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November 20, 2009

Commissionersí Hypocrisy

Roy Meachum

Winchester Hall changed the rules again. Unable to keep the tax base invested in three properties Frederick agreed to annex, county commissioners voted 4-1 to bar development based on school spaces available. Charles Jenkins was the lone vote not to tinker with owners’ rights.


In the past, real estate holders could have started construction in five years no matter what the county mother and fathers said. That seemed fair. Given tax takings on the property over the time, the commissioners could have prepared the public facilities to match. Now they’re saying the classroom seats must be in place before a nail goes into a board. It sounds as if they’re betting the population boom is over. Maybe they know something the rest of us don’t know.


On the other hand, the commissioners may want to slow down growth; that’s the position advocated for some years by John “Lennie” Thompson. He wants things to slow way down or stop altogether. He has frequently and publically lamented about the Frederick County “lost” since his childhood. The same observation can be made about any place, even my New Orleans – before Hurricane Katrina smashed whole neighborhoods down. Emigration from metropolitan areas is as natural and inevitable – as works of nature. Get over it, Lennie.


In passing legislation that takes effect this late in the game, commissioners risk law suits based on owners’ rights. What seems aimed for Frederick City could risk future development around other towns that don’t have adequate public facilities ordnances. Living on North Market Street, I agree with those recently quoted that Smart Growth has not worked out very well. By mid-afternoon I am very reluctant to head my old car into expanding traffic jams, to the south. If I had wanted to sit, my engine running, waiting for the street lanes to move, why would I have left the Washington metro area 27 years ago?


Let it be clear: Mr. Thompson never advocated any proposition, smart or not, that lets additional people into his childhood haunts. He was “agin” everything, and then some. He wanted nothing to disturb his reveries. Since this time he added the board’s absolute majority, we can but speculate that President Jan Gardner and her colleagues had a hissy fit when none of their tricks worked to stop the city’s annexation. They tried several, including a referendum and attempts to force a vote only from those who live on the properties now.


Ms. Gardner sticks to her political theme: “I think this is an education issue, and it is about putting kids first.” She went on to tell The Frederick News-Post: “It is up to the adults in the community to make sure we provide adequate schools for the education of our students.”


That’s less than credible because of her other ruses, leading up this week’s ordinance. And lest others might mistake her intentions, the motion she supported applies solely to annexations effected since June 23, 2009. How transparent can she be? “Putting kids first?” Sure. If you believe that I have a bridge you can have for a bargain price.


In a recent column, I accused Winchester Hall of wanting to dictate to the City of Frederick. I stand by that charge, amplified with hypocrisy. Four county commissioners have absolutely no shame. Thank God for Charles Jenkins.


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