It’s a crime!

Thanks to Delmarva Dealings for pointing out the Daily Times printed my letter to the editor yesterday. Now, normally they call me to verify but I guess they must read the blogs and found I “crossposted” it anyway. Thus, I never heard a thing, and I don’t get the print edition here (we do get it where I work.)

What I’d love to know is why the DT editor chopped it up so bad?!? I write a certain way on purpose. Sure it may be wordy, but as Rush Limbaugh would say, “words mean things.” I take plenty of time to write, because I want to type out my thoughts and opinions in a manner that expresses them completely.

However, if you followed the link and you’re discovering monoblogue for the first time, welcome! Glad you’re here. But I’m betting that if you saw that online link to my site on the DT website, you’ve likely already read my blog from being linked in other places. Of course, the more readers I get, the more likely I can get actual paying advertisers to come to my site…that would be cool. At least then I could make my server fee back.

Actually, the real reason I was getting ready to write a post was something I saw on Justice For All? almost a month ago, but it was almost immediately buried in the avalanche of MDE/zoo/Salisbury Water Treatment plant news. It was a 5 part pictorial called “No Gangs in Salisbury.” To refresh your memory:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Despite the fact that the news is old blogwise, it doesn’t mean we are any less likely to see gang trouble this year. No one wants a repeat of last year’s random homicide incident, only this time involving, say, MS-13 or ABM.

As I see it, the main cause of gang problems in Salisbury is not quite what one may think. I recall seeing a news item last year about several incidents where alien workers were robbed but couldn’t or didn’t report these incidents to the police. The reason most theorized is that these workers were here illegally and didn’t want to draw attention to themselves and their crime by reporting a crime perpetrated on them. So they just bore the loss of hundreds of dollars in cash silently.

Many of these laborers speak little or no English, and don’t have bank accounts. Either they are paid in cash or use a secondary vendor to get their checks cashed (Wal-Mart will cash a payroll check for a modest fee.) It’s not been uncommon for me to complete my shopping at Wal-Mart (particularly the one in Fruitland) and find myself behind a group of Mexican laborers who pull out a large wad of cash to pay for their groceries. Obviously this fact isn’t lost on the criminal element, who see these people as an easy target. Knowing that the foreign population generally carries a large amount of cash and is hesitant to report being relieved of it by threat of force, it almost becomes a sport to see who can get the largest amount of ill-gotten gains.

Then the question becomes: what happens to all that loose untraceable cash? A lot of it ends up in the pockets of those who ply the narcotics trade. And where there’s a thriving drug market, there’s generally gang formation. So you begin to see various garages and other buildings “tagged” with gang graffiti marking their turf and sending hidden messages to competing gangs.

One thing I was curious about and I finally looked into tonight was how one can get in touch with the local police and sheriff’s office. In Toledo, there’s an anonymous tip line one can call if they have information on a crime committed (obviously, if one’s in progress, 9-1-1 should be dialed.) But there’s no such thing here. It’s particularly important that one can call in tips anonymously, since dealing with a gang like MS-13 can be dicey.

Now it could be that the criminal investigation sections of the Salisbury PD and Wicomico Sheriff’s Department do handle anonymous tips, but they don’t advertise that kind of service, nor is it known if they’re bilingual. Let’s face it, until some sort of meaningful immigration reform and enforcement is passed on a federal level, Salisbury’s going to be a bilingual city.

The other thing is something that struck me driving along on Saturday. I was driving down Church Street to work and I saw a group of people fixing up a porch. Since they were mostly Caucasian, I didn’t figure they were native to that mostly minority neighborhood. I’m guessing it was a church group who was doing their part to help a less fortunate member of the community.

So why couldn’t a group adopt a block on a Saturday and paint over some of the gang tagging? Have Home Depot or Lowe’s pitch in and donate a few gallons of paint. It could even be the community service element for those who are sentenced to complete community service, still better if they were unruly juveniles who were quite possibly the ones to deface the building in the first place.

