smokin’ Gunnz last half-dozen songs or so and let me tell you if they’re in the area make sure you catch them. These guys were good.

After Smokin’ Gunnz wrapped up, the scene was set for 96 Rock’s Battle of the Bands. They had preselected four bands to perform with a chance to play the opening party for the Ocean City Air Show in June. In order of performance, the bands were Order 6D6, CIA, Riot Act, and David Andrew Smith. But I’m going to present them in the order I would have judged them, worst to first.

Riot Act had an interesting stage show and probably was the crowd favorite – which is probably why they were picked as the winners. All three of their songs were covers of songs from the 1980’s – David Lee Roth’s “Yankee Rose”, Ozzy Osbourne’s “I Don’t Know” and Journey’s “Separate Ways”.

Riot Act won the competition, but they had low marks on my card. Certainly they're talented but I thought the idea was for original music.

Here's the lead singer of Riot Act doing his best Ozzy Osbourne impersonation. It's been a long while since I've seen Ozzy so I don't know how good he was. Photo by Kim Corkran.

It seems a shame that the winner will probably do all cover songs while a group doing original music doesn’t get the limelight. Welcome to Ocean City in the summer I guess.

CIA did two cover songs, one of them was a Foo Fighters tune and I forget the other one, it’s a modern rock staple I’m sure. I liked the original song they did best. The lead singer needed a bigger stage to jump around in.

This up-and-coming band is called CIA. They did two covers and one original song which was pretty good, so I'd like to see them add more of those to the set as they write them.

David Andrew Smith did two originals and covered Kings of Leon. If the judges were looking for a pop-rock sound these guys were the winners. David’s band is a very polished group and probably deserved better – I think what hurt them was their position as the final group of the evening because the crowd had become noticably thinner once beer sales were halted.

The pop-rock sound of David Andrew Smith's band was quite appealing to the crowd. I think their disadvantage in this was going last.

The only band who did all originals, including a kick ass tune which has gotten a little airplay called “Holeshot”, was Order 6D6. They were hard-edged yet surprisingly melodic and I thought they represented the idea of supporting local original music the best. But what do I know?

The winner of the competition in my eyes was Order 6D6. They kicked some serious ass but they also had the lead spot.

This guy doesn't sound like he looks - he sings quite well for Order 6D6. Photo by Kim Corkran.

I know Order 6D6 has quickly become one of my favorite local bands and I really need to check them out for a full show sometime soon.

I also decided to add the couple bands I checked out at the Salisbury Festival the following Saturday to this post. The first of the two was a country-tinged cover band called Cherrybud.

This won't be the hardest band you'll ever see, but Cherrybud did a nice job in the range from country rock to more mainstream classic stuff.

I didn’t see all of their set but they were entertaining those folks who were hanging around the stage in the Plaza. I think more of the younger artistic set were waiting for the other band, Naked Brunch.

The larger part of Naked Brunch comes from a former local band called Boats to Tangier.

I don’t know if they were having a rough day because one member was feeling under the weather or if the band wasn’t quite in sync yet after some personnel changes, but something about Naked Brunch sounded a little bit off. Boats to Tangier had a quirky sound and vibe about them, but Naked Brunch wasn’t capturing the same effect. They seem to be a regular group at these sorts of affairs so I’m sure I’ll see them again down the line, hopefully on a little better day.

As for the Weekend of local rock series, it might be awhile until the next one because of other things going on. Until then, though, I’m going to still be doing what I can to support the local music scene, at least vicariously.

Shorebird of the Week – May 21, 2009

May 21, 2009 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Shorebird of the Week – May 21, 2009 

Cole McCurry shares a light-hearted moment with Sherman before a recent contest.
Left-handed starter Cole McCurry follows through on a delivery during an April game where the Shorebirds hosted Lakewood.

Working on his third tour of duty with Delmarva, it finally appears that Cole McCurry is becoming the solid left-handed starter the Orioles perhaps envisioned as a sleeper pick when he was drafted back in 2007. Hailing from a small college (Tennessee Wesleyan), it’s likely that Cole was thought of as an organization player when he was picked in the 43rd round that year. (Along with fellow pitcher Oliver Drake, McCurry is the lowest draft choice on the Shorebirds roster.)

After pitching well in a brief cup of coffee with the Shorebirds at the tail end of 2007 (2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in 2 starts covering 10 innings), SAL batters seemed to catch up with him last season as Cole struggled to a 2-6 mark and a 6.51 ERA before being reassigned to Aberdeen to round out the season last June. There he performed significantly better, ending up 8-3 with a 2.76 ERA and being selected as a Mid-Season All-Star in the NY-Penn League.

