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Trying to shove local politics under your nose since before it was cool: Frederick County Edition

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April 2015

Congratulations Tony Chmelik

a beard does not make a philosopher
Congrats and welcome to the Frederick County Council

 

We really hope we don’t have too many opportunities to hand these out. Chmelik belabored this point at yesterday’s meeting. I am not sure what you would call the process of lowering the taxes, were such a thing to come about. It sure presents a potential for a messaging dilemma. Via the Frederick News Post:

Delauter, along with councilmen Tony Chmelik and Billy Shreve, want the tax rate lowered. Chmelik said Wednesday he sees Gardner’s budget as a tax increase, although her budget is based on leaving the current tax rate untouched at $1.06.

This is because the budget is above the constant yield tax rate of $1.045. Constant yield is the rate that would generate the same amount of revenue for the county as the year before. Because of rising property values next budget year, the unchanged rate is expected to generate higher revenue compared with this budget year.

The councilmen want the rate to be set even with constant yield, which would require about $4.2 million in cuts.

The prior Board of County Commissioners, which included Shreve and Delauter, adopted tax rates above the constant yield rate in fiscal 2014.

 

Email Bud Otis

It has come to our attention that our favorite Republican Councilman, Bud Otis, is the subject of an email campaign launched by our not so favorite Republican Councilmen.  It appears that when he signed the Grover Norquist tax pledge this past summer he was the only one who saw it for the grandstanding farce that it was. We stand with you Bud, and I am sure many of our readers do as well.  But email him at BOtis@FrederickCountyMD.gov just to make sure.

Stay strong. Vote your conscience.

Don’t mess with Mr. Donald!!!

As we at Frederick Local Yokel previously reported#KirbyDelauter feels really bad about the horrible position that Frederick County teachers Jerry Donald and Jessica Fitzwater are in. They are not bad people mind you, they just have some Sophie’s Choice-like decisions to make when it comes to voting on FCPS’s budget. And he is not envious at all!

Well, Mr. Donald did not appreciate these accusations and it was on at last night’s meeting! First let us refer our dear readers to the ethics opinion that Mr. Donald referred to in his comments.

image

Pretty clear, huh? We would like to think so. Both council members Donald and Fitzwater have removed themselves from any leadership positions AND any other extra positions within the school system. They have also signed a Memo of Understanding that states they will take leave without pay while attending county meetings! It is clear to us here that both council members have been absolutely above board in all their dealings. We support their efforts and wish our other council members were as forthcoming.

Councilman Donald also made the very relevant point that the Board of Education sets salaries, not the Frederick County Council. The two council members who are also teachers have no way of knowing how the money they vote on will be distributed throughout the budget.

Councilman Donald used the words “transparent” and “crystal clear” during his remarks. He must be commended for the restraint he used in looking straight ahead the entire time. We know that if it were any of us we would have turned our entire seat to our left to make sure we were being properly heard. Hopefully, all this evidence will sink in and #KirbyDelauter will end his convoluted notion that teachers’ pockets are being padded by voting on the budget.

Free Letterhead for Frederick County Residents

Please grab me up for e-communication, too!
In order to form a more responsive county government, we seek to emphasize the importance of its constituents.

After hearing Billy Shreve remark on the Kojo Nnamdi show that his opponents were less powerful than the honeybee lobby, we got a bit hot under the collar. Some of us have received letters from members of the previous BOCC that stated that our opinions were not under consideration because they were elected with the opinions they held at the time. Could it be that a serious lack of voter participation in the county has perpetuated the idea that constituents’ opinions do not need to be routinely considered by our representatives?

We have created a quick and dirty version of letterhead for our readers. Please consider using it for written communication with council members. People matter.

 Letterhead for Constituents

County Council Meeting Tonight: The Drinking Game

Tonight’s meeting has all the signs and potential for a great drinking game. The Local Yokel does not advocate drinking and driving or even following these rules to a T. This game is theoretical and for entertainment purposes only.

So grab a bottle of your favorite beverage (or take our suggestions) and prepare to settle in for great time.

Here are the rules:

  • If Billy comes early drink beer (we’re thinking about your liver here)
  • If Billy comes late drink Southern Comfort
  • If Kirby mentions Jiffy Lube – Make a Motor Oil 
  • If anyone mentions Scientology/Narconon/Trout Run/Xenu/E-Meter/L. Ron Hubbard or Dianetics drink a Champipple 
  • Anytime someone mentions budget cuts – drink
  • Anytime a council member makes a snarky comment – drink
  • Two drinks if someone needs to think before voting
  • If anyone says MOE is sufficient take a drink

Maybe this isn’t a good drinking game after all. We are tipsy in anticipation of all the potential drinking that could be done if you follow our rules. So just pick one beverage of your choice and follow the link below to watch along at 4:30 pm this afternoon.