It will have to be an ongoing effort, because the gangs will come back a few times. But they eventually lose interest, or more likely, hit another block where their colors will last for a longer time.

I look at it this way. There’s probably as many if not more gang-bangers and wannabes on the streets than there are cops. Generally cops are better armed, but they can’t be everywhere at all times. So the deciding factor in taking care of the gang problem is the citizens. But the citizens generally want to just get along in life and stay out of the way of the gangs – a healthy fear. That creates a condition which perpetuates the problem.

The suggestions I posted here are just a tip of the iceberg. Much needs to be done at all levels of society (notice I didn’t say government) to eradicate the gangs from all sides. The most effective tool to me would be drying up their money supply, but that’s going to take pressure on all levels of the drug trade.

We’re going to have a new sheriff in town come November. First and foremost on his/her agenda is going to be the gang problem, and the remedies prescribed during the campaign will be tested soon after the oath of office is sworn. Let’s hope they work.

Missing from the Eastern Shore

There’s no paczki wars here, like back in northwest Ohio where there’s a thriving Polish community. I’m part Polish, and that part is probably why I weigh what I do, because they have such great food!

Since I have a longer post to write tonight, here’s more comments from Emily at American Princess. Thanks to her for making my mouth water.

WCRC meeting – February 2006

Once again, I took part of my evening and attended this month’s Wicomico County Republican Club meeting. We had about 30 in attendance this time.

As far as club business goes, our finances are still double what they were last year, although it was pointed out that this time in 2005 was right after the 2004 elections so the old amount should be used with caution when comparing. But the club didn’t do much for the 2005 local elections either since they were technically nonpartisan. Membership was up to 95 paid members, but I’m not one (yet), simply because I forgot my checkbook! Additionally, 8 members paid at the “elephant” level, which is additional money donated to the club.

Elected officials present were Wicomico County Councilman Gail Bartkovich and Worcester County Commissioner Sonny Bloxom (as noted last month, he’s running for Delegate in District 38B.) Also present was County Council candidate Dorothy White of District 5, the northeast portion of the county. (That district’s actually right across the road from me.)

Our speaker this month was Michael Grissom from the Maryland GOP. The Florida native is actually better known as the political director for Katherine Harris’s 2004 congressional campaign, now he’s working for the MGOP. He also worked with the Kilgore campaign last year in Virginia. You win some, you lose some.

Grissom noted a few things about this year’s approach to the Maryland races, particularly retaining Governor Ehrlich and electing Michael Steele to the U.S. Senate. The two things I found most interesting about his remarks was the emphasis on “microtargeting” and the effort come Election Day (or, actually, more like Election Week thanks to the D’s – vote early and often!) to assure as much as possible a clean election. That would be lawyers on the ground. If the D’s can pony up lawyers, so can we.

“Microtargeting” is fascinating – it’s targeting newer residents and based on consumer preferences, where certain traits show up in those who are more likely conservative. The example Grissom gave was if a person owned a Ford F-150 pickup, had a concealed carry permit, and subscribed to Field and Stream, they would more than likely be conservative and a probable Republican voter. (I guess on the flip side, if you drive a Volvo, subscribe to the New York Times, and have seen “Brokeback Mountain” 5 times, it’s likely you’re a moonbat who votes straight ticket Democrat – if there’s no Greens on the ballot.)

Additionally, Grissom told us that a field staffer for the Eastern Shore would be coming soon, at first based out of the Easton area because it’s centrally located on the Shore, but eventually by fall there would be a staffer for us on the south end of the Eastern Shore, as well as one on the north end. There’s going to be 5 or 6 field staffers in Maryland to start, our small population dictates one shared amongst the whole Eastern Shore for now.

