FACT letter debacle, part 2

Your faithful local correspondent came to this party late, busting in at the “Tony Chmelik channeling Nancy Grace” point in the affair. He read aloud from the court transcript where it was decided to remand the matter back to the council. If you’re lost, the matter is to determine if the FACT (Frederick Area Committee for Transportation) letter influenced the vote or decision making process of the previous Board of County Commissioners in approving the Monrovia Town Center development. Sadly, Nancy Grace was the most charming person Councilman Chmelik managed to be possessed by. In short order it turned to a lot of babbling about not blaming people who were elected to do stuff for doing the stuff they said they were going to do. Does that sound at all familiar? Most people want their medium to communicate with their beloved departed, not the heinous jerk they just ousted. YARF already. Stop that noise.

Like Shreve a couple of meetings back, Chmelik spent a great deal of effort expressing how strenuously he would not like to be reelected to his seat. He talked about the traffic at length. Turns out it is only bad in the morning. Not when he’s driving back and forth all day. And how many people could you suppose care about the traffic all day, versus when they are mostly trying to get to work? We’d like a show of hands. When they add an enormous bedroom community probably traffic will still only be bad in the morning, so who cares. Plus, most awesomely, have you guys seen the RALE crew? They aren’t joking. And guess whose district a whole bunch of these people live in? It boggles the mind. Verily.

These guys are organized. District 2. Represent.
These guys are organized. District 2 Interests. Represent.

So the pivotal point in the argument over this letter is what influence it had. What is pretty much universally appreciated is that the people who aligned with the developers in all matters, all of the time were not swayed (who were elected to do a job for developers…with the added bonus of seeing how far they could disrespect the wishes of their constituents). Billy Shreve elbowed in to clarify that Blaine Young is a man you can pretty much always take at his word, and the entire peanut gallery erupted in laughter. This hurt his delicate feelings and he grumbled about the code of civility. Oh my goodness, what a toddler. Anywhoo, Former Commissioner David Gray said he was never going to vote for it, so he wasn’t swayed. This is also so not shocking. Presumably Former Commissioner Paul Smith already knew what he was going to do, since the letter was his sneaky ol’ handiwork, and that’s why we’re all here. So, yay, no minds were changed, whew wasn’t that simple? Nothing to see here, moving on…

AHEM, not so fast. Councilwoman Keegan-Ayer, Councilwoman Fitzwater, and Councilman Jerry Donald–who did an especially fine job of clarifying the distinction between voting and decision making as a process–seized on some critical nuance in all of this. What becomes clear as they tactfully avoid accusations is that if all along the goal was to reach a certain decision, that letter’s existence could easily be viewed as instrumental in influencing the decision making process.

The decision (did it or did it not influence) is still on hold, to be considered at a meeting later this month (June 30th).

Bud Otis sees both sides of this thing and commented that the only people making any money are lawyers. Yup.

Public comments got super lively and then procedurally tedious and confusing, and it’s really worth a watch, all this mess. If you need to catch up, check it out on FCG TV Archives.

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