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BUSCH OUT WITH PNEUMONIA: House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said Monday that he is being treated for pneumonia and is uncertain if he will return to Annapolis before the 90-day session ends next week. Busch said he began feeling “run-down” last Tuesday after a follow-up procedure for his 2017 liver transplant, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports.

PUGH TAKES LEAVE: Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, facing a call by Gov. Larry Hogan for a criminal investigation into the book deal that paid her hundreds of thousands of dollars, announced Monday that she will take an indefinite leave of absence because of her health, Yvonne Wenger and Ian Duncan of the Sun report.

CALLS FOR PUGH TO RESIGN: Phil Davis of the Sun writes that the Democratic mayor is facing increasing backlash and calls to resign from Maryland officials, who took to social media to voice their displeasure with Pugh.

  • Fern Shen of Baltimore Brew writes that Baltimore City Councilman Zeke Cohen posted on Facebook that “Mayor Pugh has lost the moral mandate to govern.” While wishing Pugh a speedy recovery from a bout of pneumonia, Cohen said she “should fully resign from office.”

HOGAN SEEKS PROBE INTO PUGH-UMMS DEAL: Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday formally asked the state prosecutor to investigate allegations of self-dealing and no-bid contracting involving Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh in her role as a member of the University of Maryland Medical System board. The medical system paid Pugh $500,000 in five installments for copies of her self-published Healthy Holly children’s book series, Luke Broadwater and Doug Donovan report in the Sun.

REVIEW OF UMMS CONTRACTS BEGINS: The independent consulting firm hired to untangle the ethical knots caused by insider contracts between the University of Maryland Medical System and several of its board members is scheduled to begin its work today, Doug Donovan and Luke Broadwater of the Sun report.

OTHERS ALSO BOUGHT ‘HOLLY’ BOOKS: A team of reporters for the Sun reports that the University of Maryland Medical System wasn’t the only major buyer of Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh’s “Healthy Holly” children’s books. Health provider Kaiser Permanente paid Pugh more than $100,000 to buy about 20,000 copies of her books during a period when the company was seeking a lucrative contract to provide health benefits to city employees.And Associated Black Charities says it collected nearly $90,000 from five entities to buy and distribute 10,000 copies of Pugh’s books, forwarding nearly $80,000 of that to Pugh’s company and pocketing the rest.

  • Melody Simmons and Morgan Eichensehr of the Baltimore Business Journal write that in addition to a $500,000 sale to the University of Maryland Medical System, Mayor Catherine Pugh’s “Healthy Holly” children’s books were also sold to Kaiser Permanente and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield over the past eight years, with Kaiser Permanente spending $114,000 on 20,000 books in 2015 and 2018.

AS SENATOR, PUGH PUSHED PRO-HOSPITAL BILLS: While she received hundreds of thousands of dollars though a no-bid book deal with the University of Maryland Medical System, then state Sen. Catherine Pugh sponsored dozens of bills affecting hospitals in Maryland — including several that would have benefited UMMS. The Sun’s Luke Broadwater reports that Pugh sponsored or co-sponsored more than 40 bills affecting hospitals, doctors and insurance companies, all while serving on the medical system’s Board of Directors and repeatedly sought to make it harder for patients to sue hospitals and doctors for big judgments via medical malpractice claims and lessen the financial impact of those suits.

OPINION: HOGAN SWATS: Political pundit Barry Rascovar opines in his Political Maryland blog that perhaps it was an inadvertent salute to the start of Orioles baseball. Or perhaps Gov. Larry Hogan no longer cares about influencing the Democratic-controlled Maryland General Assembly.Whatever the reason, Hogan put on a pointless display of political ineptitude last week in vetoing three popular bills. He knew his actions would be quickly reversed.

WINNERS & LOSERS: With a week left in Maryland’s General Assembly session, Luke Broadwater and Pamela Wood report in the Sun that several key issues are still unsettled. But many others have been decided, and winners and losers have emerged. They offer up who came out on top — and who didn’t — in Annapolis this year.

DEL. MOSBY TOURS LAUREL TRACK: Del. Nick Mosby was not convinced Friday to stop calling for withdraw of legislation that would boost racetrack funding after touring housing at Laurel Park racetrack alongside County Executive Steuart Pittman, writes Chase Cook in the Annapolis Capital. The two politicians were joined by horse racing officials as they toured a variety of the dorms at the Laurel Park racetrack. After seeing the housing — small rooms with cracks, limited heating and shared bathrooms and showers — Mosby said racing officials should improve living conditions before using state money to improve the racetrack.

VISAS FOR CRAB HOUSE WORKERS: The Trump administration said Friday that it is making an additional 30,000 visas available so that businesses — including Maryland crab houses — will have sufficient migrant laborer, Jeff Barker reports for the Sun. Visa shortages have long been an issue for crab-picking houses that rely on a guest worker program because they say they can’t find enough workers in the U.S.