A good question came from an attendee at that point. His concern was about Ehrlich and Steele “getting their message out” given the pro-Democrat slant of most Maryland media outlets. The key, explained Grissom, is getting the message out via the grassroots. Just talk up your neighbors (or be a blogger like me!) This helps to increase GOP turnout – while the stated goal is 80% in Wicomico County, it was revealed that GOP turnout in 2004 was 82% and 2002 GOP turnout was about 78%. So their “goal” is about the norm – but additional registered Republicans can also make a difference even with similar numbers.

Some other comments during this portion of the meeting:

Governor Ehrlich has not decided on a running mate yet, but it sounds like he has a short list being kept close to the vest at this time.

Polling was described as being “within percentage points” although Rasmussen showed Michael Steele down double digits to Ben Cardin. This poll was taken shortly after the stem-cell comment apology though.

There will be “slate money” for local campaigns to use this year, as Grissom noted the Maryland GOP has raised an “amazing amount of money.” Sonny Bloxom chimed in that if he raises a certain amount by the primary, the state GOP will kick in campaign money as well. If you use the vote total for the 2004 presidential election in Maryland as a guide, the campaign for governor may cost upwards of $25 per vote and the Senate campaign $12.50 per vote. That makes the numbers scary large in reality.

And, of course, after Grissom finished with his informative talk (and left to head home to Baltimore – we appreciate him coming down!) there were other issues discussed at the meeting. Most important to me was the County Council’s upcoming agenda, as budget issues take center stage in April and May. Impact fees or no impact fees? The capital improvements budget is said to be “fairly set” though. Adding to those improvements, it was announced tonight to us that money’s in the pipeline for construction to Business U.S. 13 in Salisbury, State Route 349, and U.S. 50. I knew a state representative in Ohio named John Garcia who said every time you see an orange barrel you see money from the state coming back to you. So we’ll see some money coming back to us in the form of highway improvements.

Another thing pointed out by John Bartkovich was that we need to fill our slate, still a lot of “blank” spaces on it. One complaint is that incumbents seem to be slow in deciding whether they want to run, so people who don’t want to face an incumbent also have to wait. Further, in the last couple months we’ve lost a candidate for County Executive and Sheriff who both dropped out of their race.

The club also is still looking for officers. They’ve offered me a post, I had to decline. It was more than I had a comfort level of doing at this time. I’d enjoy doing the newsletter part of it, but the other functions are more than I think I can handle – I’ve been taught to manage around my weaknesses so there you have it. That goes to being a candidate this year as well, although I hold the caveat below.

There is a Central Committee meeting a week from tonight that I would like to attend, kind of a “try before I buy” sort of thing. It’s intriguing to me in some respects but I’m a long way from running if I ever decide to.

Other upcoming events of note are a state party election school in March up in Gaithersburg, our annual booth at the Spring Festival April 28-29 (I’ll likely do that, maybe I’ll even bring brownies), the state GOP spring convention in Cambridge May 13, and way out there the Crab Feast in September. And we get to skip June and July for meetings.

Next month our speaker will be one of the two GOP Delegate candidates for District 38B, Jack Lord.

aaawww…did us bloggers upset the little ole city of Salisbury?

It’s said that “nature abhors a vacuum.” In the case of Salisbury, since the local paper or TV stations aren’t always the best source for news, something fills in the slack.

There’s always been a “rumor mill” wherever you go, but in this era of widely available Internet and the opportunity to sign up for (or buy like I did) a domain name and join the “pajamas media”, it’s very possible for a blogger to have a larger circulation and disseminate information to a larger audience than the so-called “mainstream media” outlets.

Three of my fellow Delmarva bloggers became accepted members of the media this week as all three local media outlets featured them on their news. The gist of the stories was a focus on local resident Joe Albero, a man who’s had repeated run-ins with several government entities. To those who aren’t a fan of his efforts, I suppose the term for him would be “local gadfly.” The really funny thing is that Albero doesn’t have his own blog, generally he works with and comments to the Justice for All? blog (although he has commented here on monoblogue as well.)

