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May 27, 2009

Thank you, Jeff

Roy Meachum

He brought the muffins. Jeff Holtzinger showed up for coffee Tuesday morning with a Dunkin' Donuts bag in hand. We sat down at the old farm table to drink our New Orleans' coffee and chicory. It was a standing invitation; he called Friday to say he would accept.


Over the next hour of the rainy morning, Frederick's mayor said he decided to take advice offered in January. He would not run for a second term, although he had put in the necessary papers; at that time he alerted me that his decision was not final, but he wanted to keep his options open. The timing of his announcement this week was to let other people know he was off the ballot, so they could file before July 7's deadline. That was fair.


But Jeff is a very fair man and loaded with as much integrity as I've ever seen in public life. In the months remaining he will zoom in on getting the Monocacy Boulevard project through. He said it should have been done before he took his first oath in City Hall. He was city engineer during Jimmie Grimes' administration; when that mayor left office, the current mayor said, the boulevard project was close to approval. He also talked about how he had identified a number of well-sites to lessen the city's dependence on current water sources.


Both endeavors were crashed by Mr. Grimes' successor, Jennifer Dougherty. It should be remembered that Mr. Holtzinger resigned, announcing at the time that Ms. Dougherty's interference would not let him do his job. Much of the reason why he filed to replace her four years ago had to do with his frustration and anger at her performance.


If anything, in the past four years he learned even more about her lousy management style. He reflected on how she took public critiques for personal criticism. He projects how she would exact vengeance 10-times harder than the last time, which he portrays in terms of numerous attempts at revenge on her part.


Mayor Holtzinger might have run again if Ms. Dougherty looms as a real contender for her old job. He does not think that's a real probability but still cautions her threat should not be totally dismissed. He will do anything legal in his power to save the city he grew up in. Ironically, for all the phony rhubarb about where he sleeps nights, none of his principal opponents was born in Frederick. By and large, they are carpetbaggers, to use a 19th century post-Civil War word. The Thomas Johnson graduate is not.


At any rate, as he said while the rain pounded down on the patio, Jeff Holtzinger's had enough. He wants to go back to the practice of law employing his engineering expertise. His first child goes off to college this fall. His wife hopes to become a nurse-practitioner. In short, he wants to perform as a father and husband in a full-time capacity.


The bottom-line is that he's had quite enough of the petty nonsense and back-biting that makes up much of modern politics. That was the chief point I tried to make in January. Jeff Holtzinger is too decent and caring and possesses entirely too much integrity to have his life impeded and slowed by what the Egyptians call "mish-mish." That translates "apricots." English has much stronger words.


At any rate, Pushkin and I hope the departing mayor comes for coffee again, with or without the muffins, when we three can sit by the kitchen's cooking fireplace and tell happier stories.


Thank you, Jeff.


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