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

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September 2015

Last night’s meeting: an embarrassment of riches

Great Suffering Sappho!

Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start. Legislative priorities. Jerry Donald deserves the award for understanding representative democracy. Thank you sir, for pointing out that we should promote priorities that impact county level government. We elected these people, however imperfect, to do the job of county council member. Not state delegate, not congressperson. Not to create a direct democracy and get everyone’s input on the already random list of potential priorities, such as:

  • Defunding Planned Parenthood (again, not county business)
  • Promoting concealed carry (Just in Frederick County, or what? Is Kirby with his anger management struggles really the poster boy for this issue? David Gray and Doug Browning might need a GoFundMe for some Kevlar)
  • Voter ID laws–shot down in Texas! as a poll tax.
  • Speculating about the ordinances that shut down Emmitsburg’s hot dog stand so they may be repealed (Why not just ask the owners? Are we pro salmonella?!?!)

And speculate we MUST! Community members in the area suggest that it was a problem that their port-o-pot wasn’t handicapped accessible. In which case, why not just get the ADA compliant port-o-pot?

Beef N Buns in paradise seems like maybe they solved the same issue by not having public restrooms. I don't know who wants to investigate that. Maybe someone in the State House?
Beef N Buns in Paradise doesn’t have public restrooms. Maybe that solves the problem.  Should we take that idea to the state and see what’s up?

We heard from M.C. Keegan-Ayer that the Board of Elections is not aware of any incidences of voter fraud in Frederick County, but maybe they should investigate that one super interesting public commenter who would not give an address, and somehow voted in multiple council districts within Frederick County. *But NOT for Kirby!!!! Even if he lives in a cardboard box and does not have an address or a driver’s license, he deserves to be able to vote. Just not for everyone.

At any rate, many thanks to the many amazing speakers and caring citizens in Frederick County. You make us proud to live here.

It’s poll time again!

Last week’s poll indicates to us that some of us think a cool temper is a good trait to have for a policitian.

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Though after last night’s meeting maybe we should revisit ” What is a Council Member?”

 

After Billy’s poor behavior last week with Bob Miller, we thought it fitting to offer you some choices for how Billy will have to go in order to get himself banned from WFMD.

It’s time for more B.S. from B.S.

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Sometimes we have to wonder if Stanley Snow hired a Pavlovian psychiatrist to bring about some kind of wild dog response whenever Billy hears the word Aurora.

Seriously folks? Why is Billy so gung ho for Aurora all the time?
Seriously folks? Why is Billy so gung ho for Aurora all the time? (And we know this isn’t the exact Pavlovian method but it’s fun!)

So what has Billy done now some of you may be asking? First let’s take a tour of Councilman Billy Shreve’s Facebook page. Take your Dramamine and fasten that seat belt because it’s going to be a rough one.

Part One:

Officially from the desk of Billy Shreve!
Officially from the desk of Billy Shreve!

Part Two:

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Then we have this charming little discussion:

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And folks this is funny:

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Billy claims that he’s posting a building permit, but clear as day:

What's that say at the top?
What’s that say at the top?

So lessons learned from Shreve’s Facebook page:

-Jan’s a Nazi, or Joan of Arc, or falling on her sword, or fill in the blank.

-Billy can’t read the titles of his documents or just hopes people won’t click and read.

-Jan is using eminent domain right now this very second.

-Billy cares about the poor residents of Citizens/Montevue and Jan does not.

Then today on THAT website Billy is a guest columnist.  He issues a Call to Action that he and Kirby are leading against Jan’s fight to return the nursing homes to county control. Read if you dare.

Months ago, we had many questions about the continuing care agreement that the BOCC signed with Aurora. Remember this language:

IV. FUTURE INDIGENT CARE. In addition to Aurora’s continuing care obligation for the subsidized MALF residents required, above, after leasing CCRC’s Facility Business Assets and Real Property as defined in the Asset Purchase Agreement Aurora shall accept new assisted living residents requiring financial assistance, to the extent MALF beds are available, provided County agrees to pay, and continue to pay, Aurora’s full private pay amount in place at the time of each admission. The County’s commitment to fund these additional MALF residents must be reflected in a separate written agreement between Aurora and the County shall not be required or inferred by any provision of this Agreement.