I’m sure all three of these blogs have rapidly increased their readership over the course of this year (let alone the last few days), as has mine (I had a record number of hits yesterday.) Monoblogue is a little different than the other three, but I do cover a lot of the same ground. It would be interesting to know what the hit rate is for the “mainstream” outlets compared to the bloggers. While it’s probably on a order of magnitude higher, I bet the gap is decreasing.

What struck me as funniest about the coverage was the Daily Times article, and particularly Mayor Tilghman’s reaction to the bloggers, “If they care for a higher level of community discussion, then I recommend they become involved in the city of Salisbury.”

Honestly, how does one become more involved with the city of Salisbury? Let’s assume for the sake of argument that at least one of the above mentioned bloggers or correspondents attends each public meeting, and looks over all the agendas and such that is public information. To me, the next step would have to be either working for the city or running for office. There’s only so many city positions that open up where an impact can be made, and you have to actually live in Salisbury to run for office (not to mention win an election.)

Once upon a time some wag said, “you can’t fight City Hall.” It becomes easy to ignore the wishes of the public when you know you have enough support from the voters to remain in the job term after term. But you can’t ignore bloggers quite as easily when they present a compelling version of events that may not be what the mayor and others in city government like to hear. So far the efforts of the bloggers have brought to light the animal deaths at the zoo (as well as their polluting the Wicomico River), the permitless dumping at the wastewater treatment plant, irregularities in annexation and zoning approvals – that’s just in Salisbury. Multiply that by 1,000 other large communities.

Maybe the best way to sum this up is if there weren’t bloggers and commenters to the sites who really cared about the place they live, it would be that much more difficult to muster up the resources for necessary change. This is the second place I’ve moved to by choice, and the first one was paid for by someone else (college.) So I’m interested in doing my part to make it a better place to live; after all, I have a stake in the community now since my job depends a lot on the well-being of the Delmarva area.

Kudos and thanks!

I happened to catch (thanks to reading it on Delmarva Dealings) this morning’s radio chat between WICO-AM morning host Bill Reddish and “Cato” of DD. It sounds like Reddish is up to speed on the blogosphere, which is good when you have a paper like ours. It does seem that WICO’s news is basically a rehash of Daily Times stories for the most part.

Unfortunately, there’s no transcript of the program available because I found it interesting in the parts I was able to listen to at the office, but I missed a bit here and there. Co-workers can do that to you.

But I didn’t miss the part at the end where Cato mentioned yours truly’s blog. And for that I thank him…good to know I’m becoming accepted in the Delmarva blogger community, slowly but surely.

As for the morning show, now that I’m getting pretty annoyed with the “Rex Nation” it may be time to go back to AM talk in the morning like I did back in Toledo. Seems like Bill Reddish is a good morning host – I never could stand “Bob and Tom” or “Don and Mike” and the “Rex Nation” is heading that way.

It’s not like I have a long commute, about 3-4 minutes! That’s one thing I do like about living here, little traffic. I almost wonder why WICO has a traffic report in the morning. Guess they have to fill some time, but if they continue to get good guests, the time will take care of itself.

Taking the test, again

Back in the ttrwc days I took the “World’s Smallest Political Quiz” and it showed me as closer to libertarian than conservative.

Timmer at Righting America takes a different, longer quiz and is surprised by the results.

Read the post and you’ll see my comment about where I fell on it. I was only surprised about one direction.

Late edit: to show you how dense I am about computers sometimes, it was just today that I finally figured out how “trackbacks” work. So I actually am tracked back from Righting America.

Birthday man

Had he lived, today would have been President Ronald Reagan’s 95th birthday. President Reagan was the recipient of the first Presidential vote I ever cast in 1984. In my opinion, despite our current President’s heroic stand on fighting the menace of radical Islamic terror, President Reagan remains the greatest president of my lifetime.

He changed the attitude of an entire country, from the gloomy malaise of the Carter years to a sunny optimism that America could remain the “shining city on the hill.” And his economic policy managed to allow America both guns and butter, as his tax cuts spurred a generation of solid growth that continues to this day. Even if his successors forgot to read their own lips or simply worked as hard as they could without generating a middle-class tax cut, no one has suggested returning tax rates to their pre-Reagan levels.

