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October 29, 2010

Lousy, Stinking Politics

Roy Meachum

Going into the weekend before Tuesday’s election, The Frederick News-Post contained several surprising items – even in a political season when surprises can be expected.


On a positive note, Marvin Ausherman, Mandie Weller, Barry Weller and John Laughlin smiled in Thursday’s News-Post page 3 ad; they joined other highly respected businessmen who endorse Ron Young for the State Senate in District 3. All Republicans, they reject their party’s choice, incumbent Alex Mooney.


Among the county’s larger employers, they believe firmly that Democrat Young would be much better for Frederick’s economy. All are motivated by the bottom line; no wannabe maker of profits votes against his best financial interest.


So much for GOP claims that every Republican candidate stands as an advocate for a better business clime; Marvin Ausherman, John Laughlin, the Wellers, Al Cohen, Bob Smariga and others in state Sen. Mooney’s party disagree!!


People of my acquaintance find Commissioner Kai Hagen contemptible; among them, Michael Marschner.


Over my years of Frederick “columning” – is that a word? – I’ve dealt with more than my share of bureaucrats – those who hold office by appointment, not the voters’ will. As readers know, I have full-fledged contempt for bureaucracy as such.


But when the general characterization needs proof by an excellent example, memories of Mike Marschner come to mind. We came together over the county’s water crisis; which one, among the several, no longer matters.


But Mike demonstrated professionalism, never a hint of partisanship, as all governmental employees should; many do not, they are busy covering their “rumpe,” as my Norwegian stepfather put it. They will say or do anything to keep their jobs. The exiting director of Utilities and Solid Waste Management could not be bothered. He’s stuck to doing his job, whatever.


In the current hullabaloo over the waste-to-energy trash incinerator, Mike Marschner pounded out and commissioned several studies and surveys; he led the pro-WTE incinerator push. The idea was approved by the current Board of County Commissioners, 4-1 – leaving Kai Hagan alone.


In the vote, I received a surprise: David Gray went with the vilified majority. In my opinion after 26 years observing the local scene, Mr. Gray is a relentless seeker of popularity. The bigger the citizen noises over any issue grabs his support; far better was his fading colleague Commissioner John “Lennie” Thompson.


Lennie’s mind is further ahead of David’s, in sticking to a decision when it provokes an out-roar; on this issue, the exiting commissioner studied, examined and approved the WTE system. He has provided admirable restraint, standing up to the deluge of shrieks and yelling, accompanying Mr. Hagen’s faction attempting to head-bust the board’s approval.


On the other hand, Mr. Thompson has recklessly used his official powers to hurt ordinary citizens, as I wrote. His departure from public life will not be mourned in this corner.


Mr. Hagen and the anti-WTE gang, despite the realities posed in the situation, hope the board elected Tuesday will focus on his populist platform: the incinerator concept must be banished forevermore.


An advertisement in the same paper, the pro-Young ad and Meg Tully’s balanced article on the Marschner situation, there were listed scores of Frederick County’s voters who demanded, rightfully. Winchester Hall get on with the project. The names were in another full-page ad. Editor John Ashbury published, in its entirety, Mike’s public letter to Commissioner Hagen, which came nearly a week after he resigned/retired from the county payroll. The politician was right; it was a political attack, coming a week before Tuesday’s elections, hoping to dissuade citizens recruited for the anti-incinerator crusade.


Protecting the concept, the USWM director wrote to Mr. Hagen: “…you have continually attacked me and the staff…regarding the project with snide insinuation and e-mails and during public presentations…has been less than professional and childish.”


As recently as two months ago, Mike Marschner wrote: “…the current BOCC decided to have a qualified independent consultant review the WTE project model an in depth review of the electronic spreadsheets and assumptions and prepare a report” for Winchester Hall,” the retiring/resigning county director wrote, “…you (Hagen) unjustly criticized the consultant…inferred a conflict of interest..”


From my view, the highly publicized anti-WTE crusade smacks of lousy, stinking politics and a way to boost to the board candidates with the only qualification being their opposition to the incinerator.


Shame on Kai Hagen for refusing to acknowledge a majority vote, which is the existential base of the republic. He has been acting singularly UnAmerican!!


On the other hand, Frederick’s leading business people acted in a singularly unpartisan way by endorsing ex-Frederick Mayor Ron Young for state Senate, against their own party’s Alex Mooney.


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