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September 23, 2004

Lifting Mr. Cady’s Burden

Norman M. Covert

I was thinking recently about Frederick County Commissioner Michael Cady. I sensed a distinct parallel to the unfairness of the bogus George W. Bush memoranda. I considered that CBS News and Dan Rather displayed little integrity in unashamedly trashing the President of the United States with information wholly based on fiction.

Mr. Cady has been subjected to the same kind of unfair trashing in the columns of the local newspapers and radio news reports. I guess I’m a product of the “olden days” of news papering, and I am beginning to lose confidence in this generation of media “personalities.”

As a student and cub reporter, I was taught to report both sides of a story; to prove my sources; to validate the information; and NEVER intentionally seek to hurt someone. The owners of my newspaper were never afraid to support my articles when they were: 1. Newsworthy; 2. Accurate; and 3. Fair.

Regarding Mr. Cady, the local news coverage of him has rarely been newsworthy, accurate, or fair. Mr. Cady is a well-meaning, conscientious servant of the people. Many wonder why he continues to answer reporters’ questions, but – we must remember – he doesn’t compound ill manners.

Michael has been the target of attack after attack from our local rag since his election to office. He has given of himself to this community for many years, spending much of his limited income on the welfare of Frederick’s underprivileged young people. Any doubters should talk to former students at Frederick High School, who were also students at his weightlifting facility.

He was publicly humiliated for having the temerity to ask for donations to his small weightlifting “gym” where he coached young people exhaustively in the art of competitive Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) weightlifting. His students competed national and internationally and he encouraged them to excel. That was his profession and when elected to office he made arrangements to eliminate the appearance of “evil.”

But because of the pressure, he had to close up shop and find a place to store the extensive and expensive equipment. Empty warehouse space offered by Frederick County Public Schools to store the equipment was deemed to be a “conflict of interest.” Thus far our county young people, many of the “underprivileged variety,” were denied access to it AND the personal, gratis coaching.

But Mr. Cady’s enemies were apparently so angry that they kept up the pressure, citing “unethical behavior.” In reality, they hated his integrity and his success in the election as a Republican Party candidate.

The Frederick News-Post constantly quoted or wrote – without attribution – intimations that Mr. Cady would trade his votes in favor of “developers” for contributions to the weightlifting program. Mr. Cady, first of all, is only one vote among five, and the man I know would seek the owner if he found a quarter on the street.

Mr. Cady is truly an idealist who knows what it takes to overcome adversity. His personal story is public knowledge, but because of it he wants to help others. The News-Post did not and does not see it that way.

George B. Delaplaine, Jr., former owner and publisher of The News-Post, would usually require coverage of both sides of an issue. His successors have changed the course of coverage.

I was greatly disappointed in November 2001 when the News-Post wrote an article personally attacking Aldermanic Candidate William Ashton, four days before Election Day. Mr. Ashton had some genuine skeletons in his closet, but none was relevant to the election. In addition, Mr. Ashton was a sure bet to finish out of the running in the election – and he did.

However, the News-Post felt it necessary to trash this man who wanted to serve his community. Mr. Ashton was devastated by the stories. He had neither the money, nor the will to pursue redress for the embarrassment caused by the newspaper. Mr. Ashton did not have influence or prestige, thus the “Power of the Press” achieved no honor by bringing him to his knees – but that’s what they did.

Mr. Cady came into their sights in late July. With prodding from a local activist, the News-Post trumpeted an anonymous charge of unethical conduct because Mr. Cady actively pursued an effort to bring a pre-Olympic Games international weightlifting competition to Frederick County and Mount St. Mary’s University’s Knott Arena.

Mr. Cady is a Frederick County commissioner and a major part of his job is PUBLIC RELATIONS. How else would the county attract new businesses if the commissioners were unwilling to actively work the world of commerce, show the flag, schmooze and create a positive county atmosphere? It is IMAGE followed by ACTION.

Businesses go somewhere else when the community has such negative thinkers as board president John (Lennie) Thompson. One wonders why State Farm Insurance decided to move a large portion of its work force from Monocacy Boulevard to Charlottesville, VA, which has become THE place to have your headquarters. Bet its commissioners were doing a bit of PR.

Mr. Cady never made a secret of his quest to put the county on the international competition map. Every commissioner knew what was going on and each probably performed more than one task to help out. It was certainly an effort worthy of all our best efforts.

Mr. Thompson even signed a letter of welcome and congratulations given to each competitor. Money was raised by a separate committee, not Mr. Cady, and the event was a great success. Mr. Cady earned nothing from it and he still only wields ONE vote on the board.

Not one commissioner spoke against the competition; many attended the event. The residents and leaders of Emmitsburg and ‘up county” were overjoyed to have the event in their front yard. It brought dollars to the county and community. Most of all it resulted in prestige and a reputation that Frederick County cares about young people performing activities that are wholesome and uplifting (pun intended).

Only certain folks at the News-Post could take such a positive event and make it a negative!

So, I would hope the Ethics Commission will throw out the accusations and congratulate Mr. Cady for a job well done.

I’m sorry that Mr. Thompson hasn’t jumped to Mr. Cady’s defense, nor have any other commissioners found it expedient to speak with any volume on his behalf.

I hope the News-Post editorial leadership will right its ship and stop its policy of personal attacks. We need a NEWSpaper in town.

We also need good and decent men like Mr. Cady, who could bench press the lot of them, but has better things to do.

Thanks, Michael.

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