In honor of Reagan’s birthday, today’s Federalist Patriot, as usual, devoted its entire issue to the words and legacy of President Reagan. This group also maintains a comprehensive website on Reagan conservatism.

On this anniversary of Ronald Wilson Reagan’s birth, both are very good resources on our 40th President.

Tradition

Back in the days when I was married the first time, my wife and I would be sitting up watching the Super Bowl. That was an era when most of the games were all but over by halftime, so we were basically watching it for the commercials at that point. And it’s not like my Lions or Browns were in it, thanks to John Elway half the time.

Anyway, after one Super Bowl blowout I turned to her and said, “Well, the Super Bowl is over. Know what that means?”

And she said, “No more football?”

To which I yelled in reply, “No, it means 2 1/2 weeks until pitchers and catchers report!!!!!”

I think after the second year she figured it out. But it’s my now slightly altered tradition:

TEN DAYS UNTIL PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT!!!!!

Let the REAL season begin.

Warm summer thoughts

This is the last of my three posts for tonight (so read on below, there’s lots of new stuff.)

But I happened across an article by Dayn Perry that put a smile on my face about my ballteam, the Detroit Tigers. So I thought it was worth sharing after two political posts. The warm thoughts are especially needed after reading this about Detroit. (Hopefully my New Fallujah friends are snuggled by the fire. Tell me again why I miss Ohio?)

New theme

Tonight I decided to change to a three-column theme, although if you were just on a little bit ago it was two columns stacked on top of each other for some reason! So I’m still messing with it a bit.

In the next couple days I’ll figure out how to bring Gaggle back. I think I know but I’m not playing with it anymore tonight. Still have reading to do. I need to read the State of the Union address, it’s much faster than actually hearing it.

Let me know what you all think of the new look. I may want to brighten the colors up just a touch but I actually like the neutrals at the moment. It reminds me of my apartment here, unrelentingly neutral in whites and tans. I only have a couple pieces of furniture that aren’t neutral.

It was twenty years ago today…

While I’m borrowing from the Beatles and Sgt. Pepper, this is much more somber.

Sometimes in life you have those “I remember where I was when I found out about (blank)” moments. One of mine was walking into the dining area for lunch in Scott Hall, Miami University, on a Tuesday in January of 1986, and finding they had the overhead radio on. I never recalled that before, but it was playing that day.

That was the day that the seven members of the space shuttle Challenger met their demise after an ill-fated 73 second flight. Today it’s been 20 years since that event.

A lot has changed at NASA in the two decades since this happened, and many people question the validity of the space program. It’s understood that the space shuttle program is likely on its last legs – basically it survives as a means of getting items to the International Space Station. NASA is currently a mission in flux, as some want to continue the planetary expedition it’s known for and others would like to see a successor to the space shuttle be built. Further, private companies have moved into the shuttle market as the X Prize offered for a reusable spacecraft was won in 2004.

But at the time the space shuttles were something in which America took pride and joy. In 1986, people were beginning to see space travel as becoming commonplace, as 15 shuttle flights were scheduled for that year. While the Apollo flights were huge news and TV networks were wall-to-wall on them (this in the day before cable news), after the first few shuttle flights it was just expected for them to complete their appointed missions and land safely. The Challenger never did.

Eventually the tragedy was blamed on gasketing on the shuttle that lost its flexibility. At the time Florida was in the midst of a cold snap.

In place of the scheduled State of the Union address that night, President Reagan made some of his best remarks:

Ladies and gentlemen, I’d planned to speak to you tonight to report on the state of the union, but the events of earlier today have led me to change those plans. Today is a day for mourning and remembering. Nancy and I are pained to the core by the tragedy of the shuttle Challenger. We know we share this pain with all of the people of our country. This is truly a national loss.

