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As Long as We Remember...

September 5, 2008

More Political Hypocrisy

Roy Meachum

Reading Sunday's Frederick News-Post, you could believe Frederick's ex-mayor Jennifer Dougherty, in selling her self-named restaurant, made a great sacrifice for the public good. She told reporter David Simon: "I don't want to look back and say I wasn't 100 percent committed to the race."


Winning the primary in March, Ms. Dougherty represents the Democratic Party in its effort to oust Rep. Roscoe Bartlett in November's Sixth District congressional elections. Fully expecting to win, she said: "I want to be 100 percent committed to the district, without any other business to attend to."




As this column commented on July 18, 2007, the deal has been in the works for Mick Strine to take over the space for over a year, long before she entered the race. The real estate executive and his chef-son plan to create Mick's New American Bistro. It should be nothing but a success considering the owner's personal popularity. Mick Strine has a smiling, positive presence in the Frederick business community.


A year ago when first broke the story, odds and opinion-makers figured Andrew Duck to repeat as the Democratic candidate. He had come up with very respectable figures two years ago and won endorsement from every major leader of his party. A week before Maryland's primary, he exuded self-confidence and seeming arrogance of a sure thing.


My point, quickly reached, is that had the Mick Strine deal gone through before April, the ex-mayor could not wrap herself in her candidate's flag and proclaim she was doing it for the voters and the community. She did it for herself! Strictly!


Over recent years there have been increasing stories about payrolls not met that originated with employees; the same sources whispered that more and more suppliers were demanding cash on delivery. Then there was the lack of business: people who refused to return after being hectored and lectured by the owner herself. More than one former patron complained about Ms. Dougherty's personal crusade against cell-phones.


"Everybody has a cell-phone today," one man commented. "It's so easy to forget to turn it off. Ringing made her more than slightly berserk."


The man described how the former mayor's body turned rigid, her voice chilling and eyes popped from her face. He felt forgetting to turn a phone off was much less than setting off a stink bomb. In any event, he stopped patronizing her restaurant.


Why so long after readers learned a deal was on? The best answer I can figure out is negotiations. To anyone who's studied her official performance, the ex-mayor is a great splitter of hairs. There's some of that still going on: legal transfers and licenses to be settled. In other words, the deal is not fully settled.


But Saturday was the last night for Ms. Dougherty to preside over what is fondly recalled as Manyunk’s. Aside from her political claque, family and hangers on, few people will summon up other sorts of memories for the place now known as Mick's New American Bistro. I like the way that name rings. I like the man even more.


In conversation, Mick Strine once commented his life style is to avoid ruffling others' feathers. Jennifer Dougherty was dedicated to the opposite. That does not make her easy-pickings in November. After all, look what happened to Andrew Duck!





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