It’s Awards Season–and we have some in mind for the 2/5 County Council Meeting

Your locals bounced into the show late mid-Monocacy River Plan Presentation and it does sound like the early part of the meeting was worth listening to because there were some comments made with bipartisan concerns about things that were eliminated from the plan and we don’t have the low down on that. Our chief take away really is that it is a plan. It isn’t legislation, although it may be the basis for crafting legislation that uses the plan as a resource. If that’s the case, then you get to go through the whole process that is normal when you have an elected public official you have to talk to. Part of the plan is specifically that eminent domain should not be used, so the entire land grabbing narrative is silly. Like so many things. And we will have to return to how representative democracy works later when we had to consume the entire bottle of Barefoot Bubbly.

They ticked through the public hearing portion of the bills the council is considering rather quickly, after a brief interlude of disco video game psychedelic electronica music. Who picks that stuff?

Then there was a discussion about bills for the council to offer support to or withhold sending support to for the state delegation, and holy moly. It would be appropriate to hit the sauce just so that we can address this in writing. We are going to award the nickname Philly to Phil Dacey, due to an uncanny likeness this evening to Billy Shreve’s confusion over Roberts’ Rules everything. Tonight he was incensed that they must quickly offer opinions on items they don’t know enough about. This would seem like a BFD, if it were true that the public never gets to weigh in. But here is the thing: the public elected Delegates and Senators and Joseph(ina) Q. Public is perfectly free to contact the people who will actually be voting on these bills to let them know what their priorities are. The council opinion is not meant to convey the constituents’ opinions, so much as it is meant to offer insight from the standpoint of officials who have a closer relationship with all the invested players in the business community and pertinent county agencies. And hey, we can understand if you aren’t familiar with this process that it seems a little crazy, but at least they asked for your opinion. You can give it, or not. And there’s a little foreshadowing for you folks…

First they were to offer support or decline to support a bill to establish a registry of private laboratories that have biohazardous materials so that in the event of an emergency the first responders know about the biohazards. This is of particular concern to Frederick County for reasons that are hopefully obvious to most everyone. Steve McKay referred to this bill as a “no-brainer” because (per his explanation) basically we are talking about nasty stuff that is one step away from being weaponized. Philly indignantly snapped, “Are you implying the state delegation has no brain?” There was more agony with the hand wringing over not knowing anything about this and having to decide in a hurry (glug, glug, glug) and Kai piled on, seconding the “no-brainer” quality of this needed legislation. I mean, whoever heard of it being a big deal if anthrax happens to get out into the environment, right? Oh and also this has come up thrice already with unanimous support from the Council in every previous year, but it has passed the House of Delegates and failed in the Senate repeatedly. Jerry Donald contributed that Ron Young is optimistic that it can be passed at long last because the thorn in the Senate is not longer in office. Fingers crossed. 6 ayes, 1 abstention on this one. You can’t make this stuff up.

Phil Dacey gets the “Abstinence-Only Doesn’t Work” Award. In this case it literally means you aren’t working. Sigh.

That he was getting nowhere with tabling the opportunity to give an opinion to the delegation started to really grate at Dacey, and in turn agitate your Yokel on duty. The next one was somewhat confusing, because of a sort of double negative setup. Here’s the query: Should the Council oppose including Frederick County in State Legislation exempting Agritourism businesses from being required to meet certain life safety building and zoning standards.

Some of the more interesting work of the previous Council was working to have farm wineries and breweries and allow special events in these spaces. Because many of them are charming old barns they are susceptible to certain safety hazards (like flammability), and so this having been a thing that was extensively cultivated involving the various interested parties like brewers and vintners and farmers and county agencies, the thinking was, “Nah, we’d not like to have gone through all that and have these things exempted from safety measures.” Fire safety regulation has had its opponents previously, if you followed the rogue wedding venues dramas of the past year or so. (If not: Here, here, here.) Philly moved to table the opportunity for opinion giving. Back and forth and forth and back and then got snippy that he had a motion and M.C. had to explain that nobody seconded the motion, and then no one did, so the motion failed.

And.

He.

Kept.

Going.

