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May 5, 2006

More Lennie's Bullying Ways

Roy Meachum

A remarkable flow of Email prompts this column. Commissioners' President John "Lennie" Thompson has his mouth running again. His target again: WFMD radio host Blaine Young.

Memory is hard pressed to summon up a politician more despicable than Mr. Thompson in the way he spreads fear. He twists facts and then proceeds to accuse critics on the basis of his distortions.

That's an old demagogue's trick. In 19th century America virtually every campaign featured mud, usually slung by the underdog's side. In the 1884 presidential election, having worn out their welcome in Washington, Republicans came up with maybe the most famous example.

Originated by fundamentalist preachers trying to keep Grover Cleveland out of the White House, his Democrats were assaulted as the party of "Rum, Romanism and Rebellion." Mr. Cleveland went on to serve two terms in the Oval Office.

Mr. Thompson has a simpler approach: Fellow Republicans or Democrats, any and all who stand up to him are blasted as tools of developers. He has been adopted by late arrivals as proof that long-time residents want to keep the county exactly the same. He was born in Frederick.

In fact, the commissioner's strongest supporters have moved here recently.

Those of us around for 20 years and more recognize change is inevitable; we want what are called "adequate public facilities:" water and sewage, roads and schools.

On his record, Mr. Thompson fiercely opposes every attempt to retain and improve life for residents still here. He attempted to sideline the recently concluded water agreement by insisting the city might go bankrupt, leaving the county stuck with the bills.

The identical argument poses the basis for the fears he arouses about the Land Stewarts' plan to complete Linganore, already approved by the Board of County Commissioners.

The sticking point for Mr. Thompson: "What we have in Lake Linganore is a developer who has consented to deliver $65 million up front to build schools."

Citing the same fear as with the water agreement, the commissioner demands that supporters of the project pony up all their assets, including their homes, in the event Land Stewarts goes bankrupt.

Since Mr. Young put himself on record, in a News-Post guest column, as strongly favoring the project, Mr. Thompson suggested he put his money where his mouth is.

In his reply, the former city alderman pointed out Mr. Thompson's argument was more hot air; that's not how he put it. The result is the same.

"Mr. Thompson," he wrote, "you know full well the recording of lots in Lake Linganore will be tied to the posting of the money or financial guarantees in the manner approved by the County."

Mr. Young's Email message continues: "So, if the money is not forthcoming, the houses will not be built, and the students will not be in the schools."

Having summed up the situation, the message concluded:

"You may be able to fool others with your distortions of the facts, but not me."

Not willing to concede, even when he has egg on this face, Mr. Thompson splutters back:

"Attached hereto is the last draft of the proposed agreement you are being asked to guarantee. Your contentions are inaccurate."

Mr. Young: "That's it? My "contentions are inaccurate?"

He continued: "The truth is I called your bluff, and you have no response. You know full well that properly imposed conditions of future PDP plan approvals will be enforced, even in the unlikely event of a bankruptcy and regardless of who owns the property in the future.

"But you will never admit that because the truth stands in the way of your political agenda."

For the second time in the exchange, Mr. Young asked Mr. Thompson to lay off:

"Now, once and for all, I am tired of your childish behavior. I actually do have work to do the private sector actually demands results. So leave me alone so I can do my work..."

The messages conclude with the reminder that Blaine Young has invited Mr. Thompson "to come on (WFMD's) Frederick's Forum many times with no response..."

From here, it looks like "Lennie" Thompson's usual bullying is meant in this instance to intimidate folks who recognize $65 millions would go a long way in solving Frederick's class room space problems. Money the kids badly need.

Lennie, for shame, again!

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