Click here to watch live.

Lessons from economics professor #KirbyDelauter

Rarely is one properly rewarded when they slip on over to that sticky appendage of a website known as the Tentacle. But Hooey Mama we hit the jackpot yesterday! Our esteemed Councilman #KirbyDelauter had a few things to say about Jan Gardner’s budget. (Spoiler alert: He doesn’t like it.)

#KirbyDelauter’s first problem is that the property tax is not being lowered, which in his mind is a tax increase. It is extremely confusing as to how leaving an assessment alone is an increase, let alone a hidden one, I guess math is really hard sometimes. The second item of contention is the one time transfer of $2 million to cover the assumption of county buildings that he doesn’t believe should cost any money because they sit empty. One quickie look at the Jan’s budget (and please, please don’t just take our word or #KirbyDelauter’s, read it here) and lo and behold here’s the explanation:

One-time transfer to create a 2.0 million reserve fund to cover potential budget impacts from litigation (Wynne Case) and 2.0 million to cover a prior assumption of revenue from the sale of County buildings that did not materialize.

A prior assumption of revenue? And from where did this prior assumption of revenue come from? It couldn’t have been the last budget put forth by #KirbyDelatuer & Co. could it?

But the best is yet to come. The prior board privatized the maintenance of county vehicles. Jan is reinstating two of those positions with an estimated $0 cost to taxpayers. Well let’s see what #KirbyDelauter has to say about this:

The previous Board of County Commissioners outsourced fleet services for maintenance, etc. It worked great and saved the taxpayer a substantial amount of money. The executive wants to hire a full-time maintenance technician. Anyone ever see Jiffy Lube, or Quick Lube, the Lube Center, or your local garage that does maintenance on cars and trucks? Again, would you hire your own mechanic, or take your car to Jiffy Lube? You make the call.

So where to begin with this little gem? First of all, a county budget cannot be compared to a household budget. It’s not the same thing at all. How many cars does the average American household possess? Maybe 2? So of course it isn’t feasible or necessary for us to have our own personal mechanic hanging out in our garage ready to change our spark plugs or fix our transmissions. The county possesses a fleet of 950. That’s more than Jay Leno, who himself owns maintenance equipment to do the work in-house. We have to expect that there is the NEED for daily maintenance on those hundreds of vehicles. As a matter of convenience and efficiency it behooves the county to have their own maintenance workers, rather than having them stand in line at the local Jiffy Lube.

Next on the rap sheet of complaints is this lovely little gem:

Fountain Rock Lime Kiln
Fountain Rock Lime Kiln

Here’s #KirbyDelauter’s take:

Let us not forget about the Lime Kiln rehabilitation at Fountain Rock Nature Park: $600,000 to do some masonry repairs to an old lime kiln that if you took a visitor there today, they would look and say, “That’s nice” If we spend $600,000 on masonry repairs, that same visitor will look at it and say, “That’s nice”.

Don’t put words in my visitor’s mouth #KirbyDelatuer! First, of all we are big fans of Fountain Rock (and Catoctin Creek) Nature Center and see the value of keeping these county treasures open and in good repair. Having visited the Lime Kiln on many occasions we know that it is in desperate need of repair not only for the possible liability issues (in which the county of course could be sued) but also because it is a tourist attraction and tourists bring money to our stores and restaurants. I once heard it explained, “We’re Open for Business!”

But the icing on the cake, the words that we cannot believe our eyes were subjected to were these:

We have two teachers on the County Council who will vote on millions of dollars that will help their coworkers as well as themselves.

I’m not saying they’re bad people, but they are in a bad position. If they vote for these added millions to the Board of Education, the taxpayers will scream foul, claim they’re padding their own pockets. If they don’t, it will be very hard for them to walk among their peers at their schools to say the least. I don’t envy them in that position.

Well Jessica and Jerry I am sure you are beyond relieved that #KirbyDelauter does not think you are bad people! You just do bad things, like pad your wallets with all those county funds angering the tax payers from Emmittsburg down to Urbana! This coming from someone who would love to pad his wallet with county contracts.

