It’s a very maniac Monday!

Thank you for this gift Council Man Delauter. We always look forward to your Tentacle articles.
Thank you for this gift Councilman Delauter. We always look forward to your Tentacle articles.

It’s about that time again folks. Kirby has keyed up another article for that slithery appendage. Be sure to read through it a couple of times, because it takes that long to digest. If you can’t bring yourself to do so, read our nice synopsis below.

Now you know we are in for a treat with a title like this:

The Budget, Constituent Service and Schools

That’s a lot of ground to cover! First we are reminded of the time crunch between the time the County Executive has to present the budget and the time the County Council has to approve it. So Kirby, you better put forth an amendment to extend that in the charter since that’s the only way to fix it. I am sure the citizens of this fine county will be more than willing to give you more time. Then it’s the same blah, blah we don’t have any help so how do you expect us to do this? Afterwards,  we are reminded that he was the ONLY one that came up with an alternative budget. And that he and Billy are once again the ONLY council members willing to do their own analysis. Now for a moment let’s fly back to last year. We found this nice little write up from the FNP. Remember when Billy did this:

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.

Thankfully that didn’t happen because remember this folks?:

Photo courtesy Frederick News Post
Photo courtesy Frederick News Post

That’s right we had a blizzard!!! And Jan had this to say about the changes Kirby wanted to make to the budget. She said they were:

unclear and do not maintain a balanced budget

So it’s not enough to say and do things if they are destructive and make no sense. The next section complains about he and Billy being treated like third graders.(Yes folks, he complained about feeling like a third grader put in time out).  Do we have to point out that if you act like third graders that’s the way people will treat you? Kirby even admits that he lost his cool when he “used a few choice words” to express his discontent over not being  allowed to talk to someone at the county dump.

Alright Kirby, just calm down!
Alright Kirby, just calm down!

From day one, these two have been uncooperative, combative and have used WFMD and their writings on the Tentacle and other “news” websites to attack their fellow members of the county government. Not to mention their behavior in meetings. We will allow that if Kirby and Billy are required to follow different protocol to talk with county staff than the other members then they may have a small point. But they have offered no proof of this. And we see the logic of individual council members not barraging county staff with one request after another. You are on a collective body that makes decisions together Kirby, you don’t get to be a lone wolf.

We are so very sorry to have to tell you that this happened again:

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The horse is so very, very dead. Please stop beating it.

We guess there’s at least two more years of hearing this:

Yes, these councilmen somehow with a straight face vote on the budget that funds their employer and ultimately their own salaries. These are the same people who voted with the county executive and President Otis to disallow my company to bid on work in the county.

So we feel the need to bring out our nice little chart again:

No matter how you try to spin it Kirby this is how it is. You can't say that you may not win the bid is reason to let you bid.
No matter how you try to spin it Kirby this is how it is. Even if the numbers change, the message is still exactly the same as it was last year.

Kirby equates this “logic” to transgender bathrooms. Surprise, surprise, he’s against them. But why he used this time to slip that in is beyond us.

Now, for the conclusion, Kirby sorta kinda has an idea for school construction. But he’s not sure, and then is sure it will be great, even if it isn’t all worked out. And of course it has to do with privatization.

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What a week it’s been!!!

So much has happened this past week in Ye Olde Fredericktowne that your friendly Yokels have decided to do a weekly roundup. Let’s start with the County Council and happy budget fun time.

We’ve written two posts this week about budget talk. Read it here and here. However, we were very interested to find this in the Political Notes section of the paper this morning:

County Executive Jan Gardner’s budget announcement last Friday included a new little nugget. Well, five of them.

Gardner said she extended an invitation to all seven Frederick County Council members to talk about the budget, including a list of their priorities. Five members took her up on the offer: Democrats Jerry Donald, M.C. Keegan-Ayer and Jessica Fitzwater and Republicans Bud Otis and Tony Chmelik.

Gardner said she couldn’t meet all of their requests, but each was considered in her proposal.

Councilmen Billy Shreve and Kirby Delauter, also Republicans, didn’t take Gardner up on the offer, apparently.

It seems they have other plans.

