Marylanders Thinking Green?

Who wants to help support the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries?

A new poll suggests most people in Maryland do. Better than four in five of the 500 residents polled on behalf of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation said making the nation’s largest estuary cleaner should be a state funding priority, the group announced Thursday.

The results come as the foundation pushes for a new fee on hard surfaces to support a “green fund” to the tune of around $85 million per year. The money would help the state meet commitments it made with other states in the watershed to reduce pollution by 2010.

But it may be tougher to get businesses and large property owners to pay 1 cent per square foot of hard surfaces. Those who own big houses (more than 3,000 square feet) in the state would pay $40 per year into the green fund, while a warehouse owner could pay up to $5,500 per year.

One side says this is fairer than previous green fund plans that would tax new construction — and say the bay needs the money.

Others say it’s still to costly, especially for folks like food retailers — given other taxes that are on the table right now. What do you think?

-ANDY ROSEN, Business Writer

A lawyer walks into a church…

The St. Thomas More Society’s 49th annual Red Mass, otherwise known as the “Lawyer’s Mass,” will be held today at 5:30 p.m. at the Baltimore Basilica.

The mass, which has been celebrated since the mid-13th century, “mark[s] the annual opening of the courts and seek[s] the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit in court deliberations,” according to the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Its name is derived from the practice of the celebrating priest, along with judges of the High Court of England, wearing red robes to the mass.

What are your thoughts on this tradition?

Will you be attending?

-CHRISTINA DORAN, Assistant Legal Editor

"Dad, call a lawyer… I wrecked a BMW"

What a fun phone call to make to your father.

A loving parent posted on World Law Direct today that his teenage son, a Maryland college student, wrecked a brand-new BMW on a test drive. He’s wondering whether his son or the dealer is liable… dealer apparently didn’t ask for drivers license or insurance until after the crash.

Attorneys, can you help the poor guy out? Let us know what you think.

-JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

Wildfires bring to light new multimedia efforts

Even though the SoCal wildfires aren’t a local story, they have been on everyone’s mind these last few days. With the latest advancements in interactive technology, we are able to stay informed on even microscopic news. Here’s a roundup of what’s happening online.

Quick links to user-generated content: LATimes.com; CNN’s I-Report; MSNBC First Person; FoxNews.com uReport and ABCNews.com’s i-Caught.

View Larger Map

The Google map embedded on this page, originally built by San Diego’s KPBS, is one of the most complete maps out there. You can see where evacuations are occurring (red crosses), where volunteers are needed (the green horsemen) and which areas are safe to return to (green homes).

You may not have heard of Twitter, but it’s an increasingly popular site that allows users to sign up for alerts in the form of text or instant messages as well as desktop alerts. John Edwards’ presidential campaign made headlines when it began using Twitter to update supporters. Now, the LAFD is twittering users with traffic and fire updates. LATimes and KPBS jumped on the bandwagon, too.

On Achenblog, WaPo’s Joel Achenbach addresses the link between the wildfires and global warming that NBC made last night. His take:

Climate change didn’t force people to build homes in dangerous places. Climate change didn’t inspire the U.S. government to suppress fires for decades in places that have traditionally been prone to brush-clearing wildfires.

That doesn’t mean we’re not sympathetic to the plight of Californians, or folks in the Deep South who are wondering if they’re going to run out of water next year because of the recent drought.”

-JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor