Thoughts From The Publishers Desk

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A few months ago, this paper suggested Commissioner Virgil Shockley take over the post of commission president for James Purnell, who was appointed to the position by his colleagues in 2005 after Sonny Bloxom stepped aside to seek a state Delegate seat. After much drama, including some heated private conversations among the commissioners and a couple accusations from residents that this editor is “racist” for saying one particular white man would be a better leader than a particular black man, Shockley was voted president on Tuesday. This change was a long time coming, and it was most likely delayed to make sure this newspaper realized it has no sway over government officials. The public vote on Tuesday was unanimous. I find that hilarious because rest assured not every commissioner is pleased to see Shockley in the center seat. This is a divided body and some commissioners clearly have issues with Shockley. It will be interesting to watch how Shockley handles the job he has coveted for years. One of his first tasks should surely be bringing some of the items on the back burner to the forefront including the stalled comprehensive rezoning. That was supposed to be addressed immediately after the 2006 election, but county staff indicates privately no direction has come from the commissioners. My guess is he will also bring a bill to the commissioners calling for an overhaul of the local ethics laws. During his 2006 re-election campaign, Shockley, a farmer and school bus driver, promised he would draft an ethics bill, specifically addressing heavy-handed political contributions, and propose it to the commissioners. That has never happened. What will also be compelling is how Shockley’s colleagues, some of who, right or wrong, accepted some large contributions in the 2006 elections, view the ethics bill. My guess is it will face a tough haul.

Text messaging has surged in popularity in recent years, and that’s why some legislators in Annapolis want to see some restrictions placed on it while driving. Anyone who has ever “texted” knows it takes some concentration and doing it while driving is dangerous. There’s no question it’s a major distraction for the mere fact your eyes are taken off the road, even if it’s just for a couple seconds A study released recently by CTIA-The Wireless Association, a trade group for the cell phone industry, estimated that 158 billion text messages were sent in 2006, a 95-percent increase in 2005. Surely that number increased by just as much last year. Driving and texting do not mix, say some legislators. A bill introduced early in the session died recently when the House Environmental Matters Committee rejected it. On the heels of that dismissal, another bill, House Bill 1110, has been introduced prohibiting text messaging while driving unless it has something to do with an emergency. Members of AAA-Mid-Atlantic testified this week for the limited prohibition along with other industry representatives, but no vote was reportedly taken.

There have been a lot of seal sightings on the beach this winter. It seems more so than usual, but there’s no proof that’s true because no numbers kept on this type of thing, largely because a great majority of those coming ashore return peacefully to the ocean without much made of their temporary stay. The most recent was found on Monday morning just north of where the National Aquarium in Baltimore released a rehabbed seal. Another was spotted a week before in front of the Golden Sands and yet another was reported at night close to the Delaware line. The released seal’s path can be tracked online at the aquarium website at www.aqua.org. As of the last update on March 5, Secca had traveled 27 miles, heading southeast for a spell before altering her course and heading north.

Don’t forget to spring ahead this Saturday night before you go to bed. You will lose an hour of sleep with the start of Daylight’s Savings Time.

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