There was so much whining and undignified begging. It was truly disrespectful of the process that he was so desperately trying to knight-in-shining-armor save from itself. Steve McKay and Jessica Fitzwater both said they were comfortable with taking a position, because it was a position not to do something rather than a position favoring a new measure. We have to disagree here. That is entirely beside the point, which is up above, but we will revisit. We are all free to contact our representatives in Annapolis. That is how government works. We don’t need it to pass from us through Kai Hagen and Michael Blue or whomever. Annnnnd…On that note, we are so terribly remiss in bestowing an award of gratitude upon Michael the Miracle of District 5–this is such an improvement from He Who Shan’t Be Named. With that, we will end on a positive note. Deep breaths.

We aren’t out of a hobby yet!

Ladies and gentlemen, Frederick Countians of all ages, we regret to inform you that we are some bit afeared of what we are hoping is not a trend. The early part–and extremely educational segment–of the meeting was focused on the budget decision held over from the previous meeting with regards to allowing the health department to buy a vehicle. In order for Phil Dacey to better understand the situation, Dr. Barbara Brookmyer came and gave an awesome tutorial, and we are all the better for knowing what we know now. Recommended viewing, in fact. Much like the Human Trafficking Workshop of the previous council, we learned a lot about a matter that has serious impact upon the well-being of our community.

Today we learned the health department is a dually led entity that is part state and part county. The state wants the county to procure a vehicle for a safe syringes program. NB: this will not cost the county money. The program in the state of Maryland involves several different mandatory elements, including collecting dirty needles, supplying clean needles, and undergoing disease testing for stuff like HIV and hepatitis C. Reasons they would like for this program to be successful in Frederick County include our geographic location on “The Heroin Highway” and our neighboring two abysmally afflicted counties in West Virginia. Dr. Brookmyer used a specific example of a jurisdiction that traced all 190 HIV cases to a single syringe, she stressed that the price of treating a single case of HIV can run to $600,000 (times 190 is $114,000,000.00) and a clean syringe costs 10 whole cents (times 190 is $19.00. Cost benefits analysis, bro.

Other reasons they would like to keep this thing mobile is the NIMBY’s preferring not to have a drug treatment program run on their corner (Weird, right! Have y’all heard about our totally uncontroversial Downtown Frederick Marriott, though?) and also that our county is hugenormous, and furthermore that people who do the drugs don’t necessarily come to your central office, especially because often they are not super interested in going to all that trouble for the express purpose of not doing the drugs. However, meeting them where they are at often establishes relationships that show them where to go and who will help when they do decide they ready to stop doing the drugs. Phil Dacey told us basically that it’s cool if many of us are infected with HIV, because he is a libertarian ideologue. Besides, he notes that he’s better than we think because he didn’t call it Uber for Needles. Har har. Honk if you love Frednecks in a suit. Opioids anyone? Hat tip to M.C. Keegan-Ayer for the adult perspective of child rearing in the days where your kids have lost someone to drugs. By all means, ideologue away by your lonesome. This decision passed 6-1, but at least our NewBilly can say “nay.”

There were also presentations on Public Information Act Requests, and Ethics, and Open Meetings. We learned all kinds of wise advice from this. You should not write out things you don’t want to see in print. Also probably don’t send your Anthony Weiner if you don’t want to see it in the news. That part, which we like to think was implied, was not covered, nor was, “He won’t buy the cow, dear, if you give him the milk for free,” but mostly this stuff was common sense responsibility. Also, too, no public money campaigning (but what about if you want to put your campaign sign and the Boy Scouts in Winchester Hall…still no? ok then…).

Then we had the final brouhaha in which we both kind of agree with Phil Dacey and simultaneously are in danger of having a stroke. He does not want to go into closed session to talk to the BOE appointee who would potentially fill Ken Kerr’s vacated seat, because he feels that elected people get elected in public, not quietly in an office. That’s true, and everyone kind of sees what he is saying, but there’s some reluctance to just up and change everything on this candidate mid-process because this was how they handled personnel changes before, and because doing like that’s frankly a bit obnoxious and unprofessional. Lots of back and forth ensues about whether or not they will ask this candidate about willingness to answer stuff in public, but he is still going to vote no about the closed session motion. At this point we are screaming at our TV: HOW WILL YOU ASK HER TO DO THAT IF YOU DO NOT LEAVE AND GO ASK? When will this magic take place? Please make it stop!!!!