ARUNDEL TACKLES GUN VIOLENCE: A group of politicians, community leaders, law enforcement, gun control advocates and public health officials gathered at Anne Arundel Medical Center Monday to talk about gun violence as a public health crisis and concluded that change starts with more productive conversations, writes Alex Mann in the Annapolis Capital. The key to advancing that conversation and finding common ground, those gathered for the roundtable hosted by U.S Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) said, could be focusing on safety — as was the case with cars in the past.

ARUNDEL LOOSENS RX POT RESTRICTIONS: After two meetings of debate and amendments, the Anne Arundel County Council has passed legislation loosening restrictions on incoming and established medical marijuana dispensaries, Chase Cook reports for the Annapolis Capital.

BA CO TEACHERS RALLY FOR SCHOOL FUNDS: The General Assembly session ends in less than one week. In two weeks, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski presents his budget to the county council. John Lee of WYPR-FM reports that teachers and their supporters rallied outside the Historic Courthouse in Towson Monday night, calling on the state and the county to come through with money for schools.

BOB BAUMAN REMEMBERS RALPH HOSTETTER: In MarylandReporter.com, the former congressman from the Eastern Shore remembers his long political alliance with newspaper publisher who died last week.

WA CO PUSHES CENSUS: Washington County officials say that for every person not counted in the 2020 census, Washington County could lose thousands of dollars — up to $18,000 in state and federal funding over the next decade for public safety, education or other valuable services, CJ Lovelace of the Hagerstown Herald Mail reports.

PRES HOPEFUL NO. 1 JOHN DELANEY SPEAKS: Former three-term Maryland Rep. John Delaney announced his run for the Democratic nomination in July 2017, the earliest of any candidate–a move seen as unusual even as candidates trend toward announcing earlier. Delaney casts himself as a moderate and says if elected he would sign only bipartisan legislation in his first 100 days as president. He sat down last week with Laura Knoy of the Exchange of NHPR in New Hampshire for this hourlong interview.

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On abortion:

“In response to the letter dated 3-14 from S. Yumlu about unborn babies and abortion: … The Hippocratic oath it includes ‘I will not give to a woman a (instrument) to produce abortion.’ In the Bible, Exodus 21:22 states ‘if men fight and hurt a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no lasting harm follows, he shall surely be punished. … But if any lasting harm follows, then you shall give life for life.’ That’s for an unintentional death of a baby in the womb. Both secular and biblical discusses abortion.”

— Joy Hahn, Brownsville

‘McCain was a true American patriot’:

“Donald Trump just can’t seem to quit attacking Senator John McCain. He did get one thing right though, when he said that McCain was not his type of guy. John McCain was a true American patriot, who put country above self, while (Trump) puts self above all else.”

— James Griffin, Waynesboro, Pa.

How do geese decide flying formation?

“I have gone out recently in a rain storm to get a newspaper. I saw a flock of geese. My question is: How do the geese decide which one is supposed to be in line? Do they keep that line? A flock of at least 24, how do they know where they are supposed to be? Do they keep that line like bowling pins in a bowling alley? Just curious.”

— Jeff Fignar, Hagerstown

On Ann Coulter:

“Trump’s head cheerleader, Republican Ann Coulter, who won fame by her cutting insults in Fox News, failed to attain the intolerant sentiments of Trump supporters, when she referred to him as ‘lazy and incompetent.’ … Americans should have been embarrassed by the reaction to Pence’s statement at the security conference, ‘I bring you greetings from the 45th president of the United States Donald J. Trump.’ Instead of an applause, the silence was deafening. I guess the old adage still rings true. Parents are always the last to know.”

— Harry Parks, Halfway

We’re not in Kansas anymore:

“The wicked fake witch is dead. Hi-ho the wicked witch is dead. The Mueller investigation finally threw cold water upon her and the Russian collusion, hopefully, will melt away. What a world, what a world. However, we should still be aware of the fake wizard behind the curtain, the horses of different colors and the witches’ wicked flying monkeys that are still alive and spreading their wickedness. Maybe someday, like Dorothy, this crazy nightmare will end and we will be back with our normal Auntie Em and the lion has gotten courage, the tin man has received his heart and the scarecrow has finally received his brain.”

— Fred Johnston, Hagerstown

‘In the end, hatred is self-destructive’:

“How could the Democratic Party have degenerated to the state that it is now in? I watched with utter dismay the debacle of the Kavanaugh hearings which slandered a person without evidence. Now with even greater dismay, I cannot understand how the party of my ancestors could have put the country through a charade of supposed collusion for two years without evidence. Hatred of the president cannot be a policy to guide our country. In the end, hatred is self destructive and I think that the party of FDR, Truman, and JFK must repent of its dishonesty and hatred and begin again with a commitment to honesty and fairness before we can have confidence in it again.”