Shreve, who is still upset the council doesn’t have a dedicated budget officer, gave handouts to his colleagues, showing that they are the only council in the state without such help. Nevertheless, Shreve said he was going to dig into the numbers.

“I’m going to work on this budget. Look at it. See if we can make some changes,” he said Tuesday. One major change he pitched included scrapping a plan to keep the county’s property tax rate steady — which will yield increased revenue — and instead lower the rate and cut spending.

“The easiest solution … is if you have the same amount of revenue as you did last year, you adopt the same budget you did last year,” Shreve said.

Kirby and Billy are fine sitting on the couch thank you very much!
Kirby and Billy are fine sitting on the couch thank you very much!

So not only are they refusing the County Executive’s invitation to come discuss the budget, which really is a dereliction of their duty, but Billy is all fine and dandy with keeping everything the same. Why should we strive to improve? A real brain stumper!

Next on our wrap up is Sheriff Jenkins. As we are sure you all know our Sheriff testified in front of Congress this week about illegal immigration. Last night, Sean Hannity had the Sheriff and two other guests on for four minutes of the most exquisite fear mongering we have ever seen.

Is that comment for reals?
Is that comment for reals?

Look, we here at the Yokel do not want anyone, be it citizens, immigrants, or illegal immigrants, committing crimes. And if someone had hurt our kids, we cannot say that we wouldn’t feel the same way that poor woman who testified with the Sheriff does. However, this kind of sensational talk does nothing to bring about meaningful immigration change.  What it does do is incite fear and discrimination against the Latino community. Not one of us wants criminals running around our community. Building a wall is not a realistic solution towards that goal. Also, it is a known truth that huge numbers of “illegals” arrive by plane and overstay an expired, once-valid visa, so wasteful government spending on a stupid wall is stupid and wasteful. But now we totally get why Fox News watchers are so angry and paranoid all the time. Jeeze O’Flip that channel! And we also didn’t realize how scary a place Frederick is to live, the internets must be wrong about us.

 

Who exactly is the beast in this scenario Gaston?
Who exactly is the beast in this scenario, Gaston?

Last on our roundup: You may have heard that a certain Presidential Contender was in town yesterday. Another nugget from the Political Notes section was this:

Apparently, that relationship stuck. Ahead of Cruz’s rally on Thursday, Hough picked Afzali to pick up the candidate from the airport. And if Cruz’s camp was impressed with Folden’s driving skills, they may have had a different review of the Afzali Cab Service. “My husband went slow, because I needed to talk to Ted,” Afzali said. “We had a lot to talk about.”

If Cruz wasn't so terrible we might have felt sorry for him. But since he is, we laughed and laughed.
If Cruz wasn’t so terrible we might have felt sorry for him. But since he is, we laughed and laughed.

If you missed our tweets about his speech head on over to @fclocalyokel and take a looky look. The most disturbing story to come out of that mess was the transgender student who was thrown out of rally. You can read the story here. But James, we would be remiss if we did not officially give you a Yokel tip of the hat:

Thank you for having the courage to stand up for what you believe in. Always be proud of who you are!
Thank you for having the courage to stand up for what you believe in. Always be proud of who you are!

We really don’t get all this fervor over public bathrooms. Whether you like it or not transgender people have been using public bathrooms for years. And has society crumbled as a result? No! Because nothing bad has happened! You really should be more afraid of former Republican Speakers of the House and U.S. Senators. But if you can’t get past it, Kirby has a solution:

Brilliant!
Brilliant!

 

Let’s end this week on a high note!!!

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With all our talk of untucked craziness and hissy fits this week, it’s been really easy to lose sight of the good happening in our county government. Today, County Executive Jan Gardner held a press conference to highlight her budget for the Fiscal Year 2017. Now this isn’t a done deal, there’ s still a bunch of hearings and county council meetings to be held, but oh how wonderful it is to have an executive who knows how important it is to invest in our community services.  Here’s some of our faves:

The budget provides $10.5 million in funding to the Frederick County Public Schools above the minimum required Maintenance of Effort (MOE) level and an additional $500,000 in one-time funding for school technology.

Frederick Community College (FCC) plays an important role in lifelong learning and training adults of all ages for the workplace. The budget reflects an investment of $700,000 to help keep community college affordable and accessible. This investment will provide salary improvements for staff and make improvements to campus security.

