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Jack Lynch, Editor

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A Visit to Tangier Island

Historic Snowfall, Road Salt, Watershed Protection and the Chesapeake Bay

Will It be Progress or Retrenchment in Frederick County?

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 Jack Lynch, Editor
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September 30, 2010

 

Frederick County’s Gunslinger Slate – “Fire from the lip, shoot from the hip!”

 

All citizens of Frederick County have a responsibility before them to carefully consider the many competing voices of candidates for our local political offices in November. There are two incumbents running who've actually managed broad public responsibility and offered wise counsel and compromise for the public good: David Gray, a Republican, and Kai Hagen, a Democrat. Both have demonstrated the ability to excel at the Commissioners job and each should be returned to office. 

Listen carefully to the competing crop of aspirants, and you'll hear largely a very different tone, negative voices, economic fear mongering on jobs, a fealty to the interests of business for its own sake, development as a panacea, an emphasis on the need for more power by charter, unspecified and draconian cuts to government, and lo and behold, if only they rise to power, they know better how to change everything and make it right.

The recent primary elections for Frederick County have yielded a bitter fruit.  While a number of credible good growth issue candidates have emerged, the results show a definite weakness in their stance, their support, and their affiliations.

The opponents, as a whole, have demonstrated little to recommend themselves, besides their shared disdain for the good work the county has done over the past four years – how soon the voters forget.

Well, what do you think about that?  Have we not seen four years of managed government for our overall good? Schools built, renovated, achieving?  We’ve enjoyed the  construction of new roads, and highway improvements.  The building of a long term water supply to the Potomac river. Consolidation and improvement of our sewage treatment system.  Enlightened regulations to protect open lands and farms, forest and water quality?  And most importantly, a refreshed comprehensive plan unrivaled in maintaining our quality of life for our children's future in Frederick County? 

And make no mistake, it is a growth plan!  It delineates enough land, business opportunity, new homes, and industrial space to supply us for the next twenty year's projected growth.

Our community has progressed too much, learned too many lessons, and worked too hard to not build upon our common good.  We cannot allow the strident voices to deceive us into turning back the clock to a past when the special interests ruled everything to their advantage.  But they're betting on it, counting as much on many of us not voting as on their followers voting. Money is on the table behind those voices.

Who are Blaine Young and his developer dream team fooling?  Obviously, a lot of primary voters have fallen under that spell and the rest of our voters need to wake up and get activated, or a minority of interests will get what they want, over the larger good of our community, and at our expense. Young has been trying to deceive the county since he helped create the Defenders of Property Rights group and claimed it was not a shill for developer interests. (Tentacle, 2002) 

Delauter, Shreve and Kurtianyk are all of that same unbridled development mold.

It is sad to say we may well get what we deserve, another board with perhaps even worse intentions than the Lowell – Reeder – Cady triad.  At least that group could blindly, dumbly feel that they were simply following the historical pattern of [poorly planned] growth.

Now we face a set of candidates whose initial premise is to destroy all the good for the benefit of the local  development crowd.  Dismantle regulations that many citizens fought years to produce and build consensus on, pick apart the comprehensive plan crafted carefully over two years, plus the associated regulations built up carefully over time.  To say nothing of the reasonable growth elements in the plan, a wisely planned,  twenty years of structured growth. 

A lagging economy is no excuse for a dumb, forgetful electorate.  Instinct apparently tells them to lash out blindly – thus the strength of radicalized sidelines rather than the common good.

If Young succeeds Jan Gardner, those are some difficult high heels to fill! Her commitment and ethic served Frederick County well, and her leadership will be missed greatly.  It will only help to have a balanced board to moderate Blaine Young.  The power of the agenda and the control over its emphasis is great, if Young can count on the votes, his development friends will pop champagne corks on election eve.

Our choices are not merely a partisan issue here in Frederick County, what we must find is a renewed sense of what's best for us all.  Our mostly one sided Republican slate leaves me without a further bipartisan pick, it would've been improved greatly if other more moderate candidates had succeeded in winning.  Our local Democratic party apparatus committee has offered little support, money, or leadership.

Unfortunately, the weakness of the good growth slate is clearly evident, the compelling antagonism of the animus towards the failed last board has not arced the electorate towards a good outcome, the voices of unreason appear to prevail. 

Part of that is the waste issue where the so called alternative solutions have proven too far-fetched, too unyielding on compromises such as increased landfill, to win a case except by financial doom and gloom.  And while finances are certainly a major consideration, the numbers staggering, and not all scenarios built out to show the potential savings by other means than incineration – the message is a downer, it’s a defeatist attitude.  Where is the “we all win” if the incinerator fails ad?  Where is the public enthusiasm?