Party Bonus: Dacey brought a fan club for public comment. Then Steve McKay reined that in with some diplomacy and knowledge about the authority behind this BOE replacement idea, which is The Code of Maryland Regulations (a.k.a. COMAR).

 

At-Large Election: what lurks in those woods?

We’ve been thinking on the At-Large candidates for the council. Much like the county executive race and District 2, the extra-party shenanigans have made things weird. Our hot take on this is that Bud Otis has no chance to win, but could very well screw the race up for other good candidates. We’ve appreciated Bud’s votes many times in the past, but we’re not pleased to see the vista from out here.

On the other hand, if Tony Chmelik would like to hand Lisa Jarosinski the District-2 seat, roll out the red carpet and be our guest–no offense to Steve McKay, with whom we find plenty of room to agree on local matters. We are also concerned, as others of our local political coterie (good info in that link from RALE’s Facebook page that you just passed) have noted alongside us, about who Bud is taking campaign contributions from. If money equals speech (and SCOTUS proclaims it so), you can see who he is listening to.

Sketchy.

Your sour grapes candidate is here, District 2

Imagine that you are such a sore loser that you lost in the primary. You look around and see that there are two great candidates in your district: Steve McKay (R) and Lisa Jarosinski (D)–two people who from what we hear on the street have mutual respect for one another. What’s a blowhard loser who loves overdevelopment and hearing himself talk gonna do? (Those who watched last night’s meeting know that’s Tony Chmelik–he said all the angry man words yesterday because he is unlikely to get an extension on his deadline.)

If you said mount a write-in campaign for the Sour Grapes party, step up and claim your prize…

Screen Shot 2018-09-05 at 5.43.06 PM
And what a prize you have won!

Mr. McKay is a conservative, but he seems to be shunned by the local Republican party groundlings, probably because he has integrity and class, and in case you haven’t seen what’s going on over on that side of the aisle here’s a link for you.

Everyone knows third party candidates don’t work out–remember Ross Perot?–and Tony Chmelik damn well knows that. Draw your own conclusions about his motive.

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.

 

Piecemeal digest of February 27th Workshop

Your Yokel Ladies have been in and out of this meeting for the past couple of days. It’s a lot to contend with, so we are chunking it up and throwing it down, bit by bit.

No Shreve, what a relief! Meetings are always nicer without him!

Steve Horn and friend are in the house to present the Livable Frederick plan. You can go to this website to see all the details, plus the entire plan as it stands today. We say today, because there are still chances for change. If you read our drinking game, you saw that Kirby called this plan a POS. He doesn’t use exactly those words, but he does have things to say. For example, he wants Steve Horn and Co. to explain why the modeling software they use isn’t some kind of soothsayer. It is explained, ever so gently, that all modeling is, by definition, a guess. However, Mr. Horn also points out that the accuracy really isn’t the point here. The point is to see what different paths the county can take based on the possible outcomes that may occur. It’s called PLANNING. Well, Kirby isn’t done. He tells us that the market should decide where people live because the market is NEVER wrong. That’s right people: NEVER. Well, he is also very gently told why that isn’t true.  Jerry clears up the erroneous notion going around that this plan is going to downzone properties. It is not. Tony complains some, but it’s pretty much nonsense. After an hour this discussion wraps up.

Unsurprisingly to anyone who pays attention around here, Tony was the council member contacted to introduce legislation having to do with Off Track Betting (OTB). He brings in four representatives, including local lawyer Rand Weinberg, to discuss this pending legislation. Essentially, they want to identify a local restaurant to set up OTB, kinda like Cracked Claw before it closed down. First reading of this bill will be soon.

The Veterans Affairs Council had a lovely professional presentation that introduced the panel of distinguished advocates. Please keep doing what you do. We are relieved to see this move forward. There isn’t a lot of new information to report. Well, other than that a miracle of trans-partisanship that occurred when Bud Otis (unaffiliated), M.C. Keegan-Ayer (D), and Tony Chmelik (R) pared down the originally proposed bill, which had “timed out,” and according to the knowledgeable panel this bill is a reasonable step forward in accomplishing the goal of having a “one stop shop” for veterans to get assistance in accessing the services that are available to them. We know this is a huge problem, and the point that it is unreasonable to expect a veteran with PTSD to sit on the phone through a menu of options for 13 minutes is absolutely true. There were other ghastly anecdotes, so please know that we thank you all for working on this, and we apologize that we aren’t giving this the focus that it is due. There is just so much to say about so much today (and another meeting tonight, people!).