Cole might garner another All-Star appearance based on his performance for Delmarva this season. Thus far his 2-2 record is somewhat deceiving as he’s sporting a 1.93 ERA and 1.10 WHIP based on seven starts, three of which would be considered “quality” starts (less than 3 earned runs allowed in 6 or more innings.) More importantly, the WHIP he’s amassed so far in 2009 is very close to the 1.09 WHIP that Cole allowed in Aberdeen last season, which means his performance here should closely mirror his All-Star statistics from 2008. McCurry has cut well down on the number of hits he’s allowed while maintaining the potential for punching out batters – over his pro career he’s averaged nearly a strikeout per inning –  thus getting out of tough innings.

Since he won’t turn 24 until after the season, McCurry could still be on track for advancement up the Orioles organization with a continuation of his pitching prowess in 2009. Coming off his worst start of the season (allowing 4 earned runs in 4 innings Sunday at West Virginia) it will be interesting to see what type of effort Cole puts up in his next start tomorrow or Saturday.

In the category of “duh…”

May 21, 2009 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2010, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on In the category of “duh…” 

Blogging by press release…hey, sometimes others say things as well or better than I can. This comes courtesy of the Maryland Republican Party as a commentary on our state’s continuing revenue shortfalls.

Last week, Comptroller Peter Franchot announced that Maryland tax collections for April fell 16.6 percent below the same period last year and income tax collection fell even lower, at 17.4 percent below April 2008. This is in addition to falling sales tax receipts. Perhaps even more interesting is the news that tax revenue from people making over $1 million has plummeted by over 30%.

“This is another sign of the flawed thinking of Governor O’Malley and the Democrats in Annapolis,” said MDGOP Chairman Jim Pelura. “Whenever you tax something, you get less of it. It’s a basic fact of economics. We warned that this would happen back in the fall of 2007. What made anyone think that people who had the means to move across state lines would hang around to pay higher and higher income and sales taxes?”

“In the fall of 2007, rather than passing the largest tax increase in Maryland history, Martin O’Malley, Mike Miller, and Mike Busch could have resolved our budget issues without taking a bite out of working families and businesses. Instead, they raised every conceivable tax and created a few new ones as well,” Chairman Pelura continued. “Now they are surprised and making excuses for falling revenue but this year’s budget is chock full of more of the same short-sighted spending and band-aid fixes. It’s not just income tax, it’s sales tax and service taxes that hit working families the hardest.”

“This is not just a case of Republicans simply being against taxes or just saying “no”. Rather, General Assembly Republicans have offered serious and substantive proposals to correct our long-term budget issues over the past three years. Governor O’Malley has ignored those good-faith proposals. For this reason, and many others, it is clear that Maryland needs fundamental change in 2010,” concluded Pelura.

I wholeheartedly agree that the GOP has presented a clear alternative to the tax-and-spend policies of the O’Malley regime; however, our more pressing problem seems to be coming up with a formidable candidate to run against Martin. In that respect, the elephant in the room is Bob Ehrlich, since he’s probably the best-known candidate statewide the Republicans have.

While we’re at it, Jim, why not give a nudge to our former Governor and say, hey, Bobby, what do you think you’re going to do next year? Would you mind clearing the field or giving our side a chance to get behind someone else?

The longer Bob Ehrlich takes, the less inclined I am to support him in the primary (and if the party is on the ball, there will be a primary). We need to start getting the ducks in a row because believe it or not we’re less than 18 months away from the 2010 general election.

It’s time to redouble our efforts at victory.

An extension of the tea party?

May 20, 2009 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2010, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on An extension of the tea party? 

Perhaps not, but this is a good opportunity to throw our support behind both a number of serious fiscally conservative politicians and an organization backing conservative solutions to the problems befalling our state and nation.

The Lower Shore Young Republicans will be hosting a fundraising cookout on Saturday, May 23rd. All money received will benefit toward the club, helping with growth and future costs. Several local elected officials will be on hand including State Senator Andy Harris, who will be on hand as the keynote speaker. “We are extremely excited to have such a wonderful response from our officials,” said YR President Mark Biehl, “It is events like this, with significant public support, that helps our club gain new members.”

The event will feature live entertainment from the local band, The Occasionals, including a member who performed for Mike Huckabee. Along with the entertainment, there will be an all you can eat arrangement of roasted pig and fried chicken, as well as an assorted of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. While the club is for ages 18-40, the event is open to all ages. “We would encourage everyone to attend, whether they are club members or not, Republicans or not. We are big supporters of non-partisan recreation,” quipped Biehl.

The event will be held at 26144 Nanticoke Road in Salisbury. Ticket prices are merely $15 dollars and are available from any club member, children 12 and under are free. Limited tickets are available, so please purchase them in advance. Questions and ticket inquiries can be directed to lowershoreyoungrepublicans@gmail.com.

