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May 10, 2005

Compassionate and Responsible

Roy Meachum

Mayor Jennifer Dougherty and her cronies are giving all Democrats a bad name. Their relentless, cutthroat attacks on anyone and everyone who disagrees make Frederick comparable to Washington under siege by McCarthyism. They reserve a special fury for those they view as possible challengers. The drumbeat begun against Joe Baldi has been heard before.

While Commissioner Mike Cady denied from the start any ambition to run for City Hall, he found himself under all-out assault. News columns in the local daily were filled with inaccuracies and innuendo that were fed a "friendly" reporter by liberal Democrats. The Dougherty-ites take no chances.

What if the commissioner decides to change his mind?

Similarly, Dave Lenhart counted himself out of the mayoral contest months ago; he was seriously considering a run for the House of Delegates, in part because he had been recruited by Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich.

Even after the alderman announced his intention to move his wife and two kids to another state before school starts next year, the Dougherty-ites "knew" his every word and action were intended to advance his personal political agenda, at their expense!

Witness last week's tirades by the mayor and her supporters, when Mr. Lenhart dared to offer his version of suggested job cuts to improve the pending budget. It should be noted he was fourth in line: Mayor Dougherty, Alderman Joe Baldi and Alderman Donna Ramsburg had already announced their versions.

Mrs. Ramsburg, in particular, demanded Mr. Lenhart stick a cork in his mouth for daring to suggest her husband held a municipal job that might possibly be eliminated. At the very least the suggestion brought home the grim reality that all the other humans on the several hit-lists faced.

Of course, he also roused her ire by pointing out that City Hall money allocated for schools made little sense. He was completely correct. Education falls under the county, which means those of us who live in Frederick are paying twice and the second time is totally unnecessary, as Mrs. Ramsburg well knows.

Jennifer Dougherty provided the controversy's foulest hypocrisy by blasting Mr. Lenhart for announcing his suggestions before seeking some form of "compromise." She actually used the word.

On her part, the mayor continually and consistently makes her decisions behind closed doors, away from both the aldermen and the public. She and her claque have no shame; they are more than willing to resort to any and every device that serves their cause, even outright lies.

In the absolutely nastiest trick I've encountered in all my Frederick years, the rumor was passed around last week that Dea Lenhart was taking her children and leaving town. She was supposedly getting a divorce because she found out husband Dave was having a hot and heavy affair. While first amused, she decided to kick the rumor in the head for the sake of exposing the lies.

In an extremely rare public appearance, Dea went into WFMD Saturday morning and told Frederick Forum's Blaine Young what all their friends know: The rumor is absolutely untrue. She furthermore chided the Dougherty-ites for insisting her husband has a problem with the mayor's gender. As the woman in Alderman Lenhart's life, his wife knows.

Did Dea Lenhart's forthright and candid comments kill the slander? Probably not. Her family's best hope of escaping further mud slinging came with Alderman Baldi's announcement he will be a mayoral candidate this fall.

The Dougherty-ites current strategy means to destroy a gentleman better known for his compassion and a willingness to accept responsibility than for his political ambitions. Joe Baldi has been protected so far by his candor, the inability to fudge and fib.

It will be absolutely fascinating to watch how the mayor's well-oiled and vicious machine responds to the challenge of trying to dismantle a man best known for being "a nice guy." We'll doubtless see.

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