2012 best and worst awards: Part II -- Gazette.Net


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Best moves of the year

• A federal court tosses out a clean-water lawsuit brought against an Eastern Shore chicken farmer by environmentalists and the University of Maryland law school’s environmental clinic. The judge criticizes the plaintiffs’ flimsy evidence and lack of professionalism, which almost ruined the innocent farm family during the three-year trial.

• After cutting government spending and generating a budget surplus, the Frederick County Commissioners mail every county homeowner a $100 property tax rebate.

• Baltimore’s Star-Spangled Sailabration, a War of 1812 anniversary festival featuring tall ships and air shows, draws huge downtown crowds.

• Despite strong public pressure, D.C. area Metro chief Richard Sarles refuses to remove “Go To Hell Barack” Metro ads, citing free-speech protection.

• Instead of a long-shot governor’s race, Peter Franchot chooses to be comptroller for life.

•Thousands of Marylanders demonstrate support for restaurant owner Dan Cathy’s rights by jamming his restaurants on Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.

•Maryland’s Court of Appeals rules that processing someone’s DNA at the moment of arrest, before they are even charged with a crime, is unconstitutional.

•Ten small Maryland counties band together and hire a lobbyist to help fight against the governor’s “war on rural Maryland.”

•The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission finally imposes a catch quota on the Bay’s most important food-chain fish, menhaden.

•A federal judge strikes down Maryland’s handgun concealed-carry permit law, which withholds permits unless state officials see a “good and substantial reason” for needing to carry a gun.

•Maryland Congressman Andy Harris, a medical doctor, stops to help a distressed motorist and saves the life of the family’s 2-year-old child who was suffering a seizure.

Worst moves of the year

•After a decade of athletic department fiscal mismanagement, the University of Maryland bails out by abandoning the ACC and joining the Big 10.

•Wendy Rosen figures a long-shot congressional candidacy will at least give her PR firm some publicity, but her record of voting, simultaneously, in Florida and Maryland elections dooms her candidacy and triggers criminal charges.

•Maryland’s Court of Appeals reverses common law and causes mass confusion by holding pit bull owners liable, ruling that pit bulls are “inherently dangerous,” although pit bulls are not even a distinguishable breed.

•When P.G. Councilwoman Karen Toles is arrested for driving 105 mph on the Beltway she berates the arresting officer, “This is why people don’t like P.G.” Toles says she didn’t hear the police sirens because she was on her phone, checking emails and applying makeup. After receiving her seventh traffic ticket since 2009, she gives up her county car and is subsequently appointed to chair the council’s public safety committee.

•Julius Henson, a black political consultant working for GOP candidate Bob Ehrlich’s 2010 campaign, is convicted by a jury for conspiracy to distribute political materials not containing an authority line (no disclosure of the ad’s sponsor). A Baltimore judge sentences Henson to 60 days in prison, denies bail and imposes immediate incarceration without time for appeal. Then, Attorney General Doug Gansler wins a $1 million judgment against Henson. Message: In one-party Maryland, it’s open season on blacks who help Republicans, and the rule of law is not a factor.

•Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, a Ravens fan, loses a Dec. 7 football bet with P.G. County Executive Rushern Baker, a Redskins fan, and ends up picking up roadside trash in PG while wearing a ’Skins jersey and singing “Hail to the Redskins.”

•New Maryland environmental regulations prohibit farmers from grazing livestock within 10 feet of streams and surface water. Farmers try to explain that livestock need water and can’t be restrained from pooping while drinking from streams.

•Montgomery County millionaire Rob Sobhani spends $5 million of his own money on his independent U.S. Senate race, finishes behind the Democrat and the Republican.

•When less than a dozen anti-tax protesters drive around the State House honking horns, capital police shut down the protest and issue $60 tickets for “using a horn in a nonemergency situation.”

•The state Board of Elections sends notices to 8,000 properly registered voters telling them that they are not registered to vote.

•Frederick resident Richard Rogers, 46, drinks “between eight and 10 beers” and then shoots his .25-caliber handgun at the mounted deer head in his living room, and, while reloading, accidentally shoots himself in the leg.

•Laurel resident Angela McCaskill is suspended from her job in Gallaudet University’s diversity officer when a lesbian co-worker complains that McCaskill signed Maryland’s gay marriage referendum petition outside her church.

•When Maryland lawmakers pass legislation limiting development by restricting septic tanks, scores of farmers and developers rush to develop their land before the law takes effect.

•Del. Eric Leudtke, a progressive Montgomery schoolteacher, tries to torpedo Maryland voters’ right to referendum with legislation requiring that every petition signature page be notarized by a notary public.

•Gay activists publish the names and home addresses of 110,000 gay-marriage petition signers resulting in front-door confrontations between startled petition signers and gay protesters.

•Just three months after state lawmakers balance the budget with a new “thousand-aires” income tax raising $300 million annually, the state announces a $500 million budget surplus.

Blair Lee is CEO of the Lee Development Group in Silver Spring and a regular commentator for WBAL radio. His column appears Fridays in The Gazette. His email address is blairleedg.com.