The budget proposes adding three librarians to restore operating hours at our regional libraries – C. Burr Artz, Urbana and Thurmont. This will allow expanded hours until 9 p.m. during the week at these locations, facilitate greater use of the community rooms, and accommodate the needs of our library patrons.  The long-awaited Walkersville Branch Library will move forward with construction. A significant portion of this project is funded by library impact fees and state funding.

The budget meets increasing demand for early childhood intervention services providing for two Occupational Therapists, a Speech Language Pathologist and funding for substitute therapists.

CREST is Frederick County’s first higher education center. It is uniquely designed to provide higher education in science and technology fields specifically to provide advanced degrees to meet workforce needs for local biotech and life science companies. The budget proposes $40,000 in annual funding to match city and state funds.

This budget provides for a new pay scale for both deputies and corrections staff. It is critically important that we pay competitive wages to value our existing employees and attract the best and brightest to work in our community. In addition, the budget provides for two new deputies for courthouse security, one new deputy for narcotics, and a fiscal services director. Division of Fire and Rescue Service.

The top priority in Fire and Rescue is to improve staffing levels to staff equipment and meet growing call volume. To achieve this goal, the budget adds 12 new firefighter positions. The budget also funds a firefighter/EMT recruit class, supports the fireparamedic conversion approved in the current fiscal year, and provides equipment and training support.

9-1-1 communications is a busy place and our call takers are on the front line of almost every emergency. On average, a call taker handles 50 calls per hour. The budget provides for four new call takers to meet growing call volume. These positions are part of a three year plan to increase current capabilities and to staff closer to industry standards.

Fulfilling a campaign promise to restore the county’s longstanding productive partnership with our non-profit human service agencies, the budget provides a modest increase of $250,000 to Community Partnership Grants. Grants awarded this year went to over 20 human service non-profit agencies in the county to provide for basic human needs, such as food, housing, medical care, car repair so people can get to work, and other basic needs.

The capital improvement program for FY 17 includes funding for the first phase of construction of the Othello Park near Rosemont and Brunswick, which will add needed sports fields and recreational opportunities in this area of the county. The capital budget also provides for planned upgrades to the Kemptown Park near Mount Airy/Monrovia. The Point of Rocks Commons Park also will move forward in the upcoming year.

In the face of a dramatic rise in overdoses and fatalities stemming from heroin and opiod abuse, the State of Maryland has decided to transition Health Departments away from providing direct substance abuse treatment to an oversight role. Treatment programs will shift to private sector providers. The Frederick County Health Department has been approved to continue the substance abuse program in the detention center as well as the methadone treatment program. Because the state will no longer directly support these programs, the budget provides gap funding to continue these critical substance abuse treatment and prevention programs.

There’s much more so read the entire proposal here. 

The future is looking great for our county!

 

 

Frederick County is a mysterious place this week!

I bet we can solve this in 30 minutes or less!
I bet we can solve this in 30 minutes or less!

Quite the intrigue here in Frederick this week! First we had Kirby’s declarations of unconstitutionality concerning his sad, lost county contracts. Now, at last night’s joint BOE meeting, we learned that Kirby has a mysterious developer all ready to finance one of the two needed county elementary schools.

Why the mystery you may be asking? Well, just shut up!!! Kirby has his reasons!!! He won’t tell us, but why should he? It couldn’t be because there are some pretty outlandish conditions associated with this, could it?

What we learned from watching, and today’s FNP articleis that this all has the smell of back door school privatization. Not only would this school be leased back to the county, which has been been a bad deal throughout the land…Well, just look:

 Cost savings may also come from custodial and maintenance operations being handled by the private sector, the councilmen said.

So here we go again! Remember all this privatization crap when Blaine came into office? Now, Tony and Kirby invite it to rear it’s ugly head once again.  Here’s a great quote from an NEA analysis on privatizing school support services:

There is less accountability to the residents of a school district by their elected representatives when vital services are taken over by private contractors. Contractors tend to focus on performing only the tasks contained in their work descriptions, which is understandable because they are hired only to perform specific narrowly defined jobs.

By contrast, school district employees tend to view themselves as a vital part of the system of education, and provide numerous “intangibles” that enhance the quality of their work and the educational experience of children in school.

