Between The Lines

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With a little more than two weeks remaining until the General Election, the political scene has turned a bit toward the heated side.

That was on display on Wednesday night at the forum at Wor-Wic as well as at the gubernatorial debate on Monday. For more on the local candidates forum, see News Editor Shawn Soper’s story in this edition.

It’s no secret there are numerous contentious elections nearing the finish lines. On the local front, some of the races with the most energy and animosity seem to be the U.S. House District 1 race, pitting a rematch between Democrat Frank Kratovil and Republican Dr. Andy Harris. Even more locally, the Senate race between Jim Mathias and Michael James and the State’s Attorney rematch between Joel Todd and Beau Oglesby are taking center stage.

However, unquestionably, the race with the most animosity, and surely the most riding on it, is the governor’s race between Bob Ehrlich and Martin O’Malley, who debated this week. The forum didn’t deal with a lot of specifics. However, there was an interesting exchange on college tuition prices.

O’Malley: “… But you had the ability, Governor, to do as I did, which was to freeze college tuition. For your first three years in office, you never did it. In fact, one of your biggest accomplishments was to force a 40 percent increase in college tuition. Right up on an election year, yes, you did something different and you froze it for one year. But we are the only state in the country to go four years in a row without a penny’s increase to college tuition. And I’m proud of that.

“Furthermore, the property tax, governor, you actually did vote to increase the property tax. And you know you did it. And you did it at the Board of Public Works. And, perhaps, you thought no one would notice that. But, when an election year came around, you tried to cover your tracks by cutting a penny or two off the increase that you had made three years before.”

Ehrlich: “I really get to respond here. This is important. The ads have been running. I didn’t even bring up the fact that property tax went down. You’re right. Thank you for reminding me of that. Fact of it is, governors do not set tuitions and, everybody listening, it may be a news item for some folks. Governors do not set tuition. The Board of Regents sets tuition. Obviously, and with regard to state property tax, the same thing.

“So, what you see from these ads is the half truth. It’s the get-over to the next election and that’s what this election is all about. That’s gonna stop on Nov. 2.”

Later, in The Washington Post, Senate President Mike Miller acknowledged the palpable dislike between the candidates.

"[In the future after political careers], they will come together for political events when all the ex-governors are there, but as far as being friends: I would certainly think – I would hope – that if either one of them were dying – you know, Martin is a religious man, and Ehrlich is a decent individual – that one would go [visit] and reconcile with the other on his deathbed."

Every once in a while, a momentous event takes place in life that impacts us all. The Chili mine rescue surely qualifies as one of those memorable events in my mind. Back in the summer, a devastating mining accident occurred and for 17 days, 33 miners were believed to be dead. A surprise note alerted the world know they were alive in the mine, which has been open for more than 100 years.

Consequently, thanks to U.S. technology and Chilean fortitude, crews drilled a one half mile into the earth. They made a hole about two feet in diameter, allowing rescue workers to reach the miners, who had been together in that hole for more than two months. It was miraculous to watch the successful rescue and the Chilean people’s tremendous fortitude deserves a bulk of the credit. Watching the miners being rescued was tremendous theater and provided a nice break from the daily cycle. It was a truly inspiring 24 hours.

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