As you can imagine, a number of high profile events captured the news in 2011. In my mind, the biggest was the passing of former Baltimore Mayor, and Maryland Governor and Comptroller William Donald Schaefer. While Governor O’Malley and Senator Barbara Mikulski are frequently mentioned as friends of the city’s tech community, it was Schaefer who started the ball rolling many years earlier.
As we mentioned in our April 18 article, Canton, the heart of the city’s tech community would still be a ramshackled skeleton of a long forgotten blue collar life were it not for Mr. Schaefer’s vision. He fought for the redevelopment of the Canton waterfront and its adjacent neighborhoods, ushering in a new era of neighborhood development that spawned upscaled housing, numerous retail plazas, trendy restaurants and bars, and a wealth of commercial enterprises. He will be missed.
A few weeks before Willie Don’s passing, Google also passed the city by. The search engine/advertising/wind energy/geolocating/whatever-they-decide-to-do tomorrow giant awarded its much anticipated Google-for_Fiber prize to Kansas City, Kansas. Yes, Kansas, not the better known Missouri side of the city. Despite a number of freakish displays of love and adulation for Google from over 1100 cities, only one could claim the big prize. Besides, the choosing of half a city does fit nicely with Google’s penchant for doing the unexpected.
The period spanning from early August to early September could only be classified as different. It transforms into weird when you take the CWA strike against Verizon into consideration. On August 6, CWA employees struck Verizon offices along the East Coast when their contract expired, upset over the company’s demands that the union make mainly health care concessions as part of a new agreement. The strike lasted sixteen days, ending on August 22 with the only agreement reached was that the company would still honor the terms of the expired contract. Here’s where it gets weird.
The day after the strike ended, August 23, the Baltimore-Washington area was rocked with an earthquake that registered between 5.8 and 6.1 depending on where you were. Two days after that Hurricane Irene blew into the area, dropping 4.69 inches of rain at BWI, while buffeting the Baltimore area with winds in excess of 45 MPH. Yet, the worst was a week away.
On September 5, Tropical Storm Lee crept inland, deciding to take a break just south and west of the state. The result was four days of tropical rain that turned Ellicott City’s Main Street into a river, and deluged an already saturated state. According the National Weather Service, BWI received 17.43 inches of rain between August 16 and September 14; and that was on the low side compared to other areas. Many of the D.C. suburbs saw more than 20 inches of rain for the same period.
The fact that Verizon chose to mend fences with their workers when they did, leads us to believe that the company employs a full staff of fortune tellers and soothe-sayers, in addition to a stash of crystal balls sequestered in a secret location. The timing is just too coincidental.
With this year nearly in the books, we look forward to a more normal 2012. However, considering Snowmaggedon of 2010, and the earthquake, hurricane and tropical storm events of 2011, what other natural phenomenon that Maryland is immune to will occur? Maybe it’ll be locusts. Who knows; we’ll find out.
Happy New Year!!!