There was the Interagency Internal Audit Authority thing: a panel of accountants working on a bill to codify the existence, charges, and governance of their authority (the interagency aspect is the county, FCPS, and FCC). Work on this bill began in 2014 with the transition to charter government, and they are doing the formal work to ensure that the appointments to the body will not be under the control of those being audited. In other words, a county executive should never be making those appointments, nor should FCPS or FCC be sending their people to do the work. They propose that the current members will nominate future members. Sounds good.

Then we reach the issue of the proposed pipeline under the Potomac River at Hancock. Some environmentalists (yay! go Sierra Club!) ask that a letter be drafted–ideally from the Council, but if not, by individuals on the Council– asking for Governor Hogan to withhold the 401 Water Quality Certificate and request a full environmental impact review of this project from the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). This is requested because:

  • We are downstream from an 8 inch pipeline that would tunnel under the Potomac River to connect a proposed pipeline in West Virginia with an existing one in West Virginia
  • A bunch of municipal governments both up and downstream have already said, “Hey, let’s be careful!” and sent their own letters, including Hagerstown, Boonsboro, Washington County, Montgomery County and P.G. County. hm.
  • The geology (that’s rock formations, yo) of the land they will tunnel under is extra risky, because the Karst geology (science term) is Swiss-cheesey, so if a blowout occurred, the chemicals could be dispersed in any direction. Many pipelines already go under the river, but none through this type of geological formation.
  • Frederick County get lots of our drinking water from the Potomac (91%). And the City of Frederick also gets some of its water supply there, too, (17%) so we would theoretically not want to risk poisoning our water supply.
  • The Chesapeake Bay is also downstream (for good measure).
In case you were wondering where this thing is supposed to go. You can kind of see the Eastern Panhandle Expansion converging with the Potomac there, but unfortunately the County Seal and headings got in the way of some of the relevant details on a couple of these slides.
  • We nicked their slides. Hopefully they don’t mind. Here is the Karst Swiss Cheese. Get the idea?

This is all well and good for the reasonable, and even seems likely for the less reasonable eventually, reluctantly, however it pains them, to agree that we shouldn’t be reckless with our drinking water. However, it must be noted that we have two drilling savants, both Republican, on our esteemed County Council, so the curt reaction to the idea of a letter from Tony Chmelik was, “It depends on what the letter says.” Well, they only asked for a letter to exhibit caution and thorough review, not to declare pipeline construction forever abolished, so the hang up is hard to understand, but thank goodness we could be treated to some gassy emissions from these guys. We probably don’t even need a pipeline, since we create our own energy like that. Fun fact: one of your local ladies used to work in the gas pipeline accounting, so we know a thing or two round here, too. Gas is tricky to account for, as a matter of fact, due to particle dispersion. That and the Swiss-cheesy thing are a double tricky combo.

**Ten Minute Break because they’ve been there since 4:30; this is taking an eternity and there is a lot left.** Stay tuned. Holy moly, they’re trying to kill us, y’all. There’s another meeting tonight, you know.

So it seems kind of like Billy’s blissful absence and Kirby “#ImReallyRunning4CountyExecutive” Delauter’s recently located partial degree of restraint (NB: we didn’t watch Council Member Comments, so we could be wrong about that) freed the air for Tony Chmelik to fill the role of council insurgent. At this point we are losing all the patience that we never had, but Ray Barnes and the legal advice come with him, and also Steve McKay, think that the move to ax the section of the code pertaining to DRRAs entirely is no bueno and will cause a bunch of legal problems and their advice is to not move forward with that. They have other ideas. And obviously Tony has a problem with them going before Dog and Everyone implying that he meant to do away with DRRAs forever (“What would the developers think???” <<clutches pearls>>) when he would NEVER. He and Jerry Donald have a back and forth that is pretty priceless, wherein Jerry admits that was his goal, and he also thought that was what Tony wanted. We are pleased with Jerry Donald. He is funny but not mean. We have a hard time with that. Then Jessica Fitzwater asks the question we are wondering too, which was, to paraphrase in LocalYokel jargon, “WTF were we trying to do for real then?”

