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April 11, 2003

Mayor’s Power Play Lands In The Rough

David 'Kip' Koontz


No! It isn’t the call of a golfer at the 1st Annual Mayor’s Golf Classic held at Frederick’s Clustered Spires Golf Course.

It is, rather, the call of Aldermen Bill Hall and Mayor Jennifer Dougherty urging their colleagues to duck as they continue to lob charges, counter-charges, insults and counter-insults at each other, demonstrating the real success of the recent mediation session.

The city’s freshest ballyhoo came about because Herzonner Dougherty decided that the city’s golf course shouldn’t extend complimentary golf to city employees or elected officials.

Sad thing about the "employees" at the golf course is that many are retired and they volunteer to do things to help maintain the course simply because they receive rounds of free golf instead of luxurious salaries.

Guess Herzonner wanted to include more funding for Clustered Spires to cover higher salaries, which would have been necessary if these "volunteer" city employees quit.

Nah, most likely she hoped the folks would work simply for the fun of it.

Or maybe Hezonner hoped they wouldn’t work so the course would look unkempt. Then may be no one would play on it and it would become exceptionally unprofitable.

Then, maybe Herzonner could, as she stated she wanted to do during the campaign, garner enough support among the aldermen to sell it.

After all Clustered Spires was high on her list of "surplus properties" the city owned that she claimed should be sold.

Be that as it may. Alderman Bill Hall claimed that Herzonner’s attempt to ban free golf was aimed at him, claiming that when Ms. Dougherty found out he played golf said: "I’m the only one you came after."

To which Herzonner retorted, "I don’t think I should have the privilege of getting free golf as mayor."

At one point Herzonner seemed fine with the idea of allowing employees and volunteers to play for free as she indicated that her biggest issue was that elected officials shouldn’t play for free.

Free golf isn’t the big issue here.

The big issue is that Ms. Dougherty once again tried to side step the Board of Aldermen.

She made the declaration that employees and elected officials wouldn’t get to play for free and put it in effect two weeks prior to a public Mayor and Board meeting, at which time public comments (do they count?) could be heard and a vote be taken.

When critics talk about the mayor’s apparent "do it my way or the highway" approach, it is exactly these types of actions she undertakes that continue to fan the flames.

In this case, she lost big.

The mayor was unable to garner one vote supporting her resolution excluding elected officials from playing golf for free—though she declared, "If I’m playing, I’m paying."

At some point this mayor needs to learn that mediation means more than learning how to speak to one another.

It might just mean learning how to work together and, well, maybe even discussing ideas with the all the Board of Aldermen and not just the chosen few. And it might also lead to a halt in the never-ending litany of what seem to be power plays to benefit only herself.

If not, next election season Herzonner may be "paying" at the ballot box as the voters may hook right or hook left and place Ms. Dougherty’s name in the proverbial rough.

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