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December 2, 2008

"Let Slip the (Political) Dogs of War"

Roy Meachum

"Cry havoc" forms the first part of that "Julius Caesar" quote and that might make a bitter title for the electoral cycle that starts right after the looming holidays. Shopping malls aside, I do not count Thanksgiving as the leading edge of Christmas.


Attention must be paid for Advent.


This is literally a respite between two political wars, at least if you live in Frederick. About the time the Obama family moves into the White House, Mayor Jeff Holtzinger will come under attack. He's a Republican and I'm a life member of the other party, which was the subject of the columns last week. Blue Dog Democrat doesn't begin to describe me. I pick and choose among candidates; labels are not as important as integrity.


Look them up: When Jennifer Dougherty took over City Hall, although I supported her opponent, in print I declared a honeymoon, to give her time to set direction for the new administration. But I'd done the same thing for her predecessor. Although I wrote and wanted very much for Democrat Fran Baker to run the city, I announced the same grace period for Jim Grimes, the winner. That's the policy I started 24 years ago when The Frederick News-Post column started, curiously on Black Friday.


In any event, there was no need when Jeff took office, nor would it have been necessary if Ron Young triumphed. In my Frederick time, no election has been so close as the mayoral race three years ago. I assume the current incumbent will run again, although he hasn't said so. Certainly the aspirants and their supporters have made Mayor Holtzinger their personal target.


They failed to prove he was not living in the city, as the law requires; that was a noisy, meaningless mess. Then they and their cronies raised bloody hell over the plan to buy out employees within sight of retirement. Of course, the plan was put to a vote: the three present approved. Paul Smith couldn't be there but let it be known he was in favor. Donna Kuzemchak was not around and didn't let her feelings known. That's 4-0, a veto-proof majority.


Her announced intentions to run for the mayor's post were on the public record. Using her absence as an excuse, Ms. Kuzemchak and the mostly left-over Dougherty claque lambasted Mr. Holtzinger brutally while avoiding taking the Board of Aldermen to task. They sought to portray the mayor as an absolute tyrant and a dictator. And that, for my book, is gutter low for even politicians.


Let it be noted: President Pro Tem Marcia Hall stood by her vote; she later chided Ms. Kuzemchak for trying to bring up the measure again on an irrelevant basis. What Donna wanted was a say in who might be rehired from the pensioned crew. Reportedly she is very close to Jon Angel. The former budget director was the chief beneficiary and presumed author of the plan. The shocking amount of his pay-off inspired much of the criticism.


Other than those with blatant self interests, I've heard nothing steeply derogatory about the ex-Thomas Johnson football player who presides over City Hall. The mention of Jeff's name causes way more smiles than frowns in Pushkin's daily promenades downtown. Once likely challenger ex-Mayor Dougherty is anathema to many Frederick Democrats; she and her coteries' attacks against Ron Young are generally blamed for giving back the city's top office to the GOP.


There may be some masked woman or man out there who's only awaiting the deadline to whip off the mask and proclaim we would all be saved if we cast the right ballot. There might be a few harboring thoughts that the mayor might be caught stealing from the municipal coffers or cheating on his wife. In other words, ill-wishers hope Jeff Holtzinger will sink down to their level. They can dream on!


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