Saturday, May 26, 2007

A Convenient Debate

It's Memorial day weekend and we have the beginnings of an authentic, Laurel brouhaha. Here's what's cooking on the local grill.

Laurel City Councilmember Mike Sarich wants to show Al Gore's Oscar winning movie, " An Inconvenient Truth," at a Laurel Lakes flick and float night. Laurel City Parks Department screens free movies all summer at the Burton Memorial Stage at Gude Lake Park. Mike Sarich's idea is to tie the movie to a brief program elaborating on the condition of the Laurel Lakes and on-going efforts to improve the water quality.

Mayor Craig Moe and the Laurel City Council agreed and set the date for the screening for Friday, June 15, 2007. A brief program will begin at 7:45 p.m., followed by the film.

Sounds like a good, even educational idea, right? Not in Laurel. Maybe not anywhere.

I dutifully sent out the City's press release announcing the screening to a all the local email lists. That's when the global warming debate overheated and melted into Laurel Lakes.

Right after I sent the press release, Ken Winiecki quickly wrote back with this caution, "Sounds good, as long as it is accompanied by the BBC documentary, "The Great Global Warming swindle" I think people should always hear all sides of non definitive arguments. Unfortunately in this situation, neither side's arguments seem to lack for holes."

Mike Turner then wrote back to Ken and suggested that facts are often defined by the profit makers, "The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change appears to me to be very scientifically analytical and critical in it's approach to a planet shifting climates. When we hear the large amount of science work that's gone into understanding what's happening be dismissed by naysayers, just remember to keep asking questions, like 'Who has an incentive to discredit our current rate of consumption of energy and the carbon it releases?'"

Frank Monaldo then jumped into the warming waters and returned fire as follows: "I find it a little discouraging that debates surrounding the issue of climate change reduces to questioning the motivations of those involved -- on either side. I have written on this more extensively a few months ago. See 'Open Inquiry: A Casualty of the Climate Change Debate' "

All this controversy is going to make for a very interesting movie night at the Lake on the 15th. What do you think? Should the City Council sponsor such a controversial movie? Should all sides be heard? Please share your comments here.

Personally, I fall on the side of showing the movie. Sure it's controversial, but if it generates community discussion that is good. I also think the idea of linking the movie to the local plight of Laurel Lakes is inspired. Bravo Mike Sarich. Bravo Mayor Moe and the City Council for having the courage to take on a controversial subject.

There will be a Memorial Day service to honor Laurel's fallen heroes at Ivy Hill Cemetery on Sunday at 11 am. Your afternoon cookout will taste so much better if you take a little time in the morning to remember what Memorial Day is all about.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Giant Food Abandons Commitment to Quality & Service?

Wow. The disappointment with Giant Food is not just a local Laurel problem. There are strong concerns expressed about Giant Food's service and quality in the comments section. Thanks to everyone for sharing their opinions on Giant Food Store 340.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Giant Disappointment

A neighborhood grocery store isn't just a place to buy yogurt. Most of us have long term relationships with our local store. I've been shopping at the Laurel Center Giant since 1980. It was the first store I dated when I moved to Laurel 27 years ago.

Over the years Giant 340 has deteriorated but I stuck with her. We all age and good friends are supposed to look the other way. Besides, I knew the people. I knew where to find the kidney beans. I was too comfortable with my Giant to see the growing problems.

I stuck with it during her big face lift a few years ago. I kept thinking that Giant's corporate leadership would reinvigorate store 340 after the renovation. But there has been no real improvement.

My last three visits were particularly worrisome. The parking lot and store entrance were in bad shape. Debris and dirt everywhere. Carts were all over the lot. Bags and papers blowing around the front of the store like tumbleweed. I tried to grab a hand basket at the front door but each was filled with the detritus of previous customers.

I wanted to buy a beefsteak but the selection in the meat counter looked, not just bad, but possibly dangerous. Long lines greeted me at the checkout. I like to use the self-serve check outs but only two worked. The other self serve machines have been broken for months. I don't think Giant loves me anymore.

The obvious problems are getting worse. There is no use trying to work it out this time. My 27 year relationship is over. Today was my last visit to Giant Foods store 340.

I'm back on the grocery dating circuit after 27 years. Do you have a store for me? It must be close to Oldtown and have a good selection of kidney beans. Please leave your suggestions in the comments section.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Budget Survey Results

Thanks to everyone who responded to the Budget Survey. You can see all of the results at this URL:

Twenty two people took the survey and the results are interesting and mixed.
  • Public safety is the number one priority in the budget with transportation and the hospital tied for second priority.

  • The respondents prefer user fees and/or phone taxes over property tax increases to generate revenue.

  • It is obvious that the county government suffers from a significant "trust gap." Responses suggest that the county government needs to get its own house in order.

The survey will be sent to our County Councilman Tom Dernoga, but there is nothing better than expressing your opinions in public. You have a chance this week to do just that.

A public hearing will be held this coming Tuesday, May 8th at 7:00pm at the County Council Hearing Room in the County Administration Building in Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Prince George's County Budget Survey

County Councilman Tom Dernoga recently sent an email requesting constituent input on this year's budget. He provided a list of questions soliciting our opinions.

A public hearing was held yesterday and there will be another next Tuesday, May 8th at 7:00pm at the County Council Hearing Room in the County Administration Building in Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772.

I was happy to testify yesterday. However, because I know that many of you don't have the time to attend the hearing. So I created a quick survey for you.

The survey will take you less than 4 minutes to complete and is based on Tom Dernoga's email message. I added a few multiple choice questions for folks that have even less time. The survey is completely anonymous.

I'll post the answers here in a couple of days. I'm sure that the Council will appreciate your input.

If you have any questions about county services or budget priorities please call (301) 952-3887 or email Tom Dernoga at

If you have any questions or comments about the survey please contact me at g dot rick dot wilson @ gmail dot com or via the comments section.



Chili Con Comfort

There is nothing in the world better than a cold beer and a bowl of warm chili con queso. This isn't plain old nachos. It's the ultimate comfort food. Thick, rich, and spicy. Tippy's Taco on Gorman Ave. has the best Chili con queso on earth.

I have obtained their secret recipe for you. I can't say how I got it ... but I will testify that it was without the use of any enhanced interrogation techniques.

Make a double batch, buy plenty of Rolling Rock 7 ounce beers. Invite some friends over and enjoy.

Tippy's Chili con Comfort

1 t salt
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t garlic powder
1 t red cayenne pepper
1/2 t black pepper
1 lb American cheese
2 T finely chopped onion
2-3 T strained canned tomatoes
3/4 C water1 can chopped green chiles

In a double boiler combine cheese, water, onion, chiles and tomatoes. Cook until cheese melts. Add 2 t of spice mixture at a time until you reach desired level. Cook until it gets to the correct dipping consistency.