River board row

The bottomless well of drama with regards to the Monocacy River Board brings up some particular issues we have with the inconsistently applied logic surrounding this. (e.g. Border Wall: GREAT!!! Monocacy River Health: LAND GRAB!!!)

We recently hosted a bit of a brouhaha on our wall when we got persnickety about Sheriff Non-Expert spending more time mugging for the Fox News cameras about border issues he is ill acquainted with, in spite of his famous field trip, than dealing with the likes of human trafficking and opioids (the third pillar of #BeBEST, y’all! get with the program, already). It’s a bug up our toots that the same Wall Enthusiast Clan has labeled efforts to preserve the river as a land grab when it is not, yet taking ranchers in Texas’ access to the waterway their cattle use actually would be a land grab that would destroy their livelihoods.  heavy sighhhhhhhhh 

Here is a sample: OH NOES…the example we were set to provide was from a Local Wall Enthusiast who apparently deleted his dumb argument when confronted with how ill informed he is about stuff that happens way far away. Yippee? This is a great opportunity to note that the same fool was back and forth and up and down with some ladies disputing him in the comments, but as soon as a man told him he didn’t know what he was talking about, he tucked tail and ran, deleting the evidence of his misguided assumptions. Protip: mansplanations are not better than information.

And on the subject of information, we know Billy Shreve has a history of being loosely acquainted with science. Holy moly, that old historical reference is a doozy. We were having a Local Yokel STEM night and discussing a science article about how the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park has changed the river health there because now the deer stay out of the deathtraps that river valleys create for them and their population is better controlled by natural predation, so the vegetation on the river has helped to create a barrier against erosion. Apparently Yellowstone is trying to be Yellowstone and let the Grand Canyon keep doing its thing. Billy will be sad. The fact that we had all individually read or seen something about this brought us to our next point. Being ignorant is a choice, whether you are talking about eminent domain or erosion.

Information.

Anywhooooo. M.C. Keegan-Ayer goes above and beyond in the name of transparency and service to the citizens who have vested interests and legitimate concerns, and who’s against that? All of the Republicans on the Council. Isn’t that a great irony? Well, actually…not so much anymore, sadly. More like par for the course. Philosophy has nothing to do with their decision making. Tribalism is the whole picture. No wonder Bud Otis disassociated from the party and has gone rogue independent maverick-like.

If you will click through the link above about M.C. Keegan-Ayer’s resolution in the Frederick News Post, we would like to make a special mention shoutout to the astute engaged citizenry commenting on the article there. We thought “petulantly lazy” as a description of Billy Shreve perfectly addressed his conduct both yesterday and since forever. We would also like to boost one comment in particular–that of Matt Seubert, who is the current president of RALE.

Well done, sir! Although we would be remiss if we didn’t say that although none of the present day coterie of LocalYokels lives in D2, we also think Lisa Jarosinski is pretty cool. She has been actively involved with RALE as well. Bipartisan chill, between her and Steve McKay. D2 could be a win-win race, if Republicans do it right in the primary.

Let’s stop voting for people who don’t care about anything but causing problems and creating scenes. It will make our hobby very boring, which would be better for everyone in Frederick County. In fact, if we could do that, the whole country would be better off.

 

Guess whose lawyering up?

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We haven’t heard from Xenu’s enemies lately, however, the No Narconon at Trout Run page showed us they aren’t done with us yet:

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Three more lawyers are added to the fold! That means the fight ain’t over yet folks! They are gearing up to try and make their little brainwashing facility a reality.

In other lawyering news, we would like to congratulate our friends over at RALE who were dropped from the latest developer lawsuit! We know it’s not over for them yet, but small victories!

Have a concern about development in your area? Better lawyer up!

How dare you question the developer?!
How cute! County citizens thought they had a voice!

For years we  labored under the delusion that the 1st amendment mattered. Along comes Roy Stanley’s lawsuit and shatters that illusion. It’s really silly to admit that we whole-heartedly believed that American citizens were allowed to assemble and petition the government. In fact, our urbanite education kinda instructed us that it was our duty to do so. Some nonsense about it strengthening our democracy and making sure the most powerful voices didn’t always win out.  It makes us blush because we now realize that we have been stuck in our post adolescent idealistic phase for a couple of decades.

Perhaps we should thank Mr. Stanley for waking us up and making us face the  harsh realities of the world.  We get that Mr. Stanley wants to move on with his development. And while we don’t agree with his premises about C. Paul Smith’s FACT letter, nor do we think he will win, we get why he would sue the county government. What we cannot imbibe, and what has shattered our faith in American democracy, is that fact that he decided to add members of RALE to his lawsuit.

For those of you not familiar with RALE (Residents Against Landsdown Expansion), please visit their website. In short, they are a group of concerned citizens in Monrovia. They banded together because they were concerned about the amount of development and lack of improvements that were being proposed in their neighborhood. They have faithfully attended every meeting, spoke their minds  (especially Steve McKay) and called foul when they believed certain political officials were not only listening to developers, but were in cahoots with them.

