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December 18, 2009

On His Way Out the Door

Roy Meachum

The Frederick News-Post published this week the story: On his way out the door, new ex-mayor Jeff Holtzinger “signed off on legal action against Frederick County to appeal an ordinance requiring developers to abide by strict school capacity requirements on newly annexed land.” The quote comes directly from the front-page piece.


In a real sense, reporter Adam Behsudi was picking up on Board President Jan Gardner’s propaganda motif as cited in the column “Commissioners Hypocrisy.” Let me please repeat the observations from the Nov. 20, 2009,


“Ms. Gardner sticks to her political theme. ‘I think it 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.’ ”


Bushwa! As we say in Louisiana. In that column I continued my thought:


“That’s less than credible because of her other ruses, leading up to 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.”


Using the June date the Frederick aldermen okayed the Summers, Thatcher and Crum farms addition to the city, the commissioners’ hypocrisy could not have been more clear: having failed by several political stratagems to keep control of the potentially tax-rich properties, Ms. Gardner was attempting to mask their effort with hypocrisy.


In an October column, I cited the commissioner president for reminding “all and sundry that Winchester Hall plans revenge (for the annexations); she highlighted the crises owners (developers) face in obtaining – from the county – sewer and water for the properties. Her lack of subtlety is a scream. Of course, from the get-go, everybody knew the intricate bureaucracy development must contend with in the future. What the county highest elected official failed to mention was the water question lies somewhere down the line. Certainly not in my lifetime and maybe not in hers.”


But all’s fair when trying to stop an unapproved political action. Curiously, in attempting to head off the annexations, the guardian of the county schools failed to mention classrooms; and there was nothing at all about: “Putting kids first.”


Again my thoughts: “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.”


Mr. Jenkins could have been surprised by my all-out praise. The Republican commissioner and I seldom agree. On the other hand, we can wonder how John “Lennie” Thompson claims membership in the GOP, which opposes specifically the rendering of local (in this case city) control to higher authority (county). The point that Mr. Jenkins’ party and I agree on is the Jeffersonian principle that the best government governs least.


Mr. Thompson’s record upholds his belief in concentrating power in the least (his) hands. As for his fellow Republican, David Gray, who went along with the majority opposing annexation, Mr. Gray always goes along, that’s what he does the best. That’s how he achieved the popularity that keeps getting him elected.


In the News-Post story, the last word goes to “Lennie” Thompson; he’s allowed to muse about the new City Hall administration: “What did the upcoming board and mayor know about the lawsuit and when did they know it?, he said.”


The day before he filed the legal action Mr. Holtzinger and I talked on the phone; he was in his office and so was his replacement, Randy McClement. The outgoing mayor volunteered that he had carved out space for his successor – who could hear his end of the conversation.


With such closeness, there can be little doubt that Mr. McClement knew well in advance Jeff’s intention of filing the suit. As for the new aldermen, they presumably were told; otherwise they read and listen to the media, there can be no doubt – even if Mr. Thompson gives fresh evidence he does not. Well, maybe. He’s very quick to respond to adverse comments.


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