School district employees routinely perform a range of tasks that are not typically thought of as being in their official job descriptions but that are vitally important in providing a high quality education for children. [i] The great majority of educational support workers live in the school district where they are employed, and they feel responsible to their neighbors for the quality of their work.

Most private contractors base their sales pitch on the premise that they can provide the same or greater service at lower cost

Here’s the full NEA article and a great point sheet about the risks involved in such an endeavor.

Kirby and Tony cannot treat the school system as they do their contracting and excavating  businesses. It’s not the same on any level. Our children are not commodities that can be moved around on a spreadsheet. They are unique human beings  with a variety of talents and needs. And quite frankly, if we don’t get this part of their lives right and educate them properly, then we as a society will feel the repercussions for years to come. We must not allow the promise of a badly needed school lead us down a path of high costs, poor services and low wages. For this low wage, low cost thinking that has led to the elimination of many middle class jobs in this country.

We do need good discussion and solutions as to how to finance not only these two schools, but schools that will be needed down the road. It will have to be a combination of private and public funds and it must be a priority. It should not be a back door dismantling of our public education system all in the guise of saving money. We cannot let these gentlemen get away with that!

As for who the developer is, we really have no idea. But that is not going to stop us from speculating wildly and naming Roy Stanley. Should we start a pool?

 

Billy explains his abstentions-still makes no sense.

Come on Cricket give the liar a break!
Come on Cricket give the liar a break!

What must be going through Councilman Shreve’s brain when he sits at his computer to pen his excuses for the Woodsboro times? Does he really expect anyone to relate to this stream of consciousness b.s. ? I mean really folks, does he really think we are this dumb?  Let us start with excuso numero uno:

December, 12 months in office. #1 duty of the County Council is to provide budget oversight. So far, after 12 months, we still have not hired a Budget Director. I have protested this repeatedly by abstaining on all budget related votes, over 60 times this year. (I refuse to do hunger strikes : )

Ha ha! As if Billy’s not going to eat for you jerks!!! So, why did he vote “yes” for Trout Run? And why vote against the minutes? Because it’s all a very convenient bunch of crap. Billy must have been hungry when he wrote this because there’s this:

I’m not a big government guy and don’t propose hiring employees just to have them, but if you are running a restaurant, you need a cook, dishwasher, and server. The Council inherited a $550 million dollar budget and a population of 240,000. An entity this size requires staff to handle the day to day operations on day one! We aren’t running a coffee shop; we need employees.

But you just said a coffee house/restaurants need employees. Wouldn’t the better analogy be: like a coffee shop, we need an adequate number of employees to make sure things run smoothly. OHH OHH! 25 word job-posting digression time:

Billy’s Speech Writer

Must be able to take endless non sequiturs and unrelated analogies and translate them into standard English. Overtime a must!

Any hoo! Back to the article. There’s lots and lots of complaining about Mike Gastley, and how they had to put all the numbers into Kirby’s work budget software (what the what). And they still, even though they were on the BOCC for four years, weren’t able to make heads of tails of it all. What we find most interesting about this whole written catastrophe is what Billy leaves out. He omits the name of the very person that Billy and Kirby put forth. A person who not only vacations with one Councilmember, and tailgates with another, but one who is living with the very person who lost to Jan! Look at his complaint about Mr. Gastley:

How can we believe he will support the Council and not the County Executive? Is this the right person to provide checks and balances to the County Executive? NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Now, can we believe that this person that Billy and Kirby put forth will provide the the appropriate support to ALL of the members of the county council? That this person would also, without bias, take information from the County Executive’s office and relay that to the council?  I think we can be safe to say: NOOOOOOOOO! Maybe–just maybe–Billy would have just a shred of credibility if he had not put this name forward. But hey, since when has Billy ever worried about that?

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?

 

The water vapors are weighing the council down

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I do declare the humidity must be affecting some members of our esteemed county council. Tis the time of year when it is common to fall out from the stickiness that surrounds us like mud on a hog. Mr. Shreve in particular was a tad testier than usual. Makes us want to pull him under the shade of an old Magnolia that our great grand pappy planted back in 1907 and give him a good talking to. Alas, what difference would it really make?