To the extent that beds are available has always been a sore point for us. Can’t Aurora just fill up all the beds and not have any for the indigent? And let’s not forget that Jan’s reasons for not making the last payment was because the price negotiated for the care was for a greater number of patients than is currently receiving care. Why doesn’t that get the fiscal outrage machine in motion?

And let’s not forget that this whole sale may have been illegal according to the State. You see Maryland contributed $200,000 to the building of the new facility and as a result was supposed to have a say on what happened to it. Blaine showed up in Annapolis and with much drama tried to hand the Division of Public Works a check for said amount but was refused. Learning that not everyone can be paid off. And let’s not forget this nice LTE from a member of the Maryland Commission on Aging. A lot of good points raised.

And this whole eminent domain thing is not set in motion yet. Jan has made it very clear that she is still trying to negotiate with Aurora. Billy and Kirby, on the other hand, want no discussion. They don’t even want to admit that there may be a little bit of a problem with this deal. So really where do their interests lay?

Don’t forget tonight’s the night of the hearing. 7:00 at Winchester Hall.

S.O.S. drinking game: hair of the dog that bit you version

It’s time for everyone’s favorite event! The Frederick County Council drinking game. You know the rules! Have fun, but no drinking and driving. Participate at your own risk.

Everybody with a drama hangover from the final Burn It All Down Blaine BOCC is steeling again to confront one of the biggest issues facing the current County Executive and Council. On tonight’s agenda is the Citizens Nursing Home and Montevue Assisted Living Facility debacle. Let’s rebuild this county, folks.

save our seniors
Thank you to Carl Thomas for the image share.

Tomorrow afternoon’s agenda looks like it will be contentious, both before and after the intermezzo. Beginning with workshops on 2016 proposed legislative issues and council rules and procedures in the first two acts. Take a swig from whatever flask of hard spirits you keep up your sleeve for:

  • segues to party talking points
  • instances of behavior from Billy that make both the need for the workshop and the futility of it crystal clear

Eat a lot of bread and pasta during the break, because the Citizens/Montevue hearing could produce a long haul in the form of public comments. Hopefully. We like to think people care. When eminent domain is bashed, make yourself a Communist. You should just keep a case of your favorite beer or a bottle of your favorite wine handy. This could get messy and you’ll want to have something to help you make it through until the end.

Bottoms up!

Shreve for President!?

 

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Sorry dear readers! We hope you didn’t choke on anything or pass out from fright after reading our title. But we don’t know what else to believe after seeing this:

 

From the Republican tent at the fair.
From the Republican tent at the fair.

First of all, believeinshreve.com?! That’s hilarious. Secondly, what the hell? What does he think he’s running for and when? We’ve heard some very disturbing rumors that he is considering a run for State office. Even with that horrifying knowledge this sticker still makes no sense! Let’s see if we can guess who Billy wants to be President next year :

Enough said.
Enough said.

Idiocracy on the airwaves

Folks, we love you, we really do. But we may have to start a Go Fund Me for the amount of wine it’s going to take to calm us down from what we just listened to on WFMD. Listen if you dare, but it just may spoil your weekend.

Bob Miller is a congenial fella. He starts his conversation with Billy with the usual pleasantries. Billy claims that he’s doing great! Bob says that he may not feel the same way at the end of the radio segment. To which Billy replies that is impossible. I mean really Bob, how can someone who has little to no idea of what’s going on be affected in any way?

Billy starts out by saying that Jan’s move to take back the nursing homes through the use of eminent domain is a bad idea for her and a bad idea for the county. That not only is she being aggressive towards a small Frederick County business, she’s hired thugs to intimidate them.

We would like to school you on the use of eminent domain!
We would like to school you on the use of eminent domain!

That’s right! Lawyers that the county has hired, that Jan later points out were also used by the Young Board, are thugs. And they are being such meanies to Aurora who is just a small, down on it’s luck company trying to make it’s way in the world. Billy then goes on to complain that the nursing homes have caused a gazillion lawsuits and since it’s government run there’s no incentive for them to do better. NONE! Bob asks him some questions as to how much the lease was compared to how much it would cost to buy the facility outright and now we have to go to commercial because Billy can’t (is totally unable?) to find out the answer to any of these questions. And then Billy wants Jan to come out of her ivory tower to speak to little peasant Billy.

