Charter government! Will it come to Frederick at long last? My own fearless prediction is that it is, once again Dead-on-Arrival.
This topic will continue to be raised, particularly by those who have nothing left to talk about except, oh, how awful this new Board of County Commissioners is!
Lately the complaint has come in angry mutters that the new board of commissioners is trying to overturn everything that was done by the old board. It's true, too! The new board has surprised many by being both honest and loyal to the voters that elected them. They are doing what they promised the voters; how dare they!
Naturally the spiritualists sipping cocktails round the Old Boy's Watering Hole and Builders Club have sought to raise the old specter of charter government. They had some success, too. A pale and weak specter resembling it has been sighted drifting along with other vapors in the night air. It isn't a new idea at all and has been buried several times previously after voters wisely put a stake through its heart.
The difference between charter government and government by a Board of County Commissioner is that, under a charter, you have an executive and a separate county council. This concept is a moldering corpse at best. So, why has it been exhumed again?
Well, the short answer is that some Democrats see it as a path to power and are eager to make Frederick County a socialist/progressive paradise just like our neighbors to the south - Montgomery County. The long answer is that the builders/developers/good ol' boys that were swept from power in November see this as a way to save money and reverse their losses.
Thus the conjuring begins; and as usual it is cloaked and disguised because supporters know full well that letting this haunt see the light of public scrutiny will cause it to vaporize like frost under a hot summer sun.
For Democrats it is a pipe dream that voters might be conned, ahh, I mean, convinced, into electing someone like Sue Hecht to rule Frederick and share in the coming glory of Saint Hillary when she is enthroned as Presidentress in November 2008. Then those evil Republicans will be powerless to stop us from reaching our proper destiny as a progressive, nuke free, smoke free, military free paradise on earth.
For the good ol' boys/ builders/ developers (and, to be fair, it is by no means all of them and never has been), it is an effort to regain power.
Last November the voters listened carefully to all of the claims of those candidates who were supported by developers (and spotted the ones who weren't admitting it). Despite a massive advertising and smear campaign (remember "Real Republicans"?) aimed at fooling voters, it was remarkably ineffective. Voters enthusiastically rejected the Good Ol' Boys and their candidates.
If the election were held again today, the margin of victory would be even larger. Voters are happy, indeed delighted, with the new board. The old board had been arrogant and disdainful of anyone not supporting their version of growth; and people took notice.
Arrogant? Take for just one example the commissioner who voted to approve development on a tract of land and then had his campaign sign erected on that very same property within days. Quid pro quo?
Another commissioner placed his campaign signs on construction trailers which were parked on huge tracts of land. There was no doubt left on where he stood on the issue of growth. Voters understood precisely what he was really saying; elect me and development goes here. They, to his shock, voted him out of office.
Why raise anew the tattered specter of charter government? Because it is also a very effective cost saving measure; it saves you money investing in candidates. Presently you have to spend a lot of money trying to influence a bunch of candidates just so that they will side with you when and if they get elected. That's bunches.
Over a dozen Republicans ran last year in the primary (I know, I was one of them) for only five slots in the general election. Ultimately all that money was completely wasted in trying to elect "Real Republicans." Curiously, the folks behind that disastrous ploy were almost all former Democrats. They lost.
Yet the money did have an impact; it poisoned the feelings of the eventual winners against those who had spent it. All of the money, reported and unreported, failed to buy the pro-growth crowd anything but ill will with both voters and the elected officials.
If we only had charter government, they could have saved a fortune as it would have allowed you to reduce costs by only having to buy - excuse me, I mean influence - one or two candidates for the all powerful post of executive. Think of the savings!
Why exactly do you think that they keep digging up the corpse of charter government over and over again? Does anyone truly believe the claims that it is really all about making government more effective?
Yet, those that wish this specter might come back to life are doomed to disappointment because voters have stockpiles of sharpened stakes and silver-tipped ballots as they wait for a chance to send their own message, one more time.