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As Long as We Remember...

October 11, 2011

County Matters

Roy Meachum

Stuart Harvey is a hero; he runs the county’s Board of Elections. I’ve mentioned the name before and always in a positive sense.


Mr. Harvey won’t tolerate the electoral messes that were too common when I moved to Frederick, almost 29 years ago. Political matters rested in the powerful hands of veterinarian James E. (Doc) McClellan. Stuart makes sure that no human being has “insider” control.


With considerable publicity horns blaring forth, a petition seeking annulment of the Winchester Hall appointment of a panel to write the county’s “constitution” was instituted. Former Commissioner John L. Thompson acted as the attorney for the group of wannabe “nay sayers.” As usual, he paid scant attention to rules. Some 2,915 citizens indicated, more or less, they wanted the petition to go forth; 2,000 names were required.


The Board of Elections declared that only 1,741 signatures were valid. Retired Circuit Court Judge John H. (Hamp) Tisdale, Jr., pronounced that 408 were disqualified; the petitioners didn’t write their middle names or initials on the forms circulated high and wide. “Lennie” Thompson goofed again. Maryland requirements for petition are straightforward and simple enough. The full legal names are required so authorities can cross check with voter registration lists and the Motor Vehicles Administration, in case they have driving licenses.


Board of County Commissioners’ President Blaine Young estimates $8,000 in public funds have been spent thus far. Attorney Thompson said appeal to a higher court is possible. There’s not a dime from “Lennie’s” pocket in danger.


A movement’s afoot to grant the Frederick County Board of Education powers to go for citizens’ pocketbooks directly, instead of going through Winchester Hall. Since I thought all possible pennies in the property tax go into classrooms, I’m confused – as usual – about knowing what the commissioners will do for revenue, besides the county’s share of sales tax and licensing fees. Board of Education President Brad Young guessed to a reporter that if the measure goes through he and his fellow education board members must establish a new office. The last thing we need is another layer of bureaucrats.


The movement originated in the Board of County Commissioners led by his “political” blood brother, the aforementioned Blaine. I know Ron Young’s Republican child goes in a purposefully different direction than the former mayor, but I thought the siblings were closer. Certainly they campaigned together in last year’s elections, although from different parties. I’m again confused why the Young boys did not coordinate the move for Winchester Hall to move aside for the school board. The Frederick News-Post story indicated Blaine caught Brad unaware.


Otherwise, I know no one who thinks the school board should collect a separate levy for teachers’ pay, maintenance costs, etc. publishes salary lists annually; despite supervision by the commissioners, the wages for administrative jobs has struck me as outlandish. If the Board of Education is left on its own, God knows how the no-classroom bureaucrats might reward themselves.


The majority in Winchester Hall elected last November rallied behind cutting expenses; so far we’ve witnessed more than several people losing their heretofore “safe” positions and longstanding programs disassembled. There were yelps and tears from those directly affected. In this laissez fare community, the cries were expected. No one knows voters’ reaction to creating a separate tax schedule. I don’t expect the uproar will be favorable – if it comes to that.


Despite all its claims to uphold the Constitution, the Tea Party inspired moves are weakening the consent of the governed; at least that’s the view from this corner.


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