We here at the Yokel were lucky enough to get a copy of said lawsuit.  Count III is the only part that we see that includes RALE, though we are still not exactly sure why. See for yourself:

COUNT III DECLARATORY JUDGMENT (all Defendants)

149. Plaintiff adopts by reference the allegations contained in Paragraphs 1 through 148 of this Complaint with the same effect as if herein fully set forth. 150. This is an action for declaratory judgment pursuant to § 3-409 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, for the purpose of terminating uncertainty or controversy between parties with antagonistic claims that will likely give rise to imminent or inevitable litigation. 151. There exists an actual controversy of a justiciable issue between the parties involving the rights and liabilities of the parties. The County Council is determined to force the Plaintiffs to present their rezoning application anew to the Planning Commission and then to the County Council, and the Plaintiffs maintain that the County Council has violated the Court’s March 10, 2015 Order, violated Maryland’s impermissible change of mind rule, and denied the due process to the Plaintiffs. 152. The actual controversy between the parties is within the jurisdiction of the Court. 37 153. The antagonistic claims between the parties indicate imminent and inevitable litigation. 154. A declaratory judgment by this Court will terminate the actual controversy between the parties. WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs, 75-80 Properties, L.L.C. and Payne Investments, LLC, respectfully request that the Court enter an Order: (a) Declaring that the purpose of the Court’s Order of March 10, 2015 was to direct the County Council of Frederick County to conduct further proceedings, including testimony, to resolve the issues raised in the Court’s March 10, 2015 Order, i.e., to determine what significance, if any, the FACT Letter played in the former BOCC’s approval of the Plaintiffs’ PUD rezoning application for the Monrovia Town Center; (b) Declaring that the statements of Councilmen Shreve and Delauter at the June 9, 2015 public meeting of the County Council that the FACT Letter did not have any impact on their decisions to vote to approve the Plaintiffs’ PUD rezoning application for the Monrovia Town Center, together with former Commissioner Young’s Affidavit submitted to the administrative record to the effect that the FACT Letter was not a determinative factor in Commissioner Young’s decision to vote to approve the Plaintiffs’ PUD rezoning application for the Monrovia Town Center, effectively resolves the question as to the significance of the FACT Letter; (c) Declaring that the testimony and Affidavit of the decision-makers, Councilmen Shreve and Delauter and former Commissioner Young, establishes that the FACT Letter was not significant in that the FACT Letter did not have any effect on the votes of a majority of the 38 former Commissioners to approve the Plaintiffs’ PUD rezoning application for the Monrovia Town Center; (d) Declaring that since the FACT Letter did not exist when the Frederick County Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend approval of the Plaintiffs’ PUD rezoning application, the County Council violated Maryland’s impermissible change of mind rule by remanding this matter back to the Planning Commission with instructions to the Planning Commission to review the Plaintiffs rezoning application again from the beginning; (e) Declaring that County Council has taken a patently unreasonable amount of time in addressing the Court’s March 10, 2015 Order, that the County Council does not have a valid reason for the unreasonable delay, and that the delay violates the Plaintiffs’ Fifth Amendment rights against deprivation of property without due process of law; and (f) Granting such other and further relief as this Court deems just and proper.

Are we to discern that they want the court to get rid of all antagonist influences? If others have problems with this development, are they not allowed to voice those concerns? And this FACT letter…how can anyone take Young, Shreve and Delauter’s word on this?  We hope, like in the case concerning Trout Run, that our fellow citizens ,who are guilty of nothing but voicing their concerns, are stricken from this suit. Can you imagine the precedence it would set if all developers had to do was to reach into their deep pockets to silence the dissenters with litigation?

Speaking  of litigation if you would like to help RALE out go to their website and click donate.

Hey Frederick City residents, care to pay double?

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Every few months the County Council sits down  with the Frederick Alderman to have a pow wow. We love that our local governmental entities make it a point to sit down and communicate with one another. Two of your Yokels are city residents and we have to say that we are always so impressed with these ladies and gentlemen. The way they work together, know their issues, and just seem so much more functional than some other government body. The main item on the agenda was to discuss school  construction.  Tony wants the city to pony up for the schools that are being built within the city limits. Thankfully Aldermanic heroes O’Connor and Kuzemchak were not having any of that. As Mr. O’Connor pointed out, city residents already pay county taxes. AND, it’s the county’s job–not the city’s–to build schools. Why should city residents be expected to pay twice?  And what kind of precedence would this set if local municipalities were expected to pay for school costs? Would that mean the incorporated areas of our county would be at an advantage when getting a new school? Or that they would be expected to come up with the money every time they needed a new school? Without any support, and all kinds of facts against him, Tony backtracked. There was some discussion of perhaps the city lending the county some money. Or perhaps the city paying for the extra large gym at Butterfly Ridge elementary.  We’ll see if this comes up at their May meeting.