— William R. Hull, Sharpsburg

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Friday marks two months since WDVM-TV was last available on Antietam Broadband’s cable system, and contract negotiations remain at a stalemate.

The contract covers the retransmission fee, which a cable company pays for the right to retransmit a station’s programs. Antietam and Nexstar, WDVM’s parent company, have not been able to reach a new agreement.

The previous agreement expired at the end of 2018. The station has not been on Antietam’s system since early on Jan. 1.

Andrew Wyatt, WDVM vice president and general manager, said Thursday he has tried to talk with Brian Lynch, president of Antietam, and offered to arrange a meeting with the president of Nexstar.

“I reached out to him (Lynch) on Monday. … He’s not returned the call,” Wyatt said.

“Nothing indicates to me that they have any intention of ever carrying our television station again,” he said.

Lynch was out of the office Thursday.

In an email, he responded, “I have been out of town most of this week and can’t confirm a message but will certainly evaluate the message when I return.”

He wrote that Antietam “has no updates to offer since the last article in The Herald-Mail.”

In that article, published a month ago, Lynch said Antietam had not heard from Nexstar since the last time they talked on Dec. 31.

Calls from Herald-Mail Media to Nexstar have not been returned.

Referring to the contract negotiations, WDVM has characterized its fee proposal as “very fair.” Antietam has called it “an unreasonable increase.” Neither will specify the terms it is seeking.

Both sides also have promoted alternatives for their customers. According to the previous article, Antietam gave away more than 450 antennas, which enables viewers to pick up the WDVM signal on free broadcast TV. WDVM has an advertisement on its website urging viewers to “Switch to Dish,” referring to the DISH satellite television system.

Nexstar is based in Irving, Texas. Antietam Broadband is owned by Schurz Communications Inc., which has its headquarters in Mishawaka, Ind.

Antietam and Herald-Mail Media had been sister companies until this year. Schurz sold its newspaper properties, including Herald-Mail Media, to GateHouse Media. That deal took effect Feb. 1.

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For a Keedysville family, Sunday’s concert by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap at The Maryland Theatre was a special reunion.

About 25 years ago, sisters Jerica and Brittany Hewett wrote Puckett a letter inviting him to a birthday party when he was going to be in Hagerstown for a June 25, 1994, show at the Hagerstown Fairgrounds.

They loved Puckett’s song “Young Girl” and just had to see him.

Puckett gave them a surprise when the girls and their parents went to the show.

Just before he launched into “Young Girl,” he asked Jerica, who was 5 years old, and Brittany, who was 8, to join him on the stage.

After their time with Puckett onstage, they were invited backstage with the singer, where a photo was snapped of Puckett with the girls.

With Puckett scheduled to appear for a 3 p.m. show Sunday at the downtown theater, the girls’ father had a thought.

Wouldn’t it be neat to have that photo repeated?

Allen Hewett worked on it, and Puckett’s people agreed to it.

After Sunday’s show, Puckett gathered Jerica (Hewett) Wetzel and Brittany Hewett-Smith together for a photo, along with their children.

Puckett talked a while with the local family.

“Life is good?” Puckett asked.

“Goodbye kids, nice to meet you,” Puckett said to the girls’ children. “I’m sorry we didn’t have more time to spend (together).”

Allen Hewett, a Keedysville private investigator, recalled how the first encounter with Puckett occurred.

Hewett said the girls’ letter to Puckett was sent to a local radio station. Somehow it made it to the musician.

“We were shocked when he called us up. He was a real nice guy, in addition to being a good singer,” Hewett said, recalling the 1994 show.

Puckett autographed the picture that was snapped of him with the girls in 1994. The photo ended up in The Herald-Mail, a clipping of which Hewett still has on his refrigerator.

To line up Sunday’s encounter between Puckett and the family, Hewett emailed the Puckett camp with a photo-op request. Puckett’s people responded quickly, Wetzel said.

“I think it’s really cool. It’s going to be great for the kids to see it,” Wetzel said prior to Sunday’s show.

Hewett-Smith said she grew up listening to 1960s and ’70s music.

“This Gary Puckett Show will bring it full circle,” Hewett-Smith said.

Puckett sang “Young Girl” to close the show.

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ANNAPOLIS — After police used a new technique to arrest a man suspected of being the Golden State Killer, a Maryland legislator proposed a law that would prohibit use of a familial DNA database for the purpose of crime-solving.

House bill 30, sponsored by Del. Charles Sydnor, D-Baltimore County, seeks to prohibit searches of consumer genealogical databases for the purpose of identifying an offender in connection with a crime through their biological relative’s DNA samples.