Part of it is the selfish, me-firstness of the candidates themselves.  Having organized many folks for many causes, they may have fallen victim to their own supposed greatness – if this election proves the undoing of the Hagen- no waste – Friends triad, it is because of their own betrayal of their purposes for personal gains.  They’re going to hate me saying so, because I’ve been in those trenches fighting with them to do the good they’ve brought to the table, but if that’s the truth, so be it! 

It’s easier to see in Frederick City where the splits are easier to ID, they fell into line with the Judd camp and have aligned too strongly with the gender split of the local Democratic party there.  Instead of building a coalition to overcome these problems, or retake the Central Committee for the benefit of all, they’ve sidled in a few shills for Judd there too!  It’s not a healthy outcome for anyone involved.

Third the better candidates have failed to capture the field by portraying for the public what good things they can accomplish moving forward.  They’ve failed at the rhetoric of streamlining government and cutting back expenses, reorganizing staff and making government efficient.  Rather than hope, they’ve tried to sell us soap – clean up our act on recycling, clean up our act on compost.

The anti candidates have wrapped themselves up in common man jingoism, belt tightening, cutting non-essential services, ending government largess – what are those examples?  Where is all this gold hiding when the current board struggles against receipts to pay for needed services and positions?  Is it really the best the anti’s can do to suggest cutting a hundred positions without any plan for what those jobs do and how we can manage without them?  That’s’ the real Blaine Young and it should concern voters. Fire from the lip, shoot from the hip!

It seems to be clear that Young will lead the board – so what would be advantageous to keep the dark side of Blaine at bay, and the board moderate in purpose and direction?  He is capable of self control, but has seldom shown it in practice, there’s just too much of a bad boy personality evident, not simply in the radio persona, but by my estimate, deeply inbred.  The basis of Board Chair was changed at the state level to be the highest vote getter, which certainly seems to be Young.

The best solution would be a board comprised of only two of his partners in government crime, no Delauter, no Shreve – no mere followers, and Kurtanyiak seems much the same mold, at the fair he spent ample time with the republican tent and will probably improve his final slot with their votes.  In check by moderate growth voices and Democrats, Blaine might just come into his own as a mature leader, but recent history warns us otherwise.

Last time around, Gray went from a weak primary result to top vote getter.  I cannot predict that lightning strikes twice in this climate, but I also can’t say his support wasn’t well earned on all sides and it won’t happen again.  One can only hold out hope.

We will get Hagen elected, undoubtedly, even given his strong negatives, the only incumbent running has held his supporters and added new friends along the way.  Hagen has had difficulty translating his basic mode of activist into a satisfactory explanation of his office for the general voter, not that he should have any such problem, but perception can outrun reality in politics.  Why isn’t it recognized that officeholders play an advocacy role, when it is so evident and apparently acceptable among the anti’s?  It is a harder role as a liberal Democrat in an overall historically Republican ruled county.

Norris, though inexperienced, has the platform to cross party lines and provide a fresh perspective.  There is much to like about her approach and she has a future in the game.

Wiles, regretfully, having taken a lengthy hiatus during the primary campaign, has work cut out for her to achieve a board slot, and the preponderance of the opposing votes is huge.

I will be supporting the fresh face of Linda Norris for her balanced perspective and community approach, she has the potential to grow into a valued public official, and Janice Wiles because of her long engagement in the community with issues important to our quality of life and her integral role in the Friends of Frederick County.  I was part of bringing Friends, a true citizen effort forward, and I'm proud of its careful deliberation of our common good and continued community efforts.  It has been nonpartisan, and never fell to the fringes on issues, or denied the value of good moderate growth planning.

It helps to consider a vision of the county four years from now, under a new pro-growth board – in addition to the twenty years planned growth of the comp plan today, broad areas around Route 70 and Frederick City have been rezoned as growth areas, marked open for annexation and state growth funds.  The building regulations have been pulled back to favor development, often in conflict with state mandates, and several issues are in contention with the state regulators, but the board is saying that the nascent economic growth demands a full bore push even while home sales are still in disarray and home values down from historic highs.

Talk is high that the failed charter government referendum will pass next go around, and some will say Young, once claiming to not be running again, should run again, and would make a good County Executive.  Others say his high handedness running the board and political hambone have given the county a continued fredneck reputation state-wide, why allow good old boys cornpone to be our public face?

All of this ripe talk about cutting back, do you really hire someone to work for you who holds another job?  Do you hire part time help to manage a budget of over $500 Million dollars?  Do you want part time emergency management?  Part time oversight of school management?  Part time planning deliberation?

We should be celebrating the accomplishments of our current board’s grand successes, and expecting great new things ahead rather than being manipulated to hand government back to the same old interests that have long robbed us of our community investments.  Don’t heed the calls to give up on our shared progress.

 

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