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July 19, 2002

"Civility" Policy Needs To Be Expanded in City Hall

David 'Kip' Koontz

It seems The New Patriotism Project really needs to expand their mission statement to include the conduct and behavior of incumbent office holders.

Recently this columnist wrote that Alderman Donna Ramsburg seemed to be the one who supplied the catalyst that prompted Herzonner to craft the "don't drive your city truck to break" policy.

Ms. Ramsburg took offense and mistakenly believes that she was in some way being criticized.

She misread the column, as the person criticized was Herzonner for over reacting and crafting a policy that no matter how it is packaged will cost the taxpayers money.

Be that as it may. Seems Ms. Ramsburg is upset that this columnist didn't try hard enough to verify what caused the crafting of this policy and responded very harshly.

Funny thing is she used the email this columnist's sent her requesting she clarify what happened to respond.

Odd, huh?

The fact is info was provided to columnist, columnist made some calls, all of which seemed to point to Ms. Ramsburg as the person whose complaint drove the crafting of the policy.

Columnist sees Ms. Ramsburg enter City Hall and emails her a request to clarify.

Columnist calls City Hall attempting to reach Ms. Ramsburg but efforts to reach her failed.

Columnist thinks: "Well, Ms. Ramsburg is sure to see the email today or tomorrow and call to clarify if she was the impetus of the change or not."

She didn't.


Columnist mulls it over and decides to have column published, as the point of the column isn't Ms. Ramsburg, but the change in policy.

Nowhere in the column was Ms. Ramsburg called names or harshly criticized, yet Ms. Ramsburg believes it appropriate to respond with the following email:

"I just read the Tentacle. I expect misinformation to be spread by John Ashbury and Lee Marshall. I don't expect it to be spread by you. As for one of the very few people already sitting in this office who were trying to help get you elected, I am disgusted that you didn't even find it important to speak to me before you printed such ridiculous nonsense. I have a phone at home. Maybe you should have tried to call it."

Okay, maybe.

But she continues.

"I am way more than disappointed. I honestly thought you were a better person than that. For the first time I will publicly call you a complete, moronic jerk who can't even take the time to get the information before he prints the truth. Steve Miller has nothing on you."

Well, bully for you, Ms. Ramsburg.

The residents of Frederick should be proud as punch we have an alderman who will resort to calling a taxpaying, voting resident of the City of Frederick names - and threaten them by saying she will do so publicly, simply because she got upset at something they wrote.

It is sad that she was so easily offended by criticism that wasn't directed at her, but at a policy.

Fact of the matter is, while this columnist may have made more effort to reach Ms. Ramsburg (though the puzzlement that comes from why it took so long for her to get an email sent to her while she was in City Hall is great), this columnist did not resort to threats or name calling to make a point.

Ms. Ramsburg could have easily written a letter to The Tentacle criticizing this columnist for not being thorough enough. That's fair.

But why resort to name calling and threats?

Come on. It disgraces Ms. Ramsburg and her office.


Ms. Ramsburg needs a lesson in civility.

She also needs one in civics, as she appears to have forgotten that she serves at our pleasure, not the other way around.

Seems a bit of Herzonner has rubbed off on Ms. Ramsburg.

Unfortunately, this shows that no matter how hard we want our candidates and our public officials to behave better - we have a long, long way to go.

It will be funny next election to see if Ms. Ramsburg signs the New Patriotism's civility pledge or not.

It would be quite hypocritical if she did.

In the meantime, despite Ms. Ramsburg's personal feelings toward this columnist, this columnist will continue to tell people that she is, in his view, most of the time, a legitimate voice of reason in City Hall - regardless of what she calls this columnist.

(Editor's Note: In the continuing saga, Alderman Ramsburg did send another email to Mr. Koontz in which she apologized for calling him names and threatening to do so publicly, but still thanking God that he was not elected an alderman last Fall.)

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