We have finally thought to ourselves somewhere in the midst of the MXD discussion: we do not like this bill either. We would all be pissed if we bought a house and then they changed the zoning and we lived next to a warehouse now. We aren’t going to listen to this anymore. We. Are. So. Done.

Epic meeting of February 6th: round 2 (a doozy)

The public hearing on the MDX amendment to “the Zoning Ordinance to specify additional permitted uses in the Mixed Use Development District” is an instance when zzzzzzzzoning is unfortunately not boring.  To briefly touch on this, the perception is that this amendment is hand crafted to target the Jefferson Tech Park area and that to adopt it would mean these people end up with distribution centers such as what we see out on Buckeystown Pike in their neighborhood, to the detriment of their property values. Since Steve McKay, who has frequently spoken on zoning issues in the Monrovia area, and Stand Up Frederick have already posted thoughts on this, please see those links for information while we focus on how much we were confused by what happened at the lectern last night. (P.S. you probably know that Steve McKay will be running against Tony Chmelik in the District 2 Republican Primary, and after Chmelik’s abominable behavior this evening we could not be more pleased that he is doing so.) If Mr. McKay and Lisa Jarosinski, who is running in the Democratic primary, are the candidates in the D2 general election, that will be one lucky D indeed. Those are two fine candidates.

First of all, it was a great joy to hear from The Public at this meeting. The Public is a lot more interesting than Our Regular Cast of Characters. Ray Barnes spoke on behalf of County Executive Gardner and gave three concerns. He was questioned at length by Billy, who kept trying to rile Mr. Barnes up with his circular dislogic. Mr. Barnes kept his cool throughout this display, and was ultimately dismissed by Bud who claimed he never heard these concerns before tonight and he wants to know hear from the public. The Lawyer for the Jefferson Tech Park–why did he get his three minutes, plus many, many more minutes of chit chat? Is this how it is supposed to work? We don’t get that. That does not seem reasonable to us. This guy tries to bog us down with legalese, claiming it’s in the interest of public safety that the council approve this bill. He also throws out the term “belts and suspenders legislation,” to which we can only think, “When has that fashion combo ever been a good idea?”

243aui

Steve McKay spoke knowledgeably, per usual, as did Kai Hagen.

Then Kai also got the many, many more minutes of chitchat “privilege.” We chuckle a bit that Kai is never succinct (and of course, we recognize that this is because he is thoughtful and diplomatic, so he makes an effort to be thorough and careful) but this really wasn’t about him at all. Because it was about Tony Chmelik being rabid, ranting, obnoxious, asking him questions in a rude and angry tone and then talking over him every time he tried to answer. We don’t typically give Tony Chmelik too much grief, because as compared to the Shrelauter bookends, he tends to stand out in the more normal grownup conduct spectrum. Well, not last night! And then we have no one stopping it. M.C. Keegan-Ayer tried to introduce a point of order in all this, and was completely ignored. we were under the impression that someone wields a gavel at these things and is supposed to maintain order? Who is that? It took far too long for any effort to be made to curtail this behavior. Kai may be an At-Large candidate for the Council, but currently he is The Public. The Public doesn’t deserve to be treated with such rudeness.

Tony sniped that Kai hasn’t taken responsibility for this issue. Well. We have thoughts. That thought is that as an elected representative in this county it is currently Tony Chmelik’s responsibility to shirk. If he wants to make this a special responsibility of Kai Hagen’s, we can all follow his dreams. We can do so by electing Kai Hagen to our County Council. So there’s a thing to think up on. It appears to be the one simple trick to respecting everyone involved here.

Here are some handy dandy campaign resources; we are in no way affiliated with any of the candidates and this message was approved by no one:

Lisa Jarosinski

Steve McKay

Kai Hagen

Tony Chmelik (hahaha–if you’re looking for his page, you’ll have to find your way there unaided by us!)