Finally, after weeks of blustering and excuses, one of our elected representatives has finally listened to our concerns and taken the initiative to protect the mission of Patuxent River Naval Air Station and help ensure the health of our local economy.
Despite broad bipartisan support, so rare in today’s politics, Gov. Martin O’Malley’s (D) veto seemed to be the final word on the issue. Now, thanks to Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), an amendment has been added to the latest defense bill that would delay the Somerset wind turbines until the MIT study on their impact on the Atlantic Test Range is complete.
It is strange that someone chosen by the same electorate that gave us Gov. O’Malley has decided to protect a part of Maryland so often ignored. After all, the same proposal was abandoned by those who represent the base itself in Annapolis. At the end of the latest session, a veto-proof majority of both houses, ostensibly led by Del. John Bohanan (D-St. Mary’s), passed HB1168 to at least let the Navy figure out what this new boondoggle meant for them. That strong voice vanished a few weeks later when Mr. Bohanan declined to call for a special session to override the governor, as the Maryland Constitution empowers him to.
This would not necessarily be a major effort; for many delegates, the longest part of the session would be travelling to and from Annapolis. However, something crucial has intervened: re-election. Apparently, taking a week (at most) to protect the engine of St. Mary’s County’s economy would cause lost ground in the race and irreparably damage the delegate’s career. Instead, another career politician not up for re-election is attempting to push this provision through a deeply divided Congress. Is this truly the best we can hope for?
I understand that a recent study has found Pax River to be in no serious danger in the foreseeable future. The same was probably said 40 years ago about NAS Alameda as San Francisco antagonized the Navy. Most of Pax River’s personnel work in offices, which can easily be moved anywhere; many of them were moved from other seemingly stable bases. An empty shell of an airfield may be left behind as the local economy slowly withers.
I also understand that some delegates and senators, perhaps upset and scared about having to oppose the party line, might switch their votes and allow the veto to stand. However, in that case, it would at least be apparent that Mr. Bohanan had done all in his power to protect his constituents and expose the others as frauds. That is all we ask: a delegate who will truly be our voice and fight to the end on our behalf.
Justin Thompson, Lexington Park
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