I did that to secure my tickets, so I’ll see you there! The weather looks pretty good for Saturday and something tells me the pork will be excellent – as will most of the company.

By the way, I’m told the event starts at noon but the pig will be on the fire Friday evening and tenders will be needed for the overnight hours too.

Economic rant and theory

May 19, 2009 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Business and industry, Delmarva items, National politics, Personal stuff, Politics · Comments Off on Economic rant and theory 

I’m going to do something rare for a conservative and portray myself as a victim. As many of you know, one casualty of the economic downturn in the construction and building industry was my previous job. It was one of the hundreds of thousands of jobs lost that particular week back in December, toward the beginning of an job-creation tailspin that roughly coincided with the election of Barack Obama as President.

While I don’t hold Obama’s predecessor completely blameless in all of this, the fact remains that things have gotten markedly worse in the last four months or so. It’s a point brought home to me when I found out today a prospective client of mine wouldn’t be able to complete a planned enrollment because his bottom line was making him lay off over half of his staff.

Needless to say, economic woes were the key issue of the 2008 election. Several times a week we received word of some major institution, in particular banks, laying off thousands of workers because they needed to fix their bottom line quickly. This also occurred in a number of Fortune 500 companies as well.

I’ve noticed lately that we don’t hear as much about these mass layoffs anymore. For example, while the news concentrated on the number of Chrysler dealerships being shut down (to be quickly followed by a similar General Motors casualty list), no one seemed to point out the mass layoff of perhaps 45,000 employees nationwide once these dealers close. Granted, many of these dealerships handle multiple auto lines and may not necessarily close completely (as an example, the Frostrom Chrysler-Jeep dealership in Pocomoke City also handles Subarus) but the hardship of needing to furiously unload cars in an effort to stave off creditors before the Chrysler franchises are pulled will likely spell their doom and take those other brands off the local markets as well.

As it turns out, my prospective client has a used car dealership. His business trouble stems in large part from a lack of trade-ins for new cars because few are buying new, instead deciding to keep their old (but paid-for) clunkers around. Plus credit is a little tight and those who have jobs are saving their money waiting for the other shoe to drop.

So it’s bad enough that Delmarva is losing a sizable number of jobs from these dealerships closing. Here’s where I wonder about another industry many on Delmarva depend on – tourism. Sure, most locals grumble about the traffic heading to the beach on summer weekends, but after enduring a summer of $3-4 per gallon gasoline last year, will the mounting job losses in the economy at large mean another drop in tourism spending this year as those who are laid off cut back on fun things like the family vacation?

As a season ticket holder for the Shorebirds, I’ve been pleasantly surprised that attendance is up but caution that a large part of the increase is from scheduling several early-season “Hit the Books” nights. (It’s a good sign though that there are six HtB nights scheduled as opposed to four last season – more schools are participating.) Certainly the Shorebirds can benefit from an economic downturn as cheap entertainment for a night but as more lose jobs will they feel the pinch as well? The bills have to come first for most of us.

Even local and state government feels the pinch as they need to furlough employees or slash their pay. It seems like everyone is suffering except Uncle Sam.

And speaking of Uncle Sam (or Uncle Barack if you prefer), today he announced new emission and fuel economy standards for the auto industry that’s 2/3 beholden to him for their very survival – that’s two of the Big Three with the exception of Ford Motor Company. While the administration is quoted in this AP story by Tom Krisher that the needed changes will run consumers about $1300 per car, what’s not being said is that the changes will hit automakers in the segments where they make the most money – sport-utility vehicles and trucks. They don’t make nearly as much on economy cars, but that’s what the new standards will encourage, along with people keeping their older SUV’s for a longer period of time when they find the newer, smaller ones won’t handle both people and cargo as effectively.

In short, new vehicle sales are likely to decrease unless and until Fedzilla dreams up new regulations aimed at getting older, non-compliant cars and trucks off the road. If they can regulate what type of gun you can buy and what sorts of food you can eat, chances are we’re not all that far from being told that if you have a car that’s pre-1990 you need to scrap it or maintain it simply as a historic vehicle not intended for everyday usage.

I’m not looking at this as the owner of a large car or SUV; as a matter of fact I drive a small coupe which gets reasonably decent gas mileage. Instead, I see this as choice by fiat (not the Italian car maker, though) where the free market is choked and restrained by the desire of some to control what everyone else can do with their lives. Far from letting a crisis go to waste, the Democrat Socialists are moving quickly to cement a position of power over American society in the mode of Peron or Mussolini.

In the meantime, the pain of losing a job is going to be felt by untold millions more as government dithers on finding a solution where it can be most involved instead of jumping aside and letting the correction take its course. We did this in the 1980’s and there’s no reason to think it wouldn’t work again if tried.

The next job which needs to be lost is a government job. How about starting with Congress in 2010?