In 1994, the state enacted the Maryland DNA Collection Act, which authorized the gathering of DNA for an official investigation of a crime, to identify human remains and to identify missing persons, among other purposes.

In 2008, Chapter 337 amended the Collection Act to allow the state to gather and retain DNA from people arrested for burglary or violent crimes at the time of their arrest.

The 2008 law also prohibited searching the statewide database for DNA collected from a relative to identify a crime suspect.

The District of Columbia and Maryland are the only two jurisdictions in the country with laws barring searches for familial DNA and partial match analysis, and Maryland was the first to ban searches for blood relatives statewide, according to written testimony from Sydnor, the bill’s sole sponsor.

Such searches might also mean that more than 50 percent of Marylanders can be identifiable, even if an individual potentially under scrutiny hasn’t voluntarily submitted his or her DNA to any database, according to Natalie Ram, an assistant professor of law at the University of Baltimore.

Four other states — California, Colorado, Texas and Virginia — have developed procedures for using these databases and partial familial matching, but only after all other leads have proven unsuccessful.

Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested in connection with the crimes of the Golden State Killer — nicknamed after years of killings and attacks in California — and was charged with 13 counts of murder and 13 counts of kidnapping by police after they uploaded DNA from the crime scenes to a searchable open database, where several of his distant family members had also uploaded their genetic profiles.

Recently, Alaska state troopers, using similar genetic technology, arrested Steven Downs, a suspect in the 1993 killing of Sophie Sergie, after hearing about the Golden State Killer case.

DNA discovered during the initial investigation into Sergie’s slaying was uploaded into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System — also known as CODIS — a genetic database used for exploring leads from cases where biological evidence was recovered, according to Col. Barry Wilson, director of the Alaska State Troopers.

Matches made among profiles in the database can be used to link crime scenes together.

The lab matched DNA from the crime scene to a female relative of Downs, and police tracked him down in Maine with a warrant for his DNA, Wilson said in a news conference.

In fewer than 24 hours, the DNA found at the crime scene in 1993 was matched to Downs, according to Wilson.

Extending the ban

Legislation prohibiting searches of statewide databases for the purpose of identifying offenders through familial DNA already exists in Maryland, but Sydnor’s bill aims to extend the ban over to popular consumer genetic databases such as 23andMe or ancestry.com, where suspected criminals could be identified through family members who have uploaded their data to the websites.

Most people who use consumer genetic databases are using them for a narrow set of goals, such as entertainment or medical reasons, not for law-enforcement purposes, and having their DNA profiles searched is something that goes above and beyond their expectations of what that data use is, said Jessica Vitak, an assistant professor in the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies.

“Because DNA is genetic and is shared between relatives, your privacy could be violated by somebody other than you, and in many cases, this data could be used against you … because the control of data about you is in other people’s hands,” Vitak added.

Searching a familial database to find offenders through people biologically related to them can match DNA from people as distant as ninth-degree relatives, or fourth cousins, to those under scrutiny for crimes, Ram said.

Incorrect matches can also lead to improper investigations of people who have not committed any crimes, according to Ram.

“Familial searches are inappropriate, no matter what,” Ram said.

In written testimony, Sydnor added that noncriminal individuals participating in consumer genetic database websites are not knowingly subjecting themselves to the potential “genetic dragnet” associated with law enforcement obtaining their information from the database.

Opposition from law enforcement

The legislation faces opposition from the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association and the Maryland Sheriffs’ Association, as law-enforcement officials use statewide DNA databases for identifying potential criminals.

Genetic genealogy is the practice of using science to find relatives of a person, or, in the context of an investigation, a perpetrator, according to written testimony from the Maryland Chiefs of Police and Sheriffs’ associations.

“This science can effectively reduce the size of the haystack to make it easier to find the needle,” the testimony from the Maryland Chiefs of Police and Sheriffs’ associations said.

DNA uploaded to certain commercial ancestry databases might require clients to accept terms of service that include law-enforcement usage, but clients also have the option to keep their data private or to allow it to be accessed by other site users for comparison.

Because of this, there’s absolutely no expectation of privacy, according to the Maryland Chiefs of Police and Sheriffs’ associations.

The law-enforcement officials also stated that information gathered from genealogical databases is used to generate leads, not convict people, and queries going through the database are only for violent criminals.

“It would make it more difficult to bring justice to Maryland’s crime victims,” law-enforcement officials said.

But to Sydnor, searching through a DNA database seems to violate the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution and the Maryland Declaration of Rights, both of which protect individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures.

“Do not get me wrong, I want to see unsolved crimes resolved and perpetrators of crime prosecuted, as well,” Sydnor said in his written testimony.

