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Jack Lynch, Editor
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Jack Lynch, Editor
January 25, 2005
Passion, People and Politics in Frederick City
To start, let those of you who've skipped off to Thurmont or Middletown or New Market, hush all that chatter that comes from you about 'the City' and how bad it is and how you don't want to live here. Having voted with your feet, you no longer meet the residency requirement in order to be able to bad mouth our City. And don't swing back to an apartment here and run for office, we've little taste for turncoats, if you'd stayed here and decided to fix something you thought was broken or which could be better run in your eyes, then you could take a shot at running things here, otherwise, bug off for good!
And by the way, wasn't there a strong element of turning out the old and making things better in our current Mayor's run for office? Wasn't that the theme picked up by the hoi polloi and touted as the reasoning for ousting good old boy Grimes, who fled with all his official papers, leaving little explanation for some of the perceptions on why he paid $8 Million for floodplain along Gas House Pike to become a so-called jobs pathway, when no City Attorney's name appeared to have signed any extant documents on the cool little deal? The new electoral outcome has brought overdue reconsideration of outstanding capital projects gathering dust for years and never likely to be fruitful, it has meant a shift towards citizen participation, with 'getting to know government' classes and community action training and Neighborhood Advisory Councils and task forces and committees to join. We cannot allow the forces of those old ways turn back the clock and turn out the light.
Over at the FNP they call those of us who support our new Mayor 'reformers', and I really like that, I've always wanted to be a reformer but never thought I'd have that kind of influence, so it's good to think that, at least collectively, I've made the team. But you guffaw? Well, let me tell you a thing or two about why this City Hall represents reform. After all, plenty of you try to convince me that it's not true, and I listen and consider your claims seriously, I weigh them carefully, and sometimes ponder the seeming disparities of what I hear and read against my personal approach to judgment of character, but so far, you simply haven't made the case.
You can expect to be heard down at Frederick City Hall. You can make your case and it will be considered. Yes, I know that some of you don't believe that right now, the residency rampage has left some of you catcalling and poking the caged beasts with sticks to see them snarl. And that’s a shame. But when you show up, and pour out your emotions, or delineate a logical argument, the panel listens to you. Many of them already disagree, that’s true, and they'll tell you so, that’s only fair, and I'll go so far as to back Mr. Hall when he's not merely snarling back, and says that he was elected to vote what he believes despite anyone's claims or threats, and that that’s what he was doing on residency requirements for Mayoral runs.
The Mayor will tell you that she has 55,000 bosses, and I know she believes that. You can sense that she tries to remain balanced between those myriad claims of business and citizens, and even the skateboarders and the occasional hothead foolish enough to add to the fearful atmosphere of this security conscious age. No one can assume that their vision on an ordinance or county matter will go their way, because she'll stand against and for matters based on her consideration of its public impacts, and the best interests of the City overall. I've come to believe that.
And it makes me proud here in Frederick. It's hard to say without embarrassment and shame, for we live in an age of disrespect and disparagement and false patriotism. But I'd like to think that’s part of what Frederick truly values, those old verities, leaders who are of course just other human beings, but who rise to the kind of character we preach in our schools, who demonstrate class in dealing with their detractors and enemies, who posses themselves with grace and goodwill. And every now and then step up and veto the peanut gallery.
Yet occasionally, I am ashamed of what I see in the Board Room at City Hall. Contentious meetings where developers pulled strings on puppet Aldermen from the public floor, throwing out new proposals to conflict with previous discussions, new proffers that were not even serious offers, just bombast and publicity seeking, and mouthing comments to the stage when it was no longer a time of public or petitioner comment.
Then the same sad old figures who don't read the background materials before meetings plod on, raise our taxes, then they offer us tax breaks, and not six months later, then they are surprised, no shocked!…when the budget, projected for them time after time throughout the year, is falling off because of income delays on timing of land sales. Who knew?…well they should have known!
I try to avoid the fray, it's just unseemly, and sometimes the participants appear to truly believe in their misbegotten causes, they’re often filled with Yeats’s passionate intensity. It’s the times they’re unprepared, forgetful, suspicious of consultants but voting to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on them, and just boneheaded and wrong, that I fault. And we do get a few good officials thrown in for good measure.
Cynical politics are seen in the attacks on the Mayor, and it's to be expected. When you throw out the bad apple a few of his friends who are turning rotten will complain. You don't see those traits in our better previous Mayor's, like Mr. Gordon, who will participate regularly, question and challenge what he doesn't like, give us all a history lesson and a bit of a smile at how much things remain the same even as they change, then politely move on when he doesn't quite get his way, or out-right loses on an issue. Perhaps if Mr. Young had cared enough to hang out and contribute, I'd take him more seriously, because, c'mon dude, weren't you Mayor like three or four times already? Get a life! It must be because of that troublesome son and the girlfriend promoter pushing their own personal grudges against City Hall that you can't help but still feel in play. Age is supposed to attain wisdom.
Frederick is truly on the move now. Don't let the bald lies of the builders fool you. The drought and building moratorium was not the fault of this administration, but it took responsibility for meeting citizen needs and planning to emerge from it, and constructed a fair resolution to builder and developer plans as water became available for allocation. So today, not only is Mr. Young's dream beginning to become a reality on Carroll Creek under Ms. Dougherty, no small mean feat in itself, but we have redevelopment through Hope VI, and revitalization of the Golden Mile, and tax credits for an arts and entertainment district. A downtown partnership is blooming and parking is being addressed. Guiding ordinances for progressive planning and development are being drawn in the Land Management Ordinance right now, and the Comprehensive Plan, whether you love it or not, is available to guide decisions and growth.
Frederick is on the move. There's no need to move away. There's no need to change administrations. Life is good, and the citizens have been empowered to bolster their collective interests. What more could you want in a municipal government?