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And Good Zeus the condescension this man possesses. Jan calls in, (Happy Birthday!) and we can hear the annoyance in her voice. Billy starts right in on her, making sure everyone knows this is the first time that big meanie Jan has talked to him and whine, whine, blah. The truth is folks, you cannot talk to this man. What he calls talking is yelling and talking over whatever you are saying the ENTIRE time. He doesn’t know how to take turns, he doesn’t know how to listen and we can certainly see why nobody down at Winchester Hall wants to deal with him!

Bob Miller says he’s going to turn off Billy’s mic, but he continues to talk over Jan. Until Jan pointingly asks, “Am I going to be allowed to talk?” Billy goes quiet so we can only assume that Bob had to flip the switch. Jan tells us she had to call up because of the entirely false and erroneous statements made by Shreve. She talks about the terrible financial deal made with Aurora. She acknowledges the difference of opinion regarding whether or not the county should operate a nursing home. She happens to think we should, since assisted living is not covered for many people and one of the functions of government is to provide for the common good.

Bob ends the discussion by saying one of you is right and one of you is wrong and only the facts will tell. He asks Billy one final question. Why are you supporting Aurora so much? His reply? “I lived through what Jan Gardner did!” Billy decides to leave us with one parting bit of wisdom:

Barack Obama took your doctor away and now Jan Gardner is taking your health care facility away.

Have a great weekend Yokels!
Have a great weekend Yokels!

Tony’s Brave New World. No, wait this sucks!

Why do we keep having to talk about this ?
Why do we keep having to talk about this ?

In this morning’s Frederick News Post we have more evidence of just how important the teaching of history is in our schools. Here’s what County Council member Tony Chmelik has to say about Maryland’s prevailing wage:

Councilman Tony Chmelik said he wants to reverse that change altogether. He said the change was a “political boondoggle” meant to please labor unions.

Deep breaths! Count to 10! Repeat! Seriously folks, if one is not able to see how the labor movement has benefited this country we really, really question that person’s ability to  govern our fair county.  This whole Republican attack against the labor movement and fair wages is so reminiscent of how rich plantation owners manipulated the poor whites of the South into supporting a system that was against their own economic interests. I think it’s time for a nice Upton Sinclair quote from his book, “The Jungle” about conditions in the meat packing plants in Chicago:

Here was a population, low-class and mostly foreign, hanging always on the verge of starvation, and dependent for its opportunities of life upon the whim of men every bit as brutal and unscrupulous as the old-time slave drivers; under such circumstances immorality was exactly as inevitable, and as prevalent, as it was under the system of chattel slavery. Things that were quite unspeakable went on there in the packing houses all the time, and were taken for granted by everybody; only they did not show, as in the old slavery times, because there was no difference in color between master and slave.

Sound even a little bit familiar to some issues we may be having today? So please Mr. Chmelik do go on about how giving people a living wage is a boondoggle. Please feed us more rhetoric about how labor unions are ruining this country and how rolling back the prevailing wage will solve all our school construction woes.

There couldn't be any reason to set wages could there? Won't corporations just do the right thing on their own?
There couldn’t be any reason to set wages could there? Won’t corporations just do the right thing on their own?

We like our readers to be informed so we want to talk a little about the prevailing wage here in Maryland. It was first enacted in 1945. Yes, that’s right 1945. It’s not a new thing at all. What does change is the numbers. The State now requires that if a public project costs more than $500,000 and they contribute more than 25% of the costs, the county must pay the prevailing wage. In 1999, Prince Georges County asked Mark J. Prus, Associate Professor of Economics at SUNY Cortland to do a cost analysis of the prevailing wage and school construction costs. Read  the whole study here, and let us highlight some main points. First of all, why historically do states (Maryland is not the only one) enact prevailing wage laws?:

Prevailing wage laws emerged from a concern that cutthroat competition over wages in construction would lead the industry down a low-wage, low-skill development path. This was said to put the quality of construction at risk and lead to an itinerant, footloose, low-wage construction labor force. Poor construction workers would make poor neighbors and potential burdens on the community. Reasonably paid construction workers, on the other hand, held out the possibility of being solid neighbors, good citizens and productive members of the community. Government, by the operation of prevailing wage laws, was supposed to get out of the business of cutting government costs by cutting the wages of its citizens. Whatever labor standards had been established, whatever wages prevailed in a local community; that is what the law said government should pay on public works.