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When Bryce Harper and Manny Machado sauntered into baseball’s free agent market, they assumed some owner would throw insane amounts of cash their way, because up until this year some owner always had.

Three hundred million dollars over 10 years — the sum Machado signed for in San Diego last week — is still an insane amount of cash. But it wasn’t the ceiling-exploding excess that had become an annual occurrence as teams tried to buy their way to a pennant.

When looking to site a new facility that would hire tens of thousands of people, the online retailer Amazon assumed that some locale would throw an insane amount of cash its way, because some locale always had. And sure enough, the company was all set to settle in the Queens borough of New York City, thanks to an astonishing $3 billion worth of incentives. Until the community began to question the deal, and, rather than negotiate, Amazon withdrew.

In baseball, through a series of occult statistics, front offices are now able to calculate a player’s value in terms of wins and losses, and the clear conclusion is that megacontracts for megastars are rarely worth the money. And governments might want to conduct similar analyses.

New York’s hard look into the mouth of a gift horse is being widely panned — and leading the criticism is the city’s own mayor and the state’s own governor. Mayor Bill de Blasio more or less said it’s one thing to be progressive, but it’s another thing to be stupid.

They were talking about 25,000 jobs, after all, and what politician does not have “Jobs!” at the top of the campaign flier? This figure is approaching the size of the entire city of Hagerstown. How in the world do you turn that down? Actually, the boost in the workforce would be bigger than Hagerstown, since new jobs have a multiplier effect, creating work for people who offer goods and services to the added 25,000. The true number of jobs spun off from the Amazon project could be more like 50,000 to 75,000.

But a few lone economists are starting to delve into their own brand of analytics, and the deal isn’t as rosy as it appears on the surface. New York City’s unemployment has been hovering around 4 percent, which, accounting for the regular churn of people leaving one job and looking for another, is statistically considered to be full employment.

So these thousands of new positions, as much as 85 percent, would be filled by people migrating into the city from other locales. So by offering such staggering incentives, the city is losing rightful revenue from the corporation, even as it gains income and sales taxes from the new workers. That may be a wash for the city’s budget, but at the same time it has thousands more people it needs to serve in terms of schools, transit and such.

And what if, in another 20 years, Amazon decides it wants to go somewhere else? Certainly that seems to be the norm. Corporations know how to play the game, particularly if the work requires no particular skill. They get their 10 years worth of tax exemptions, their free land and any other goodies the community passes their way, then when the tax breaks run out, they move somewhere else.

Work by Timothy J. Bartik, an economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute, suggests that, indeed, good things do happen for a community that essentially uses taxpayer money to “buy” jobs through corporate incentives. But that economic sugar rush only lasts for two or three years, at which point the benefits begin to drop precipitously.

Overall, benefits to local incomes are less than a quarter the costs of the incentives, while services, most notably, education, tend to suffer. At some point, you wonder if — instead of lavishing millions and billions on corporations to bring jobs to a community — it wouldn’t be less of a burden on the taxpayer just to pay people to stay home.

Economic incentives are now where baseball free agency was: In an escalating competition among communities to throw ever-more money at players. The solution for both seems to be the same: Forget the high-priced, glamourous targets, and spread around small incentives to attract higher-margin production. In other words, business incentives only make sense for high-quality, high-paying jobs.

Estimates vary radically, but the U.S. spends somewhere between $45 billion and $80 billion just to tug jobs from one community to another. Maybe that’s not a lot, considering that Amazon owner Jeff Bezos will likely lose that much in his divorce. But it begs the question why we need to offer welfare for the wealthy in the first place.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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Dom, a male pit bull mix, was deemed “vicious and dangerous,” after he attacked and caused the death of another dog — Scruffy — on May 26, 2018.

In testimony before the Washington County Animal Control Authority just weeks after the attack, Wilbur Brunner Jr. of Halfway, said the pit bull mix not only went after his dog, Scruffy, but during the attack Brunner’s prosthetic leg fall off.

“I was in hysterics,” said Brunner, who asked not to recount the events because it was too difficult. “I don’t want to go through it again. (Scruffy’s) bone was sticking out and a huge gash under the stomach.”

Scuffy was rushed to an animal hospital and euthanized.

This was just one of the many harrowing cases the Animal Control Authority hears monthly.

As is typical, it was up to this all-volunteer board to decide Dom’s fate.

An attorney for Dom’s owner asked them to lessen the charges of vicious and dangerous, but to no avail.

The authority voted unanimously to keep the designation, which according to the county’s Animal Control Ordinance, requires Dom to be muzzled and kept on a leash when outside.

It’s the job of the authority to render decisions based on the county ordinance — a document that outlines the rules for animal care, including punishments for breaking those rules — without being swayed by emotional and at times, gut-wrenching testimony.