Last night our RALE friends went before the Board of Zoning Appeals in another chapter of their long fight against the MTC. Here’s Steve McKay’s report on what happened last night:

RALE was at the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) tonight.

I’d like to tell you that we were successful, but we weren’t. The bottom line is that the BZA, which believes that County Staff is ALWAYS assumed to have acted correctly, decided that we didn’t count, that we didn’t have “standing”, and so they ignored the merits of our argument. I’m going to break this down but let’s first review what this appeal was about.

At the end of last year, AFTER the Council ordered the Monrovia Town Center case to start over again, we learned that an “Outlot” was being processed, based on the old, invalidated BoCC approvals, to accommodate the planned water tower to service Landsdale and MTC. The Planning Commission approved the Outlot plat recordation, and we appealed that Planning Commission approval. The Zoning Administrator (but not really, because it was really Cathy Mitchell acting on behalf of this guy) denied our appeal, saying that it was a “ministerial action” and, therefore, not subject to appeal. We then appealed their denial – because it was wrong – and that’s why we were there tonight.

Now let’s talk about the “standing” issue. First of all, the County didn’t even base their denial on a belief that we lacked standing. They based it entirely on their “ministerial” argument. It was the developer that raised the standing issue, and the County basically said – “oh yeah, we think that, too!” So the developer and the County were working together tonight – again – arguing that we don’t count. Their argument was based on the fact that RALE doesn’t own property. This is true. The much-fabled “RALE warehouse” doesn’t exist. But there is another element of standing that they ignored. You see RALE has “personal interests” in this case, and that should have been sufficient to establish our standing. You see, RALE has invested countless hours, effort and a whole lot of money (donated by all of YOU) to this effort. That’s the basis of our personal interest, our standing … that they ignored.

In the end, the appeals commissioners ignored that element and asked their County attorney whether we had standing or not. Not surprisingly, we lost the argument. On this point, I want to personally thank the people that testified about how RALE represents the community on this issue. The appeals commissioners didn’t hear it or acknowledge the point – but I did, and I thank you.

But now let’s look at the merits of the issue because although the BZA may have ignored this argument, or claimed ignorance to the issues (which was bull___), the County CLEARLY violated the zoning ordinance in submitting the Outlot for approval. Let’s start with the appropriate section of the Ordinance, shown below. The language and its implications are very clear. If an Outlot plat is part of a subdivision in a preliminary plan, then it must go through the final plat process.

In the other image, the preliminary/site plan CLEARLY shows the Outlot as part of the plan. This preliminary/site plan is NOT completed. Is NOT signed. Thus, the Outlot has not completed the final plat process, as required by the ordinance. It never should have been approved!

So you might wonder how the County attorney – Cathy Mitchell – responded to this argument. Basically, she didn’t! First, she said we lied but didn’t explain how. Then she justified the whole thing on the basis that the “County needed this plot of land” for the water tower. Now this pissed me off. We didn’t lie – we just caught them in an error. The language in the ordinance is clear and unambiguous and they violated that language. So I don’t appreciate being called a liar. Next, saying that the “County needed the land” is NOT a justification for violating the zoning ordinance. That’s Bull!

Beyond these points – which should have been enough – our argument boils down to this fundamental premise. This Outlot approval was based on a zoning approval from the BoCC. That approval was based on a record that has now been TWICE invalidated – by the Circuit Court and by the Council. You can NOT have a valid approval based on an invalidated record. Effectively, that record no longer exists. The Council decided to create a new record. The Planning Commission will now go forward, ignoring that past history. The record is null and void and any approvals based on that record are now moot.

So the bottom line is that County staff and Planning Commission should have never even entertained this Outlot plat recordation because it is based on an invalidated, non-existent record. But even so, they still violated the zoning ordinance by approving it! I’ll be real clear now – we will appeal this because it is wrong. It’s more time and money, but sometimes, you have to do what’s right.

Best regards, Steve

If you would like to help RALE with their legal expenses they are holding a raffle. Click here for more info.

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?

 

The dumbest thing since yesterday: redefining totalitarianism

Is this guy for real? Apparently the bar for logical thinking has been set so low that we are now being treated to a host of writers digging down to go underneath it. Congratulations, Farrell Keough, for being less rational than Billy Shreve. We weren’t given a single day to recover. I believe Cliff Cumber was on the Twitter recently saying everyone was going to get all riled up with the stuff to come. He was not even kidding.

TLDR version: totalitarianism is expecting your elected representative to represent you. Good to know. We’re all guilty of totalitarianism here. If we can help with clarifying this, there is a short educational post you may be interested in.

Fun with hyperbole!
Fun with hyperbole!

Keough is probably confused because he read a book by someone who thinks that if you insult a Supreme Court justice who wrote a dissenting opinion that you don’t like, that’s the new totalitarianism. Silly, silly. That’s the first amendment freedom we especially like. We are so totalitarianish lately.