We value open, useful discussion in our government. Especially when it comes to how our money is spent. And if our esteemed councilman had some useful words we would surely listen. However, all he wants to do is say no, no, no. We suspect this comes more from his libertarian viewpoint that government shouldn’t exist at all than it does from any real concern of how Frederick County should function.

Kirby must recuse!

Our esteemed Councilman #KirbyDelauter has his panties in a bunch lately. Not only has he had to mark up Jan’s budget with a red pen, while having flashbacks to his own marked up papers in his high school English class, he’s had some really deep thoughts on public education . Here’s a photo he recently shared with some enlightening remarks from his hero Harry Browne:

 

Too bad someone T Owings Mills didn't say why not with this pose.
Too bad someone at Olin Mills didn’t say why not with this pose.

Privatize public education?! Sure! Because educating a human being from the age of 5 until they are 18 is exactly like buying a car or computer. Exactly!  What could go wrong?  From many analyses of privatized charter schools plenty.  But putting all that aside. Someone who has such disdain for the public school system SHOULD NOT be making decisions about how they operate.  So we are making a call for #KirbyDelauter to recuse himself from any and all decisions regarding the Frederick County Public School system. Someone who so obviously  would like to see public schools dismantled has no business deciding their budget.

Makes us long for a particular thoughtful politician of yesteryear:

#Ben Franklin
#Ben Franklin

Welcoming Xenu to Frederick County?

WWXD

According to the editorial board of the Frederick News Post, we are likely to see the historical designation needed for The Church of Scientology to run a drug rehab and/or group home pass. Shuffling uncomfortably while staring at our feet isn’t going to cut it. The editorial is meant to help us swallow the inevitable from Narconon. No methadone or antidepressants from Scientologists, just bitter pills to swallow. In order to avoid entangling the county in a lawsuit, council members will need to take the first step toward accepting a treatment program that seemingly has no steps. Despite Narconon‘s track record for scams and untimely deaths, they enjoy status as a protected religion under Scientology, and Scientology specializes in exploiting its tax status and religious freedoms in a manner quite similar to the notoriously heinous Westboro “God Hates Fags” Baptist Church.

A word of appreciation is due to Jerry Donald for his efforts to find whatever may be there to satisfy his constituents. Everyone from the Scientologists to the Honeybee Lobby is hunting for the thing that will achieve the end each sees fit, before this matter is put to a vote.

Something desperately needs to change, but it seems probable that denying the historical designation isn’t going to fly. The next steps the community can take will be to ensure that the State knows that Frederick County is watching (a No Narconon at Trout Run Facebook group is a wealth of information). Perhaps state licensing and group home designations may not be compatible with their intended facility. If regulations cannot prevent the facility from opening, regulations for operation must be vigilantly enforced.

Who loves government regulations? This guy, that’s who. Listen up, Xenu. We’ve got our eyes on you.

 

To zone or not to re-zone, that is the question.

What is the big deal about zoning anyway?

#Kirby Delauter said changing the zoning on the Trout Run property to historical should have been an easy decision.

Why would he make this statement? He gave no indication that he even read the giant stack of documentation provided only an hour before the meeting.

And “Mr. I-won’t-vote-on-anything-until-I-get-more-staff-to-read-for-me” had this to say on the matter:

At the next day’s budget meeting this happened:

We learn Billy Shreve went on the Kojo Nnamdi Show to further the cause for approving the zoning change.

The following information (misinformation?) came from the content of the radio interview:

  • Hoover “thought about using it” as a retreat.
  • Hoover, Eisenhower, Clark Gable stayed there.
  • This will be great for the Frederick area since we have a huge heroin problem (Mike Rosenwald Washington Post).
  • “We want to preserve as many historic properties as possible. If you preserve it, you can do pretty much anything you want with it.” Billy Shreve

I guess that means we shouldn’t worry that the property has terrible septic issues. That seems like something that wouldn’t be important to consider when planning to build a group home.

Billy went on to state that no testimony was provided at the 04/21 Council meeting to dispute that the property is historic and the property meets 3 of the 11 criteria when only 1 is needed.

If Narcanon does not get the zoning changed to historic they will be unable to make the changes to the property that would allow them to open a treatment facility. They spent $5 million to purchase the Trout Run property. This is a pretty important piece of information. Certainly, they want a return on their investment.

Regardless of how Frederick County residents feel about the potential for Alien loving Scientologists opening a treatment facility in our midst, the real question is, “Is this property historic?” Or is that really the only question we should be asking?

 

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