Hmm, so the goal is to make sure that good work is done, people are skilled and are paid enough to become economic participants in the community in which they live. The horror! So what was the conclusion of this analysis? (We know it’s an older study, but  it’s still relevant):

A “here-and-there” linear regression model was developed to estimate the effect of prevailing wage regulations on total construction costs for schools, controlling for other factors. This model controlled for the type of school, the size of the project, and building characteristics. It also controlled for general differences in construction costs between states with and without prevailing wage laws and general differences between the cost of public and private construction (whether or not done under prevailing wage regulations). Controlling for these factors, this model could find no statistically significant impact on total construction costs due to prevailing wage requirements.

In comparison with states that did not have these laws, there was no statistical  difference. Now, in the study, it did show that there was an increase for high schools as compared to elementary and middle, mostly because they are bigger and more complicated structures and therefore take longer to build.

We are quite aware that Frederick High’s construction costs are well over the estimate. And yes, some of that cost is due to the fact that in the original estimate this wage increase was not factored in. But that is not a reason to fight the prevailing wage law. We need to have the governor release our funds. And perhaps we need more help from the State in general when it comes to school construction. The answer does not lie in a cheap labor force. It never does.

We will leave you with this nice poster that we got from our Republican Rebel friends:

What the hell happened?
What the hell happened?

 

Your Monday burst of fresh air!

Thankfully enough of us did see the problem!
Thankfully enough of us did see the problem!

Good Monday to you, Yokels! In the Frederick News Post this morning we have a nice report on the panel that met yesterday. The League of Women Voters had County Council President Bud Otis,  Chair of the Ethics Task Force Linda Norris-Waldt and Ethics Commission Chair Brian Duncan come together. The topic? The new ethics recommendations.

We need to pause here because we are so happy we could cry. Here we have an elected official, a member of a task force, and the head of a government commission all in one place to discuss and answer questions about the new ethics recommendations with the public. It makes us want to run through a meadow of daisies to know that the dark days of the previous BOCC are over. No longer will our concerns be ignored or our emails answered with a snarky reply. (Why didn’t we save those?!)

Hold on there kitty cat! The new recommendations still have to pass!
Hold on there kitty cat! The new recommendations still have to pass!

Anyway, back to the panel.  Bud had this to say:

“We have nothing to hide,” Otis said. “We’re going to have an ethics ordinance. I’m going to fight for it and I believe there’s enough members of the council who feel the same way.”

We hope so, Bud! The council needs to come together to write a good, solid ethics ordinance so we don’t have the  problems of the past. Those who are still upset about Kirby not getting his contracts should ask themselves this: why didn’t Kirby wait until the new recommendations came out to ask for an opinion? Why did he feel the need to get his opinion so quickly? After all, he had not been able to bid on contracts for the last four years (does anyone remember any uproar then?), so why the rush? We would like to see the County Council take one of Kirby’s suggestions under consideration. The appointment of this board needs to be as independent as it can be. If not, we are in for years and years of partisan accusations.

Now, these recommendations are not a done deal just yet.

Otis said during the panel Sunday that he takes ethics very seriously. It’s likely that not everyone on the council is in support of the bill giving the ethics commission more powers, he said, so he stressed that people in the community need to come out to the public hearing to voice their support for the changes.

Click here to send an email to the County Council. Or better yet show up at the hearing. We know we are in danger of really getting sappy with this post today; however, we have a thank you we must make. To those of you who “accidentially” voted for Mr. Otis because you thought he was going to continue the status quo, a heartfelt thank you. We will fully admit that we couldn’t see through our partisan haze to give him a shot. Live and learn!

Humble apology

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Folks, we linked to a story that may not have been entirely true (and if that is the case, that’s good news for Walkersville). We of the Local Yokel are not reporters, not staffed to do all our own fact checking, and quite honestly do not wish to be in the reporting business ourselves.

One of our main objectives is to call attention to things, sometimes a bit obnoxiously, in order to drive traffic to local news sources so that our readers will be better informed. In order for this to work in our favor, we have to be able to rely on our news sources. We would not intentionally misrepresent anyone’s character or community, and do not wish to propagate inaccurate information. Ever.

To get Rev. Philip Curran’s perspective on the matter at hand, please see the Frederick News Post’s article. Our post linking to the story has been removed from the fredericklocalyokel blog site and our social media pages.

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