Observations on blogging

I thought this would be a pretty good time to weigh in on recent events. Apparently a local blogger was invited to speak to a small conference on bloggers and political influence, with accounts of attendance ranging from 18 to 30. In other words, it was smaller than a normal meeting of the Wicomico County Republican Club to which I belong.

But that’s all well and good, since generally a City Council meeting won’t draw a large number of outsiders nor do County Council meetings; that is unless there’s a significant issue on the table. For the most part there’s not although the downzoning debate in County Council was a recent exception to the rule.

So let’s look at what coverage generally occurs at these meetings. By law, regular meetings of these bodies have to be open to the public, with some exceptions granted for discussing personnel issues. Thus, in theory, anyone can go to and blog about these meetings. Then the question becomes whether the post will be strictly reporting, strictly opinion, or a combination of both. In my case, when I cover a meeting or forum I try for about an 80-20 mix of reporting to opinion; however, everyone’s style is different.

That covers reporting after the fact. Certainly there’s public input or outcry to actions taken at a meeting regardless of the source they heard the news of the proceedings from; however, in many cases it’s too late to do anything about the issue. Nor is it a given that bloggers have anything to do with changing policy – after all, the last major change in county government was adopting the revenue cap and County Executive form of government and both of these came well before anyone’s blog had large enough readership to even claim to make a difference.

I was kind of curious about the extent of influence bloggers have, but the closest I could find in a short time of research was this study by the Pew Institute last year regarding the 2008 election. In it, they determined 6 percent of Americans “go online to engage politically on a daily basis.” That, by the way, is the internet in general – not blogs specifically.

So if you figure Salisbury is typical America – even if this blogger has enough pull to double the average amount – he’s influencing about 1,000 adults in our community. Admirable, but in all but strictly local races not enough to make a difference. Nor is the influence all in his favored direction – after all, his personality and writing style could repel as well as attract. It’s true with any blogger; certainly I may harden some on the opposite end of the political spectrum when I present the facts as I interpret them.

I’m under no illusion that I’m going to sway opinion in anywhere near the fashion that the mainstream media does. It’s a combination effort of hundreds or thousands of bloggers who repeat the information they receive (or report on their own in some cases) and add their spin to it which begins to turn the wheels of politics. I’m pleased that most of the time I have more well-known bloggers like Michelle Malkin or Joe Farah (of WorldNetDaily) generally on my side; conversely the contributors to Daily Kos or Huffington Post pull in the opposite direction.

But aside from those national examples with hundreds of thousands of readers a week, most bloggers will toil in relative obscurity and exaggerate their self-importance and influence in extreme cases. It doesn’t mean we’re going to stop trying, but sometimes a reality check is required.

Shorebird of the Week – May 14, 2009

May 14, 2009 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Shorebird of the Week – May 14, 2009 

He hadn't put his shades on before a recent Sunday afternoon contest, but the future can be bright for Xavier Avery if he learns the important art of stealing first base. Photo by Kimberley Corkran.
Xavier Avery at the plate during the home opener against Lake County.

For a guy born on the dawn of the 1990’s to be playing and excelling at this level of ball is pretty amazing, but after a slow start Xavier Avery is doing just that. Simply put, he’s been on a tear during the most recent homestand and carries a nice seven-game hitting streak into tonight’s contest at West Virginia.

Drafted second by the O’s last year out of Georgia’s Cedar Grove High School as the 50th pick overall, Avery obviously shows a lot of promise and might be the fastest Shorebird player.

Definitely a raw talent, Xavier started his pro career at the lowest minor league level, playing 47 games with the Gulf Coast League Orioles and hitting .280 with 13 steals and just 9 extra-base hits out of 49 hits overall.

At the end of April, Xavier was only hitting .185 for Delmarva – but a move down in the order after batting leadoff for the first few games gave Avery better pitches to hit and he eventually responded. With May nearly half over, Avery is crushing the ball at a .444 clip (16-for-36) this month and jumped his batting average nearly 100 points to a much more respectable .277 mark and .721 OPS number. He even hit his first professional home run in Greensboro.

Avery still has some work to do, though. As a leadoff hitter he certainly needs to draw walks and cut down on strikeouts and thus far in May he’s performed much better in that respect; his 23 strikeout/no walk April has been followed by a 7 strikeout/4 walk May. Perhaps the hardest thing to learn in baseball is how to steal first base.

Hopefully as Xavier gains experience in his first full season he’ll provide Shorebird fans with a great deal of excitement and opposing teams with serious heartburn as he stretches singles into doubles, doubles into triples, and walks into steals of second and third, maybe even home. Perhaps Shorebird skipper Orlando Gomez will try that rare feat at least once this year with him.

Regardless, Xavier Avery now gives the Shorebirds a nice offensive threat at the leadoff spot.

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