Last evening the council advanced a slightly trimmed budget to County Executive Jan Gardener. Ironing this out over the past week has been a titillating mixture of the painful boredom that goes along with budget crunching discussions, as well as fabulous fodder for this brand new local gossip blog. Critics have alleged for years that Billy Shreve and Kirby Delauter have just been doing the bidding of Blaine Young, and people wondered what would arise as they moved forward without him in the executive role. They should work harder at shedding the puppet reputation, because watching them navigate the budget talks left the distinct impression that these re-elected councilmen were the least experienced at the table.

At one point, Councilman Jerry Donald asked about the impact of following Shreve’s suggestion to completely eliminate a $1.2 million allocation for snow removal. “What would happen if it snows?” he asked. “We’d pray it didn’t,” said Doug Browning, the county’s chief administrative officer. Frederick News Post, Bethany Rodgers

Chmelik voted along with them. They are obviously a block opposed to taxing, spending, and providing services, so that is no surprise. Chmelik kept his calm yesterday, though, and his demeanor is a departure from what has been seen in the past (and continues in the present) from his like-minded council members. Even in insisting that a stable tax rate was a tax increase, he did press the issue without so much as raising his voice. For that we find ourselves grateful. Big drama means more subject matter for us to pounce on, but for the sake of the  county a cool head is a good thing. Bud (swing voter) Otis is like our very own local yokel Justice Kennedy. When some of his fellow council members were hell bent on cutting the permit office’s budget, he reminded them of the complaints they made to him concerning the amount of time it took to process permits. Otis brought up the reality that a budget cut would only cause things to get worse. This is the voice of reason that was sorely lacking in the last administration, and we are more than happy that Mr. Otis is there to fill this role.