Saturday, February 17, 2007

A New Look

Welcome to our new look at the Laurel Connections Blog. We've been long overdue for a little digital spackling and some cyberpaint.

I've got a number of short takes today.

Joe Murchison at the Laurel Leader has a new automatic news notification service. Check it out at

I know that the ice is hard to remove now, but have you seen how many businesses along Route 1 have not shoveled their sidewalks? Try walking to the Marc Station from Laurel Avenue. These businesses are simply bad neighbors.

Laurel's Public Works Department did another fantastic job clearing snow. I drove to Beltsville on Wednesday morning and Laurel's roads were 10 times better than anywhere else.

I must respectfully disagree with Councilman Mike Sarich regarding crime in the Grove. I have not seen the statistics for myself, however the statistics presented by Chief Crawford and the LPD do not warrant the crme wave label.

Mike Walls and Bobby Walters are appearing at Oliver's Old Town Tavern on Friday, February 23rd from 6-8pm. Joanne and I made it to the Mike and Bobby Show Happy Hour in January and we had a wonderful time. Hot nachos, cold beer, good friends and great music.

On Wednesday, Feb. 21 from 10-2 and 5-7 pm, the Laurel Museum has a one day treat for those interested in African-American Memorabilia. Donald Conway, a local collector and resident will be at the Laurel Museum with his collection of African American collectibles. Stop by on your way home from work.

Thanks for reading the blog. Please let us know what you think in the comments section.


Fred said...

I love what you've done with the place. Joanne obviously picked out the colors. Keep up the good work!

Fred Carmen

Rick Wilson said...

Fred: Thanks for the nice comments. Obviously, Joanne picked out the colors.

Now that it is all fixed up, it might be a good time to think about selling it. I think that the should consider listing digital properties.

What do you think the old place is worth? Thanks, rick

Anonymous said...

Maybe you can swap it for McCullough Field? The Boys Club could use a better site - A blog would be good so Leve Brown didn't squelch all dissent....

Mike Sarich said...

Rick Wilson in the style of Larry King! I love the new look, Rick.

Just for the record, I'm not calling crime in the Grove a wave, in fact, I'm not calling it anything. What I am trying to do is make sure it doesn't revert to its former state.

I think that based on the increased service we're seeing there, that we're on our way. (although it bears careful vigilance). Kudos to the LPD for taking the situation so seriously and for the Chief calling for a new narcotics task force.

Hopefully those efforts will bear fruit for the citizens of the Grove and Laurel at large. Whenever we can reduce crime in one part of the City, the whole community benefits.

Anonymous said...

Nice job on the site remake.

I cannot believe the statements that some of our elected officials make when they are caught with their pants down around their ankles. First we have a newspaper article that appeared recently where one elected offical attacks the Mayor and men and women of the PD on the drug crime in the Grove. Next a presentation by our Chief and his staff in a Town Hall Meeting reveals that what was purported by the first elected official is not the case. Finally the first elected official uses your blog site "for the record" to back off his previous allegations and imply that somehow his allegations have resulted in increased service in the Grove.

Rick Wilson said...

Dear Anon. - I don't agree that Mr. Sarich has changed his position. But is his position really the issue?

Chief Crawford wrote a compelling letter to the editor that challenged us all to become a part of the solution. His briefing at the the Mayor's recent Town Meeting demonstrated that there is no 'crime wave' in the Grove by the statistical measure of reported crimes.

Mr. Sarich suggested that calls for service may be a leading indicator of future trouble.

Chief Crawford cited these same statistics as a positive trend. The Chief said that this is an indicator that the neighborhood is becoming a motivated part of the solution. The LPD has also enhanced their enforcement efforts. These are all good things and I appreciate the efforts of our officers.

I also appreciate Mr. Sarich publicly sharing his thoughts with the readers of this blog and the community at large. He saw a problem and he spoke out. He swore an oath to do just that.

However, If quoted in the papers correctly, I do challenge Mr. Sarich's choice of words to describe the problem. Laurel does not have an open air drug market by any but the narrowest definition of the term.

Mr. Anon., I also appreciate your comments to this little piece of the blogsphere. Anonymous discourse is a particularly useful American tradition.

We all need to become more involved in our community. In a small town it's often hard to speak truth to power. Emotion often trumps reason and we react not to the words but to the person delivering them.

Chief Crawford had a wonderful ending to his recent letter to the editor about the Grove. He said; "If you see what you believe to be a crime and don't call, you are no longer a spectator, but an enabler."

