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March 13, 2012

Name-Calling in Winchester Hall

Roy Meachum

David Gray called Blaine Young “a damn liar” Thursday in Winchester Hall. Scarcely polite language even between politicians. The name-calling came during a bristly conversation on which employees must serve at the pleasure of the Board of County Commissioners.


Commissioners’ President Young is generally credited for the all-Republican board – except Mr. Gray; he simply bears the right party label. An incumbent since 1990, he comes down as the prickly commissioner on virtually all issues. Once-president and subsequently vice-president, under every label he has proven the odd-man out, which may very much explain his political success. He always appears in a role that conforms to popular sentiment, not necessarily the majority.


The confrontation can confuse occasional observers. After all, when Mr. Young was appointed by the party to serve out the elected term of Del. Charles Jenkins, Mr. Gray generated a media response on the ways he welcomed the new commissioner, who complained at the time about being cold-shouldered by his new colleagues. The 2010 election saw the WFMD Radio host justified – and triumphantly so.


Commissioner Young has rejected all support from his father, longtime Frederick Mayor Ron Young (D), except in the son’s race to become a City Hall alderman. After that, he went on to found the local Tea Party. He has become the very model of a modern Republican. From his first day at Winchester Hall’s top desk, he has followed the GOP rule, cutting expenses and firing people. The rhubarb last week was in that vein.


Commissioner Gray thought the displaced should have an appeal process. “It doesn’t matter much,” as the Frederick News-Post’s Peter McCarthy reported. “You targeted people. Everybody is in fear around here.”


Mr. Young protested he was simply following precedent from the previous board. That’s the point at which Mr. Young was called “a damn liar.” He said, “We followed the same exact process. He (Gray) just has this amnesia.”


The multiple-term commissioner responded: “I have no amnesia.” To which, he received a reply: “Half the time you don’t even know what you voted for.”


To close that part of the dialogue, David Gray said: “I’m tired of your show-off garbage.”


In late January, when the board discussed making English the official language, he accused them of acting like “Nazis,” isolating the foreign-born, especially the county’s numerous Latinos, like Hitler segregated, sanctioned and killed Jews.


Before Thursday, it was obvious there was no love lost between the maverick commissioner and the four who flooded into Winchester Hall, primarily because of Barack Obama’s great unpopularity in the county. Only in this case presidential status is not involved. Age could be. At 70, David Gray is 30 years older than Blaine Young, which, again, might have nothing to do with their generally testy relationship. Frankly, I have no way to say.


After the rancorous encounter, Mr. Gray went on to accuse the younger commissioner of “bully tactics.”


The commissioners’ president commented: “That type of bickering is not beneficial. I respect anybody who is heated and passionate.” He summed up to reporter McCarthy, “I get passionate. Let’s just try to make our points and be respectful.”


Examining the back-and-forth, I cannot detect “respect” on either side.


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