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September 11, 2017

In the Shadow of a Meme

Jason Miller

As the Frederick County election season starts, Democrat incumbents on the County Council will engage in an agenda of verbal trickery, historical revisions, and false outrage.


Over the course of this past week, Councilman Jerry Donald and Council Vice President M.C. Keegan-Ayer tipped their hand on how they intend to assist County Executive Jan Gardner with these tactics to counter Councilman Kirby Delauter’s bid for county executive.


According to local media sources, the fiasco started after Councilman Donald posted his opinion about Councilman Delauter’s position on the issue of Frederick County becoming a sanctuary county. The posting ended with Mr. Donald questioning Mr. Delauter’s ability to represent Frederick County to Fortune 500 companies.


After Councilman Donald posted his profanity laced description of Councilman Delauter’s position on the sanctuary county issue to Facebook, Donald’s supporters embraced Mr. Donald’s description with their own comments of similar nature.


One comment, was an image posted by a Donald supporter that showed a stern man with a young boy bent over his knee and beating the boy as if to punish him. Councilman Donald’s face was placed over the stern man’s face and Councilman Delauter’s face was superimposed on the face of the small boy. The meme was just the start.


Councilman Delauter confronted Councilman Donald about the meme after a closed session of the Frederick County Council last Tuesday and suggested its removal. As I was not there, I will not comment as to what happened.


I will say, however, that Councilman Donald and Council Vice President Keegan-Ayer took to their Facebook pages to declare their outrage over it. Councilman Delauter was set up by Councilman Donald to fall into a well-laid political trap. Even Delauter’s opponent Kathy Afzali could land a well-placed quip at Delauter’s expense in the whole ordeal. This is not the fault of Councilman Delauter, but rather his County Executive campaign manager who did not see this coming a mile away. The local media covered the meme story in depth but completely missed the real story.


The real story was that Councilman Tony Chmelik successfully got the council to agree to conduct workshops referencing County Executive Jan Gardner’s partisan reports on Frederick County land development and the erroneous report on how development increases traffic issues that cost the county tax payers considerably. Councilman Chmelik pressed home his request for an independent study of Ms. Gardner’s partisan report after a 15-hour binge study of land development issues in Frederick County over Labor Day weekend.


Councilman Chmelik’s persistence was much to the chagrin of Councilman Keegan-Ayer, who made every effort to thwart Mr. Chmelik in a stickily partisan defense of Ms. Gardner’s data while being aided by Councilman Jessica Fitzwater who seemed to have been upset by the fact that Mr. Chmelik would debate any issues in depth and in the open. Ms. Fitzwater at one point seemed irritated because Mr. Chmelik did his homework, and she was unprepared to talk intelligently on the matters. She confessed that she had been busy on vacation and had not read the county executive’s report or the study in question.


A “Request For Proposal” (RFP) for an independent study on development doom and gloom in Frederick County is on the way. It might not be as gloomy as the county executive would have everyone believe.


All the while Democrats are going after Councilman Delauter by baiting traps for his own reactions. Delauter’s own campaign manager left Delauter ill-prepared for this predictable and classic political pitfall.


The result of this episode was that two Democrats on the County Council, through faux outrage, shifted the local media headlines from “FCC Questions County Executives Findings on Development” into “Meme Mayhem.”


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