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Sour Grapes and Fine Wine
November 16, 2006
by Jack Lynch
Our new Board of County Commissioners has not even been sworn into office yet and some would have you believe that they should already be thrown out of office. Itís just the sour grapes of no longer being able to control the votes and policy of the board for the good old boy and developer interests.
The lowly spin masters are out in force.
A week prior to the election, the former Commissioner candidate, Billy Shreve sat on Pressing Issues and predicted the current Commissioners would be re-elected. Shreve also had the utter gall to suggest that the Friends of Frederick County had no agenda, which tends to demonstrate his prevarication more than any meaningful challenge to a citizenís group that has expressed and followed a course of building a better planning process.
Former Commissioner Terre Rhoderick expressed his dismay at the election results and reiterated the usual developerís complaint that suggests that we must build a lot of homes each year to pay the bills. Thereís more than enough approved in the pipeline for a good fifteen years at least, no worry there, except for a building downturn in the economy. He also suggests that we should accept all municipal annexations as smart growth, which is quite a leap of faith, certainly indicative of his own firmís work on the proposed New Market annexation projects.
And a lot of folks are feeling that the Tentacle editor, John Asbury, has discredited himself with his online column on Nov. 15th criticizing Gray and Gardner on the issue of board chairmanship.
The partisans are simply not noble in their defeat. When they win it is an affirmation, when they lose, itís an aberration, dumb luck, and a public judgment error. The galoots are taking over the world after all.
Apparently the gesture of David Gray to hand the gavel over to Jan Gardner is difficult for many to comprehend. If friends and colleagues treat one another with respect outside party lines, it hurts the myths of the partisans. But nobility and grace are fine wine. I read it as the wonderful thing it is, born of the wonderful bipartisan cooperation that brought a slate of public minded Commissioners to the fore in the election, and which bodes very well for the future of Frederick County.
The question as to what we can really expect from our new board is pretty clear. Likely there will be a planning effort by the board, setting their direction and goals - a strategic plan if you will. Obviously there will be some reconsideration of the New Market Regional Plan, there is a clear mandate to do that, and a common sense and legal case to restore some sanity and concurrency into the plan and overall comprehensive planning.
The Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance needs strengthening for fire/rescue and parks and open space, and school adequacy needs to remain at 100% capacity as its standard. Developer proffers need to be legally binding, or non-existent. Ethics will be addressed. Zoning ordinances need to be rewritten given the years of a public process and compromise efforts to recommend needed changes. Included in that are a lot of quality of life issues, like standards and regulations on highway noise and off road vehicles, environmental protections, etc.
This will be a great board, building consensus, ignoring partisanship, and doing the job for the community we elected them to accomplish. We will have solid leadership.
A favorite whipping boy for the myth makers and wild imaginations of the good old boy and developer interests is already Kai Hagen. Heís portrayed as everything from a wild man, loose cannon, a road block to progress, a no growth demagogue, to a self righteous talking head. It is truly amusing.
Theyíre missing Kaiís point about public process and reasonable growth and economic realities, this was a guy who felt that Canterbury Station was smart growth and a good place to host it. I suspect that Kai is up to being a lightning rod, as long as the attacks come from the usual suspects, and hopefully he will not be dragged down by the nay sayers and true obstructionists.
All grapes begin sour and then refine into sweet wine given time, but these are human foibles, not fruit.