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April 15, 2015

Expanding and Correcting the Record

Guest Columnist

Robert White, Jr.

This is submitted as a response to Kirby Delauter's recent column: "Demagoguery and a Questionable Appointment."

In the matter of my recent appointment to the Frederick County Planning and Zoning Commission, Mr. Delauter, in his column posted on April 10, 2015, demonstrates some factual and logical inconsistencies.

1) I was not on the Board of the Friends of Frederick County (FoFC) until sometime after my previous service on the Planning Commission ended on June 30, 2012. Any lawsuits filed by Friends of Frederick County were in the works and approved long before I was asked to join the board. I never, as a FoFC board member, voted to approve or disapprove the filing of any lawsuit of any kind. Since Mr. Delauter notes that FoFC has "been suing the county for more than five years," that pretty well puts me in the clear in that regard.

2) While it may be a fine point, I have never been a "member" of Friends of Frederick County. This organization is not a membership organization. It is a 501(c)3 charitable organization devoted to conservative and responsible development of Frederick County's land and water resources and the careful management and use of its natural and built environment.

3) How was my name "shoved down the throats" of council members? This new system of government is vastly different from the previous commissioners' version – something Mr. Delauter does not acknowledge in his column. Under our Charter government the county executive selects appointees to boards and commissions. This is significantly different than the previous method of selection which involved an interview of all candidates by the Board of County Commissioners. Actually, had I had an interview with the council I am sure I could have satisfactorily answered any questions the members of the council might have had. It may not have changed Mr. Delauter's mind – but the lack of substance in his criticism would have been evident.

4) Mr. Delauter's previous actions have shown just how inconsistent his expressed concerns over my appointment may be. He affects a concern that I had served on the board of an organization that, prior to my service, had sued Frederick County. These suits apparently arose over the possibly illegal or impermissible actions of the very Board of County Commissioners on which Mr. Delauter served. Mr. Delauter had come to the new County Council fresh from trying to illegally appoint a member of his Board of County Commissioners to the Planning Commission – without a public interview – in fact, without any public process whatsoever.

While I was not involved in Friends of Frederick County's decision-making on filing the lawsuits in question, it apparently was this lack of regard for law and due process that had prompted the FoFC lawsuits in the first place. In fact, Friends of Frederick County may simply have been responding directly to the dictum laid out by Mr. Delauter's former Commissioner (and now Council) colleague Billy Shreve, who stated: "We can do whatever we want unless we get sued!"

Though I was not part of the decision making by FoFC, that arrogant attitude certainly explains why Friends of Frederick County might have deemed it necessary to sue a county government which it may have felt had repeatedly violated established county law and land use and planning procedure. It was apparently left with no other avenue for addressing potentially unethical and/or illegal actions taken by the former Board of County Commissioners. Those commissioners may have left them no alternative but filing lawsuits!

            I am responding as a private citizen and not as a member of the county’s Planning and Zoning Commission. I just wanted to set the record straight as I see it.



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