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As Long as We Remember...

March 17, 2015

Chief Pougetís Shabby Treatment: Just An Example

Harry M. Covert

The story breaks. Frederick County Fire Chief Denise Pouget is fired by the county executive. The action comes without notice and catches the able chief and her two deputies off guard. And, the county as well.


This is another in the line of unmerciful conduct by the executive in the four months of her accession as the county’s first such personage. I well understand political differences and partisan politics. To merely play mean and toss out a highly-qualified person is unthinkable. Chief Pouget is a known outstanding fire and EMS administrator.


Without question the chief has acquitted herself in quality style. Yes, lots of the good old boys, that’s right the old timers in the volunteer fire companies, had problems with a woman countywide chief. I didn’t forget. She received the job from the former county commissioners. She would not have been selected had she not been properly vetted.


She came to Frederick County from Alexandria, VA, just down the road, where she served as Assistant Fire EMS Chief at Alexandria Fire Department. Her Alexandria chief Adam Thiel, now Virginia’s Deputy Secretary of Public Safety & Homeland Security, supported her selection. Secretary Thiel is no novice and knows whereof he speaks.


That Frederick’s executive would treat her in such a shabby manner obviously is contemptible. It is also an example of what can be expected during the remaining years of her term.


Current leadership and operations by the county executive, and her County Council collaborators, are loathsome and not pleasant to see. Do the executive and the leadership of the council truly want to spend their next term smearing opponents? They may well not like the former commissioners, but the present manner of political conduct is not going to bode well for taxpayers on any level.


At this short stage of Frederick’s governance, the question is entirely appropriate today, borrowing from a late judge: “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” The county executive is either determined to get her own way at any and all costs, or just, frankly, doesn’t give a damn.


Now, perhaps it is time for a no confidence vote, not only for the county council leadership but of the tactics of the county executive. There must be a way for a recall vote for them all. How about charges of malfeasance? Will they be on the horizon?


Political adversaries can get along for the betterment of their constituents. This “get even” business is out of step and out of line.


Chief Pouget may have been a victim of gender jealousy. Most men won’t admit it, of course; but the male ego is bruised somewhat by taking orders from a woman, most especially if the woman isn’t the wife. Many longtime county fire officials truly ought to be ashamed for treating a professional like Chief Pouget so poorly. Not for one second do I believe it was a matter of money for the county.


When I last checked, the county executive is of the female persuasion.


It is going to be fun watching how the story is schmoozed and elucidated. The spokespersons have some heavy-duty work ahead of them. Not everything the former commissioners enacted was in error.


The battle of the county’s conservative and liberal thinkers really isn’t at stake. The combat we see is nothing short of bitterness. This is not child’s play. Destruction of common sense and good will has permeated Frederick’s management. Sad.


There are lots of issues out there to be solved. The future should be strong and powerful. If the squabbling, vitriol and meanness continues there’s going to be no joy in “Mudville.”


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