It does not come easy.

“It takes a lot of soul searching,” said Randall Wagner, who served eight years on the authority, before stepping down after being elected to the Washington County Board of Commissioners in November. “It’s one of the hardest boards I’ve ever served on, because it’s so emotional.”

Dogs make up a majority of the cases before the authority. It’s evident that the men and women that go before the authority consider their pets nothing short of family.

Dom’s case was one of a handful the authority ruled on that Thursday night in June.

They also deemed that Levi, a male chocolate Labrador retriever, was “vicious and dangerous,” after he attacked the neighbor’s dog, Bentley, a bichon poodle mix.

Bentley was euthanized as a result of his injuries.

“We lost a dog,” Wagner said, that evening. “We lost (a person’s) pet. …I really have a problem with a person’s pet killing another dog.”

The law takes precedence over emotions

The four-member Animal Control Authority hears between three-to-five cases a month.

Cases typically start with the Humane Society of Washington County.

They issue a citation to the animal owner, who has the right to appeal the infraction to the authority.

The humane society responds to some 200 calls a month, said Crystal Mowery, field service director.

Calls that range from barking dogs, to roaming farm animals, to an animal attack.

“When we go out we may issue a citation,” Mowery said. “The (owners) have the right to appeal that to the authority.”

The authority can dismiss the citation or affirm it.

“The humane society is like the police, and the authority is the judge and jury,” said authority Chairman Travis Poole.

Poole contends that the authority must remain objective.

“It’s up to the (authority) to interpret the Animal Control Ordinance,” said Poole, who also works as an attorney for the Washington County Department of Social Services. “We need to be objective.”

At the same time, it’s important that pet owners be allowed to make their case.

“People want to be heard,” Poole said. “We’re not unsympathetic, but we’re required to take the law and the facts given and decide if there is a violation. If emotion creeps in, we may not (decide) appropriately.”

Mowery agrees.

“They are there to hear both sides, and come to a conclusion,” she said. “People care deeply for their pets, and it’s stressful.”

It’s also stressful for her officers.

“Especially when they see an animal suffering,” Mowery said.

Poole, the owner of five-year-old Hunter, a basset hound/beagle mix, said the authority’s objective is to keep the hearings from turning into a “barroom brawl.”

Emotions ran high back in 2014, when the humane society confiscated a Hagerstown woman’s mallard duck, Quackers.

The humane society took Quackers after the woman called to report a neighborhood dog had attacked her duck and, in the process of defending the waterfowl, she was bitten, according to reports from The Herald-Mail Media, at the time.

The dog was ordered to be quarantined. Officers then put Quackers in a cage, since federal law requires the duck to either be released into the wild or euthanized.

Quackers’ owner fought to get the duck back. She had raised Quackers from an egg, and feared that the duck would be euthanized.

She made an emotional appeal to the authority, who agreed in a 3 to 2 vote, to give Quackers back.

An audience of about 25 people burst into cheers, reports stated.

Wagner was one of the board members to vote in favor of the appeal.

Today, Wagner said the authority serves a vital purpose, as it involves people and their pets.

“It’s a very important board,” he said. “They’re there to protect the citizens and the animals.”

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Brace yourself: Old Man Winter is expected to dish out practically everything in his precipitation arsenal over the next few days.

Intervals of snow, freezing rain, sleet and rain are expected to spread across the Tri-State area at least through Tuesday night, according to the National Weather Service.

In Hagerstown, snow was expected Monday before 1 a.m., followed by freezing rain and sleet, according to the NWS.

Total accumulation of snow and sleet overnight could be about an inch.

On Monday, the forecast calls for snow, freezing rain and sleet in the morning, then rain and sleet, according to the NWS.

Snow and sleet accumulations during the day might be between 1 and 2 inches.

Mixed accumulation is expected Monday night, and new snow and sleet accumulations might reach 1 to 3 inches, the NWS said.

Rain or freezing rain is expected Tuesday and a mixed bag of precipitation is expected Tuesday night.

A similar outlook is in store for the Martinsburg, W.Va., area.

The threat is greater for the Chambersburg, Pa., area, where 1 to 2 inches of snow could fall overnight Sunday.

Snow could be heavy at times in Chambersburg on Monday, with 2 to 4 inches possible, according to the NWS.

Chambersburg might get 1 to 3 inches of sleet accumulation Monday night.

Hagerstown and Martinsburg were under a winter weather advisory from Sunday at 7 p.m. to Monday at 10 a.m., and Chambersburg is under a winter storm watch from Monday at 10 a.m. to Tuesday at noon.

— Dave McMillion

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Good Tuesday morning. Marvin Gaye was born at Freedmen’s Hospital in Washington, DC, on this date in 1939. Remember him by cranking his excellent new “lost album,” You’re the Man, which came out Friday.