Nineteen years ago, almost to the day, we lost three astronauts in a terrible accident on the ground. But we’ve never lost an astronaut in flight; we’ve never had a tragedy like this. And perhaps we’ve forgotten the courage it took for the crew of the shuttle; but they, the Challenger Seven, were aware of the dangers, but overcame them and did their jobs brilliantly. We mourn seven heroes: Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe. We mourn their loss as a nation together.

For the families of the seven, we cannot bear, as you do, the full impact of this tragedy. But we feel the loss, and we’re thinking about you so very much. Your loved ones were daring and brave, and they had that special grace, that special spirit that says, “Give me a challenge and I’ll meet it with joy.” They had a hunger to explore the universe and discover its truths. They wished to serve, and they did. They served all of us.

We’ve grown used to wonders in this century. It’s hard to dazzle us. But for 25 years the United States space program has been doing just that. We’ve grown used to the idea of space, and perhaps we forget that we’ve only just begun. We’re still pioneers. They, the members of the Challenger crew, were pioneers.

And I want to say something to the school children of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle’s takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It’s all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It’s all part of taking a chance and expanding man’s horizons. The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we’ll continue to follow them.

I’ve always had great faith in and respect for our space program, and what happened today does nothing to diminish it. We don’t hide our space program. We don’t keep secrets and cover things up. We do it all up front and in public. That’s the way freedom is, and we wouldn’t change it for a minute. We’ll continue our quest in space. There will be more shuttle flights and more shuttle crews and yes, more volunteers, more civilians, more teachers in space. Nothing ends here; our hopes and our journeys continue.

I want to add that I wish I could talk to every man and woman who works for NASA or who worked on this mission and tell them: “Your dedication and professionalism have moved and impressed us for decades. And we know of your anguish. We share it.”

There’s a coincidence today. On this day 390 years ago, the great explorer Sir Francis Drake died aboard ship off the coast of Panama. In his lifetime the great frontiers were the oceans, and a historian later said, “He lived by the sea, died on it, and was buried in it.” Well, today we can say of the Challenger crew: Their dedication was, like Drake’s, complete.

The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved good-bye and “slipped the surly bonds of earth” to “touch the face of God.”

A few years ago, we lost another shuttle crew as they were only minutes from landing. And as alluded to in President Reagan’s remarks, NASA has lost good astronauts before. But on that chilly January day in 1986, America lost a little piece of its innocence and a bit of its swagger. While Americans went from flight to moon landing in just 66 years, we realized space wasn’t going to be as easy to conquer as we were led to believe.

Ask and I shall receive

I’m going to take just as much credit for this as I can.

On January 5, the Daily Times put my comment in the Grapevine section:

WHEN WILL NEW ROADS OPEN? While it’s nice to have those extra-wide sidewalks known as the Sharen Drive extension and the Northeast Collector Road nearby for my regular stroll, I’d prefer to be able to drive on them. Since they’re all complete with signage and light poles are up, are we simply waiting on the mayor and assorted politicians to schedule a ribbon-cutting?

In today’s Daily Times come this article. The beginning of the story notes:

SALISBURY — Like every good thing, phase two of the Northeast Collector Road took a long time and a lot of energy, Mayor Barrie Parsons Tilghman said Monday.

“Today is a great day,” she said.

Tilghman and city and county officials celebrated a blue ribbon-cutting ceremony on a windy afternoon just outside Emmanuel Wesleyan Church. (emphasis mine.)

Do I know politicians or what? That road sat basically ready for a week, the only work I saw done on it was pouring the concrete on a couple small traffic islands and that occurred last Friday. But they still haven’t turned on the street lights.

I do like the extra two minutes I get now going to/from work, and it’ll really be nice for trips to the pharmacy, library, and post office, which will be quite a bit shorter now.

They have one more stretch of the road to complete, when that’s done there will be a second route to the Centre of Salisbury mall. Expected completion time is the end of 2007. Of course, by that time I’ll probably not be living here in this part of town.