I love that line and with the Chief's patience, I would like to broaden it to read;

"If you see what you believe to be an important community issue and don't speak out, you are no longer a spectator, but an enabler."

Thanks to all of you for speaking out. Laurel is the better for it.


Mike Sarich said...


Below are the links from the papers: no mention of crime waves, just the factual observation that you can drive into the Grove and buy drugs like you'd buy a hamburger at McDonalds. To me, that's an open air drug market and unacceptable in our community. It's also something that I've-as Rick noted-taken an oath to eliminate in my hometown. If you can't see that, well there's not much more I can offer you. We'll just have to respectfully agree to disagree and move forward.

Anonymous said...

Below is a 1994 entry from Chapter 4 of the Schaffer Library of Drug Policy.

After reading Sarich’s charges against the administration of Laurel Mayor Moe in the front page article of the February 15 edition of The Gazette that included “Councilman accuses city of trivializing drug use”, “suspected drug activity was increasing there”, and “We have a huge problem in the Grove”, I drove through the Grove several times in the evening. I did not observe the type of activity described by Sarich, any of the attendant activity described Laurel’s Chief of Police, or described in the Schaffer entry below.

I must agree with the Mayor’s suggestion that Sarich should work with the Mayor's administration and the Laurel Police and not try to make headlines, in the media or on blog sites.

“Open air and flagrant drug markets, on the other hand, tend to be far more impersonal and much less ritualistic than the private marketplace. Many of the concepts used by mass marketers of licit products are used in the flagrant marketplace--targeted consumer groups, small and widely affordable units of sale, prepackaged goods with fixed prices, convenient retail outlets. One research team describes the mechanics of a typical open-air drug market transaction:
A car drives down a residential street with enormous apartment buildings on either side. Young men wave to the car; a few of the more aggressive dealers step into traffic to signal autos to stop. Even before the wheels have stopped rolling, several young men are at the window; "You looking?" says one. "Smoke, smoke. I've got crack. Whatever you want" says the other peering over his shoulder. The answer from the driver is simple and short: "Two dimes." Two small brown glass vials are exchanged for a 20 dollar bill and the transaction is over in a matter of seconds (3).”

MaryBeth said...

"...I drove through the Grove several times in the evening. I did not observe the type of activity described by Sarich, any of the attendant activity described Laurel’s Chief of Police, or described in the Schaffer entry below."

I share Mr. Anon's frustrations. Too many times I have idled through this infamous drug turf in my family's Ford Windstar looking to score, with my "I have an Honor Roll Student at Laurel Elementary" bumper sticker and Jimmy Buffet blasting from the radio. "Don't mind me, I'm just looking for that sticky icky," I'll croon to pedestrians who look at me warily from the sidewalks. My efforts in the Grove have never been successful. Now I go all the way to Silver Spring for a fix, and I have to buy in bulk from the owner of an Indigo Girls CD Depot. What a world.

I applaud your efforts at reconnaissance, Mr. Anon, but before your next stake out, you might take the groceries out of the back seat.

MaryBeth Wilson

Anonymous said...


Thank you for your comments. I have no frustrations. No groceries in my back seat. An old paint-faded 2 door sedan, and the only bumper sticker in sight is Pro Choice. Does Mr. Sarich look like a player so he observes the alleged open air drug market and you and I don't? The Grove residents might take offense to a portrayal of their community as infamous drug turf. I suppose that you and I are in the same boat. Not trying to generate issues, headlines and a hero persona such as Mr. Sarich. On this issue I'll go with the Chief. He and the men and women of the Laurel Police Departmant are the professionals.

MaryBeth said...

I'm afraid we are not in the same boat, Mr. Anon.

My point, sans rhetoric:

1. Your unsustained effort to observe drug trafficking is not enough to shoot down Mr. Sarich's case.
2. Police personnel certainly fall under the category of city "professionals," but legislators are every bit as important to pursuing a community's best interest as the cult of hero personas found in law enforcement.

So make it two boats, passing in the night. Perhaps never fated to meet in the middle, now or Anon.

MaryBeth Wilson

Anonymous said...


I love the new look of your blog. Excellent. If I may, I need to clarify a quote from the Laurel Leader recently concerning my assessment of the Laurel Police Department. What I was trying to communicate is that: "The LPD is recognized as a great police department within the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area. As we march forward, we are on the verge of being recognized as a great police department nationally." As my bride at home will say on occasion, “Listen to what I mean, versus what I say.” ….:-)

David M. Crawford
Chief of Police
Laurel, Maryland

Anonymous said...