Politico editor in chief John Harris will step down, Anna Palmer, Jake Sherman and Daniel Lippman write in today’s Playbook, confirming a report last night by Ben Mullin and Lukas Alpert that the company was “discussing a plan to install a new editor in chief.” Palmer et al. write that Harris “is leaving daily management but not [Politico] leadership.” So who gets the top spot? Global editor Matthew Kaminski will take over the Rosslyn newsroom, with Politico editor Carrie Budoff Brown reporting to him, Politico owner Robert Allbritton told staffers in an email this morning:

Matt has proven himself as a leader with tireless ambition and creativity during his four plus years at POLITICO. His collaboration with Carrie in Europe in launching a new publication were integral to our successful growth and expansion overseas. We are looking forward to seeing their partnership in action again to create impact and drive growth across a competitive landscape in media that continues to rapidly change. This is a competition we are going to win.

Harris will remain EIC of Politico Europe and join the Politico board, Allbritton writes. In a note to the newsroom, Harris says “The question of “What’s next?” seems every bit as engaging and even more urgent now than it did twelve years ago” and that Allbritton’s ambition for the publication can be seen in many ventures, including “his recruiting of Tim Grieve—another key person in the early success of POLITICO—to explore opportunities for a new publication that, while separate, will work creatively with all of us.” Dylan Byers previously reported that Grieve had been brought on to launch a tech news site.

More media: Why did the Washington Post yank allegations about 60 Minutes honcho Jeff Fager from an investigation into sexual misconduct at CBS? Irin Carmon, who cowrote that story, shared unflattering details about the reporting and editing process. Carmon says the Post followed a cautious path that had the effect of protecting a powerful man in media, and says Post Executive Editor Martin Baron got tripped up by the intricacies of reporting in the #MeToo era: “I did think it was easier for even the most well-meaning editor to empathize with a newsroom leader, a fellow boss with potentially discontented underlings,” she writes. Through a spokesperson, the Post tells Rebecca Morin that Carmon’s account is “an incomplete story” and says the “suggestion that The Post’s decision-making — made in agreement by five senior editors — was influenced by anything other than established journalistic standards is baseless and reprehensible.” (Those last three words in particular indicate how unamused Post management appears to be by Carmon’s article.)

Local potpourri: April Fool’s Day in DC passed without major incident. Yes, there were some unfunny attempts at humor, outlined brutally and efficiently here by Rachel Kurzius, but at least no one stood in the middle of a road to make a joke/political poi–[checks earpiece] let’s talk about baby ferrets, shall we? There are some new ones. Speaking of the middle of the road, Beto O’Rourke visited Washington yesterday (he was in town for the “We the People” forum) and proved that you can’t come here without running into someone who used to be in Velocity Girl. What are the odds Bryce Harper hangs out with Clutch before the Philadelphia Phillies visit Washington for a contest this evening? Speaking of Harper, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted, then deleted, a picture of him captioned “Bryce Arnold.” Just yesterday, Washingtonian honcho Michael Schaffer published a guide to deciding whether you should boo Harper. Hey, it’s your seat.

Hi, I’m your Healthy Holly book, Andrew Beaujon, and I’m filling in for Brittany this morning. Email me at abeaujon@washingtonian.com and follow me on Twitter—I’m pretty sure my boss has to give me a raise once I pass 10,000 followers. Please subscribe to this newsletter, and you’ll get to see Evy Mages‘s cherry blossom photos (the only ones worth seeing) all week.

Two Americas: A person who lives in rural Humphreys County, Mississippi, is more likely to be audited by the IRS than someone who lives in Loudoun County, “which boasts a median income of $130,000, the highest in the country.” If you live in Loudoun and haven’t quite finished your taxes yet, this is your time to go big! Meanwhile, DC Central Kitchen lost a “long-held contract to provide meals to residents of nearly all the city’s homeless shelters,” Morgan Baskin reports. An outfit called Henry’s will instead provide meals, at a higher reimbursement rate, to many of the city’s shelters. The move could cost DC Central Kitchen a dozen jobs, its chief development officer Alexander Moore tells Baskin.

Bloom watch: Peak bloom may last a weekJason Samenow and Kevin Ambrose report. Attention cyclists heading for the 14th Street Bridge: That’s several more days of Uber drivers stopping in the middle of the road near the Jefferson Memorial to let out passengers. Be alert!

What we have cooking at Washingtonian:

• Why does it seem like people aren’t talking about Tim Kaine anymore? In part because he’s apparently the only Democratic Senator not running for President. “When the campaign was over, I had the really strong feeling that, with being in the Senate, I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing,” Kaine tells Matthew Cooper.

