We've all seen them: the lonely shopping cart in the middle of a vacant lot; the one turned upside down on the side of the road; or the one dumped in a stream.
Well, one Baltimore County Council member has seen too many for his tastes and is entertaining the idea of legislation to impose a fee on the businesses whose shopping carts are abandoned throughout the county.
The idea of a fee to cover the costs of picking up abandoned carts came up during a hearing last week with the Department of Permits, Approvals and Inspections.
Council Chairman John A. Olszewski Sr. said at the meeting that he was considering the idea because carts are becoming an environmental hazard.
"They're putting them in our streams and creeks and waterways," Olszewski told Arnold Jablon, director of the department. "If you ever go to Golden Ring Mall or the roundabout on Rossville Boulevard you'll have three or four (people) using them as seats at a bus stop."
Olszewski said the carts could also pose a safety hazard if kids are playing with them close to roadways.
"Then you have an accident or maybe a fatality and it's not worth it," Olszewski said.
"My only concern is that whatever the council decides to adopt be workable," said Jablon, whose department will likely be in charge of enforcing such an effort.
Currently, the idea is merely being discussed by Olszewski and Jablon. Currently there is no formal bill and no specific fee was discussed.
Olszewski said any such fee would reflect the cost of the county going out and retrieving the carts.
"Whoever was responsible for that cart being there would pay more than what it's costing your department to go get them," Olszewski told Jablon.
Olszewski is the author of a nearly two-year old law designed to reduce the amount of fliers and other literature left in the doors of county homes.
Jablon said the law has been difficult to enforce.
"The big problem is trying to identify who the owner is and then going after them," Jablon said.
Joe A. Hairston's meeting later this month with state legislators from the county will be open to the public, according to Del. John A. Olszewski Jr. "I'm operating under the idea that it will be open to the public," Olszewski, a Dundalk Democrat, said Monday. The Baltimore County Public Schools superintendent is scheduled to meet with delegates and senators for about an hour beginning at 4 p.m. on May 31.
BCPS joins the social media age with its Twitter account. The school board discussed joining the micro-blogging site and Facebook during its retreat in March.
Happy Birthday to consultant, political blogger and Patch columnist Hillary Pennington.
"Reckless legislation," that's what Del. Pat McDonough is saying about a bill that will give in-state tuition to illegal immigrants under certain circumstances. McDonough released a statement Tuesday morning just hours before Gov. Martin O'Malley is scheduled to sign the bill into law. McDonough, a Middle River Republican, is part of an effort to collect nearly 56,000 signatures of registered voters around the state in order to place the law onto the 2012 ballot.
"Taxpayers are wasting millions educating someone who cannot and will not be hired legally. Politicians like Gov. O’Malley have transformed Maryland into a ‘sanctuary state’ by becoming a Disneyland for illegal immigrants, attracting hundreds of thousands of them, and costing taxpayers about $2 billion dollars. This law will only make things worse," McDonough wrote in his statement.
Home prices and values in the Baltimore area continue to decline. Zillow.com reports that average home values in the metropolitan area as of May 1 declined nearly 10 percent compared to the same period last year. In Maryland, average home values are down 11.2 percent over the same period. The declines highlight concerns raised in April by County Executive Kevin Kamenetz who said that an expected slide in home assessments will negatively affect the county's budget over the next two or three years.