Our first point of bewilderment with Mr. Shreve is this:

Billy

Why every week, before the pledge, does he do this? And notice he’s the only one. Does he not want to face the public? Does he worship at the altar of the American flag? What in a donkey’s backside is the meaning of this?

Now particular to this week, Billy goes right in for the no when voting on whether or not to approve the consent agenda. On the consent agenda this week were various budget transfers for departments such as: The Child Advocacy Center, Agricultural Preservation, Housing and Community Services, Planning and Development, Fire and Rescue and Community Development. His particular beef, from what we could tell since we cannot fathom getting in that head of his, was he was really bitter about the council not approving Trout Run and still not getting his budget liaison. Logic of course dictates that he then mess with everyone else’s budget. Thankfully, Billy has no one else on board with his interesting style of governance and all budget transfers were passed 6-1.

Moving on to the approval of minutes for the last three meetings. A unanimous vote! Still Billy cannot bring himself to say Aye. Must be that oppositional disorder rearing its ugly head again. A note to be made about Kirby. He did not seem to want to turn on his microphone this evening. We later discover it’s working just fine. But through all the votes we can barely hear his little “aye”. What’s up with that?

On to everyone’s favorite commission: Ethics. A motion is put forth to appoint four new members. Of course Billy isn’t going to let this go without making some kind of declaration. “It’s sad that 3 of the 5 members of the ethics commission resigned and we are in this position.” Really, really sad.

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6-1 approved! Even Kirby. Billy seems to be losing all his playmates. On to Jessica and M.C.’s bill to repeal the English only ordinance. We heard some nonsense earlier in the week about Billy going on WFMD and saying this:

“You either have to stay all English or not all English. And as soon as you open up yourself, you have to provide absolutely everything.  If you have someone from the jungle of Brazil from some tribe of 20 people, and they come in and want a document translated, you have to be able to translate it for them.”

With great poise Councilwoman Fitzwater introduced the bill and we know, just know he’s going to say something and of course he does! He insisted that we don’t have to throw out old Blainey boy’s ordinance, we can just modify it. Jessica then snaps at him (Oh the humidity, but how can we blame her? I mean really.). If you have something in writing, she quipped, you can share it with me. Right now all we are doing is reading the bill. Properly chastised he shuts the microphone down.

The next order of business is something we have wanted to see happen for quite sometime. We here at the Local Yokel love our festivals. The 4th of July, In the Streets, special events at Rose Hill Manor count us in! What we do not love is seeing the mountains of trash that are full of recyclables. Our fair State passed a law requiring that all counties pass ordinances that require event organizers, within certain parameters, to provide recycling. Yay!!! Now keep in mind THIS HAS TO HAPPEN! It is a State law and Frederick County must comply. The Department of Solid Waste Management presented a lot of information to the council. And they underlined the fact that THIS HAS TO HAPPEN. Well, looky over to the left, who is going to make this difficult? That’s right Billy. He tries to make the poor solid waste people give him an estimate as to how much recyclables would be generated at a picnic or a soccer tournament. And these poor souls. Silence falls and then a response of, “There is really no way we can estimate that.” He then wants to know what private companies charge to haul this stuff away. They don’t know. His point, I suppose, is that he thinks this will put an unfair burden on people. But hey, this isn’t for little outings. It’s for events that are expecting over 200 people and take place on public property. Why can’t this man see the big picture on this or anything else for that matter? Thankfully passed 6-1.

Next oddity on the agenda. Kirby wants a lobbyist. What for? To send to Annapolis, because according to him we are missing out on millions of dollars that are either sitting in some secret bunker or being distributed to other counties. Bud rightfully asks if this is not the job of our elected delegates and state senators. Aren’t they not the ones elected to bring back money to the county? And if Kirby’s contention, for which he has no proof, is correct, then we have a problem. It was agreed that they would meet with the delegation to see if they were in fact missing out on this secret stash of cash.

It was within this conversation that our good buddy Bud almost gave us a fainting spell. He called Kirby Congressman Delauter! And oh my stars do not even joke about such a thing Bud! He quickly and quite loudly added: “Sorry about that”! Wouldn’t we all be sorry indeed?