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Opinion

Hoping Bartlett goes for last hurrah

Nobody asked me, but I'm betting — and hoping — that 85-year-old Roscoe Bartlett, Buckeystown's most durable Republican, will seek re-election in the reconfigured 6th Congressional District. There's been a lot of buzz about this lately, with political gossips saying Mr. Bartlett is doomed, and with numerous Republicans and Democrats lining up to run in the 2012 primaries. A political blogger reported that Mr. Bartlett's chief of staff, Bud Otis, has been exploring a run. Mr. Bartlett apparently hasn't been raising much money for a re-election bid, either. But mark my words: The old professor will not retire; he's too feisty and independent to just walk away, especially after Democrats rigged the 6th District to make it harder for him to win an 11th term. Of course, I admit to a little wishful thinking here: Mr. Bartlett is now the underdog. I hope he goes for one last hurrah. It's a much better story if he does.

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Three veteran Baltimore County police majors left their jobs this year with retirement payouts of more than half a million dollars each. Four captains and two lieutenants left with payments of more than $400,000 each. That sounds like a bunch of down-payments on liquor licenses to me, friends. Mark my words: We should see four, maybe five new cop bars opening up in the county next year or so.

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Addendum to Thursday's column on 61-year-old Calvin Ash, who has been imprisoned since 1972 for killing his estranged wife's boyfriend: Despite having been approved for release by the Maryland Parole Commission seven years ago, Mr. Ash is still behind bars, at an estimated annual cost to taxpayers of about $30,000. Because of Gov. Martin O'Malley's draconian approach to parole for lifers — he rejects all of them — Mr. Ash likely will be in prison another four years before the commission again recommends his release to the governor (by then, someone other than Mr. O'Malley). So that's a total of 11 years, or $330,000 in taxpayer funds, to keep this aging inmate in prison and to keep Mr. O'Malley's tough-on-crime bona fides for the next step in his thrilling political career.

Nobody asked me, but there's another problem with Governor O'Malley's meddling in that federal water pollution lawsuit and his expressed sympathy for the alleged polluter — an Eastern Shore farm that raises half a million chickens a year for Perdue. Given the nature of Mr. O'Malley's widely quoted letter to the dean of the University of Maryland law school complaining about its involvement in the suit, a citizen might reasonably question the state's approach to environmental regulation of businesses generally. The attorney general's office, under Doug Gansler, certainly seems to do its part to enforce environmental laws. But what of the Maryland Department of the Environment? In his Nov. 14 letter about the lawsuit, Mr. O'Malley noted that MDE found only one minor pollution violation on the chicken farm. But what does that mean, really? Just two weeks after Mr. O'Malley's letter, a legislative audit of the MDE found lax enforcement and regulation, with staff failing to keep tabs on potentially polluting construction projects, hazardous-waste storage sites and rental properties with lead paint. The MDE suffers from chronic understaffing. Maybe, instead of complaining about the law clinic and the lawsuit, our "green" governor should be grateful that someone has tried to take up the slack for his administration.

On Thanksgiving night, in the Harbaugh Bowl, the Ravens defense sacked the San Francisco 49ers quarterback an astonishing nine times. The first time something like this happened, it caused a run on pizza. In 1997, a Pizza Hut promotion promised a dollar off for every sack by the Ravens. Of course, the Ravens were mediocre at the time, and no one expected what happened on Nov. 16 — the defense racked up nine sacks against the Philadelphia Eagles. Baltimore-area Pizza Huts were stuck selling large pies for as little as $1.69. Monday sales from Bel Air to Pikesville were off the charts: 15,000 pizzas in about four hours, according to the company. An outlet in Towson sold about 600 pizzas, six times the average number for a weekday night. In short order, the Hut backed off the promotion, limiting discounts to $5 and families to two pizzas each. The company might have hired new actuaries, too, but I was never able to verify that.

Dan Rodricks' column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. He hosts the Midday show on WYPR-FM. His email is dan.rodricks@baltsun.com.



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