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December 3, 2010

Odd Man Out

Roy Meachum

Mike Sponseller picked me up early. He wanted to sit on the front row to cheer the new Board of County Commissioners; he had more than his share of troubles with the old ones.


Given my druthers, I don’t usually go to these stunning, prolonged political events. Aside from the official program, on the other hand, I very much enjoyed the other part: the gathering of powerful men and women. Or used-to-bes.


I delightedly swapped kisses with Anita Stup, clutched the hand of Sterling Bollinger and bent over to let Bruce Reeder know how I still cherish him. Don Linton came without his pretty wife; shucks! Newly sworn-in again Sheriff Chuck Jenkins and I exchanged grins.


Ex-mayor Jeff Holtzinger still looms bulky and his predecessor Jim Grimes retains his cowlick. Present Mayor Randy McClement’s eyes are bluer than I remember; his grip was firm, as usual. writers Rocky Mackintosh, Steve Berryman and Norm Covert were pleased to see each other, out in public, pretending to be normal people. Barley & Hops’ Gary Brooks superintended his crew that served food; I recognized the taste of his wings from his monthly GOP parties.


Only Tuesday, my column considered the fact that the new county fathers are just that; there’s no woman to help tidy up after all those men. And no Democrats.


When I first moved here, nearly 28 years ago, the political roost was ruled by ultra-conservative Democrats, more right-wing than most Republicans in that era. Veterinarian James E. McClellan was the go-to boss; he was backed by the wonderfully warm state Sen. Charles Smelser, who smiled rather than bully.


The aforementioned Anita Stup was the first Republican to defy Dr. McClellan’s dictates; she ran on her own all the way to Annapolis where she found herself surrounded by “the other party.” By the way, sitting on the front row beside his brother-in-law Mike Sponseller and me was David Brinkley, who fills Sen. Charlie Smelser’s old seat.


Ancient Greeks used “agape” for what went on Wednesday morning. Love was mostly everywhere. Funny and apt gifts were presented and most people on stage smiled. Bonhomie flowed everywhere and almost with everyone. New/old Commissioner David Gray held himself aloof.


They were all given their spots in the spotlight. When first-time Commissioner Kirby Delauter took his turn, Mr. Gray’s hard stare expressed downright hostility.


On his dime, the longtime Winchester Hall denizen announced open houses for citizens every month, at his invitation. I’m sure he expects a deluge of hostilities against Commission President Blaine Young and his new colleagues. But then he must have been astonished that his fellow co-conspirator Kai Hagan lost. But the reason was exactly why David Gray was re-elected.


Tuesday I lamented the unthinking way that voters go only for the party slate, not individuals. Mr. Hagan is a Democrat; and it was an electorate bound and determined to replace any donkey with an elephant.


Under the circumstances, David Gray should thank the four who swept him back into office; using their unity, they set a model for elections in the future. On the other, as I’ve said, enacting all their campaign promises may be another matter.


Let me borrow Wednesday’s colleague Kevin Dayhoff’s quote from his McDaniel political science professor; Herb Smith observed:


“Now comes the hard part – governing.”


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