Nay: Shame on the Democratically-controlled Maryland Legislature for doing relatively nothing to address the state's poorly drawn congressional legislative districts, choosing instead to put forth its partisan map over one drawn by a nonpartisan citizens committee.

On Tuesday, the Legislature dismissed the proposed map from the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission, a panel formed and supported by Gov. Larry Hogan, opting instead for the one proposed by the Democratic leadership of the General Assembly. The next day, Hogan (R) vetoed the measure, only to have it overridden by the legislature on Thursday.

The Democrat proposal is seen as more partisan, in part because it protects the seats of the six current Democratic Congress members. It also adds more Democrats to the lone Republican-controlled district by including parts of Anne Arundel County in this new configuration.

And while the Legislature's favored map is one-sided, this is hardly new. The current map, approved a decade ago during the last redistricting saga, is considered one of the most gerrymandered maps in the entire country. That's saying a lot, considering that dozens of state legislatures — under both Republican and Democratic control — are doing what they can to give their parties an edge on the national level.

Throughout all of this, the voters' interests aren't being heard. We'd hoped the governor's commission would have made a difference. But sadly, it's the same result again. Maybe voters will have better luck in 2031, though we don't have a lot of hope in that. 

Yea: We want to join the Thurmont community in celebrating the official opening of the eighth-mile Library Loop Nature Trail at the Thurmont Regional Library.

The path, built with the support of the Catoctin Forest Alliance, the Catoctin Foundation, the Civitan Foundation and other community organizations and businesses, was completed in early 2020. But the onset of the pandemic forced libraries to close, delaying the official celebration until a few weeks ago.

But the trail is special for other reasons too — it was made by and for people with disabilities. About a dozen students from Frederick County Public Schools’ SUCCESS Program helped clear the trail and plant gardens along side of it.

“People love the trails and use them all the time for exercise, meditation, and to get outside for some fresh air in beautiful surroundings,” Amy Whitney, branch administrator for the Thurmont Regional Library, told us in a recent email. “As we’ve all learned this past year and a half, being outside in nature is restorative to our bodies and spirits. The Library Nature Trail gives us the ability to have another space to interact with our community and serve them in new and unexpected ways.”

In these times, when we probably all need some time outdoors, this trail can be a blessing.

Yea: We were very pleased to see earlier this week that the family of fallen firefighter Battalion Chief Joshua Laird is continuing to feel the community's love and support.

Laird, 46, died from injuries he sustained while battling a house fire in August. He was a 21-year veteran of Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue Services. He left behind his wife Sara and daughters Erin and Madelyn.

Earlier this week, The Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a nonprofit that supports first responders, announced that they had paid off the Laird family's mortgage.

"Being able to tell my daughters with certainty that we get to stay in our home is truly a blessing ... I am sure my husband is looking down on us and this brings him great pride to know that his sacrifice is being honored by ensuring we are cared for," Sara Laird said in a press release. "There could be no greater Christmas gift."

If news of this gift doesn't bring a tear to your eyes, we don't know what will. We're thankful for the foundation's generosity.

Yea: If you're an environmentalist, it's hard not to like County Executive Jan Gardner's proposal for a one-time allotment of $3.7 million to launch two new departments and several new initiatives that are aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and eradicating them by 2050. The funding would add eight new positions within the Office of Sustainability and Environmental Resources.

Efforts on the local level need to support national and international attempts to battle climate change. The saying, "Think globally, act locally" comes to mind.

“This investment of one-time funds will really help the county to lessen its impact on the environment,” Gardner said during a press briefing on Tuesday. “And it will save us money in years ahead by reducing our energy costs and by staying in compliance with federal [stormwater] regulations.”

And while we agree, we are a bit wary of "one-time" funds being used for ongoing expenses. Down the road, this will require either an increase in the budget or a transfer of dollars from one budget line to another. Again, that doesn't mean that we dislike the idea. On the contrary. But we would like to know how these initiatives will be funded moving forward. 

Yeas and nays is a weekly feature of quick-hit opinions from The Frederick News-Post’s editorial board. Send your suggestions to letters@newspost.com.

(1) comment

TomWheatley

A good collection of yeas and nays and fully agree with the questionable use of 'one-time' funds to ass 8 staff members. Needed or not, how would you feel taking on a job that is 'one-time funded'?

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