• Little Leaf will pop-up at the US Botanic Garden this week. The garden has no gift shop; Salt & Sundry/Little Leaf owner Amanda McClements says Little Leaf may create one there later.

• Look inside Lemon Collective co-founder Linny Giffin’s tiny but lovely Mount Pleasant home.

• The eight new restaurants you need to try now (though not at once, that would be weird).

• Is it okay to blame tourists for not knowing you need to stand to the right on Metro escalators?

• Happy 25th birthday to the Motley Fool, and also there’s some good Ted Leonsis stuff here.

• La Betty, the new comfort-food joint from the family behind Baked & Wired, will serve chicken schnitzel, corn dogs, and $3.50 beers.

• What’s it like to be a hotshot DC chefRahim Kanani interviewed lots of them for his new book.

• Exclusive spring travel deals for Washingtonian readers: For example, you can get away to beautiful Farmville, Virginia (a great favorite of your substitute newsletter author), to do some furniture shopping.

Our picks for things to do around town:

THEATER The musical Grand Hotel— based on the 1929 novel Menschen im Hotel— is about a group of hotel guests in 1920s Berlin. Follow the intersections of guests such as a fading ballerina, a doctor, a typist with Hollywood dreams, and a dying bookkeeper, all enjoying a taste of the high life. Through May 19 at Signature Theatre. $65-$109.

Good reads: 

Erin Lee Carr writes about the night her dad, David Carr, died: “Couldn’t I have at least thirty seconds to comprehend what had happened before the internet chimed in?” (The Cut)

• Deadspin’s pitch guide now includes examples of successful pitches. This is a great idea, and it’s something I’m going to try to convince my boss to include in ours.

Andrew Beaujon Washingtonian
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Donald Trump is promising fireworks, entertainment, and “an address by your favorite president, me!”

A Fourth of July fireworks display over the National Mall. Photograph by Al Drago/CQ Roll Call.

Why do Americans love boycotts? Because for all we obsesses over politics, they let us register our preferences on the 364 days of the year when we don’t get to vote. If you want to stick it to conservatives, don’t buy Hobby Lobby craft supplies, Yuengling beer, or Chick-fil-A sandwiches. If you’re eager to own the libs, then avoid Nike shoes, Gillette razors, and Keurig coffee machines. These actions may not make much of a difference to corporate bottom lines, but they are a reminder that arguments over symbols—salad combs, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Navy Yard apartment—are increasingly filling our rotted-out political core.

That’s why it’s kind of amazing that, even in these blisteringly partisan times, a holiday like July 4 still spans cultural divides. (Last year’s “A Capitol Fourth” concert at the Capitol featured the Beach Boys, country star Luke Combs, and gospel singer CeCe Winans.) That could be because more than eight in ten Americans still think the US is better than most other nations and enjoy celebrating the birthday of the country they love. Or, more likely, it could be because Donald Trump hadn’t quite figured out how to insert himself into the holiday.

Alas, that ended in February when the President announced via tweet that he’d booked the Lincoln Memorial for a July 4 “Salute to America” featuring a “major fireworks display, entertainment and an address by your favorite President, me!” Smartypants types were quick to note that the Mall has been hosting major fireworks displays and Fourth of July entertainment since well before the future President ever contemplated leaving the New York real-estate business. No matter: Trump’s attempt to make the holiday about him ricocheted around the internet—and now might complicate how a lot of people around Washington feel about the annual celebration.

It’s too early to know whether Trump’s July 4 party will be something truly new and different or if it will prove to be political vaporware, like Space Force, the DC military parade, and the Wall before it. But unless the event includes a 90-foot holographic dramatization of Don Jr., Lee Greenwood, and Sebastian Gorka “solving” the Seth Rich case, no one should let it stop them from celebrating the holiday their own way.

Here’s the thing to remember: The Mall fireworks cap off one of the best days around here. In my deep-blue Alexandria neighborhood, hundreds of residents toddle up a hill every year to watch them burst over the Washington Monument. It doesn’t matter that the display can get a bit blurry if the weather’s not clear: We close down the street; people bring folding chairs, dogs, and beers; kids with glow-stick necklaces run around and whack grownups’ shins with toy lightsabers. Everyone cheers each big explosion and goes nuts during the finale. Nobody, as far as I can tell, spends one moment talking about Donald Trump.

Even if you view this as an icky centrist fantasy, there’s good reason not to let the Fourth become another litmus test. It’s a symbol of what holds this nation together. No, not decency, negotiation, and compromise. I’m talking about the one essential part of the American character that no one has yet been able to turn into a political stance: Most of us still think it’s cool to watch stuff blow up.

This article appears in the April 2019 issue of Washingtonian.

Andrew Beaujon Washingtonian
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