- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 1, 2012

It’s no secret that U.S. Senate candidate George Allen likes to sprinkle in sports metaphors while on the stump. One can hardly blame him: His father and namesake never had a losing season when he coached the then-Los Angeles Rams and Washington Redskins, and his brother Bruce Allen is the Redskins’ general manager.

But last week, Mr. Allen - who played quarterback for the University of Virginia - called an audible, as he might say, surprising the crowd at a forum hosted by the Northern Virginia Technology Council.

He was asked to give his thoughts on the situation at the University of Virginia, which had witnessed two weeks of turmoil following the forced resignation - and subsequent reinstatement - of President Teresa Sullivan.

“I think Coach London was a great hire,” Mr. Allen quipped in response, eliciting laughter and applause from the crowd. He was referring to Mike London, head coach of the Cavalier football team. “I think they’re going to do really well.”

(For the record, Mr. London has led the ‘Hoos to a 12-13 record in his two years at the helm, which includes a 43-24 thumping at the hands of the Auburn Tigers in the 2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl.)

Mr. Allen did go on to say that the situation with Ms. Sullivan was not handled as it should have been.

“It could have been handled better, but let’s all unite behind the UVa. football team,” he said.

Wahoowa.

Pest control

As the agency in charge of Maryland’s road-construction projects - and the lovely speed cameras that often accompany them - the State Highway Administration knows a thing or two about unleashing pests on the public.

So perhaps it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when SHA officials announced last week that they have released two breeds of insects in various wetlands throughout the state in an effort to combat invasive plant species.

The agency teamed with the Maryland Department of Agriculture to unleash the bugs at 11 wetland sites on the lower Eastern Shore, in Central Maryland and in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties as an alternative to traditional herbicides.

The mile-a-minute weevil and purple loosestrife beetle are expected to feed on and eventually kill the mile-a-minute and purple loosestrife weeds from which they get their names. Scientists say the weeds often crowd out and kill other plant species that support water filtration.

“Weeds in gardens are a nuisance,” SHA Administrator Melinda B. Peters said in a statement. “Weeds like the purple loosestrife in wetlands are destructive and can impact water quality.”

State officials said they will monitor the bugs’ progress in coming months. The agency already uses goats and sheep to manage vegetation in an area of Carroll County that is home to the threatened bog turtle.

*David Sherfinski and David Hill contributed to this report