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As Long as We Remember...

October 16, 2009

A New Light on Winchester Hallís Scheming

Roy Meachum

The Frederick News-Post’s Meg Tully reported this week: “The Frederick County Commissioners voted 4-1 Tuesday to call for a special election for those who live on those properties as one more way to delay or stop the much-debated annexations.”


As Ms. Tully points out “the county’s decision is separate from an attempt to force the issue to referendum through citizen petition.” Later in her story she points to the dissident from Winchester Hall’s block. “Commissioner Charles Jenkins…thinks that if there is a referendum, it should come from citizens.”


Thank you, Mr. Jenkins, the only mind that seems to grasp what his colleagues rigorously propose is against the law, as it is understood. The commissioners may dictate what happens county-wide but each village, town and city has the right to determine what’s best for itself.


The chief arguments I’ve heard for Winchester Hall’s meddling in annexation has to do with schools and water; the county remains responsible for each. On the other hand, marveling at the immigration from metro areas, I have no doubt that families will continue to come; where they reside has much to do with service, facilities and their cost, including taxes. At least in the city, voters have direct access to officials, unlike the county go-around. In Frederick, that means instead of shoveling cash to faceless bureaucrats, we know who to influence and blame.


In addition to Commissioners John “Lennie” Thompson and Kai Hagen, board President Jan Gardner wrote a letter to Annapolis, calling for state intervention in favor of no annexation. David Gray has not been cited for anything particular but long-time observers can summon up remembrance of his do-nothing positions. He’s not a man famous for taking controversial stances.


In addition to proclaiming their fears of what annexation can bring, petition signers should know they are kowtowing to Winchester Hall, investing in commissioners’ hands power over the city.


To emphasize the major issues involved, former Frederick mayors Ron Young, Jim Grimes and Jennifer Dougherty have asked voters not to sign the petition seeking to take the annexations to referendum. Especially Ms. Dougherty has little in common with her predecessors; the enmity with Mr. Young was spelled out four years ago. She defeated Mr. Grimes in 2001, which did not endear her to his supporters. On the other hand, their unity on this point should scream out loud the importance with which they hold the situation.


By the way, current Mayor Jeff Holtzinger has managed to create an alternate for those people who regret their enlisting in the commissioner’s cause: they will find in City Hall a way to disassociate with Winchester Hall’s specious campaign. Another signature will wipe the first one out.


Not incidentally, I find repulsive the paying of hucksters who set about enlisting numbers against annexation; the more signatures they get the higher their rewards. I have no idea where the money comes from. The mayor’s letter to residents, paid for by developers, at least was in accord with his strong feelings on the subject. When it comes to the hucksters, they can be suspected of hustling for their pay, no matter their convictions; if indeed they live in Frederick.


As in Tuesday’s column, my Scotch-Irish blood foams when others decide what I must do. The great comfort in this situation lies in 2010 elections. All the commissioners stand accused and guilty for selling out Frederick City voters by insisting we are incapable of understanding what’s right for us.


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