I am not a law enforcement professional so my efforts are those of a resident and I’ve expressed how I see it in my daily travels in Laurel including the Grove community.
As to your sans rhetoric comment, I am only repeating what I overheard on a televised Council meeting by a former Councilman and Mayor as to the efforts of some of our elected to generate issues and headlines and a hero persona. Mr. Sarich is embracing this approach with his observation that there is an Open Air Drug Market in the Grove community.
Each one of the men and women of our police department are daily heroes to my neighbors and my family as they keep us safe. I do not understand your cult hero reference. On the issue of what is happening with crime in Laurel and the Grove I'll go with the Chief’s assessment. He and the men and women of the Laurel Police Department are the professionals.

Anonymous said...

Lights! Camera! Action! Laurel was treated to its own Awards Show last night at City Hall. But unlike the Awards Show in California earlier this week that recognized the efforts of many, the only Award scheduled to be presented in Laurel was the Hero Award to Mr. Sarich. As the Laurel Show did not go the way that he envisioned, Mr. Sarich has quickly morphed into practicing a form of what the political pundits would call reversalism to deflect criticism that came out in his meeting away from himself and toward others. Let’s analyze the attendance of 75 that Mr. Sarich reported last night on the web before the midnight hour. Analysis not required. We counted 47 in attendance including ourselves, Mr. Sarich and the City Clerk. This is misreporting. In the political game it might be called stretching the truth. We call it an issue of honesty. In response to a Citizen’s challenge in the meeting to Mr. Sarich’s erroneous description of one of Laurel’s oldest neighborhoods as an Open Air Drug Market, Mr. Sarich began bobbing and weaving at his Show and on the web has resorted to denying his published portrayal. We do not need to be exposed to Mr. Sarich’s blatant efforts to generate issues such as this sensitive and complex one. We do not need to be exposed to these kinds of opportunistic performances that are staged to foster a perception that Mr. Sarich is the hero of our City. We could go on with Main Street and Mr. Sarich’s comment about Dog Grooming, his apparent lack of business savvy of the complexity of the Laurel Mall renovation efforts and the business dynamics of the three parties involved, and the engineering challenges of the Laurel Lakes issues, but we won’t. However, as City taxpayers we want to know why City tax dollars were expended for Mr. Sarich to send letters announcing his Show only to those registered voters that voted in the last City election, not all registered voters in Laurel? Where is the inclusiveness that Mr. Sarich is so quick to articulate? One area that Mr. Sarich’s Awards Show improved on over the other one held earlier this week, Mr. Sarich’s Show lasted only one hour, not the two he promised. Finally, we want to know where is the boat that Mayor Moe, Chief Crawford and the other valued employees of the City are in? Several of us want to join them!

marybeth said...

This just in

"For the sake of security, all those who request a seat in the Mayor's boat will have to present photo ID."

You heard it here first.

MaryBeth Wilson

Anonymous said...

LOL-- anon you really make me laugh.

Maybe you feel like Eddie Murphy because you did not get your award and you decided to leave the party after you disagreed with the outcome.

Rob O'Brien said...


Not sure about your count I thought there was 65-75 people there (but I didn't count, just estimated). I didn't see Mike back pedal on anything but what I did see was someone taking the time to inform citiznes on a wide range of issues and bravely take thier questions. I think he deserves credit for standing up there and taking citizens views into account. It's more than anyone else has done. The Mayor took zero questions, Mike took a bunch.

My only beef with Mike is if he used tax dollars for mailing out his letters or if he paid for them himself? Anon. do you have proof that Mike used city stamps? If so, he should consider paying it back. I don't know if it's legal to do so. How about it Mike? Also, what's all this boat stuff?

marybeth said...

Mr. O'Brien,

On the boat stuff:
It's Anon's conceptualization of taking sides. Go with it.

Man overboard,
MaryBeth Wilson

Anonymous said...

Anon, I'm not Mr. Sarich so I cannot adopt the Eddie Murphy approach as Mr. Sarich appears to have a lock on it. Marybeth as you've suggested, I've taken sides and I did not need an ID to get in the other boat. Rob, I do not know about the stamps, but the letter that arrived from Mr. Sarich was in what appeared to be a city furnished envelope.