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April 12, 2016

A Chat with President Otis

Harry M. Covert

It’s easy to be verbose about the machinations on national politics. It’s not so tranquil to comment about local affairs when it’s so close to home, and the writers and partisan observers just might run into their victims in the grocery store or restaurants.


Let’s admit it. You gotta be tough with a thick skin and a quick getaway if the need arises’


That probably sounds a bit chicken. But, we all want to be liked and adored. Certainly, as our mamas might say, we deserve it. Let me proceed.


Since Miss Reames’ fifth grade class, I knew I’d be in the writing and opinion business. I jumped in not using cursive but a typewriter. I was almost in love with Miss Reames. She doted on all of her students. She caught me off guard one day and had me singing a duet with her, “Church in the Wildwood.” Sure I sounded “sweet and nice” as she said, but my colleagues laughed and howled.


The next day we had a substitute teacher. She took a short break and somehow I got involved sailing some paper aeroplanes across the room. Well, I got caught and for the first and only time of my career, enjoyed a day at home.


After a brief fatherly situation, I returned to class.


Thankfully, Miss Reames was back at her desk and distributed The Weekly Reader. All was well. The top story was about the coming construction of Dulles Airport for modern America. So, I wrote a letter to the editor saying how great this was.


They published my three-paragraph letter, and I knew then I’d get into the newspaper business somehow. Maybe it was the byline that made a difference, but the decision was made.


Since those majestic days for a not-yet-teenager, I’ve made some progress.


I liked interviewing the big shots. I admit this made me feel important, but I’d never admitted it until these days.


From those days, I learned to ask. I contacted Mr. Harold “Bud” Otis, first president of the Frederick County Council. This is my first time trying, and he accepted. I’ve never met him personally, but I do like his snazzy appearances. Not sure of his politics, but he did win.


Q: Mr. President: “How has your term progressed?”


Mr. Otis: “We started with a blank slate and have established working rules and procedures for the operation of our meetings.”


Q: “Has the council work continued to be effective?”


Mr. Otis: “Voters asked for good government. We have developed a strong and cohesive working relationship Do we see eye-to-eye all the time? Of course not, but we do come away knowing the pluses and minuses from each other’s point of view.”


Q: “What are the high points so far?”


Mr. Otis: “We’ve collaborated to find a solution to building three schools which needed monies not in the county budget.”


NOTE: There is more to this interview to be concluded later this week.


The second part of this report is with Her Worship, County Executive Jan Gardner. I’ve used this courtesy title which comes from British sister cities. It is a sign of respect.


This report continues later this week.


Yellow Cab
The Morning News Express with Bob Miller
The Covert Letter

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