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April 25, 2006

Say ''Fiasco,'' Suckers!

Roy Meachum

What a bad joke! In a community numbering close to 250,000 people, The Frederick News-Post reported Sunday that "about 100 protestors" showed up to call for the defeat of Mike Cady, John Lovell and Bruce Reeder. (Pushkin draws a larger crowd simply walking around.)

The three county commissioners were not present for the Saturday demonstrations outside Winchester Hall. Colleagues John "Lennie" Thompson and Jan Gardner were there, cheered on by their supporters.

The topic was Mr. Thompson's very favorite: development is the single subject that apparently gets his attention.

On other matters before the county commissioners, he either sits there in what appears truculent silence or votes deliberately against the majority.

The glaring example that comes to mind was the water agreement between the county and the city, which was finally signed after two years of wrangling. Frederick's ex-mayor Jennifer Daugherty deserved most of the blame but Mr. Thompson deserves his share.

Displaying an absence of memory about the recent droughts, Ms. Dougherty raised a ruckus about such issues as the city's right to sell water to other communities, although the bulk of the cost for the new system will accumulate on the county's shoulders.

After she became the first mayor in memory to be turned out in a primary, Mr. Thompson wasted what time he could by wondering what might happen if City Hall defaulted on its bill.

In the end he found himself totally alone in voting against the measure, which he pronounced a victory but only for developers.

Viewing any attempt to improve local living conditions in that light, the commissioners' president opposes suggestions that attempt to recognize reality: people are moving to Frederick and nothing can stop that.

Ask next-door Montgomery County and Loudoun County across the Potomac. Having lived in both places, I witnessed the abysmal failures to throw up walls to keep outsiders out.

Together with Frederick, both counties have been officially designated by the federal government to belong in the Washington metro area. Neither Mr. Thompson, nor Ms. Gardner, understands that reality: We live in suburbia.

Slowing already approved permits makes housing more expensive, which drives from the county the very families and individuals who provide basic services, forcing them to live under straightened circumstances that resemble metro areas' worst. Starting police officers and new teachers live little better.

The timing of Saturday's rally was meant to call attention to tonight's rally on the New Market regional plan. Its low turnout shows how much people really feel threatened, although I'm sure the usual quotient of no-growth talking heads will show up.

The region involves, by the way, some 47,000 acres presently slated for about 14,000 homes, which scarcely represents overcrowding. That figures out to approximately one residence for about 3.4 acres, but in clusters, where the facilities are.

Moreover, since about 4,000 of the new housing would rise around Lake Linganore, the present 20-year proposal will do no more than fill-out the development's original project approved in the 1993 regional scheme, which was updated recently.

Following his usual wont of dismissing with sarcasm anything he can't answer by logic, Lennie Thompson labeled the whole plan as a "fiasco."

In the same light, since he couldn't find flaws in the column's criticism, he argued and failed to get the board to label me officially a liar.

At the same time, he supposedly commissioned a T-shirt that said "Roy Meachum...another word for liar." I have never seen the shirt and, based on his past performance, I have to doubt its existence. But it might.

Mr. Thompson has taken on a new target: former alderman and now WFMD host Blaine Young incurred his ire for questioning the commissioner's statements of facts. Mr. Thompson has resisted invitations to appear on the Saturday show. He settles for calling Mr. Young a liar, as usual.

Over the years, Mr. Thompson has proven himself a loser in every area that seems important to his followers; it seems nearly impossible for any still to be around.

Instead of beating an empty barrel with the handle of a broom, he should abandon his destructive and obstructive mission. But then demagogues rely solely on people's fears; that's how they attract their claques.

Mr. Thompson's followers suffer from severe self-delusion, if they are not totally fools. He is a demagogue in the worst sense of the word. He makes Louisiana's Huey P. Long a paragon of truth and honor by comparison.

To borrow his word, John "Lennie" Thompson's public performance adds to the meaning of "fiasco."

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